The Knife Thread

Discussion in 'Food and Drink' started by GoodEnoughGear, Jun 4, 2018.

  1. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    I seldom make kitchen knives.

    I'm no expert at making them*, I'm a hammer & forge guy so they're really quite expensive, and I never work stainless so it's simple alloys and all that comes with it.

    What little I do is very simple - high carbon, water quenched, simple Japanese wooden handle on a pencil tang.

    Like this, but without the cool writing:

    [​IMG]

    * Which means I'm slow at them, so they cost more.
     
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  2. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    I like ceramic knives for things that are useful to stay sharp but not razor sharp (paring knives and such) but they don't have the same "peak" sharpness as a steel blade so I still prefer a steel blade for a chef's knife.
     
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  3. ButtUglyJeff

    ButtUglyJeff Stunningly beautiful IRL

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    Any whetstone recommendations from anyone? I'm thinking a more personal approach to sharpening my knives could be quite therapeutic...

    I'm just having a hard time sorting out all the options. I'm currently a German/stainless knife guy, but eventually would like to own a Bob Kramer, even if only one.
     
  4. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    Uh.

    Honestly if I had to have just stone it would be a kerosene two-sided (rough and fine) synthetic stone.

    You can do basically anything with that, you only need water stones for showmanship sharpening.

    Even with all the other stuff I have, the fine side on that is what I use the most.

    Sharpens all I've ever needed for practical use, and because it's a kerosene stone it doesn't clog like, ever.

    I use a belt grinder instead of the rough side though, because "work smart, not hard" it's something to live by :p

    Sorry, no link as I got it used from some other blacksmith at a meet somewhere.

    Its all the same anyway, unless you're willing to drop kilobucks on a true natural sandstone from Japan.
     
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  5. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    There are Bob Kramer stones. The set is expensive at $300 but they are glass and don't wear down.

    I've only used cheaper King stones and they seem to work fine for me. But I also need a lot more experience
     
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  6. Daveheart

    Daveheart Friend

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    Those actually will wear down, but they'll last a fairly long time (especially with the German knives @ButtUglyJeff is using). Although they're not thick, they're thicker than other glass stones on the market. Overall that set's not a bad value compared to say buying similar glass stones from Shapton and then buying all the included accessories.

    I personally use the older version of these Naniwa Chosera stones. The current version is slightly pricier and a little thinner, but it doesn't have the permanently attached base (that base is really annoying). I'd probably swap to the newer version if I ever wear mine out; however, that could take a really long time. If you were going to jump straight into those, then an 800 and a 3000 is what I use. A single 2000 would probably be okay as your only stone (the 3000 might work as your only stone as well).

    Realistically though, you're better off getting a King combo stone like @Cspirou uses or buying the Suehiro Cerax combo stone I recommended earlier in the thread to get you started.

    One thing to note, the King and Suehiro stones are soaking stones and generally need a short soak before your sharpen. The Chosera stones I use as well as the glass Kramer stones are "splash and go". There is no need whatsoever for a soak before you use them.
     
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  7. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    OK, so I picked up a budget set of stones from Suehiro, their general use 1000 and 6000 grit stones and a DMT extra coarse plate for flattening. They are a bit above your entry-level stones, but nowhere near the Shapton Glass/Chosera/Cerax level which would cost double or more.

    My first attempt was on the 1000 grit stone, and felt clumsy and erratic, but I nonetheless managed to get my 8" Chef's knife paper-slicing sharp. It was very hard to tell how consistent an angle I was holding, and upon inspection of the edge I can see I was wobbling, especially in the tip. Note that I already had a 17 degree edge on the blade from the Lansky system, but with over a week of cutting on it. Despite the clumsiness it felt good - much better than the Lansky, but with high risk of messing up the edge.

    Next step was sharpening on a cutting board. Yup. I needed a way to practise angle holding properly and get the feel of it, and you can feel easily when the edge wants to bite into the wood (you get a little sawdust if you go too far) so you can back off. That's even with pressure only on the trailing stroke and none on the leading stroke. This really helped me start to feel what's going on and be able to work on tip technique without scraping the hell out of the blade.

    Next I bought a crappy stainless chef's knife for like $10. Not the crappiest, which would be all flexy and not like a real blade, but the shittiest somewhat rigid specimen I could find. I painted the edges with a sharpie and using the 6k stone, went at it to see how well I was keeping to the bevel and if I was riding up or not. Using the finishing stone meant I would be able to see sharpie coming off, while not removing a lot of metal. That was also a great exercise and I was pleased to see my cutting-board exercise had paid off and I was pretty much sticking to the correct angle.

    Back to the 1k stone with a parer and mid-size knife with acceptable results. It's actually pretty easy to get a really sharp edge even if you're not that consistent. The difference is it doesn't look all slick and polished, the edge won't hold like a 3k or 6k edge and over time I'd probably be messing up the blade geometry, but that will all come with practise.

    So overall a success, feel is MUCH better than Lanksy and they get even sharper at novice level. Practise is key, as with anything.
     
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  8. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    The key is to make a setup (i screwed together some wood) that holds your stone steady over a plastic container filled with water/kerosene (so it's easy to pour some over the stone every few strokes) and holds the container steady on your table, and use the same table every time.

    Getting the angle consistent is trivial if everything is always the same and doesn't move, and impossible even for a master if shit moves around on you and the position is different every time.

    The key to sharpening like the Japanese is not long training (it's just practice), or amazing natural water stones (cheap synthetics get it just as sharp, just not shiny) but the fact that that their setup is rock solid, and then they sit on it.

    Consistent body position -> consistent sharpening.

    P.S. This is the same working the anvil and grinding/filing, if you get the body kinematics right it's all so much easier.
     
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  9. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    That makes a whole lot of sense. I did get a tray that the stone sits in so I can splash water regularly, and I raise that tray up at a comfortable height above the countertop (standing at the counter). Right now it sits on a pair of rubberized hex dumbbells for lack of anything better. It was clear that the counter height was too low and that it needed to be raised. Sitting at the counter and the stone was up too high, so my body at least seemed to want the stone naturally at a particular level.
     
  10. Cryptowolf

    Cryptowolf Repping Chi Town - Friend

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    I have thoroughly enjoyed the conversation here and wanted to add a suggestion:

    Go to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill and pick up knives to practice with. I've managed to source several decent knives made with various quality steels for a few bucks each. The edges ranged from good to "what was the prior owner thinking?"

    My sharpening skills have consistently improved by practicing on these cheap blades and I also don't mine if my wife puts one in the dish washer, again.
     
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  11. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    @GoodEnoughGear I spend enough hours standing up that I sharpen from a sitting position as it makes for a nice change, but if you're only doing it occasionally you'll have much better results standing.

    Working from a sitting position, unless you're kneeling over your setup like they do in Asia (not just Japan, they do a lot of kneeling while blacksmithing all over that part of the world) makes things hard in subtle but hard to work around ways, as western seating pulls your back in ways that make keeping the angles constant harder.

    Plus you get to move with your legs/hips, which is much better for people with office jobs that don't have much arm/shoulder endurance. A few hours of gym a week don't change anything there.
     
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  12. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    You knife guys aren't the only ones who sharpen stuff.



    (Video quality is shit. Sorry.)

    I wanted to see if it would shave hair of my arm. I rested the tip on my arm, and using the weight of the chisel only, I got this.

    IMG_20180706_233125.jpg

    Probably the sharpest I've ever gotten a chisel.

    Tools used:

    Shars granite surface plate ($35)
    3M aluminum oxide lapping sheets from Taylor Toolworks ($25-ish)
    Veritas honing guide mk2 ($75)

    IMG_20180706_234543.jpg

    Using the "scary sharp" system, I put a 25° primary bevel on it up to ~1800 grit. Secondary bevel is 30° using the 1800 through 14000 grit sheets. Burr gently removed using a naked leather strop.

    It took about 10 min to do.

    Once the bleeding stops, I'll sharpen my no.4 plane blade. That should be fun. :D
     
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  13. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    Just bought these - Tanaka Ginsan Nashiji petty and gyuto. I want a bit more practise before I go sharpening them, but they're nice to look at in the meantime. There is just a small bevel on these, not a real edge yet. Stainless Hitachi Silver 3 (Ginsan) steel at about 61 HRC clad in softer stainless. The petty is 150mm and the gyuto 240mm. From Knivesandstones.com in Oz.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  14. penguins

    penguins Friend, formerly known as fp627

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    Missed this thread initially.

    Primary sharpening system is still Japanese Whetstones on anything that isn't an exotic steel, specialty tool steel (mostly pocket knives and other bladed things, not chef's knives), etc. I don't like a super fine edge on my kitchen knives and my knives never get really dull or worn so I normally just use a 1000 and 6000 grit King Stone. Use a leveler when stone surface needs it.

    Secondary system roughly resembles the Spyderco system with various rods inserted into a wood plank at an angle - can sharpen pretty much anything with these but it's not as consistent as the whetstones for me. I will also take the rods out and just freehand it sometimes depending on what I'm sharpening (knives or otherwise).

    Tried a Lansky and while it wasn't perfect or my preferred system, I can see why many like it. Also want a system like JK's eventually but not in a huge rush as practically speaking I don't really mind if my knives don't have an exact 50/50, 30/70, or whatever edge at exactly 16 vs 18.5 vs 22 or whatever degree angle. I do prefer a thinner angle usually though. Do occasionally strop, but usually not needed with my chef's knives IMO. Lastly, I may make a specialty sharpener for some other applications, but may occasionally use with a kitchen knife.

    Main 2 knives right now are (surprisingly to me) a Miyabi Evolution 8" chefs knife and a different Japanese chef's knife that I cannot remember the name of right now - 2nd knife looks extremely plain, but one of my favorite knives I've used - ever. Also have a very generic cleaver that I really like - a mix between a typical Japanese nakiri and Chinese cleaver. Next up will be a few de-boning and butchering knives as well as a new petty/utility knife and a paring knife.

    Also looking to get a different chef's knife eventually - either the Kramer by Zwiling (don't need a full on Kramer made one) or if I can find it, a blade that has a more "French" style curvature to the belly as opposed to a more flat "German" style belly, an ergonomic handle similar to the one on my Miyabi, and a lot of fine little traits usually on Japanese knives. That and maybe a big robust and cheap-ish santoku that I can almost abuse.

    What wood/s does everyone like in terms of cutting boards?
     
  15. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Last visit to UK, a year ago, I picked up a couple of blocks of polishing compounds from the Jewellers' tool shop. A year later and I still haven't bought the polishing motor and mop wheels that I have been meaning to buy for much longer, but... I did also get a leather strop from England. Leather mounted on wood. Can make my carbon-steel knives razor sharp very easily. Have also given up throwing away "disposable" scalpel blades: it sharpens them up nicely too!

    Compound: Menzerma P164

    It is very abrasive: I ruined a hacksaw blade cutting a chunk off the block. But it is fine enough to polish to an almost-mirror finish.
     
  16. fastfwd

    fastfwd Friend

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  17. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    I have a beautiful single-plank hardwood chopping board*. It is truly gorgeous, but also far too big for most of the simple single/couple cooking that gets done here, so I pick up the small cheap-plastic thing.


    *I bought it in about 1974, I think. It would probably be considered ecologically incorrect now.
     
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  18. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    Tried a lot of different boards and a big piece of hardwood is definitely my favorite. I want to try those endgrain ones that are popular now.

    Dream setup would be one of those big solid butcher block islands
     
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  19. penguins

    penguins Friend, formerly known as fp627

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    Should clarify - what kind of wood are your boards? In terms of wood, I haven't found a particular wood that's my favorite type yet. I do generally prefer a "medium" wood over a hard wood. Dislike like bamboo, plastics, and some of the paper-ish ones. Hinoki wood is nice with some things or fragile knives but kind of high maintenance and is somewhat easily damaged.

    I like the smaller Epicurian boards (and have one) if I need to do something quick and don't want to deal with the big boy cutting board and washing it, etc after use. Not a huge fan of Epicurian boards for prolonged use though - surface doesn't track or "feel" the way I like and let my knife "track" as much when I cut.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2020
  20. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Don't know. Possibly some sort of mahogany.

    I'm aware that hardwood is a botanical classification which actually includes balsa, but my board is, I think, hardwood and hard. It could probably do with being softer.
     

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