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  • Surprise, surprise

    I watched a video by UK knifemaker Ben Orford on knife sharpening where he recommended blackening the knife edge with a felt tip pen to show the sharpening pattern and coverage. I've been sharpening knives since I was about 10 in the BSA, some 66 years ago,and figured I had this down but decided to give the blackening a try. Not only did I discover I wasn't getting as even a sharpening as I thought but also that my Spyderco fine ceramic wasn't as smooth and flat as I thought, could see a couple of high areas in the black left behind by the ink! Lessons learned; I might have to give up on the ceramic and go back to Arkansas stones and the blackening technique works, I'm sold.

  • #2
    That's one of the modern unwritten tricks to sharpening any edge.
    If it's just the daily honing to maintain edges, I don't bother any more.
    However, when I'm revising farrier's hoof knives for wood carving,
    out comes the felt marker. Makes life easy, yes?

    I think it forces you into good habits to always get the same
    bevel angle and to do the entire bevel.
    Brian T

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    • #3
      Thanks for the tip, i will sure give it a try.
      Mark N. Akers
      My Etsy Store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/KarolinaKarver

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      • #4
        As Brian says - not always needed when stropping, but when reshaping an edge, it's a definite help. When stropping, it will let you know if you are lifting the back of the blade too much and unintentionally rounding the edge a bit...

        Claude
        My FaceBook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ClaudesWoodCarving/

        My Pinterest Page: https://www.pinterest.com/cfreaner/

        My ETSY Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ClaudesWoodcarving

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        • #5
          Another step I've found helpful when stoning or stropping is to come to a complete stop after a stroke before lifting a blade from the stone/strop. I found I had a tendency to slightly drag the edge against the surface when lifting at the end which was not productive to a fine edge.
          Arthur

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          • #6
            Arthur C., I have that tendency when stropping. Thanks for the tip.

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            • #7
              I would expect the ceramic stone to be more flat than a used Arkansas stone

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Steev View Post
                I would expect the ceramic stone to be more flat than a used Arkansas stone
                I went back and looked closer at the marks on the ceramic and decided the ridges are too shallow to be of concern. I would have to get the blade in exactly the same spot over hundreds of strokes to get any distortion on the blade edge and then I doubt I'd see it in the wood.

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                • #9
                  The path I follow is sort of rectangular, stopping before lifting and then straight down for the next pass.

                  The trick to avoid sweeping is to stand up and sharpen from your knees, not your elbows. Hold your forearms against your sides so all you can do is twiddle your fingers. You become the jig.

                  For PacNW tools, crooked knives and adzes, the reverse happens = the tool is stationary and the abrasives move. That has taken much more practice than I ever expected.
                  Brian T

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                  • #10
                    It has been said many times in these discussions, choose a (sharpening) method that works for you and perfect it. After 75 years of woodcarving I have quit using stones and leather strops for Wetordry sandpaper and green compound on cardboard. Your tools will tell you when you're right.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by pallin View Post
                      It has been said many times in these discussions, choose a (sharpening) method that works for you and perfect it. After 75 years of woodcarving I have quit using stones and leather strops for Wetordry sandpaper and green compound on cardboard. Your tools will tell you when you're right.
                      While I mostly agree with what you are saying, it really helps those of us just coming into the craft if we get bits of advice or shared knowledge. What I've picked up here and on YouTube has considerably shortened my learning curve and probably saved me money as well.

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                      • #12
                        What is most essential cannot be learned by watching a video or reading someone's suggestion. You have to learn to judge what is "sharp." The best starting point would be using the tools of someone who has mastered sharpness.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by pallin View Post
                          What is most essential cannot be learned by watching a video or reading someone's suggestion. You have to learn to judge what is "sharp." The best starting point would be using the tools of someone who has mastered sharpness.
                          Exactly the point and those tools of experienced masters are only available through personal or media tutoring. Anyone can produce a reasonably sharp edge, eventually, or pick up a knife and block of wood and hack out some form, eventually. The benefit of watching an expert, paying attention to tips by one or reading a book by one is the elimination of faulty technique and a good deal of frustration.

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                          • #14
                            Like pallin I have not used a stone or leather strop for sometime. I use various grits of wetdry sandpaper. from 800 to 5000 grit depending on the edge of the tool I am sharening. I also use thin cardboard, most of the time from a cracker or cereal box for stroping. To ensure a flat har surface I got a thick piece of temperd glass cut 3"x 8" in size. I set it on s piece of non slip drawer liner. I cut strips of th wetdry and the boxes to fit the glass and fold under. The reason I find this preferable ( for me) is it offers a great variety in honing grits at a very low coast and the cardboard does not compress as much as leather as your blade moves down it. I seem to get a better edge faster and it is easier to maintain. Just sharing my experience. What works for you is the best for you. Like all systems people use there is a learning curve to this system too. I have two drawers full of stones of all kind and two expensive power systems. all fine products. But my best results has been with the wetdry and cardboard.

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                            • #15
                              The deal is: try a sharpening technique and see over time, how well you can manage "carving sharp."
                              With extremely softwoods (western red cedar and yellow cedar) I need edge that can slice over-ripe tomatoes.

                              7-10 years ago, I changed to mostly PacNW First Nations carving knives and adzes. Most of the time, you makeup and haft in your own handles. The tool is stationary. The abrasive moves.

                              You people with box card strops. My best strop these days is a tennis ball.
                              Brian T

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