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First time sharpening - help needed

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  • #16
    I felt for you yesterday reading your post and hearing your frustration. I am not sure I can help, but maybe. I just went and got a knife out, put it on a diamond coarse abrasive, really roughed it up, only use this for my pocket knife, then on 320 sandpaper, 10 strokes on each side, then 10, 10, 10 ,and 10 on leather and it cut like a jewel. I own two flex cut that are sharpened like yours but they will get reshaped and sharpened again before my using them. When you say you have your blade flat, my guess is what you think is flat and what I would say flat is different. In your top photo, above post, I see three planes, one is where the name of the blade is, second plane is the one that you have had on the sandpaper, the 3rd plane is the bottom edge where all the black marks are. All my knives are sharpened, when I say they are flat means I want a bevel from the top of the blade all the way to the edge. I hear some say it weakens the edge and probably does, but I slice with my knives, never pry or twisting motion. When I started, we were given a 1-1/2” x 1-1/2” x about 12-14” long piece of wood, had Emory cloth glued on one side and leather on the other with rouge on it. They called it a slicker sharp, worked great. My guess is maybe I am getting a micro bevel from the leather slightly rounding the edge. I am wondering if when you are going through all the grits of paper, it is just hard to control the bevel angle. Try going to the leather or cardboard sooner, my edge cut fine and left the marble edge on basswood. One last thing, yes I have had an edge leave a mark on the wood, which means microscopically a small piece of the edge just left. I just stroke mine about 20-30 times on the leather and good to go again. I very seldom use sandpaper on my knives, I just hone them on leather with rouge. I am using red, but use other colors as well. Why don’t you try just stropping your knife and see if that makes it sharp enough again? Earl


    • #17
      Okay, I decided to make as documented process as possible as I am failing once again.

      Starting from yesterday's point here is what I did today and what it looks like now (worse?):

      1. Before doing anything I marked sides with black marker

      2. I did 15/15 on each side with paper grit 240 and the results were like this


      3. I did another round of 15/15 each side

      4. Decided to try to hold the blade on sandpaper really strong with at least couple of kilograms of force to take more material and start removing the marked finally going to create full flat bevel and ended up with this. I think this is the point where it has been improved?

      5. Kept doing 15/15 each side couple of times and the results were kinda okay, but not going forward really with removing material. I even believe that I could see and feel some wire edge/burr near the handle.


      6. I remarked the bevel with black marker and after another round of 15/15 it got MUCH, MUCH worse and I have given up.

      ​Final look (worst) is after recording below movies that show how do I grind the blade:

      I give up, I do not know what to do to make this bevel evenly flat on both sides hence couple of facts and questions if any of you actually go through all this and decide to help me out...

      I made sure that the surface I places sandpaper on is even and smooth. I keep 3 fingers on the bevel pushing it towards sandpaper and control the movement with both hands, I also secure back of the blade with my thumb for better control during moving. I keep changing sandpaper each 20-30 minutes as grit 240 seems to be taken out after that time during my sharpening - I do not know why, it just stops grinding and moving the bevel on it feels like moving it on a piece of paper/cloth, it is smooth. I tried to do that with small, medium and big force - results are same. Sandpaper new or really used - results are same. I do not have access to any power tools eg. belt grinder.

      Couple of quesions:
      A. Should I move to lower grit, eg. 180?
      B. I noticed that the part of blade/bevel near the handle is being taken out more evenly and can even create a burr, but the tip is still not "pointy", can you please explain? How can I keep the edge on top and along the blade same as near the handle?
      C. What do I do so wrong that it does not get fully flat evenly on both sides?
      D. Is this knife saveable? I intend to learn on it, but it would be nice to finally sharpen it without grinding it all off.
      5. Why I can see material being taken off from the bevel near the handle but cannot see same on farther parts of blade?

      I really do appreciate any help that will help me out of this situation.
      Last edited by Dzwiedz; 09-24-2022, 12:03 PM.


      • #18
        RELAX dude! Back off and either get a knife sharpener person to show you or practice on scrap metal or cheapo knife. You are trying to run before you can walk. That knife isn't going to be any use if you keep repeating your mistakes.

        Einstein said, "doing the same thing repeatedly, and expecting different results is the definition of insanity,"

        Only a suggestion - from your pics.

        You are right handed - yes? One side comes out flat, the other you miss the bevel.

        You are not holding the knife square to the medium, hence the black ink disappears at the handle end but not at the pointy bit.

        You are trying too hard bro. RELAX and stop thinking about perfection first go.

        Three fingers is ok if you are happy with that, but one will also do the trick.

        Don't use so much force! (Downward pressure.) A tickle will get the same result with repeat strokes.

        When you are stroking the blade, move your body, not your arms. It will give a more even stroke. Hold your arms rigid and move your upper body back and forth.


        I have had professional woodworkers not able to sharpen a chisel after years in the trade. All it took was a change in stance.
        Arthur B-P


        • #19
          Your results in the first photo in number 6 indicate to me that you are applying more pressure at the butt of the blade than at the tip.

          This is my Helvie Med. Detail from the chart above, marked with the black marker. This blade is flat from cutting edge to spine and is quite flexible. The two bright lines are the reflection of my twin fluorescent lights above my workbench.

          IMG_7982.jpg IMG_7983.jpg

          I hold my knife differently than you. I have one finger on the blade such that half the finger tip is on the blade and the other half rests on the strop. This makes sure I am stropping the cutting edge.


          After 15 passes on the strop on each side.

          IMG_7994.jpg IMG_7995.jpg

          I did the same thing with my Flexcut KN-13. This knife has a shorter blade than most, as I've dropped it on the floor and broken off the tip 3 times. Each time, I ground down the spine of the blade to create a new point. The second photo shows the blade after 15 passes on each side on the strop.

          IMG_7996.jpg IMG_7998.jpg

          For me, holding my one finger half on and half off the blade at the cutting edge works. This might be difficult to do with 240 grit paper as it would wear down your finger quickly.

          Try just stropping - may take a hundred passes or more, but give it a try. Use the black marker; 15 passes on each side, then reuse the marker and make another 15 passes on each side, etc. Notice that I am using the cereal box cardboard with the green compound on it.
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          • #20
            Okay guys, thank you so much.

            I relaxed, applied less pressure and stopped doing same thing all over again.

            It turned out that one side of the blade has been done okay, but the second had to be twisted during the move in order to remove the marker - I guess I may have changed somewhat blade/bevel geometry hence the need on one side only. As the other has been okay I see no reason to look for a mistake in sandpaper or what's beneath it.

            I grinded the knife to the point in which I could see/feel a little of wire edge, but I have also noticed one side being slightly rounded and not flat (due to rotation I guess).

            Those are my results:
            Here is "okay" side that was being removed correctly along the whole blade (reflection is perfect on this one).
            And this one needed rotation to even get marker removed:

            Unfortunately, the side that needed rotation (let's call it worse side) is touching the wood while whittling as I am right handed. Here are results on the wood after cuts (no matter which part of the blade).

            It wants to cut, but it scratches and is definitely not usable for anything else but roughing some stick before doing actual whittling... I am sad, but I have learned not to try to make scary sharp knife. All the YouTube tutorials where it takes 20-30 minutes and looks so easy are a bogus/fake for me - impossible.

            I see how you are doing that, I really tried to mimic everything or try different things, spent total of around 12 hours without success. Perhaps I simply cannot learn this.

            I have received my Flexcut KN-13 knife and I hope to strop it only without ever needing to sharpen it on sandpaper.​​​


            • #21
              I bought a rubber floor mat for in front of my workbench; I've dropped knives and gouges several times, but the mat has prevented damage to the blades. I have not had to touch my knives to a stone or sandpaper in several years. All I do is strop regularly.

              Do you use slicing cuts, or just push the blade through the wood? I put some photos showing slicing cuts here - P0st # 12 https://forum.woodcarvingillustrated...-stroke-how-to
              Last edited by Claude; 09-25-2022, 02:16 PM.
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              • #22
                Originally posted by Claude View Post
                Do you use slicing cuts, or just push the blade through the wood? I put some photos showing slicing cuts here - P0st # 12 https://forum.woodcarvingillustrated...-stroke-how-to
                I use push cuts 99,9% of time, sometimes push cut with little slice move. I never do pull cuts as I am afraid for my thumb.


                • #23
                  Dzw: I'm guessing that your sharpening technique isn't right. Because there are unmentioned details.

                  1. Are you able to stand up for long enough with the sharpening materials on the bench in front of you? Clamped down, at the edge and parallel to the edge of your bench?

                  2. Do you have the total included bevel angle drawn on card to stand up in front of you? Something to try to copy? Half that for a double sided blade edge. Total 12 degrees is 6 degrees each side, that's lifting the spine of the knife about the thickness of a dime (maybe 1+ mm).

                  3. As you do a gentle pull stroke, do you keep your elbows/forearms tight against your sides? Moving your elbows will kill any efforts to hone a carving sharp edge.

                  4. Don't move your arms. Act like a robot. Sharpen/move from your knees, not from your arms.
                  = = = =

                  I sit to sharpen and hone crooked knives and the adzes common here in the Pacific Northwest.
                  I hold the tool steady over my knee and move the abrasive. It's the reverse of what I'd be doing with my KN-14.

                  Either way, success sure didn't come overnight. I watched an old film of a First Nations Master Carver (Mungo Martin) sharpen his best knife with a flat smooth river rock and a bucket of water.
                  That made me want to learn to be really good at freehand sharpening.
                  Brian T


                  • #24
                    I will try to answer best I can:
                    1. I am able to stand and work long enough with sharpening, the only side effect I get and I feel is neck pain as my head is constantly down ahead and my body is not used to such position. Also, I do not have to be parallel with my body to the grinding surface as it is not that low (around my wrist level).

                    2. I do not know the total bevel angle and have no tools to check that sadly... Although, I know that the blade length is around 5,5cm and this is straight knife from BeaverCraft. The blade itself is pretty thick comparing to for example FlexCut that I have lately received.

                    3. I do not keep my elbows tight against my sides as this would not be possible - I have access from one side only to the grinding surface, it is windowsill (marble). I live in block of flats. I try to remember and keep my elbows and wrists without any move while sharpening - I work with my upper body parts and swinging body weight from one foot to another. I noticed this works best and gives consistent grinding.

                    4. I think I already answered in point 3.

                    I cannot whittle until I sharp my knife, not because I do not have a new Flexcut KN-13, but because I may not be able to hone/sharpen it later... I cannot follow this hobby if I cannot maintain my tools.

                    As I do not live in US we do not have cereal boxes here like you do. I am attaching pictures of cardboard that I think would fit your product, could you please tell me if it's same like your cereal box? Additionally attaching picture of cereal "boxes" here.

                    Is it okay to put my green compound on this cardboard? Of course not on ripped part.
                    Here cereal looks like they are in bags, hence I was confused at the beginning.
                    Also, I think I found problem with sharpening. I have uneven surface beneath sandpaper. 50% of my blade cuts perfectly and is extremely sharp (near handle), but the other half near the tip where the marked could not be removed and had issues is not sharp. I found out that marker from that spot is being removed when placed on a part of sandpaper that was working with sharp part. So...

                    What can I buy to be completely flat for my sandpaper...? I hear granite slabs eg. for kitchen are not exactly flat.
                    Last edited by Dzwiedz; 09-26-2022, 05:10 PM.


                    • #25
                      There are about 11 different types of cardboard Cereal box cardboard is called paperboard . What you show "Kuchina" should be fine. (I however prefer hard leather.)


                      • #26
                        Get plate glass for a flat surface. It should not be too expensive, your window repair store might even give you a small scrap.


                        • #27
                          I will try mentioned cardboard or a paperboard - English is not my native. I understand I should also mount it/place it on something extremely flat, eg. glass?

                          Also, I ordered two blocks of glass that is used for windows/glass door etc. The terms plain glass/float glass and so on mean nothing here where I live and people are only confused by what I mean - glass is glass they said, should be flat but doesn;t have to be ideally flat. I'll try...

                          How do you think, can I have some fun now with my new Flexcut knife and strop it on my leather that I already have or not risk rounding up the edge and wait a week or two until I solve the issue with flat surface with glass etc.? I am confused and do not want to kill my new blade.
                          Last edited by Dzwiedz; 09-27-2022, 06:44 AM.


                          • #28
                            1. Can you get baltic birch plywood? (This is the high quality plywood with many plies) I would mount my leather or cardboard to that. Personally and I am of the minority opinion I would not be worried about rounding over the edge, but it may depend on what you are carving. I don't think you actually round the edge but my round the shoulder. We call this a complex camber in woodworking for chisels, and plane irons and like it. It would I think help in peeling up curls in carving, if that's what you find desirable. I know a Finnish carver that prefers a rounded shoulder over a flat shoulder.
                            2. I think trying to regrind the entire flat side of your knife may be very difficult and time consuming. I think you should concentrate on a 2mm strip along the edge. Try Paul sellers method for sharpening a knife.


                            • #29
                              The "Kuchnia" paperboard/cardboard should be just fine. It's thin, which is major consideration. Just rub compound on inside (white side). Glass of almost any sort should be fine. Ordinary window glass is "flat" as any variation in thickness will result in distortion when looking through it. Use masking tape/painters tape to tape the paperboard to the glass. Tape it right at one edge of the glass. You might be able to get a scrap piece of glass from a local glass shop. All you'll need is a piece about 7.5cm x 25cm - give or take a few cm... Oh - if you use a scrap piece of window glass, tape the edges where you don't have the paperboard fastened so you don't cut yourself on the sharp edges...

                              Go ahead and get some glass, fasten your paperboard to it, rub compound on it, then start carving with the KN13. After 15 minutes or so, strop the knife blade 15 times on each side, pressing the blade edge down with one finger, as I mentioned elsewhere, so part of finger rubs along strop, and rest of finger holds blade edge down. Don't apply a lot of pressure - let the compound do the work for you.

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                              • #30
                                I have bought the glass (10mm thick), I tried to sharpen same knife again with sandpaper. I am sure I held it flat. I tried on one side of glass, on other side, upside down (15x30cm piece) and the result is always the same - I cannot get it sharpened and the sandpaper is not taking the metal equally along the blade.

                                It is always the top part not being "cleaned" from the marked. If I move same part of the blade just 3-4cm lower it gets removed. Sandpaper takes metal near handle but never near top.

                                So it is clear, red part takes material from the blade, blue does not. If I move tip to red part, it is being sharpened.
                                I am so sorry to have bothered you. I think I did everything I could and you told me to try and still I fail. I have no more strength to try this, lost too many hours and I really do not have so many of them for myself... If I cannot sharpen my tools (even simplest one!) I do not think I should follow this hobby. I feel resigned. There is also no one near me that could help me maybe personally so I could learn. I am sorry I could not do it.

                                I feel bad because I really wanted to do woodcarving, well, it is what it is...
                                Last edited by Dzwiedz; 10-01-2022, 12:56 PM.