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FloridaLeatherGirl

Sharpening head knife gah!!

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I have watched the weaver video a dozen and no matter what I do the blade is not consistent and not sharp enough!! 

I am about to pitch this stupid thing. 

 

What is the secret?! Why can I not do this???! 

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45 minutes ago, FloridaLeatherGirl said:

What is the secret?! Why can I not do this???! 

Oddly, no real secret, just practice.

Start slowly and evenly, its the contact that sharpens, not the speed, so it's about patience.

Then when you've got the muscle memory, you will naturally speed up.

But I do remember first doing it and the squeaky butt time of keeping my fingers safe very clearly, so I feel your angst. You will get there.

H

Edited by hwinbermuda

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Which knife do you have, what experience do you have in sharpening knives, what sharpening tools and materials have you tried, and what specifically are your results? Head knives are tricky things to hone. I thought I was good at sharpening until I picked one up.

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As frustrating as it is, he's right.  It comes down to a ton of practice.  If you are so frustrated that you get angry every time you look at the knife, put it away.  All you are doing to making things worse because you are so stressed out you can't see straight and you are teaching yourself to tighten up every time you go to sharpen it. 

I opted opted to use a different style of knife when I started because like you I just could not sharpen my head knife and I was scared of it too.  I bought two skiving knifes from Lisa Sorrell, they're on page 2 of the knife section.  They are easier for me to sharpen and to use.  I thought I would end up using one more than the other and I'd sell the less used one off, but I use them about the same.  It all depends on what I'm doing.  She has a great skiving video up on youtube that really shows you how to use them.  Sharpening them is a dream.  Since they arrive very sharp, I've only had to strop them.  For me, they are well worth the money.

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27 minutes ago, hwinbermuda said:

Oddly, no real secret, just practice.

Start slowly and evenly, its the contact that sharpens, not the speed, so it's about patience.

Then when you've got the muscle memory, you will naturally speed up.

But I do remember first doing it and the squeaky butt time of keeping my fingers safe very clearly, so I feel your angst. You will get there.

H

I can't agree enough with this, i felt the same way initially and figured i just got a dud knife...nope, just had to dedicate some time and patience to really get a good edge on it, then keep it stropped, i strop every time i pick it up and just before i put it back in it's case.  keep at it and don't give up, a really good sharp head knife is gold in this biz...

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I recently sharpened a new, old stock George Barnsley head knife aka half round knife that had only a basic edge on it. The method I used was more or less the same as this video -

'How to Sharpen Your Head Knife for Leatherwork' by J H Leather Obviously you can use the same method for a full sized round knife

I started with a medium - fine oilstone; then working through 3 or 4 grades of abrasive paper, from about 600 grit to 2,000 grit; I used thin window cleaning spray to lubricate the wet & dry paper. Then onto the strop

It took several hours work, spread over 2 or 3 afternoons

One thing I did was to lay the blade flat (for each side) as I worked through the sharpening, to get the blade well polished all over; then raised the handle gradually so that I worked on all the bevel, and that there was just a gradual change of angle for the bevel, from flat to the cutting edge

Also, have a look at this video - 'How to Sharpen an axe' by Ben Orford. Although it is for an axe the principle is the same, and he shows that you need to have a long, shallow angled bevel that starts well back from the cutting edge, and how you can use a felt tip pen to make sure you work on all of the bevel

Edited by zuludog

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My entire knife sharpening process involves up to 4 stones of various grit, a 2 sided strop, and cardboard with white jewelers rouge on it.  Once it's sharp the strop and cardboard keep it that way for a long time.  Occasionally I'll drop back to the finest stone too.  A head knife with a decent edge just needs to be taken care of.  If the edge got really dull, or wasn't sharp to begin with it will need more work.  

 

And I tell folks there is not much science to pass along with sharpening a knife by hand.  It's feel.  It's art.  And its sound.  I can hear a knife when the edge is right.  It kind of sings as you sharpen it.  If it feels gritty or sounds wrong it is wrong.  You just have to get a feel for putting that edge on it.  Some of us have spent years getting there.  

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1 hour ago, chiefjason said:

And I tell folks there is not much science to pass along with sharpening a knife by hand.  It's feel.  It's art.  And its sound.  I can hear a knife when the edge is right.  It kind of sings as you sharpen it.  If it feels gritty or sounds wrong it is wrong.  You just have to get a feel for putting that edge on it.  Some of us have spent years getting there.  

 Best definition of sharpening any tool, from a razor to a chisel to knife. A blade will sing when it's ready. Pick your grit and go, if it sounds like a high school punk rock band keep going, once it sounds uniform and on the same page move to the next medium. When it sounds like Jimi talking to you it's ready to split hairs.

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