Dun

When you don't know how to sharpen 101

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Buy something to do it for you!

disclaimer: I have read so many instructions on how to sharpen and I just can't do it (yet). I have seen too many people ruin the edges/heat tempering on fancy blades that I am scared to spend a ton on a nice blade, that I know I will ruin, until I have properly learned how to sharpen.

I realize this may be upsetting advice for experienced knife sharpeners, and I'm sorry, but this is the first thing that has finally worked within my budgets of blades/sharpening tools/stones.

 

One day I'll figure it out but until that day comes I still have projects to finish. So I went to the kitchen and grabbed my asian angled blade sharpener and the ceramic honing rod. 

-The sharpener puts a new tip on the blade(in this case a junked wood planer from harbor freight) with the asian 15* edge (on each side with a total edge of 30*)

-The ceramic honing rod is more aggressive than a steel rod, kinda in between true sharpening and honing, but is great for redoing the edge that chrome tan leather seems to take away quickly.

Also important to note: this has not replaced the need for stropping.

after reading a ton a reviews and liking the wirecutter's picks for kitchen knives I ended up with https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002JIMVS0/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002YK1RAQ/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 . I have redone all the edges on the kitchen knives(like 10 extra strokes on the sharpener to go from dull or european 20* edge to asian)

 

Luckily they worked great for leather too. I use the ceramic rod to touch up all my blades, even the exacto style ones, and then follow up with stropping. 

 

This is my first attempts at skiving so if anyone has advice I could use now that I finally have sharp blades!

5a6cecd8561cd_2018-01-2712_46_06.thumb.jpg.99b91217aa88a6fbc1760ba388d1fdc9.jpg

Edited by Dun

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@dun you are right where I was 4 years ago. I will post some stuff in the morning that may help.

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3 minutes ago, bikermutt07 said:

@dun you are right where I was 4 years ago. I will post some stuff in the morning that may help.

Sure! But i warn you, i am pretty hopeless with regular sharpening. I have tried so much and was near quiting leather work without a way to move forward. Was going to try my safety razor for skiving next.

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Ok, I think I have had enough coffee now.

When I hit 40 I decided a man should know how to sharpen things. It was always that mystical mystery that eluded me. I have one weird brother who can actually sharpen knives. My dad, other brother and I could not. It drove me nuts. I just couldn't get it.

My wife and I lost our second son, Eddie right after he was born. We stayed home for about two months. Getting into leather was what got my hands moving again. In these two months I watched a gazillion sharpening videos trying to figure it all out.

I was wanting to buy a nice knife, but told myself I didn't deserve it if I couldn't sharpen it. It was just irresponsible to own a 100+ knife and not be able to take care of it.

In all the videos I watched 2 really stuck out.  

 One was a kid about 17 years old. He took a cinder block and a red brick to a cheap buck knife. Little bastard had that thing popping hairs in about 6 minutes. That pissed me off.

 The second was of a Canadian fallkiven dealer. I tried to find this video for you this morning, but to no avail. He made a statement in the video that completely crushed the mystical metallurgical mystery that had always kept me in the dark shameful shadows.

Here it is:

The first time you sharpen a particular knife. It will take much longer than normal. Why? Because your hands will not do what a machine or someone else's hand did exactly the same. Your hands will move in a way that is slightly unique and different from anyone elses. 

Even with all the guided rods and doodads that are marketed, even then, your hands are going to apply pressures differently at different points than the guy who designed this fabulous next great thing sharpener. (That was a long sentence)

So, with all that said, you have to "train" a blade. Now, I had always spent ten minutes sharpening something. After 10 minutes, I would be frustrated that it wasn't sharp. And I would throw it in a drawer and forget about it.

As it turns out I had always given up too soon. Just maintaining a blade can take 20 minutes.

So, how long does it take to train a blade? About an hour. But after that 20 minutes a week is plenty for a pocket knife.

Of all the methods of sharpening I found the sandpaper method works for me. I have a piece of quartz and several grits of paper.

Using jut the weight of the blade I pull away from the edge with each stroke. It will take a little getting used too.

Start with those cheap knives that you couldn't ever get sharp.

To train a knife I'm going to start at 400.

I do ten strokes on each side, then 5, then 3.

You will want some magnification. Looking closely at the edge beveler will let you know how you need to adjust.

Then I move up to 800, 1000, 1500, 2000. My daily pocket knives I keep in the 1000 range. This gives them a little more tooth.

Then I strop it a good bit. A truly sharp edge won't cast a reflection. When you can't see a physical edge, it is sharp.

There is a lot more to sharpening than what I have shared. And there are a gazillion ways to sharpen things. And 2 gazillion "expert opinions" out there. And there are plenty of people smarter than me that probably have better advice.

But I do know this method works for me. I have said it many times, sharpening can get really technical, really quick.

But it doesn't have too.

I hope this helps.

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By the looks of those edges your blade is not sharp enough My comments fall into two categories -

THE BLADE

I have also made a skiving knife from an old plane blade, and old industrial hacksaw blades

It would help if you had given us the dimensions; or included something for scale; or shown the whole blade. the best width for a chisel type skiving knife is around 35mm; any wider than 40mm and it will be a bit too big & clumsy. It helps if you can fit some kind of handle

Search Google for 'skiving knife', like Vergez Blanchard or Chartermade; these are expensive but they will show you the sort of thing to make ; also search for 'Japanese leather knife' , but you don't have to have the asymmetric blade.

The bevel on your blade is too short & steep. It needs to be longer and shallower or more acute. Have a look at the above examples

You mention 15 degrees on each side - NO! You must have the bevel on one side only

You would need a coarse stone  (and lots of patience!)to get the cutting edge right as I've described, followed by a fine stone & strop to maintain it. Ask around if there's someone with a bench grinder to do this, but be careful or you could burn the steel

SHARPENING

This follows on from the above. Those draw through sharpeners aren't very good (and that's the polite comment!). You will never get a decent long bevel with them

The key to good leatherwork is to have razor sharp tools, and I'm afraid there is no choice but to learn how to sharpen properly. There are loads of videos on YouTube, but I think this is one of the best. Although it is about chisels the same techniques can be used for skiving knives

'Preparing and sharpening a woodworking chisel' by Paul Sellers

There are three types of sharpening stones -

Diamond - Probably the easiest to use, but as with anything, they get  better as the price goes up

Ceramic/water - So many to choose from, and a wide range of prices; can be a bit messy

Oil - Probably the cheapest to buy new, but because they've been around a long time you can find them cheaply second hand

Cheapest of all is wet & dry paper on a sheet of glass or ceramic tile

All followed by a strop

OTHER COMMENTS

Search YT for skiving; sharpening knives; sharpening chisels; and watch as many as you have the stamina for

My guess is you cut out your leather with a Craft knife of some kind, so why not do away with sharpening altogether, and go for all disposable blades?

Consider Tandy Industrial Knife #3595-00; Tandy Safety Beveler #3001 - 00; Tandy Super Skiver #3025 - 00; there are other suppliers. Search Google for Rotary Cutter. I have used a cheap snap-blade knife to cut leather and skive straps - extend the blade and lay it on its side

You could also search Google & YT for a kiridashi Japanese style craft knife, but that would also need to be kept sharp

Finally, I know there are several members on here who do knife making, and have made their own leatherworking tools. Perhaps someone with the skills & facilities could modify and improve Dun's bade for him?. I'd do it myself, but it's a long way across The Pond!

Edited by zuludog

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5 hours ago, zuludog said:

By the looks of those edges your blade is not sharp enough My comments fall into two categories -

THE BLADE

I have also made a skiving knife from an old plane blade, and old industrial hacksaw blades

It would help if you had given us the dimensions; or included something for scale; or shown the whole blade. the best width for a chisel type skiving knife is around 35mm; any wider than 40mm and it will be a bit too big & clumsy. It helps if you can fit some kind of handle

Search Google for 'skiving knife', like Vergez Blanchard or Chartermade; these are expensive but they will show you the sort of thing to make ; also search for 'Japanese leather knife' , but you don't have to have the asymmetric blade.

The bevel on your blade is too short & steep. It needs to be longer and shallower or more acute. Have a look at the above examples

You mention 15 degrees on each side - NO! You must have the bevel on one side only

You would need a coarse stone  (and lots of patience!)to get the cutting edge right as I've described, followed by a fine stone & strop to maintain it. Ask around if there's someone with a bench grinder to do this, but be careful or you could burn the steel

SHARPENING

This follows on from the above. Those draw through sharpeners aren't very good (and that's the polite comment!). You will never get a decent long bevel with them

The key to good leatherwork is to have razor sharp tools, and I'm afraid there is no choice but to learn how to sharpen properly. There are loads of videos on YouTube, but I think this is one of the best. Although it is about chisels the same techniques can be used for skiving knives

'Preparing and sharpening a woodworking chisel' by Paul Sellers

There are three types of sharpening stones -

Diamond - Probably the easiest to use, but as with anything, they get  better as the price goes up

Ceramic/water - So many to choose from, and a wide range of prices; can be a bit messy

Oil - Probably the cheapest to buy new, but because they've been around a long time you can find them cheaply second hand

Cheapest of all is wet & dry paper on a sheet of glass or ceramic tile

All followed by a strop

OTHER COMMENTS

Search YT for skiving; sharpening knives; sharpening chisels; and watch as many as you have the stamina for

My guess is you cut out your leather with a Craft knife of some kind, so why not do away with sharpening altogether, and go for all disposable blades?

Consider Tandy Industrial Knife #3595-00; Tandy Safety Beveler #3001 - 00; Tandy Super Skiver #3025 - 00; there are other suppliers. Search Google for Rotary Cutter. I have used a cheap snap-blade knife to cut leather and skive straps - extend the blade and lay it on its side

You could also search Google & YT for a kiridashi Japanese style craft knife, but that would also need to be kept sharp

Finally, I know there are several members on here who do knife making, and have made their own leatherworking tools. Perhaps someone with the skills & facilities could modify and improve Dun's bade for him?. I'd do it myself, but it's a long way across The Pond!

I should take a pic of how the the super skiver, before and after stroping, just mangles this chrome tan pigskin.

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5 hours ago, bikermutt07 said:

So, how long does it take to train a blade? About an hour. But after that 20 minutes a week is plenty for a pocket knife.

Of all the methods of sharpening I found the sandpaper method works for me. I have a piece of quartz and several grits of paper.

Using jut the weight of the blade I pull away from the edge with each stroke. It will take a little getting used too.

Start with those cheap knives that you couldn't ever get sharp.

To train a knife I'm going to start at 400.

I do ten strokes on each side, then 5, then 3.

You will want some magnification. Looking closely at the edge beveler will let you know how you need to adjust.

Then I move up to 800, 1000, 1500, 2000. My daily pocket knives I keep in the 1000 range. This gives them a little more tooth.

Then I strop it a good bit. A truly sharp edge won't cast a reflection. When you can't see a physical edge, it is sharp.

I have spent an hour pulling away on a knife many a time. I've borrowed so many different stones and tested everything listed to be honest. Oh wow-I finally counted I have been carrying and trying to sharpen pocket knives for 18 years?

You use micro mesh to finish your blades?

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I've just realised something. Why are you skiving from the grain side? Yes, you can do this when there is a particular need, but most skiving is done on the flesh side

It helps if you dampen the leather slightly, though this might not have much effect on the grain side of chrome tanned leather

There's no need to go to the very high P numbers. Up to P 2,000 should be good enough.

For Micromesh have a look at this video. Although it's about edge bevellers it shows the sharpness that can be achieved

'How to Sharpen a Bevel Edger' by LB Custom knives

I don't understand; if you've tried lots of stones & methods, why can't you get a sharp edge? I wonder if you realise how fine you have to go? As Bikermutt07 mentioned, you should go up to P1500 or P2000 in several increments for normal use. Then after that you can, if you wish, go up to P 15000 with micromesh

Edited by zuludog

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15 minutes ago, Dunluce said:

The illustration isn't very clear, but it shows a knife with an angled cutting edge, rather like a kiridashi

The same company has a 'French skiving knife' and a cheaper 'French style skiving knife' which is the sort of thing Dun should be aiming for with his plane blade

Have a look at this video. She shows a few variations

'Skiving Knives and Skiving' by Lisa Sorrel

Edited by zuludog

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1 hour ago, zuludog said:

I've just realised something. Why are you skiving from the grain side? Yes, you can do this when there is a particular need, but most skiving is done on the flesh side...

It helps if you dampen the leather slightly, though this might not have much effect on the grain side of chrome tanned leather...

For Micromesh have a look at this video. Although it's about edge bevellers it shows the sharpness that can be achieved

'How to Sharpen a Bevel Edger' by LB Custom knives

I don't understand; if you've tried lots of stones & methods, why can't you get a sharp edge?

I'm skiving the grain side so that when I laminate it, the chrome tanned edge will be so thin and sandwiched between 2 layers of veg tan and hopefully hand burnish that way.

I'll check out the video later thanks.

I can sometimes get a sharp edge but not consistently down the edge of the blade. Or I think I change the angle in the wrong way. Or I've been at the wrong angle the whole time. I guess the one thing I haven't tried are those rod rigs that control the angle for me, but at that point I figured this sharpener I already own can do that.

I have never seen anyone say why a single or double edged blade for skiving. Every person I have asked, or both styles, has just said personal preference. And yes I have been using this blade to cut out the leather as well. 

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I still struggle sometimes with an unevenly sharpened edge. You just have to keep at it. 

As far as skiving goes, most knives I have seen are single edged. But I have seen them turned either way in the videos.

Maybe a super skiver would be best for now.

Oh and after that long post this morning I forgot to mention this....

KIMG0056-1170x2080.JPG

The title really is a great description for the book. He has all kinds of little tricks he shares in this.

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29 minutes ago, bikermutt07 said:

I still struggle sometimes with an unevenly sharpened edge. You just have to keep at it. 

As far as skiving goes, most knives I have seen are single edged. But I have seen them turned either way in the videos.

Maybe a super skiver would be best for now.

Oh and after that long post this morning I forgot to mention this....

KIMG0056-1170x2080.JPG

The title really is a great description for the book. He has all kinds of little tricks he shares in this.

The super skiver is great for veg tan straps and such but this pigskin haaaaates it. 

I've seen a lot of single edged too bit also many a double edged round head knives used for skiving, with amazing results. Please believe me, I love to understand "why" one thing is better than another in specific cases. I just haven't seen an explanation actually given?

I've liked all the other stohlman books so far I'll have to see about that one. Unfortunately if it's just about tools I don't own yet it will only be for future knowledge uses.

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35 minutes ago, Dun said:

The super skiver is great for veg tan straps and such but this pigskin haaaaates it. 

I've seen a lot of single edged too bit also many a double edged round head knives used for skiving, with amazing results. Please believe me, I love to understand "why" one thing is better than another in specific cases. I just haven't seen an explanation actually given?

I've liked all the other stohlman books so far I'll have to see about that one. Unfortunately if it's just about tools I don't own yet it will only be for future knowledge uses.

He has stuff in there for even making a few tools. The book is less than 20 bucks. 

I'm not sure I would count my headknife in the double side category. That thing is super thin. I think the blade might be a 1\16 and tapers way back on a convex edge. I have had it over a year and have only had to strop it.

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I finally got to watch the videos while I sand paper sharpened tonight. I'd actually already seen micro mesh beveler one before as well as other chisel sharpening vids. I didn't know all the names for skiving moves yet though.

After re sharpening on sand paper and stropping it still wasn't sharp enough. I went back to the ceramic honing rod. Arm hair all over my work station now but still my actual skill in skiving is non existant.

5a6eb2ade86b1_2018-01-2821_16_20.thumb.jpg.c473fea26965a7568bb0a5c60ad00458.jpg

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Have you tried stropping the skiver blades? I strop everything, even the tiny strap cutter blades. It makes a difference. 

I haven't done much skiving myself.

When I think back, it did take awhile for me to gain consistency with sharpening.

Don't give up. Keep trying. Sharp tools make all the difference.

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On 1/29/2018 at 3:16 AM, bikermutt07 said:

Have you tried stropping the skiver blades? I strop everything, even the tiny strap cutter blades. It makes a difference. 

 

I was giving this a try and how do you hold the tiny strap cutter blades for stropping? just pinch them?

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1 hour ago, Dun said:

I was giving this a try and how do you hold the tiny strap cutter blades for stropping? just pinch them?

Yes, or you could use needle nose pliers.

Your angle doesn't have to be so precise for stropping, especially for a disposable blade.

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