Knife Sharpening Process
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Step 1: Clean the Blade & Remove Oxidation
I start by cleaning your blade, which allows for better visual inspection of the blade.
Step 2: Assess the Blade for Straightness & Correct (If Necessary)
Sometimes, blades need to be straightened. In that case, I use a wooden jig to bend the knife by hand, or, if needed, a brass hammer for fine-tuning.
If a blade looks like it may break when straightened, I’ll inform you and let you make the call.
Step 3: Check the Blade Profile for Contour, Chips, & Tip Damage
The blade profile is what you see when looking at the knife from the side — like a picture of the knife. The contour of the blade is the shape of the blade from edge to spine on both sides.
I check the profile and contour for shape and chips, and correct them if necessary.
Major corrections are made using low-speed, water-cooled belts. Cooling the belts by applying water ensures that I don’t de-temper the blade.
Step 4: Check the Secondary Edge for Thickness & Thin (If Necessary)
Blades are almost always too thick, which makes for more difficult slicing and dicing.
The primary edge of a knife is, obviously, the point of first contact — the cutting edge. What’s not so obvious is how important the secondary edge is to effortless slicing.
The secondary edge is the second taper behind the primary edge. The edge geometry is the angle of the edge relative to the thickness of the secondary edge.
After every sharpening the edge gets pushed up into thicker material. This creates a more obtuse angle. It makes the blade thicker behind the edge. Even though the edge may be sharp, slicing through your food will be a chore.
Maintaining proper edge geometry is key, and this is achieved by thinning out the secondary edge.
Step 5: Sharpen the Primary Edge
Japanese water stones are made from an abrasive set in a binding agent like clay.
When you sharpen you are constantly exposing new abrasive as the old abrasive is being flushed away as you apply water to the surface.
Step 6: Hone the Edge
This final, most delicate step is what makes your blade sharper than when it was brand new.
This is done using very fine grits of Japanese water stones.