Technique advice?

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Captaincaed
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Technique advice?

Post by Captaincaed » Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:32 pm

I'm cross-posting this from another forum because I value the tone of suggestions over here.

I feel like I've gotten worse over the past couple months, but I also think that may be changing personal standards. I can still get knives to push-cut printer paper, cut paper in a circle, etc.

Where I'm feeling trouble is progressing from middle grits to higher grits. I get good tooth and cutting up to about 2k/4k, then when I go up to the Synthetic Natural or 8k, I feel like I'm sliding off tomato skins instead of cutting in. Also feel like I'm having particular trouble sharpening a Blazen R2 petty up to a polished synthetic natural edge. My edges on carbon steels feel better.

Current setup is some combination of:
Togiharu 1k/4k (generally get good luck here)
Gesshin 2k soaker (good luck, but loads quickly)
Gesshin synthetic natural soaker (having less luck)
Naniwa 8k, Knifewear branded (don't use often, seems a bit too polished for food)

I'm trying to "nail" my technique after casually home sharpening for a couple years. Before anyone asks:
Yes, I have watched J.Broida's video series, and continue to re-watch :D
Yes, I have flattened my stones with a diamond plate
No, I'm not crazy (yet)
So now I'm crowd-sourcing for other opinions.

So, here is a Mizuno DX sharpening from 1k to 2k to synthetic natural. Following are two videos taking a careful look at the edge after sharpening (I think you can see things better than still photos.)

[YouTube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHUsa66edII[/YouTube]

[YouTube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7huj1ZvXNsA[/YouTube]

[YouTube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9OCsjvUJ_M[/YouTube]

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ken123
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Re: Technique advice?

Post by ken123 » Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:40 pm

Please clarify what a 'synthetic natural' means. Usually it is either one or the other with a few exceptions.

---
Ken

jmcnelly85
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Re: Technique advice?

Post by jmcnelly85 » Sun Oct 13, 2019 3:34 am

I don’t think you suck at sharpening at all; however, after watching the first video there are a few things that I think might help. Starting on your coarsest stone, challenge yourself to eliminate as much, if not all burr formed before jumping to your next stone. With more frequent flipping and as little pressure as possible, (think barely kissing the stone) your coarse edge can reach a level of sharpness that provides a solid foundation for the rest of the progression. On each stone, ask yourself if the knife is as sharp as it possibly can be based off the stone used, then progress through the progression.

I personally don’t like leaving any stone without repeatable sharpness tests. I’m a big fan of rolled up paper towels and phonebook paper as unbiased mediums. Say you are on your coarsest stone and try cutting a rolled up paper towel using the heel, sweet spot, tip, and that belly spot that seems to be giving you trouble, you can address the trouble spot while still on your heavy hitter. Once your consistently passing unbiased tests evenly early in a progression, then you are ready to advance. Test between medium and high grit and after high grit. With consistent paper, you can pick up on clues as to what’s working and what’s not. If you have a problem spot, nip it in the butt early instead of “man, I just polished all the way to 8k and still skid right here”

Because you self police what is and isn’t a good pass on a stone, you are ready for a real coarse stone. Get things in a spot of sharpness using fewer passes (less margin for error) and your later edges will thank you. Any quality stone in the 150-500 range will serve you well, it’s shocking how sharp a clean coarse edge can be and eye opening how much of a difference it can make once you start moving into the single digit micron-sub micron range.

I notice a lot of elbow/arm movement and not a lot of body movement, find a way to keep more little body parts stationary while moving big parts a little. As I sharpen, a subtle foot shift can move my whole body enough that the blade can make a whole pass. A body is no different than a sharpening jig, experiment with what works for you to move less pieces to make an entire motion. There’s a tip toe between relaxed and locked, be the jig.

Keep at it, you are sharper than before; therefore are a better sharpener than the majority of the people on the planet.

Peter Nowlan
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Re: Technique advice?

Post by Peter Nowlan » Sun Oct 13, 2019 7:41 am

Hey Bob (😊)
As jmcnelly said above, you’re doing fine. I can only dream of having the ability you do now when I first started.
Since you asked though, here are some of my tips.
First of all, watching Jon Broida, I don’t know if you could have picked a better teacher so you’re off to a very good start. I also have is natural/synthetic stone. I don’t know how it’s produced but it’s wonderful.

As my above noted, I think I you need to re-evaluate your burr removal process. Burr removal is the centre of gravity when it comes to sharpening, it’s really important. You can’t leave it to a strop, you can use the strop in conjunction with your stones but you should think of burr removal as starting much earlier in your technique. You are leaving it to the last step, unless I’m
Mistaken, when in fact it should be an integral part of every step you perform.
Think of the strop as a tool to remove any lingering remnants of metal that you, or anyone perhaps couldn’t remove, not something you could even detect without a good deal of magnification, it’s there, the strop, to “clean” the edge.

So, form primary burrs on your first stone but remove the primary burr also on your first stone. Diminishing levels of pressure will shave off the burr off and when you have done that, when you can no longer detect the burr you could strop the edge a few times. Now, conduct a light test, scrutinize the edge under a light, you should be looking straight down at the Apex looking fir any glints of light, any reflections off of lingering metal. If you see anything go back to the same Stone and do a little more sharpening at a moderate pressure level, same angle all the time. Now, check under the light and make sure you don’t see anything. This single act alone made a huge difference to my edges.

Now, proceed as you were but no need to conduct any more light tests. Form micro burrs and remove them on every stone you use. Finish with the leather strop.

Manage your expectations, it takes time to nail down a technique. You’re doing great.

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ken123
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Re: Technique advice?

Post by ken123 » Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:01 pm

ken123 wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:40 pm
Please clarify what a 'synthetic natural' means. Usually it is either one or the other with a few exceptions.

---
Ken
Still need an answer. I have one stone that is a mix of natural and synthetic grits, but almost always it is either synthetic OR natural.

Mcnelly has a great post but a better answer needs more info.

---
Ken

Peter Nowlan
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Re: Technique advice?

Post by Peter Nowlan » Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:12 pm

I don’t agree, it’s not about the stones being used and what it means to be a synthetic/natural. Knowing that isn’t going to make him or me a better sharpener. His question is about his technique.
Having said that, you Ken know a heck of a lot more about water stones than most. Morihei Hishiboshi, a relatively new brand of stones claims to be synthetic with natural stone ingredients. Perhaps it’s all just a way to make the brand sound more appealing, to lure folks in who think that having a natural stone within a synthetic stone will make the stone better.
I’ve used Jon’s 3k-6k Natural Synthetic hundreds of times. It’s fantastic.

It’s not the stones that make a sharpener though, having a bunch of nifty stones sure didn’t help me. It was reaching a point where I was tired of trying new techniques that “experts” said were the best. I found one and just stick with it with a lot of help along the way, help from all the good folks here and to a couple of others.

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Captaincaed
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Re: Technique advice?

Post by Captaincaed » Sun Oct 13, 2019 4:01 pm

Yeah the synthetic natural is a Gesshin branded stone, I'm using the designation it's sold under. It's a quality stone, supposed to finish in the 3-6k range as Peter said.

Thank you everyone for the excellent advice! I took the suggestions out for a test drive and found that I'm very likely not deburring enough, especially at the belly. Got some results that are better but still not perfect. When I can show an improvement I'll post another (shorter) video.

Peter, I took your advice to get as clean an edge as possible at each stone, and that was very enlightening.

Also, finishing with light edge leading seems to help as a very least step

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ken123
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Re: Technique advice?

Post by ken123 » Sun Oct 13, 2019 5:32 pm

Well, Captain, I reviewed the videos and I see the problems :) If you don't mind, I would like to critically review your technique. It is in some detail (I took notes), so let me know if this is of interest to you. It should make a VERY significant difference in your results.

BTW, the photography is quite good!

I also reviewed Jon's site describing the synthetic natural stone. While he doesn't specifically say it is like a natural (just similar), your problem is not specifically related to this stone, so I'll leave that alone. I know you can get more out of that stone, but that's for later. For reference the stone he describes is here:

https://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/co ... ic-natural

One of the stones I have is truly a synthetic natural stone. Unfortunately, the creator of this stone is gone and he lost most of his inventory in either a flood and/or earthquake so I won't be getting more of these than the ones I have :(

It is referred to as a Han-Han stone, meaning half and half. The original formulation is sadly lost to history. Many of them have a curved surface, specifically oriented towards sword polishers who use this shape to advantage in their polishing technique(s).



I mention this stone out of interest, not as a suggestion about what to buy :)

While there are significant differences in natural and synthetic edges, again let's focus on technique first.

---
Ken

Peter Nowlan
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Re: Technique advice?

Post by Peter Nowlan » Mon Oct 14, 2019 6:08 am

Captaincaed it was Jon who reinforced the idea of cleaning the edge and I’ve been focused on that for years now. It takes time to hone a technique, to own it. There are many out there and they all work once you get it nailed down.

Enjoy the process, it’s a living skill, you can always learn which is the beauty of it and what keeps us going.

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Captaincaed
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Re: Technique advice?

Post by Captaincaed » Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:18 am

Ken, I like your approach to cleaning the edge with small motions, seems to make sense, especially for the single bevel. I've have a crack at it and see how my edge performs.

Peter, thank you for the encouragement, I hope to have some follow up material in a week or two.

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Re: Technique advice?

Post by ken123 » Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:10 pm

Captaincaed wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:18 am
Ken, I like your approach to cleaning the edge with small motions, seems to make sense, especially for the single bevel. I've have a crack at it and see how my edge performs.

Peter, thank you for the encouragement, I hope to have some follow up material in a week or two.
Did I say that?

"Well, Captain, I reviewed the videos and I see the problems :) If you don't mind, I would like to critically review your technique. It is in some detail (I took notes), so let me know if this is of interest to you. It should make a VERY significant difference in your results."

Let me know and I'll write it up.

---
Ken

jmcnelly85
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Re: Technique advice?

Post by jmcnelly85 » Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:12 pm

I think I should clarify what I mean with the idea of moving less to mcve more. Say you are holding the end of a long stick in your hands, moving your hands inches may result in moving the other end multiple feet. How this can translate to sharpening is that a small amount of movement away from the action can create enough movement to facilitate an entire pass. When I see moving elbows and hands and all these little moving pieces, I have a hard time not seeing potential places to introduce variables. Countless people use techniques like that and are very good at it; however, I think finding motions with less moving pieces easier to be consistent with.

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ken123
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Re: Technique advice?

Post by ken123 » Mon Oct 14, 2019 11:44 pm

Well before I loose my remaining notes ... If I find my notes I may add more later.

There is an issue of angle control / precision and consistency.

There is an issue of burr management.

I won't focus on the stones at all for now.

So your problems begin on your first stone and carry through to the remaining stones. There is obviously a difference in your right and left hand technique. You have no idea what angle you are sharpening at. This problem could be ignored (I wouldn't) BUT you are inconsistent. You start out determining a sharpening angle and then wobble around from that angle - ESPECIALLY towards the tip of your knife. Notice how you fairly consistently make that angle more obtuse as you approach the tip - and you do this inconsistently. THIS is why your tips are bad. When you look at the tips they have been ground at multiple angles, almost making for a convex edge with multiple facets. You would get a much sharper edge JUST on your first stone without going further. Going past that to your finest grits simply makes bad worse, giving you the impression that the stone is making the edge duller. It is your technique.

So you must improve your precision. Sharpen at the SAME angle from heel to tip. Lifting up your blade inconsistently near the tip messes it up. Angular consistency is paramount. Some strokes have a LOT of lift - some very little. On your last stone you largely switch to sectional sharpening rather than the sweep-like sharpening you do on your earlier stones. Be consistent.

EVERY stroke counts. A few strokes tossed in won't fix your edges. EVERY stroke should be repeatable and consistent.

BURRS - this needs to be rethought completely. You do NOT need to generate big burrs along the entire edge. Even if your angles are all over the place, you can still generate burrs. This is what you are doing. A burr is NOT the mark of success. A PRECISE small burr (or no burr at all) is your gold standard. A burr denotes the two sides of the knife meeting and going past that point. If you flop all over, you will STILL generate burr. This is not adequate.

Edge testing. Test your edge after EACH stone. Remove stray burrs. Dry your blade THOROUGHLY before testing with a microfiber towel and see how well it slices and push cuts along the WHOLE length of the blade - especially in your case near the tip area. I use notebook paper for edge testing and paper towels for detecting burrs. Pick what works for you - phone book paper etc.

Stone wetness is good. On your final stone, you should develop a bit more slurry to maximize the effectiveness of that stone. But again, you must succeed on your first stone first.

Try to ignore the little 'J' strokes at the beginning of your strokes. Superfluous and inconsistent. DON'T try making your tips sharper by grinding them more. It's all about precision.

Look over this video regarding how you do your tips and how to maintain angular consistency. This is easily your biggest problem and why you consistently have a dull tip.

Hope this helps. Do take the comments critically and not as me being mean. Trying to help.
Try putting a sharpie marker on your edge and see if you can CLEANLY, under magnification, get clean passes from top to bottom of your edges.

Start over at your lowest grit to get consistent edges and the rest will follow.



---
Ken

Peter Nowlan
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Re: Technique advice?

Post by Peter Nowlan » Tue Oct 15, 2019 6:29 am

Nice write up Ken. Bravo Zulu.
(That’s quite the belt sander you have )

I’m often asked how to control a sharpening angle. I don’t know if any tricks other than just practicing into those sharpening muscles remember the motion.

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Re: Technique advice?

Post by ken123 » Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:04 pm

Thanks, Peter.

Practice is critical for sharpenng, cutting, etc.

A 'trick' I teach is to have a bright overhead lamp reflecting off of your knife. As you move the blade during a session, maintain the reflected light keeping it from moving around. This helps a lot.

As a teacher, "See one, do one, teach one" helps beat in our head what we try to teach another. This is our journey too :)

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Ken

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Re: Technique advice?

Post by Radar53 » Tue Oct 15, 2019 10:11 pm

Ken. I don't really know why, but when I first saw that video of yours 2 or 3?? years ago, something just "clicked " in my head. At that stage I was pretty new to freehand and like most learners I was really struggling with the last couple of inches toward the tip.

I couldn't progressively lift my elbow the right amount to make it work, tried lots of ways of finding the correct method etc, but still struggled. Somehow that video clarified in my engineer's brain, what my random actions were trying to achieve. So I found that, along with a lot of other useful tips & hints from this forum, plus Peter's Practice and Persistence mantra really helped me move forward.

So it's great to see it again here. Thanks
Cheers Grant

Just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean they're not going to get you!!

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ken123
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Re: Technique advice?

Post by ken123 » Tue Oct 15, 2019 10:36 pm

Thank you, Grant! It is a difficult lesson I've taught over and over. Essentially the 'See one, do one, teach one' or put another way - 'Wax on, Wax off' :)

I'm REALLY curious to get a review of the videos I went over earlier to see that others see what I saw in the videos... Especially the 'Capitan'.

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Ken

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