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[nafex] Knife Sharpening

Hello List,

I have been looking for a good means to sharpen my garden
knives that is simple, and only uses simple resources.  I
found the following information and thought I would share it
with the list.

If anyone has any comments on how to get a good knife edge,
suitable for grafting, I would love to hear them.


Note: All the following were gleaned from the bible of knife
sharpening called "The Razor Edge Book of Sharpening" by
John Juranitch, published by Warner Books

1. The specific angle is not as important as keeping a
constant angle (angle of knife edge to sharpening stone).
The more acute the angle the sharper the knife, but the edge
will not last as long.

2. When using the rough grit stone use a shallower angle
than when using  the fine stone. That is, grind the
(usually) sorry factory edge to a shallow angle with the
rough grit stone and I want to stress here that there is no
special way to do this because you are just removing useless
stock from the blade. Just grind one side of the blade until
it is ground down enough.   What is enough? Well enough is
defined like this: Once you have ground the blade down
enough (maintaining the same angle all the while) to have
touched the cutting edge, start to test the edge on the
opposite side of the blade by running your finger nail at a
90 degree angle to the opposite edge moving from the back of
the blade towards the edge. Why? Well you are trying to find
the curled edge (or burr) created by the grinding down of
the first edge. Once you have this curled lip along the edge
from tip to tang then turn the knife over and begin grinding
the other side until you have the same curled lip for that
side. Once you are done you should have a roughly ground
edge with a fairly shallow angle.

3. Now take your fine grit stone (at least 400 grit or
finer) and raise the angle of the blade you just ground down
by just a little more and using moderate pressure make a
single cutting stroke maintaining as much as possible the
same angle down the stone making sure to sharpen the whole
length of the edge on the stroke. Now after one single
stroke turn the knife over and repeat the same process. Do
all this slowly and deliberately. Repeat this about 6 times
and then begin to lighten the pressure on the blade as it
strokes the stone. At about the 10th or 12th repetition
about only the weight of the blade should be pressing on the

4. IMPORTANT! Do not use water or oil of any kind on any
stone to sharpen your knife. In fact if you have been using
some liquid on your stone, wipe it off as best you can or
get a new stone which has not been tainted with such a
substance. I know this goes against years and years of
trusted advise from friends, fathers, aunts, uncles,
grandfathers and etc.... Trust me on this one. Read the book
to find out why this is true.

5. After step 3 test the sharpness (carefully) by cutting a
sheet of paper or (even more carefully) trying to shave a
few hairs off your arm.  If you followed step 2 faithfully
you should have an almost razor sharp edge. If not then
re-read step 2 and do it again from the course stone.  Step
2 is most important. Step 3 actually does the sharpening.

6. The more highly polished an edge the better it cuts.
"Teeth" does not a razor edge make.


Thomas Olenio
Ontario, Canada
Hardiness Zone 6a

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