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Free hand sharpening or use gadget.

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Houlahound, Jul 8, 2019.

  1. Bill3152


    Nov 27, 2018
    Just want to add as was said a belt sander for profiling is a good thing to have. Paper wheel also. I don't use these as often as i used to but they're great to have around.
  2. lonestar1979


    Mar 2, 2014
    Free hand edges are better than most edges made on these gadges,just get a cheap stone and practice.
    David Martin likes this.
  3. xraso

    xraso Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 11, 2014
    I started freehand and was "ok", but never knew a hair popping/whittling edge. Then got a few different rigs (Sharpmaker, Lansky, WS Guided system) and could get hair popping edge with a little practice. This taught me the logic behind sharpening. Then went back to freehand and can get hair-whittling edges now with my DMT diamond stones and a block of wood with leather and green compound.

    I prefer free-handing for two main practical reasons (not including the enjoyment factor):

    1) Freehanding gives you a naturally convex edge, which should be more durable that the 'V' edge a guided system will give you. And I (through trying them both out) prefer the performance of the convex edge
    2) Once you get used to it, you can fine tune your angle easier freehand and deal with different blade geometries that might not work so well in a jig.

    But, you can get your knife sharp both ways, and for both ways you need to understand what it means to sharpen a knife :)
    Tjstampa and Ripcord 82 like this.
  4. xraso

    xraso Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 11, 2014
    Just don't try to sharpen a super-steel on those cheap stones or you might get really discouraged :)
  5. lonestar1979


    Mar 2, 2014
    Sil carbide is inexpensive and sharpens those super steels eithout problem,norton economy stone is the one to get
    David Martin likes this.
  6. sickpuppy1

    sickpuppy1 Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 27, 2018
    I'm all about the gadgets,lol
  7. Twindog

    Twindog Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    I seldom freehand. A guided system is better for creating precise edges.

    For major sharpening and reprofiling, I use the Wicked Edge -- usually at 30 degrees inclusive. The system allows me to do everything from reprofiling to stropping at the same exact angle.

    For light sharpening, I freehand strop and/or use the Sharpmaker at the 40-degree setting to create a microbevel. Fast, easy and accurate. And it removes very little steel, only what is absolutely needed.

    But, in reality, any sharpening system works just fine -- if you are well practiced and know what you're doing.

    I'll admit that freehanding is more macho.
    Spats McGee likes this.
  8. David Martin

    David Martin Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 7, 2008
    Try carrying around a belt sander or paper wheels to kinfolks, Mother in Law's or deer hunting camp to sharpen up a few of their kitchen knives. Even
    better bring these gadgets to knife shows or gun shows and set them up to do 2 days of sharpening. Then break it all down and
    haul it home. These gadgets work better when people bring the knives to you. DM
    Spats McGee, dantzk8 and lonestar1979 like this.
  9. lonestar1979


    Mar 2, 2014
    Its easy to sharpen on stones,just practice,get norton sil carbide,india,or some of dmt stones,and with practice youll get better and ,sharper and more durable edges than on any of these gadgets,with stones you can sharpen to your own specific angle,create convex edges etc,its all matter of technique.Most gadgets do not produce optimal edge ,and youre stuck with n9t s9 sharp knife that shaves hair and cuts paper.Stones are for real world use ,although some gadgets are pretty good like sharpmaker,but in combination with stones are excellent.
    David Martin likes this.
  10. Twindog

    Twindog Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    If you know what you're doing and are well practiced, free-handing stones can produce an excellent edge. No doubt. And in many ways, free-hand stones are often more convenient.

    However, the idea that free-handing produces "better, sharper and more durable edges" than a Wicked Edge or Edge Pro or many other good systems, is patent nonsense.
    awsimpson likes this.
  11. lonestar1979


    Mar 2, 2014
    Well wicked edge is different,it gives excellent edge,but money wise,with stones and everything else it isnt worth it.And yeah,i think stone can give better edge than any of those gadgets.
  12. Bill3152


    Nov 27, 2018
    A skilled person can create a great edge on any device or freehand. One isn't better than the other. If one edge is better than the other it's likely the person doing the work isn't versed in that method or is more versed in another method. 6 of 1 half dozen of the other.
  13. kreisler


    May 11, 2012
    first use gadget for a year,
    then transition to freehand.
    with supermarket knives the most difficult task is not the holding of steady angle and the grinding and creating a burr wire edge. u can learn that in 1 afternoon if you are not dumb no offense.
    the most difficult is the deburring. and you canNOT ALWAYS do it your one standard textbook way.
    deburring can become extremely challenging with certain supercheap steels and then only freehand would get you the best possible result.
    never mind, good luck
  14. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    In my own use I don't really see any difference between the two in any way that matters for offhand/anecdotal standards, so I agree with this statement.

    But...CATRA did find a couple degrees of convex (typical of good freehand standards) resulted in longer lasting edges during testing - they felt strongly enough about it to have developed a powered grinder that produces just such an edge.

    On my own guided system I've tinkered around (unsuccessfully so far) with controlled ways to introduce some noise under the assumption it would speed up the process a bit, better hide warps and twists in the primary grind, and possibly improve burr removal. It would also induce that two degree variation that CATRA endorses.
    mb> and David Martin like this.
  15. Twindog

    Twindog Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 6, 2004

    Interesting. Do you have a link to that study. I'd love to read it.
  16. MTHall720

    MTHall720 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 21, 2010
    I actually do both freehand and use a guided system. For blades that need a more serious amount of work I use a DMT Bench stone. It saves me a lot of time. One side is coarse and the other side is fine. I also use it for really huge blades like a Machete. For light touch ups I use the Idahone system which I prefer over the Spyderco Sharpmaker (just a personal preference). Hope this helps.
  17. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    I can't find the research they did to arrive at that conclusion. Here's the response I got from one of their reps:
    David Martin likes this.
  18. soc_monki


    Apr 5, 2019
    I usually use a Lansky to get my edge bevels close to 15 dps. Then I'll finish on the sharpmaker. If a knife is already close to 15 dps, such as with my Kershaw Natrix Xl today, I just go to the sharpmaker diamond rods and work at it a little bit. Didn't take long, only about an inch was over 15 degrees, but I still did the whole edge just for the scratch pattern. Then worked it on the medium stones to polish. Then microbevel up to ultrafine, popping hairs and going through paper (and some cardboard boxes tonight).

    My system works for me. Will a coarse bench stone make my work easier? Maybe. But I like the edges I get, and I get better and faster the more I practice. I think that's the key. Learn your tools, and everything else will come.
  19. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    I've been free hand sharpening since I was like nine years old. I'm fifty nine now.
    Don't use a "Gadget" use an Edge Pro Apex (which is a serious sharpening tool).

    To put it another way, and this is the way I always put it in these threads, lets say NASA or some other out fit needs a precision part made. Tolerances to a fraction of a degree and to a few microns thickness.
    That's what it takes to make a sharp knife . . . what I call sharp anyway . . . some are more relaxed and tolerant of mediocre results than I am.

    Do they get some guy to rub it with a file or a hand held rock judging the results by eye balling it using prayer and guess work.
    Or do they chuck that sucker into a precision machine that is capable of reproducing angled cuts with a high degree of predictability and precision . . . removing minute amounts of material from the critical areas of the parts to a measured few microns

    You can play around or you can sharpen.
  20. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    Like the mirror on Hubble telescope...?
    sickpuppy1 likes this.

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