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About to attempt my first sharpening and have a few questions

Recent Forums Main Forum Techniques and Sharpening Strategies About to attempt my first sharpening and have a few questions

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  • #57382
    Jake M
    Participant
    • Topics: 1
    • Replies: 4

    Hey everyone,

    As the title suggests I just got the pro pack 1 and have been reading everything I can and watching YouTube videos as well.

    The instructions always say to use the sharpie trick when starting out to make sure your angle is good and it recommends to match the manufacturer angle.

    My problem is that I’ve already been sharpening my pocket knives on whetstones and the angles are already different from the manufacturer angle, and most of my knives have uneven angles because I’m just no consistent when free hand sharpening. That’s why I decided to get this system..for consistent bevel angles on both sides of the blade.

    So, if i have a blade where one side is maybe 17* and the other side is 20*, and I just want both sides to be at 21*, can I just set the WE to 21* (using a digitize angle gauge) and just  go for it?

    I understand that the sharpie trick is also used for front to back alignment, which I will do..I’m just thinking of skipping the sharpie trick to ‘find my angle’.

    thanks!!

    #57383
    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 64
    • Replies: 2532

    Welcome to the forum, Jake M.

    You are correct.  You can set the bevel angles using the digital angle cube to reprofile your knives to angles of your choosing.

    I’d still use the marker trick to allow you to see the progress your making removing steel and where your stones are contacting the knife edge.  I’d continuously reapply the marker as you reprofile the knife edge to monitor your progress.  It’ll help you to see how well the new bevel angles are established as you reprofile your knives.

    It will take 8 or 10 knives worth of sharpening for your stones to break in and become more uniform and consistent in the scratch patterns.   It usually takes about that same amount of practice for new W.E. user’s to get the hang of sharpening knives before you begin to see expected results.

    Just so you know, the standard vise version included with the PP1 clamps knives with a slight lean to the left.  This is a characteristic of the mechanics of that vise design.  There are plenty of forum posts, videos and written instructions in the Knowledge Base to help you learn how to correct for this inherent lean.

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-Its)

    #57384
    Jake M
    Participant
    • Topics: 1
    • Replies: 4

    Thank you for the reply and tips. I’ll still use the sharpie trick and reapply as I progress through the process.

    Merry Christmas all.

    #57385
    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 64
    • Replies: 2532

    Just so you know, the standard vise version included with the PP1 clamps knives with a slight lean to the left. This is a characteristic of the mechanics of that vise design. There are plenty of forum posts, videos and written instructions in the Knowledge Base to help you learn how to correct for this inherent lean.

    Watch these videos.  It should help you compensate for the blade lean.

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-Its)

    #57386
    Jake M
    Participant
    • Topics: 1
    • Replies: 4

    Thanks for sharing.

    I just finished sharpening my first two pocket knives. I would say it went pretty well and I can feel myself coming up the learning curve quickly.

    I do have a question. When using the sharpie to check for correct front/back placement (not sure what the term is), I realized that the left side would be good and have an even bevel, while the right side would tell me that I have to move the knife back closer to the clamp (sharpie left on the edge at the tip of the blade).  Is this because of the inherent issue you mentioned above? If not, is there anything else that I need to check in my installation of the clamp or base?

    Thanks again!!

    #57387
    Jake M
    Participant
    • Topics: 1
    • Replies: 4

    Im going to restate my question after reading your ‘how to find the sweet spot’ post.

    Do you ever notice that the sweet spot on the left side is different than the sweet spot on the right, even on a non FFG knife?

     

     

    #57388
    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 64
    • Replies: 2532

    Jake, here’s a link to a previous forum thread you might want to read with a video you should watch…

    https://knife.wickededgeusa.com/forums/topic/instructional-video-series-on-youtube-finding-the-sweet-spot/#post-57154

    There are two things going on you need to learn to deal with.

    1. Setting the appropriate sharpening angle, and
    2. clamping the knife in an efficient sharpening position, the “sweet spot”, where the stones can contact all of the knife edge’s length.

    Both of these are related and effect how you can sharpen the edge.  The first one is adjusted by the guide rod angle settings and the second is related to the knife’s clamped position.

    If the stones are not contacting the bevel at the knife’s edge or apex, but it is reaching the bevel lower down, like you are experiencing on just the left side, that’s seems most likely that it’s an angle issue and not a positioning or “sweet spot” issue.  If it’s a positioning issue it should affect both sides of the knife the same way at that same place along the edge.

    It seems from your description of your sharpening issue that the existing angle on the left side is wider, more obtuse, at the edge than the angle you are trying to sharpen it to.  That’s why it’s always a good idea to use the sharpie trick to determine the beginning angle even if you plan on sharpening the knife to a different edge profile.  Then, at least you’ll know what angle you’re starting with.  This gives you a plan of attack knowing what you’ll be trying to do to it.  Sometimes if the angles are very different, both from side to side and what it is to begin with compared to what you want to change it to, you may need to rethink what you’re wanting to do.  Sometimes you may need to work with what you have and make the changes gradually over several sharpening sessions.  Removing and wasting too much good, usable steel can change the edge profile so much to render a knife too short in height or too thick to be used well.

    For the knife you’re sharpening, if you keep at it on the left side where you are not reaching the apex, eventually after removing enough steel from where you are able to make contact, lower down on the bevel, you will catch up towards the edge as your bevel gets taller.  But you’ll waste a lot of time, effort and knife edge steel. That is what re-profiling is…changing the angle and shape of the knife edge.  You may need to find a balance and work with what you have.  It’s not like a bad haircut.  It doesn’t grow back.

    The clamping blade lean to the left associated with your “standard vise version” for your WE100 model in the Pro Pack 1, means that for any clamped knife the left side is leaning closer to the left side guide rod and right knife side is leaning farther away from the right guide rod by the same amount, given that everything about the knife is symmetrical.  That being said you’ll want to adjust the left side set angles (-) the determined offset or determined correction value for that knife and set the right side (+) the offset.  If you haven’t yet learned how to determine the lean correction value using 1.5º or 2.0º is a good guesstimate or work around adjustment value, to start with, until you learn how to determine the actual correction value for each knife, you’ll be sharpening.

    So, if you’re wanting to sharpen the knife to 20º per side, set the left angle at 18.5º or 18º and the right-side angle at 21.5º or 22º.

    Hope this helps and doesn’t seem too complicated.

     

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-Its)

    #57389
    Jake M
    Participant
    • Topics: 1
    • Replies: 4

    Marc,

    Thanks for your very detailed and thoughtful answers. I have a few clarifying questions if you don’t mind.

    For the left side lean, does this only affect full flat grinds or are you saying all knives are potentially affected? I’ve watched the videos you linked and they seem to be specific to full flat grind blades.

    Also, instead of guessing the amount of adjustment to make, can’t I just put the angle cube on the sharpening stone as it’s leaning on the clamped in blade? Wouldn’t this be the angle that I’m sharpening at regardless of all other factors (such as how I’m clamped or how the knife is sitting in the vice)?

    Lastly, on the knife I sharpened today (zt 0470)..even though the bevels looked kind of equal to the eye..in order to get the sharpie removed I had to set one guide rod to 20* and the other to 28*!! I was getting frustrated because I thought I had to be doing something wrong..and started doubting things like maybe I set up the system wrong or installed the base wrong. Anyways I was a bit frustrating so I’m back to studying (reading forum posts and rewatching all the instructional videos again.

    Thanks again for all your help. It is much needed.

    #57390
    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 64
    • Replies: 2532

    Jake, In my experience, most knives are tapered from the spine to the edge and often tapered down to the tip also.  Only a knife that is the same thickness with parallel ground sides where it sits and clamps in the vise and rests against the vertical stationary left side vise, will be vertical when clamped with no lean.

    A properly zeroed cube will give you the relative angle the stones and the guide rods are to the knife as it rests on the knife.  Only after you match the stone’s face flat to the flat bevel then the angle cubes reading is the existing bevel angle.  The stone set to an angle of your choosing can be used to grind the knife’s edge to create the bevel at that angle you chose to use.  That is “profiling” the knife edge.

    That’s a big variance 20º vs 28º, and an easily visually noticeable difference.  The vise mounts on the aluminum base with two predrilled holes.  There’s no way to put it together wrong.  If you disassemble/reassemble the WE100 the square bar has three holes through it.  Be sure the square bar is centered, left and right to the blue mount.  Just to be clear the inscribed angle numbers on the square bar are for reference only and are not a true indicator of the set angles.  So don’t use the inscribed numbers to take angle readings.  It’s better to use an angle cube.

    your pm was replied.

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-Its)

    #57449
    tcmeyer
    Participant
    • Topics: 37
    • Replies: 2045

    Sorry, but I’m jumping in a little late to this thread, but I have a couple of comments that might be important here.  First, Marc may have misstated the issue of blades “leaning to the left.”  This really only applies to blades which have no vertical sides which can be clamped, such as those which are Full-Flat-Ground.  The Gen 1 vise is quite capable of clamping most blades vertically, although some blades may take some extra effort and creative thinking to do correctly.

    The “sharpie trick” offers one major benefit besides helping to find a sweet spot, and that is to show you when you are not hitting the apex.  If your eyes are up to the job, you can usually see the very thin black line at the apex, even without aid of magnification when you are not quite reaching the apex.  This is especially important when you’ve misadjusted the angle or when the stone thickness is different.  Hold a white card behind the edge if your background is too dark to see it well.  This is one of the most important tricks I’ve learned and is applicable to hand sharpening even more so.

    Finding that a blade has different sweet spots between one side and the other is a common experience.  It’s simply a result of the manufacturer being less than precise at the last stage of manufacturing.  The purpose of finding the sweet spot is to match your bevel to the existing bevel.  It minimizes the amount of effort required as well as the amount of steel to be removed.  If the sweet spots are different, then the only sensible approach is to “reprofile” one side to match the other.

    1 user thanked author for this post.
    #57450
    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 64
    • Replies: 2532

    Sorry, but I’m jumping in a little late to this thread, but I have a couple of comments that might be important here. First, Marc may have misstated the issue of blades “leaning to the left.” This really only applies to blades which have no vertical sides which can be clamped, such as those which are Full-Flat-Ground. The Gen 1 vise is quite capable of clamping most blades vertically, although some blades may take some extra effort and creative thinking to do correctly.

    Tom, I believe that is what I wrote.

    Jake, In my experience, most knives are tapered from the spine to the edge and often tapered down to the tip also. Only a knife that is the same thickness with parallel ground sides where it sits and clamps in the vise and rests against the vertical stationary left side vise, will be vertical when clamped with no lean. 

    Finding that a blade has different sweet spots between one side and the other is a common experience. It’s simply a result of the manufacturer being less than precise at the last stage of manufacturing. The purpose of finding the sweet spot is to match your bevel to the existing bevel. It minimizes the amount of effort required as well as the amount of steel to be removed. If the sweet spots are different, then the only sensible approach is to “reprofile” one side to match the other.

    Here I think it’s just semantics…I submit to you if you can correct unmatched angles on both sides of a knife with reprofiling to make the two sides match, it’s a bevel angle issue and not a clamping issue.  Simply, the bevels were ground or sharpened at different angles.  Sharpening is done in the final stages of knife manufacturing.  The “sweet spot” is a position like Tom correctly says, “minimizes the amount of effort required as well as the amount of steel to be removed.”  We try to use it to find that best clamping position we can.  Often one knife side yields or suggests better clamping results then the other.  Once we chose that best clamping position, maybe it’s a compromise, we sharpen and reprofile both sides of the knife as necessary to achieve bevel angle results we seek.  For a 50:50 even/symmetrical bevel grind that’ll be equal angle bevels side to side.

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-Its)

    #57456
    tcmeyer
    Participant
    • Topics: 37
    • Replies: 2045

    Marc, I think maybe we’re just looking at the definition of reprofiling.  Reprofiling is simply the act of changing the bevel shape to either correct an imperfect shape or to change it to a preferred shape.  In this case, we’re talking about a situation where one side is mismatched to the other.  Likely, the fellow at the belt sander changed the angle of the bevel as he swept along the belly on one side, relative to the other side.  By my definition, correcting that error is a reprofiling process for that side.  The issue to be decided is which side is the preferred.  You can usually find a sweet spot for  most blades, but if the belly is not ground at an angle consistent with the main bevel, you are simply matching a poorly executed factory edge.  I choose the position that keeps the radius line of the belly centered on the rod pivot point.  At the middle of the belly, the distance from the pivot point to the edge is very close to the distance from the pivot point to the edge above the center of the vise.  It may not keep the same bevel width (due to blade thickness), but it stays as close to the main bevel angle as possible.

    #57457
    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 64
    • Replies: 2532

    Yes, the definition or the meaning we choose to assign to a word when we use it is “semantics”.  Reprofiling in my understood meaning includes the bevel angle we choose to use.

    Believe it or not, I think we use the W.E. the same way.  I find the best “sweet spot” position even if it requires a balance or compromise from side to side. I try to find a way to work with a knife as it is.  I don’t care much if my finished, sharpened bevels across the entire length of the knife edge may be inconsistent in their heights.  Overall edge keeness, edge sharpness and ease of repeatability for future touchups are all that really matter to me for my practical purposes.

    The knives I use, are mostly hand-made chef’s knives and may lack perfection or precisely measurable symmetry, side-to-side.   That’s OK, that doesn’t make them any less of a cutting work of art.  I use them for what they are and try enjoy them. Some I like better than others.  Even after being nicely sharpened some knives I don’t like so much.  I do not look to change them or correct them other then what I’m able to accomplish profiling then sharpening them with my W.E.  My goal is to figure out how to use my WE sharpener(s) to apply a sharpened edge, that I can repeated later, on each knife, as close to how the knives were originally crafted.

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-Its)

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