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Uneven Bevels, Know What You've Got!

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  • #47322
    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 64
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    With the flavor of this Forum lately being discussions on matching bevel angles and “find the sweet spot”, I thought this was an appropriate example for this discussion.   Many new users to the Wicked Edge Sharpening Systems seek advice on how to sharpen their knife blades while matching or keeping the bevel angle the same as it came with the knife and making the appearance of these bevels straight and even across the knife blade.

    If you are a regular Forum reader and you’ve been keeping attuned, you have read in several member’s contributions that the bevel angle on their knives often don’t match from knife side to knife side or even down the length of the knife as they came from the knife makers.

    I have made this same observation, time and time again.  Now I try to make it a practice to clamp up all my new knife acquisitions, in the WE vice, simply to see what I’ve got.  Being a hobbyist knife sharpener, like most of you, I’m curious how the knife maker’s apply their edge.  I want to see the beveled edges before I use the knife, right out-of-the-box.  I have taken to photographing these bevel edges with my USB microscope to have a record of the edge appearance for future sharpening reference.   I have quit sharpening my new knives, like I did when I first bought the WE.  Back then I bought knives just to have something to sharpen.  Now I use a new knife until it needs to be sharpened so I can get a good feel for how this maker’s knife grind and bevels, cut and slice.  Then, when I need to sharpen the knife I have the photographs to help me to sharpen the knife with the WE.  If the feel for my sharpened knife is not what I’ve become accustomed to, I can look to the photos to help me to sharpen the knife in a manner that emulates the knife maker’s edge.

    Here are some photos showing my new knife edge.  This happens to be one of the sharpest, best cutting and slicing knives I have ever use, right out-of-the-box.  You’ll be surprised at just how unremarkable appearing and uneven and unsymmetrical sized the bevels are.  I did not measure the bevel’s angle.  That I save for sharpening time.

    Left-side-bevel-fwd-of-heel
    Left-side-bevel-behind-tip
    Left-side-bevel-tip
    Right-side-bevel-tip
    I’ll make another post if add a couple more photos.

     

     

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-Its)

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    #47328
    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 64
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    Here are a couple more photos from the right side bevel:

    Rt-side-behind-tip
    Rt-side-just-fwd-of-heel
    As you can see the bevel’s are inconsistent in size and grind shape from knife side to side and also up along the knife’s length of the bevels on the same knife sides.  You’ll also notice the lack of polish in these bevels.
    When we try to sharpen a knife precisely and evenly, with even width bevels along the length and even sized bevels, from knife side to side, it may be creating an artificial or atypical situation that results in a poorer performing blade?  It just looks good, at least in the eye of the knife sharpener and who he shows it to.

     

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-Its)

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    #47332
    Organic
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    • Topics: 17
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    This is an interesting question. I don’t think that having nearly perfectly symmetrical bevels can negatively impact sharpness. I do think that practical cutting performance can be negatively impacted by refining the edge to extreme levels. One of the reasons that people love the finish left by natural Japanese water stones is that they have a mix of abrasive particles which impart a combination of refinement and micro serrations that give the edge a good amount of bite.

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    #47339
    William
    Participant
    • Topics: 9
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    Great post Marc! 👍

    #47340
    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 64
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    I want to make sure what I posted is clearly understood.  I have nothing against perfectly symmetrical, pretty, shiny, even bevels.  This is not what makes a knife sharp.  That was proven by the knife I pictured and many others I have photographed, right out-of-the-box.  There was nothing pretty, special or even about that knife’s edge.  But it was keen… What makes an edge sharp is the precision of the meeting place between the two planes of the bevel sides to form a narrow line, the apex of the knife edge.  This is how I define a keen, sharp edge.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s pretty and it also doesn’t hurt it to be beautiful, even sized, shiny and symmetrical.  All that matters is the precision and acuteness of that meeting place, i.e., the line formed where the two bevel planes intersect.

    I’m just trying to say worry more about the effectiveness of your sharpened edge and less about it’s appearance.  When you can do both, sharpen an effective edge and make it nice, even and shiny in appearance, then you’ve got the best of both edges.

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-Its)

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    #47341
    William
    Participant
    • Topics: 9
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    I want to make sure what I posted is clearly understood. I have nothing against perfectly symmetrical, pretty, shiny, even bevels. This is not what makes a knife sharp. That was proven by the knife I pictured and many others I have photographed, right out-of-the-box. There was nothing pretty, special or even about that knife’s edge. But it was keen… What makes an edge sharp is the precision of the meeting place between the two planes of the bevel sides to form a narrow line, the apex of the knife edge. This is how I define a keen, sharp edge. It doesn’t matter if it’s pretty and it also doesn’t hurt it to be beautiful, even sized, shiny and symmetrical. All that matters is the precision and acuteness of that meeting place, i.e., the line formed where the two bevel planes intersect. I’m just trying to say worry more about the effectiveness of your sharpened edge and less about it’s appearance. When you can do both, sharpen an effective edge and make it nice, even and shiny in appearance, then you’ve got the best of both edges.

    A lesson learned on my last venture.   Never did get that Kershaw Link symmetrical.   But I’m now ok with that.   It is sharper than anything I have or had (ask me how I know…. ).  The bevels are kinda pretty to boot.  🙂

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