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Working the heel and the tip?

This topic contains 30 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Expidia 08/22/2018 at 2:50 pm.

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  • #47253

    Expidia
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    I know I’ve read this before and I can remember a comment from Organic that the heel and the tip are areas that are harder to work or need more attention.  And thats just what I’m finding.

    With most of  the last knives I’ve sharpened in that I usually have to drop down a few stone grits and work the heel and tip area again.  I think this (at least with my newbie technique) is because the stroke that starts at the heel is an upward motion leaving heavier vertical scratch marks near the heel whereas for the rest of the blade I can use a very light side to side scrubbing motion which helps in removing the previous grit’s scratches when used with some of my final strokes.  But the bolster of the knife stops me from doing this at the heel area.

    And the tip usually causes me extra effort . . . for one to be careful not to roll off the tip with my ending strokes or I can round the tip which is not what I want.  Sometimes since some blades are so short or flexible I use a small block of wood to prevent rolling off the tip.  But it always seems to be the area on the very edge of the tip (near the spine) that I can’t reach removing that last bit of marker unless I just keep working and re-profiling that tip until the markers gone.  I should be able to have the stones hit all the blade bevel area in the same stroke.  I’ve read Marc’s sweet spot sticky several times and still feel I’m doing a wrong blade placement in the vice to have to continue to work harder on the tip area.  It is a very slight area of marker that is left and usually I have to see it with my 10x lighted scope so I know I’m not apexing that area or drawing a flat bevel across the entire blade length.

    I can understand having to re-position a “long” kitchen knife or do it in two parts, but these are only 3.5 or less than 4 inch folding knife blades I’m working. To compensate the marker still on the very tip, I’ve tried tilting the tip slightly down in the jaws while keeping the blade still contacting the front peg of the depth key.  This seems to work, but it can give me a second bevel right at the tip or cause the bevel along the length of the blade to be wider near the tip area.  Maybe I should be “raising” the tip slightly instead of lowering it?  I’m trying to keep the blade within the curving arch of the stone travel and centered with the rod attachment points.

    I’ve also read in the threads another way to compensate for the tip not being worked enough is to reposition the blade in the jaws slightly back towards  my body.

    Please give me some tips as to my probable incorrect technique, because I don’t want to work the tip anymore than needed so as not to remove too much metal which over sharpening sessions I might be weakening the knife tip.

     

     

    #47254

    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 58
    • Replies: 1858

    expidia, there are two aspects of profiling; blade angle and blade shape.  Changing the angle to the guide rod angle setting you have chosen is desired.  Making changes to the shape of the knife is sometimes not.  Removal of the applied Sharpie black marker ink indicates where you’re stones are contacting the blade edge.  To maximize this contact we want to align the blade areas in the path the stone is removing the ink by adjusting the placement of the knife in the WE jaws or what ever additional clamping adapter you may be employing, (if that is the case).  The desire is to find this “sweet spot” clamping position which allows the stone to contact every bit of the knife’s bevel area.  As you said, it may require you to move the knife backward, forward or rotate the tip up or down, (sometimes all of these).  As you keep reapplying the black marker and keep removing the ink with light pressured stone contact, (I use 1500 grit to minimize the scratches), You’ll keep adjusting the knife’s clamping position so to move the bevel portion that is retaining the black ink to a position under the stone so as to remove the ink. If the ink is gone in front and below your remaining black strip on the bevel, the knife portion with this remaining black ink strip needs to be moved forward and lower, to be under and aligned to the stone’s contact patch.

    There is a balance you’re seeking because it’s sometimes difficult to reach every portion of the bevel as it has been made and shaped and profiled from the knife maker.  The knife maker did not shape and profile this knife in a fixed position, fixed angle grinding jig or sharpener like the WE edge.  Often we may need to sacrifice the original blade design integrity right at the tip or right at the heel if the perfect balance and perfect “sweet spot” clamping position can not be achieved for that knife’s profile as made or manufactured.  That’s why we tell users that almost every blade that gets sharpened with the WE edge undergoes some amount of profiling it’s first time clamped and sharpened in the WE to align it with the fixed angle sharpening aspect of a WE.  For subsequent sharpenings if the blade is reclamped in precisely the same position, your sweet spot will be right on.

    For a knife that it may be important to maintain the original shape and bevel integrity, (e.g., a collectible CRK or BM), you may have no choice but to clamp and sharpen the knife in stages to maintain this integrity.  This may include changing your guide rod angle setting for the tip, (or even possibly the heel) to match the bevel angle and shape at that portion of the blade, to the knife makers original design profile.  The WE is simply a secure clamping vice with indicated graduated adjustment points that frees up and allows you to use both of your hands to sharpen your knife.  You can use your WE while allowing it to dictate the terms and profile of the sharpening job or you can learn how to use this tool and manipulate it to do exactly what you want and need it to do.

    This choice is yours.  You can be a basic user, or a power user.  The WE will do everything you want and need it to do.  You just need to make it work for you.  There is not always one magic “sweet spot” for every single knife that’s made that makes the sharpening process simply “clamp and go” while allowing us to reach all the profile’s intricacies of every blade.  The WE is not hard to use but it’s certainly not always simple.   To get it to do what you want and need it to do, you will need to learn how to control it and use it to all it’s abilities and variabilities.  Sometimes you’ll even need to utilize an additional adapter.

    After all that, you have two choices , use the WE in the almost perfect “sweet spots” and continue to work your heels and tips removing steel till the sharpie ink is gone, while exercising enough effort and proper technique to not round the tips or scratch the heels as you are profiling the knives to your WE clamping positions.  Or, you can learn how to move your knives around and adjust your bevel angles, while sharpening these knives with your WE, in order to maintain the factory designed profile integrity.

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-It)

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    #47255

    Organic
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    Marc pretty much said it all. Every fixed angle sharpening solution will require some compromise on the profile in order to get perfectly consistent angles down the length of the blade. Sometimes this is a very small change and is nearly imperceptible, other times this will be a large change and will be noticeable.  An advantage of free hand sharpening is that you can easily adjust the sharpening angle throughout each stroke. This (theoretically) allows the sharpener to perfectly match the factory grind. In practice, no one can perfectly and repeatably match the angles from stroke to stroke when free hand sharpening. There will always be some variability from stroke to stroke no matter how good you get at it The result is both inferior sharpness and a re-profiling of the blade grind.

    My point is that you will re-profile a knife when sharpening it for the first time no mater what method you use. The process of finding the sweet spot on the WE is the process of finding the clamping position that minimizes the re-profiling on the first sharpening. After that, you will not need to re-profile the knife unless you want to.

    I work almost every knife in several small (2-3 in) overlapping sections rather than trying to get the whole blade length in a single sweeping motion. I feel that this allows me to work the blade more evenly. I spend extra time sharpening the tip and heel to compensate for the fact that the overlapping passes inevitably work the middle portion of the blade more than the heel and tip. If I’m trying to get the tip perfect, I will work only one side at a time and use my free hand to prevent the stone from rounding over the tip.

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    #47260

    Expidia
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    Thanks for those great responses.  I figured it was as you both say finding the best position for the blade.  I also realized when I was reading your responses that Chris Reeves puts on a “convex” edge on all their Sebenza 21 model which adds another fly in the ointment.

    I did watch the youtube by TCMeyer on convex edges a few weeks ago and also viewed Clay’s video several times where he showed convexing the edge of a Sebenza 21.

    I have no interest in going through all those motions to convex an edge and have been just re-profiling each CRK to their factory 17 degrees.

    That convexing of the edge was proably why I had trouble removing all the marker but from what is described above I was not staying at it long enough to find the sweet spot that removed all the marker.  And now I know its OK to keep moving the blade in the jaws until I find the sweet spot for a particular blade.  Then I’ll use the angle chart guide and write down those specs, so I can come back to that exact same positioning the next time I go to freshen the edge up on a knife I’ve already re-profiled.

    #47261

    Organic
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    Clay has said that there is a new convex sharpening attachment that is in the works, but it sounds like it will be several months before that becomes available to purchase. If you want a convex edge applied in a single pass you’ll have to use a different tool. Most factories use a belt sander for the job. The Work Sharp Ken Onion tool is an inexpensive belt sander designed for sharpening. KME makes a convexing rod for their sharpener.

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    #47262

    Expidia
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    From what I have experienced Im not a fan of the CRK factory edge, so I don’t need to replicate their convex edge.

    We had a birthday BBQ past Sat. and I was the BBQ Chef.  I put the hotdogs down next to the BBQ and took my Chris Reeve knife in hand,  but struggled to slice open the plastic with only one hand and I had to hold the plastic taught with my other hand just to cut it. This blade still has their factory edge on it and I bought it used, but it was used very little.  I kept saying to myself “If I had my other knife with me that I had already put a WE edge on it, it would have sliced through that wrapper like a hot blade going through a stick of butter”👍🏻

     

     

    #47263

    Organic
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    Have you tried stropping the factory edge? That may bring it back to life (assuming it was previously sharp).

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    #47267

    tcmeyer
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    • Topics: 33
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    Good info all….   I would like to address the issue of scratches at the heel, assuming that the knife in question has a high ricasso or a bolster which prevents proper follow-through.  So, where the stones are stopped for some reason at the heel:

    At the very end of the heel, the only abrasives which engage the edge do not pass over it.  They start (or stop) there and create scratches which stop at a fixed point.  To erase a scratch, you have to pass over it with a higher grit abrasive and more than likely with additional passes.  Since nothing actually passes over the very end, you cannot expect to remove scratches from a coarser grit.  This means that you have to address this area with a different technique.  Vertical strokes will erase the scratches for sure, but they will create a grind-line ridge one stone-width from the very end of the heel.

    A workable solution is to use the vertical strokes, taking care to not do more stoning than is absolutely necessary to remove unwanted scratches.  Then focus on blending the ridge-line with normal stroke directions, taking care to not hit the end-of-stroke limit at the heel.

    Another method I have used takes a bit of practice.  I approach the heel by changing direction in a circular path.  The aim is to have the perimeter of the circle end as close to the heel as you can get.  This is difficult, but it does avoid the ridge-line problem.  Being a lefty, I’m pretty good at pulling it off on the left side.  Not so much on the right.

     

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    #47271

    Expidia
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    Actually. this was another question I was going to search for an answer for.  Its not for this knife that has a dull factory edge.  I need to keep this one the way I received it as I might re-sell it.  The Chris Reeve crowd prefers a knife they want to buy to come just like it arrived from the factory.  They prefer it not to have been stropped or sent back to the factory to have been re-sharpened (even though its for free).  I guess its a loss of metal thing to them.  Many who trade this brand buy a knife and never use it, they put it in a safe until years later and at some point they decide to re-sell it or to trade it for another model.

    Of interest with the Chris Reeve brand is the pic I included showing a knife I bought and re-sold.  It holds better value when it is sold with exactly what it left the factory with:  it’s original box, leather sheath, hex wrench, tube of CRK grease, CRK cloth and most important it’s orginal Birth Certificate!

    But I mounted another knife the another night that I had put a WE edge on 2 months ago.  To freshen the edge I first tried stopping with the .5 and then .25 diamond spray on the Kangeroo strops.  About 10-20 strokes with each grit having dropped down 1.5 from the 17 degree factory angle that I had matched before stropping..  Lightly stropping so as not to roll over on the edge and dulling it.  This did not do much for the sharpness of the edge.  Was not slicing paper as smooth as it did when I first mirrored it.

    So then I dropped back to the 6 DLP, 3 DLP and 1 DLP and finished with the same stropping a mentioned above.  The edge was very sharp again.  So my question is am I doing overkill by dropping back to the 3 DLP’s progression again and then the stropping.  Should I be able to get back a super sharp edge with just stropping alone and/or its probably a result of my stropping technique preventing that super sharp freshened edge with just using the strops.

    Seems like the old time Barbers got super sharp edges on their straight razors just using those long stropping belts!

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    #47275

    Organic
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    If you are lowering the angle by 1.5 degrees then you will need to use medium to heavy pressure with the strops to get the leather to touch the apex. Alternatively, you can strop at the same angles as you previously sharpened but use very light pressure. I prefer the former method.

    Using strops to restore the edge will never get it to feel quite as good as it did when in it was fresh off of the stones / films (in my opinion). You probably can restore it to that same sharpness by doing only one lapping film, but I’m not 100% sure on that. That’s what I would try the next time around.

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    #47284

    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 58
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    Testing or demonstrating the sharpness of a freshly sharpened “Wicked Edge’ with magazine or newspaper can dull the edge as it’s slicing the paper to ribbons just enough to exhibit noticeable fall off.  To bring back the edge by stropping I’d begin with a coarse grit of at least 4µ and progress down the grits to finish with 0.25µ.

    The recommendation of Forum member “sksharp” who uses strops as a regular adjunct to his sharpening progression is:

    lower the set angle by 1-1/2º to 2º for cow leather strops that are thick and compressible,

    lower the set angle by only 1º for the thinner stiffer Kangaroo leather strops, and

    “Josh” of “Razors Edge” Sharpening  Services does not change the set angle, at all, to strop with nano cloth strops.

     

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-It)

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    #47285

    Expidia
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    Thanks for those tips Organic.  Now I know to strop lightly at the same angle or drop down 1.5 and strop a little heavier.

    I figured all I needed to do was use the 1 MU and then the strops, but I figured dropping back to the 6 and the 3 couldn’t hurt.

    I threw the towel in today and sent the knife I talked about above into Chris Reeve customer service. I looked at the factory edge under a 20x lighted loupe and the seller had said “lightly used” . . . But the edge was atrocious under the loupe.  The bevels were uneven as it looked like he tried to sharpen it by hand on a flat stone.  It has 3 Bog Oak wooden inlays and one had some diagaonal dull streaks across the grain that looked odd and irked me everytime I looked at it, so I sent it in to also have this inlay replaced by them.  I think they charge like $50 to replace a wooden inlay that it out of warranty. And it will come back with a new factory edge.

    #47286

    Expidia
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    • Topics: 39
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    Good info all…. I would like to address the issue of scratches at the heel, assuming that the knife in question has a high ricasso or a bolster which prevents proper follow-through. So, where the stones are stopped for some reason at the heel: At the very end of the heel, the only abrasives which engage the edge do not pass over it. They start (or stop) there and create scratches which stop at a fixed point. To erase a scratch, you have to pass over it with a higher grit abrasive and more than likely with additional passes. Since nothing actually passes over the very end, you cannot expect to remove scratches from a coarser grit. This means that you have to address this area with a different technique. Vertical strokes will erase the scratches for sure, but they will create a grind-line ridge one stone-width from the very end of the heel. A workable solution is to use the vertical strokes, taking care to not do more stoning than is absolutely necessary to remove unwanted scratches. Then focus on blending the ridge-line with normal stroke directions, taking care to not hit the end-of-stroke limit at the heel. Another method I have used takes a bit of practice. I approach the heel by changing direction in a circular path. The aim is to have the perimeter of the circle end as close to the heel as you can get. This is difficult, but it does avoid the ridge-line problem. Being a lefty, I’m pretty good at pulling it off on the left side. Not so much on the right.

    Thanks TC.  Have you ever posted a Youtube vid on the above techniques you described for working the heel?  I’ll re-read your post I’m just having a little trouble visualizing your two techniques.

    These CRK models have a decent choil and space from the bolster but I think even when I take the blade out of the handles the pressed in thumb stud gave me issues near the heel.  I’ll have to re-check this on my next Sebenza 21 blade to be sharpened.

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    #47305

    tcmeyer
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    Thanks TC. Have you ever posted a Youtube vid on the above techniques you described for working the heel? I’ll re-read your post I’m just having a little trouble visualizing your two techniques.
    I have a couple of videos I’ve meaning to do.  Unfortunately, on top of my usual procrastination, I have an equally daunting dislike of appearing in videos.  I promise I’ll do it soon.  Right now, my shop is upside-down.

     

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    #47315

    Expidia
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    Good info all…. I would like to address the issue of scratches at the heel, assuming that the knife in question has a high ricasso or a bolster which prevents proper follow-through. So, where the stones are stopped for some reason at the heel: At the very end of the heel, the only abrasives which engage the edge do not pass over it. They start (or stop) there and create scratches which stop at a fixed point. To erase a scratch, you have to pass over it with a higher grit abrasive and more than likely with additional passes. Since nothing actually passes over the very end, you cannot expect to remove scratches from a coarser grit. This means that you have to address this area with a different technique. Vertical strokes will erase the scratches for sure, but they will create a grind-line ridge one stone-width from the very end of the heel. A workable solution is to use the vertical strokes, taking care to not do more stoning than is absolutely necessary to remove unwanted scratches. Then focus on blending the ridge-line with normal stroke directions, taking care to not hit the end-of-stroke limit at the heel. Another method I have used takes a bit of practice. I approach the heel by changing direction in a circular path. The aim is to have the perimeter of the circle end as close to the heel as you can get. This is difficult, but it does avoid the ridge-line problem. Being a lefty, I’m pretty good at pulling it off on the left side. Not so much on the right.

    Upon re-reading your techniques I can better visualize what you said above.  Most of my folders are of super premium steel and they take me awhile to begin to raise an edge.  I do more vertical scrubbing and because of the closeness of the bolster on these small folders I do sometimes find that vertical ridge you described a stones width from the heel.  Today I’m do a blade with a 50-60RC on the Rockwell hardness scale.  It’s only a 3.22 length blade.

    I’m not trying to re-invent this system (just trying to cut down on my sharpening time) but I am tempted to mill off the plastic overhangs on the sides of each paddle which would save me a lot of repetitive strokes working the heal area.  I’ll have to replace the stones when the wear out anyway if milling them off turned out to be a no no.

    I know they must have designed the overhangs into the paddles for a reason… One thought is even though I protect the bolster with wrappings of blue tape I could see the coarser stones touching the bolster without the plastic overhangs and ripping right through the tape if I was not careful enough with my strokes.  Or the overhangs are there to insure a flatter non warping stone surface.

    With the CRK brand I can easily mount just the blade (even though the thumbstud sometimes gets in the way as they are presed in) But the Benchmade’s have hex head thumbstuds easily removed.  But their issue is I won’t take them apart as they have springs inside and their springs for their axis lock potentially breaking are already a known weak point with the brand.  And the assisted opening folder has another spring to deal with so I prefer not to open a BM just to sharpen.

    On another note: Can blue tape leave residual that won’t come off the balde again like with wiping with alcohol?  I use blue tape around the jaw area (I have to pick up some chamois).  It always seems to leave a shadow after I remove it but I thought it always came off.  I just sent two Damascus blades back to Chris Reeves customer service.  One I bought brand new which had a dull area in the last inch of the blade which bothered me as this was a brand new blade,  I think the dealer knew it was there but he probably oiled it so it took me time to notice it.  I WE’d the edge and I had to wipe it down after with alcohol and then the dull area appeared.  So luckily, CRK c/s is re-etching it at no charge because its within a 60 day warranty window.  Not so lucky for me is re-etching removes more blade metal.  I could not send it back to the dealer once I was over their 14 day exchange policy and then I WE’d the edge so I sent it to CRK instead.

    They said their inspection suggested that area was dull from some type of tape used.  I said no way as I would never have used blue tape in that area!

    I’ll attach a shot of the dull area.  The other Damascus blade had a shiny area from where the former owners rubbed their thumbs under the thumbstud to open it.  C/s said this can be caused by someone with acidic skin (give me a break, this should not happen in my opinion) They are charging me $75 to re-etch the blade and lose more metal on another blade.  Pic attached.

    This 2nd blade came with a mirror edge that was put on by a KME system.  I have to say whoever did it was experienced becasue even under a 10x loupe the horizontal scratches were very hard to see.  Our WE sysstems are a lot more versatile than a KME from my comparisons of the various systems before I bought the WE.

     

    also when the factory re-etches blade it they have to put another factory grind on.  Then I have to re-profile both edges all over again (sigh), losing even more blade steel

     

    • the 2nd pic is blurry as I had to enlarge it but the worn area can be seen.

     

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