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Edges...

1:22 a.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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What you you find to be the best grind for a bushcraft knife? Zero grind, convex, and flat grinds immediately come to mind...

Who out there strops? Who has mastered the mouse-pad technique, and how quickly/effectively can a convex edge be put on a flat-ground blade made of VG-10 steel?

I imagine answers to the "best grind" question will probably vary with the local forest type, but unless you carry a sharpening device into the backcountry, shouldn't a more durable edge be the overall goal?

1:56 a.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Wow! I have been putting a razor edge on mine for about 40 years with a belt sander and have no idea what your terms mean.

6:22 a.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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If you are having to grind an edge onto your knives then something is wrong. You should be able to just as easily do it with a wetstone or similar. Grinding takes way too much steel off comparitivly speaking and is reducing the lifespan of the knife by a great deal with each occurance. To each their own though.

I only use a grinding wheel on axes that see heavy use.

9:21 a.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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pillowthread:

I am not familiar with the zero grind...is there another name for that type of edge?

I personally wish I had more know-how when it comes to sharpening my blades, but unfortunately I have typically just used a Lansky sharpening stone set. I have found that for the different kinds of blades I own, it it not the most efficient tool. I would like to get better at the "hand" sharpening methods that way I can properly care for all of my different blades/shapes. Based on what I just looked up, I would think that the convex would be a good choice, it looks like it will hold an edge and be less susceptible to knicking or chipping that might occur on a flat grind.....just my opinion.

I hope this thread gets some good participation, I think there is a lot that can be shared and learned on this topic!

11:03 a.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Like D&G I wish I were better at this and would love to be able to get a razor edge by hand sharpening, but I doubt I will ever get there. Sharpening by hand seems a bit of an art form and I just don't have the time to work on that.

That said, what sort of jig/sharpening system do people use? I do need to get something other than a stone.

11:08 a.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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As a former machinist and son of a knifemaker I can tell you that a hollow ground blade, though the most fragile type of edge is much more likely to get and stay sharp because of its narrow profile. This also makes it possible to re-sharpen the edge with ease. Axes, machettes and knives that will not be well taken care of must not have this type of edge and a straight beveled edge is superior. As to the exact angle which is ideal for each edge, (they range from ten to thirty degrees) and unless you are creating the blade, just sharpen the edge with the angle that it comes with. Trying to adjust the angle of a cutting edge without machine shop tools just ruins the blade and makes your knife get smaller really fast.

The coarseness of the tool with which you hone your blade depends also on your intended task. To shave with you'd obviously need a very smooth Arkansas stone or a strop with polishing compound. For everyday use I use a cheap, durable dual-sided aluminum oxide stone on the fine side with a liberal coating of oil. A good, cheap all-around gun cleaning, lubricating and honing oil is simple automatic transmission fluid. Research done for the Green Berets favor it for everything because it has detergent properties, it handles heat and friction well, can be found all over the world and it is cheap in bulk. It is stinky though. For sharpening broadheads for archery I use a medium-fine arkansas stone (reddish -brown). On shovels and tools I use a single-cut file. NEVER use power tools to sharpen blades because unskilled, shade tree machinists often overheat the blades doing this (metal turns colors-bad) and destroy the temper of the metal. The only time this is desirable is if the steel comes from Pakistan in which case any heat treatment you give the blade will be an improvement.

I can go into more detail of any of these areas if anyone cares.

12:16 p.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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I guess I get the idea on how to create a convex and flat edge, but how does one create a "hollow grind"? And though the hollow grind will stay sharp, is it a good grind for the random uses you might need for a knife in the backcountry (ie using it to chop small branches)?

12:16 p.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Maintaining blades, whether knife, ax, hatchet, or fine carving set (either meat carving or wood carving) is an art best learned at the feet of a master with decades of experience. There are books (and then there is the Internet - possibly the worst place to learn anything ever devised), but personal mentoring is the only way to really learn. Unfortunately, such folks are few and far between. I was lucky to have a father and a couple uncles who could produce a perfect edge, suited to the task at hand. Unfortunately, all of them have departed this world.

Sage's sage advice is the best you will get from the web. Maybe he can set up an in-person Trailspace get-together for some tutoring. A week should do for a starter.

1:43 p.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Yes, a week should do. Bring lots of blades you dont especially care for...and some chicken.

Praise from Bill is something I treasure!

To clarify my comments regarding a hollow grind:

The term hollow grind refers to the shape concave shape of the cutting edge and is created by the knife maker. The best example of a hollow ground blade is seen on a strait razor. So obtaining a hollow ground blade is a matter of which knife you select and how that edge was made. The hollow ground portion is ground to a very steep angle and sharpened at a slightly flatter one (23-ish degrees).

For beginners there are some okay jigs which hold the blade in a clamp and the stone at a a set angle. After, as Bill describes, much practice one can do well sharpening the knife freehand.

However you proceed a few simple rules apply:

1. Absolutely maintain the angle the blade came with, whatever that may be, as you sharpen the blade. Muscle memory (a bad term but it is descriptive) will develop eventually to assist you.

2. See rule #1

An old trick is to tape pennies to the blade to help it sit on the stone at the proper angle and act as a helper. How many pennies? Like I said keep the factory angle. If you don't like the angle it came with, buy a different knife.

Happy sharpening!

3:07 p.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Sage, if you've got the time, check this kid out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX9FerqyoJMuQ

very impressive stuff...

3:41 p.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks for the link. The person on the video (a boy I think) certainly knows his stuff. I think it is a good one to watch to learn the basics of sharpening. As Bill S said it takes time to gain the manual skill needed to sharpen like the fellow in the video who makes it look easy.

I prefer not to have a razor's edge and I like the slight raggedness my aluminum oxide or arkansas stone gives a blade. A razor edge is impressive and can be usefull for things like shaving or archery broadheads. I also don't like the time required and the amount of metal you need to remove to get there. A pocket or sheath knife gets used a lot and a razor edge is time consuming to maintain. After all, the more you sharpen the smaller your blade gets.

4:27 p.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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This is exactly what I'm looking to talk about, this idea of a 'blade profile.' I'm of the camp that thinks "keep some metal behind the edge." I feel that, unless you want to have to strop your blade at the end of each day (which may or may not be fine with you), maintain an edge with more durability. I suppose it depends if you're shaving tinder or batoning wood lengthwise.

The mousepad technique I referred to necessitates gluing a piece of sandpaper to a firm neoprene mousepad. One then "drags" the blade across the paper at a very thin angle using only the blade's weight for resistance, thus allowing the mousepad to ever-so-slightly "curl" up under the dragging edge, producing an incredibly sharp, durable convex edge in short order, using ever-finer grits.

5:11 p.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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I use the Japanese wet stones that I use to sharping my rod making planes with.

8:24 p.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Well if the blade is primarily for camp work or bushcraft I prefer the Scandi grind. I keep it sharp by not letting it get dull I guess, after I use it I always pull it across a diamond stone a couple times. I wouldn't go on more than a weekend trip without a small sharpening stone, I use my knife and I like it to stay sharp.

What's the mouse pad technique, is that the modern equivalent of rice paper for swordsmen?

9:36 p.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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TheRambler said it all.

Grinding an edge on any cutting blade takes the temper out of the steel.

12:48 a.m. on July 22, 2010 (EDT)
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I use a DMT Diamond sharpener, it words really well and is small and light enough to keep in my pack.

I am still a novice at sharpening, however I am quickly improving which leads me to my question for the knife sharpening aficionado, the only knife I have actually had a problem sharpening is one that had, "made in china," stamped on it (haha) and I cant figure out why? I was using my DMT sharpener on its coarse side and nothing; yes, I was trying to match the current angle of the blade but it is quite old and worn out so I am not sure if that has anything to do with it or what... any advice would help.

This knife I mentioned isn't actually even mine I was trying to help some one out out because it was so dull and I just couldn't do it, so it was kind of a blow to my confidence. Haha I seem to sharpen my more expensive knifes better that I do this cheap one.

10:52 p.m. on July 22, 2010 (EDT)
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Saying that knives are a hobby for me is like saying John Muir had a mild interest in the Sierras....

For general outdoor use, I like a full flat grind with a very thin convexed edge to it. But I regularly use blades that are full convex, hollow ground, or scandi ground. I use all sorts of sharpening methods, depending on the blade grind, steel, etc. It could be traditional arkansas stones, DMT stones, strops, Spyderco Sharpmaker, etc, etc.

A sharp knife is a required part of my equipment.

11:42 p.m. on July 22, 2010 (EDT)
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Any blade I buy and use frequently is sharpened on a block and leather strop. If it is really in need of love, wet/dry sandpaper to redefine the edge and the work my way back down to the leather. It's essentially a convex edge. Makes and keeps them razor sharp without much effort. Learning to use a strop was the best thing that ever happened to my knife usage.

10:23 a.m. on July 29, 2010 (EDT)
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CRAZY STATEMENT ALERT! THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT HAS BEEN REGARDED BY SOME AS CRAZY:

I think that a good way to appreciate a sharp blade is to learn to shave with a straight razor. I picked up a razor and a strop at an antique store and, along with a pig bristle brush and shaving soap, you will quickly learn what really sharp is, and is not. Don't pay over $15 for a razor. Good articles on doing this are online and even some videos. Also shaving old-school saves money. Soap is a buck, you never throw away empty foam cans or blades and your razor will never be discontinued (it technically already has been). You never need to hunt down special blades for your razor.

I imagine there are some here who have shaved old-school back before it was old and may be able to add their amen to this crazy statement.

THIS CONCLUDES THE CRAZY STATEMENT.

3:33 a.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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...but you usually see a hollow-ground edge on a shaving razor, yes?

12:37 p.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Almost invariably.

1:19 p.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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...but you usually see a hollow-ground edge on a shaving razor, yes?

Reason being is that it allows you to maintain the angle of the edge by simply laying the blade flat on a stone while honing. So, in their case, the grind shape is a function of easing future maintenance more than anything else.

9:47 p.m. on August 3, 2010 (EDT)
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But, this thin angle created from the hollow grind is prone to roll over when presented with something like a knot in wood, yes?

1:35 p.m. on August 9, 2010 (EDT)
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Rolling over may be a risk if the blade had an extremely thin profile (straight-razor style) and if it were made of something along the lines of coper, aluminum or playdoh. Pakistani stainless also fits in this category. A quality hollow ground blade would not but it would dull faster from abuse. Hollow ground blades also chip easier. A hollow ground blade is not the best choice for a knife that will be used to hack things but it will be easy to sharpen, cut the longest and keep its edge well when used on most knife-friendly materials. I carve wood with hollow ground blades and do just fine. I would never try to crack the bones of a large game animal with one. Especially after I nicked the blade on the knife my dad made me a few years ago doing this.

April 24, 2014
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