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    Username Post: Sharpening My Way        (Topic#776367)
    Jerry Hossom
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    09-01-06 15:29.10 - Post#1025555    



    Well, not exactly. I use a $2000 variable speed belt grinder, but you can do this for a whole lot less money - under $100 for the best and easiest edges you've ever experienced.

    This assumes you have a 1x30 or 1x42 belt sander. They can be from discount equipment suppliers such as Harbor Freight or Enco for as little as $40. Get one.

    Now go to Lee Valley Tools for sharpening belts. http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.... I'd suggest the following to get started. (Started as in these will probably last you forever.) Understand that you don't use all of these on all knives or steels. It usually depends on how bad the edge is and if it's tool steel or high alloy stuff.

    Aluminum Oxide Belts: 180, 320, 500, 1200.

    15 Micron SiC belts (get two, you'll probably use these exclusively after you get your knives sharp to start with.)

    Leather Honing Belt. This is what makes owning a belt sander worth it. It's basically a power strop and can put a fine polished edge on a blade in no time. You might want to get two. Use one with compound for polishing and keep the second one clean for just stropping.

    Then go to

    http://www.popsknifesupplies.com/co...

    Buy the 525 white compound. It should last you for the rest of your life. You might also want to get some of the HF1 compound which is finer, and for very fine edges on small knives could be a good choice. While there, brouse around. There are many other ways to spend money, including getting your own Bader BIII Variable Speed Grinder.

    Start with the finest belt first and move to more aggressive belts as you get a handle on how they cut. If you have some cheap kitchen knives, they're great for learning on. Once you get a feel for this you'll be starting with a belt that's close to what you need for each kind of knife and how dull it is. 500 grit, 1200 grit then 15 micron is probably good for most knives. If the edge is in pretty good shape, jump right to 15 microns and be done with it.

    What you are going to be trying to do is to raise a fine wire edge along the blade, holding the blade at about 20 degrees to the belt (edge down). You'll know what a wire edge is when you first see it. It will look like the edge is falling off, and in a way it is. Use a light touch until you see how each belt cuts, and gently press the edge into the belt with the edge held on the belt in a slack portion just below the top idler wheel or above the platen at the bottom. (Oh yeah, throw away all the safety shields; they just get in the way.) You want a slack belt, but not too slack so stay near where the belt is supported or has backing.

    In all cases, except with the leather polishing belt, take one pass of the edge across the belt, then dip it in some water (a bucket is nice) and wipe dry. Repeat. This will be a drag when you get started, and when you get a feel for how the heat builds up on the edge you can probably take 2-3-4 passes before dipping. But DON'T let the edge get hot. DON'T let the edge get HOT!! This isn't all that difficult or threatening to the blade; you just need to be aware of heat build up.

    Once you have a wire edge with the 15 micron belt, put on the leather belt and apply some white compound, not too much. Strop the edge against the leather belt - at the same angle. This will polish the edge and strip away most or all of the wire. If some wire is still there, you can remove it with a wad of paper towel run along the length of the edge.

    Play with angles as you see fit. depending on the type of knives and whether you want hair popping sharp and seriously tough. In either case you will get a convex edge which is inherently tougher than flat bevels.

    Have fun!

    BTW, I've posted this here so everyone can see it's really not a complicated, expensive or life threatening process.
    _________________________ _____________________

    EDITED 1/28/2008 to add this:

    I've been getting emails from a few people about over sharpening the points.

    Two things. Most importantly, you absolutely MUST keep the edge perpendicular to the belt (i.e. level with the floor). If you hold the blade (not edge) level as the belt approaches the point, the effect is to increase the angle, grinding away more steel and not sharpening. This same thing happens with all sharpening systems, you just see it happen faster with a belt sander. You MUST lift the handle of the knife as the edge sweeps up to the point so the edge remains level with the floor.

    Secondly, there is a natural tendency to increase the angle as you get to the point, i.e. to pull the handle away from the belt thus pushing the steel more firmly into the belt. Don't do that.

    After a couple years of feedback on this, this seems to be the primary issue some folks encounter. In all cases, the problem is easily resolved if you heed the above advice. Otherwise, it would seem there are a lot more sharp knives in the world today than there were a couple years ago.
    “A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity" Sigmund Freud


     


    Roadfish
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    09-01-06 19:57.46 - Post#1025695    


        In response to Jerry Hossom

    Jerry - Can you use a cork belt in place of the leather strop?
    "Roadfish"

    Jerzee Devil



     
    Roadfish
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    09-01-06 21:15.11 - Post#1025722    


        In response to Roadfish

    Added question. I believe you mentioned at one time that you grind the reverse of many, in that you grind with the belt traveling away from the blade. Do you also sharpen this way?
    "Roadfish"

    Jerzee Devil



     
    Roadfish
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    09-02-06 04:49.19 - Post#1025950    


        In response to Roadfish

    Second part of the question. If you grind reversed, ie, with the belt running away from the edge, do you run your grinder reversed from the norm, ie with the belt traveling up the platen?
    "Roadfish"

    Jerzee Devil



     
    Jerry Hossom
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    09-02-06 05:47.34 - Post#1025987    


        In response to Roadfish

    If the cork belt has no abrasives, it should work in place of the leather belt OK, though I've not tried it. Cork belts with any abrasives start out very aggressive so you really don't want one of those.

    On how I grind. Fact is, I grind both edge up and edge down. I always start edge up but if the grind is wider than an inch, I switch to edge down. You're right, I can't see the edge as I'm grinding that way, so I have to lift the blade and look to see how it's going from time to time. That may seem nuts, and it probably is, but I've developed a sense for where the grind is relative to my platen or wheel and usually don't have any trouble. Having said that, I had to throw a blade away this week because I ground through the middle. (REALLY annoying!) Fortunately that only happens about once a year

    You ALWAYS want to sharpen edge down or have the edge pointing away from you, and the belt should be running in that same direction as well. With one of the 1x30 or 1x42 sanders, the belt runs down in front so the edge should be pointed down as well. That way you can look down on it and see the angle at which you're holding the blade relative to the belt. That of course assumes the sander isn't too high or you're not too short to do that, in which case I recommend relocating the sander to a lower surface.
    “A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity" Sigmund Freud


     
    Roadfish
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    09-02-06 05:58.42 - Post#1025991    


        In response to Jerry Hossom

    Thank you kindly.
    "Roadfish"

    Jerzee Devil



     
    Jerry Hossom
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    09-04-06 07:37.14 - Post#1027430    


        In response to Roadfish

    I just read on another forum where a guy reported toasting 6 blades before he got this right. Here's how that happens and why you got all those belts. As soon as you see (by looking carefully) that the first couple swipes with a fine belt isn't sharpening all the way down to the edge, that means your blade is a bit beyond dull and you need to use a coarser belt to shape the edge before you sand it to a fine finish. Keep trying ever more coarse belts until you see that wire edge form after a couple (maybe more) passes. Then go to the next finer grit and move on from there until you finish up with your finest belt.

    IF, and I can't stress this strongly enough, you try to sharpen a badly out of shape edge with a very fine belt you will very likely overheat the edge. That's especially true if you don't stop and dip it in some water after every couple passess. Coarser belts generate less heat when removing a comparable amount of steel.

    I don't want to make the overheating issue sound scarier than it is. It really isn't that bad at all, IF you follow the rules and are careful. After some experience you'll have a sense for what belt you should be on and know better than to rush it with a finer belt.

    Mostly common sense....


    ...isn't it always?
    “A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity" Sigmund Freud


     
    Jerry Hossom
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    09-04-06 07:41.22 - Post#1027432    


        In response to Jerry Hossom

    If anyone has used this method and found it useful, please let us know. It would be helpful to others to know this isn't rocket science.

    Similarly, if it's all gone terribly wrong, let us know that as well. There is very likely something I forgot to say that led to your tragedy. My bad (maybe), but whatever it is we can fix it.
    “A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity" Sigmund Freud


     
    thombrogan
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    09-04-06 14:35.51 - Post#1027716    


        In response to Jerry Hossom

    I'd like to add the reminder to take your leather belt off of the sander when not in use so it won't overstretch and be the most amazing $20 implement used 10 times before it became useless.

    Also, the Silicon Carbide belts become finer with every use, so that 15 micron Lee Valley belt starts as a 900 grit belt (if a 25 micron diamond is 600 and a 9 micron diamond is 1200 grit) quickly acts like a 2500 grit belt and a 600 grit silicon carbide belt quickly becomes a 1000 grit belt.

    www.customsandingbelts.com is a good place to check out if a 1" thick belt is too wide for what you're sharpening. They sold me some 1/4" x 30" belts that were great from some funky-curved Spydercos I own.
    -Thom Brogan

    "I knew you before you knew you had hands!" ~Tracey Brogan


     
    Jerry Hossom
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    09-04-06 16:17.59 - Post#1027756    


        In response to thombrogan

    Thanks for that tip on the leather belt, Thom. I hadn't thought of that.

    As for grits, opinions vary a lot on how many microns correspond to what grit. SiC does go away pretty quickly, but you shouldn't be using it much, especially if you use the aluminum oxide 1200 first. Abrasive sizes are one part of how they cut; the other is that it depends on what the substrate is. Flexible, hard, stiff, or soft backings - can all cause the grit sizes to cut one or more sizes higher or lower.

    I think the most easily made mistakes with belt sharpening is over-using finer grits and under-using coarser grits. Several bad things can happen if you try jumping to 15 microns too quickly (in too big a step from a coarser belt or with a pretty dull blade). You may never get your knife sharp if the blade is not in pretty good shape to begin with. If you do force it, you are more likely to overheat your steel, OR you will end up with an overly convexed edge with a pretty blunt final angle because you had to lean into the belt to get it to cut enough steel. If you drop back to 320, raise a wire edge, then move on to 500, 1200 then 15 microns, you'll end up with the edge you want, shaped the way you want it, more easily and with much less risk to your edge. It will also make that 15 micron belt last a lot longer.

    You'll also be less likely to kick the dog.

    On those 1/4" wide belts, I'd suggest using them with some caution, especially on the HF sander which moves the belt pretty quickly. I'm not disagreeing with their usefulness, but they can introduce some difficulties. Without having the belt pressure spread over a 1 inch wide surface, all of your pressure is focussed on a 1/4" area. It will cut faster and it will be more difficult to keep it under control and grind evenly. It can be done, but it will make getting a uniform edge more difficult. So why not just use 1/4 the pressure you normally use? Because it's not really that easy. The narrower belt is more flexible because there is less material to resist deflection, so it is more likely to deflect more even at less pressure. In my experience 1" wide belts can handle most blades I've seen. But I'm not familiar with the blades you're talking about, and I'm damn sure NOT going to criticize anything Spyderco does.
    “A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity" Sigmund Freud


     


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