Whetstone Sharpening - what went wrong?


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Hi all--

Let me first say, I've read a TON and watched many videos before attempting my first sharpening. I thought I had it all figured out, but something went awry. Hoping you might be able to shed some light on my little issue.

Before taking my Shun knives to the Shun (1000/6000) stones, I bought a crappy $6 santoku from Target to practice on. Stones soaked, did my best to maintain the angle, sharpened each side for ~4 minutes on #1000 stone, and this thing was just as dull as before I started.

Ugh.

So... either I wasn't applying enough pressure (about 2-4lbs), didn't do it long enough on 1000 stone, or this knife is too crappy to be sharpening on a stone (packaging said it was high carbon steel) whetstone for japanese knives. In the numerous videos I watched, chips were remedied with #1000, so I thought this was more than fine for a new blade.

One other thought is that I didn't feel a burr after completing the one side. Not sure if that's an indicator of anything.

Should I use a "proper" kitchen knife that is dull, or was the cheap-o santoku not tahe culprit?

thanks, all!!

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A 1000 grit stone is too smooth to reshape a knife edge. Try starting with a 200 or 400 grit stone. When you have created a sharp edge with the lower grits you can move on to the 1000 grit stone for refining and finishing.

You need to make sure each side is apexed before you move on to the next higher stone grit. If there is no burr the knife edge has not been apexed and it will never be sharp until you apex (get a burr) on both sides along the whole length of the blade.

When you first begin to learn to reshape and apex a knife edge by hand expect to spend several hours getting your edge truly sharp. You have the right idea - practice (a lot) on cheap knives when you are learning. It's quite likely you will learn to ruin an edge before you will learn to create a truly sharp edge. Practice, patience and cheap thrift store knives are your friends. The payoff is once you learn to properly sharpen a knife it's like riding a bike, you will have a new skill for life. It will also get a lot faster.

hint - Never try to make your stones cut faster by applying more pressure. Your stone can not cut any faster with a heavy stroke than with a light stroke but heavy pressure can damage the stone and your knife.

Edited by clay
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After 50 years of sharpening knives for fishing and hunting I just use a diamond steel and give the knife a few strops to make them sharp as a razor. I also have Shun knives. The steel will take an edge with very little effort. You can use the finer stones to make them razor like but not necessary for the kitchen IMO.

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2 hours ago, ringer said:

After 50 years of sharpening knives for fishing and hunting I just use a diamond steel and give the knife a few strops to make them sharp as a razor. I also have Shun knives. The steel will take an edge with very little effort. You can use the finer stones to make them razor like but not necessary for the kitchen IMO.

For a knife that has just been dulled that's all it takes. I too use diamond. I usually resharpen my knives in less than two minutes each. You don't need to polish a blade for cutting most materials. When I sharpen for show I take the finish to .5 micron but anything more than 1000 grit for a working knife is usually overkill.

The Shun knives do sharpen well. Although they are stainless steel with high chrome content they sharpen without the micro chipping common in stainless. They are probably one of the easiest stainless knives I've ever sharpened, better even than Zwilling.

To put a new edge on a knife by hand with natural stone can take hours depending on what metal and how much material needs to be removed to achieve your intended angle. Using a 1000 grit stone to reprofile a knife could take days if the inclusive angle is low or the blade is thick.

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