sharpening knives

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dearbone
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Re: sharpening knives

#51 Post by dearbone » Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:34 am

Thank you Tom,Here is what is left of Don Carlos knives i bought many years ago,i wonder if they still have a representative in Minnesota or anywhere selling these knives,The steel is good and above all they carried left hand skiving knives and i was happy about that too otherwise i had to start sharpening the opposite side to make it useful for left hand,I wish i had bought some 15mm wide knives from them,I got used to this width for skiving upper leather.
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Re: sharpening knives

#52 Post by larrym » Wed Apr 20, 2011 5:01 pm

I purchased a box full of old tools off of Ebay several years ago.

Amongst the many treasures were several skiving knives(both straight & curved) that were made by J.A. Henckels. Are/were these common?

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Re: sharpening knives

#53 Post by goatman » Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:22 am

I believe that J.A. Henckels is a "Solingen" steel company, I don't know if they are still in business. I know they used to make super-good butcher's knives .... they were so good, I could never afford them!!

I am under the belief that Solingen Steel is made in Germany, that's what I was always told .... I always look for a stamp (maker's mark) on the blade of the "Solingen Twins" - that usually means top-quality steel.

I just picked up a 'Solingen' knife (without the 'twins' mark) at the thrift store for two-bits. I tried skiving without any sharpening, and it worked fairly well - I can't wait to see how it will work after I strop it!

erickgeer

Re: sharpening knives

#54 Post by erickgeer » Sat Apr 30, 2011 9:16 am

I wanted to add a quick note about the Hyde French Curved knives. A couple years ago, I was visiting I Sachs Sons, and Steve showed me a box of those - I would suspect that he still has a large number of them. I still need to learn to sharpen mine...

Here is Sachs website - it says it's closed and I hope that is just the website system. Apparently I'm going on reconnaissance:

http://www.isachssons.net/

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Re: sharpening knives

#55 Post by hidesmith » Sat Apr 30, 2011 9:53 pm

Here's my take on sharpening knives. Do with it as you see fit.

when I buy or acquire a knife I intend to use, the first thing I do is change the angle of the edge. I've found that many commercially made knives follow some unscientific industry standard - that, or they want to sell dull knives, perhaps to avoid litigation. "Caution - sharpen this knife at your own risk. edge may be sharp."
If I'm using the knife at my bench, the means of sharpening it is never far. A flatter angle makes a sharper edge, but it tends to not hold as long. I have sand paper on my line finisher that used to be 220 grit, and I use it to polish the edge - I haven't changed it because of the polish it puts on an edge. Following that, I use wet-or-dry paper of increasingly finer grits until the wire edge is gone and the entire edge of the knife removes hair easily. There is a difference between an edge that will remove some hair, and an edge that will shave cleanly. A single pass with light pressure should shave pretty cleanly. I use the shaving method because a wire edge will catch the thumb nail, but isn't as sharp as it can, or needs to be. A wire edge will sometimes cut paper, as well.

Knives can also easily be reshaped and sharpened by keeping the edge cold - grind , quench, grind, quench, etc. If it gets red hot, or sizzles when you quench it, go more gently and quench more frequently. Some of you have seen the skiving knives I make out of kitchen knives using that very process. You can buy used kitchen knives for about a buck apiece in most junk shops, and they're usually already hardened. If you keep them from getting too hot, there is no need to re-harden them.

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Re: sharpening knives

#56 Post by idris_nowell » Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:26 am

Does anyone have any advice for sharpening a drag knife?

I got a Barnsley drag knife from eBay a while ago but it's blunt as a spoon, I've hardly used it as a result. I haven't managed to work out a decent way of sharpening it and I can't abide blunt tools.

Thanks.

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Re: sharpening knives

#57 Post by dearbone » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:39 am

A motorized sander/grinder with fine emery cloth at some low degree as to allow full contact a whole edge of the knife,dip the knife in water occasionally so not to burn the metal if using a sander,in absence of grinder, a fine file may be used to bring the edge close to sharp but finish with fine emery cloth of fine hand sharpening stone,sharpening done away from the edge and not against it(just a reminder) a leather strap with some rouge on it for fine honing to finish the process.

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Re: sharpening knives

#58 Post by idris_nowell » Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:26 am

I've tried using a sanding drum on my grinder but it's too big, do you mean a dremel-like multitool?

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Re: sharpening knives

#59 Post by hidesmith » Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:02 am

I would not use a dremel-type tool to sharpen my knives - a slightly unsteady hand would leave a less than uniform edge. Any powered grinding tool will require a steady hand, but the smaller (and faster) the grinder, the more likely the need for a steadier hand. A very fine edge can be achieved using nothing but honing stones - and a lot of patience. Using multiple stones of different hardness, a surgical edge is possible. Another thing I do is wrap wet-or-dry paper (wet) around my honing stone, changing the grit as necessary to achieve the aforementioned surgical edge.

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Re: sharpening knives

#60 Post by dearbone » Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:55 am

Here is a picture of the sander i was referring to and only used once in while when my knives need a through sharpening and i finish them on my wood block,but as Bruce said one needs a steady hand for this or better yet one has to be shown first.
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A block of wood can be used with one side leather with rouge on it and other sides with three different grit emery cloth.

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Re: sharpening knives

#61 Post by dw » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:05 am

Idris,

Drag knives are not used much in the US. The lip knife serves the same function and some would say does it better.

I have several drag knives and encountered the same difficulties as you are experiencing. Frank Jones...who grew up in the Traded using drag knives...told me that they can be very good when properly sharpened. He recommended a shaped dowel covered with emery paper. Shaped to fit inside the "frame"--the drag knife is sharpened on the concave edge.

Following Frank's advice, I finally got my drag knives sharpened so that they would cut very well, but I still don't use them much--for two reasons: First, sharpening the concave edge makes the knife want to "submarine" into the material, and that makes it difficult to control. I'm sure with practice that could be overcome but a lip knife is so much more controllable, I'm not sure that learning the drag is worth it. And second , because of the "frame" they are difficult to keep sharpened, especially right up next to the frame.

YMMV

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Re: sharpening knives

#62 Post by dearbone » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:07 am

Idris,

If your drag knife resemble DW lip knife,than my information wouldn't apply,they are for straight edges.

DW,

What is the lip knife used for?( what part of the shoe/boot).

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Re: sharpening knives

#63 Post by dw » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:29 am

Nasser, Idris,

Lip knives are general purpose trimming knives. They have a "lip" or guard at one end of a very short blade so that they may be used close to the upper.

The drag knife I have doesn't look like a conventional knife. It has a short concave blade that is "framed" between two rails...one of which is long enough to support the blade and extend into the wooden handle. The overall image is of a "seven" with the leg of the seven being the handle and the bottom side of the top of the seven being the blade edge.
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Frank told me that the drag knife was/is used for trimming outsoles and around the heel. Again my experience indicates that once mastered, it could very well be a very good solution.

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Re: sharpening knives

#64 Post by idris_nowell » Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:27 am

My drag knife is exactly as DW's pic shown, sharpened on the bottom of the horizontal piece of the 7.

I have no difficulty sharpening my other knives, most of them could be used to shave without any difficulty, I have no hair on my left forearm from testing them.

The difficulty I have is exactly as DW describes, the part of the blade right next to the guide (vertical part of the 7 on the left) is very, very difficult to get at and, frustratingly, also the part most used.

I don't have a lip knife though it is on my list of things to get.

I was really just wondering whether there was a trick to sharpening the drag knife that hadn't occurred to to me, like the shaped dowel and sandpaper.

Thanks for the advice.

Idris

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Re: sharpening knives

#65 Post by dearbone » Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:14 am

DW,

Thanks for clarifying this long mystery of this knife i had for a long time,I was told it is for carving stacked leather heels but the knife being made for a right hand i didn't use it,it resembles the drag knife from your description,although i have not seen a shoe/boot maker working with this knife,it appears to be of limited use to the shoemaker who need the knife to cut inseam and sole channels,skiving and much more and one straight knife for all the bottoming and another for upper leather and papers can do it well.
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Re: sharpening knives

#66 Post by dw » Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:44 am

Nasser,

I've never seen anything like that! It's not a drag knife nor is it a lip knife. It's interesting though.

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Re: sharpening knives

#67 Post by dw » Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:37 pm

On the left is a lip knife. On the right a drag knife.
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Re: sharpening knives

#68 Post by dearbone » Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:07 pm

Thanks,I see what you are saying,totally different knives,i mock tried my knife on a stacked heel shoe up side down and it feels right but i need confirmation.

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Re: sharpening knives

#69 Post by dw » Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:17 pm

Nasser,

The interesting thing is that, if I understand correctly, both the lip knife (US) and the drag knife(UK)...although sharpened and handled very differently...are intended for roughly the same purposes.

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Re: sharpening knives

#70 Post by chuck_deats » Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:43 am

Nasser,
That looks like a curved knife, which I understand was popular with the northern native people. Looks very similar to a farrier's hoof trimming knife that is useful for stacked heels
Chuck

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Re: sharpening knives

#71 Post by dw » Fri Jan 27, 2012 8:30 am

Chuck,

You use a farrier's knife for heels? How does that work for you? I would think it would be a lot like using a lip knife except the steel is probably better and the knife itself considerably bigger.

Farrier's knives are generally held with a reversed grip. And I suspect that would limit control but perhaps a regular grip would work too.

That said, a lip knife is not simply pulled into and through the leather--that's a recipe for disaster. The correct way to use the lip knife is to brace the thumb well in advance of the blade and close the fist...drawing the blade towards the thumb only with the muscles of the hand. This affords maximum control, a limited "stroke" and, as an added benefit, the thumb acts as a "stop" for the knife if you hit a soft patch.

Do they make farrier's knives small enough to use like that?

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Re: sharpening knives

#72 Post by dearbone » Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:34 pm

Chuck,

Thanks for your insight,Curved hoof knife, It is unless someone else says otherwise,i have been looking up hoof knives today and it fits the profile,you must be living in or near a horse farm Image Thanks again.

Nasser

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Re: sharpening knives

#73 Post by chuck_deats » Sat Jan 28, 2012 8:10 am

Can't say a hoof knife is the best, but works and what I had on hand at the time. Have bought a lip knife since.

I think in the North, they call them Crooked Knives and are avaible in a varity of sizes and shapes (Google). Woodworkers use them.
Chuck

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Re: sharpening knives

#74 Post by sorrell » Mon Jun 18, 2012 6:59 am

What specific angle do you recommend for the bevel on a skiving knife? I'm having some knives made and that's a question I need to answer.

Lisa

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Re: sharpening knives

#75 Post by dw » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:44 am

Lisa,

I don't recommend any specific angle although I tend to like a very long bevel on my knives.

In truth, there are a number of considerations that factor in...the thickness of the blade, how the blade is made, what it is made of, as well as, of course, what material you're going to be cutting.

You can get scientific about it...I know the Japanese are very strict, not only about what angle a knife is sharpened at, but on what kind of stones.

And that angle is not the same angle as is preferred by French or English or American knifemakers.

But all that assumes that you can duplicate that precise angle when you go to resharpen.

For me, it is enough to know that a long bevel will result in a keener edge once you do get it sharp, but that edge will not last as long as a shorter bevel.

And every time you strop the blade you alter that bevel...gradually creating a shorter bevel...until the blade itself needs to be reground.

The "magical" part of all this still comes down to a clear understanding of what comprises "sharp" and how to get there.

That, and a very firm wrist.

I guess that doesn't help much but if you Google "sharpening angles" you'll get more information than you can process in one sitting.

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