Friday, March 30, 2018

look sharp


LOOK SHARP

I need to update my last article on sharpening knives.  Sorry, yes, yet another tool you’ll probably end up needing.  The bad news is that they are disposable.  The good news is that they are only eighty cents each.  Okay, to begin at the beginning, this article assumes you just don’t have the skill to sharpen a knife on a stone.  If you do, good on you.  Your life is much easier and you need spend less money.  I’m tight enough with every dollar that I would prefer to learn how to sharpen with a stone.  Alas, I just can’t get the hang of it.  All those doo-dad knife sharpeners are NOT because I’m lazy or because I have more dollars than cents ( you know, a play on “sense” ).  I just really suck at working with a stone.

*

And this isn’t because thirty years ago I screwed up a knife trying and refuse to try again.  I have tried to pick up this skill time and again, and you would think it would finally stick as I gain more patience and have access to less money.  But still no dice.  Just as I know better than to try long distance shooting, or too complicated of mechanics, I know when a skill will elude me regardless of dedication or practice.  At most, I only marginally improve.  No matter how many times I tackle math or science, for instance, I just don’t “grok” it.  So, case closed, some of us need help.

*

I had settled on a Lansky sharpener to get a new angle on a knife, and the Rada sharpener for a fine edge.  I do loves me my Rada.  Never in my life have I used such sharp edges in preparing food in the kitchen.  The Rada is so good, it makes stainless steel a viable option again.  I no longer fear the stainless, and no longer am trying to replace all those with carbon steel.  So, probably, I still am ahead financially even with all sharpeners I must experiment with-just from that one benefit.

*

The Lansky sharpener, however, proved to be less of a cure-all than I had hoped.  Not only did I buy the system, I then upgraded the course stone with a diamond tip.  That alone costs as much as the whole kit.  So I was about $35 into the Lansky ( that doesn’t count the second kit and second diamond hone ).  I had experimented on it and the diamond add on, and then had written my original article.  It had indeed gotten my dull as dishwater bayonet paper cutting sharp, even if it was at an inflated price.  I spent more on the Lansky than I had on the one bayonet, and I had spent as much on all my bayonets as half my arsenal.  Crap just ain’t affordable anymore, and that is AFTER prices have tumbled on declining sales everywhere with everyone.

*

But then I pulled out my second bayonet for sharpening, and that is where the Lansky laid a big turd.  All my bayonets ( these are the no.9’s, the knife bayonets-much more scarce than the standard issue tent stake bayonet which is optimistically named a pike bayonet but which performed more closely to a

prison shiv ) have one standard feature, and that is they fit on to a Lee-Enfield no.4.  And that is all they have in common besides fitting in a common scabbard.  All the lengths and widths and edges are different, almost as if anyone with a grinder in their garage were sent blanks and got paid to half ass produce the units.  Almost like the Bren gun was cottage industry produced as the British factories were mostly shuddered at that point.

*

The Lansky refused to sharpen it.  The thing never had an edge put on it, and a diamond hone would have been perfect, but the thing was shaped just right that the hone wasn’t making contact with the blade, from the correct angle guide.  I got so desperate I pulled out the sharpening stone-again!-but of course that had no effect.  My only surviving option was to pull out the old school cheater stone.  These were those stone wheel kitchen knife sharpeners I had stockpiled ten years ago from the Mom& Pop dollar store here in town, prior to their closing ( where I got those twenty or thirty pairs of wool friggin socks-proving as if needed yet once again that Baby Jesus loves me above all others, even minions ).

*

It was hard to find these again.  I don’t know if Dollar Tree carries them or not.  But online, I couldn’t find them because of their weird name.  You want to look for:

Kitchen Abrader Two Grinding Wheels Tool Stone Knife Sharpener.
( https://www.ebay.com/itm/263056836275 )
*

Say that three times fast.  All they are is a small round sharpening stone set between two plastic wheels.  That keeps the knife at the correct angle.  Of course, they are cheaply made, which is why I caution you that they are disposable.  I ground half of one away trying ( and finally succeeding ) to get that darn bayonet sharp.  And it wasn’t just the whole stone.  It was half of the wheel that was ground down ( an effect of a larger stone than they sell now, plus a short knife-to use, you place the knife in and push and pull the sharpener on the ground.  A short knife only abrades a small section of the sharpener ). 

*

Today, you have to worry about less quality items being sold to you for as much as possible.  For the most part, knives once came from the factory with the correct angle on them.  You just needed to keep them sharp.  Now, not so much.  This is bad, in that you are getting ripped off and need to buy supplemental tools.  It is good in that today and probably in the future, you can trash pick a lot of knives that were abandoned by owners who share my problem of being unable to hand sharpen on a traditional stone having bought a crap knife. 

*

I would still recommend a Lansky if you can afford it, with the diamond hone.  This will give you longevity for sharpening as many knives as possible for as long as possible.  If you cannot afford it, just buy the kitchen wheel stones, in bulk.  I would recommend E-Bay over Amazon.  Amazon at its cheapest was $5.  E-Bay was 80 cents after tax with free shipping, order as few or as many as desired.  Yes, they will in fact take a month to get to you.  It is, literally, the slow mail boat from China.  Plan ahead, right?

*

If you do have the Lansky, I would still recommend the wheel stones, just in case you get a knife Lansky doesn’t care for ( as was my case ).  Here is my guess.  After the collapse, cheap or abandoned guns will abound due to lack of ammo.  At the same token, knives will go back to being taken to an expensive tradesman for sharpening.  The fact that folks could make a living sharpening knives, back in the old timey days,  tells you that NOT having the skill to sharpen was not rare.  Perhaps not a skill you pay for dearly, relatively speaking, but if you are really friggin poor you need as few expenses as possible.  And when knives go from cheap as dirt to hugely expensive once the energy for mining and smelting becomes dear, you cannot afford to screw up your knife so you get a professional to sharpen it.

*

We’ve gotten too used to disposable and cheap items.  Knives and clothes and shoes and such used to be a major investment.  And remember, the Lansky and wheel stones are for putting a new angle on dull knives.  The Rada is for taking a knife that just lost its fine edge and replacing it.  It is a finishing sharpen only.  But don’t skimp on it because it is a damn skippy good tool for what it does.

END ( today's related link https://amzn.to/2ueCzLJ )
 
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37 comments:

  1. I linked a few articles below that I think you might find interesting. The first, while not specifically about tribalism, sheds much light on the topic by discussing who can be trusted. It gives examples of how the Hell’s Angels, meth cookers, and various other gangs vet for membership (Even families in certain cultures). It also makes mention that even the various institutions (clubs churches etc) in the west have weakened to the point where the west is at a severe disadvantage in this area.

    The second touches on the effectiveness of firearms, and the close ties to a functioning infrastructure.

    Who Can You Trust?

    https://deconstructingleftism.wordpress.com/2017/11/11/who-can-you-trust/

    Guns Versus Eyes

    https://deconstructingleftism.wordpress.com/2017/11/10/guns-versus-eyes/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thank you for the links and shall go read them now.

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    2. Thanks for the links 7:49

      The part in "Guns Vs Eyes" where the policeman is only part of a large structure is missing the point.

      Nobody wants to oppose the police or army whatsoever. But one day they won't be present, or overwhelmed.

      Not even talking about criminal gangs here. You know one or two assholes in your vicinity who have guns or are routinely violent, and they're going to take advantage of that. If you have a gun it will make their attempts against you harder. That's all there is to it.

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    3. @ Ave - Amongst my quotes I have this from some guy calling himself Selco "In any society, no matter where you are living, there are a great number of people who are waiting for the SHTF to go out and do violent things."

      And yes, I do know a few people that I suspect given the chance will be a problem. It's my opinion that they only follow the current rule of law only because they fear the consequences of not doing so

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    4. Be honest, how many times would you have done violence if permitted? A certain ex-wife and ex-boss comes to my mind.

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    5. That's also an issue with immature people, who need to grow up and people have to pick up where the parents failed.

      But there is a catch with the laws you make : you will be judged by them. What you consider being normal to do to you will be doen to you.

      And so the "adult rearing" thing may apply to that crazy survivalist dude that has to learn to SHARE :)

      Delete
    6. Blech! Sharing. Like eating your damn cooked vegetables. Parent propaganda.

      Delete
  2. As an additional note. In vegas at the big hotels with 5-7 kitchens/restaurants there is an army of cooks/workers. Out back a service box truck with a private guy/company comes regularly to provide sharpening service to the cook's "tools". As they either have no time to do self/lack that skill set. It will certainly be a post apocalypse craft to be employed. Perhaps Lord Bison can bundle an article of different crafts that will be necessary and mobile/do-able a traveling gypsy/swap meet type can do as means to get by with.

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    Replies
    1. I think I covered that in a book, the post-apoc skills to invest in now.

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  3. Oh yeah! I bought one of those sharpening wheels a few decades ago. I still use it - for my less expensive kitchen knives. Husband uses a stone for the more expensive knives.

    I even used to bring the wheel one in to work (I work in a kitchen) to sharpen knives at my previous job. My current kitchen job, bless them,, respects knives and has a good sharpener AND the other cooks bring in great sharpeners.

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    1. Have you tried the Rada?
      https://amzn.to/2GpVu80
      I'd love feedback from you or your fellow professionals.

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    2. I haven't used it. I'll ask the chefs and other cooks - after Easter. We're serving the Buffets from Hell tomorrow.

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    3. Animals! The churches are probably going to be just as bad-the Once A Year folk trying to put in a good word for their souls.

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  4. I too am “knife sharpening illiterate”. The system in the link below is the only knife sharpening system that I’ve ever had luck with (The version that I actually have is the field version, but this one is better).

    I don’t think that most of these knife sharpening systems are meant for use with very dull blades. In this scenario you would have to bring the blade in closer to spec before you could even try to sharpen it. With the bayonets, you might be able to bring the edge in closer with a fine file if you are very careful not to destroy the blade angle.

    I think that in the old days, practically all men knew how to sharpen blades. This was in the days before safety razors, and straight razors were the norm. And if you can put a proper edge on a straight razor, you can sharpen anything.

    https://www.amazon.com/Work-Sharp-WSGSS-Sharpening-sharpening/dp/B00X9KU3GO/ref=sr_1_1/131-4502247-6555655?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1522434841&sr=8-1&keywords=Work+bench+guided+sharpener

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeh, using a file doesn't seem any sort of solution-just another way to screw it up.

      Delete
  5. I get ten bucks each to sharpen knives and axes. I use thrift store and yardsale stones. Them military knives and axes are too fat to use them carbide angle thingys. It does take a steady hand and lots of effort. The only time I use the fine stone (or "crock stick") is for hunting knives. It really is simple. You just angle the edges according to use. Wide for axes narrow for knives. It's so simple a caveman can do it. However it requires time. Lots of time. In a pure-dull stainless military knife it took a few weeks! Luckily it was mine! That wide thing can shave now! The trick is to sharpen it until you can't see the edge. No light reflects. Them huge stones are cheap and last for decades of use. Yeah it is a art but it's pretty easy if you keep at it.

    Don't give up on them.

    Stevelo

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    Replies
    1. Not giving up altogether, but certainly taking a break to preserve sanity.

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  6. Are you over thinking this whole sharpening business?
    I mean, how sharp does the average blade need to be?

    We have a saying in the wood lathe world that "You never sharpen your chisels, you just touch them up", and that's true. As I stand there working the spinning wood and I can tell when the chisel I am using isn't as efficient as it was before. It's not unusual for me to stand in front of the lathe for hours at a time and while using the chisels, depending on the wood species, in about 5 minutes of aggressive cutting I can tell my chisel needs to be touched up.

    There are encyclopedias of information out there on all the bestest ways to sharpen lathe chisels but hardly anything at all on how to touch them up.

    Guess what? All chisels will cut but some cut better than others. Same with all blades. I don't used any sort of stone to sharpen my lathe chisels, I used my stationary belt sander with a 120 grit belt, and 30 seconds later my chisel is back on that wood with a brand new edge, making me money. See, I'm in it for the money and I find no pleasure in the sharpening process, chisels or any blades.

    I have expensive knives in the kitchen and my wife is prohibited from using them for she has been known to abuse my tools in the past. My kitchen knives never get sharpened, just touched up and I used a small hand held deal that is kept in the drawer. As soon as the knife touches that which it is supposed to cut I can tell if it needs to be touched up. If it does, I draw it through the handheld device about 20 times and then I'm back at work slicing that celebrity tomato so theen you can read the WSJ through the slices.

    Suffice to say, as far as I'm concerned sharp is sharp and how you get from A to B is irrelevant.

    I have another handheld job, a Smith's model, laying right here on my desk that I use every now and then on my Gerber "Quick Draw" every day carry blade and that knife will open a burglar just as easily as a mailed check from a client.

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    Replies
    1. It seems we both do things the same way. All the stones are for getting the blade sharp, then the metal wheel ( Rada ) or carbide V devices touch them up as needed. Once dull past touch up is where the big issue comes from.

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    2. The only way I can see any blade getting to the point of not being able to be touched up would be if I got a used blade for cheap or free some how. The last thing I got like that was a swingblade maybe 5 years ago at a junk shop. Old, long wooden handle that had been abused, and the entire metal, blade, brackets, all of it was very rusty. I disassembled it and put all the metal in a rubbermade bin and saturated it with WD40 put the lid on and let it sit for a few days. I scrubbed the wood with saddlesoap and let it dry for a few days then hit it with a stout coat of Old English oil. The metal was washed with hot water and laundry soap and let to dry in the sun. Then an hour or 2 with the wire brush on the drill press. Then the belt sander to a razor edge. That thing has a zig-zag edge. Dawgeez. Now the hard part, swingin that bitch on the weeds and NOT against my ankles. My neighbor just got a hockey puck size hand held stone on amazon for sharpening axes and hatchets. I might get one.

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    3. Anymore, if you get affordable ( okay, really, cheap ) Chinese knives you have to worry about the thing having been off right out of the box. I carried a boot knife at work, on my belt ( a bit ninja, "nothing to see here I'm not violating the no weapon policy", and a bit dress up to go with slacks and polo shirts ). First time buy, proper edge. Lost it ( I tried to fuse the belt clip shut with cheap $ store epoxy, it didn't last long ) and bought the exact same brand and it came with a screwed up edge. Then there was found knives, no edge. I don't have the greatest luck anymore with "affordable" knives.

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  7. 11:48 here. You could always take your bayonets in to a professional and have them brought in that way. Once sharp, it’s just maintenance. It’s sounds as if you have little choice in the matter in either event. The professionals have a belt driven machine and can bring them in close relatively quickly, and finish them off with a stone. You should still take a closer look at that work bench that I linked above. It’s works really well. I can put a decent edge on my cheap Chinese BudK knives, which should be a challenge, but it’s not with that device.

    @Ave; you’re welcome on the links. That site would be considered “alt right” and as such, not safe for family viewing :D It’s to the point where I no longer trust information unless I come across it at such sites, because sites of this nature do not sugar coat things, or tell “pretty lies” to cover for an otherwise unpleasant truth. As far as survivalist type sites go, this is pretty much the only one that I follow. The blog host here tells you right up front, “yeah, you’re gonna die, but you may as well prep, because who knows, you might get really lucky?” You’re not going to find that kind of refreshing brutal honesty anywhere else 😀

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I've never tried to find a professional sharpener guy. May or may not be around ( you'd think I'd just look in the yellow pages ), but I'm going to try a DIY effort first, always. If it was a more expensive item, like a gun, only to the pro's. But a cheap knife? The only reason I took a chance with the $30 bayonets was because I didn't think I'd screw it up without power tools. And, I'm blushing at your last two sentences. Thanks!

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    2. Ha ha - I have to literally drive past a professional knife sharpener guy every week day. I have a folder that's of sentimental value that he sharpened up for me (I'm going to use it because whilst it's of sentimental value a tool is useless if you refuse to use it) and boy o boy

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    3. Oh, I imagine a world of difference. Still, being a cheap bastard...

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  8. How about this...
    Take your knives that have quality steel to a professional knife sharpener and have them sharpened, so they all have the proper angle. Then, each time you use it, repair the wear to the edge with a strop. You'll never need to "sharpen" it again unless you damage the blade somehow.
    Peace out

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  9. I thought since you used the word grok in your post I would offer you this blessing" may you never thirst".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you're quoting from the same RH novel, I never actually read it ( the cat walks through walls, several times, and the Friday one-good libertarian fiction ). But lots of other authors did and loved the "grok" bit. You'd be surprised how many times I've come across the word from other writers. Well, obviously, enough that it is part of my vocabulary.

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    2. The origin of the word "grok" is the Robert Heinlein novel "Stranger in a Strange Land" from 1961. It may have been used numerous times since in the public lexicon. It was a Martian word in the book. The concept of sharing water outlined in that book started a cult religious movement! I am something of a fanatic when it comes to Heinlein's work.

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    3. Oh, and I did forget to mention the PA book he did. I enjoyed that. So:
      Starship troopers
      Friday
      Cat Who Walks Through Walls
      Job
      Perhaps 2 or 3 others.
      That's been about all I've read of his. Not a bad writer, but not one I'd spend money on regardless of subject/topic. Those authors are rare. It is my understanding that "Strangers" was really popular with the Hippies. Just for that reason, I'm a bit scared to try it.

      Delete
  10. I used Arkansas stones as a kid, mainly for carbon steel which was 99% of everything then.
    My father gave me all his natural stones before he passed away, and I still use them some. Now for most of what I sharpen (leather tools, spoon/bowl carving tools, fixed carry blades and kitchen knives) I use DMT 3"x8" diamond stones.

    These are flat metal plates about 3/8" thick and stay flat. (Natural stones tend to become concave with use, which doesn't matter as much for most knives, but for tools that need as flat a bevel as possible, this is a drawback. )
    These DMTs have a continuous diamond surface, not the hole punched grid type. There are different grits from super course to super fine. The fine stone alone, followed by finishing the tool or knife on a strop works for most uses.

    DMT pluses: Will quickly sharpen all steels including the cheap, super hard stainlesses. Unbreakable. Will last your lifetime and whoevers you pass it on to. It stays perfectly flat.

    DMTs one big minus: The expense. Worth it if your life is filled with stuff that needs to be kept sharp. Not so much for an occasional kitchen knife.

    A note about hollowed out Arkansas stones: they can be trued. The old, pre diamond stone way was lapping on a granite surface plate.
    Now the coursest grade DMT stone could be used for this. I think DMT calls it XXCourse, it's something like 60 grit.

    6:20 is right about strop use. You don't want the hanging leather strap in Mayberry's barber shop. A piece of veg tanned leather (about 5oz. Is good, but whatever you have) glued to a board. 2 1/2" × 12 or 14 inches is nice. (James, see Al Stohlman's strop info in Leather Tools book). Leather can be smooth side up or the rough, flesh side up. You'll find many opinions one way or the other on this. But for me, either way works well.
    Load the strop with a polishing compound. Gold or green are good. Comes kind of like a big, rectangular waxy crayon. "Draw" with it back and forth across strop to transfer the polishing abrasive onto the leather. Some people heat up the leather with a hair dryer or something prior, I do not. Plain leather without a compound will also work to strop, just not as fast.

    Watch a few You Tube vids on stropping. Make sure to lift blade straight up and away at end of stroke to avoid edge rounding.
    No matter what method you use for obtaining the initial sharpness on a blade or tool, stropping is the missing link for many when it comes to having a great edge. Easy to do and cheap to make.

    One comment on files. For King of the Jungle tools (machetes, Phillipine style bolos, Malay parangs), a file is the tool for in the field touch up of stone strikes and for a quick sharpen. If time, follow the file with a stone. The synthetic, round puck (Lansky is brand I think) that Ghostsniper mentions is worth it. Good also for utilitarian dirt tools like shovels and hoes. I prefer dipping the puck in a container of water as I am using.

    A strop note: If you're using tools with a curved blade (gouges, adzes, leather edgers, etc.), a wooden dowel the right size can be loaded with polishing compound and used as a strop.

    S.Fla.

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    1. Appreciate it all. I'll look into the leather bit.

      Delete
  11. I like this "The blog host here tells you right up front, “yeah, you’re gonna die, but you may as well prep, because who knows, you might get really lucky?” You’re not going to find that kind of refreshing brutal honesty anywhere else"
    That could be your tag line "you might get really lucky".

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    1. Hmmm...too much like, "well, do you feel lucky, punk?"

      Delete
  12. Lord Bison, may your raven locks ever glisten. The best knife sharpener is a Spyderco Sharpmaker. You can get coarser stones from Congress Tool for very dull knives and reprofiling. I have the 320 and 150 grit ruby stones. No electricity or oils needed. Expensive at 55 dollars but worth it.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Appreciate it. It looks easy. I think I'm good for now, but minions take note.

      Delete

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