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Thread: Help getting a utility edge with the sharpmaker

  1. #1
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    Help getting a utility edge with the sharpmaker

    Hi all,

    I had a couple questions about the Sharpmaker and was hoping someone could help me with them:

    1. Is it possible to get a utility edge with the sharpmaker (i.e. using only the brown stones) that is sharp enough to push cut paper?
    2. Does anyone have any tips for achieving the above?

    I'm able to get an edge sharp enough to slice paper, but not sharp enough to push cut paper.

    Thanks in advance for your time!

    -tja
    Last edited by tja; 05-03-2014 at 01:19 PM. Reason: Grammar

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    P.S. I've watched the DVD twice and read the manual. Among other things, I'm also trying to sharpen a FFG VG-10 D4, if that helps. I've also tried back-beveling prior to sharpening to no avail.

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    Also, I've noticed that when I'm using the flat sides of the stones, the flats are not parallel to each other: they're at a slight angle. Is this normal? Sorry for all the messages, but it's been driving me crazy for the last few days that I can't sharpen my knives =(

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User TheFactor's Avatar
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    You might be concentrating to much on the angle of the blade instead of consistency . I just got my Sharpmaker and sharpened a couple of my knives last night and they'll push cut no problem . I just need to work on my tips a little more because toward the tips there slightly not as sharp . I do have the ultra fine rods to that helped a lot of over all sharpness .Next I'm going to pick up a nice leather strop .
    Don't get get discouraged just take your time and with more practice I'm sure they'll be razor sharp .

  5. #5
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Screwdriver's Avatar
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    I got over this hump using a Sharpie on the edge. These angles are never the same and the Sharpie trick shows me how to hold the knife to get the edge back with minimal work.
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    Spyderco Forum Registered User dbcad's Avatar
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    Hello Tia, Focusing on keeping the blade vertical and being consistent are what you need to concentrate on. For me even now a sharpie mark is a must Know what you're doing to the edge

    You'll get over the hump, just stay focused on what you're trying to do, make the bevels meet in the middle with precision. The SM is a great equalizer for sharpening challenged folk like myself
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    Hi Tja, I can get all my knives to push cut paper, whittle hair and even break a hanging hair off of the brown stones. I credit part of that to Chuck_Roxas advice and video of him achieving those results. Lol, I thought he was fibbing at first but now I realize he had just practiced a lot. And, what do you know, after a lot of practice I can do the same. Funny how that works. . Keep at it.

    Fwiw, I recommend getting the diamond stones. They make it a lot easier to set a perfectly apexed primary bevel. That's the key to everything. From there it's really pretty easy. Just watch your angles and finish with a light touch.

    Personally, I like to set my primary bevel at 30 degrees and then add a very light microbevel at 40, but there's more than one way to skin a cat. Enjoy the process.

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    My little piece of advice is to keep the stones clean. Frequent cleaning makes the stones cut better. Use Ajax or bar keepers friend and some elbow grease. It will pay dividends.
    DLC Paramilitary 2 S30V, Manix 2 S30V hollow ground, Delica 4 stainless with custom engraving, green frn delica 4 ffg, blue frn delica 4 ffg, orange frn endura 4 ffg, Gayle Bradley

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    Quote Originally Posted by tja View Post

    1. Is it possible to get a utility edge with the sharpmaker (i.e. using only the brown stones) that is sharp enough to push cut paper?
    Yes, even newsprint

    -make sure the stones are clean
    -use very light force
    -put water on the stones

    With the knife at the point you have it now :

    -tilt the knife to increase the angle (or if you sharpen on the 15 use the 20's)
    -use very light force
    -alternate sides on every pass

    The reason the sharpness is limited is that there is a burr on the edge and this will cut it off, now you can reform it at the original angle however :

    -use very light force
    -put water on the stones
    -alternate sides on every pass

    If this still doesn't work then it is likely you are forming the edge on weakened steel so you should cut the edge off first with a pass into the brown stones and then reform it.

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    Wow, thanks for all the helpful and supportive replies! I'm amazed at the response: I'll keep trying and report back (hopefully with success!)

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User Holland's Avatar
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    The sharpy trick works awesome to help understand where you're hitting the edge. The brown rods definitely can get the knife super sharp. I rarely use the white stones, the brown stones give the edge a toothier feel that I think helps with cutting performance
    Phil Wilson Smoke Creek s110v, SouthFork, Gayle Bradley, Chaparral 1, Chaparral 2, Native 5, Para2, Para1 SE, Caly 3, Dragonfly 2, Dragonfly 2, Delica 4, Ladybug 3


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    Spyderco Forum Registered User TheFactor's Avatar
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    I prefer the white stones and I even bought the Ultra fine . I really like that mirror finish on the edge it provides and seems to make push cuts on paper effortless . It also feels like less drag when cutting with smoother cuts . I also just ordered a Knives plus leather strop block to get a even better mirror finish on the edge for A nice shave in the morning by the camp fire

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    I think the best accessories for the Sharpmaker are a Sharpie marker, and a 10 or 20 power loupe to examine where you are hitting the edge.

    Also realize that the knives as they come from the manufacturer are sharpened by hand, so there will be some variation. I've received several that were sharp, but not truly even -- a little steeper angle on one side than the other, for instance. That can take awhile to even out on the Sharpmaker, even if you have the diamond stones. Keep practicing, go do something else if you find you are getting too frustrated, and keep looking at your results with a loupe, and you'll get there.
    Which Knife, A or B? get Both! (and C, D and E)

  14. #14
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    Reporting back! The Sharpie trick was definitely useful (although technically I'm using a dry erase marker). I still can't create an edge that can push cut, but hopefully by practicing with the sharpie trick, I'll get better at creating a consistent angle.

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User bh49's Avatar
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    Sharpie trick is certainly will help you to see, if you created the edge, if you can see that all marker is removed. Visual aide is very helpful for this. 10X eye louple is sufficient. If you watched DVD, probably you remember the finger nail test, which Sal showed. This also will show, if you created the edge. After you created the edge, just polish it on flats. Use light pressure. Also to be sure that you hold the blade vertically you can put mirror behind sharpmaker and look in the mirror time from time.
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    I thought I was the only one that struggled with the Sharpmaker. I know it's me and not the product.
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    Spyderco Forum Registered User chuck_roxas45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by this_is_nascar View Post
    I thought I was the only one that struggled with the Sharpmaker. I know it's me and not the product.
    Yes, an understanding of what is happening at the edge is one of the most potent tools to getting an edge sharp. Loupe helps with this. Examine every few strokes and pay a lot of attention to small details. Just stroking away sometimes works, but when it doesn't, you don't have anything to refer to if you don't have the understanding.
    I always heard that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but then you catch even more flies with poop



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    My two cents. I've had my Sharpmaker about three years now and i have found that a properly profiled edge can be easily maintained with the Sharpmaker. If I am struggling with getting a knife sharp with the SM, then it needs to be reprofiled.

    It's really that simple for me. I have gotten to where I don't even try to reprofile with the SM. It can be done I guess, but I have better things to do with my time.

    My definition of reprofile is... Put a 15 degree bevel on each side until there is a burr on each side. I then use the brown SM stones in the 40 degree slots to create a microbevel and to remove the burrs. I then refine with the white stones, in the 40 degree slots, while checking for any lingering burrs.

    Every plain edge knife I have ever had problems with getting sharp while using the Sharp Maker is cured by reprofiling. Using the SM to maintain a sharp edge is easy. There is no real trick to getting excellent results on a properly profiled edge, except for maybe a little practice.

    The Sharpmaker is the central piece of equipment in my knife sharpening arsenal. If one of my knives is not SM compatible, I go to my big guns for reprofiling.

    I agree with the others that mention using a Sharpie and a loupe. I have learned alot from using them, especially when used in conjunction with a fixed angle sharpener like the Edge Pro or a Lansky type sharpener. I also agree with those that say that the diamond rods are more important than the UF rods, and to be diligent in keeping your stones cleaned.

    Hmm, after reading my post, it seems like I used the word "reprofile" a lot.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuck_roxas45 View Post
    Just stroking away sometimes works, but when it doesn't, you don't have anything to refer to if you don't have the understanding.
    Good life lesson here as well.

  20. #20
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    A few notes :

    Coloring in the edge and using a loupe is a good way to tell if you are grinding on the edge or above or below it, however even with all the marker removed, and even if a 10X loupe shows no marker left, this doesn't mean you are hitting the apex. On modern very hard to grind steels you can literally be thousands of passes away.

    If you want to see some detail, check out this post : http://www.cliffstamp.com/knives/for...8728#msg-28728 .

    I describe taking the edge down on a CTS-XHP (63 HRC) knife using the 100 grit Wicked Edge diamond stone. It took quite a number of passes even after all of the marker was removed to actually apex the edge.

    Note this image which is at 50X magnification :



    just barely shows some of the original bevel level on the edge so the grinding is still not hitting the apex, however by eye and even under 10X magnification it would look like it had. It took another 2000 passes to grind right to the apex.

    A very simple method which doesn't require a sharpie, or a marker :

    -grind the edge into the stone to produce a flat which reflects light
    -shape the bevel with the relief angle until you can't see it reflect light

    The second step is likely to take a long time unless you are using power equipment, very coarse stones with a lot of force, or have matched the existing angle exactly. However once you have it done, the third step is trivial :


    -sharpen the edge at the micro-bevel angle focusing on burr minimization

    This is an extremely minimal technique however it is independent of equipment, even sharpening stones, here it is being used with a normal construction brick :



    The key is simply doing the second step fully because if you don't finish it the third step will go no where.

    The first time you go it the second step is likely to take a long time, subsequent times with a decent stone it is usually 50-100 passes, the micro-bevel stage is just 5-10 passes.

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