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KNIFE SHARPENING DOS AND DON'TS
Never sharpen your knife on a power-driven grinding wheel. You could burn the temper from your blade making the edge brittle and prone to chips or cracks. This also voids the warranty.
A SHARPENING STONE IS THE KEY TO A SHARP KNIFE
To really sharpen a flat blade knife well, use a sharpening stone. Always sharpen with a wet stone. For touch-ups use a fine grit stone. If the blade is really dull, use the course grit stone first, then switch to a fine grit stone.
DIAMOND STONE SHARPENERS
Made of metal or a composite base, diamond stone sharpeners have an outer layer of micron-sized diamonds bonded to a metal surface. Many have special surface holes to prevent “filling build-up.”
Diamond stones are fast, effective and come in different grits. You can use a diamond stone wet or dry, but we recommend wet. Use water or water-based honing oil, not petroleum-based oil.
NATURAL SHARPENING STONES
Arkansas Washita natural stones are genuine silica "Novaculite" from Arkansas. The different grits and abrasive qualities make excellent sharpening stones.
Natural sharpening stones can be used wet or dry. We recommend using them wet. Water, water-based honing oil or petroleum-based honing oil work best. Keep in mind using oil on a natural stone is a commitment. It's difficult if not impossible to switch back to water.
Don't be stingy with the honing fluid during sharpening. Use enough to keep a pool visible on the stone. Once murky, pat or lightly wipe away the fluid, then add more.
Tapered and Pocket Sharpeners
Serrated blades and gut hooks require a different type of sharpener. (see figure 1)
HOW TO CLEAN AND CARE FOR YOUR SHARPENING STONE
Use a little extra fluid to clean and dry the sharpener after every use. Store carefully. Glossy grey streaks are a good indicator of debris build-up. Clean the sharpener thoroughly.
- If using water or water-based honing oil, clean with soapy water.
- If using petroleum-based honing oil, use the same oil or kerosene.
- To scrub clean, use your finger or an old toothbrush.
- Do not drop your sharpener. Being made of stone, it may break or chip.
Depending on the sharpening stone, you can use water, water-based honing oil and petroleum-based honing oil. Treat your choice of sharpening fluid as a permanent one; because of the porous nature of the stone itself, it is very difficult to switch from an oil-based lubricant.
We suggest sharpening on a wet stone because it cleans the pores of the sharpener dissipates frictional heat and facilitates smooth sharpening action.
HOW TO SHARPEN STRAIGHT, NON-SERRATED BLADES
You can inspect the condition of the blade by looking down the length of the edge. Look for nicks or flat spots reflected by light.
- If the blade is nicked or extremely dull, start with Stage 1 (Use a Coarse Grit Stone).
- If the blade is only somewhat dull or just needs a touch-up, start with Stage 2 or Stage 3.
STAGE 1: FOR NICKED, INCONSISTENT EDGES OR EXTREMELY DULL BLADES HEAVY SHARPENING (COURSE GRIT SHARPENER)
This stage is called the "rough cut." To remove inconsistencies in the blade edge and take it from very dull to sharp, but not finished; begin with a coarse grit sharpener.
Diamond Sharpeners can be used dry or wet. Use water or water-based honing oil, not petroleum based oil as a lubricant.
Natural Sharpening Stones (link back to sharpeners) can be used dry or wet. We recommend wet. Use water, water-based honing oil or petroleum-based honing oil.
HOLD THE CORRECT GRIND ANGLE:
Ideally, you want to follow the same grind and edge angle as when the blade was new. Typically, scratches are caused by incorrectly sharpening the blade. Use the scratches as a guide to determine whether you’re angling the blade too high or too flat against the stone. You may also be skipping off the edge of the stone.
If you hold the knife against the stone to cut evenly across the edge grind, you will produce an edge with a similar angle. If the angle is too high, the resulting edge will lose some slicing ability, but will stand up better to chopping. A good rule of thumb is to hold the blade so the back of it is about one blade width up from flat on the stone.
STROKE THE BLADE ACROSS THE SHARPENER WITH EVEN CONTROL:
Too much pressure can crush or remove the grit from a diamond sharpener. It can also force a thicker burr on the edge, which is harder to remove and can even break off, creating new flat spots on the edge.
Your stroke can be straight (see figure 3 below) or circular (see figure 2 below), from "hilt to tip" OR "tip to hilt," whichever is more comfortable. If you're using a portable sharpener, stroke the blade in a straight direction.
The blade edge should face in the same direction as you stroke. So, you’re essentially moving the metal away from the edge. Stroking toward the edge will also create a thicker burr on the edge.
MAINTAIN CONTACT WITH THE SHARPENER:
As you work the length of the edge (from hilt to tip), do not let the tip of the blade skip off the end of the sharpener. This can cause a rounded tip or sharpening scratches.
ALTERNATE BLADE SIDES EQUALLY:
Do the same number of strokes on each side of the blade. If you do 15-20 strokes on one side, do 15-20 on the other side. Don't alternate sides with each stroke, or you won't get a burr. As you feel a burr developing on one side, switch to the other side and check that the burr is making the same progress on the other side.
Keep the blade on the surface and use an easy, clockwise motion with the edge facing right, until the desired sharpness is achieved. It is ideal to achieve the original factory edge.
Turn the blade over. Use an easy, counter-clockwise motion with the edge facing left. Try to spend the same amount of time on each side. (see figure 2 above)
WORK THE "NICKS" SEPARATELY:
If there is a nick on the edge, work the area around the nick evenly, side-to-side. Once the nick is gone, go back to working the entire length of the edge.
INSPECT THE "EVENNESS" OF YOUR EDGE:
You should have an even edge on both sides. Once you feel the burr from hilt to tip on one side and all nicks and dull spots are removed, move on to Stage 2.
STAGE 2: FOR DULL BLADES, QUICK TOUCH UPS AND FINAL SHARPENING. MEDIUM TO FINAL SHARPENING (FINE GRIT SHARPENER)
To simply sharpen dull blades and remove rough scratches begin here.
If you have just completed Stage 1, pat or wipe your knife dry. Be careful—the burr can cut just like a sharpened edge. Now you’re ready to work the edge.
Diamond Sharpeners can be used dry or wet. Use water or water-based honing oil, not petroleum based oil as a lubricant.
Natural Sharpening Stones can be used dry or wet. We recommend wet. Use water, water-based honing oil or petroleum-based honing oil.
Sharpen the edge, following the same steps as in Stage 1
You can achieve a good, sharp edge and finish at this stage without going on to Stage 3. Hone with light, single strokes, side-to-side, until you feel no burr on either side.
To fine-tune the edge or smooth "sharpening scratches", skip this step and go directly to Stage 3.
STAGE 3: FINE SHARPENING FOR A SLIGHTLY DULL BLADE AND FINISHING TOUCHES. FINAL SHARPENING (NATURAL STONE)
Stage 3 removes any remaining burr and puts a burnish on the blade edge. Buck's Arkansas Washita Honing Stone has a Fine 600 Grit Stone that is suitable for Stage 3 sharpening.
USING SHARPENING FLUID:
Natural Sharpening Stones can be used dry or wet. We recommend wet. Use water, water-based honing oil or petroleum-based honing oil. Sharpening will require some clean up, so be generous with the honing fluid.
Use the same stroking motion as described in Stage 1. Repeat until scratches from the previous grit stone are gone. You should still feel a burr, but it should be smaller and finer.
Once All Scratches are Cleaned off the Edge, Use light, single strokes side-to-side. Make one stroke from hilt to tip, then turn the knife to the other side and stroke once from hilt to tip.
Repeat Several Times. You shouldn’t feel any burr on either side of the edge, from hilt to tip. The knife should be razor sharp at this point. If the knife fails to cut as expected, you may need to go back to Stage 2. Don’t apply too much pressure. You will raise a thick burr instead of removing it.
Do not use a flat sharpening stone on serrated blades. This type of blade requires a different technique and sharpener (You will need to use a taper sharpener. See figure 1 above). Creating the “Initial Sharpness” on a serrated knife is difficult even if you use a taper sharpener. But you can expect to get a “serviceable” edge. A serrated blade is more easily distorted through sharpening than a straight blade edge. So, don’t sharpen unless dull spots are truly visible.
Serrated blades have a grind on one side of the blade. Only sharpen the grind side of the blade. Hold the sharpener at the angle that matches the original edge angle.
Put the pointed, narrow end of the sharpener up against the serration and stroke the sharpener into the serration—away from the edge of the blade, toward the spine.
Stop stroking when the width of the taper sharpener gets to the same width as the serration. In other words do not enlarge the width of the serration.
Rotate or spin the sharpener as you go for the most even, consistent sharpening.
Continue sharpening until you feel a very slight burr.
Unlike a serrated blade, a gut hook is ground on both sides of the blade. Use a diamond taper sharpener or a diamond pocket sharpener. Both are excellent tools for sharpening gut hooks.
GUT HOOKS ARE NOT FLAT BLADES:
Do not try to fill the entire width of the gut hook with the wide end of the sharpener. This will enlarge the gut hook curve and distort the cutting edge.
Put the pointed, narrow end of the sharpener up against the open end of the gut hook. The narrow, pointed end of the sharpener should face in toward the thickness of the blade, away from the edge of the gut hook.
Match the Angle of the Sharpener to the Original Edge Angle
This will maintain the correct sharpening angle and prevent you from getting cut by the blade tip. Hold the same angle when sharpening each side of the gut hook.
Rotate In a forward and sideways motion, stroke the sharpener from one side of the gut hook to the other. Spin the sharpener as you go. As with sharpening a blade edge, the objective is to start at the edge and stroke away from the edge.
DON'T OVERDO IT:
Restrain from over-sharpening or putting too much pressure on the tool. Alternate sides and check your progress often.
REMOVING A BURR:
Once a burr is detected, stroke alternate sides until the burr is removed, just as you would finish a straight-edge blade.
A SHARP BLADE IS SAFER THAN A DULL ONE
KEEPING YOUR BLADE SHARP
Sharpen regularly. If all you ever need to do is touch up the blade, your knife will be far easier to maintain.
Stainless steel knives store well and maintain their edge for a long time.
TIPS FOR MAINTAINING A SHARP KNIFE:
- Keep your sharpener with your knives, so it’s easy to find and use.
- Use your knife the way it was intended.
- If it’s a chef’s knife, only cut food on a non-dulling surface like a nylon cutting board.
- Not even work knives are meant for cutting through fence wire or other hard materials. Don’t try it.
- Use common sense to avoid injury to yourself or damage to your knife.
- Do not throw, pound, hammer, twist, pry or use with electronics.
- Store your knife with care.
- Protect the edge by keeping it in its sheath.
- Keep kitchen knives in a storage block or magnet.
- Tossing knives in a drawer or just leaving them around will dull the edges.
- Dress or sharpen the edge as soon as you notice it's not working as well as it should. You should only need a few single strokes side-to-side to bring the edge back to its original sharpness. If however, you have changed the edge or the bevel, which happens over time, follow Stage 1 or Stage 2 sharpening instructions above.
- Using the right sharpener for the job.
- If your blade needs a touch up, the Stage 3 fine grit stone should do the trick. However, if the edge has truly dulled, go back to Stage 2, still using a fine grit stone. If the edge has rounded, return to Stage 1 and a course grit stone.
Please don't throw or pound, with any knife. It's not safe and if you damage the knife using it that way, it may void the warranty. Strong impact or twisting can also damage your knife or worse, cause an injury. If you have a lockback blade, always check that the locking mechanism is in working order before you use it.
- Keep your knife dry; that means the entire knife, not just the blade.
- Keep your knife clean, particularly moving parts and locking device.
- Keep your knife oiled; especially pivot points and the blade.
- Keep your knife sharp; a sharp blade is safer than a dull one.
KNIFE CARE INSTRUCTIONS
Store your knife in a dry place, out of the sheath. Lightly wipe the blade with clean oil two to three times a year to keep rust from starting. You may need to oil more often if you live near salt-water or use it frequently.
CLEAN THE ENTIRE KNIFE REGULARLY:
That includes the blade, pivot points and locking mechanism. It's best not to immerse the knife in liquid. But if you do, be sure to dry your knife thoroughly. Spray cleaners are a good alternative. Clean and oil your knife regularly to avoid sticky residues, light surface oxidation and the beginnings of rust.
DISCOLORATION IS A SIGN OF OXIDATION:
If you find the metal has a blue, grey or black color, it is a sign of oxidation and a precursor of rust
Stainless steel does not discolor easily. If you do notice a change in the color of the metal, clean it immediately. It’s a sign of rust waiting to happen.
Discoloration is common to non-stainless steel. But regular cleaning will keep the metal from rusting.
NIP RUST IN THE BUD:
Rust is reddish-brown in color and will eat pits into your blade and contaminate what you cut. Light rust can be cleaned and removed with oil. Heavier rust requires more abrasive action.
We recommend Metal Brite, an excellent polish for removing rust. You can also use some solvents or a plastic cleaning pad.
As a rule of thumb, clean your knife after each use. Always clean and dry the entire knife. Stainless steel is corrosion-resistant, but oxidization will happen over time.
Folding knives should be kept clean of dirt, especially the locking device on lock-back knives.
Clean, polish and lubricate your knife often. It will last longer, perform better and be all-around safer to use.
Metal Brite is a polish. It removes surface oxidation, rust, tarnish and sticky residues while leaving a protective coating.
You can also use chemical solvents like Acetone, nail polish remover, MEK, alcohol and paint thinner to clean the blade. Keep in mind that these solvents can damage some handles.
Don't use harsh detergents that contain chlorine like washing machine powders. They can speed up corrosion of the metal.
Every now and then we suggest applying a small amount of lubricant to the working parts of your knife, including a think film over the surface of the blade. And always lubricate after cleaning.
We recommend using a wax lubricant. It will lubricate, seal and protect your knife from surface oxidation and corrosion from moisture.