Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Knife Sharpening - WARNING
Pressing the thin cutting edge of your carving knife against a moving wheel will generate heat - if you hold the blade against the moving wheel long enough, it will generate HOT. There is a warning that occurs when your blade is too HOT. Of course, it too friggin late when this warning appears. When the blade is too HOT it turns color. The color can be blue, black, orange, red; but any color other than the original blade color is probably too late. You've probably messed up the blade.
Most of us have broken the very tip of a carving knife off. I mean the 1/16th " tip. Or may if we're a bit too aggressive 1/8th ", or worse. When this happens, we know that all is not lost. We can reshape the blade back to a point.
Reshaping the knife blade back to a point is where we can get into real trouble. We have two choices hand or power. I prefer hand shaping the point, with a diamond "stone". However, recently while carving at the Senior Center where we have a power sharpening system I used it. This system has two wheels with emery/crocus wrapped wheels (one fine and one medium grit). I used the finest wheel, and reshaped the back of the knife blade so that it came back to a point. I got cold wet sponge to keep the blade cool, and started. Touch the blade to the moving wheel for less than a second, then cool it in the wet sponge. Repeat this sequence until the blade tip is returned to a point. TAKE YOUR TIME. After I reshaped the blade to the necessary point it occurred to me that there is a teachable moment here.
Where is the knife blade the thinnest? AT THE TIP! Where is the knife blade the most susceptible to getting HOT when shaping/sharpening? AT THE TIP!
There's less than one second between BURNING the blade tip and not burning it. Error on the side of time. Take your time when sharpening and/or reshaping the knife blade. Or as Ol' Thomp said, "Touch the tip, dip the tip; touch the tip, dip the tip". Dipping in this instance means dipping the blade into water to keep it cool.