How To Sharpen a Knife

“Hey guys, Aaron from Gough Custom here! I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I recommend sharpening their knives… So today I’m going to give you a run through of my sharpening process. I use the Lansky knife sharpening system to sharpen all my knives. It’s inexpensive and it’s fairly easy to use but there are a few tricks to getting the best results. So today I’m going to run you through the entire process, and by the end of it you’ll be able to get extremely sharp knives! Before we start sharpening let’s have a quick look at the different types of edges we can aim for with our sharpening: we can loosely divide the knife edges into two types, toothy edges and polished edges.

Toothy edges are rough at a microscopic level and the roughness acts like tiny little serrations allowing the blade to saw through tough materials like rope and meat. Polished edges are finished to a much finer grit, generally much higher than 1,000 grit. They excel at ‘push cutting’ which means cutting without slicing or sawing. Personally I prefer a toothy edge for all of my knives. You should probably try both types though to see which you like better. In this video I’m going to demonstrate applying a toothy edge. It will generally only take a few minutes to resharpen your knives, but the first time may take a little longer as you have more work to do. Let’s have a look at what comes with the Lansky system. Here we have our coarse, medium and fine stones. Our knife clamp, and our guide rods. Let’s get started assembling the sharpener! Take all the stones and guide rods out of the box.

Now we need to attach the guide rods to each of the stones. The guide rods and the stones must be perfectly aligned in order to get the best results. We can ensure this by assembling them on a flat surface. You can see that after the guide rod is attached to the stone, the stone is no longer lying flat on the table. Gently bend the guide rod so that the guide rod and the stone both lie flat on the table.

Now repeat the process for the rest of the stones. Now let’s have a look at the knife clamp. Unfortunately the clamp has a tendency to leave marks on the knife blade, so you can see here that I’ve put two small strips of electrical tape on the clamp in order to stop it from rubbing on the blade. The system also comes with a bottle of oil, however I don’t recommend using it with the diamond stones.

I’ve only really found that it’s necessary with the much finer stones like the Sapphire Stone which we won’t be using today. Lastly I recommend buying the stand for the system as it makes it much easier and safer to use. The knife clamp mounts on the stand like so. Here is the knife that I’m going to be using for my demonstration. This is one of the first Resolute knives that I made and it’s actually my personal camping knife! I’ve put this knife through a lot of abuse so ignore the scratches on the blade. In order to demonstrate knife sharpening, first I need a dull knife! I’m only doing this for the demo, you shouldn’t do this at home. As you can see, this knife is well and truly dull now. Now we need to fasten the knife in the knife clamp. I generally screw in the rear spacer screw as far as it will go, and then use the front screw to clamp onto the blade. The blade should be held tightly, and should not flop about. On the rear of the clamp you can see the sharpening angles that we can choose from.

I normally use 25 degrees for all of my outdoor knives. The lower angles like 20 degrees and 17 degrees should only be used on knives that will be treated with more care like kitchen knives. 30 degrees is for cleavers and other chopping knives. Now we’re going to put the clamp on the stand, hold the bottom of the clamp like so, and then start sharpening at 25 degrees using our coarse sharpening stone. Notice how I’m holding the stone only by the end, this keeps your fingers away from the knife edge as well as ensuring that the guide rod of the stone is held against the top of the slot in the clamp. This prevents minor variations in the sharpening angle. You want to use the stone evenly across the entire blade, until you can see a pattern of scratch marks across the entire edge.

You also need to make sure that you’ve sharpened sufficiently to hit the apex of the edge. This will be indicated by formation of a burr on the opposite side of the blade, you can check for this burr with your fingernail like so. If you find any sections that don’t yet have a burr then those sections will need a bit more work with the stone. Once the burr is present along the entire edge, we’ll continue sharpening with the coarse stone on the other side of the blade. Again, check for the presence of a burr along the entire length of the blade. Any sections without a burr need further sharpening. Once the burr is present for the entire length of the blade we’ll swap sides again but also go up a grit to the medium stone.

Notice how I’ve switched the direction in which I’m moving the stone, I’m moving it in a diagonal to the left instead of a diagonal to the right as I did with the last stone. This provides contrasting grit marks which allow me to see when the finer stone has eradicated all of the coarse scratch marks from the previous stone. We’ll alternate the direction in which we move the stone every time we change which grit we’re using. Continue sharpening until the coarse grit marks have all been removed, and until there is again burr formed along the length of the edge. Once you have a full length burr, flip the blade again and continue sharpening on the other side with the medium stone. Now that we’ve sharpened both sides with the medium stone we’ll flip the blade again and then move up to the fine stone. Sharpen with the fine stone until all the grit marks from the medium stone are gone and we’ve formed a burr yet again on both sides. Now that we’ve done both sides with the fine stone, we need to minimize the burr in order to make the edge more durable.

We’ll do this by going over the blade again with the fine stone, but only sharpening on the push stroke. We’ll also use much lighter pressure and alternate sides in order to keep the burr small. Notice how I’m using my finger at the back of the clamp to push the guide rod to the top of the slot. This keeps the angle of the stone as consistent as possible. You should be able to feel that the burr is getting much smaller already. We’ll flip the blade several times and repeat the process. I generally do this 2-3 times per side. Now we’re going to use a piece of split leather to strop the blade. This lines up the micro-burr left over from the sharpening process and also helps remove any fine debris from the knife edge. Line the leather up with the edge of your table, and then strop with a firm smooth motion like so. I normally strop the knife 10 to 2 0 times per side after sharpening. Now let’s see how sharp this knife is! Will it shave hair? How about slicing notebook paper? No problems eh! And now for a more difficult test, the very fine phonebook paper.

That is an extremely sharp knife!. ”