How I Sharpen Knives In Black Mountain
Knife Sharpening Near You
Hand Sharpened Knives
Keith Nix Knives, Knife Maker
Why Choose A Professional Knife Sharpening Service?
Black Mountain Knife Sharpener
Keith Nix Knives provides exceptional Professional Sharpening Services that surpass traditional sharpening methods. Our tools and techniques guarantee accurate and precise sharpening, assisting us in applying the appropriate thickness behind the edge for your knife's intended purpose. We strive to optimize your knife's performance, finishing all knives with a 3000-grit hand-stropped micro bevel. This ensures each edge is in excellent condition and extremely sharp. We also measure the sharpness of the edge to guarantee top-notch quality.
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At its simplest, knife sharpening is nothing more than selectively eroding steel from the edge until the two bevels of the knife form an apex at the edge. Everything else is aimed at smoothing and refining that apex at a proper angle for the expected job.
Straight razor edges must be much thinner than chef knives, so they can smoothly remove hair without irritation. But that razor edge is so fragile and won't last long on a cutting board. Like so much of knife making, sharpening appropriately is a balancing act between two desirable properties.
BLACK MOUNTAIN KNIFE SHARPENING
Let's talk about how I sharpen your custom heirloom knife or any other blade you might bring to me for service. Whether you've purchased any of the knives I make or dropped your knives off for sharpening, the process is the same! Here is a description of what that means and how it happens.
Thin edges slice. Thick edges bludgeon!
Imagine an axe, a knife, and a razor blade. Each of those cutting tools can be sharpened to hair-shaving sharp. The fundamental difference between the edges is the thinness of the edge just behind the actual cutting apex.
Because I'm a knife maker first, I know well how important geometry is to the durability, feel and slicing ability of a knife. The axe, knife, and razor blade can help us examine this.
The axe is thick and heavy to support its edge in the high-impact tasks of felling trees. The knife is thinner by far but has to be thick enough to support the edge as it works through your food on the cutting board. The razor blade is only a few thousandths of an inch thick at its thickest, with a very acute edge angle to effortlessly part through hair as we groom ourselves.
Edge Geometry Is The Key
No matter the type of knife, I will ensure that it is sharpened to the highest level of quality, whether that's hair-shaving sharp or a more durable edge for long-term use. With my skills and expertise, you can trust that you will have a perfectly sharpened knife that is ready for use.
We want the geometry our knife blades between the thick axe and the fragile, thin razor. So "thinning the knife edge" and then measuring the final thickness gives us an idea of the knife's capabilities!
No act of maintaining custom or store-bought kitchen knives is more critical to the user than edge maintenance, geometry, and sharpening. If you lack the practice or training to sharpen your knives, hire a pro for the hand-sharpened edges you want!
I've written several posts on this site about the tools and techniques used to sharpen knives. I've written a maintenance and care article HERE, describing how YOU can make your sharp edges last longer. You can make your sharp edges last longer by incorporating straightforward steps into your cutting, cleaning, and storage routines.
I've written about how your choice of cutting boards (HERE) can destroy your keen edge or improve their longevity. I've discussed various devices to ensure the angle of the bevel is the same on both sides of the blade, different types and grit progressions of stones(sharpening grit progression), strops, and the polishing compounds applied to them and honing steels.
The first thing I do with your knives is conduct a needs assessment, whether a kitchen blade or a hunting or camping knife. I always measure "thickness behind the edge" to within .001" over the length of the blade to ensure the dimension is suitable for the knife's intended use.
The illustration left helps explain how the thickness behind the edge gets THICKER with repeated sharpenings. When that happens, even though the knife could be "hair shaving" sharp, it still requires extra effort to push through what you're cutting, much like the axe above. So I measure this dimension. This will determine what happens next.
Preparation of the Blade-
Usually, step one after the needs assessment is a visit to the belt sander to set a bevel angle and edge thickness appropriate for the knife. This angle is usually 10-12 degrees per side for kitchen knives and higher for hard-use blades. (Contrary to what some "sharpeners" will tell you, a properly utilized variable speed belt sander will NOT ruin your knife. Uneducated people ruin knives!)
At this initial angle, I bring the bevels just to the apex (a sharp edge) on both sides of the knife. I use the Reeder Products Knife Sharpening Attachment from Reeder Products to achieve an exact angle and an angle cube to measure this to .5 degrees instead of the more time-consuming trigonometric process. I use exclusively 3M Trizact structured abrasive belts to rebevel your knife. Trizact belts and slow belt speeds run much cooler than standard abrasives, significantly reducing heat transfer to your blade.
I may shape your blade bevel with up to five belts of progressively finer grit to polish and refine the bevel. This thinner edge bevel will now pass through your food (or cardboard) more like a razor and less like an axe!
HAND Sharpened Edges-
After the bevel is set and thinned, I go to the Hapstone fixed angle hand sharpening station, where I set and refine a secondary bevel (micro bevel) on your knife. This micro bevel is usually 2-3 degrees steeper than the primary just set on the Reeder, or 15-17.5 degrees per side.
While only a few thousandths of an inch tall, it significantly strengthens the edge and apex of your knife. If I set a 12-degree bevel on the Reeder, we'll do the final sharpening at 15-17.5 degrees per side for fine kitchen knives and 17.5 to 20 for good hunting knives. The sharpening grit progression comes into play here.
Our custom knife sharpening service utilizes a sharpening grit progression, starting with a coarse stone for initial sharpening and then progressing to finer and finer stones for a polished, razor-sharp edge. We use a specialized sharpening system to ensure superior sharpening results and a long-lasting, durable edge.
As with sandpaper, the grit of sharpening stones is larger the smaller the number here in the US. So a 100-grit stone is FAR coarser than a 3000 grit. Coarser grit stones remove material faster, and finer grits refine the edge and remove scratches from the previous grit stones just as sandpaper does. This is why your final edge is shaped with a progression of up to nine different bonded diamond sharpening stones.
From as low as 80 grit, through 100, 150, 240, 400, 800, 1200, and 2000, to a final grit, a ceramic 3000 grit for polishing and deburring. Each progressively finer sharpening stone removes the previous stone's scratch pattern and burrs as it polishes and refines the edge of your knife until it is hair shaving, phone book paper slicing sharp.
Our custom knife sharpening service includes edge deburring and polishing. Our experienced knife makers use a variety of strops and compounds to remove burrs and refine the edge, resulting in a sharp and polished blade. Our stropping process will ensure your knife is as sharp as possible.
As a final treatment, I have a selection of six homemade strops, one denim, and five leather. Each is treated with progressively finer polishing compounds, down to 1-micron diamond spray(roughly 40 millionths of an inch!). Just a few strokes remove the burrs, burnishes, and polishes the edge to smoothness.
Even though I have half a dozen strops, I've found through utilizing the Edge on Up sharpness tester, that two will do the same work as well or better than all six. I start with a denim strop loaded with Flitz Chrome polish (cheap and effective combined with denim) and finish with smooth leather loaded with 1-micron diamond emulsion. This combination fully deburrs the freshly sharpened edge, saving me time and you money!
After the final stropping of your blade on 1-micron diamond-loaded leather, I'll MEASURE the sharpness on the "Edge On Up" BESS sharpness tester to ensure it meets my specifications. It gets resharpened if your knife doesn't fall below 170 on the BESS "C" scale.
The Edge on Up sharpness tester is a popular choice for custom knife makers as it provides a reliable and efficient way of testing blade sharpness. The results are displayed on an easy-to-read digital display, making it easy to determine if the blade is up to the desired sharpness. This tester is an invaluable tool for any custom knife maker or sharpener, as it allows them to easily and accurately test the sharpness of their knives.
From the Edge on Up website:
"The standard used to determine the sharpness of knives is called the BESS: Brubacher Edge Sharpness Scale. This scale was developed by Mike Brubacher, owner of Edge-On-Up. He has a background in sensor and test development in various industries. In 2012 he started developing a standard that could measure the sharpness of knives and needles. The result is the BESS standard that experts and enthusiasts quickly adopted as one of the most user-friendly methods to determine the sharpness of a knife."
This instrument uses a certified and calibrated synthetic test medium, a "wire" (some calibrated plastic) similar to a heavy fishing line, and a weight scale with 1 gram of resolution. The knife is pushed gently into the test media as the the sharpness tester holds it, until the edge severs the "wire." The instrument reads the force required to cut the wire in grams, the BESS score. Moreover, the BESS score correlates directly to the edge radius (yes, radius. No edge can be sharpened to a perfect apex). So if your sharpened edge rates 85 BESS, it tells you the edge radius of that blade is 85 nanometers (a human hair diameter is 60,000-100,000 nm or .002-.004")
My target sharpness on the BESS C scale (see the picture in this article) is 140-170 grams. Considering that HIGH-end factory knives measure between 250 and 350, we make SHARP Edges. Read more about the Edge on Up sharpness testing instrument HERE!
I've refined my process to sharpen and polish your knife relatively quickly, with a high degree of accuracy, sharpness, keenness, and polish. We want you to experience the RAZOR sharp knife edge that is becoming a part of our reputation on our custom knives and YOUR kitchen blades!
Keeping my prices low for quality hand sharpening is second only to your complete satisfaction, and I've never had a price increase in sharpening cost. I don't expect one any time soon! Keith Nix Knives sharpening services are available to individuals and businesses in Asheville, Weaverville, Swannanoa, Black Mountain, Marion, and greater Western NC.
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Thanks for reading,