EDC Sharpening and maintenance

Extreme sharpening is fun. Getting an edge hair splitting sharp is amazingly fun, but it’s sometimes not very productive. Getting an edge to pass the hanging hair test is great fun, but it takes a while and that edge will degrade fast. Hair shaving sharp is the standard for me when it comes to EDC knives.

The first edge

When I start sharpening an EDC I go all out, and polish it as high as possible (if the steel allows). There is nothing more fun than making a shiny edge that just melts through everything. Depending on the steel I will polish up to 8 or 15k JIS, or 2000 ANSI if I use abrasive paper when sharpening a convex edge.

I tend to use the EP the most lately both for V and convex edges when precision matters. The belt sander is fast and easy, but the edges aren’t beautiful. There is always going to be a scratch above the bevel that will ruin the finish. On hard used EDC knives I couldn’t care less. But on gentleman folders like a William Henry or a classic slipjoint, I want perfection. So out come the Chosera and Shapton stones, CBN slurries and suspensions, CrO and Boron Carbide semi pastes and diamond sprays. When I’m done I can see myself clearly in the edge and I’m happy with it. It usually takes 20-45 minutes depending of the amount of work I need to do.

Maintenance

But I don’t have 45 min every day to get my EDC sharp. You want something than will clean up the edge and will get it hair popping sharp again. I have a few fantastic products for that:

  • 2µ SiC semi paste (Hand American)

The Hand American semi paste is easy to use, works on all substrates I’ve tried and gives a nice polished shine, but adds a certain amount of bite to the edge at the same time. Sure the edge won’t pass the HHT, but that’s not what I want at this point. I need a working edge that lasts me a while before I need to go back to the stones or paper.

  • 1µ Boron Carbide semi paste (Hand American)

When your edge has degraded just a bit, this is the product that will get it back to the top. It’s smooth, works on belts and strops. Works on every substrate and lasts a long time. Of all the Hand American pastes, this one is my favorite for knives.

  • 2µ CBN Slurry (Precise Sharpening)

The same grit as the SiC, but in CBN. Longer lasting, cuts faster, and leaves a toothy edge. A fantastic product that gives a very aggressive edge. At 38$, it’s not very cheap, but if you consider what you get in return it’s actually a bargain.

  • 4µ CBN suspension (Precise Sharpening)

The newest product I’ve tested. I won’t finish on this compound, but if I waited too long with stropping, this is the only product that will get it back in a few strokes. It’s amazing. Drying time on balsa is longer because it’s a suspension. On leather, there is no difference. After this I prefer the 2µ SiC to smooth it out or 1µ BC if I still want some bite.

  • Conclusion:

All these products work fantastic. You have options in pretty much every grit size, but for touching up, these are the products I rely on every day.

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7 thoughts on “EDC Sharpening and maintenance

  1. Thank you for the explanation, Michiel! A clear methode aimed at a finely polished edge. Interesting to learn about those different stopping compounds! Do you have a preference for what you use them on? Do you pick the hones and compound according to steel type? Different for carbon steel than, say, ZDP or other wear resistant steels?
    Do you thin out the edges to a certain thinness? Do you have a certain edge angle for certain steels? Questions,questions… 🙂
    Do you have pictures? 🙂
    Thank you!
    JD

  2. I choose based on steel, geometry and purpose.

    A knife that is designed for cutting meat won’t have a slick edge. A little bit of tooth is what I prefer for cutting through meat. The 2µ CBN or 1µ BC is my favorite here.

    For slicker edges the SiC is better.

    For wear resistant steels like ZDP, CPM 3V, S30V, CPM154, etc… I prefer something that cuts fast, so the CBN and diamond are preferred here. Since you can get them at very high grit levels, they can polish very fine too, but they will always have tooth. Even at 0.125µ.

    I do thin out most edges. If they don’t hold up, I’ll add a microbevel or turn them into a steeper convex edge.

    I don’t have pics of a touched up edge actually. i’ll take one soon.

  3. Good stuff! Thank you for the information.
    I like trying different grid sizes too though at the moment I am mostly playing around with hones and less with compounds. I feel I can still improve my technic with them.
    I have some 3M diamond past lying around that I want to some testing with in the future. The edges I get from the Spyderco brown stone work so well, I am trying them see how far I can go just with this stone. So much to learn and explore 🙂
    JD

  4. I have been toying a bit with fine stones lately. I am curious as to what methode you use to remove the burrs that are created during sharpening?
    Thanks!
    JD

  5. I make sure I minimize burrs after setting a bevel. I will remove the burr at 320 grit as much as I can. Completely gone if possible. After that, it’s more of the same. I do 1 edge leading stroke per side, then 1 trailing per side. After that I run the edge through a block of felt to make sure it’s gone. If it shaves on both sides of the blade, I’m happy.

  6. Thanks! I have read a little about using felt but never used it on the japanesesharpening blog. Something to look in to! Do you buy it in Europe?
    JD

    1. I only buy from a few makers that I’m 100% sure of. They offer quality and are consistent. They are, in no particular order:
      Chefknivestogo.com
      Hand American (sold through CKTG)
      Precise Sharpening (also cktg)
      Jendeindustries.com

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