Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hiromoto Gyuto - The JapaneseKnifeSharpening Way

Here is a recent project knife. It's a Hiromoto Aogami Super Steel gyuto - 240mm where we replaced it's stock handle scales with black ash and also etched the blade.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dave Martell @ Ashokan Knife Seminar 2010

I'm so excited, but much more honored, to have been asked to do a lecture and demonstration at this years Ashokan Knife Seminar. For those of you who never heard of this before, Ashokan is one of America's oldest and most prestigious hammer-ins. Some of the very best bladesmiths and knifemakers from around the world attend each year. I would have been excited about simply attending but being asked to do a presentation, well that's beyond words for me to describe how I feel.

I'll have more details on this later.....I just had to post this now. :)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Out of the Box Sharpening Service

As many of you may already know Japanese knives do not come out of the box (new) in a sharp condition and are not always ready to go to work.

They do often come somewhat sharp and may impress you with their thin cross section however they all can be improved upon when new.

It's a well known fact that the true potential of a new Japanese knife will only be realized after 1-2 sharpening sessions have occurred.

It's also well known that this initial out of the box sharpening is the most difficult to accomplish (beyond edge repairs) simply because the bevels are often very obtuse, wavy, or in some cases not even ground in yet at all. This is true for both double bevel and single bevel knives alike.

We, at, have been providing initial sharpening service for Japanese knives for many years at no additional cost beyond our standard sharpening fees. With only a very limited exception (example - Aritsugu/Moritaka), we still offer this same service at no additional cost to our normal sharpening service. This means to you that you can purchase a new Japanese knife, have it shipped directly to us, and we will then bring out the full potential (and repair any small defects with the maker's bevel grinds) at no additional costs. You will then receive your knife knowing that it is now ready to use at the highest level that can be obtained while also having the peace of mind to understand that the knife is ready for you to either strop or touch-up sharpen when the times comes to do so. You won't have to worry about purchasing a complete set of sharpening stones and going through the learning curve right at the start of your Japanese knife ownership experience. When the knife begins to not feel sharp you can then choose to just strop or maybe touch-up sharpen on a polishing stone and have this work effectively for a very long time. In many cases a home user could go years with this type of maintenance regimen in place and be very satisfied.

If you have questions as to whether or not your new Japanese knife could benefit from initial sharpening you can always ask us about this as we'd be more than happy to answer your questions or concerns. I will say that all knives will benefit from initial sharpening although I will never say that all knives need it. The benefit of having initial sharpening done to your knife can be great but not always necessary. Again, if you have questions about this issue please feel free to ask, we welcome your inquiries.

For pricing and mailing instructions for our sharpening service please see http://www.japaneseknifesharpening....

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Guided Sharpening Devices - Why?

Here I am on Easter morning in my shop typing this when I should be inside the house with my family. I know, I know, but I just had to share this....

Last night I was sharpening, or rather repairing and sharpening, two chisels that belong to my father-in-law and while doing so I was struck with the notion of how easy this was going for me. I believe this hit me so strong because of my previous battles in years past with these chisels and how hard of a time I've had sharpening these tools and now here I was breezing through the task. The thing that was/is so striking to me is that in the past I had used sharpening aides in the form of guided clamps and even specialized machinery to work on these tools yet here I am now doing it all free hand on water stones and making better results in a fraction of the time.

I sat back and asked myself why is this? I think it can be easily attributed to all of the time that I've spent free handing on water stones and machines like a belt sander and flat hone. I've developed my senses in such a way that I can now work without the help of guides and jigs to produce superior results to what I used to get from the best that these devices can offer.

The really striking revelation, however, is that if I had never tried free handing and had stuck with the guides then I would only be as good as what they allowed me to be. I would be stuck using them forever, stuck buying their proprietary abrasives, and denied the ability to learn how to actually sharpen. I would never have learned how to actually sharpen a tool on a simple sharpening stone. This is crazy!

Now I'm not damning guided devices or those who use them because I can understand the whys and hows but it has to be said that these devices exist not to provide better results (as their manufacturers would have you believe) but are here to soothe our insecurities. Somehow man has lost the ability to see a problem and conquer it. Today we go for the easy way, take the short cuts, no matter what the cost. We'd rather spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars and get what we think is an answer to our fears than to spend $20 for a simple stone and get to work with it. I wonder why we've evolved into this pattern?

Yes I know all about this behavior, I've owned just about every guided sharpening device for knives, scissors, and woodworking tools including some serious machinery. I know why I bought these items and what I was hoping to get from them but what I got in reality was nothing more than wasted money, wasted time, and road blocks in my learning curve. I guess I needed to try them and see what I needed to see but looking back I sort of wish I had never bothered.

My point in all this babbling is to say that if you're someone who's on the fence between going with a guided sharpening system or trying free handing I would strongly advise you to take the road less traveled. If you have a suspicion that free handing is something you might like then you already know the answer, you already know where you're going to go, you just have to listen to yourself and take the first step, the rest is just some hard work and practice and you'll be sharpening great in no time at all. Remember the best things come from hard work, nothing worth having is given to you or bought easily.

Hey, did you ever wonder why sharpening tools on stones with you bare hands is called "free handing"? I believe it's because you're freed from the boundaries inherently built into jigged/guided systems and free to do your best work.

So give it some thought, maybe you have it in you to try..... I say go for it!

Happy sharpening! :)


Friday, February 12, 2010

Microscopic Edge Pictures

I had a request to post some microscopic edge images that I shot a few years ago using a QX5 USB scope that my friend Curtis gifted me. Thanks Curtis!

The pictures are meant to show what actually happens at the edge from using waterstones. They are a visual reference for what happens at the microscopic level to which we can't see with eyes alone.





I hope that these pictures serve to provide you with a better idea of what you're achieving at the edge while sharpening. I think it helps to be able to refer to this while you're working away.

*Please note - What particular stones used are not important here - it's about what happens (in general) at each grit level that's of relevance.