What is an edge?
A blade edge is not a single row of tiny teeth (like on a saw) as many folks imagine. The edge is actually comprised of a forest of microscopic teeth. Contrary to popular myth, over working that edge does not improve the cutting-edge once a true edge is formed. This is not to say that sharpening should not create a fine, relatively burr free edge with precise honing. However many people overwork an edge during finishing, to a point that under a microscope that little forest of teeth (the part doing the real cutting) looks like catastrophic deforestation where the edge is diminished and ripped apart. This over finishing feels like and presents a fine feeling, cosmetic edge with a significantly shortened edged retention.
The machine used to test the edge retention capabilities of a blade, cuts the same 60 pieces of paper over and over again. The results look a little like an upside down bar graph. The first few cuts on most knives are remarkably similar; it is how quickly the edge retention ramps off from there that really shows edge retention. Better quality blades will often have as much as double the edge retention of cheaper blades. Employing these less aggressive burr removal sharpening methods can as much as double those edge retention in some of the more advanced steels now available in the market. The answer at the end of the day is that more tiny microscopic teeth are better! Consider this the next time you see a video where some dude online brags that he stropped his blade 200 times on each side or polished the edge to a mirror finish. Few of us are ninja assassins only interested in one perfect cut...and if you are Batman, I don't want to know about your secret identity.
There is no one right sharpener for any one person, but be aware that sharpening is a skill that requires practice. Sharpening systems are made to shorten the amount of practice needed to achieve a good result. The average person sharpens (at best) 3-4 knives in a month. Professional sharpeners can sharpen several hundred in a month.
When I used to train new sharpeners we would begin with a butter knife and I would tell them that when they could put an edge onto that super soft steel, they would be ready to sharpen customer's knives. I still have my sharpened and "re-tipped" butter knife from when I learned. See the Crazy-Sharp-Edge sharpening services page for more edge assistance.
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330 E Berkeley St
Gladstone, OR 97027
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Want to sell your Collection - Do you have a collection or rare knives that you would like to sell. Cascadia Cutlery could buy your collection or single knives at a fair price. Generally we are interested in Name Brand, rare, custom or discontinued items in the Benchmade, Microtech, Zero Tolerance, etc. We would not be interested in Fantasy or Franklin Mint Collections. Inquiries about this can be made by calling us at 503-505-2567 or firstname.lastname@example.org