Now here is an odd thing...

This is a discussion on Now here is an odd thing... within the Defensive Knives & Other Weapons forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; For about the past six months I have been sharpening at the same sporting goods store, at the same counter. I have numerous repeat customers. ...

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  1. #1
    Former Member Array The Tourist's Avatar
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    Now here is an odd thing...

    For about the past six months I have been sharpening at the same sporting goods store, at the same counter. I have numerous repeat customers.

    They have placed a sign on the counter which reads simply, "Chico's Professional Sharpening." A brief list of my hours is included. To me, the idea should seem simple.

    I have two complaints. The first is just a nagging concern. While not a problem for our gunsmith, many people ask "Is it free?" They seem genuinely miffed when I tell them that this is my job.

    The second complaint is more serious. For example, when they change the oil on my Harley, I do not sniff the dipstick to see if the oil is fresh. Since I no longer have a local oil dump (and I'm tired of wrenching), I pay for the service, and I seek a professional.

    To that end, every knife--every single one--no matter how modest that knife is, will be returned with a gleaming, uniform and sharp edge. Every knife.

    But get this, every edge is tested. Sure, I'm irked that my work must be checked, but I doubt these people even know what they're doing. These knives are sharper than they've ever seen, and yet people roll up their sleeves and scrape hair from their arms--all the while holding the blade at bizarre angles.

    Or they scrape their fingernails. My favorite is the 'skin test.' They take a thumb or index finger and brush perpendicular to the edge. I can see a faint layer of skin roll up on the edge, angstroms away from a deeper cut which will not be felt.

    Today, a guy brought me two knives. One was an Osbourne with a bad chip near the tip, and the other a rubber-handled Gator knock-off the owner claimed was 'junk.' I fixed the Osbourne, but the 'Gator' had a very steep bevel which shined easily and was definitely sharper than the blunter yet more expensive knife. I informed the client of this.

    Without a comment, the client slid his finger down the 'Gator,' and I watched several onion-skin thin layers of skin get shaved painlessly from the test. The owner had no idea thin skin was indeed being sliced.

    "I can't tell," shrugged the owner, "I just use them until they don't cut very well. Then I give them to my uncle, or you--yours are prettier."

    Prettier? Sure, I try to maintain the cosmetic quality of the knife, but my goal is to provide a level of service the client has never been able to purchase.

    They don't know what they're buying, they don't know what they're testing for, and I have to watch that 'skin thingie.'

    Oh, well. There's no heavy lifting and the tips are good.
    Last edited by The Tourist; February 25th, 2005 at 02:16 AM.

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  3. #2
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    Array acparmed's Avatar
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    Let me see if I can address this problem.

    It is, I think, human nature to physically check on how sharp a knife is. I don't know anyone who upon picking up a blade doesn't check the edge in one way or another. Usually in foolish ways, true, but that is the only way they know.

    You have to step back and humor them and yourself with their foolishness. When they do cut themselves on occasion, understand that sooner or later they will likely join the Darwin Award nominee list. Their ignorance should only serve to amuse, not anger you. When I teach firearms I am constantly amused at how much people think they know and how little they actually understand. Our job as professionals is to enlighten them when possible, chuckle when not.
    At least when you hand over a blade you don't have to be concerned that they may injure you with their foolishness. When I take someone on the range I have to stay very aware of what they are doing so that they cannot injure themselves, someone else or me.
    So I say sharpen their knives, collect their money, and find a sense of humor in yourself regarding their ignorance.
    The comment about "yours are prettier" is actually a backhanded compliment. You can bet that when a buddy asks where to get his knife sharpened, this man will recommend you.
    What more can you ask for?
    Heroes are people who do what has to be done, when it has to be done, regardless of the consequences

    "I like when the enemy shoots at me; then I know where the ******** are and can kill them."
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  4. #3
    Senior Member Array GoodSamaritan's Avatar
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    LOL!

    I talked to a knife maker, and he said that over the years he has seen quite a few people cut themselves while looking at one of his knives. Almost all of the ones who did cut themselves ended up buying a knife though. Most people have never had a knife that sharp. Good Job on the sharpening, may I ask what you use?

  5. #4
    Member Array scbair's Avatar
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    I agree with acparmed; no offense would be intended, but I would never carry a blade without checking the edge, myself.

    Personally, I use the "test with the thumb" method, but have not cut myself in memory. I'm an avid outdoorsman, leather craftsman and kinda-sorta handyman, and I've owned or examined a lotta blades, factory and custom. I find I can get a good idea of a blade's keenness by ***very lightly*** testing with my thumb.

    Frankly, I would liken anyone who would carry a knife with an untested edge to the folks who purchas, load & carry a handgun without testing it. Be glad you don't have customers that crazy!

  6. #5
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    I sharpen my own knives, and I test as I go along... without cutting my thumb off. I sharpen my blades utility sharp anyway, since I don't see the sense of making a blade razor sharp if I'm cutting boxes, rope and such.

    I'm still tempted to mail off one of my Sharp, Pointy Things to you, Chico, so I can have your famously spooky edge. I'm afraid, however, that I will receive an empty package in return because the blade has cut it's own way out of the box, causing a poor UPS man to take Worker's Comp.

    "Americans have the will to resist because you have weapons. If you don't have a gun, freedom of speech has no power." - Yoshimi Ishikawa

  7. #6
    Former Member Array The Tourist's Avatar
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    Samaritan,

    I use the Professional Model of the Edge-Pro Sharpening System.

    Acparmed,

    I understand your view-point. But as an instructor, while urban legends about firearms exist (I've fired IPSC Tussey Custom 1911's now for over 20 years) you certainly would not allow foolish gun handling.

    Many of the knives I return to their owners are mirror-finished at 18 degrees or finer. These edges give almost no warning of a cut. In fact, I also carry a horsehide strop; an edge polished on a strop has NO burr or wire-edge and cuts without warning or very much pain. So much so that I seldom loan out my personal knife.

    (Off of the top of my head, I'd loan out a knife to two guys I ride with, an old forum friend by the name of Lynn Little, my Dad if he was still living and a few collectors from my church. While I have not seen Betty handle a knife, I know she uses the same sharpening system so knives would be loaned out as "professional curtesy.")

    I have now sharpened my Razor Knife about five times, and every imperfection has been removed long ago. I don't even like to let people see that knife; it's unusual, and folks want to 'play with it.'

    Your point that people don't know what a sharp knife really is can certainly be valid. As in your gun analogy, you don't fire a 'test round' from a SW 629 into the top of your foot to test muzzle velocity.

    (BTW, the correct way to check an edge is to take a single piece of fine, light paper (or newsprint) and do a slow, light slice from choil to tip. You are looking for 'sticks' (small chips) and 'drags' (rough edges). While paper and cardboard are abrasive and dull knives, a few inches of light cutting through fine paper is nothing to modern steels.)
    Last edited by The Tourist; February 25th, 2005 at 12:12 PM.

  8. #7
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    Thumbs up Be Proud

    Be Proud that the knives that you sharpen pass their (whatever) "tests" every time!
    Fine sharpening is an art & most people will never fully appreciate your extra effort. Let their money say "Thanks" for them.
    That is what I always do.
    I have received art & sculpture restoration work to do do that I put countless numbers of real work hours into.
    All of the work that I turn out is museum quality.
    Sometimes I only get a "nice" but, then they write the check & I'm happy.
    Just keep on doing that perfect edge & high quality work for your own satisfaction of a "Job Well Done" !!!
    Liberty Over Tyranny Μολὼν λαβέ

  9. #8
    Senior Member Array GoodSamaritan's Avatar
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    Samaritan,

    I use the Professional Model of the Edge-Pro Sharpening System.
    I am almost afraid to ask but... How would you rate the Lansky setup with the diamond stones?

    I have one that I use pretty regularly and other than the fine stone being a bit to rough for my tastes it seems to do a good job. After I touch up the edges it produces on an old very very smooth alumina-ceramic rod, it will shave your arm bald without pulling hair.

    If your setup does a better job, I will just have to ebay the lansky and buy an edge pro.

  10. #9
    Former Member Array The Tourist's Avatar
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    Betty,

    The knife I'd want from you is not a sharp knife, but an old favorite of yours that needs some love. A knife created to be "hyper-tactical spooky fugu" must only be handled by the 'knowing,' and then only used for good. I'll PM you the business address for Bada Bing.

    Samaritan,

    I use the Edge-Pro for a number of reasons over a Lansky.

    First, my Dad taught me to sharpen at the age of eight so I could 'earn' my first jackknife. I've used Arkansas style stones, crock sticks, steel and whatever was handy, but I do have an opinion.

    As an old artist, I see things in 3D, like one of those computer programs that takes an object and spins it in space. Sharpening is like planing a door; you level the high spots and make each side (or edge) uniform, front to back, and left to right.

    If you cannot plane a door or understand what I just described, you will never be able to sharpen and will most likely damage more knives. Make no mistake; fully 25% of the knives I sharpen begin with a repair.

    As for the Edge-Pro over a Lansky, yes, they are both guided systems. Your wrist and arm can move radially, and hence can make the bevel a little like a corkscrew. However, with the Lansky, you must choose between 15, 20 and 25 degrees--which isn't much help if your knife is 17.8 degrees. Further, the Lansky clamps the blade in one spot. I can adjust the Edge-Pro at any angle, and I can move the blade so that its relationship to the stone is always near perpendicular.

    Finally, the Edge-Pro uses very fine water-stones and high polish 4000 series polishing tapes. It leaves the smoothest edge I have ever seen, and virtually slips through whatever you cut.

    I have been sharpening most of my life, professionally for almost ten years and now I research and sell knives. It's a constant learning curve; new methods and alloys seem to pop up every day.

    I encourage you to check out the Edge-Pro website at www.edgeproinc.com and call Ben Dale to gather further information. He is a kind and patient man who has given me a way to support myself in retirement.

    Keep 'em sharp, otherwise it is just a fancy ruler.

  11. #10
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    I've used the Lansky (stones, not diamond) for several years before Tourist convinced me I neded to give the EdgePro a shot. The EdgePro beats it easily.

    The Lansky is good for knives under 4", but you have to keep unscrewing the thing for longer blades, and you really have to watch out how you're sharpening hawkbills and other blades of unusual curve. It's much easier with the EdgePro, not to mention the EdgePro system doesn't make me feel like I risk shaving a thumb off... grabbing onto the little Lansky bar can be awkward, even with my small hands.

    The EdgePro has bigger stones and a large, convenient knob you can safely grab onto. The EdgePro is much more expensive, so the Lansky is fine if you're not sharpening much and don't want to invest a lot in a sharpener.

    While Tourist has the Professional model, I have the less expensive Apex model, which has a suction cup base. If you don't have access to a sturdy smooth top, you might have a problem. I modified mine by adding a piece of plexiglas adhered to a no-slip mousepad bottom that the suction cups can stick to, so I can use my Apex anywhere.

    Their polishing tape works great. Gotta love the mirror finish on an edge.
    Last edited by Betty; February 25th, 2005 at 10:55 PM.
    "Americans have the will to resist because you have weapons. If you don't have a gun, freedom of speech has no power." - Yoshimi Ishikawa

  12. #11
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    Tourist - Can you either email or PM me with info on where and how to contact you for some work?
    Heroes are people who do what has to be done, when it has to be done, regardless of the consequences

    "I like when the enemy shoots at me; then I know where the ******** are and can kill them."
    ~George Patton

    DE OPPRESSO LIBER

  13. #12
    Former Member Array The Tourist's Avatar
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    Send knives by the dozen.

    Sure, no problem. I kept my old 'dummy' hotmail account to weed out the spam and requests from my Corsican relatives (ptoy, ptoy, no disrespect) for money and fake ID's.

    Just drop me a line at IchabodPoser "at" hotmail.com (be sure and change the "at" to @).

    You might want to call the request "For Bada Bing" or I just keep clicking to delete all of the crud.

    My rates are high and generous tips are encouraged. Buy a box of bandages, you'll need them.
    Last edited by Bumper; February 27th, 2005 at 12:43 AM. Reason: I changed the format of The Tourist's email so the bots won't pick his email out automatically and spam him. You can re-assemble it with the @ sign....

  14. #13
    Senior Member Array GoodSamaritan's Avatar
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    Samaritan,

    I use the Edge-Pro for a number of reasons over a Lansky.

    First, my Dad taught me to sharpen at the age of eight so I could 'earn' my first jackknife. I've used Arkansas style stones, crock sticks, steel and whatever was handy, but I do have an opinion.
    Similar story here. I don’t claim to match your level of skill, but I got my first at age 9 and promptly ruined it trying to use the “knife sharpener” on mom’s can opener. LOL Dad quickly taught me how to use a spit rock (wet stone)
    Over the years I have tried a lot of different things. However the only one I have used for any length of time is an old Alumina-ceramic rod. It looks like a crock stick but I would guess it to be the equivalent of 3000-4000 grit. It will touch up an otherwise sharp knife nicely, but is useless for a damaged edge. You definitely have put more time and thought into this, which is why I sought, and value your opinion.

    As an old artist, I see things in 3D, like one of those computer programs that takes an object and spins it in space. Sharpening is like planing a door; you level the high spots and make each side (or edge) uniform, front to back, and left to right. If you cannot plane a door or understand what I just described, you will never be able to sharpen and will most likely damage more knives. Make no mistake; fully 25% of the knives I sharpen begin with a repair.
    I have done some CAD drawings and used a planer and a hand plane, so I see what your talking about. I too have seen knives that looked like someone tried to sharpen them with a bench grinder and or a file, not to mention the ones that the edge angles were way off due to improper sharpening with a wet stone.

    As for the Edge-Pro over a Lansky, yes, they are both guided systems. Your wrist and arm can move radially, and hence can make the bevel a little like a corkscrew. However, with the Lansky, you must choose between 15, 20 and 25 degrees--which isn't much help if your knife is 17.8 degrees. Further, the Lansky clamps the blade in one spot. I can adjust the Edge-Pro at any angle, and I can move the blade so that its relationship to the stone is always near perpendicular.

    Finally, the Edge-Pro uses very fine water-stones and high polish 4000 series polishing tapes. It leaves the smoothest edge I have ever seen, and virtually slips through whatever you cut.

    Looks like I need to save up some money for one. I might send you one of my knives and see how it turns out before I sink 300$ + into one though.



    The Lansky is good for knives under 4", but you have to keep unscrewing the thing for longer blades, and you really have to watch out how you're sharpening hawkbills and other blades of unusual curve. It's much easier with the EdgePro, not to mention the EdgePro system doesn't make me feel like I risk shaving a thumb off... grabbing onto the little Lansky bar can be awkward, even with my small hands.
    Betty, those are the same complaints I have about the Lansky system. I have the mounting base that you can screw to a workbench but I almost always end up holding it, because I would rather sharpen in the house where it is warm. LOL. I have also noticed the same thing tourist has, if your not very careful you can apply more pressure to one side of the stone than the other and cause it to cut deeper on one side, leaving the edge wavy or “corkscrewed”. I get around this by holding the stone and moving the knife (clamp and all) over the stones surface.

    Hmmm I wonder what the wife would say if she came in and the lansky was permanently mounted to the coffee table....

  15. #14
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    I like my lansky ok , but it does take some time to sharpen most of my knives with it.

  16. #15
    Former Member Array The Tourist's Avatar
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    Rocky,

    We're not jumping on the Lansky, per se, but rather the problems that its owner might face.

    For example, I know only two people that can sharpen free-hand and leave a professional uniform edge on a knife. There is Ben Dale, and Ernest Emerson.

    Mr. Emerson once described sharpening a CQC7 to a client that was having trouble. He said (to paraphrase), "Grab any stone you have and place the bevel flat to the stone. Develope a burr, then strop the knife on the cardboard back of a notebook."

    I believe him, he probably does just that. I use an extremely fine stone for barbers' razors (I cheat and tape the spine with blue painters' tape and strop with horsehide), but it takes me longer; and no doubt Mr. Emerson would find a few spots to 'touch up.'

    The rest of us (and that goes for professionals) need some way to make bevels uniform. Now granted, I sharpen a lot. Over the past decade I have no doubt sharpened more knives than most people do in a life time. Same for your auto mechanic; he can diagnose a problem by hearing it. I knew one spectrometer technician that recognized problems by the smell.

    We have the same concerns and problems, but we use different tools and experience to hurdle problems you might face.

    If we had a can-opener abused knife here, you might dismiss it as damaged beyond repair. I simply look at it as a difficult repair job. Betty might wait until she has an hour to really discern the damage. Mr. Emerson would undoubtedly say, "Yeah, I have a minute."

    Lanskey's and Sharpmakers have provided knife collectors with better edges than my Dad's generation knew. I just think the Edge-Pro is a more refined tool.

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