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Sharpening with a wink, using a lookup table for the sharpening steel

Started by aquataur, August 03, 2023, 07:37:58 PM

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Now this subject is not entirely sharpening related, but it is knife related. As such it would fit into a forum like the sadly defunct kitchen knife forum, but due to the technical relation it also fits perfectly into the league of spreadsheets available here vor diverse sharpening calculations.
This may be a nice-to-have addition to your box of tricks.

I recently read the sharpening book by John Juranitch, The Razor Edge Book Of Sharpening. On page 43f. he speaks about steeling your edge. He explains, why using a (sharpening) steel keeps the knife sharper for much longer. We all have seen cooks wielding this item with the knife, and I always thought, either they are so incredibly good or they are showing off. Maybe both.

A leisure time cook on the other side, will have his problems with this device. I do not exclude myself from this (until recently at least). The crux is that a certain angle, coincident with the grinding angle, has to be maintained during this action. What makes it worse, is that nowadays you easily have at least two knifes with different grinding angles in your arsenal.

Juranitch invented this crafty device (shown on pictures 2-4 to 2-6) that rests with on a base on the table and has some reverse cone on the tip that serves as an angle guide to give your muscle memory a firm idea.

In recent publications I have seen a similar method advocated (bar the cone), using a stock sharpening steel with a handle in the left hand, with the tip down on some rag between it and the table, which securely locks the device. You may want to look up the book if it is not clear what I mean. (The book is available for free in one of the archives.)

Unfortunately the cone method relies on a single grinding angle. Actually, to be more precise, the angle guide determines a certain angle.
If one wished, a cone like that could be easily done with a 3D-printer nowadays, but this would again limit you to the angle it was designed for.

Now you´d be happy if a typical hobby cook or a housewife cared about their knives at all, letting alone such fine details. I am sure, if they were educated, they would be happy to use a steel. With the aid of a lookup table this would be very easy indeed.

One of the beginner sharpening instructions recommended to use a set of coins or an angle wedge or whatever contraption to raise the spine of the knife reliably and repeatably far enough to achieve a certain angle.
In the wake of this I saw a lookup table that gives a discrete number instead by using two parameters: knife body height and sharpening angle.

Now this very table can equally be applied to using a sharpening steel.
When I saw the program by forum member jvh I knew that I had to incorporate this into the program. The table is static, so it is ideally suited to printout.

I took the liberty to use jvh´s visual appeal and table functions; they are nothing less than perfect. The underlying geometry is nowhere near as complex, so no intent to compete with him. The table has been verified against the one I found on the internet for sharpening. Thanks jvh for the great job.

The table is locked to avoid unintentional changes, but has no password.
You can adapt it to your needs any way you like.
This method is nowhere near scientific, but gives you a much better starting point than being clueless.

Have fun,


And by the way... this works for your unobtainium strop too...

Ken S

I would like to introduce another sharpener and technique. Samuel Stonhem, presently CEO of Tormek and part of the T1 design team offered some honing wisdom in this online class video starting at 22 minutes:

He demonstrates honing with the T1. However, the honing wisdom is not limited to the T1. Samuel keeps his T8 in his garage. He also keeps his T1 on his kitchen counter, AND HONES WITH HIS T1 BEFORE EVERY COOKING SESSION. His honing technique is very effective because 1) he hones starting when his knives are very sharp, and 2) he has the organization and self discipline to hone quite regularly. (He also uses a premier sharpening machine.)

"The secret sauce" is skill and discipline. Regardless of what tools you use hon honing, become skillful with them. Hone frequently. Samuel has an excellent  routine. He would have sharp knives. His tool of choice for his cooking knives, his T1, does not surprise me.



While I agree with you on discipline, I cannot see the average house wife or hobby cook having a Mercedes standing in the kitchen.

This is something for geeks. Even I would find this a total overkill.

Yet a honing steel fits every drawer. In fact, most people probably have one lying there idle...

As I said: sharpening with a wink...

Ken S


I may have mixed up your two topics. In this, your honing topic, are you talking about your Japanese knife or more "garden variety" western knives?

I have two ceramic honing rods. Both came with angular cones built into the handles. Carefully using these cones as guides and with the end held securely against my cutting board, I feel I can get fairly good Chevy or Ford results with my western knives. I also have the expensive Henckels metal steel which has been in my kitchen drawer unused for several years. I find the steel file teeth too coarse for my liking. I keep it only because when my set of knives has a new owner someday I imagine that new person will want the complete matching set.

I think the average non geeky home cook would be better served with a flat, leather covered wood strop with PA-70 honing compound. The flat surface  seems easier to control.



Quote from: Ken S on August 04, 2023, 11:05:32 AMI may have mixed up your two topics.
Not to worry.
Quoteare you talking about your Japanese knife or more "garden variety" western knives?
Both. As long as a knife has an edge, its grind will yield an angle.
That means for Japanese knifes, both sides may not have an equal angle.

Some Japanese sharpeners say, they don´t care about angles, they go by feeling. However, the result will be an angle - and according to Vadim´s protocol, you better take that one into account when honing.
QuoteI have two ceramic honing rods. Both came with angular cones built into the handles.
Very advanced! They have learned. But agin, what angle?
QuoteI find the steel file teeth too coarse for my liking.
And right so. One sorce (which I don´t find on the quick) tells us that a honing rod should never remove metal. There are some rods that have a very silky smooth texture, a hint of nothing, to even blank ones. Their sole purpose is to re-erect the cutting edge that tends to get bent to the side due to its fragility.
QuoteI think the average non geeky home cook would be better served with a flat, leather covered wood strop with PA-70 honing compound. The flat surface  seems easier to control.

I have a cheap ceramic rod (and for hard steels you probably need something harder than the blade), but I also use a strop. You may of course use any compound except maybe Chromium green - which is too fine. But PA-70 is there, fine.

We may ask ourselves, is this rigmarole necessary? If we agree that after sharpening, honing needs to be done at an angle precisely related to the sharpening angle, then, why should repeated honing with either honing rod or strop not  happen at the same angle? If this did not matter, then those measures could be tossed. But it does matter. Juranitch claims several times the service life.

And that takes into account that this on-site honing is not performed with a precision anywhere near what a rigid set-up on the grinder would allow for. Another point for the rod not being abrasive...


I've 3D-printed some kind of a pyramid with a hole the size of my ceramic rod, with the two angles I use most : 15° for kitchen knives and 20 for pocket knives.You cannot view this attachment.  It is held in place in place by a ruber gasket.

It increased edge retention a lot (and minimzed sharpening time) because I would always use too large an angle when steeling freehand.

If anyone wants the Fusion 360 template, I've made it parametric.


Quote from: aquataur on August 03, 2023, 07:37:58 PMIf one wished, a cone like that could be easily done with a 3D-printer nowadays, but this would again limit you to the angle it was designed for.

As I said.


Quote from: aquataur on August 10, 2023, 08:19:15 PMAs I said.

Yes ?

Well in case two angles are not enough, one could think of something along the following lines :
You cannot view this attachment.

20 to 12.5 angles in a continuous fashion, should cover most kitchen knives, with grooves for 15 and 17.5. Given the precision of the hand movement along the rod, one can also interpolate. No table needed.


Whoa, that´s something! That´s the housewife´s nirvana!
It cannot be simpler.

For the bore, this would need to be adapted to different rod diameters.
May I suggest, the indicating notch should point towards you (if it doesn´t already), while the reference angle is 90° sideways.
And the numbers, so they are not obstructed by a flange that may be there, should be operator readable, i.e. 180° rotated.

But this is complaining on a very high level ;D


Thanks for the comments ! Text orientation has been fixed, and the Fusion 360 model was already fully parametric.
You cannot view this attachment.
This way one can adjust the object according to rod diameter, flange size (so the base size), desired height. Text has to be input manually, as Fusion 360 does not handle parametric text well out of the box, for now. Or I have yet to find out how.




It will be a while until I see my buddy again who has some machines like that, but I most certainly have some made for me and my family members whom I trained tu use such a rod.

This is quite self-indulgent since it is their cutlery that lands on my doorstep🤣

Cudos for the Idea!

I'll report back on my experience.


I dare to disagree. This is a new wheel. It is a real improvement to get the Ma'm understanding the merits of using a hone and how.
But keeping a stash of them cones is asked for too much IMHO.
In real life, the average kitchen has ONE knife that is used everyday, so, agreed, one cone is enough.
For the advanced cook the multi-cone is a god send. Ahem right after the lookup table of course🤣

But thinking about reduction for the sake of practical simplicity a 15-17.5-20 cone with 3 dedicated flat symmetrical reference planes is ample.
This is no way about .1 of a degree...
And those who have a 12 dps knife made of unobtainium probably don't need to worry about edge retention too much...


Depending on the handle, what if you...

  • Measure the width of the handle at the base
  • Find a simple right angle triangle calculator and calculate the distance needed to achieve a certain angle
  • Make a mark on the rod at the distance needed to create the angle.

Then all you have to do is set the knife so that it is on the handle and the edge is at the mark.

You cannot view this attachment.

(If the handle didn't work, you could put a thick rubber washer or equivalent on the rod.)

Personally, I find that if I set the knife on the ceramic rod (I don't use a "steel") and slowly move the knife while raising the angle, I can feel/hear when I hit the edge.  Back off verrry slightly and use that angle.  Only takes an alternating swipe or two to maintain the edge between uses.

But the above is just an idea. :)

(Keep in mind that a guide on the rod is susceptible to the error created if the knife has a significant spine to edge taper.)
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