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Proper Sharpening Of Damascus knives

Damascus knife
In: Business

A dull knife is very dangerous. We make an effort when working with it, and the blade, breaking off, often injures us. The first rule of safe handling of a knife is to keep it sharp: firstly, you don’t have to press hard on it, and secondly, we subconsciously show more respect and, accordingly, caution to a constantly sharpened blade.

How often do you need sharpening and is it possible to get by with editing?

If we are talking about a Damascus knife, then its service life from sharpening to sharpening is at least one year with the action’s intended use. This does not mean that the knife does not need to be looked after: it simply requires editing, not sharpening.

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In general, three degrees of wear of the cutting edge can be quite clearly defined:

  • The deformation of the blade, when it, in principle, remains sharp. But it simply leads unevenly to the side, and to continue working with it, it must be straightened.
  • Edge blunting, that is, it’s rounding to the point where it is already difficult to work with it.
  • Severe wear with deformations, chips, and gouges on the cutting edge. This type of damage requires serious repair.

So, for the most part, a Damascus knife needs editing with the help of musat, and once a year – sharpening, preferably on a water stone. Repairing a blade that is used for its intended purpose will most likely not be needed all your life.

Editing with musat

Outwardly, musat looks like a file, but not flat, but having a round or oval section. Unlike a disc on a grinder, it uses blade material more carefully and straightens rather than grinds the cutting edge. Musat, suitable for dressing Damascus knives, is almost smooth to the touch, maybe only slightly rough. The blade must be pressed at an acute angle to the musat and make several (from 10 to a maximum of 20) movements away from you or towards you.

Sharpening Damascus knives on the machine

If we talk about an ordinary emery machine, then sharpening a real Damascus knife on it is an undesirable and almost barbaric event. Not everyone succeeds in maintaining the right pressure and the correct angle of 15-18 degrees (and even less for some types of kitchen knives): there is a serious risk of turning a masterpiece into an ordinary European-style household item.

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How does this happen? If there is nothing incomprehensible with the wrong sharpening angle. Then it is worth explaining the pressure and how it can reduce the strength of the steel. When a cutting edge is subjected to both high pressure and a high rotational speed of the disc. The so-called steel tempering occurs. In general, the concept of tempering in metallurgy refers to the process of processing steel. With the help of which it is hardened. But repeated high-temperature tempering, and even such an uncontrolled one, will almost certainly lead to recrystallization and, accordingly, a decrease in the steel grade, relatively speaking, from 60 HRC to 40 HRC.

If there are still no other options and you have to use a conventional emery machine, you should follow a few rules:

  • set the disk rotation speed to no more than 150 rpm;
  • fix the knife so that it does not “walk” and the desired angle is observed;
  • constantly cool the disk (preferably in a bath of water).

In this case, the disk should be finely abrasive electrocorundum.

Those who have several high-quality Damascus knives at home are advised to purchase a special machine for sharpening them – its cost is comparable to the price of an average knife. He removes from his master all worries about how not to destroy the knife when sharpening.

Sharpening Damascus knives on a water stone

Budget, and in general the best option for sharpening a Damascus kitchen knife is sharpening on a water stone. So it is called because of the need to prepare it, especially before work – lower it into the water and wait until it is soaked. It is easy to understand that this has happened: air bubbles cease to stand out.

The uniqueness of this device lies in its structure:

The spent abrasive grains on its surface. In combination with water, form a soft suspension, which additionally polishes the edge. And sharpening is carried out with newly exposed layers of grains. Bars of water stones usually consist of two layers, marked with different numbers: they mean the number of abrasive grains per square millimeter (from 80 to 5000, rarely higher).

The smaller this value, the larger the grains, respectively, and the rougher the sharpening will be. Therefore, we start sharpening a strongly blunt blade with the minimum values. For knives that need not so much sharpening as dressing, the value will be greater.

Now, the sharpening process. When the desired stone is selected and soaked, it is fixed on the table in any convenient way. It will not work to hold it with your hand, since the one who sharpens will need both hands: with one we direct the movement, with the other, we press the blade in the area where the cutting edge needs to be sharpened. Usually, there are five or six such sections. After they are sharpened on one side, we move on to the other and do the same on it: we hold the knife with one hand (if the profile allows, you can generally practically lay the blade on the stone at a very small angle), with the thumb of the other hand we press on the desired plot. Then both sides are processed on a stone with a large grain value.


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