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Gift Idea for New(ish) Whetstone Knife Sharpeners.

noboundaries

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I'm coming up on another round of whetstone sharpening for my softer steel inexpensive kitchen knives. They get used daily and only last 2-3 months before they need sharpening again. The last time I sharpened them took a little longer than necessary because I was chasing the bevel angle and getting the "feel" back. I ended up using a coarser stone than necessary, which will eventually wear the knife down. Hmmm, there's gotta be a solution.

Decided to buy myself an early $13 gift for Christmas off Amazon: WedgeK angle guides. Each guide is only about an inch wide and a little longer, but it is enough to both test the bevel angle of a knife and set the correct angle as you start sharpening.

I used a marker on the bevel of a cheap 6" vintage Burrell utility knife. Started with the 16° wedge and stroked it 3-4 times on an 8000 grit dry whetstone. Examined the edge under a jeweler's loupe and could easily see it was too shallow (ink still on edge).

Moved up to the 18° wedge, re-marked the knife edge, and ran it 3-4 times on the dry whetstone. Result was clean bevel right to the edge. I realized right then I could save myself time and knife/whetstone wear by starting with the correct sharpening angle.

My kitchen knife collection has published bevel angles of 11° to 16° per side. I have several vintage knives by Olympia (made in Japan) that I have no idea of the actual bevel angle. I sharpened them by "feel." I'll test every knife like I did above and log each knife's side bevel angle. Are the wedges necessary? Nope, but they are another tool, like the jeweler's loupe, to take sharpening to the next level because a sharp kitchen knife is an absolute joy to use, and NOTHING I've PERSONALLY used to sharpen knives over the last few decades comes close to whetstone sharpening.

Merry Christmas Everyone

Ray

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Amazon.com: Wedgek Angle Guides 10 to 20 degrees for Sharpening Knives on Stone, Blue : Tools & Home Improvement
 
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xbubblehead

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They could help you gain muscle memory for maintaining the correct angle, I wouldn't become dependent on them. When I've tried to teach others how to sharpen I've suggested coloring the blade edge with a marking pen before starting to show where exsactly the blade is meeting the stone, It's a very reliable method and highly recommended by most pros. I have several angles to sharpen to based on the knife use, everything from convex axe blades to skandi wood carving blades and I've been doing this so long I honestly am not even aware of setting the angle, it's in how it feels and sounds on that first swipe then muscle memory takes over.
 

noboundaries

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When I've tried to teach others how to sharpen I've suggested coloring the blade edge with a marking pen before starting to show where exactly the blade is meeting the stone, It's a very reliable method and highly recommended by most pros.
Thus the "new(ish)" verbiage in the title.

I too used the blade edge coloring when I got back into whetstone sharpening earlier this year. As an engineer, I've got a thing for tools. By testing and logging the bevel angles, I'll slap the correct wedge on the stone, set the angle, and reinforce the feel. The wedges just fit my wheelhouse for kitchen knives.
 

noboundaries

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Had a few extra minutes today. Sharpie marker tested 3 extra knives today, all vintage. I understand that decades of sharpening on a pull through and an electric sharpener can reshape the bevels. One knife with a published 13° bevel actually tested at 18°. A vintage 6" chef's knife also tested at 18°. A 9" chef's knife from the same set tested at 22° (stacked the 10° and 12° to get the correct angle).

Decided to stone sharpen three 18° knives on a 1000 grit whetstone. The knives were still in okay shape, but hung up in a few spots when tested with a magazine paper slice after honing and stropping. Plus, I could feel the rough spots with my fingers.

5 to 10 minutes later on the 1000 grit stone and leather strops, no hang ups and a clean edge. Smooth and effortless paper slicing.

The wedges were a great reference. I'd lay the knife against the wedge, get the feel of my thumbs on the knife's spine, move to the other side of the stone, and start my sharpening strokes. Same for stone honing. It took all the guesswork out of the angles and reinforced the "feel" development of the knife on the stone.

As a relative newbie to back to whetstone sharpening, I've experienced the frustration, more than once, of a knife feeling less sharp after a few minutes on the stone. It caused me to wait longer between sharpenings because I just didn't want to spend the time hunting for the right angle. That hesitation is now gone. For $13, the wedges are a great self-teaching tool. Just saying.
 

SmokinEdge

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I sharpen everything by feel, but for those not there. Lansky has a good system.
 

Nate52

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I bought a set of these when I started to learn how to use a whetstone. It definitely helped me to get that muscle memory. I even strapped one to my honing steel to help with that.

There is definitely one big flaw, though. During the first time I used them, I noticed the side of my knife getting scratched from the wedge. Steel filings would pile up on the wedge and scratch it as I pulled the knife away from it.

Fortunately, I used a couple old spares to test the wedges, so it wasn't a huge deal. Now I protect the side of my knives with masking tape. Haven't had a problem since.
 

thirdeye

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Check out the guides for your honing rods. You just hold the rod vertical and make a couple of passes to maintain the edge.
 

noboundaries

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There is definitely one big flaw, though. During the first time I used them, I noticed the side of my knife getting scratched from the wedge. Steel filings would pile up on the wedge and scratch it as I pulled the knife away from it.
I will absolutely keep an eye out for that happening. Thanks for sharing. What drove me back to stone sharpening in the first place was major scratches from my electric 3-stage sharpener. No scratches at all from my first use of the wedges.

I was using a cheap 3000/8000 grit stone (8000 side) for the bevel angle test. Then I switched to a cheap 400/1000 grit stone for the sharpening (1000 grit side only). I was actually surprised how little metal buildup there was on the stone compared to previous sharpening sessions.

I was using a perpendicular side pull and push stroke, walking the blade down then back up the stone for my counts. I basically use the stroke recommended for rounded profile chef knives for all my knives. I'm ambidextrous and easily use both hands.

Several of my German steel kitchen knives could use a little touch up. Next wedge use will be on better stones with better knives.
 

thirdeye

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The wedges were a great reference. I'd lay the knife against the wedge, get the feel of my thumbs on the knife's spine, move to the other side of the stone, and start my sharpening strokes. Same for stone honing. It took all the guesswork out of the angles and reinforced the "feel" development of the knife on the stone.

As a relative newbie to back to whetstone sharpening, I've experienced the frustration, more than once, of a knife feeling less sharp after a few minutes on the stone. It caused me to wait longer between sharpenings because I just didn't want to spend the time hunting for the right angle. That hesitation is now gone. For $13, the wedges are a great self-teaching tool. Just saying.
I was actually surprised how little metal buildup there was on the stone compared to previous sharpening sessions.
The first time I saw the wedges and cones in person was at a booth at a gun show and one demonstration showed just how inaccurate people are at determining and selecting an angle when free hand sharpening and honing. And I don't mean getting 15° confused with 18°, it was more like thinking 25° or 30° was 15°, or selecting 40° thinking it was 20° It was funny (but realistic) when the guy at the booth said most people erred in an amount greater than the entire range of the set of wedges he was selling. He also made an excellent point that the wedges will keep you within 2° or 3° of the true angle, and this reduces the number of strokes needed to refresh an edge, sometimes you only need 3 strokes to get the job done.
 

noboundaries

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The first time I saw the wedges and cones in person was at a booth at a gun show, and one demonstration showed just how inaccurate people are at determining and selecting an angle when freehand sharpening and honing. And I don't mean getting 15° confused with 18°, it was more like thinking 25° or 30° was 15°, or selecting 40° thinking it was 20°. It was funny (but realistic) when the guy at the booth said most people erred in an amount greater than the entire range of the set of wedges he was selling. He also made an excellent point that the wedges will keep you within 2° or 3° of the true angle, and this reduces the number of strokes needed to refresh an edge. Sometimes you only need 3 strokes to get the job done.
GREAT INFO! Thanks for sharing. If wrapping brisket is called the Texas Crutch, I think I'll call the wedges my Sharpening Crutch.

I had a protractor left over from 4 years of drafting and architectural drawing in HS. I used it quite a bit when I returned to the whetstone to kind of eyeball the "published" bevel angles. The one knife that drove me insane was my vintage 10" Chicago Cutlery chef's knife. It has a published side angle of 13 degrees. I couldn't find the correct sharpening bevel no matter what I did. Eventually, I kept increasing the sharpening angle until I found a point it would sharpen. At the time, I didn't think about how the pull-through and machine sharpeners I'd used all those years changed the manufacturer's bevel.

With the wedges, it tested at 18 degrees, not 13. I'm pretty good at holding an angle by feel once I have the reference. It was a breeze to sharpen this time around using the correct wedge for reference. That fact absolutely supports what the seller said above in your post.

Thanks again!

Ray
 

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