Five pound sharpening kit

  • Hey Guest, We're having our annual Winter Moot and we'd love you to come. PLEASE LOOK HERE to secure your place and get more information.
    For forum threads CLICK HERE

British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
25,821
769
Mercia
Making your tools

Now, if you have £30-£40 to invest in a set of water stones, plus £20 for a razor strop and £20 for a great chef steel, you can get a razor edge on your knife. I do mean shaving sharp. But what if you haven’t? Well a friend of mine challenged me to get a beaten up Mora to shave for under five pounds. I do love a challenge ;) !

I openly acknowledge that all the ideas shown here have been robbed from a variety of sources - not least Mors Kochanski, however a personal experience may be interesting (and the techiques do work) so heres how I went about it. Total cost to me? About £4 max.

You will need…..

Three FLAT pieces of wood – around 9” by 4”. Actually anything very flat that you can cut to about that size is great – tiles work well, thick glass is fantastic, sheet metal, whatever)

A pack of mixed grade wet & dry paper from the local DIY store (240, 400 & 600 grit or close)

A pair of scissors

A piece of old inner tube from your firelighting kit (or a bit of old leather or cork or anything non slip)

Some glue

Some double sided tape (carpet laying tape from the same DIY store is great)



Step 1

Cut your boards to size. They need to be the as long as the width of your wet&dry and about 4” wide. You will need 3 of them


Step 2
Cut a piece of your first wet&dry to fit your board



Step 3
Cover the flattest side of the board in double-sided tape



Step 4
Stick the wet&dry onto the tape. Turn over and press flat



Step 5
Cut up a bit of inner tube to make non slip feet for your board. Glue into place. Using a permanent marker, write the grit size on your board.



Step 6
Repeat for the other grit sizes

You now have a matched set of 3 sharpening boards!



Basic Honing

Now, looking at the knife I’m teaching you to sharpen (A Frost Mora), you will notice that it only has a primary grind, and no secondary bevel. This makes it a great bush knife as sharpening is relatively simple even in the field.

So, lets get a working edge.

Step 1
Examine the cutting edge. Are there any “nicks” or “dings” in the edge? If so, we need to get rid of them. We do this by placing a metal file flat to the bevel and filing the bevel, for the full length of the blade. Use five strokes on one side followed by five on the other. As the ding disappears, reduce the number until you are alternating sides. As soon as you have a nice straight edge, stop.

Step 2
Take your 240 grit sharpening board. You don’t need to wet it. Lay the flat side of the knife flat on the board. Hold the handle of the knife in your right hand and push the hilt up to the board. Using your left hand, spread your fingers and brace the blade evenly across the board.

Here is the angle



Here is what it looks like



Step 3
Rock the knife blade towards the cutting edge so the bevel is flat to the board.

The angle should now be like this





Step 4
Pushing the bevel flat to the board, push the knife away from you as though trying to shave off the tope atom of the paper.

You will find that the tip of the knife overhangs your board, and if you sharpen in a straight line, the tip gets no attention, so sharpen on a curve so that the tip is sharpened in the same stroke.



Lift the knife off the board, turn it over and, with the bevel facing towards you, “shave” in the opposite direction. Here’s a picture.



Note.
Never pull the knife towards you. In honing a knife, you are pulling the metal around. If you pull the knife, you built a soft burr or wire in front of the cutting edge. Magnified, it would look like this:



Step 5
How many passes (a pass is one “shave” each way)you will need depends on the steel of your knife and its condition. Try 50 passes to start with.

Step 6
Repeat steps 2 to 4 with your 400 grit board. This time you need 100 passes

Step 7
Repeat steps 2 to 4 with your 600 grit board. This time 150 passes.

Note
The exact number of passes will vary as stated – a light re-touch can be achieved with just a few passes of your 600 grit.


Conclusion
By now, the bevel of your knife should look clean, unscratched and quite shiny. The purpose of the different grades is to create a smoother and smoother finish to the blade edge. With the coarse stone, you get the right angle, but the cutting edge is almost like a saw blade under a microscope. Each successive stone smoothes out the size of the teeth. We now have a knife that is sharp to a working edge. Holding a piece of paper in one hand, you should be able to slice it cleanly with the knife.

The blade is still not surgically sharp, and we’ll look how to achieve that next.

Strop and steel

Now in the first stage of this process we have sharpened up a working edge. In this step we will polish it to shaving sharpness! This needs a strop and a steel.

Step 1

To strop a blade you need a soft and finely abrasive surface – one of the best is a leather belt (use an old one). The leather belt works well because you can make a loop with the buckle and fasten it round a door handle, your foot, a branch etc. I tend to use rough side then smooth side.

I find that this action is improved by the application of a finely abrasive paste. I have heard of people using scouring cream, but I use….toothpaste! Weird, but it works. You may want to skip this if wearing the belt later!

So, form a loop and secure your strop. Pull tight with your left hand.



Now this time, you want to push the spine away from you with the bevel toward you and resting firmly on the leather (the other direction). It should go like this:



Then turn the knife over and drag the other side of the bevel towards you spine first – like this.



The purpose of this is to give the bevel the finest of polishes and to mover the burr and possibly break it off – the effect is shown below.



You will need to strop 200 times in each direction (more if you can – this is hardly abrasive at all). You would of course do this with a razor strop if you had one, in the same way as you would use a water stone instead of the honing block.

Step 2

Finally we need to remove any remaining burr. This is achieved by Lightly running the bevel along a slightly rough surface. If you have a chefs steel in your carving set, that’s fine. If not, use the edge of an old ceramic tile or even the lowered window of your car. Do it very lightly, no more than 6 times in each direction.

Now, you should be able to shave with your knife – with a kit that cost a few quid!




Hope thats interesting to someone!

Red
 

Big Geordie

New Member
Jul 17, 2005
416
2
69
Bonny Scotland
Recently heard of this..

Go to beach. Collect piece of weel worn broken glass.
Use as high grit stone. ( whats it made of but sand etc.)
Even the bottle neck will do. I know we saw Ray Mears use a car window, but we cant always carry one of those with us!

Tell me what you think.
George :)
 

British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
25,821
769
Mercia
I see no reason why that wouldn't work. I have used the shiny side of a ceramic tile and Cif cream before instead of a 6,000 grit and Nagura stone- worked well. Its worth finding something like a mildly abrasive paste for the sharpening bit, the car window, knife steel, tile edge part is mainly to snap off the burr.

regards - Red
 
Super instructions!
A worthwhile step is to save the scrapings from the emery paper, and rub into an old oiled belt or piece of leather. Any sort of oil can be used, even motor oil, but neatsfoot is preferred. I use such a belt flat on a counter top (with newspaper beneath) to have the strop supported. Such a strop will take off the wire edge in a very controlled fashion and speed things up. It'll help with polishing, too, as particles sink into leather with only tips exposed.
A block of green buffing compound could be split between a bunch of people and still leave everyone with a lifetime supply - so it's cheap. Crayoned onto cardboard from a cereal box etc, very little will beat it for speed in putting on a final polished edge, by stropping.
 

British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
25,821
769
Mercia
Old Jimbo,

Fantastic advice - I'd never thought of the tip with the emery scrapings!

Anyone know where to buy green buffing compound in the UK?

Red
 

Goose

Need to contact Admin...
Aug 5, 2004
1,797
20
54
Widnes
www.mpowerservices.co.uk
British Red said:
Old Jimbo,

Fantastic advice - I'd never thought of the tip with the emery scrapings!

Anyone know where to buy green buffing compound in the UK?

Red
I think it is the same stuff you get with a starkie strop, but thats blue, or try valve paste?
 

Nemisis

Settler
Nov 20, 2005
604
6
67
Staffordshire
I've got a brown paste type stuff for polishing iron etc I got from a dremell suppliers its meant to be used with a felt wheel attachment you think that would do on the strop?
Dave.
 

Ketchup

New Member
Great thread, Red!

I recently bought a set of 4 old stones (including 2 white/red Ardennes coticule!) for a mere Euro! So together with my old belt and a nice old steel I picked up at the same sale for 50cent, I'm still below your 5 pound mark, but using real stones. Stones are not valued at all brick a brack shops etc. That's where you find them cheap.
 

British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
25,821
769
Mercia
Andy,

Thanks for the link - I'll look em up at home and maybe expand the kit a bit!


Ketchup - you lucky so & so! Would love to see piccs of your under 5 euros kit!

All these extra tips are fantastic! Hopefully this will come in handy for someone starting out or "financially challenged" or just downright tight (like me)

Red
 

Ketchup

New Member
British Red said:
Ketchup - you lucky so & so! Would love to see piccs of your under 5 euros kit!
Red

I'll give it a try

The two left ones are (used) water stones, two different grades. To the right, two cotticle stones (white red, one set in wood by former owner) and right is the old steel: all for 1,5 €!
my.php
[/URL][/IMG]
 

British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
25,821
769
Mercia
Ketchup,

Looks great - did you have to flatten any of the stones off? I'm amazed how many bowed and bent stones are out there that can so easily berendered true!

Red
 
Buffing compound comes in all sorts of types, mostly denoted by color. The chromium oxide which is usually green is the best, since it's incredibly fine (0.5 micron) but super abrasive. So it gives about the best polish obtainable in the fastest time. All the other stuff is either coarser, less abrasive, or wears down faster.
When I first found out about it from woodworking forums, I went down to the hardware store and got a fossilized set of buffing sticks. Other than the fact that that the wax base had hardened it worked OK. Later I got a better block from Lee Valley Tools in Canada. Despite giving a bunch away, I still have enough for my lifetime.
There is better stuff, scientific grade diamond lapping compound, which goes even finer. But that's expensive, and probably beyond our needs. Better to stay with something that can be crayoned onto a piece of cardboard or paper, then when the cardboard turns black with removed metal - it's thrown away (without crying over the cost).
You can read the sharpening paper with electron microscope pics, mentioned in the shaving thread, for details on how well it works.

Valve grinding compound is just carburundum - the stuff on emery sheets. I find that by rubbing it into well oiled leather that I can get very fast and good removal of wire edges and some sharpening. A person can also remove wire edges by slicing some newpapers, but that causes edge degradation. Even better than carburundum is the brown slurry from waterstones rubbed into oiled leather.

Given the low cost and little effort with cheap sharpening methods, it's all worth a try. A couple of years ago we did some edge holding tests over at outdoors magazine. I was amazed at how well a properly sharpened Mora did.
 

British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
25,821
769
Mercia
Thanks Guys,

Well, between you, you have come up with some fantastic additions to the kit! I've just ordered some microabrasive paper and buffing compound based on OldJimbos advice from Andys link. I reckon to add two more boards to my set to take it down to 10,000 grit and then a leather covered board with some buffing compound.

You know the funniest thing? I have a full set of water stones! However, my mate is going to be delighted with this (and I'll have enough bits left over to make a set for me - I'm thinking wide for my axes!)

Red
 
For axes you need to think expensive - a drywall sander with rubber backing and a handle, that takes half a sheet of emery. Mine was $8 CAN, though I probably got ripped off as it was an impulse buy! Or you could make one for almost nothing. Hoodoo's got lots of pics up of ones he's made.
Just be aware that two sweeps of one of those, and all sorts of imperfections will quickly be seen on what had appeared to be a perfectly ground axe. It's what I use to see how I'm doing when using power tools like grinders on old axes. Not having a lifetime of experience with grinders, I have to finish by hand with the sanding pad...
 

Ketchup

New Member
British Red said:
Ketchup,

Looks great - did you have to flatten any of the stones off? I'm amazed how many bowed and bent stones are out there that can so easily berendered true!

Red

I don't think you need to flatten a stone. In my father's days, all sharpening stones were oval (elipsoïd.. oblong... whatever), Only when a stone is dented or so you might consider reshaping them. "Keep it simple" is the message
 

laurens ch

New Member
Jun 23, 2005
164
5
south wales united kingdom
This should be made a sticky. It is possible to put a reasonable edge with natural stones (the stuff you find in the streams etc) i would estimate there about 600 grit, you will probably need to them flatten first. You can use tiles as a hone,they tend to clog quite quickly they do work though. A ceramic fuse can also be used as a very fine burnisher. (be very careful not to cut yourself)
 

BCUK Shop

We have a a number of knives, T-Shirts and other items for sale.

SHOP HERE