Sharpening - Jonas Blade & Metalworks

Sharpening

What Is An Edge? What is a cut?

Knives have been around for a very long time; our predecessors figured out how to cut things not long after they figured out how to bash things. Pretty much everybody owns at least one knife, and most of us use them on a daily basis, but most people have never cut with a truly sharp edge, and even fewer understand what an edge really is.

The edge of a knife focuses the pressure you apply onto very small area, allowing the blade to part the material instead of just pressing it downward. That’s what a cut is at its most basic level. It’s the same reason a sewing needle is pointy, not blunt–the pointy version pushes through fabric much more easily.

There is even more to it than meets the eye though. The clean, straight edge of a knife is actually made up of a series of microscopic serrations. This line of tiny points concentrates the force of the cut onto an even smaller area than you would imagine, making the cut even more efficient.

Why Do Knives Dull Over Time?

As a knife gets used, the tiny teeth that make up the edge will bend out of line and eventually break off altogether. When enough of them are bent out of line, the knife starts to feel dull because you’re trying to push more surface area through the material as you cut.

Many kitchen knife sets come with something called a steel. That’s the rod-with-a-handle thing that most of us never knew how to use. When those micro serrations begin to misbehave and the knife starts to feel like it’s not cutting quite as well as it was, a few strokes against the steel can recondition your edge by pushing those little teeth back into line. Eventually, the teeth will either break off or wear down, and when enough of them have gone the edge truly is dull.

What Is Sharpening?

When your knife mushes a tomato rather than cutting it, it is time to get out the sharpening equipment. Sharpening uses abrasives (like whetstones or grinders) to produce a new set of micro serrations. The abrasives basically scrape away tiny valleys on either side of the edge, and the peaks between those valleys create a new row of very sharp teeth.

The size of the abrasive grit determines the depth of the tiny valleys and therefore the size of the teeth on the edge. Finishing with a finer abrasive makes those teeth tight and small, which results in a sharper, more durable edge, and a smoother cut.

Learn about the process

Come take a peek behind the curtains and learn a little bit about the work that goes into my knives.

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About Zack Jonas

I won’t bore you with my whole life story, but if you would like to know a little more about me, here’s the abridged version.

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