This is a quick pictorial of some of the tools we use to sharpen our knives. It's not intended to be a tutorial, just a few pictures I took while sharpening a blade, and a look at some of the tools we use every day to make our own fine, hand crafted tools. Enjoy!
First, the edge bevel is set with a coarse stone. This one happens to be my current favorite: a Shapton Professional 320 grit ceramic. Up to this point, our knives have been ground thin, but do not have actual edges on them.
Once a proper bevel is set and I've removed most of the burr (maybe I'll post a how-to later explaining all this), I move onto a 1000 grit stone made by Naniwa, out of their Professional series. This is considered a medium grit stone, and I absolutely love it. It has the best tactile feel of all my stones and I love the sound it makes.
The green stone you see in the picture below is the 1000, then I move onto a 3000, which is a grey stone soaking under the white on in the picture. A 3000 grit stone is right on the border between medium and polishing stone. it doesn't remove a lot of metal, but it also doesn't quite shine the edge up.
The first real polishing stone I use, a 5000 grit (the wine colored stone, also a Shapton Pro) is very hard and smooth. It doesn't provide a lot of feedback, but refines the scratches from the 3000 grit stone quickly, which I like.
I could easily stop here, but I prefer to go a little further, and that's onto an 8000 grit white stone you see soaking in the water bath below. Each of these stones refines the scratches made by the previous stone such that, as the knife is progressed, the edge gets more and more polished as it gets progressively thinner. Finally at the 8000 grit stone, the edge bevel is nearly mirror polished and will slice most food with but a whisper.
Once the edge is properly and thoroughly sharpened on these stones, it gets honed on a leather strop loaded with 0.5 micron polishing compound to help remove any little bits of burr that might be left and leave an even higher polish on the edge.
The key to sharpening any knife is to understand it's use, and adjust the edge accordingly. Once can easily get lost in trying to achieve specific angles, chasing down specific stones and arguing over particular grits. But in the end, we typically find edges with a good bit of refinement cut more efficiently and last longer than rougher, toothier edges like the ones most factories put on their knives. And as long as a knife was thin behind the edge, the angle doesn't matter too terribly much. If you've ever been cut by a piece of paper, you understand that thin will cut, no matter what. In simple terms, a knife is a wedge, and it's primary function is to push its way through material. Having a sharp knife means you have to put less effort into doing that.
Hope you enjoyed the pics! Stay tuned for more!