The Right Edge for Knives at Work

The true definition of sharp depends on the job at hand. Here’s how to maximize knife efficiency like the pros!

In the past 20 years or so, several attempts have been made to scientifically define “sharp.” Usually these efforts use a laser to measure the finest part of an edge, and then that measurement is used in a formula with the angle of the bevel to come up with a relative number to be used in comparison with other relative numbers. But to the person who makes a living with a knife, the word sharp is defined by simply choosing the edge that cuts best for the job at hand. That’s not scientific by any means, but it does defy argument.

sharpening2.jpgDown On The Docks
Not long ago I was visiting friends at the local commercial fishing dock in Kodiak, Alaska. The dock was busy with fishermen cutting bait and preparing gear for the upcoming halibut season. When I heard someone complain that his knife was getting dull, I unsheathed the knife on my belt and handed it over. My knife was sharp. It was so sharp that I could flick a patch of hair from my arm and hardly feel the pressure. The 154CM blade at Rc 60 had a wonderfully thin bevel, and it had been sharpened at every stage through an 8,000-grit water stone, and then carefully stropped.

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