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Re: Sharpening knives
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
- Subject: Re: Sharpening knives
- From: "Jack C. Thompson" <tcl@TELEPORT.COM>
- Date: Fri, 18 Apr 1997 04:48:30 -0800
- Message-Id: <199704181232.FAA16402@SUL-Server-2.Stanford.EDU>
- Sender: "The Book Arts: binding, typography, collecting" <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
Out in the garage I have an old-style, sit down and peddle grindstone which
I use to form or reshape my knives, and a belt sander to establish the
basic bevel which works for me.
Then, depending on my mood, I may set up my Japanese water stones and do a
Zen grind. Or, I may use sheets of aluminum oxide sandpaper, going from
300 grit, through 400 to 600 grit. Then I use chrome polish on the flesh
side of a strip of leather to put the final cutting edge and polish on the
I have a handful of knives on the bench, ranging from spring steel to
industrial hacksaw blades (used blades; they are work hardened and hold an
edge longer than new hacksaw blades); old broken files, industrial bandsaw
blades, and standard English/French paring knives.
Knives made from files are the hardest for me to shape/sharpen, but they
are the best knives I have for lifting spines from late 18th c. heavily
glued English books.
English-style paring knives, as they come from the factory, are too wide to
be handled comfortably and should be ground down until they fit the hand.
My hand is a large one and I find them to be too wide; and I don't like to
wrap leather around them to make a soft handle. When grinding them down, I
leave the long, straight side alone and concentrate on the angled side,
maintaining the angle during the grinding until it fits my hand
My cutting and paring edges are ground straight; the lifting knives are
mostly ground on a curve. Except for a couple of lifting knives which are
mostly used on thick glue layers.
Jack C. Thompson
Thompson Conservation Lab.
7549 N. Fenwick I hear and I forget,
Portland, Oregon 97217 I see and I remember,
I do and I understand.