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Hector A.





Joined: 22 Dec 2013

Posts: 140

PostPosted: Sat 15 Mar, 2014 10:25 am    Post subject: Sharpening done right         Reply with quote

Hello Forum,

I recently purchased a Hard white Arkansas stone ( from lansky if that makes any difference ), to touch up the sharpening on my Albions, as i have been using them heavily lately for various cutting jobs, the edge felt dull to the touch.

The sword i attempted to sharpen was the decurio, i soaked the Arkansas in water, and began to sharpen the sword edge in my direction, sector by sector, this left nasty scratches on the sword, and it seemed very hard to keep the sword steady and the edge flat on the stone, its a 6 by 2 inch stone. I get the impression its stones sides that left the scratches.

What i basically want to ask is for you to criticizes heavily my techniques so that i may improve.

Such things i am not sure of include: 1. Is the stone in question good for touching up already sharp prior swords?
2. Should i soak the stone in water or is oil preferable? If so a speacial kind or just ballistol will do? (how do i clean the stone once oiled?).
3. Should the sword be sharpened in my direction or should i push the sword into the stone and therefore sharpen it away from me?
4. Sector by Sector or from side to side? and if so in what direction? Tip to guard or guard to tip?
5. Is the stone big enough?

And generally anything you can tell me and teach me about sword sharpening.

I sharpened at what i believe was a 15 degree angle ( this is the sword edge on the stone, not total angle ). Because i read that 30 degree was the perfect angle.

If you guys need me to post a paint of what i was doing since i realize its hard to explain or make clear, i will do so, all and any help is appreciated.
Final question was this "apple seed" sharpening or does that have nothing to do with anything in this case?

Thanks guys.
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 328

PostPosted: Sat 15 Mar, 2014 11:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Flat stones are rough on swords. In the 19th century and probably long before they used huge stone wheels and leather strops. These days your best bet is probably a 1x30 belt grinder with an 800 grit or finer belt and a leather belt with some polishing compound to finish with. Practice on machetes or the cheapest, ugliest swords you can find before attempting to sharpen a high end reproduction. Move the blade across the belt relatively quickly(but not *fast*) and maintain a consistent angle. I hold the blade against the belt at about 20-25 degrees and get a shaving sharp appleseed edge of about 40 or 50 degrees.
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Jeroen Averhals




Location: Flanders, Belgium
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PostPosted: Sat 15 Mar, 2014 1:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To touch up the edges of my sharp swords I use a diamond rod, a ceramic rod and a leather paddle strop, all as long as you can find or make them.

http://www.messermeister.com/Diamond-Sharpening-Steel-DS/WEB/
http://www.amazon.com/Messermeister-12-Inch-C...B002YK1RAQ
http://www.sharpeningsupplies.com/8-Double-Si...15C11.aspx

(These aren't the ones I use, just the first pictures I found on the net)

a)I place the sword tip down on a piece of wood. Pull the diamond rod softly from handle to tip up on the sword, starting near the point. I make this movement 10 times.
b)Then I make the reverse movement, Pull the diamond rod from handle to tip down on the sword, starting near the crossguard, 10 times.
If all is well you should feel a burr on the opposite side of the blade. If not repeat steps a and b until you do.
If the burr doesn't come after the second time you can apply more pressure the third time.
If you feel the burr repeat steps a and b on the opposite side of the blade (where you felt the burr), the same amount of movements as you did the first side.
Then you should feel the burr on the other side, the side you first started sharpening.

Take the ceramic rod and repeat steps a and b on the side of the burr. Repeat on the other side of the blade.

Break the burr by moving the ceramic rod hard along the side of the blade you first sharpened, do the same on the other side of the blade but softly so that you center the burr.

When the burr is centered well you can take your strop and make movement a one time alternating between each side.

If you did all steps well your sword should be sharp.

After one test cutting session, I usually only need to touch up the edge with the ceramic rod.

To answer some of your questions:

Hard white Arkansas is to make sharp thing even sharper. It is hard to sharpen a dull blade with only a hard Arkansas stone. It might work with a soft Arkansas stone
You can use oil or water. If you use water, stick with water, if you use oil, stick with oil. A stone used with water can be used with oil. A stone used with oil can never be used with water.
If you use water, add a drop of liquid soap to break surface tension so the water stays evenly on your stone.
If you use oil, you can use zippo lighter fluid or gasoline, the thinner the better. To clean my (soft) Arkansas stone I use a piece of denim and some gasoline.
To clean my diamond and ceramic rod I use a soft eraser.
If I would use my stone on a sword, I would lay the blade on a flat surface and pull the stone away from the edge, it is easier to create a burr that way.
It takes a lot of skill to sharpen a sword mechanically, practice a lot and be very sure of your skills before you try it on your Albion.

Vigor et Veritas
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David Lewis Smith




Location: NC
Joined: 26 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Sat 15 Mar, 2014 2:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

you could reshape your stone as well and give it a blunt nosed foot ball shape. you could also just shape one side so you do not make it a unitasker

The reason sharpening swords is 25 to 100 bucks an inch is because it is not easy

With Euro blades I use wine corks wrapped in sand paper. I have done this with Japanese blades as well. I can get a good hamon to pop but it softens the SHINOGI - ridgeline of the blade and the YOKOTE so I do not do that any more

David L Smith
MSG (RET)
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Foong Chen Hong




Location: Malaysia
Joined: 18 May 2013
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Mar, 2014 6:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How about using grinding wheel first, then smoother sandpapers for finish?
Descanse En Paz
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David Lewis Smith




Location: NC
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Mar, 2014 7:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Foong Chen Hong wrote:
How about using grinding wheel first, then smoother sandpapers for finish?


Never
ever
ever

David L Smith
MSG (RET)
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Mar, 2014 8:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Lewis Smith wrote:
Foong Chen Hong wrote:
How about using grinding wheel first, then smoother sandpapers for finish?


Never
ever
ever


I agree completely with David: If one is talking of one of those stone wheel bench grinders if one doesn't care at all about what the blade will look like after it's been butchered ! Even someone with great skill on a belt sander would have zero luck doing a good sharpening job with a bench grinder that didn't look like it was done by a 6 year old after drinking 5 coffees.

I guess those grinders are O.K. for sharpening tool bits in a shop but they vibrate way too much to do a clean job on even a knife and even less on a 30" plus bladed sword.

It takes just an instant of distraction for even a highly skilled sword maker to ruin the geometry of a long blade on a belt grinder designed for sword making, so a completely inexperienced person can't really do a good job with any machine grinder: At best one could get the sword sharp but the edge will look terrible and the odds of grinding on the primary bevel and scratching it up by accident is very high ...... by the way one doesn't sharpen a sword by grinding on the primary bevel and the Albions have an appleseed edge blending the secondary bevel into the primary bevel even if it looks like just one bevel at a glance.

Unless one has really dulled the edges all one need to do it refesh it with a diamond hone and then using ceramic hones to blend the secondary bevel back into the primary bevel.

I only run the diamond hone lengthways along the edge, maybe a few inches at a time over the length of the edges, and I do it very very carefully to not scratch the surface of the blade and to not cut myself ..... this is slow and delicate work but if one does it before the edges are seriously dulled it only takes a few passes to sharpen to " sword sharp ".

Sword sharp with most European swords is just a bit below paper-cutting sharp, trying for razor sharp just produces a fragile edge that with dull quickly and be easier to damage ..... it doesn't take a ridiculously high level of sharpness for a sword to do it's original job on a battlefield. If one is doing some sort of cutting competitions swords may become specialized tools sharpened to scary sharp.

In any case with a valuable high end sword sharpening has to be a slow and careful thing and not producing a shower of sparks from the rough wheel of a vibrating and chattering grinding wheel in an unsteady hand. Wink

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!


Last edited by Jean Thibodeau on Sun 16 Mar, 2014 10:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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Foong Chen Hong




Location: Malaysia
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Mar, 2014 9:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Guess I will have to do it with grinding brick and sandpapers.
Descanse En Paz
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Greg Ballantyne




Location: Maryland USA
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Mar, 2014 1:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I also used a similar sized Arkansas stone on a sword. The sword is a DSA product, their Scottish Claymore. I used the stone on it with the sword stationary, and the stone in my hand. I was able to achieve a good edge in places from the nearly 1mm blunt edge. If the blade had been treated evenly, I would have ended up with the intended result. I also saw considerable scratching, as you describe. I used 600 grit sand paper on the flats of the blade to take the scratches out. Of course that resulted in a satin finish to the blade flats rather that a high polish, but it looks good. I wouldn't do this to an Albion, but the DSA didn't turn out to be good for much of anything anyway. I intend to do further experimentation on it, like chemical bluing the hilt furniture,perhaps some regripping practice, that sort of thing.
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Tom King




Location: florida
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Mar, 2014 2:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I use an oiled 2x4 hard arkansas stone and generally sharpen it as you would sharpen a knife, only magnified. doing the "cut a sliver of the stone" movement away from me, starting at the ricasso and and ending the swipe at the tip. It seems to work well enough on my 35" hanwei tinker to touch it up. I have also at various times used a hoffritz made knife steel and to my shame, a fixed angle ceramic lansky sharpener. Funnily enough, with the carbide side of that lansky sharpener, I actually took a windlass dagger from unedged to "edged", then used the ceramic side to clean it up a bit, before using aforementioned arkansas stone to get it to cut paper and shave arm hair Big Grin
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Mar, 2014 3:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Foong Chen Hong wrote:
How about using grinding wheel first, then smoother sandpapers for finish?


If and only if it's a fine-grain wet grinder, at low speed.

With care, you can use a regular bench grinder to do a big chunk of the work to go from a thick blunt edge to sharp. When you start getting close, switch to file or belt sander or stone or sandpaper. Keep the work cool. Have a water bath at hand to dunk it in, and don't keep against the wheel for too long. This is for removing lots of metal, not for a regular sharpening.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Edward Lee




Location: New York
Joined: 05 Jul 2013

Posts: 313

PostPosted: Sun 16 Mar, 2014 8:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I sharpened mine with a sharpening stone you find in a Home Depot. I read it somewhere that I have to use rough side to shape and then move on to the smoother side to finish. Albion swords are already sharpened so I assume it's a lot easier to sharpen than blunt edged ones like Del Tin. I also had another sword that had a 2mm thick edge, it was a disaster to sharpen.
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Mar, 2014 6:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm just looking at A Del Tin I have to sharpen. Not looking forward to it at all....
Currently working on projects ranging from Elizabethan pageants to a WW1 Tank, Victorian fairgrounds 1066 events and more. Oh and we joust loads!.. We run over 250 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

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PostPosted: Mon 17 Mar, 2014 12:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark:

For a blade with a pronounced blunt edge like a Del Tin, I would strongly suggest a heavy 'mill' or 'bastard' file for initial stock removal. You want something big, at least a 12" long file if you can get it. Just fasten the sword down and go at it. This will be rough, but that's what refining afterwards with sandpaper is for...
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M. Livermore





Joined: 20 Aug 2008

Posts: 93

PostPosted: Mon 17 Mar, 2014 2:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I second the use of a file for initial stock removal on a Del Tin or Windlass blade or similar. Make sure to use a single cut file, and proceed with great care. Scratches to the blade can be deep from the file. Also, as you start to establish a burr you can get a very nasty cut. Gloves that allow for dexterous movement are a must.

When starting with a true blunt I begin by moving my file along a clamped down sword. I take the blade maybe 5 inches at a time and maintain as consistent an angle as possible. Once the edge is roughed in just enough to create a burr I move to a DMT course/fine stone and slowly work my way along the blade. I like to do my final blending with a well worn sanding sponge. I can't remember what grit it started as but it is quite fine these days. The sponges are easier to place carefully to reduce scratching the finish in random directions and safer for the fingers. Blending is the process that seems most likely to pose a risk of injury since the edge is already as sharp as it will get. If I feel like it I may finish up with a small leather strop mounted to a six inch piece of scrap wood and some polishing compound.

Don't fear sharpening the Del Tin. A good blended edge formed to your taste is so satisfying.
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A. Gaber




Location: New York
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Mar, 2014 5:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i tried to learn on my knives first before attempting a next size up, a machete.the only difference is the size.i do it in sessions-3-4 inches of the blade at a time-
here is what i do.
1-examine the blade carefully. you will need a well light room and put your finger behind the blade and examine little nick or tiney dents.
2-note the areas that need the extra care.do that on both side.
3-if you have a well bevel-edge- so skip the coarse grit.however i always like to go lightly on coarse grit first i will say 10 strokes on each side.the motion is smooth-pressure but is not gonna make your finger tips white from pressing on to the blade if that make sense to you.gotta mention i push the blade away from my body.slide away as if you are slicing through the stone.
KEY POINT keep the same angel-there is knives angel guides you buy from ebay.i used that on my knives in the beginning till i build the muscle mind connection.
4-flip the stone or go to finer stones or sanding paper grit.
5-if you dont have nick and you want to touch up the edge for a good cutting experience,jump to your Arkansas stone.get a rag towel wet it lay it flat soak the stone for a bit(20 min warm water is good)lay it on top of the towel and start slicing through the stone not so much pressure.use long strokes better than short fast one for control..do wipe the blade so often.your stone will have a tint of black on it by now(metal that got shaved off)
6-flip the blade and repeat.move on to the next portion of the blade.
7-wet your index finger tip and slide it CAREFULLY against the side of the edge-the side not along the edge-you will try to feel for uneven surfaces,grainy feel to some parts of the blade.go over these point with the white stone lightly-rapidly and more water.
you are DONE!
the blade now should have very sharp edge.if test it on to paper it will cut with ease but it will feel as if it bites so gently on the paper.
now i think the sharpening process is done this way will last my kitchen knifes-i use them every day-for a month.only honing after every time i use them.now honing is where everyone should do often. honed blade is razor sharp and the edge is so keen.you actually making it stronger that way.if you like i could share what i do to hone my blades.really start with knives.easy after 6 times trying to sharpen a knife to razor sharp edge(which is your intention to do for your sword)will be able to the same to your sword.just bigger scale.and less room for error.
honing is my family do to keep their blades really sharp and they are butchers.Best regards and let us know how all turned out.
A. Gaber

Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.

Fear not the man who fears God.
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David Hohl




Location: Oregon
Joined: 07 Feb 2011

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PostPosted: Tue 18 Mar, 2014 6:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've had good results using an old scythe stone that my dad had lying around. Stands to reason that techniques meant for sharpening scythes could be adapted fairly well to other long blades; you can find some more information about their use here:

http://www.scythesupply.com/equipment.htm

Basically you wipe the stone up and down the blade in a similar way to that described by Jeroen.
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Mar, 2014 6:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Hohl wrote:
I've had good results using an old scythe stone that my dad had lying around. Stands to reason that techniques meant for sharpening scythes could be adapted fairly well to other long blades; you can find some more information about their use here:

http://www.scythesupply.com/equipment.htm

Basically you wipe the stone up and down the blade in a similar way to that described by Jeroen.


The thing about scythes though is that they're supposed to already have a very thin edge. The stone is for touch-up while working. Actual sharpening is done with a hammer and small anvil.

As such if you're starting with an already very blunt blade, you will want to use something more coarse to bring the edge down, as stated previously...
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Mar, 2014 8:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One thing to consider is that a sword intended to be used in battle when sharpened might need an occasional touch up of the edges but I don't think that they where used to cut things often enough to really dull.

Resharpening after a battle to repair battle damage might mean a lot of re-profiling and resharpening but this wouldn't be routine maintenance.

A sword isn't an every day cutting tool unless it's a specialized sword used to practice cutting, but in period I don't think there was that much test cutting in the European context ?

Maybe the Japanese practiced cutting much more often, but even then they might use another sword than their main fighting sword ?

A bit of speculation here.

The modern context of doing a lot of test cutting means that swords may need resharpening more often than they would have in historical periods ?

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Greg Ballantyne




Location: Maryland USA
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PostPosted: Thu 20 Mar, 2014 7:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For touching up or even repairing the edge of a sword I believe I would like to find a rounded stone of the sort these Arkansas sharpening stones come from. Stone sharpening seems to work well on a blade of good temper, and is likely the method used by those who used swords. I just need to find the right source for such a stone.
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