How to Sharpen a Knife With a File

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When sharpening a knife with a file, it's helpful to use an adjustable vice to keep the knife in place. Utilize the entire length of a knife sharpening file with help from a bladesmith in this free video on knife sharpening.

Part of the Video Series: Knife Sharpening
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Video Transcript

Howdie, I'm John Hedrick. This segment is how to sharpen a knife with a file. Okay, things you'll need is obviously your knife, your file and not necessarily but it's very helpful to have something to hold a piece while you're working on it, such as a vice. I got my rig setup here, this is an adjustable vice, this is a C clamp and this is a plank of wood, alright. I'm using this so that one, I don't damage the knife with the vice, and two, I have an incredibly stable platform with which to work, alright. The first thing I'm going to do is make sure everything is secure, because I don't want to have to readjust, because that changes the angle that I'm at while I'm sharpening. Alright, now, I got my file here, I'm going to setup, and I'm going to push down with this hand and push forward with this hand. And once again, I want to utilize almost the entire length of the file against almost the entire length of the blade, whatever it is that I'm shaping. Okay, now I just completed five passes but I have material inside the cutting teeth, so I'm going to tap this on the side of the vice just to knock loose those remnants there and I'm going to flip the file over and use the other side. So what that does is that makes the most of the longevity of the tool, alright, because files wear out, alright, if you don't take measures against your tool wearing out then you're just going to burn through them, okay. And also as pieces get lodged in here it's going to create deep scratch marks on the surface of the piece, which can be avoided by like I said, tapping it here, or after going through a series of strokes taking a barbecue brush that has brass or steel bristles and just knocking it of there, it's that easy, okay. Now, you need to make sure that you have even removal and you maintain the same angle on both sides, that's why you count the strokes, so that you can keep track of how many times you've passed, alright. Now, another thing you can do after you've gotten accustom to the process is not necessarily count each stroke, but count the amount of time that you're spending on each side, alright, so 10 minutes on one side, 20 minutes on one side, whatever it is that fits in with your work pace, okay. So, what I want to do is I want to bring this edge down to the halfway mark, I want to meet this halfway between the existing plain on top and the existing plain on the bottom. And once I've obtained that then I'll flip the knife over and continue. I'm just going to continue doing this here, and I can tell what areas I'm affecting most in terms of, lets say a topographical mat, alright. So it'll show what areas you've removed, because it'll be revealing a clean metal. Now, you may not necessarily want to continue the entire pass once you get past a certain state because of thickness variations in the piece, okay, so obviously it's going to be thicker here than it is down at the end, alright. But I want a complete centralized ridge line going all the way down. So that means I'm going to have to spend more time removing here at the base than at the tip. This is shaping, this is a shaping process, okay. So you're not looking for extreme pristine surfaces, just removal so that you have correct edge geometry


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