Friday, 31 March 2017

Video - Demonstrating the importance of coarse water stones.

     Folks this one is all about coarse stones and why I think that they are so important. A lot of novice sharpeners seem reluctant to use them but they shouldn't be. There is no danger unless the individual is careless and lacks common sense.

    People are smart, especially sharpeners:)

Peter Nowlan
New Edge Sharpening
Halifax Nova Scotia

Saturday, 25 March 2017

I'm Flattened

As you know, I am all about keeping my water stones flat and I completely disagree with those who say it's okay to let them dish a little. To me it is just being lazy.

My hunt for the perfect flattener ended when I found the Atoma plates, it is the supreme water stone flattener............until NOW.

The DMT Dia-Flat Lapping Plate.

     This thing is very big, 4' by 10" (100 x 255 mm) and it is absolutely flat. Now it is expensive, it cost me almost $300.00 Canadian dollars with the tax. However, thus far, about 10 stones in, it is absolutely fantastic.

     I have heard of folks using these for several years and still being fine to use. I do love the Atoma plates but in my experience, I wore them out quickly, so at 140.00 a pop that was getting to be expensive but again, they are fantastic as well.

     There is a ton of less expensive alternatives out there so feel free to explore them. In my world however, where I flatten every day, I need something fantastic and so far, on day one, my flattening dreams have come true.

I'll update this once in a while to see if it is still as good after several months.


Friday, 24 March 2017

The Sharpening Journey, what does that mean?

We often hear the term "Sharpening Journey" when we refer to someones hobby/past time/profession in regards to knife sharpening but what does it actually mean?  First of all, it probably means something different to everybody.

   This is what it means to me:

    At some point, all men have the urge, The Calling, to sharpen a knife and this is something I have written about for Knifeplanet. I believe this because over the years, I cannot count how many men have told me that they used to sharpen or they saw their father or Grandfather sharpen. ( I know women sharpen as well of course but let's face it, not as much as men. I never had one person tell me they saw their Grandmother out in the shed sharpening her chisels")

    My Sharpening Journey is an evolutionary odyssey, a continuous series of sessions of learning, facing challenges, experiencing rewards, feeling pride, anxiety, pressure and absolute bliss.  

     I do not see and end to my journey, because I can't imagine, I can't see a point in my future where I stop learning. So my journey is not really about sharpening knives as much as it is becoming a better knife sharpener than I am today.

    It is series of stepping stones, I know that there will be more stones to step on but I don't always know what I will learn on that particular stone.  In other words, I see each stepping stone as a lesson and although there are my stones in my wake, there are more that lie ahead even though I may not know what I will learn.

    For example, the latest thing I learned was all about thinning knives.  When my journey started, decades ago, thinning was something I had not heard of so until I got to the stage where I had to learn about it, it wasn't something I was too concerned about.

    The continuance of my journey depends on a few things.

1.      My desire to learn and my ability to drop my ego and accept the fact that someone who started sharpening a year ago who works for Mr. Kent at Knifewear for example, may be able to teach me something. This is very very easy for me, I've been like this for as long as I can remember,  able to absorb information from anyone willing to give it.

2.     My ability to find a teacher skilled in the lessons that each stepping stone has to offer.  Again, I have been very lucky, I eagerly seek out who I see as gifted sharpeners and willingly accept what they have to offer, Jon Broida and Kevin Kent stand out as do others.

Beautiful hand made Saya (let me know if you would like one made for you)

     So when does the journey begin: 

 I think that this depends on how you react to the process, how you feel about it. If I pick up a knife and a water stone and try it out for 15 minutes and put it away, that is not a sharpening journey. However, If after 15 minutes I know that it is something I want to do again and at some point, I do this, then the Sharpening Journey begins the moment I pick up that stone again.

When does it end:

    Sadly, for some people, ego places a barrier that prevents them  travelling forward. Some people think that they can't learn more so in my mind, their journey has ended. It doesn't mean that they are not skilled sharpeners or anything. Now, there are people in the sharpening world, Masters who probably don't have much to learn but I just don't see those people as thinking that way, this is how they get to be Masters.

    For me, I can see it ending when I am too old to sharpen anymore but even then, I can pass along what I have learned to whoever wants to take over my business. 

     My journey is also a series of goals, things I want to do before it is too late. This is simply meeting some of the folks that have helped me along the way, and also to meet people that I greatly admire in Japan, Master Sharpeners.

(A Master Sharpener, as far as I am concerned is a person who followed a program, at some point he/she was an apprentice who learned from a Master).

To summarize.

A sharpening journey is for me a cascade of learning points, a place where I can do what I love to do at my own pace and a place where I know that I will continue to improve because there will always be someone who can teach me something. I have a mindset that allows that.

Well if you have read this far......I am grateful and surprised:)

All the best

Friday, 17 March 2017

Knife Sharpening, Starting out on the right foot.

I know that there are  many videos out there about how to sharpen a knife, too many in fact. So why make another, what is different about mine.

In my video, I just strive to make the fundamentals as clear as possible and I also talk about the mental aspect of knife sharpening. There is much more to the art than just dragging a knife over a water stone. There is a wealth of collateral benefits that can be taken in as well, besides ending up with a sharp knife of course.

Thank you

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

STROPS again

I have more strops if anyone is interested.
There are some smaller ones designed for folks to toss in a backpack and use in the field.

These are cowhide, but only the best looking cows donated the leather.

Prices range from $10.00 to $30.00 Canadian dollars and are available here for folks near me.


Monday, 13 March 2017


Hi friends,

Thinning a knife, for me, is not easy, in fact it is quite challenging.

Please note that I did not go to Sharpening University and get a Masters Degree in Thinning. This comes with a lot trial and error and mistakes. There are different approaches to thinning and this one in the video is quite new to me.

In the past, I was thinning at a less acute angle, just a few degrees less than the sharpening angle but now I thin at a much more acute angle. The problem with this is the scratching of the blade so be aware, if this is something you plan to do, you will scratch your blade. Yes, you can polish some of them out with high grit stones but it won't get rid of all of them.

I use wet/dry sandpaper on the scratches myself but some people use a belt system with special conditioning belts, I don't have any of those yet but I do know it is possible to restore the finish of a scratched blade with them.


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Stropping and Strops

I have altered my stropping material a few times over the last 10 years, from leather which comes in a variety of qualities from different animals including Kangaroo. To Nanocloth,  newspaper, denim, balsa, finishing stones and also leather and nanocloth laden with different compounds.

However, I have always come back to some plain old good quality leather, bare. It is my favourite stropping medium and I used it after every knife, it is the final process and it's purpose is to finalized the edge cleaning process, it will make the edge pop so to speak

To that end, I do have a means of getting some really nice leather strops if anyone is interested my area.
They are high quality horse and bovine leather that is treated with mink oil and mounted to maple bases. Very nice and extremely affordable.

The prices are just $30-00 to #35.00 for the personalized strops.

Let me know if you want one or more, they can fit onto stone holders.

I don't sell these for myself, I won't make a cent from them but I'll carry them for people who wish to buy one or two.

The maker is going to change where the name goes to the side, on the wood so as not to interfere with the stropping surface. 

FYI Strops like this can be used as maintenance tools as well, a lot of folks strop in between sharpening to bring the edge back. Of course these can all be loaded with stropping compounds.


Monday, 6 March 2017


Hi all,

Another area that pops up frequently on the path to sharpening enlightenment is the subject of Thinning.

So I am working on a video of how I do this but before that, I want to get some feedback from some other sharpeners to see if they can add anything and also to confirm that my approach is sound.

Here is what I am working on so far.


For me there are three types and they all have something in common, i.e[u]. a Sharpening Angle and a Thinning Angle. [/u] Also, the Thinning Angle (TA) is not a fixed angle, it depends on the thickness of the knife and just how much I want to remove.


     This is the way I handle a knife that is really thick, yesterday I had a Global that was terrible, it could be razor sharp but so thick it would be unpleasant to use. 
I lie the knife flat on the stone, so I am thinning at zero degrees and going at it with a lot of pressure and a 220 grit stone. I continue until this Relief area is highly polished, I am not touching the edge of the knife, there is no burr formation. 
After I am satisfied with the geometry behind the edge, I then raise the angle by 3-4 degrees, to whatever the knife should be sharpened at and then sharpen it as I normally would, at the SA.

Pros: I  find that this method can have a dramatic effect on the performance of the knife and sharpening it is very easy. The Relief area, the area that was thinned can have a very beautiful level of polish. 
Cons: Can easily scratch the blade, in fact the blade will be scratched. (It can be taped but the tape can wear off as well). This also can be very time consuming. 

(This is done after what could be years of sharpening with no thinning done at all prior to this point)


This is basically the same thing however I am not thinning at zero degrees, the TA is slightly more acute (3-4 deg) than the SA (Sharpening Angle)
Pros- Also very effective at improving the performance of the knife.
Cons: I am not aware of any, that doesn't meant there is none, I just have figured that out yet.

(Thinning may have been done or the knife is not that old, it isn't too bad yet)


This is where I thin the knife within a few sharpening sessions, the knife isn't thick but it is means of trying to maintain the level of thinness currently seen on the knife. It is something I would do often and would not take long. The TA would again be a 3-4 deg more acute that the SA>

PROs: I think that if you catch the knife soon enough it may be the easiest and best way to maintain the performance of the knife assuming it was thin enough to perform well in the first place. 
CONs: I can't think of any.

Now....there are people who choose a thinning angle and continue to grind until the edge of the of knife is reached and they form a burr. They are creating a new sharpening angle and a wider bevel. 
I don't call this thinning, it is modifying the knife, it can have benefits but I wonder if this also has a negative impact on edge retention. 

This is a work in progress for me, I won't shoot the video until I am completely comfortable and have heard back from those smarter than I am.