I want to pass along something that really did change the way I sharpen and improved my edges quite substantially and I've mentioned it before. I don't claim to have invented this or anything, as far as I know lots of people do it, I just discovered it about 4 years ago.
THE LIGHT TEST
When I am at the burr forming stage on a coarse stone, when I have gone through the four levels of pressure I use and have created a burr on both sides of the knife and then removed it, I always check the edge under a good source of light. I do this before moving to the next grit, so if I started at 320 for example, I conduct this quick check before moving to any higher grit.
I am looking for reflections, a reflection means that the metal, the burr has not been completely removed at this coarse stone level. In previous years, before checking, the burr just got removed as I progressed but I never did really conduct a visual check, I just checked for sharpness when I was done.
NOW, when I think the burr has been removed I check for any bits of the burr (metal) that are still there and that will reflect off of a light.
In the picture to the LEFT, you can clearly see the reflection, I only did a minute of sharpening so the picture would show up better but this is a clear indiction to me that I have not finished my work
So I got back to the same stone and use medium pressure and go from tip to heel, heel to tip on the right side of the knife then flip it, and go from heel to tip and tip to heel then do another check. In the middle picture you can see just a hint of light near the tip. So in this case I go back again and use medium pressure, (same stone) in this case, the tip area and light pressure on the rest of the knife, repeating the tip to heel and heel to tip and so on.
When I see no reflections, as seen in the photo on the right, I know I am ready to move on. I ONLY conduct this check on the first stone I use. After that it is all about burr removal so you there won't be any light as I am not forming any more burrs.
This simple and very quick check made the world of difference to my edges.