Friday, 17 October 2008

The Skill of Knife Sharpening

Years ago, knife sharpening involved putting a knife on a traditional bench stone. Although bench stones are still available and used by many, there are also a variety of tools made specifically for the sharpening of knives, scissors or any cutting device. The type of knife sharpener you use will depend on the cutting device you have and the desired result.

Grinding wheels are often used for sharpening knives. They have abrasive grains that actually chip away at parts of the blade to sharpen the knife. Grinding wheels use different abrasive substances for sharpening. The most common material used in grinding wheels is aluminum oxide. The different varieties of oxide are designated by a number and letter behind their name. Aluminum is the most preferred substance and is used for sharpening bronze, wrought iron, steel and iron. Zirconia alumina is also a very effective substance for the grinding wheel. It's a mixture of aluminum and zirconium oxide that is excellent for many steels and alloys. Next to aluminum oxide, it is the most used for grinding wheels.

One of the newer materials being used in grinding wheels is ceramic aluminum oxide. This strong substance is used when the goal is extreme precision. Ceramic aluminum oxide is usually blended with other abrasive materials. The material that ceramic aluminum oxide is blended with depends on what it will be used to sharpen.

Grinding wheels come in many different shapes, with the straight wheel being the most common. Cylinder wheels are also common. Straight wheels have front facing cutting edges whereas cylinders have their cutting device on the front of the cylinder. Grinding wheels have different grit sizes, which are determined by what type of work you are doing. The lower the number, the coarser the grain wheel will be. A larger number with a finer grainer is going to be more effective for getting a good finish on a knife.

A bench grinder is another method used to sharpen knives. This inexpensive tool is good for sharpening not just knives, but also cutters, drill bits and other hand tools. Bench grinders have wheels that are available in six or ten inch diameters with motors from 1/3 to one horsepower. Bench grinders are most efficient and accurate when they are mounted on the workbench.

If you are an individual that has need for a chain saw, then you will need a sharpener for your chain saw. The most effective and easy way to sharpen a chain saw is with an automatic sharpener. When the wheel is lowered, the chain gets locked in place to avoid injury. Each tooth is individually sharpened, but automatic sharpeners will do a uniform job. Manual sharpeners may be less expensive, but they will do as good of a job as an automatic sharpener.

Jerry Blackburn regularly edits informative papers on areas similar to sharpen drill bits by hand. You can have a look at his articles on how to sharpen a drill bit over at and various other sources for how to sharpen a drill bit news.

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