To many people, a knife is just a knife. When they need to cut something, they grab the first available knife they can find and begin hacking away. Many people don't know when their knives need to be sharpened or even if they need a microbevel on their blades.
A microbevel is a method used for strengthening the edge of a knife or any tool with a sharpened edge. Not every situation calls for using a microbevel. Whether or not you need a microbevel depends on the frequency of use and style of the blade which is being used.
If you are passionate about learning more about microbevels and when to use them on your blades, continue reading this article for tips and tricks that will surely allow you to slice your way to the top of your industry.
For those of you who are a bit more serious about how you use a knife or any tool with a sharpened edge, you may wonder what a microbevel is and whether you should use one on your knives and tools edges.
The term microbevel can sound a little intimidating, but once you learn what it is, you will have great success in the future maintenance of your knives and other tools that have edges.
Microbevel is a term that describes the technique used when creating a secondary bevel on the blade of a knife or any tool that has a sharpened edge.
It refers to grinding the area below the primary bevel at a sharper angle. In Japan, this technique is called KOBA. This method has been used for centuries. A microbevel has nothing to do with the blade's actual sharpness but rather protects and maintains the actual strength and straightness of the edge of the blade, which in the long run keeps the blade sharper.
For those of us who are passionate about cooking and preparing food, it is vital to have the proper equipment to make our prized dishes that everyone raves about and can't wait to taste. A properly edged knife can mean the difference between nicely sliced flanks of steak versus chunks of mangled meat.
A microbevel is not exclusively beneficial to kitchen blades. They also benefit knives and tools that are used for other reasons, such as woodcarving tools or lawn and garden implements.
This is one of those questions that really depends on who you ask. You may ask five people and get five very different answers. The best way to decide if a microbevel should be used on your knives and tools is to think about your personal situation and your needs.
There are many reasons for using a knife or edged tool. The kitchen is not the only area where a reliable and strong blade is necessary. Examples of professions and activities that require sharp blades and tools in order to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities are:
Examples of edges that can have a microbevel:
If you participate in any of these professions or hobbies, then you know how important it can be to have a sharp utensil. Ask yourself how you will be using the blade and how frequently?
A microbevel should be used when a knife or tool is being used heavily, on a regular basis for long periods of time. It may seem counterintuitive, but keeping a good hone on your knife will extend the blade's life and require less frequent sharpening.
When it comes to knives and edged tools, people can get quite serious about the different types, styles, and different ways to sharpen their knives and tools. Some may even say it is blasphemous to sharpen a blade too often.
Sharpening is done to establish the bevel on a blade; it grinds the metal on the blade to create a new edge. Not to be mistaken with the microbevel. There are many misconceptions regarding when and how to sharpen the edge of a blade.
Some people think that you need to sharpen your blade after each use. This can actually cause damage to your blade because the more you sharpen your blade, the more it wears away and shortens its lifespan.
How often you need to sharpen your knife blades depends entirely upon what you are using them for and how often you are using them. If you are an occasional user, it is recommended that you only sharpen your blade about one time per year. For those of you who use a knife or edged tool daily, it is recommended that you sharpen your blades multiple times throughout the year.
You may be wondering why you don't need to sharpen your blades as often as you thought.
The reason for this is that honing is done in between sharpening. The act of honing removes any burrs or minor imperfections in the blade's edge; it basically takes a blade that is already sharp and straightens the edge.
Honing simply is accomplished by applying extremely light pressure to the blade's beveled edge at a certain angle, depending on the type of blade you are honing. It will keep your blade sharp for many uses. In most cases, you can hone a blade up to 100 times before you need to sharpen it again.
We'll discuss the various angles used with different knives for honing later in the article.
As mentioned previously, many people tend to sharpen their blades too often, resulting in reducing the sharpness and strength of the blade. The best way to know if you need to sharpen your blades is when honing is no longer getting the job done.
If your meat looks like someone took a dull hack saw to it, then you are probably due for a sharpening. If the edge of the blade has any major issues such as rolled edges or dents from cutting objects with hard densities, honing will not be effective.
To add a microbevel to the edge of your knife may sound a little intimidating; however, once you have mastered the technique, you will wonder why you worried for so long.
Step 1: To add a microbevel to the edge of your blade, you must be sure to know the angle that you need for the specific blade on which you are working – Western vs. Japanese. When you are sure of the correct angle that you need to use for your blade type, you can move on to step two.
Step 2: Decide which sharpening tool to use to add your microbevel.
Step 3: Next, you will very gently move the blade back and forth at the desired angle over the sharpener using extremely light pressure. This will remove any burrs or minor imperfections in the blade.
In most cases, it should typically only take you a minute or two to accomplish this task.
There are two basic styles of bladesmithing: the Japanese way and the Western (aka German) way. The biggest difference between the two styles is how they are constructed and how the steel is forged.
Western (aka German)
· Japanese steel has more carbon in it than western steel, making it significantly harder. The drawback to this is that the blades are more brittle and require more sharpening than their western counterparts.
· Japanese blades are not as thick as western-style blades, which give them a sharper edge, usually cut at a 15-16° angle.
· Traditional Japanese blades are usually honed and finished by hand, resulting in a more unfinished/primitive look.
· In Japanese style knives, the tang tapers down into the handle to provide more weight on the front of the blade for better-controlled movements.
· Japanese knives are designed more for precise cutting and slicing.
· Western steel is much softer and thicker than that of a Japanese blade. This thickness allows for a more broad range of cutting.
· Western-style blades are typically cut at a 20° angle.
· Western-style blades are typically finished on a machine for a more pristine look.
· In Western-style blades, the tang typically runs through the handle, which provides extra strength and adds extra weight to the knife.
· Western-style blades are designed to be more multi-purpose and durable for use on a variety of materials.
Having read all of this, you may be wondering what this all has to do with a microbevel; and whether you should put a microbevel on these styles of knives.
Once again, this is a matter of opinion. However, Japanese-style knives can most definitely benefit from using a microbevel due to the steel's thinness. Since Japanese-style knives typically require sharpening more frequently than the Western-style. A microbevel will benefit the knife and user greatly by keeping the blade in tip-top shape.
There are several types and styles of blade sharpeners and honing rods. In casual conversation, honing rods are typically referred to as sharpening steels, but that is not an accurate description.
In this article, to save confusion, they will be referred to as honing rods.
Each tool has a different purpose and method of use. You can create a microbevel with any of the products listed below. The information below details the most commonly used tools to sharpen or hone a blade and how they are used:
Grinding Wheels/Bench Grinder
Guided Sharpening Systems
Softer metals can be used with any kind of honing rod, whereas harder metals such as the kinds used in Japanese blades require a harder honing surface such as ceramic or diamond plated steel.
Fun fact: All sharpening stones can be referred to as whetstones, but not all whetstones can be referred to as wet stones
The term whet means to sharpen something. Some whetstones are meant to be used when dry, wet, or oiled. They ultimately all work the same basic way. Using a whetstone is the oldest method of sharpening a knife blade or edged tool.
The downside to using whetstones is that they are more time consuming and require a much greater learning curve. Once you master the skill of using a whetstone, you can sharpen any blade.
Below are 13 popular sharpeners and honing rods that are available for your sharpening needs.
These first five items listed require less of a learning curve:
Versatile and easy to use. Quickly sharpen a broad range of cutting tools with ease—dependable, long-lasting construction.
Costs around $12.00
· Able to sharpen knives, machetes, and many other types of cutting tools.
· Easy to clean with warm soapy water.
· Full-length finger guard for your protection
· Handheld with a comfortable ergonomic design
· Made with high-quality, durable materials for many years of reliable use
· Sharpening blades made with diamond-honed tungsten carbide steel
· Small size for easy storage purposes
· Takes approximately 10 seconds to sharpen any blade or tool
· Won't rust
Compact electric knife sharpener with diamond abrasion and precision angle control with two stages
Costs around $100.00
· For 20° class straight edge and serrated knives
· Two-stage sharpener with precision angle control
· Unique patented stropping and polishing disks in stage two for hairsplitting sharpness.
· Will sharpen chef's knives, serrated knives, sports knives, and cleavers.
This manual knife and scissor sharpener helps repair, restore, and polish quickly with an adjustable angle button for various knives.
Costs around $18.00
· Comfortable ergonomic design
· Easy to operate
· Non-slip silicone base
· Repairs, restores, and polishes
· Three easy steps.
- Coarse sharpening
- Crude sharpening
- Fine sharpening
Great for the on-the-go chef or outdoorsman. Made from quality materials in the United States of America.
Costs around $20.00
· 20° consistent double edge on your knives
· 40° inclusive angle.
· Crafted from military-grade machined aluminum for light-weight, long-lasting durability
· Duromite cutters
· Great for chefs, woodcarvers, and outdoorsman.
· Made in the United States of America.
· Portable and compact for easy carrying and storage.
· Stick design with easy to maintain grip even if wet.
Sharpens every knife like a professional. Use quickly and easily with repeatable and consistent results.
Costs around $65.00
· Abrasive belts won't burn or damage steel during sharpening.
· Can also sharpen a wide range of bladed shop, lawn, and garden tools.
· Easily replaceable coarse, medium, or fine abrasive grit
· Fast, easy, repeatable, and consistent results
These next eight options require more skill and finesse but can all be learned:
10" Knife rod sharpener with cleaning cloth and luxury carrying bag. Great for all types of knives. Costs around $17.00
Patented knife guide system will sharpen any size or shape blade up to three and a half inches wide—costs around $225.00.
High quality ceramic knife sharpening rod with two grit options – costs around $30.00
This brings back the sharpness and polish to any knife. Sharpening stone for kitchen, sports, and camping. Costs around $45.00
Whetstone knife sharpening kit with 400/1000 and 3000/8000. Leather razor and honing strop with polishing compound, non-slip bamboo base, and flattening stone. Costs around $50.00
Professional kitchen chef sharpening stick rod honing steel. Costs around $25.00
Premium whetstone set, including eight grits to sharpen any knife or tool. Costs around $90.00
Features three stones on a sturdy rotating plastic molded base for safety – costs around $25.00
Another way to minimize the amount of honing and sharpening that you will be doing is to protect your blades' edge by properly storing them in between uses.
The following are ways to store your knives more safely:
Below are some products that may help protect the edges of your blades and organize your space at the same time:
This heavy-duty chef's knife roll bag is guaranteed not to scratch or damage your knives. It is recommended that blade guards are used. Costs around $20.00
Made from premium stainless steel with extra strong magnets. Costs around $50.00
Gentle on your blades and long-lasting. Costs around $25.00
Safely store your knives and organize your drawers with this attractive in-drawer bamboo knife block. Costs around $35.00
The key thing to take away from this article is that if you frequently use your knives or edged tools, then a microbevel is a very helpful technique to use. Adding a microbevel to your knives or edged tools can mean the difference between a professional-looking job and a massacred mess.