Nightcrawl, angle really isn’t that important, I can shave with a 40 degree each side knife, sure barely, but it still works. The main part about sharpening is consistent angle. Especially when going on any curves. As long as you do the same thing everytime (to both sides), your knife will cut well!
May I recommend Murray Carters videos? Great stuff, as is the keeping sharp section of knifeforums.
I myself mainly use the Smith Trihone, it’s $22 bucks on amazon, has An aluminum oxide (sandpaper cutting material) block, which is rougly 400 grit. Then, theres a medium arkansas stone, which is around 600. Then theres a fine, white arkansas stone, around 800-1000. The cool thing about arkansas stones, is that they also polish the blade. So, when I spend some extra time, I can get the whole bevel on both sides mirror smooth, reduces friction, and it looks COOL :).
Main guide to sharpening: Start with a rough grit, sub 500 at least. You want to maintain the same angle on both sides. I like to use one of those little binder clips as a guide, i’ll just place the spine of the knife on a certain part of the clip when it’s laying on the stone, then when you flip to the other side of your knife, put the spine on the same spot up the binder clip. Motion doesn’t really matter, I used to start out with a circle motion, it works well for moving alot of material, but now I like to rub back and forth in small sections, making sure to move the blade the whole time. I also, when trying my hardest, will slice back and forth, forward and then back down, never really moving the blade on the stone left and right. Most important thing about sharpening in general: Make sure to establish an even bevel at a low grit, that way you won’t have an old angle that’s different from the one you are currently using, on the knife as well. I recently went from around a 25 per side on one of my knives to 15 per side, so it took me about 10 minutes on the rough grit (I do like 1 minute each side for a few, then 30 seconds, then 10 secs, then 5 secs per side… Then, I moved to the 600 grit arkansas, and did about 5 minutes total tops. Doing about 30 seconds each side, slowly getting less strokes on each side. Doing this will eliminate the burr, which is just the shavings of metal on the very edge, and it is little micro serations that bend over and “dull” your knife because they are not a solid line, nothing really to support them. Also, this arkansas stone will polish the edge a little, which increases sharpness. I’m pretty good at keeping angles, so in about 10-15 minutes for a new angled edge, I can shave my soft blonde arm hair easy with no irritation at all. Of course, this is after I strop on just newspaper( i just cut a piece and put it on a stone) for 100 total strops, 50 per side. This gets the edge just a little smoother.
Once you have established that edge before and have sharpened it, remember what angle you sharpened at, and you can just touch it up on the medium stone. Or, if it’s only been used some, then just strop on newspaper.
I also bought some emery oxide compound from amazon for around 3 bucks, it’s a crayon type block that has fine emery oxide that starts out at around 5 micron, then goes down to 1-2 microns as it’s used. I apply this to newspaper, but strop plain newspaper after in order to get off minute amounts of the compound. I bought a $3 loupe on amazon too, really helps to see if you’ve established a new edge.
In order to get the curves, you just sort of tilt the handle of the knife up some, look at videos, you’ll get it easy.
Summary: Establish a single angle fresh edge with a rough grit. Then smooth that out with finer grit stones. The main thing is to not speed through the grits, make sure to spend enough time on each one, especially that first rough grit. Strop for a little bit smooth edge. And maintain the same technique throughout the whole sharpening.
As you get better, you can do your own thing, your own technique, and do it to whatever degree of sharpness you need.
The nice thing about sharper edges is they need less force to push through something, such as a tree branch. I’ve just gone to some buckthorn and cut off 1 inch thick branches in one firm swipe with a 3 inch knife, never any nicks in the blade.
Hope this wasn’t too much to read :). Just the main part is establishing the new edge, I used to try to spend only a minute or two on establishing an edge, and I’d look with my loupe, and see I had like 3 different angles on the edge from different sharpenings :(.
another thing, use very light pressure the finer the edge, meaning when stropping I almost just move the knife over the ne3wspaper, pressuring just the slightest. but when you are using the rough grit, feel free to use plenty of pressure, since I’m pretty experienced, I can maintain a good angle while still pressing down as hard as I can. Though when I first started out, I barely used any pressure, so everything took FOREVER.