Learn how to remove the metal burr from a knife. During the sharpening process, a microscopic metal bur is formed. If the burr is not removed, it will quickly dull your knife when used. This video demonstrates four ways to remove this burr from a newly sharpened knife.
Use appropriate caution when working on knives. Also use appropriate safety equipment. I recommend using leather gloves and safety glasses, as well as hearing protection, particularly when using the rotary tool and felt polishing wheel.
The first technique is to use a leather strop. This is called stropping. Fake leather will not work, it must be real leather. The furry or suede side of the leather is used, not the smooth part of the leather, which is often the side which is visible on leather products. The furry or suede side is often hidden underneath, on the inside of the product.
Any bigger piece of leather will do. A leather belt can also be substituted for leather strop. Leather can also be found in many products, such as old shoes, purses, jackets, belts, gloves, etcetera. It just has to be a relatively big piece of suede type leather, meaning this leather is a little bit fibrous or furry. The soft hairy side of leather works well, as does suede leather, which is soft and furry on both sides of the leather.
While stropping, the burr is bent back and forth many times, until it is removed. This takes a long time. Strop the knife about 300 times across the leather, first going one way, and then the other way. This bends and removes the microscopic metal burr. Eventually, the knife edge becomes shiny, almost a mirror surface. If the knife is properly stropped, the edge will last much longer.
The second technique involves substituting a piece of cardboard for leather. Put a big piece of cardboard on a smooth flat surface. Now use the cardboard as you would a leather strop. This should work. The cardboard also has some clay mixed into the cardboard fibers, which will act as a polishing agent on the knife.
The third technique is to use a piece of hardwood. Any dry, non rotted hardwood will do. For example, use a board, a log, a stick, a piece of wood flooring, a piece of wood from broken hardwood furniture, etcetera. Pull the knife edge across the grain of the hardwood perhaps 10 times, allowing the blade to cut into the wood as you pull the blade across the hardwood. This action takes away most of the metal bur. It is not as good as stropping with a piece of leather, but it is still quite effective, and takes much less time.
The fourth technique involves using a felt polishing wheel, also called a felt polishing buff. Dremel and other companies make these products. This attachment is used on a rotary tool. One brand of rotary tool is Dremel. There are many other brands as well. The idea of this procedure is that the wheel spins so that the it touches the knife blade first, and then moves over the knife edge. If the felt polishing wheel were a car wheel, it’s direction of travel would be starting from the knife edge, and driving forwards to the knife blade or spine (the non- sharp edge of the knife). This matters because if the felt polishing wheel spins into the sharp knife edge, it will be quickly destroyed by the knife edge. The knife edge will cut the spinning felt wheel to pieces in a matter of seconds. This is why the direction of spin makes such a big difference and why I keep on turning the knife and vice in the video.
Wood carvers often attach a cotton or felt buffing wheel to their grinding wheel machine. When spun at high speeds, the cotton or felt buffing wheel can make the carving tool really sharp, while removing the burr at the same time. High speed spinning cotton or felt can remove metal from the knife edge. The problem is many people don’t have room for a big grinding wheel machine in their house, so a small rotary tool can be substituted for a grinding wheel, due to the very high spin rate.
I like rotary tools because they are small and very versatile, having the ability to cut or grind almost any material. Rotary tools are better suited for smaller tasks.
Keep those knives sharp and stay safe.