My relationship to reality has been so utterly skewed for so long that I don’t even notice it any more. It’s just my reality.Ethan Hawke
The Taming of the Skew
You will have noticed that it is easier to keep a blade stable when sharpening its bevel if you skew it on the stone. There is nothing wrong with skewing the blade so long as you understand the natural consequences of doing so and compensate for them appropriately.
Let’s examine some of those consequences.
First, a skewed blade tends to wear-out, or hollow-out, the center area of the stone quicker. This is inefficient, wasting time and stones, but can be compensated for if you pay attention and work the blade evenly over the stone’s entire face.
Second, people tend to place uneven pressure on a skewed blade, wearing the blade unevenly.
In addition, the leading corner is exposed to more fresher, larger grit particles (which cut more aggressively) than the trailing corner. As a result, the blade’s leading corner tends to be abraded more, causing the blade’s edge to gradually become skewed or rounded in shape over many sharpening sessions. This is definitely bad, and is often mistaken for the work of those devilish iron pixies. But if you are aware this can happen, and pay attention, you can compensate for it.
Third, and I have no way to confirm this, I am told by the guys with microscopes that diagonal scratches at the extreme cutting edge leave it a tad weaker, causing it to dull just a bit quicker. The way to compensate for this is to keep the blade’s cutting edge perpendicular to the direction of travel during the last few strokes on the finishing stone.
So in summary, habitually skewing a blade while sharpening is fine, but may cost a little efficiency, and may cause your blades and stones to become distorted.
Please read the quotation at the top of this article and consider whether or not your sharpening reality has become skewed without your realizing it. I know mine was for a long time.
These aren’t things you wouldn’t have figured out for yourself eventually, Beloved Customers and Gentle Readers, but now, at least if you pay attention, you’re a few years ahead on the learning curve.
In the worst case, at least ignorance isn’t an excuse anymore.
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