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Make your knife edges sharp and keep them sharp by removing metal contaminates from edges

Updated on March 29, 2016

BEFORE and AFTER DE-BURRING

Brand new kitchen cutlery knife after conditioning and de-burring
Brand new kitchen cutlery knife after conditioning and de-burring
Here's our new knife edge after sharpening  with electric sharpener. BURR plainly visible.
Here's our new knife edge after sharpening with electric sharpener. BURR plainly visible.
Electric sharpener edge after burr removal
Electric sharpener edge after burr removal
Knife edge after sharpening with ceramic wheel style pull thru sharpener
Knife edge after sharpening with ceramic wheel style pull thru sharpener
Same ceramic wheel sharpener edge after burr removal
Same ceramic wheel sharpener edge after burr removal
Knife edge after sharpening with carbide pull thru sharpener
Knife edge after sharpening with carbide pull thru sharpener
Same Carbide sharpener edge pictured above after de-burring
Same Carbide sharpener edge pictured above after de-burring

Making your kitchen knife edges healthy and sharp

Glass containers are much safer to drink from than plastic just as stainless steel cookware and utensils are safe for cooking and meal preparation but you wouldn't knowingly grind up either and sprinkle the residue over your food would you? Let's see if it might be happening in your kitchen though;

Every time a knife is sharpened, a metal "burr" is created on the knife edge. In fact, if a burr is not created then the edge can never be sharp. The burr is composed of thousands of tiny wires that are attached to the very apex of the cutting edge. With stainless steel knives, this burr cannot simply be rubbed or wiped away and certainly not without seriously degrading the cutting edge of the knife. All effective sharpening means and systems must first create a burr in order to fashion a sharp edge. Let's take just a few seconds to learn how sharp edges are created and I promise its not rocket science even though there are those who would lead you to believe that it is. In reality it's just this simple;

Step 1 - Create (grind) a burr on the edge of the knife.

Step 2 - Remove the burr you just created. The End.

Yes, the edge should be ground at a fairly specific angle and yes, the burr must be removed in a specific manner but the gist of it is this...you have just learned the fundamental principles of knife sharpening in 15 seconds or less. Now, let's see how we can apply what you just learned to your own knives but first, because a little knowledge and understanding never hurt anyone, let's talk about metal burrs and knife edges just a bit more. Once you have that understanding and then execute, all your knives will be sharp and healthy all the time and once they are... you will likely never have to grind a knife edge again.

When an abrasive surface is applied to a metal edge (grinding), eventually, the metal becomes so thin that it no longer can support itself against the pressure exerted on it by the abrasive surface. The thin metal rolls away from the abrasive surface and voila!.. we have a "burr". It's called a burr because, typically, its composition appears much like the surface of a sand or cockle burr. The individual pieces of grit in the abrasive have shredded the thin metal edge into hundreds or thousands of little wires. It cannot be ground away because the burr just keeps rolling away from the grinding surface. If you grind on the right the burr rolls left and if you grind on the left it rolls right ad infinitum.

The series of magnified pictures above and right begin at the top with a brand new knife whose edge has been conditioned and cleaned by a tool manufactured by Edge On Up (EOU). This edge is now 40% sharper than when first removed from the package and totally free of any metal contaminates remaining from the manufacturing process. The second photo is taken after that same edge (first image) is then run through a very popular brand of electric sharpener. The metal burr created by the spinning abrasive wheels of the electric sharpener is very obvious in this picture and the sharpness of the edge has been reduced by some 300% (actual test instrument results). In the third picture, the EOU de-burring tool has been applied to the edge sharpened by the electric sharpener. The burr has been removed and the original sharpness of the edge has been almost totally restored. The balance of the pictures show before and after images of two types of common pull thru style sharpeners.

Burr creation is like a signpost for a knowledgeable sharpener. It tells a good sharpener that he or she has ground the edge to it's fullest extent and that additional grinding is no longer needed nor beneficial to the sharpening process. After burr creation, If you were to feel the edge with your thumb it might feel sharp to you because the sharp metal wire ends attached to the edge are poking and grabbing at the skin on your thumb but here's a little test you can use to tell the difference between a burr edge and a sharp edge; A sharp edge will always feel sharp no matter which direction you drag your thumb across the edge. Left to right or right to left. A burr edge will feel sharp or rough in only one direction and quite smooth or dull in the other direction. That's because the little wire ends are always rolled and pointing to one side or the other.

This is the point, after burr formation, where most home sharpening systems abandon you and that includes electrics, pull thru styles, ceramic sticks, sharpening steels and stones. They provide little and, usually, absolutely no provision or means for removing the metal burr that they have just created. If the burr is not removed the edge will be dull,not sharp, and it is likely that an unhealthy dose of stainless steel is about to be introduced to your diet. Without proper burr removal your knife is no longer a knife but more like a very flimsily constructed saw. It may seem to sever things fairly well for a few uses but once those tiny wires start rubbing off in your food your saw loses its teeth and becomes very dull. So what are those tiny wires composed of? Well steel of course and the heavy metal components that help turn ordinary steel into stainless steel.

The good news... and I mean the really good news is this; All this can be corrected very easily and with little expense. It's very likely that you own one or multiple sharpening system(s) that are gathering dust in some dark corner of a kitchen cabinet or drawer because they never worked. They never created sharp, long lasting edges because they didn't provide you with a means of correctly removing the burr from your recently sharpened edges. This can be easily corrected by using the right de-burring tool and now you can begin reaping some rewards from the investment you have made in your home sharpening systems and enjoying sharp and healthy edges once again in your kitchen..


Edge On Up De-burring tool

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