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Today we’ll discuss the process of burr removal and why must we do it. First, we will briefly explain what is a burr and its purpose to begin with.
What is a burr? A burr, also known as a wire edge, is what we get when we put a metal knife (or other tools such as a chisel) through the sharpening process. The bevels meet each other at the knife’s primary edge; this is where you’ll see burr formation. Burr is essentially the worn-out metal, which we remove from both sides of the primary edge through the act of sharpening.
Proper burr formation tells us if the knife is being sharpened properly. Secondly, burr formation lets you gauge if you have the proper thinness of the blade.
Why is burr removal important? Burr removal is done at the end of the sharpening process while you’re finishing the knife. Proper burr removal plays a vital role in ensuring the proper function of the blade. If you leave out the burr removal process, the raised metal will create unwanted resistance while you cut. This will prevent imparting a smooth incision, impacting the texture of the food you’re handling.
Burr removal process: There are more than one ways to achieve burr removal but we’ll discuss the method most commonly used and easiest for knife burr removal.
Burr removal on water-stone:
Once you have sharpened the knife on one side, you’ll feel the burr. To remove it you need to flip the knife to the opposite side and use swiping motions as if you’re sharpening the knife.
The only difference this time is that the pressure you apply is a lot less than what you used while you were sharpening (or forming the burr).
If you keep a high pressure, you’ll end up creating another burr on the opposite side instead of removing it so make sure to significantly reduce the pressure for burr removal.
After a few swipes run your finger on the side of the blade to feel for the burr. If it feels smooth then you have successfully removed the burr.
Micro-burr removal: Microscopic metal can still remain after you have gone over the stone to remove the burr. There are a couple of methods to remove the remaining metal:
Leather strop: You need to swipe the knife on each side on a leather strop to be absolutely sure that there’s no burr left.
Old newspaper stack: If you don’t have a leather strop lying around, there’s a cheaper and equally effective way to achieve micro burr removal. Get yourself a stack of old newspapers, about a couple of inches high. This will create a comfortable cushion for the knife and ensure that the blade doesn’t get damaged. Swipe the knife (on each side) on the newspaper stack and it will achieve the same effect as the leather strop.
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Here’s to sharp knives and great food!