Sharpening Your Knowledge: Everything You Need To Know About Burr
by James Lupton
To those who value sharpening and understand the importance of following the correct procedure; there are several key aspects of the process that require utmost attention in order to maximize the effectiveness of the sharpening process.
Today, we’ll talk about burr formation, what role it plays in proper sharpening and how to tell if the burr is actually being formed.
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 using sharpening stones.
Why is it important? Proper burr formation is crucial to proper sharpening as it achieves two key proposes. First of all, it tells us if the knife is being sharpened properly. Once you observe the burr on one side, it means that the side is sufficiently sharpened. Burr formation is to be followed for both sides of the blade. Secondly, burr formation lets you gauge if you have the proper thinness of the blade.
Burr formation removes fatigued metal on the edge and exposes the fresh metal underneath, so not paying attention to proper burr formation means that you’ll be most likely working with a semi-sharp blade.
The correct way of burr formation. If you happen to be a busy housewife or working 12-hour days, we’re sure you’ll be tempted to get done with it ASAP. But trust us, a bit of patience goes a long way here.
Usually, to save a few minutes, people tend to use high pressure when sharpening. High pressure may work with finer grit stones but it could be highly damaging when you’re using coarser grits. Why? Because unless you’re a professional sharpener; it would be almost impossible to maintain a consistent angle.
It is quite likely that you will end up removing a lot more metal than needed. Also, high pressure can push away the burr down and away from the primary edge. This is what’s called a wire edge. Some people prefer it for its extreme sharpness but be warned that it is not the strongest and susceptible to chipping off, leaving your knife pretty much dull.
We strongly advise sparing a few more minutes and using light pressure, which will enable you to maintain an even angle and keep your blade safe. Saving a couple of minutes is definitely not worth losing a $150 knife.
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