Knife Sharpening Made Easy

Knife Sharpening Information and Equipment

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This Page contains the Table of Contents and Reviews for Sharpening Made Easy





What is Sharpness? Straight Razors
Surface Finish vs. Sharpness Vegetable Peelers
Blade Styles Apple Corers
Edge Profile Axes
Testing the Edge Swords and Machetes
. Chisels
THE BASICS Plane lrons
The Keys to Success Scissors and Shears
Selecting a Sharpening System Slot Gadgets
Abrasives Ceramic Rods
Finer Abrasives
Cutting Speed vs. Sharpness Electric Sharpening Machines
Oil vs. Water on Stones Wet Wheel Machines
Guides Paper Wheels
Rod-Guided Systems Belt Sanders
Sharpening Freehand Care and Safety
Sharpening With a Guide Blade Materials
Honing Sharpening Materials
Stropping Hardness Scale
Using a Steel Comparing Abrasive Grits
A Multi-Bevel Method
Daggers and Double-Edged Blades BIBLIOGRAPHY
Maintaining the Point
Recurved Blades
Serrated Blades
The Moran Edge
The Chisel Edge
The Japanese Sashimi Knife
Ceramic Knives


Latest Review: 
knoxnews    Sept 2 2007     On-the-cutting-edge-of-sharpening/

I have just received Sharpening Made Easy.  The information in the book along with the EdgePro Apex has transformed my hunting knives, which I used to think were sharp, into razor edge fully functional cutting tools.  More importantly, the now polished cutting edge hold for many hours of use, which is great.  The book is well written it explains the subject in layman’s terms, which allows the reader to be able to sharpen a knife the way every knife should be sharpened.  Well done for a great publication. I would recommend it to anyone.

Dave B. - New Zealand

I bought your book back when I was dabbling with the thought of sharpening as a side business. Finally got up the nerve this past spring and I thoroughly enjoy it. Your book with techniques and insights is the bible of sharpening as far as I'm concerned.

Paul C.
Coventry, RI

A copy of your fine book arrived a couple of weeks ago and I really like it!
It makes the principles of sharpening easy to grasp, and it's full of useful references.
-- Rob Bird, Ormand Beach, FL

Received your book yesterday and it was everything I was hoping it would be. I now have at least a basic understanding of what is required to truly sharpen a knife. The book also explained in technical terms why my Henckels 4-Star cutlery will sharpen using the steel but the edge is only good for about 30 minutes ... !! I've always been a flat stone user but I was blind to the basic principle that the bevel and the edge are NOT one and the same.
-- Malcom Sexton, Knoxville, TN
I've now read your book,"Sharpening Made Easy" and John Juranitch's work,
"The Razor Edge Book Of Sharpening", and there is no comparison.  Yours is
far superior!  I respect John's mind immensely, but among other things,
his books is pitifully 17 years behind times.  And knife sharpening and
knife sharpening equipment stand still for no man.
Congratulations on your superlative work!
-- Dr. Gene Neill, Mayo, Florida
(In addition to being a knife enthusiast, Dr. Neill has written his own bestseller "I'm Gonna Bury You!" based on his conversion from dishonest lawyer and convicted criminal to Christian minister.
Steve Bottorff wrote a book. Those five words that will forever change the way the general public deals with sharpening a knife. Now, with
clear photos and well drawn illustrations ANYONE can sharpen a blade and
get the results that they want! No 'ands,' 'ifs,' or 'buts!' (By the
way, he is NOT paying me to say this! Nor do I have any association with
him or his publisher, other than right here in rec.knives!) 
I've been following Steve's web site for years, and have always
appreciated his concise unbiased (well, almost) views on the various
devices available to the public, as well as how to use them, from the
basic geometry and working up from there. Sometimes it's a bit difficult
to find the information I need at the time I need it on the site,
although I know it's all there. Hell, I've downloaded it all from there! 
But in this book, it is all laid out in perfect order. Step by step,
Steve guides us through exactly what is involved in the process of
sharpening a knife, both on the macro and micro levels, and how to go
about choosing the sharpening device that is best suited to our own
preferences, then step by step how to USE that information to obtain the
degree of 'sharpness' that we want for a particular project. 
My hat's off you, Steve. This is one fantastic book that has long been
missing from the bookstores, hobby shops, and cutlery centers. And even
the cover itself says it all: Sharpening made EASY! Thanks for doing
such a great job for us all! And in fact, I'm going over to and tell THEM the very same thing!

-- Steve Kramer, Chiang Mai, Thailand

"Sharpening Made Easy" is an effective primer for the novice who's
interested in the rudimentary aspects of honing to a polished razor
edge. It does a good job of keeping things simple and basic, and has
clear illustrations and pictures throughout. Running only 96 pages, it
can easily be absorbed in an hour or two. 
I very much appreciate the idea that Steve B. explodes some outright
myths in this book. I very much like the fact that he doesn't try to
hang the reader up with personal assessments about which direction to
hone except as necessary. I also appreciate the fact that he's not
self-aggrandizing and attempting to sell the public on more sharpening
products in the quite the same way that the oft recommended "Razor
Edge Guide to Sharpening" is attempting. In fact, Steve's book is a
welcome change from that old, tired, error-laden promotional book. 
Nonetheless, "Sharpening Made Easy" basically glosses over freehand
sharpening and gives only perfunctory coverage to alternatives to the
basic razor honed edge. Literally, there is more space devoted to
sharpening vegetable peelers and apple corers than there is to the
whole concept of freehand sharpening. While Steve Bottorff has what
must be one of the most extensive experiences with the variety of
sharpening jigs and gadgets, he alludes to many but really doesn't
delve into the specifics of any of them in this book. I find that
somewhat of a shame. Certainly, I don't know of anyone who's as well
versed in the various commercial sharpening gadgets as Steve, but he
never really goes into the meat and bones of picking between the
current offerings. 
While I found the sections on sharpening a convex edge using a piece
of sandpaper on a rubber backing, and the sections on the various
hardness and cutting abilities of different abrasives to be well
worth the low cost of the book, ($14 w/shipping), I found the overall
book to be much less of a treatise on sharpening than a tease. 
Make no mistake, it's probably the best beginning sharpening book
currently available. I recommend it. But I'd sure like to see Steve or
somebody go into a much longer tome with whole chapters devoted to
such obscure topics as honing with optical flour, fast sharpening for
a very aggressive edge, grit courses for steels of varying qualities
and harnesses, actual uses and problems with various commercial
sharpening solutions, etc. 
Again, I like this book for what it is, and congratulate Steve B. on
putting it out. It's good for what it covers. I just wish he'd flush
out the whole concept with a 300-500 page hardback. Perhaps the market
for that would be small, but I'd be willing to bet that Steve B. could
do an able job of it, if anybody could.

Mike Swaim
(Mike is a frequent contributor to rec.knives)

There is already a large amount of information available both on the web and
in various books on sharpening, both in regards to knives and other sharp
objects. The question could be asked is another book actually necessary. For
example look at Lee's book "The complete guide to Sharpening", is there
anything that this book actually leaves out? Well, first off it is a book on
sharpening in general, and covers a lot of tools that unless you are a wood
worker are going to be of little interest. It is also filled with a huge
amount of reference information which while interesting to some, can cause
someone who is looking for a place to start to get really bogged down. 
Steve Bottorff's book "Sharpening Made Easy" is an excellent choice for the
person who is mainly interested in sharpening knives and is looking for
basic instruction. It clearly explains the principles of sharpening in
terms of what you are trying to do, how to do it, the kinds of problems that
you will encounter and how to solve them. It also discusses the different
types of knives, geometries and such, and how they influence your basic
sharpening method, all the while concentrating on the basic principles of
sharpening. Also given are basic descriptions of the various types of
abrasives and guidelines on selecting sharpening equipment, from basic things
to look for as well as specific recommendations for a few products. 
There are points that I think need clarification, and some minor points that
I disagree with, but overall it is a very solid book that is easy to read
and understand. It also contains as a bonus, some very useful tables on the
grit level of various abrasives, Mohs hardness and such. I did a search for
sharpening questions on Bladeforums for the past few months, and it was very
rare to see a question that is not addressed in this book. Thus it is
obvious that there are a lot of people who would benefit from a copy. I have
passed mine around to friends and it is very well received.

-- Cliff Stamp 
(Cliff is a physicist and takes a thorough, scientific approach to knives.  He used to publish testing and sharpening information on his website.

After nearly 3 years, over 4000 books, and hundreds of positive letters, I got a negative one.  Here is the letter, and my answer:

Sept. 12, 2004

Mr. Bottorff,

Here is the payment for your book; because I promised to send it.  However, I am very disappointed in your book!  After reading all the allocades on your Internet site, was expecting an in-depth book on sharpening.  This booklet does not even qualify as a book, as it is not over 100 pages.

Secondly, the information is very general in scope, and really of little use to me.  Reading your website prior to ordering was of much greater interest.

It would appear to me, your booklet is just a come-on to sell people sharpening lessons.  You don't even go into free-hand sharpening with machines - is it because you don't know how?

If you ever write a real book, and actually explain how to sharpen things, let me know.  In the meantime have fun spending the money I don't feel you earned.

Mark A. Smith

P.S. How many letters like this did you receive that were not on your Internet Site!

NOTE: I am unable to duplicate Mr. Smith's double underlining of very and book in the first paragraph.

September 20, 2004

Dear Mark,

Thank you for your letter and money order.  I am sorry you were disappointed with Sharpening Made Easy.  As I recall, you phoned to ask about the book, and I mailed it to you on the honor system.  You said you liked the material on my website, and book sales is what makes the website possible.

About the book's brevity: my publisher wanted a book that could sell for under $10, and the editor and I made it as lengthy as possible and still meet that goal.  In comparison, the most important book on writing, Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, 3rd. edition, contains only 92 pages.

Sharpening Made Easy is very broad in scope and therefore somewhat general, but it goes into great detail about what constitutes a sharp edge and the steps needed to get there.  Much of the focus is on using guides and other aids, because I consider these to be the "training wheels" that get you started with good results.  The lessons learned there transfer to freehand sharpening.  The section on using paper wheels is about sharpening freehand, and illustrates how to estimate and hold the bevel angle.  The section on sharpening with a guide shows how to use a marker to duplicate an existing bevel angle that can be applied to freehand sharpening.

The sharpening school came about by popular demand two years after the book was published. It is almost impossible to teach freehand sharpening via a book, but we do develop from using guides to freehand in sharpening school.  I do 80% of my sharpening business freehand.

I hope this answers your concerns about what you failed to get from my book.  Perhaps on a second reading you will get more.  If not, please feel free to ask questions by e-mail, letter or phone.

Steve Bottorff

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