Sharpening Resources

I have a few books that really helped me out along the way as I learned to sharpen.  If you want to add a resource, please give a description of the contents (why is, or what makes the book a good sharpening resource?) and relative information (like the author and ISBN #) to make it easier to find on the net or at the store.

I know there are many great  “how to” books and DVD’s that focus on specific tools such as chisel sharpening, or even reed knife sharpening, but I am more interested in creating a list that offers substantial information on the subject of sharpening, not just techniques.

1. The Razor Edge Book of Sharpening– by John Juranitch. ISBN: 096660590X

Easy to read and follow, and is an excellent first sharpening book, IMPO. The book is in 2 parts. Part 1 answers the usual FAQs about knives and describes the basics of sharpening freehand and with a guide. Part 2 is geared toward outdoors men, and describes how to sharpen various tools, including folding knives, axes, plane blades, arrowheads, skinning knives, ice augers, fishhooks, scissors, fixed blades, chainsaws, and adzes. There are lots of B/W pictures and drawings.

2. Complete Guide to Sharpening – by Leonard Lee. ISBN: 1561581259

A must read for serious sharpeners. This book describes sharpening in much greater and more technical detail. The first 5 chapters are a wealth of information about sharpening, including chapters on sharpness, the physics of cutting, metallurgy, abrasives, and sharpening equipment. The rest of book primarily discusses how to sharpen woodworking tools, and there is a chapter on knives. There are also 2 very interesting appendixes, the second being a grit comparison chart. There are tons of high resolution B/W pictures, including microscopic comparisons of a chisel edge sharpened on different grits of sharpening stones, and of some of the stones themselves.

3. The Craft of the Japanese Sword – by Leon and Hiroko Kapp, Yoshindo Yoshihara. ISBN: 087011798X

This book is obviously about making the Japanese Katana, but there is a chapter on polishing (which includes sharpening).The description of the polishing process offers insight to how it is done, showing how the scratch marks are made and how each step progresses (with pictures). If you try to do this process on a regular knife, you will really appreciate how long sharpening can take. There is also some very interesting information about the metallurgy and the laminating processes, along with the different artisans involved in the making of the hardware and accessories for the sword. There are lots of B/W pictures and diagrams.

4. The Art of Japanese Sword Sharpening – by Setsuo Takaiwa, Yoshindo Yoshihara, Leon and Hiroko Kapp. ISBN: 4770024940

The Zen of owning this book alone will make you a better sharpener! This book is the sequel to The Craft of the Japanese Sword, and is a detailed journey of a single sword being polished from beginning to end. There is a lot of information about the anatomy of the sword, methods and materials (both traditional and modern), and the history of, including some profiles of well known sword polishers. Again, trying to apply these methods to your sharpening can take time, but results are worth the effort IMHO. The knowledge of what these polishers do really brings a deeper understanding of sharpening is really about – a delicate balance of function and beauty. There are lots of close up B/W pictures.


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