What angle do you prefer to sharpen your knife blades to be used for general camp use, wood shaving, meat cutting, etc.?
I use a Lansky sharpening jig, 'cause I suck at freehand blade sharpening. It has settings for 17, 20, 25, and 30 degrees. I don’t like to spend a lot of time sharpening knives. For most of my every-day working knives, I use 25 degrees. It gives a good edge (that I can shave hair with) and holds it well. For blades meant for unusually heavy and coarse work, I’ll go to the 30 degree mark, and on knives for fine work, I’ll go 20 degrees (which tends to need frequent sharpening). I never use the 17, though some might.
17 would be for like a kitchen knife
I know chefs who grind their knives to an asymmetrical 17/20. Keep a bit more edge retention but have that shallower angle on the working side. Of course, kitchen knives are generally made of pretty soft steel.
Somewhere between 20 and 25 degrees is good for general use, depending on the steel.
That makes a lot of sense. I’ll have to give that a try.
As flat as I can
On my pocket knives, I lay the blade flat on the stone, and sharpen to an edge. It takes a long time to get it done the first time, but after that it doesn’t. The edge on most production knives is too thick to be useful after a few sharpenings. On the ones I have bought, I regrind them to a more user-friendly edge. I prefer 17 or less.
is that a “flat grind” blade?
i hear that term and it looks like flat grind built blades have surface similar to what you’re talking about.
A flat-grind blade means…
…that the sides of the blade are flat, not hollow ground. Most such blades have secondary bevels that form the cutting edge.
While I agree that not having secondary bevels makes the blade SIMPLER to sharpen (you just slap it flat on the stone), there are a lot of disadvantages to it. It results in a very thin edge that’s sharp, but not durable. Additionally, by taking off enough steel to eliminate the secondary bevel, you’re making the blade thinner and weaker. If the edge becomes nicked, you have to take off a lot of steel to get back to a good edge, which takes a lot or time and effort and further weakens the blade. All in all, it seems like a great way to ruin a knife. There are reasons that virtually all knives come with secondary bevels.
I’ve got quite a few knives and a lot of edged woodworking tools. All of them have secondary bevels, two on the knives and some of the tools (one on each side of the blade), with some tools - chisels mostly - having only one secondary bevel. All of them are razor sharp and will easily shave hair off your arm, yet the bevel angles at the edge vary from ~10 degrees to ~35 degrees. The quality of the sharpening job is what makes them sharp, more so than the specific bevel angle.
Sure, if you’re doing surgery, you need a blade with a very fine bevel angle to get the ultimate edge, but durability is not a requirement for a scalpel. OTOH, for field use, you have to strike a balance between sharpness and durability, based on the purpose of the knife/tool. If you’re field dressing animals, an extremely fine edge is useful. If you’re chopping firewood, such an edge won’t last and you need the stronger edge provided by a less acute bevel angle. For most knives, something in between is the best compromise.
I use a hatchet for chopping
my knives are for cutting, and I sharpen them as such. If they will be abused, then they do need a heavier bevel.
20 degrees per side is standard for the uses you are describing. Most of the commercially-available sharpening systems will have that as one of the settings.