This is a great FAQ about knife-sharpening. When I first started sharpening knives, I thought I was doing it wrong for a long time, because the edge would form a small rough burr. Turned out I was on exactly the right track:
You grind one edge along the stone edge-first until a burr (aka “wire”) is formed on the other side of the edge. You can feel the burr with your thumb, on the side of the edge opposite the stone. The presence of the burr means that the steel is thin enough at the top that it is folding over slightly, because the bevel you’ve just ground has reached the edge tip. If you stop before the burr is formed, then you have not ground all the way to the edge tip, and your knife will not be as sharp as it should be. The forming of the burr is critically important — it is the only way to know for sure that you have sharpened far enough on that side. Once the burr is formed on one side, turn the knife over and repeat the process.
If you don’t want to buy a book about sharpening knives, this is one of the best things you could read on the subject.
Published on September 4th, 2013