"If you put a silk hat on a pig, it's still a pig."
I always enjoyed this statement, and was reminded of it when I was working on my hook knife recently. As I have touched upon previously I have become addicted to spoon carving. It is a maddeningly complex skill set that at first glance appears to be stupid simple. I bought the most inexpensive set of knives I could find because I am cheap (or poor). The straight knife I got works like a champ but the hook knife cuts like, for the sake of my anecdote, a pig.
|Original profile with hard, blunt bevels.|
Seeing as I am an obsessively compulsive nut bag I took it upon myself to see if I could make a silk hat, and turn this $17 knife cut like an $80 knife. First I took a file to the blade...this was a bad idea and ruined a perfectly good 8" mill file (I guess these knives are hardened fairly well). So my second attempt took me to the sandstone grinding wheel I have at work. This was really slow, but very effective.
Next was sanding, sanding, and more sanding. I started at 120 grit, and then progressed up through 220, 320, 400, 600, and 1000 (did I mention how compulsive I am?). I used a block of wood on the back of the knife, and then wrapped the sandpaper around a dowel for the inside surface. Finally, I stroped with a little bit of rouge polish and leather mounted on a block of wood to normalize and polish the edge.
|Polishing the blade really makes the maker's mark pop.|
I should have sanded more, if you can believe it, but the edge is fantastic. I might do some work to make the whole surface polished like the really nice hook knives I have seen from makers like Pinewood Forge, Hans Karlsson, and Svante Djarv. It was a lot of work, about a weeks worth of lunch breaks, but it did greatly improve the overall smoothness of cut and sharpness of the knife.
|More polishing on the outside might cause less friction in the cut.|
You can see that I ground into the ferrul by accident while re profiling on the sandstone...my OCD is getting the better of me and I might re-helve this knife with some apple, or beech, oooo or boxwood, or...calm down Jason, you have a problem.
|Rouded profile makes for cleaner cuts|
If you have time, or have already purchased this knife and are unhappy with its performance, I would recommend re-profiling, but if you have money just buy a high end knife. I have tried several of the knife makers I mentioned above thanks to Peter Follansbee, and I can say without a doubt my re-profiled knife is still a pig
Remember, you can't polish a piece of sh...or maybe you can.