Sharpening the Farson Blade
February 24, 2014
We get a lot of unique blades in the Lansky office. Anytime we get any new blade in, one of the first things that we do is figure out the most effective way to sharpen it. One of the most remarkable blades to come into the office lately has to be the Fremont Knives Farson Blade. The Farson Blade represents a modern, high quality design applied to one of man’s original, basic cutting tools, the hand axe.
“The Farson Blade is an idea that comes from an ancient tool we found in the Great Red Desert near Farson Wyoming…The people who lived in this remote area developed crude tools that would cut, chop, slice and skin for the daily needs. We approached this with high quality stainless steel and modern manufacturing methods to come up with a versatile tool that can be used in extreme environments.”- http://www.fremontknives.com/farsonblade.php
When Freemont Knives first placed a Farson in my hands, I knew it would be a challenge to sharpen (that’s a lot of edge) but with a little elbow grease and skill, it should be no problem getting this Farson shaving sharp!
The first step was to dull up and damage the blade to the point where it was completely ineffective. We wanted chips and damage in the edge to really show the process on a completely dull blade. Because of the unique shape of the Farson Blade we have to reframe our typical technique and figure out what sharpening tools are going to be the most effective on the Farson.
We worked hard to dull the Farson. Batoned wood, made wood shavings and even wacked it against the concrete floor for good measure.
Even though the Farson has one continual edge, I like to think of it as having three different overlapping edges, two straight edges connected by the third “big belly” edge. By separating the edge into three sections we can now tackle each section separately with some hand sharpeners. Because of the unique process needed to sharpen the Farson Edge, I’m switching my sharpening process. Rather than the more European/American tradition of bringing the edge to the stone (abrasive), I’m going to use the technique where I bring the stone (abrasive) to the edge. I generally call this method “Japanese style” as I was first introduced to this technique in regards to sharpening Japanese cooking knives and swords.
There are a couple of sharpening products that will work great for sharpening the Farson Blade. The Lansky Diamond Folding Paddles will be ideal for handling the unique sharpening process for the Farson, as well as one of my personal favorite sharpeners, the Lawn and Garden Sharpener. For today we'll be focusing on using the paddles.
Just a few Lansky Diamond Folding Paddles
To start the process, I’m going to focus on one side of the bevel for the whole length of the edge. Using one abrasive grit at a time I will focus on the three imaginary edges individually, slightly overlapping my sharpening as I move from each section to the next. Once I complete the whole bevel on one side of the blade with my coarsest stone (making sure a burr has formed on the whole edge) I’ll switch to the other side and continue the process.
How to hold the Farson is another challenge when sharpening it. Using a table and a clamp isn’t always an option in the field, so we’re focusing on hand sharpening. I found a couple different positions that I like to hold the blade, but remember safety is first and this tool has a lot of edge, so be careful.
There's more edge than not. So be careful!
I start by sharpening the long straight edge on the Farson (#1). I hold the Farson in the firm, static position shown and bring the Coarse Side of our Double Sided Folding Diamond Paddle to the bevel, being careful to line up the sharpener to the angle of the bevel. Diamond abrasive is pretty aggressive and makes the ideal medium to remove the damage from the edge quickly.
Might look a bit awkward but I assure you I have a comfortable and firm grip
After I remove the damage from the large “main edge” I move on to the large belly portion of the edge. This will be a little challenging because of how aggressive the curve in the belly is. This means I’ll have to adjust my sharpening angle around the belly to accommodate the curvature. It’s important to be careful and line up your sharpening implement with the bevel angle (it will be a little steeper of an angle than the straight edge).
The belly was a bit of a challenge when holding the Farson. I had to make sure not to hit my thumb with the paddle
After the belly section is complete, I moved on to the small straight edge section near the top of the tool. This section went extra quick for me because of the sharpening rhythm I got into. It is also a fairly small section and easy to sharpen.
Removing the damage from the top portion of the edge
Once a whole side of the blades edge has been reconditioned and a burr has formed on the opposite side, simply continue the sharpening process. Switch to the other side of the blade (with your corresponding abrasive) and work the whole edge until a burr forms on the opposite side.
Here's a comparison between a reprofiled Farson bevel (Left) and the damaged one I haven't touched (Right)
Now you can move onto a finer grit abrasive and repeat on both sides, making sure to form a burr while sharpening on each side. Once you’ve moved through your coarse, medium and fine abrasive grits, I suggest using an ultra fine or polishing grit at a more obtuse angle with super light pressure, to put a strong compound bevel on the edge, to lend it more strength. Your finished Farson Blade should have no problem cutting paper, making wood curls, processing food or even shaving a bit of hair. Stay Sharp!
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