How to Create and Detect a Burr

How to Create and Detect a Burr

The most important step for creating a Wicked Edge is to create and detect a burr. A burr (also called a wire edge) is a little ridge of metal that is pushed over the apex of the edge. The burr is your assurance that you've reached all the way to the apex of your bevel and will be able to create a truly sharp knife. The burr will always be formed on the opposite side of where you sharpened, so if you sharpened on the right side of the knife, you'll feel for a burr on the left side.

Cross-Section of a Sharp Knife (with a burr)                   Cross-Section of a Dull Knife
You will first need to find your angle and sweet spot. Once you've done that, you will color your bevel back in with marker and do alternating strokes down the length of your blade until all of the marker is removed. This will show when your bevels are evened out and you have a good foundation to rebuild your edge. 

Using a coarser grit, do 10 strokes on only one side of the blade and feel for a burr down the length of the blade on the opposite side. You have a couple of options for feeling for a burr. The first option is with your fingernail. Simply run your nail up the body of the opposite side of the blade towards the edge. When you get to the edge and are just about to come off the blade, you should feel a your fingernail catch on something rough. That's the burr. You can also use a cotton swab and see if you feel the fibers catch. Whether you feel it or not, switch to the other side and do another 10 strokes down that side of the blade. Feel for a burr on the original side you sharpened. Continue this process until a burr is formed down the entire length of the blade. It's possible that you won't feel a burr until you bounce from side to side a few times. It's also possible that you only feel a burr in certain areas along the length of the blade. This is just part of the process and you don't want to rush it. Take your time and ensure you're confident you've created a burr the entire way. If one specific spot is giving you a hard time, you can just focus in that area and do a little scrubbing motion to speed up the process. It's imperative during this process that you don't just focus on one side only until you've created a burr. Doing this will result in uneven bevels that will look bad and reduce the blades cutting performance. 

Here are some tricks and things to remember:
  1. Unless you’re doing a heavy reprofiling or repair, we suggest you start with your 600 Grit Diamond Stone to draw your burr on a knife you’re sharpening for the first time. You can always drop to a lower grit if needed.
  2. If you’re retouching a knife previously sharpened on a Wicked Edge, start with the abrasive you finished with last time. If you’re unhappy with the sharpness after that or if there’s heavier damage, drop to a grit lower and redraw the burr.
  3. When forming your burr, we recommend doing 10 passes per side and then checking for the burr. If you don’t find one, switch to the other side and do 10 more passes. Continue this until you draw a burr. This will ensure that you’re not removing an excess of metal on either side. If after several passes you’re still not feeling a burr, consider dropping to a coarser grit.
  4. The burr will always form on the opposite side of where you just sharpened. I.e. if you’re sharpening the left side of your knife, check for the burr on the right side.
  5. You will notice that once you draw a burr on the first side, it will be easier and quicker to draw it on the second side. 

You can check out this video below that walks you through this process and provides a little more information on how to create your burr. Even if you have a different sharpener than what is used in the video, the process is exactly the same across all Wicked Edge sharpeners.

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