My name is Stephen Sinclair. I’m a mechanical/structural engineer by trade and began sharpening knives, axes, cut throats, skinning and butchering knives from a very early age.
My grandfather was a lumberjack and had a bullock team that I spent all my school holidays on and around. As well as being a lumberjack my grandfather went into all the wood chopping events like the Royal Easter Show, his axes had to be perfect.
He was also the saw doctor at the Dorrigo saw mill for many years after he retired from chopping trees. When we were in the bush together for weeks on end his hunting knives, axes and cut throats had to be perfect as well and when he realised that I had a flair and keen interest in blades and sharpening he decided to take me under his arm and teach me the trade properly.
More than anything I love putting a very keen edge on anything that needed to have one. I quickly learnt the types of steel and how well they needed to be heat treated for the blade to accept a keen edge. And, he taught me all about the quality of sharpening stones and equipment.
He taught me to use all sharpening tools that were available at the time and as the years progressed he taught me to use anything new that came out onto the market no matter how good or bad it was to use and how they damaged blades.
I still buy anything new that comes onto the market so that I can either demonstrate it or explain the good and bad points about it to my customers.
My preferred tools to sharpen blades are naturally quarried stones from Japan, Japanese man-made water stones and diamond tools.
Tools and how/why they are used:
I use a combination of sharpening tools and what determines what I use is dependent on what type of material the blade is made from, how it has been heat treated, if it has been cryogenically treated or not, the hardness of the blade, the shape of the blade, serrations or not, mirror polished blade or not, what the blade is going to be used for and is the user left or right handed?
Natural quarried Japanese stones – many various grits
Japanese man-made water stones – many various grits
Diamond tools including paddles, bench stones, specifically shaped hand files, diamond bits to fit hand machines like a Dremmel – many various grits
Oil stones – many various grits
Waterwheels utilising Japanese Waterstones – many various grits
Handmade water cooled linisher and hand sharpening guides – many various belt grits