stones, strops, and a microscope (pic heavy)

Discussion in 'Edged Tools' started by Jacob, May 12, 2018.

  1. Jacob

    Jacob Supporter Supporter

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    the title says it all so ill keep my trap shut (mostly) and let ya'll make what you will of it.

    the test blade is A2 @ RC60 and cryo treated. edge leading strokes only except for the loaded strops. the pictures are in the same order that they were used.

    the setup
    setup.jpg

    DMT diamond extra coarse, broken in
    dmt-xc.jpg

    DMT diamond coarse, broken in
    dmt-c.jpg


    DMT diamond fine, well broken in
    dmt-f.jpg

    DMT diamond extra fine, not broken in. hair for reference
    dmt-xf.jpg


    Falkniven diamond, lightly broken in
    falk-d.jpg


    Falkniven black ceramic (medium grit)
    falk-c-m.jpg


    Falkniven ceramic, white (fine grit)
    falk-c-f.jpg


    Spyderco ceramic, medium (brown). I tried pretty hard to get the same lighting on the spyderco ceramics but they both turned out dull. I suspect its because the scratch pattern is so dense and consistent that there just arent a lot of deep or jagged channels to reflect light. Thats the theory anyway, the strops and finest grit water stone also shared this characteristic.
    spy-c-m.jpg


    Spyderco ceramic, fine (white)
    spy-c-f.jpg
     
  2. Jacob

    Jacob Supporter Supporter

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    king water stone 1000 grit
    king-1000.jpg


    king water stone 6000 grit
    king-6000.jpg


    leather strop, green compound, the scratches going from bottom-left to top-right are from the strop, top-left to bottom-right are from the king 6000
    strop-green.jpg


    leather strop grey compound, seems to have a similar scratch pattern as the king 6000. its also much more aggressive than the green compound.
    strop-grey.jpg


    bottom of a coffee cup followed by light stropping on the glassy side of the cup
    coffee cup.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2018
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  3. SmilinJoe

    SmilinJoe Supporter Supporter

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    Very interesting and cool.
     
  4. Pastor Chris

    Pastor Chris Keeper of the T.Darrah Tenkara Pass-Around Hobbyist Supporter Bushcraft Friend Hardwoodsman Bushclass II

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    Interesting and it looks like you were having fun!
     
  5. City Bushcrafter

    City Bushcrafter Hooah! Supporter

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    Interesting and great images! I haven't played with a microscope since my Microbiology college class way too long ago!
     
  6. Jacob

    Jacob Supporter Supporter

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    sorry, I forgot these two. they were supposed to go in after the spyderco and before the king.


    baryonix medium water stone (arctic fox)
    bary-m.jpg


    baryonix fine water stone (arctic fox)
    bary-f.jpg
     
  7. MommaJ

    MommaJ Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    Very cool
     
  8. Tangotag

    Tangotag Field Gear Junkie Supporter Bushclass I

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    Just Great, now I need a microscope.:16:
     
  9. NevadaBlue

    NevadaBlue Graybeard Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Nice, but...

    Tell us what YOU think please.
     
  10. MadMarcus

    MadMarcus Tracker

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    Great pictures! Some real food for thought there. I had to laugh when I saw coffee cup, for all the sharpening stuff I have a coffee mug is my go to when a kitchen knife isn't slicing tomatoes well or something.
     
  11. Jacob

    Jacob Supporter Supporter

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    Yikes! ill try not to ramble endlessly and hopefully you won't be sorry you asked. the truth is that I'm not picky about what knife or sharpening system I use so keep in mind that this fascination goes well beyond anything that could be considered practical.

    there are a few things that caught me off guard. the first is just how important breaking in diamond stones is. the extra fine DMT has a much less consistent scratch pattern than the fine DMT because I've only used the XF a few times. the fine has been used to profile and sharpen hundreds of blades over the years. I've been in the habit of going from fine DMT to medium spyderco because I didn't like the feel of the XF stone. if it breaks in as well as the fine it'll be a fantastic stone. I don't think any of the other stones require a break in period.

    the second thing that jumped out to me is that the waterstones seem easier (for me at least) to keep a flat bevel on. Ive run across some water stone guru videos and they always use the term "tactile feedback" or something along those lines. I had assumed that sharpening had becomes a bit of a ritual for those folks but it turns out its actually easier to feel whats going on when using them. Even the tiny baryonx stone shows a flatter bevel than the spyderco ceramics or falkniven ceramics as well as the diamonds. I don't know that its a practical consideration because its easy to shoot for a slightly keener angle in anticipation of a bit of convexing but there it is...

    finally, I do believe I've been overly concerned with the bur. its been a habit for years to finish on the stones with ONE very light pass at a steeper angle to remove it. there are a million recommended tricks and hacks to dealing with the burr but from what I can see, going with light pressure along with swapping from side to side for every pass on the stone before progressing to the next finer stone seems to keep the burr formation minimal. that technique is pretty conventional and even at the coarser grits the burr is small enough that I can't see it with a 400 power microscope (the photos were taken at 100 power). I don't doubt a burr exists but even at a medium grit finish a loaded strop has the abrasive qualities to remove whatever may be there.

    Finally (for real this time) there doesn't seem to be a best stone or progression of stones, at least not for A2 or other fairly low alloy steels. the water stones seem to cut fast for their grit. they're versatile too because you can vary the quality of the finish a bit by using them clean or muddy. for polishing wide bevels they're great but they're messy and have to be flattened. the diamonds also cut fast but require some breaking in, they're low maintenance, long lasting and they'll work well with any steel you use them with. the hard ceramics are more of a mixed bag. none of them cut fast. Ive got half a dozen different ceramics in the fine to very fine range and the spydercos absolutely dominate that category.

    maybe @A Seedy Lot, @Coryphene or @John Harper will chime in. they've probably gone further down this rabbit hole than me and are partially responsible for this mess.
     
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  12. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Very interesting... and awesome photos!!!
     
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  13. John Harper

    John Harper Scout

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    Hi Folks,

    Well, I am glad that someone out there is using a microscope, and an optical one at that!

    Jacob: What magnification are we looking at?

    Cheers
    John
     
  14. central joe

    central joe Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Thank you for an interesting post young fellar. You have confirmed and proved some of my thoughts. joe
     
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  15. j_d

    j_d Scout

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    This is a very cool post that I'm sure took some time. Any chance you might have access to any paper sharpening/buffing wheels. I'd love to see how they compare.
     
  16. Richinva

    Richinva Lover of Sharpened Bits of Steel... Supporter

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    A2 can be some tough stuff, depending on Rc. I've ruined two DMT stones with it and now only use Atoma and the only A2 I have is plane blades............

    Nicely done, sir. Very consistent with the pics. Especially liked the Spyderco white, and to me, it looks like more scratches AFTER the strop then after the King 6000, but maybe that's just the CrO2 that didn't get cleaned up.

    I will say I think you can forego the coffee cup, edge looks better to me without it.
     
  17. Jacob

    Jacob Supporter Supporter

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    Fraid not, I’ve got some mystery lapping film and sandpaper but that’ll have to wait.

    Yeah the grey compound especially wasn’t much if any improvement. If I ever wear out my DMTs I’ll probably replace them with Atomas, they seem to get a lot of love. Are yours holding up better?

    Well, there goes my plan to sell tactical multipurpose coffee dispensing devices.
     
  18. woodsmanjohn

    woodsmanjohn Supporter Supporter Bushclass II

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    Awesome post Jacob those were some interesting pics for sure. Thanks for sharing the images, good stuff.
     
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  19. A Seedy Lot

    A Seedy Lot Scout

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    Great photos and thanks for the post. I have used the same microscope to observe and learn about sharpening myself. I can honesty say that once I started looking at the edge of the knife with a microscope when sharpening I started to get much keener better cutting blades.

    I feel the same way about the bur. I would rather not form a large bur that I then have to remove so once I have troubled spots worked out i switch sides of the knife I am sharpening with each stroke.

    My grandpa years ago told me his trick for sharpening knives was to use a few edge trailing strokes on a stone towards the end of the sharpening process. Not sure if the edge trailing strokes make that big of a difference but I still use a few per side, with light pressure on my finishing stone, if anything it is a way to pay homage to my grandpa. After these edge trailing strokes a do a few more light pressure edge leading strokes and then I strop.
     
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  20. Lichen

    Lichen Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I see that I'm not the only geek here with a microscope. What camera did you use?
     
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  21. Richinva

    Richinva Lover of Sharpened Bits of Steel... Supporter

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    @Jacob

    Yes, the Atomas that I have are holding up much better than the DMT's did.
     
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  22. Wasp

    Wasp We are GO for Sting! Supporter

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    Very cool. Thanks for taking the time and effort to do that.

    I saw a guy use a strop with green compound and take shots under a microscope. Its very enlightening, especially to watch the progression from one or two strokes to ten or fifteen strokes.
     
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  23. John Harper

    John Harper Scout

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    Aha..... It was time that we all came out of the closet! :D

    Cheers
    John
     
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  24. John Harper

    John Harper Scout

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    Jacob,

    100 power. I tried for 400 but couldn’t get the lighting consistent enough.


    For routine sharpening and as s a generalization, , according to Dr Verhoeven, Dr Todd, and my own laboratory work experience, there is little to be gained by going above 50x, because the length of edge observed is reduced so as to become unrepresentative. As well the depth of focus becomes less as the magnification increases and hand shaking is amplified.

    This is not to say that there's no benefit in examining some aspects of an edge at higher mags, indeed electron microscope studies at magnifications of several thousand are the key to advanced edge studies, but the bulk of the work must be done in the 10-50x range.

    For this kind of work a low power stereo microscope is better, and the edge observed must be hand held and moved around this and that way so that the changing reflected light reveals features that otherwise would remain invisible.

    Dr Todd has a a very good article and thread on his website, from which I quote:

    "Overall, I find the stereo-zoom microscope to be the most useful for evaluating sharpening progress, usually at the lowest zoom setting. The ability to tilt the blade under the objective to see how the light plays off the surface can tell you most of what you need to know.:

    For more, see: https://scienceofsharp.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/optical-vs-electron-microscope/

    Spyderco ceramic, medium (brown). I tried pretty hard to get the same lighting on the spyderco ceramics but they both turned out dull. I suspect its because the scratch pattern is so dense and consistent that there just arent a lot of deep or jagged channels to reflect light.

    The ceramics that you refer to, are they rods from the Sharpmaler of bench-stones?

    Unless used with great care fused ceramic stones tend to load very quickly, meaning that the gaps between the surface irregularities that do the abrading fill up with
    metal and these regions friction weld themselves to the blade causing what is known as "galling" leading to deep gauges on the edge bevels. This effect is very similar to that caused by metal files that are not cleaned with a file card.

    I hasten to add that galling is more pronounced when using the corners of Sharpmaker rods and much less on their flats and bench-stones because of the reduced pressure (force divided by area of contact)

    Many years ago there was this thread on Bladeforums in which Yuzuha commented on this effect. Unfortunately the photos that she gave in that thread are no longer accessible but her comments are worth reading: https://www.bladeforums.com/threads/ceramic-or-water-stone.480260/

    Electro plated diamond stones also have problems with uneven scratch patterns, but in my experience this is not a disincentive to use them with knives, though water stones give better edges. For more see Dr Todds website: https://scienceofsharp.wordpress.com/

    Cheers
    John
     
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  25. John Harper

    John Harper Scout

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    What you say is right on the mark and cannot be overemphasized! Observing a sharpened edge with a microscope is the only way to get reliable feedback as to what one has achieved,

    A very common fault of freshly sharpened edges is the presence of a micro-burr, visible only under a microscope. These MBs are very sharp but fold under pressure, leading to rapid dulling which many folks mistake for poor edge retention quality of the steel.

    An excellent practice! Forming large burrs creates many problems.


    When finishing an edge on very fine abrasives ET strokes are the way to go. This because edge leading strokes tend to fold the burr over and this metal then becomes part of the new edge. This effect is most often encountered with very hard finishing stones like ceramics and some naturals like Arkansas and Thuringians, and really becomes pronounced with sharpening steels.

    Cheers
    John
     
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  26. apbtlvr

    apbtlvr Supporter Supporter

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    Great representation of stones. I love the Spydercos, especially the ultra fine. The sticks are great used freehand.
     
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  27. John Harper

    John Harper Scout

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    I have several Spyderco bench-stones and rods, and use them regularly. They certainly have their place in a sharpening kit, but as with all abrasives, we must understand their advantages and limitations.

    Cheers
    John
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
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  28. apbtlvr

    apbtlvr Supporter Supporter

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    Agreed
    Beyond the Sharpmaker, I have not used a guided system much. Still, a number of your stones I have as well. Have you tried any Venev stones? They are excellent too.
     
  29. John Harper

    John Harper Scout

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    No, but would like to.

    Cheers
    John
     
  30. arleigh

    arleigh Guide

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    Try stropping on different grades of paper. the backs of some wet dry sand paper are harder than standard writing tablet .
     
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  31. John Harper

    John Harper Scout

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    Good suggestion.

    Murray Carter, the renowned Japanese style knife maker and sharpener likes to strop on paper, so it has lots going for it.

    I like to strop on paper or good cardboard to get rid of a heavy burr because afterwards I just throw the strop away, without having to bother with cleaning the fallen off metal debris.

    Cheers
    John
     
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  32. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    When I was still making knives I was one of the microscope geek crew. :dblthumb: Haven't used it in quite some time now but it's a lot of fun and a great learning experience. I fear lots of folks that believe they keep their knives really sharp would be totally shocked to see what their edges actually looked like under a scope. :eek:
     
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  33. John Harper

    John Harper Scout

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    HEAR, HEAR!!!!!!!!!!:dblthumb:

    Cheers
    John
     
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  34. Jacob

    Jacob Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks for posting the links John. That science of sharp website is a treasure for knife nuts. I’ve run across the recommendation for edge trailing stokes but have never heard a reason for doing so before now. I’ll give it a try. The spyderco ceramics I used was a little 1”x5” doublestuff benchstone. They do load up really fast but clean up easy with some toothpaste.
     
  35. Jacob

    Jacob Supporter Supporter

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    I just used my phone camera and your definitely not the only geek around.
     
  36. victoratsea

    victoratsea Supporter Supporter

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    I've never used a microscope because I don't own one. However, I find a simple jeweler's loupe very helpful to get a look at my edges while sharpening. Great post @Jacob!
    Victor
    P5140164.JPG P5140167.JPG
     
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  37. mtnoutdoors

    mtnoutdoors Prov 27:17 Supporter

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    Sweet thanks for sharing. I been looking at a good set of water stones. What is the stone that uses the little stone that makes the slim called that is a very high grit.
    Prov 27 : 17
     
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  38. John Harper

    John Harper Scout

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    Have you read this paper by Prof Verhoeven on knife sharpening? In it he explains this phenomena in some detail: http://www.relentlessknives.com/newsletter_files/KnifeShExps.pdf



    When fused ceramic stones first appeared they seemed like the answer to the maiden's prayer, though soon their not inconsiderable problems revealed themselves. Their worst traits are, as you said, loading, then lack of flatness from the factory and rapid dulling when used on high carbide content steels. Each of these can be worked around, though flattening a new ceramic bench-stone on diamond plates is not something I like to do often (an understatement!). As an aside, even the Spyderco UF bench-stone is not as flat as it ought to be,

    With all this said, they can still be put to excellent use; The Sharpmaker and round ceramic rods are superior to conventional sharpening steels and make for excellent kitchen knife maintenance, and the Spyderco UF bench stone, after flattening and lapping makes a superb finishing stone for hyper keen edges; I have two that give an abrasion pattern estimated at 20-000-30,000 grit, though I hasten to add that it took me a lot of work to lap them flat in the first placeand then adjusting their abrasion grade.

    As well, they make excellent pocket stones for field finishing touch-ups. So all in all, as with all sharpening abrasives, it comes down to knowing what to sue them on, and when & where.

    Cheers
    John
     
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  39. John Harper

    John Harper Scout

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    Good man made water stones give superb finishes, but they have to be matched to the steel being sharpened because their characteristics vary widely. And this can be a very expensive trial and error process, One way around this issue is to do the coarse sharpening on diamond plates and finish on water stones. For my woodworking tools I finish on a Shapton #16,000 glass stone.

    Before buying, look around the forums as to which brands and grades are preferred for specific applications.

    And if you wish to court bankruptcy, start buying Japanese natural water stones, sometimes known as J-Nats. A good single stone will set you back hudreds of doillars!

    Not sure if I understand you correctly, but I think that you may be referring to the "nagura" stones. See http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/store/blog/91

    Cheers
    John
     
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  40. John Harper

    John Harper Scout

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    Loupes are a heck of a lot better than nothing, but will not provide enough information to take one's sharpening up to the next level.

    Cheers
    John
     
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  41. Jacob

    Jacob Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks for the link John, I skimmed through it but I’ll look it over in detail hopefully tonight. I’d like to try for an edge that makes shaving sharp look dull but the options and opinions seem to be endless. I’m leaning toward a few grits of diamond spray or paste to follow up the spyderco fine but am open to suggestions. Between cliffstamps stuff, Murray carter, and bladeforums my thoughts are a little cluttered at the moment.

    If you have any advice I’d love to hear it. I realize that’s a pretty broad question so no offense taken if you don’t want to open that can of worms.

    Thanks again, jake
     
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  42. A Seedy Lot

    A Seedy Lot Scout

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    I am really curious about lapped Spyderco stones. I noticed my fine Spyderco stone was dished so i flattened it with a partially worn out 600 DMT, I say partially because while it was not cutting fast enough for me I gave it to a friend and he has kept a 3V knife sharp for years now with that single stone. I was only concerned about flattening the Spyderco so never gave any thought to what finish I was creating on the stone.

    I would love to hear what @John Harper, or any one else, has to say about lapping Spyderco stones.
     
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  43. John Harper

    John Harper Scout

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    Can of worms is OK if you go fishing! <lol>

    All right, this is how I do it, not saying it is the best or only way, just how I do it. There are many ways to sharpen, and it all depends on one’s needs, resources and circumstances. My method evolved because of my preference for thinly ground high hardness super steels

    Before I give the procedure, I must mention that the many of the steels and bevel angles used in field knives precludes the most extreme levels of sharpness, attainable only with razors, usually defined as the hanging hair test.

    With field knives it is usually very difficult and IMHO pointless, going beyond the ability to split head hair. In my experience, arm hair popping sharpness is adequate for all practical applications. Even this level of sharpness is only desirable as proof that the sharpening has been carried out properly, but only after a microscopic examination ha ascertained that it is not due to a micro-burr.

    For setting the bevels I use an EdgePro guided system and depending on the intended application of the knife, set the bevels somewhere between 8D/S and 15D/S, the later for choppers. I work my way through a succession of stones, starting with diamonds and finishing with water stones.

    After each stone change I lightly cut into a high grit stone, say #600, to remove the burr. To err on the safe side, I commence with each stone using edge trailing strokes and then revert to alternating EL-ET strokes. The ET will push down any burr that I may have missed instead of damaging the bevel.

    After the finest grit, usually a Boral abrasives #1200 water stone, I polish the bevels with #3,000P wet and dry paper, followed by a leather strop charged with chromium oxide based compound; This results in a mirror polish that not only looks good, but also helps with the microscopic examination of the edge, and facilitates cutting by reducing friction.

    The rather acute bevel is then capped with a 20D/S micro bevel that measures approximately 0.5mm in width. With repeated sharpenings the width of the MB will gradually increase, and once it reaches 1m or thereabouts, I re set the bevels anew.

    For the MB I use a jig of my own making (photo attached). This jig can be easily adjusted for angle and will take a variety of stones.

    For utility knives I start the MB at 15D/S on a DMT EF stone, then follow on a DMT EEF. Now I increase the angle to 20D/S and change the stone to either a Shapton #16,000 or a specially lapped Spyderco UF that equates with #20,000-30,000. Then on the same jig I strop on balsa wood impregnated with 1u diamond powder. This will result in a hair popping and durable edge.

    If the steel is very abrasion resistant, containing lots of vanadium and similar carbides, then the Shapton and the ceramic plate do not work all that well and I obtain the desired results using balsa impregnated with diamond powder in the following steps: 6u, 1u and 0.25u.

    Using the above procedure, touching up a lightly dulled edge seldom takes me more than five minutes.

    For the ultimate in sharpening, that of razors, I refer you to Dr Tod’s website. https://scienceofsharp.wordpress.com/

    Hope that this helps.

    Cheers
    John

    PS

    1. I do not always do my MBs with such care, often stopping at the DMT EF. It all depends on the usage I have in mind, say when cutting up cardboard boxes or carpet. In the kitchen I use the Sharpmaker, though my Yanagiba gets the full treatment.

    2. For choppers, depending on the steel, I cap the 15/S bevels with a 22.5-25D/S MB stopping on the DMT EEF, or the Sharpmaker UF rods.

    3. In the field I touch up the MBs free-hand with pocket diamond stones.
     

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    Last edited: May 15, 2018
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  44. John Harper

    John Harper Scout

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    a) You will need two Spyderco UF stones. You probably will be able to work around this with only one, but I use two because with my jig I use two plates at a time.

    1. Obtain a thick sheet of float glass, say 10mm

    2. Spread some silicon carbide powder with water, say #120,. It will soon break down as it is highly friable.

    3. Mark the Spyderco UF plate with pencil marks and start lapping.

    4. Once all the pencil marks have been abraded off, repeat with a pencil and start anew. Once the plate is perfectly flat repeat on a DMT#8,000. You could instead use very fine SiC powder with water, using the 2nd Spyderco (similarly lapped) ceramic plate to lap with

    5. Spread 1u diamond powder/paste onto the freshly lapped surface and with the 2nd Spyderco start lapping anew. Repeat with 0.25u and 0.1u diamond. This is a rather tricky and frustrating procedure because the two stones will tend to stick together.

    6. From time to time, the ceramic plates will have to be "refreshed" with 0.1u diamond.

    7. Finishing with 0.1u diamond will give an extremely fine mirror finish, and one may wish to stop at 0.25u for a slightly coarser abrasion effect

    Cheers
    John
    PS I once lapped a Spyderco ceramic plate using DMT diamond plates but it took a very long time. This was because the DMT plates are rather small for this kind of work.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
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  45. Jacob

    Jacob Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks again John, the details do help a lot. I appreciate you taking the time to share your method. @A Seedy Lot’s question about lapping/fine tuning the spyderco ceramic is also of particular interest. I’ll leave you in peace for the time being and hopefully update this thread in a few weeks time with a wildy feathersticked hair.

    To the nerdcave!
     
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  46. John Harper

    John Harper Scout

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    Thanks for the appreciative comments. Shoot me a PM if you have any specific questions.

    I just would like to add that the white Spydercos, both the fine and ultra file, according to Sal Glesser, have the same composition, the difference being that that UF is ground to a finer finish.

    It follows that their abrasion characteristic can be altered and or further refined, something that is done by razor enthusiast, just as I do, though their methods may vary in detail.

    It also follows that these stones need to have their surfaces refreshed from time to time, that is dressed with diamonds, because unlike conventional particulate abrasive stones, they rely on microscopic file like teeth to cut away the metal and these dull with time. Once they are dull, they tend to burnish rather than abrade, much like a smooth sharpening steel does. And this dulling tends to be quick with abrasion resistant super steels like 4V etc.

    Cheers
    John
     
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