Sun Aug 05, 2012 10:41 pm
Well this is literally the kitchen sink of topics, so I'll split it up. When you have a 1/6 combo, you tend to do 2 things - put excessive wear on the 6k stone having it do the job of a 2 or 3k stone plus the 6k stone work. For softer steel knives this is OK but as your steels get harder smaller steps are better so a middle grit stone is a good addition.
1k stones tend to wear quicker than 6k stones so eventually you wear it out before the 6k and then you 'graduate' to just getting a single grit 1k.
Stropping - what is it? Well it is a poorly defined term. Some use it to describe the stroke - an edge trailing stroke. Thus one could strop on a polishing stone or even conceivably on a coarse stone. It is usually meant to be edge trailing strokes on a fine stone.
It is also used to mean edge trailing strokes on leather. Some even narrowly define it as only leather, excluding paper etc etc.
To avoid confusion, simply say edge leading or trailing when referring to strokes and use the more neutral term 'abrading' or 'abrasion'. Thus you could be stropping with a 15 micron CBN grit on a piece of leather. It is coarser (1000 grit) than what most people call stropping. The dividing line between stropping and sharpening or honing is ill defined and misleading.
So a half micron or 30k waterstone can allow you to do both edge leading and trailing strokes yet is finer than many compounds.
I see people sharpening on a 1k stone and then 'stropping' with CRO at 0.5 microns afterwards. Will this improve the edge? Yes but nowhere like what a more sensible progression will yield.
It is best to simply go by grit ratings as a first approximation to understanding things.
Thus after finishing on a 6k stone, going to a 1.5 micron CBN 'strop' gives a much more reasonable edge or a stone in the 12k range. For a softer steel even a 0.75 micron or 24,000 grit edge is a good jump. I rarely find customer's knives that don't improve from stropping with 0.75 CBN. Putting it on Balsa works just fine. It is a great touchup and especially for a line cook role will keep you probably as sharp as you will need, restoring an edge more quickly and fully than finer compounds. A piece of balsa leather or even paper with .75 CBN kept in a ziploc will suit your needs for 'stropping' very well.
A ceramic steel is usually in the range of 1200 grit or rarely as high as 3k.
Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:10 pm
Thanks for the information Ken! An additional 2-3k stone will make the process more beneficial and extend the life of my other stones. The stropping info clears up a lot of things because their are a handful of stropping compounds and methods out there. The .75 CBN on balsa or leather sounds like a good fit for starting out. I'm sure I will experiment with the different products as well and I will post my results on here!
P.S. mark, this forum is a great addition to the site. No better place to get answers for all my knife delimas.