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 Post subject: Stones get an edge sharp and strops don't help???
PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:04 pm 

Joined: Wed May 02, 2012 11:14 am
Posts: 183
Location: Florida, USA, Earth
In the past year I tried (and succeeded) at improving the sharpness of my edges considerably. This was done by communicating on this forum, particularly Ken Schwartz and using new stropping compounds and material. The kangaroo is amazing. I have not had any success with nano-cloth and .25µ diamond spray (yet). I believe this may be due to when using the finer and finer grit tools my skill needs to be at a level to obtain results. Anyway, my skills have improved dramatically and I have reached a situation that I'd appreciate help with.

One poor thing about communicating like this is when I say "sharp" I may have one level of sharpness in mind and when someone else says "sharp" they think something else. So, to help anyone understand what I'm thinking I'll say this. All my life I have gotten my knives sharp enough to shave arm hair and stopped sharpening and was happy. I considered that "sharp". I'd even shave my arm and brag at work. :) The knives have been pocket or work knives primarily. At that time I called that "sharp". Now I can get an edge sharp enough to whittle a single strand of hair which I never even considered before. If someone had suggested it a few years ago I'd have thought "only in a sci-fi movie". :) For pocket knives I mean. Not edges like on razor blades, surgeon's scalpels and things like that. Those edges whittling a hair would not have surprised me. Now my pocket knives can do that (if I can hold my hands steady enough). This is where my understanding of "sharp" is.

I have been using an Edge Pro Apex for about 3 years and getting very good results. In the past year I decided to work on my free hand skills with stones and strops both. I've used Shapton glass bench stones (2k and 6k) and 5 EP stones up to 8k (and other stones). I have not worried too much about re-profiling free hand. I have worked on refining the edge sharpness on bench stones though. My sharpening preference ended up being re-profiling and getting the edge real sharp using the EP and then refining the edge with bench stones. I could feel the work being done more (if that makes sense). I enjoyed this for some reason. I have made and used strops of cow hide, horse hide, balsa wood, nano-cloth and I have one kangaroo strop that I use no compound on. The better compounds I use are CBN 15µ and .5µ, diamond spray .25µ and 1µ boron carbide. Using these materials and compounds I was able to get the edge much sharper after finishing on the stones I have. The stones I use most are DMT fine and extra-fine, Spyderco fine grit (bench stones) and the EP Shapton glass stones (500, 1k, 2k, 6k, 8k). I can get the edge equally sharp it seems, just with a different edge. Toothy or smooth. Keep in mind I have no way to test an edge or magnify an edge at laboratory or highly magnified levels. Arm hair and phone book paper is about it.

My situation now:
I have improved my skill using the EP and especially using bench stones in getting the edge sharp. In fact, I can get the edge sharp enough that after stropping I CAN NOT GET THE EDGE SHARPER. The way I judge sharpness is by slicing phone book paper and "feeling" how easy the edge travels through the paper. I can also "feel" the difference when sliding my thumb across the edge. Now it almost feels like the edge reaches out to grab my skin before I actually touch the edge. This sounds and is impossible of course but I think you have probably felt what I mean. Anticipating my improvement over time I assumed when I could get the edge sharper on just stones I could still improve (get sharper) the edge by stropping. This has not proven to be true. One thing I had in mind was the bench stones I have are not the really fine grits that are available. To be honest I doubt if I'll EVER get a 16k Shapton glass bench stone or anything like that because of cost. My financial situation is one that I won't justify that expense. However, the next time a bag of $ lands in my lap I may get one or maybe even the 30k also. Since this is just for fun, groceries are more important. :)

My questions now:
1. Can you (anyone) get an edge sharp enough off a stone USING ONLY PUSH STROKES that you can't increase sharpness by stropping? I forgot to mention I'm using only push strokes on stones. No trailing strokes on stones and no stropping at all.

2. I see possible reasons I'm at this point right now and would like to know your opinions (anyone).
A. Has my skill using stones and push strokes only improved enough that the edge can not be improved with any other method like stropping?
OR,
B. Does my skill or "feel" or "touch" need to improve using the other methods (trailing strokes and/or stropping using the super fine grits) until I'm getting sharper results?
OR,
C. Has my skill improved to the point that I can get an edge as sharp as anyone on the planet using stones or strops or whatever I choose? This is an attempt at humor although it is a goal. :) Not a competitive goal, just want to get my edges as sharp as possible for the hell of it.

Opinions and advice is appreciated. Even if the advice involves expense I won't or can't afford.

Thank you.

Jack


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 Post subject: Re: Stones get an edge sharp and strops don't help???
PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:48 pm 
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When you say a "push" stroke, do you mean edge leading?

If so, no, I can't get an edge sharp enough with stones that I can't improve it with a strop.....primarily because stropping (whether on stone or leather or felt) helps removes burr's/wire edges.

I'm a bit confused with the rest of your post though.

If you have an 8k Shapton GlassStone, and can't improve the edge with a strop and .25 micron diamond spray, you're PROBABLY doing something wrong. Granted a true 8k edge is something to be amazed at, but with a good stropping medium and 0.25 micron diamond spray....you should be able to make it sharper.



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 Post subject: Re: Stones get an edge sharp and strops don't help???
PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:07 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:09 pm
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I in agreeance with Adam. I use a .5 micron strop block after my Arashiyama 6k stone, and it definitely refines the edge.


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 Post subject: Re: Stones get an edge sharp and strops don't help???
PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 3:13 pm 

Joined: Tue May 29, 2012 12:29 am
Posts: 661
1. No, but I can't say I always like the improvement a strop makes. I tend to like a bare strop after using a stone to clean-up any remaining burr and "enhance" what the stone has done. Sometimes a strop with compound just changes the edge too much for my liking and IMO starts a whole new process.

2.
A. Not likely.
B. Probably.
C. Not likely.


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 Post subject: Re: Stones get an edge sharp and strops don't help???
PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:34 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:32 pm
Posts: 1
How much pressure are you using when you're stropping? You might be using too much.


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 Post subject: Re: Stones get an edge sharp and strops don't help???
PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:45 pm 

Joined: Wed May 02, 2012 11:14 am
Posts: 183
Location: Florida, USA, Earth
Thanks for the replies guys. I spoke with Mr. Schwartz and he gave me a thing or two to check.

When I say "push strokes" I do mean leading edge. "Pull strokes" would mean trailing edge.

Adam, you said you didn't understand some of what I said. Sometimes I say so much trying to be completely understood I can confuse myself. So, the jist is a few months ago I would sharpen my knife with stones then be able to get the edge sharper by using strops of 1 micron and under. Even the bare kangaroo refined the edge more than I would get with .5 or .25 micron on leather or balsa. Now, my "problem" is I'm now getting the edge as sharp just using stones as I can by using the strops. The most likely thing is my technique on the strops needs to improve. Evidently my technique on the stones has gotten better. If that's the case time will take care of this issue with practice. Ken asked what type of magnification I have. The highest I have is a 60x loupe. He said he thought that might be high enough magnification to look for scratch patterns to indicate the results I'm getting with the stones then how it changes after stropping. I may need to get something like a microscope to use with the PC and software to look at it. I might do this. It depends on how much farther I want to "chase the mirror" or edge. The edges are already so sharp I'm amazed based on what I used to call sharp. I am happy with my edges and improvement but if I were completely satisfied I wouldn't be posting threads like this or still asking questions.

Thanks for the replies and help.

Jack


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 Post subject: Re: Stones get an edge sharp and strops don't help???
PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:30 pm 
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Thanks for the further explanation. :)

As the previous guy said.....how much pressure? Stropping should use very light, if any pressure.

Also, a common mistake when stropping is to left the spine as you approach the end of the strop. When push/pulling it's not as common as you're automatically set to come back. When stropping, the end of the stroke is the finish, so we tend to start lifting the knife up as we get near the end. This will ruin an edge.



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 Post subject: Re: Stones get an edge sharp and strops don't help???
PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:34 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:29 am
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Location: Philippines
should be just the weight of the blade afaik. or maybe just the weight of the blade and your hands.


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 Post subject: Re: Stones get an edge sharp and strops don't help???
PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:41 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:38 pm
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Assuming you're not dulling your edge by using too muh pressure or wobbling, then your knife is getting "sharper", your tests of sharpness just aren't discerning enough--the finer abrasives are putting a finer scratch pattern on your edge, after all... (assuming "sharper" means more refined.

So here are some test that might reveal more:
1. Shave your face with the edge... A more refined edge is substantially more comfortable, especially against the grain.
2. Try push-cutting (no draw/slicing) paper held at a 90 degree angle... How far away from your hold point can this be achieved? The more refined the edge, the further away from your fingers
3. Get some hemp rope and place it on a scale and push cut through it... How much force does it take? A more refined edge should require less pressure to make the cut
4. Try the hanging hair test... An edge that just whittles hair is only at the HHT2 level or so... Can your stropped edge achieve HHT4 or 5 (plenty of examples of pocket knives at that level on YouTube)

http://www.coticule.be/hanging-hair-test.html

If your edge really doesn't improve on any of these tests AND doesn't get worse on them, then the conclusion would be that your angle is too shallow on the strops and you're not refining the apex of the edge.


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 Post subject: Re: Stones get an edge sharp and strops don't help???
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 3:19 am 

Joined: Wed May 02, 2012 11:14 am
Posts: 183
Location: Florida, USA, Earth
iancevans wrote:Assuming you're not dulling your edge by using too muh pressure or wobbling, then your knife is getting "sharper", your tests of sharpness just aren't discerning enough--the finer abrasives are putting a finer scratch pattern on your edge, after all... (assuming "sharper" means more refined.

So here are some test that might reveal more:
1. Shave your face with the edge... A more refined edge is substantially more comfortable, especially against the grain.
2. Try push-cutting (no draw/slicing) paper held at a 90 degree angle... How far away from your hold point can this be achieved? The more refined the edge, the further away from your fingers
3. Get some hemp rope and place it on a scale and push cut through it... How much force does it take? A more refined edge should require less pressure to make the cut
4. Try the hanging hair test... An edge that just whittles hair is only at the HHT2 level or so... Can your stropped edge achieve HHT4 or 5 (plenty of examples of pocket knives at that level on YouTube)

http://www.coticule.be/hanging-hair-test.html

If your edge really doesn't improve on any of these tests AND doesn't get worse on them, then the conclusion would be that your angle is too shallow on the strops and you're not refining the apex of the edge.


This is really good info regarding how to test an edge. The push cutting into paper I like. I saw this demonstrated on youtube months ago and had forgotten about doing it at different distances from my fingers. I tried it and was able to push cut into printer paper consistantly with it 3/8" away from my fingers, sometimes at 1/2" away. I have been doing this with phone book paper but only a MAX of 1/8" away and I didn't consider trying it farther away. I just lay the side of the blade against my index finger and see if the edge cuts or just bends the paper. Phone book pages are just too thin I guess. I really enjoyed reading about the HHT. I have been able to whittle hair but never thought about which end to cut from or anything like that. I'll try this to see what it tells me. I haven't been stropping for about 3 months. I have only used stones to sharpen my knives with the goal of improving these skills. They improved. I'm getting much better results. Now I will apply the same dedication to stropping accuracy. I'm actually looking forward to it.

I appreciate all the replies and help.

Jack


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