Stropping State-of-the-Art
#11
Lately, I've been pretty involved with knives (Every Day Carry - EDC).  The knife community can get pretty particular about sharpening.  Compared to the hand tool crowd, they are less apt to insist that every knife owner learn to sharpen freehand.  So, at least as many guided systems exist for sharpening knives as there are for edged tools.  There's one big difference about knives, though.  Most edges are curved in some fashion, and knife blades are usually tapered from the spine to the edge.  So, holding a knife in a precision sharpening system can sometimes be a challenge.

I think most hand tool guys are satisfied with honing to 5000 grit then stropping, or 8000 grit with or without stropping.  And some continue beyond 8000 to as high as 30,000 grit.  I've got a 13,000 grit stone, but have no inclination to sharpen to 30K.  Knife owners, on the other hand, can strop as high as 160,000 grit (0.01 microns!)  Now I think that's excessive as well.  I'm not making sushi.  I'm mostly using my EDC as a general cutting tool to open and break down boxes, cut rope, etc.

Work Sharp, who also makes sharpening systems for tools, also makes sharpening systems for knives.  I think WS offerings are prolific, ranging from powered wheels to guided honing to precision setups.  In the knife world, precision systems are offered by the likes of Lansky, KME, Edge Pro, and others.  A Wicked Edge Pro Pack 3 with case system can run you over $1600.

I think most hand tool guys are aware of stropping, and we use stropping compounds like the green and white waxy sticks, as well as CBN or Diamond powders charged to MDF or a leather strop.  The knife community has, in recent years, adopted a similar approach.  For example, you can get lapping films mounted on glass plates made for the KME system in 9, 6, 3, 1, 0.5 and 0.1 micron grit sizes.  As far as strops go, you see conventional cowhide leather, buffalo, kangaroo and something I've not seen before - nanocloth.  The nanocloth strop is a durable man made fabric attached to a flat substrate (usually polycarbonate or glass).  Nanocloth has hex-shaped pores that hold stropping compound - usually diamond paste or CBN paste.  The media used, and even the source of diamond paste or spray emulsion varies by the type of steel being sharpened.  Some say that using a particular brand of emulsion gives an edge a certain bite which would be handy for shaving razors vs. an EDC knife or chef's knife.

I have to say that in my edge tools, I prefer a honing guide for establishing a bevel and for getting the first sharp edge.  I use water stones (Sigma Select are my current stone of choice - 1000 / 3000 / 6000 / 13000).  I strop on a horse butt leather strop charged with Lee Valley's green stuff after the water stones.  I also have a paper wheel on my bench grinder charged with the same LV stuff - which makes for a VERY quick and VERY sharp edge.  I'm toying with the idea of charging a leather strop with diamond paste.

We used to have pretty healthy debates on the forum about what works and what doesn't; what's sufficient vs. overkill; and whose Kool-aid is the best.

I'd like to hear if any of you out there have changed your sharpening methods over the years, and why.  Was your change motivated by cost?  Efficiency?  Performance?  Curiosity?  And if you haven't changed, let us know what your current system is.
Still Learning,

Allan Hill
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#12
I have used water stones, diamond stones, a powered horizontal grinder with various discs mounted with LV Powered Sharpening system abrasives, loose diamond on steel plates ,  scary sharp,   I may have left something out.

Now it is hollow grind on a vertical grinder, then into the LV Honing MK II , and hone on 4 different grit sizes of 3M l film,  ending at either .5  or .3  ,  depending on which ones I bought  ( the aluminum oxide goes to .3, the micro abrasive film goes to .05.)   I  didn't notice there was a difference in the names until I just checked right now, but both films seem to last a very long time, normally I have gouged rips in it before it wears out.  A big positive is you can make very wide or long sections.  I usually a squirt a little oil on it from time to time and use a back and forth motion, though on occasion, when going forward I will catch and make a rip.  Much happier than the prior things I tried.
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#13
(12-06-2021, 07:15 PM)AHill Wrote: Lately, I've been pretty involved with knives (Every Day Carry - EDC).  The knife community can get pretty particular about sharpening.  Compared to the hand tool crowd, they are less apt to insist that every knife owner learn to sharpen freehand.  So, at least as many guided systems exist for sharpening knives as there are for edged tools.  There's one big difference about knives, though.  Most edges are curved in some fashion, and knife blades are usually tapered from the spine to the edge.  So, holding a knife in a precision sharpening system can sometimes be a challenge.

I think most hand tool guys are satisfied with honing to 5000 grit then stropping, or 8000 grit with or without stropping.  And some continue beyond 8000 to as high as 30,000 grit.  I've got a 13,000 grit stone, but have no inclination to sharpen to 30K.  Knife owners, on the other hand, can strop as high as 160,000 grit (0.01 microns!)  Now I think that's excessive as well.  I'm not making sushi.  I'm mostly using my EDC as a general cutting tool to open and break down boxes, cut rope, etc.

Work Sharp, who also makes sharpening systems for tools, also makes sharpening systems for knives.  I think WS offerings are prolific, ranging from powered wheels to guided honing to precision setups.  In the knife world, precision systems are offered by the likes of Lansky, KME, Edge Pro, and others.  A Wicked Edge Pro Pack 3 with case system can run you over $1600.

I think most hand tool guys are aware of stropping, and we use stropping compounds like the green and white waxy sticks, as well as CBN or Diamond powders charged to MDF or a leather strop.  The knife community has, in recent years, adopted a similar approach.  For example, you can get lapping films mounted on glass plates made for the KME system in 9, 6, 3, 1, 0.5 and 0.1 micron grit sizes.  As far as strops go, you see conventional cowhide leather, buffalo, kangaroo and something I've not seen before - nanocloth.  The nanocloth strop is a durable man made fabric attached to a flat substrate (usually polycarbonate or glass).  Nanocloth has hex-shaped pores that hold stropping compound - usually diamond paste or CBN paste.  The media used, and even the source of diamond paste or spray emulsion varies by the type of steel being sharpened.  Some say that using a particular brand of emulsion gives an edge a certain bite which would be handy for shaving razors vs. an EDC knife or chef's knife.

I have to say that in my edge tools, I prefer a honing guide for establishing a bevel and for getting the first sharp edge.  I use water stones (Sigma Select are my current stone of choice - 1000 / 3000 / 6000 / 13000).  I strop on a horse butt leather strop charged with Lee Valley's green stuff after the water stones.  I also have a paper wheel on my bench grinder charged with the same LV stuff - which makes for a VERY quick and VERY sharp edge.  I'm toying with the idea of charging a leather strop with diamond paste.

We used to have pretty healthy debates on the forum about what works and what doesn't; what's sufficient vs. overkill; and whose Kool-aid is the best.

I'd like to hear if any of you out there have changed your sharpening methods over the years, and why.  Was your change motivated by cost?  Efficiency?  Performance?  Curiosity?  And if you haven't changed, let us know what your current system is.
.............
I sharpen most all my knives on Diamond charged laps in several grits on a Worksharp, but I also have a Veritas MKII, a tormek, a jet copy of the Tormek, several belt machines both slow and high speed and I don't know how many leather and muslin buffs..PLUS A Foley Belsaw diamond sharpener..I have been making and sharpening knives for almost 70yrs now...I am 89. I have concluded that I can restore a hair-popping edge on a semi-dull knife in just seconds on a muslin buff charged with chrome oxide turning 3450rpm. But it is a hard earned skill...a method that can destroy an edge just as fast if not done correctly...and it is dangerous....Two tests I use for "sharp" consists of stabbing and slicing a paper towel cleanly in two directions...If you can do that, IMO the edge is sharp enough for daily use...But the ultimate test to me is stabbing and CLEANLY slicing a Kleenex tissue in two directions. That is tough!!!!! "Tree-topping" the hair on your arm is a super test as well..Try cutting the hairs ABOVE the skin without the edge touching it...That to me is the equivalent of the Kleenex test. BUT the downside is an edge "that" sharp will not stay sharp very long at all...The steel just is not capable of it when it is that thin. I am still looking for a steel that is. I am beginning to believe that the absolute sharpest knife has an invisible and perfectly smooth edge and less than a one degree bevel. But you can breathe on that edge and fold it over!!!, Like everything in life...it's a trade off!!!..You have to give a little to get a little!
Crazy
Big Grin
"If you don't read newspapers you're uninformed...If you do read newspapers, you're misinformed.....Mark Twain

Jack Edgar, Sgt. USMC Korea, the Forgotten War 50/55
Get off my lawn !
Upset





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#14
I have a set of water stones but haven’t used them in several years. I am currently using a CBN wheel on a grinder to establish the angle. I then use a medium India stone, hard translucent Arkansas stone, then a leather strop or piece of hardwood with the green waxy stuff. If I had a sink in the shop, I would probably be using the waterstones more. I sharpen my pocket, hunting, and kitchen knives on those two stones
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#15
(12-06-2021, 07:15 PM)AHill Wrote: Lately, I've been pretty involved with knives (Every Day Carry - EDC).  The knife community can get pretty particular about sharpening.  Compared to the hand tool crowd, they are less apt to insist that every knife owner learn to sharpen freehand.  So, at least as many guided systems exist for sharpening knives as there are for edged tools.  There's one big difference about knives, though.  Most edges are curved in some fashion, and knife blades are usually tapered from the spine to the edge.  So, holding a knife in a precision sharpening system can sometimes be a challenge.

I think most hand tool guys are satisfied with honing to 5000 grit then stropping, or 8000 grit with or without stropping.  And some continue beyond 8000 to as high as 30,000 grit.  I've got a 13,000 grit stone, but have no inclination to sharpen to 30K.  Knife owners, on the other hand, can strop as high as 160,000 grit (0.01 microns!)  Now I think that's excessive as well.  I'm not making sushi.  I'm mostly using my EDC as a general cutting tool to open and break down boxes, cut rope, etc.

Work Sharp, who also makes sharpening systems for tools, also makes sharpening systems for knives.  I think WS offerings are prolific, ranging from powered wheels to guided honing to precision setups.  In the knife world, precision systems are offered by the likes of Lansky, KME, Edge Pro, and others.  A Wicked Edge Pro Pack 3 with case system can run you over $1600.

I think most hand tool guys are aware of stropping, and we use stropping compounds like the green and white waxy sticks, as well as CBN or Diamond powders charged to MDF or a leather strop.  The knife community has, in recent years, adopted a similar approach.  For example, you can get lapping films mounted on glass plates made for the KME system in 9, 6, 3, 1, 0.5 and 0.1 micron grit sizes.  As far as strops go, you see conventional cowhide leather, buffalo, kangaroo and something I've not seen before - nanocloth.  The nanocloth strop is a durable man made fabric attached to a flat substrate (usually polycarbonate or glass).  Nanocloth has hex-shaped pores that hold stropping compound - usually diamond paste or CBN paste.  The media used, and even the source of diamond paste or spray emulsion varies by the type of steel being sharpened.  Some say that using a particular brand of emulsion gives an edge a certain bite which would be handy for shaving razors vs. an EDC knife or chef's knife.

I have to say that in my edge tools, I prefer a honing guide for establishing a bevel and for getting the first sharp edge.  I use water stones (Sigma Select are my current stone of choice - 1000 / 3000 / 6000 / 13000).  I strop on a horse butt leather strop charged with Lee Valley's green stuff after the water stones.  I also have a paper wheel on my bench grinder charged with the same LV stuff - which makes for a VERY quick and VERY sharp edge.  I'm toying with the idea of charging a leather strop with diamond paste.

We used to have pretty healthy debates on the forum about what works and what doesn't; what's sufficient vs. overkill; and whose Kool-aid is the best.

I'd like to hear if any of you out there have changed your sharpening methods over the years, and why.  Was your change motivated by cost?  Efficiency?  Performance?  Curiosity?  And if you haven't changed, let us know what your current system is.
I once heard someone define the word vice as "something you think you need, but you really don't." I have a (er...) small pocket knife problem myself. I use a Sharpmaker to hone most of them, though I freehand a few with large enough bevels to register against. I don't bother with stropping. I'm slicing cardboard, or whatever, and keen enough is keen enough.

I have a leather strop in my wood shop. I use it on my plane blades and chisels on the rare occasion that I remember. Which I almost never do. Just a few swipes, seems to make a bit of a difference. But not the difference between fine woodworking and hack work. So I usually forget to strop, and it usually does not matter. Anyway, I hone to touch up the edges often enough, on an Aoto and then  a fine water stone of unknown grit. It is quick, and works just fine.
Best,
Aram, always learning

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Web: My woodworking photo site
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#16
I have a set of water stones but haven’t used them in several years. I am currently using a CBN wheel on a grinder to establish the angle. I then use a medium India stone, hard translucent Arkansas stone, then a leather strop or piece of hardwood with the green waxy stuff. If I had a sink in the shop, I would probably be using the waterstones more. I sharpen my pocket, hunting, and kitchen knives on those two oil stones
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#17
(12-07-2021, 01:49 PM)Scoony Wrote: I have a set of water stones but haven’t used them in several years.  I am currently using a CBN wheel on a grinder to establish the angle. I then use a medium India stone, hard translucent Arkansas stone, then a leather strop or piece of hardwood with the green waxy stuff. If I had a sink in the shop, I would probably be using the waterstones more. I sharpen my pocket, hunting, and kitchen knives on those two oil stones

.............
Scoony, something I just learned a few months ago when experimenting and stropping on leather......Charge your leather with a dot of cheap toothpaste prior to stropping the edge...The toothpaste likely contains feldspar which is a super fine abrasive, but the "magic" is the "increased friction" you will get while stropping..You can strop quite a while before you need to recharge the leather. I suppose it would work on cardboard and other materials as well, but I have not tried it on anything but leather...

You can also use toothpaste on glass or your hard Arkansas instead of oil..I have also used Tormek paste which is reported to be 1/2 micron grit. You can see that I am never satisfied with the status quo..always trying to kick it up a notch..
Rolleyes
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"If you don't read newspapers you're uninformed...If you do read newspapers, you're misinformed.....Mark Twain

Jack Edgar, Sgt. USMC Korea, the Forgotten War 50/55
Get off my lawn !
Upset





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#18
My knives I primarily just strop…I don’t let them get dull enough that I need other abrasives to get the edge I want and/or need. Other than day-to-day pocket knife stuff, I do some whittling, and the cuts get too rough/difficult if I need more than stopping to bring the edge back.

Plane blades and chisels usually end up going through 1000, 5000, & 8000 water stones before stropping, but mostly freehand unless I need to reshape an edge or change a bevel.

I started with sandpaper, but changed to stones for durability. I’d like to try some other things, but since what I’m doing now gets things plenty sharp in a reasonable time, the expense of trying something new isn’t worth it to me right now.

Timberwolf makes a good point about the angle of bevel and it’s impact on “sharp”…I can get the factory bevel on a pocketknife sharp enough to pop hair off my arm, but it’s too blunt to be effective for whittling. A thin blade with a more acute bevel works much better, but is naturally less durable. The intended use has at least as much to do with the definition of “sharp” as the actual edge does.
Dave Arbuckle was kind enough to create a Sketchup model of my WorkMate benchtop: http://www.arbolloco.com/sketchup/MauleSkinnerBenchtop.skp
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#19
The only changes -

From using a jig to freehand only, except for the very tricky angles (skew)

And from mostly waterstones to mostly diamond lapping films. Waterstones are still used occasionally or for flattening the back of a new chisel.

In the past decade, I've stopped reading anything about old, not so new or new sharpening methods because the marginal improvements in results, if any, aren't worth the hassle and time. I leave that to the academically/theoretically oriented folks to explore as I have reached a stage where my work will benefit more from the time I can spend in the shop than from trying new techniques.

BTW, no stropping in general (except for carving tools). My trick in maintaining an edge is to hone it often freehand (tops 20 - 30 seconds per grit, so 1 min. or 2 min. per honing. even less time than Rob Cosman seems to be using).

Simon
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#20
I started with scary sharp over 20 years ago and have stayed with this: it works. I use 3M micro-finishing film on a highly polished granite tile. When I need to touch-up an edge, I use the leather wheel on the Tormek. Do a search for unicorn sharpening: it seems to produce good results with minimal investment, based on my limited experience.
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