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Sharpening under a microscope

Discussion in 'Sharpening forum' started by Taylor, Oct 12, 2019.

  1. Taylor

    Taylor Professional Craftsman Founding Member

    I was putting an edge on a knife today, and decided to snap some pics under the microscope while I went. The pictures are 10 microns wide, and I'll describe what stone I used, and what I was feeling along the way.

    First pic is no edge at all, just the finishing scratches from 150 grit sandpaper. The edge is about 1/1000 of an inch wide at this point measured with calipers.

    No Edge.jpg

    Second pic is me forming a burr and then flipping it. The dark spot is where the metal has started to roll up, and the light edge is the burr facing the camera. My fingers can easily catch on this burr. Time to refine it.

    120 DMT Burr formed and flipped.jpg

    I've now refined the burr on the 120 grit dmt. My fingers can't feel it, and the knife feels very toothy. You can notice that there is a wire edge still attached. Thankfully, there are more stones to come.

    120 DMT Finished.jpg

    I've now built a burr, flipped it, and refined it on a 600 grit splash and go. There' definitely a wire edge, with a large portion about to be ripped off. My fingers can feel refinement in the edge, and I cannot feel a burr at this point. The edge feels toothy, though not as toothy as the 120 grit, but I am unable to feel the wire edge with my fingertips. I was caught off guard by this one, but I moved on with my normal progression with how it was feeling to me.

    600 Grit Finsihed.jpg

    I jump to a 6k diamond ceramic at this point, and have gone through the build a burr, flip, and refine. At this point, there are only micro-burrs, and while the edge is fairly smooth, it does bite into the pads of my fingers.

    6k Grit Finished.jpg

    Last, is after I've stropped on leather with chromium oxide, and light cuts through hard felt. No detectable burr, consistent scratch pattern, and it's cutting well, though I still need to go through a session to make sure the edge isn't too thin, and will handle a little abuse.
    Stropped and De-Burred.jpg

    I hope you enjoyed today's episode of I think I know what I'm doing! All done freehand at about 12 degrees per side on AEB-L steel @~62 hrc.
  2. Jim

    Jim Old Curmudgeon Founding Member

    What a great toutorial Taylor...
    Thank you for taking the time to post it.
  3. Wagner the Wehrwolf

    Wagner the Wehrwolf Founding Member

    The part that jumped out to me was not being able to feel the burr or wire edge. I've pretty much given up on that and just trust in the process. This might confirm thats for me.
  4. Yeah that’s an interesting finding, not feeling a burr, but it’s clearly visible, really worth considering. It’s interesting to think that you may only be getting tangible feedback at lower grits, but may be flying a bit blind at even middle grits.
  5. Jim

    Jim Old Curmudgeon Founding Member

  6. Toothpick

    Toothpick #2 since day #1 Founding Member

  7. Spaz

    Spaz Founding Member

    Really cool being able to clearly see the difference after each step.
  8. Taylor

    Taylor Professional Craftsman Founding Member

    I appreciate the responses! Just to clarify, I can feel raising a burr, and flipping it on the 600 and 6k grit, but when refining them, after a point, I lose the ability. Shows that it's a bit difficult for me to really tell what's going on after a certain point. Granted, these images are too small for my eyes to see without the microscope, and at some point, I'll invest in something nicer, but one thing at a time.

    I am glad to know that, as Wagner put it, trust in the process, and focus at the task at hand, keeping a deliberate thought on technique, and taking my time.
  9. Great post. Very informative!
  10. Taylor

    Taylor Professional Craftsman Founding Member

    It was just pointed out to me that my measurement scale is wrong. The actual width of the pictures are 1mm wide. I somehow trusted the measurement that was provided on the computer screen. Dohhhh!
  11. butch

    butch Founding Member

    good job with the lighting and not tweeking it to look smoother
  12. Taylor

    Taylor Professional Craftsman Founding Member

    Thanks Butch! I'm not one for trying to exaggerate my work, since I'm sure as hell not perfect.
  13. butch

    butch Founding Member

    one of the hardest parts i had with honing razors and looking at finishes was lighting i was going up over 16K grit and different stropping compounds. really wish i could have got pictures type of steel hardness and kind of abrasive all played a huge roll in finish
  14. Taylor

    Taylor Professional Craftsman Founding Member

    At some point I'll have one of your straights! I do use them to shave, but typically finish on a cheap 12k chinese stone. At some point, I'll actually do more of this, actually trying to finish on each stone to compare finishes. Always something to learn, and I respect the fact you've done your due diligence.
  15. butch

    butch Founding Member

    i too favor the china 12k over the shapton 16k for on the face feel

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