15 April 2012

Lean and Green..but Mean?

There's been the usual thread recently on UKWorkshop about sharpening, with particular respect this time to the use of strops and stropping compounds thereof.  I have to say that after seeing these sorts of threads appearing 'ad nauseum' time and again, it all gets very predictable and to be frank...a bit boring.

However, after browsing through pages and pages of the stuff, I decided to change my existing leather stop and substitute a block of hard maple, the theory being that the compressible leather slightly 'dubs' or rounds over the edge, whereas a block of hardwood...won't.  That's the theory at least.

The sharpening set up is shown, with the first three 3M films out of the shot (the 30, 15 and 5 micron) with the final 1 micron film in the pic.  Blades are set up in my Kell III and honed at 30 degrees using a registration board (also shown), with the infamous 'Ruler Trick' being performed on the back of the blade.  This ensures that only around a mm is polished, rather than the whole of the back.

So the routine is thus... a few swipes on the 30, 15 and 5 films followed by several passes on the 1 micron film.  Then out of the Kell and a couple of strokes on the maple strop, then back onto the 1micron film for the 'ruler trick'...and the sequence is repeated a couple of times.  The 'strop' has been charged with Vaseline for a bit of lubrication and then a sprinkling of neat Chromium Dioxide powder has been rubbed in...hence the colouration and dainty finger swirls!

The edge produced is certainly pretty mean and razor sharp (and probably better that that using a leather strop) but as with all these things, it's very subjective and only a detailed microscopic analysis of the edge (which again, to be frank, is getting very nerdish...and I'm a woodworker, for Pete's sake!) would show any differences.

But there are down sides, not least of which is cleaning up afterwards...

...as it give a whole new meaning to the term 'Green Fingers'


Anonymous said...

Why not use a wider piece of Maple and leave the blade in the Kell when you strop? That way you can be sure that you are stropping at exactly the same angle.

Cheers ;-)

Paul Chapman

Woodbloke said...

No point Paul...the idea is to keep reversing the honed edge and the back to polish each at the same time. If the blade is still in the Kell then the 'ruler trick' can't be performed. If I wanted to finish on a finer grade of films then I could go down to the .3micron (36,000g) but that's getting a bit OTT! - Rob