Commonly available materials that could replace polishing compounds?

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Giorgos, Apr 13, 2011.

  1. Giorgos


    Apr 4, 2011
    hi everyone,
    I only found out about this forum recently and its amazing. thanks to all of you for the most valuable information and sound advice available to a newbie like me. I just bought an F1 ivory micarta knife and it made me crazy.
    One question though....Are there any other materials, commonly available, like talc or whatever, that I could use for stroping, since in my country I can't find a place selling this god damn green and black and rainbow color compound??????? Same goes for the rouge used in jewelery. In the place I live atm, there is no jewelery available in a 100km radius.
    I only have an old leather belt at the moment, which I made into a bench-strop. I try to do my best but its not as sharp as it was out of the box.
    Please don't reply "why don't you order it online?" I would if I could :)
    thnx guys, keep it up!
  2. Many commonly available polishing pastes can be used (Flitz, Simichrome, etc.). I've really grown to like Simichrome, personally. Don't know what stores are available to you, but look for metal polishing pastes at grocery stores, or 'big box' stores like Walmart. Look for polishes made for harder metals (stainless steel) in particular. Polishes made exclusively for precious metals (gold, silver, etc.) might be a little too 'soft' for hardened steel. Many swear by polishes used for aluminum wheels & metal trim on cars (Mother's Mag Polish, for example). Look for that at auto parts stores, auto refinishing supply outlets, etc.

    Woodworking shops should carry compounds used for sharpening chisels & such.

    Home supply centers, hardware stores, etc., should carry at least some compounds for bench buffers/grinders. These would normally include the black and white compounds, at least. Some might also carry the green compound.

    Rubbing/buffing compounds used for auto finishing can also be used as stropping compound. Look for those anywhere you'd find car wash/wax supplies.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2011
  3. Giorgos


    Apr 4, 2011
    thank you very much David. This is the kind of help I wished for. I have thought of using polishing auto products but I was somehow afraid of what it will do to the blade.
    Thnx a lot ;)
  4. thebrain


    Dec 12, 2007
    I have used "Chrome polish" it is sold in automotive stores and the automotive section of department stores it is used for car rims. The chrome polish works pretty well but it comes in a thick liquid form and I just left some of it outside in a shallow dish and let it dry and then crushed up the powdery stuff it turns into and rubbed that into my strop,it worked pretty well ,much better than a plain leather strop.I hope this helps .Also "Brasso" and other common polishing liquids and paste will work they are just not as aggressive.
  5. Giorgos


    Apr 4, 2011
    thnx guys,
    today I bought a product from a hardware store called "Chemico". It is used for polishing engine valves. On the label it says Grinding Paste, and in the manufacturers page it says that it is a silicon carbide & lithium based grease, suitable for all metals etc etc. It costs only 3 euros and it has both coarse and fine paste inside, separately. I have yet to test it on a cheep blade, because I don't want to mess up my one and only strop. It was the closest thing to a compound. If anyone knows about it, I would surely appreciate any input, especially if anyone knows if its supposed to be used with sandpaper, cloth or any specific material and most of all if it will damage my beloved blade. It is sold bulk with no instructions.
  6. The silicon carbide is the abrasive, and it's definitely hard enough for steel. Since you're a little bit apprehensive about what it'll do, you might try it out on another knife, using cardboard (back of a notepad, for instance) or paper as a backing for the compound. I'm assuming the lithium grease will be a bit messy, but aside from that, I don't see any potential for damaging your blade. If it's ordinarily used for polishing engine valves, it should work for a knife blade (both are hardened steel).

    Try the Fine paste first, I'm betting it'll be more than adequate. No need to go coarse, when stropping. Apply just a LITTLE bit to your backing. The grease ought to make it relatively easy to spread a small amount around (maybe a pea-sized amount), no need for a heavy layer. A little abrasive goes a very long way, when stropping.

    Edited to add:
    I just looked at the Chemico web page. According to their info, even the 'Fine' paste is 220 grit. Very coarse for a stropping compound, but it should make for a pretty aggressive edge on your knife, if your stropping technique is good. Compound this coarse will dull/round the edge pretty fast, if consistent angle isn't maintained. Go VERY, VERY LIGHT on the pressure.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2011
  7. aephilli


    Jan 30, 2006
    Valve GRINDING paste is just that, a grinding wheel in a tube.:eek: If they have that, they should have some polishing paste.
  8. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    I use 220 grit SiC lapping compound on one of my leather strops. It works fantastic for deburring/maintaining/getting the most out of your coarse edges. On a harder backing you'd have to be very careful of what your doing, but it'll work. I've also used it to re edge battered kitchen knives by just bearing down a little while using a stropping-type stroke. Puts a good working edge on softer metals with pretty much zero burr formation. If you want to tone it down, just press it into your backing using a rounded piece of steel or a hammer face. It'll still be aggressive, but a little more forgiving and imparts a finer finish.

  9. Old CW4

    Old CW4 Banned BANNED

    Sep 8, 2006
    I recommend common Arm and Hammer baking soda. You can polish glass with the stuff, although it does take some elbow grease. I've polished scratches from eye glasses, scopes, etc. with A and H, also works great for the final mirror polish on knives.
  10. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is very soft, compared to steel. Moh's hardness of around 2 to 3, hardened steel knife blades are around 5 to 7 (maybe even 8) on the Moh's scale. Baking soda will CLEAN some deposits off of glass, metal, etc., but I don't think it'll actually remove much, if any steel from a blade. It's used as a scrubbing/blasting media (removing paint, for example), being advantageous because, due to it's softness, it won't affect most substrates (like glass or steel). Here's some info to that effect:

    The relative softness of it is also why it's considered safe for brushing teeth.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011
  11. Giorgos


    Apr 4, 2011
    I see that we are in a different level here with most of you. from what I have gathered since I joined this forum, 220 is not the number I should be looking for. The last time I tried to do some "heavier work" on a knife I ended up with my dremel on my one hand and a dead Helle on my other.baking soda sounds good. i ll give it a go.
  12. For a stropping compound, very fine grit at high hardness is what you're looking for. The silicon carbide in the grinding paste you bought would be good, IF it were finer grain than the 220 in that mix. Silicon carbide or aluminum oxide can be found in varying grain/particle sizes, depending upon the intended use. You want something with the hardness of SiC or aluminum oxide, but in a finer grit.

    I don't think the baking soda will do a lot to sharpen your edge, but it certainly won't damage it. In all likelihood, the substrate you use for the baking soda (leather, cardboard, etc.) will be more abrasive to the steel (due to the silicates present in those materials), than the baking soda itself.
  13. dipbait


    Feb 9, 2008
    I tried baking soda and toothpaste. Didnt notice any difference in sharpness.
  14. tabeeb762


    May 18, 2007
    Any hardware store should have buffing compound. It is a very common item, and a workshop that uses buffing wheels is bound to have some.
    If you cannot buy, try to borrow.

    There are other good alternatives to the big crayons. A metal polishing paste like Autosol will work extremely well.
    Autobody polishes like G3 from Farecla are slower, but still efficient. You can find these in hardware stores, big supermarkets, and gas stations.

    With polishing pastes you will not want to use them wet. Apply them to your backing, and wait until they dry before using.
    Pastes work better on stiff backing like cardboard than on leather.
  15. Giorgos


    Apr 4, 2011
    I tried the grinding paste today. the coarse side is not at all suitable, its like trying to grind on sand or very little rocks. The 220 paste was not so bad, and it gave an old blade I had a nice and uniformed surface after only a few light strokes. I applied a small quantity on a 600 sand paper. I was not able to achieve a very good edge though, which I m sure it has to do with my skills as well. I was not trying to sharpen so much but rather to restore an old woodwork small blade, dull and rusted. And it did ok to that.
    But its certainly out of the question for stropping, at least for me. I will keep it though, because I think it will come handy some times.
    But I also bought and tried the dremel 421 compound on my strop and it worked pretty well. I could not find out what grit or what material is made of, but it did give my strop a nice abbressive surface that I could work with. I made quite a few passes with my F1 and I managed to sharpen it again to the point that it will cut newspaper and take some hair of my arm. I ll keep practicing.
  16. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    If you have sandpaper of varying grits, here's a quick suggestion. Use some 400 grit sandpaper by itself (or the 600 if that's all you have). Sharpen using a stropping type stroke. Use the 220 lapping compound on some leather to finish. When I do this I get an edge that will easily remove arm hair, pushcut newspaper, and can be maintained at that level indefinitely using the compound.

  17. Giorgos


    Apr 4, 2011
    HH this is what I wanted to do in the first place, but at the moment I only have one strop, so I don't want to mess it up with the lapping paste. That is why I just tested it on a the sandpaper, just for experimenting.
    But I also thought of a different idea that I would like to discuss with you fine people here :)
    I do have a coticule stone (to be more precise a Belgian blue whetstone). If I sandpaper it with water and create a lot of slurry, could I apply this nice and uniformly to my strop, let it dry and use it as a compound? Has anyone ever tried this before?
  18. I've no idea whether that's been tried before, but it sounds interesting. I lapped a ceramic hone on a coarse diamond hone a while back, and a similar idea occurred to me, about using the 'slurry' from that as a stropping compound (mostly ceramic dust, but I'm sure it had at least a little diamond in it, as some would be scrubbed off the hone). Didn't think of that until AFTER I'd already dumped the stuff down the drain. Didn't get a chance to actually try it.

    At any rate, I'm all for trying such things out. This sort of experimentation is the best way to learn, so far as I'm concerned. I would only suggest, if you do try it out, apply it sparingly to your strop. As I mentioned earlier, a little abrasive goes a very long way, especially when stropping.

    I would assume at least some of the grit from the sandpaper would also end up in your slurry. You might try it first with as fine a grit of sandpaper as you have available, so the particles from the sandpaper aren't so large as to negate the effect of the abrasive slurry from your stone.
  19. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    Kind of humorous - I have considered doing just that w/ a yellow coticule stone. Realized that it might be defeating the purpose, if you do some looking into the unicote method of razor honing, they typically achieve a face shaving edge using just the coticule and some water (no slurry) to finish just prior to stropping on undressed leather. I understand the Belgian Blue is somewhat less fine than the yellow, but still probably the equivalent of a 4000-6000 grit water stone, and they (blue and yellow) are known for producing relatively burr-free edges. That is to say, for most general knife uses that blue stone should take you as far as you might care to go even without a strop. That said, you could give it a try. The garnets in your blue stone are somewhat large for a well-refined edge, at least on paper, but supposedly the shape of the garnet produces an edge far more refined than the grit size would indicate.
    I agree, best to work up a slurry in a manner that will give you the cleanest results. If it's silicone carbide paper the particles will break down pretty small, but you have no control over the results.

    As a side note, you could always try the valve compound on some old canvas or pretty much any textile and stretch it over a piece of wood. A strop doesn't have to be leather, but it does give the best results overall.

    Good Luck

    Last edited: Apr 17, 2011
  20. Ben Dover

    Ben Dover Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 2, 2006
    Mother's Mag and Aluminum polish has worked quite well for me, for final polishing.

    If there's still a bit of actual sharpening needed, I prefer Mr. Kieth deGrau's "HandAmerican" compounds from Jende Industries.

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