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Expert Hair-Whittlers, a couple questions

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by PeterS84, Aug 7, 2018.

  1. PeterS84

    PeterS84 Sharpening addict, collector of super steels Platinum Member

    103
    May 9, 2018
    Hi all,

    I've been doing course edges on most of my blades for awhile now but recently had a whim to mirror polish a few of my newer blades. No particular reason, just wanted to see if I still could.

    I have been able to achieve a hair whittling edge on one and not the other and I'm not 100% sure about why. The two knives in question are a Spyderco Dragonfly 2 in ZDP-189 and a PM2 in S110V. The Dragonfly will whittle hair, the PM2 won't quite do it. Both are at 15 DPS.

    The Dragonfly was sharpened freehand, starting with a DMT Course up through a DMT EE-Fine, then 1 μm diamond pasted strop, 0.5 μm diamond spray strop, then 0.25 μm diamond pasted strop, finished with a few strokes on plain leather.

    The PM2 was sharpened on the Edge Pro, starting with an Atoma 140, Venev 240, CKTG 400, Edge Pro Diamond 600, Edge Pro Diamond 1200, Venev 1200, Venev 2000, 1 μm diamond pasted strop, 0.5 μm diamond spray strop, 0.25 μm diamond pasted strop, then finished on plain leather.

    I'm trying to figure out if it's just an issue of not spending enough time on the strops when finishing the PM 2. It's extremely sharp, but won't quite grab a head hair when attempting to whittle from the tip toward the root. I can see the hair shaking as it passes over the edge, so it's trying to grab but isn't quite biting in. I've confirmed using the Sharpie and a loupe that I'm hitting the apex of the edge and I can't see or feel any remaining burr.

    Anyone have any ideas why they're not performing similarly, since I'm finishing with the same abrasives? How many strokes per side are you guys doing with your strops to get that perfect hair-whittling edge on the more vanadium-rich steels? I'm guessing it's not enough time on the strops since the steels are rather different in composition, but am hoping someone with experience on this will weigh in. Thanks!
     
  2. Lapedog

    Lapedog Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 7, 2016
    Try whittli
    Try whittling from the tip to root direction instead. It has to do with the way that the scales that form the outside of the hair overlap.
     
  3. Diemaker

    Diemaker KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    157
    Apr 28, 2017
    Can you look at the edge under magnification? With diamond strops I find 2-5 passes are enough. Too many and you just round the apex, in my experience. Was the knife sharper before you stropped?
     
  4. PeterS84

    PeterS84 Sharpening addict, collector of super steels Platinum Member

    103
    May 9, 2018
    On my thumb pad, it felt more grabby before stropping but in terms of passing various "sharpness tests" (ease of push-cutting newsprint, receipt paper, cigarette papers) it was sharper after stropping. Could be that there was a very small burr that I couldn't feel with my fingers. I didn't see it under 20x magnification though, so IDK.
     
  5. PeterS84

    PeterS84 Sharpening addict, collector of super steels Platinum Member

    103
    May 9, 2018
    That's what I was doing... holding the tip of the hair and whittling toward the root. Sorry, maybe I didn't explain that well.
     
  6. Diemaker

    Diemaker KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    157
    Apr 28, 2017
    When I over did the stropping the knife always felt sharp but the angle at which it would shave increased as I stropped the knife. It was my first attempt at stropping and I was trying to polish the bevel, I eventually polished half of the .03" bevel out of existence. Granted this was with 5 micron diamond on an aluminum backed denim strop.
     
  7. Lapedog

    Lapedog Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 7, 2016
    It depends on the type of hair too. Everyone’s hair is different. For example an edge that will shave hair off almost any my friends’ arms (don’t ask, I wanted to see if it was just my edge) won’t shave hair off my arm.
     
  8. PeterS84

    PeterS84 Sharpening addict, collector of super steels Platinum Member

    103
    May 9, 2018
    That could absolutely be a factor. I have very thin hair. My arm hair is so light and thin that you almost can't see it. Even so, this edge flies through arm and leg hair. Even on my thin head hair strands, it will almost whittle. When I took one of my wife's hairs off of her brush, it whittled it easily. (Yes, I'm that crazy that I am trying multiple people's hair. LOL)
     
  9. Lapedog

    Lapedog Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 7, 2016
    Your arm hair sounds like mine, essentially transparent.
     
    PeterS84 likes this.
  10. PeterS84

    PeterS84 Sharpening addict, collector of super steels Platinum Member

    103
    May 9, 2018
    So if I'm understanding you correctly, for example, it would initially shave at say 15 degrees relative to your forearm, etc. vs after "over stropping" you'd have to raise the angle to 20+ degrees? Something like that?
     
  11. PeterS84

    PeterS84 Sharpening addict, collector of super steels Platinum Member

    103
    May 9, 2018
    Yeah, that's about right. I've had people ask me if I shave my arms and I have to point out that there is, in fact, hair on them.
     
    Lapedog likes this.
  12. Diemaker

    Diemaker KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    157
    Apr 28, 2017
    Yep, I had to increase the angle to "shave" the more I stropped and the shaving performace slowly decreased. The stropping was changing the blade angle in the first few thousandths back from the apex. Since my strop was softer than yours this may be less of an issue. I was using my Apex and didn't change the angle when I put the strop in.

    Part of my asking about inspecting under magnification is I am suspicious of microchipping. Were you using edge trailing or leading strokes with your Venev stones?
     
  13. PeterS84

    PeterS84 Sharpening addict, collector of super steels Platinum Member

    103
    May 9, 2018
    I started using scrubbing strokes back and forth, several passes on each side. Then I switched to edge trailing strokes, several passes per side (did this two times). Then one pass per side, edge trailing. Then one pass per side edge leading to "cut off" any remaining burr.
     
    Diemaker likes this.
  14. samuraistuart

    samuraistuart KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 21, 2006
    My opinion is that you are “rounding” off the apex on the strops. It’s easy to do with stropping. The only time I do stropping is during edge maintenance (and even then it’s usually done on hard ceramic stones). That is to say “I RARELY strop if ever”.

    A hair whittling edge is easily done off of a diamond fine plate or equivalent. (Roughly 600 mesh). If not coarser.

    My opinion.....forget stropping for the moment and get that hair whittling edge off of the stone.

    When that happens, then you can progress on your sharpening goal.

    Just to reiterate, the hair whittling edge comes off the stone. Not the strop.
     
    PeterS84 likes this.
  15. PeterS84

    PeterS84 Sharpening addict, collector of super steels Platinum Member

    103
    May 9, 2018
    You're probably right that I'm rounding it off. I took the knife back to the stones and then used wood for the strop surface so there was no "give" as there can be with leather. Had a much better result.

    Generally I don't strop much, if at all, but this was something I decided to try on a whim just as a "what if." I will say that getting a hair whittling edge off of a DMT fine or equivalent is a good challenge that I'll have to take up soon. Just need to use one of my knives enough to warrant a full resharpening. :)
     
    Blues likes this.
  16. M-S-T

    M-S-T KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    45
    Sep 20, 2016
    Then it comes to hair whittling, I have a standard. It has to be a long THIN preferably woman's hair. If you can whittle (or cut) a free hanging hair somewhere in the middle ( most likely your wife has long hairs)- that is a superb edge. Sometimes I see guys whittling a hair that looks like.....well it looks like it is from the dragons ass or something.
    If you can deliver a hair whittling edge on zdp it means you have very refined freehand sharpening skill. I have caly 3 in zdp and pm2 in s110v. Zdp is a much finer grained steel so it is much easier to get a whittling edge. I have found that s90v and s110v benefits a lot from stropping.
    Now If you have decided to finish with venev, try to back it up to 1200 venev with the same stropping routine and report if something changed.
     
    PeterS84 likes this.
  17. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    Don't have any experience with ZDP-189, but I have a Military in S110V that takes a very aggressive, fine edge honing on a DMT ultra-coarse (220 grit) then a few very light finishing strokes on a DMT red (fine, 600 grit) or ultra-fine (green, 1200). Stropping doesn't seem to add anything and may actually round off the fine finished edge IMHO. Or maybe the carbide content is different in those steels.
     
  18. PeterS84

    PeterS84 Sharpening addict, collector of super steels Platinum Member

    103
    May 9, 2018
    Yeah, I usually give my S110V the same treatment. I tend to like a more toothy edge on that steel. This was just a "why not" type of experiment. Although, I was able to get it to whittle hair reliably after taking it through the stones and strops again. This time I spent very little time on the strops and was very careful to apply a small amount of pressure and avoid rounding the edge off.
     
    Blues likes this.
  19. PeterS84

    PeterS84 Sharpening addict, collector of super steels Platinum Member

    103
    May 9, 2018
    Totally agree with this standard. When I first started sharpening, I would get beard-hair whittling edges pretty routinely and I didn't have nearly the skill level I do now. I think using a head hair makes a difference. Plus I don't have a beard anymore, so there's that too. I wound up using a number of hairs off of my wife's brush to test both edges.

    I took the ZDP back to the DMT EE-Fine to crisp up the apex again, then very briefly through the strops from 1 um to 0.25 um (on wood), then a few extremely light passes on plain leather. It would both whittle and cut a free hanging hair. Super happy with that. One of, if not the sharpest edge I've ever felt or sharpened with the exception of my straight razors.

    The S110V I took back to the Edge Pro. Went back to the Edge Pro Diamond 1200, then up through the progression again. (Did this before I saw your suggestion about the Venev 1200, sorry -- will try in the future, though.) Ended with the Venev 2000, making a point to use extremely light alternating passes at the end to keep the apex as crisp as I could before stropping. Did the same strop progression as the ZDP, but free hand on wood this time instead of using my Edge Pro kangaroo strops and did fewer passes on the strops. I would stop every few passes and feel the edge with my fingers to decide when it was time to switch sides or move on. I was paying more attention to how it felt than how polished the bevel looked this time, which may have been my downfall on the first attempt. Then finished with light passes on plain leather. Extremely sharp and would whittle hair readily. Interestingly, even though the ZDP and S110v were sharpened at the same angle (approximately) and ended with the same abrasives, the S110v felt noticeably more aggressive on my thumb pad -- presumably because of the higher volume of carbides.

    All things considered, I'm pretty happy with how this experiment turned out. It will be interesting to see how these edges hold up to use. This is the first time I've bothered to polish the edge on S110v to this extent, so I'm curious to see how it'll feel after putting in some work.
     

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