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Tungsten Carbide Sharpening Tools?

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by JD Spydo, Sep 11, 2018.

  1. JD Spydo

    JD Spydo Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2004
    During the late 90s I was not only fanatical in my knife hobby but I was also getting into woodworking and learning CNC stuff as well. During that time I was doing business with several vendors to buy tools, supplies ect. One company I really liked doing business with ( and I still do like them) is the Garrett Wade Co. They are mainly a supplier for the woodworking trades but they have always had a wide array of very unique and one of a kind type tools. I've sure filled a couple of tool boxes with stuff I've gotten from Garrett Wade. One set of tools I got from them back during the 9-11 era was a bunch of those Tungsten Carbide sharpening tools. During the early to mid 2000s the TC sharpening tools were getting a lot of trash talk and many guys said that the Tungsten Carbide tools actually damaged cutting edges. However a few people swore by them :confused:

    So with all that being said I just kind of "moth balled" all of those TC tools that I had accumulated and would occasionally play with them with limited results. Now lately I've been playing with my F. Dick sharpening steels more than usual and I also tried one of the smooth Tungsten Carbide tools as a sharpening steel of sorts and got some rather interesting results with it fine tuning a knife edge. I've also used the TC tools for rough sharpening jobs with some success. It's been quite a while since I've seen any discussion on Tungsten Carbide sharpening tools so I would like to hear what you all might have to say about them now. Do any of you still have your Tungsten Carbide sharpening tools? If so what results have you had with them? Are there any other uses you've found that the Tungsten Carbide tools ended up working well with? Who has been known to make the better TC tools? OK let's talk about the good and bad that you all have found out about the Tungsten Carbide sharpening tools. During that time period the Garrett Wade Co was known to have good quality TC sharpening tools and I believe they still do>> but are there other companies that offer great quality TC sharpening tools? Because I truly would like to know what the consensus is concerning these Tungsten Carbide sharpening tools. OK let's talk about TC tools
     
  2. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    CarBee Sharp makes a nice one, and EZ-lap and others make ones with a single rectangular bit on the end of a handle. Both types are excellent for cutting off stubborn burrs and using with light pressure similarly to how one would use a steel for honing. You do have to be careful about the edges so you don't chip them on anything. Treat them like a knife edge and they'll last a VERY long time. Drag-through sharpeners, on the other hand, are almost universally garbage for a number of reasons.
     
  3. The biggest potential flaw in most, but not all, of the drag-through sharpeners is the scissor-edged configuration of the carbide inserts. These are the ones with bevelled, sharp inserts oriented oppositionally from one another, literally like scissor-edges. They're prone to sharply pinching the blade edge and then ripping it as the edge is drawn through. So, even though metal is being scraped away to 'shape' the blade edge to a sharp apex, that pinching, ripping effect can weaken & damage the steel behind the edge. So, the finished edge is 'sharp', but is also very weak and collapses very quickly in use. Grind lines produced by the tool, running parallel to the knife's edge, also potentially leave the edge more prone to folding over, weakening it in the lateral direction (imagine how a stiff piece of corrugated cardboard is weakened and made to fold, by creasing it along the same axis as the corrugations).

    Some pull-throughs use inserts placed like two flat stones, with flat abrasive faces opposing each other. In such a config, the contact surfaces are flat and can't pinch the blade edge in the same scissor-like manner as above. So, they're still capable of sharpening, but the finished edge won't be weakened or damaged in doing so. The same can be said about some pull-throughs using round rod-shaped inserts (ceramic, diamond), which also can't pinch the edge like the sharp, scissor-edged inserts do.

    Use a pair of scissors opened to a similar angle (30° - 40° inclusive) and a paper index card (as the 'blade') and see what happens to the edge of the card as it's pulled through the 'V' of the scissors. It leaves it crimped, torn and ragged, and that's essentially what can happen to a knife edge, if it gets pinched & ripped by the tool.

    It is possible to acquire a light touch to use them effectively without pinching and seriously weakening the edge. But the unfortunate irony is, most of these tools are marketed at users who otherwise wouldn't have that practiced light touch in the first place. And if they did acquire the right 'touch' for it, other tools like stones, etc, would still be just as useful and even more versatile at quick field-sharpening tasks anyway. The other obvious downside to most of them is, most are pre-set at a fixed sharpening angle (usually pretty wide). So, there are relatively few reasons or justifications for using them, and many good reasons to use something better.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2018
  4. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    Nah dude . . . nah.
    For woodworking tools these Shapton Pro stones and the Varitas jig.
    The New Team.jpg
    IMG_0203.JPG
    High hardness blue steel around 64Rc
    IMG_2486.jpg
    All these are A2
    IMG_0959_2.jpg
    So thin and gossimer.JPG

    For knives the Edge Pro Apex with appropriate stones for the steel being sharpened.
    This is a 3V blade
    IMG_5497.jpg

    Top knife S90V and one below it M4
    IMG_4693.jpg

    The two with the edge glints are ZDP-189 and the middle one is VG-10
    IMG_5033.jpg

    Depends on the edge one wants but I am talking top shelf edges that are durable, geometrically superior and not work hardened and micro cracked.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2018
  5. JD Spydo

    JD Spydo Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2004
    Yeah I've heard that about those "Drag Through" type sharpeners that they just don't do anything to enhance a sharp blade. They truly were a bad idea from the "get-go".

    Now these TC tools that I got from Garrett Wade do seem to be quality made as most tools that I've got from Garrett Wade have been over the years. The TC tools I've got from Garrett Wade and the one I got from Lee Valley at about the same time aren't junk>> but with that being said I'm still wondering what they really are good for? The Garrett Wade TC tools are nothing like the Chinese made crap that you see at a lot of these flea markets and many of these bargain basement type websites. Again I'm now wondering how a Tungsten Carbide smooth or even ribbed surface would compare to my great quality F. Dick, German made sharpening steels. It would seem that the density and hardness of Tungsten Carbide might be an advantage? I did have some interesting results taking a paper cutting sharp blade and steeling it on a smooth TC tool. It did seem like it burnished and somewhat polished the blade.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
  6. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    You could just buy a length of TC rod and then put grooves in it with a diamond plate.
     
  7. eKretz

    eKretz

    686
    Aug 30, 2009
    Actually, looking at them, the grooved ones appear to be 1/4" diameter tungsten carbide burrs. This are available everywhere. The burnisher looks to just be a plain cylindrical 1/4" TC rod.
     
  8. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    In fact, looks like SiC is harder than TC so you could just use SiC sandpaper to groove it, even.
     
  9. eKretz

    eKretz

    686
    Aug 30, 2009
    You could try. I wouldn't recommend it.
     
  10. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Why not? It's a sufficiently hard abrasive that would be able to wrap around the rod, allowing you to draw the rod through it. It'd be much easier to get good straight scratches that way than drawing it against a flat diamond plate, even though the diamond would bite in easier. The comparatively disposable nature of sandpaper also makes more sense when abrading something so hard instead of wearing the less-disposable diamond of a plate-style sharpening stone.
     
  11. eKretz

    eKretz

    686
    Aug 30, 2009
    It was my understanding he wanted "grooves" in the rod. If just going for scratches he might be able to do that. Silicon carbide is harder than tungsten carbide but only just. Even getting scratches of significant depth would take some doing. Diamond would see little wear in this scenario, silicon carbide quite a lot.

    I worked in a machine shop for more than two decades, and have abraded a LOT of tungsten carbide in that time. Silicon carbide will cut TC but only just. We had silicon carbide grinding wheels in one shop for TC "grinding" but it was really almost useless to try them. They wore heavily and got huge deep grooves in the wheel almost instantly when grinding TC. Most of the time any guys that would even bother to use them would roughly beat a tool into shape with the SiC then finish on diamond. And these were the green SiC which is harder. I just used the diamond wheel from the get-go - and would he finished in 1/4 the time as when using both!
     
  12. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    The question is mostly if you want to put wear on a diamond plate or not. It'll certainly take longer to use coarse SiC papers, but most folks don't have things like diamond wheels lying around and want to use their diamond plates for sharpening work rather than putting that kind of wear on them if they can avoid it. Something like a cheap eBay diamond plate would probably be a good option, though. I'm mostly saying that if you have a few sheets of coarse SiC paper sitting around already it's worth a shot. You don't need very deep scratches to reduce contact surface. A lot of the finer honing steels out there are only very shallowly grooved.
     
  13. eKretz

    eKretz

    686
    Aug 30, 2009
    TC won't wear a diamond much if at all in this application. It's low surface area, would go PDQ. SiC would probably work too if all you want are shallow scratches. The sharpeners in question that were mentioned by the O.P. do not fit that bill. The grooves in those are very deep, as I mentioned previously - they basically look like carbide burrs.

    I guess for me, like you, it would go like this: "Self, do I have any SiC sandpaper around? Nope. But I do have a wide variety of diamond plates, which would do the job very quick and easy. Should I go buy some SiC sandpaper just to try it? Nope, I'll just use a diamond plate."
     
  14. HeavyHanded

    HeavyHanded

    Jun 4, 2010
    The pull throughs can do a good job if they are properly tuned first:
    https://www.bladeforums.com/threads...d-you-with-micrographs.1145015/#post-13089672

    Recently have sharpened up a few hair shears, where one needs to do as little work on the ride side as possible. For burr removal I use a small piece of carbide hacksaw blade, snapped down to a small length and flattened on an EF diamond plate. Laid flat across the ride it does a great job of removing 90% of the burr with no unintended wear to the edge or the back side of the shear.

    If I were going to scribe a TC rod I'd use diamond. SiC might be harder but the mineral is not as durable - it'll fracture down as you go and wind up not working very effectively.
     
    eKretz likes this.
  15. eKretz

    eKretz

    686
    Aug 30, 2009
    Good link, missed that before. This thread got me hunting through my tungsten carbide scrap pile, now I've got to try a piece as a "steel" and see what it does.
     

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