How To Why use ceramic stones dry? I believe I've found a better way.

r8shell

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
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I know that Spyderco recommends using their ceramic stones dry, but when I try that, they load up with swarf after just a few passes, and lose their bite. I can clean them with products like Barkeeper's Friend, but it's frustrating and messy, interrupting the sharpening session too often.

Now, I am by no means an expert knife sharpener, but a friend of mine and I have been experimenting with various different techniques and products, and I believe there is a solution to the loading problem: Glycerin. It's available in the skin care isle at the local drugstore. A 6 oz. bottle costs about $3, is water soluble, non-toxic.

Basically, if I use the glycerin as a honing solution, the swarf just floats above the surface of the ceramic, allowing the stone to remove steel as if it were freshly clean. I can sharpen for quite a while until the fluid gets very dark with swarf, and then all I have to do is wipe it off and reapply. If I want to I can add a few drops of water for a thinner solution.
Ceramic stone 1.jpg
Here are a few pictures. I tried to show how one can simply wipe the swarf away with a microfiber cloth. I used the white ultra-fine stone to show how clean the glycerin leaves it, but this works equally well with the brown medium stone.
Ceramic stone 2.jpg
Ceramic stone 3.jpg Ceramic stone 4.jpg

In addition, this prevents airborn metal dust from going into my lungs, and leaves my cuticles moisturized. I wish I could get the glycerin to stay on my SharpMaker rods, but gravity has its downfalls.

I just wanted to share this tip, it was a big breakthrough for me in getting effective use from ceramic stones. Has anyone else tried this?
 

FortyTwoBlades

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I rarely use sintered ceramics without at least water on the surface, usually cut with a drop of dish soap or laundry detergent to break surface tension. One thing to be mindful of with glycerin is if used on porous stones it can mold if given the chance. Not a concern with sintered ceramics, though, as there's no appreciable porosity to them.
 
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I've been using mineral oil on diamond hones, and sometimes on ceramics, when I do use them at all. Might have to play with the glycerin too.

We're heading into the cooler, dryer winter season here, where I live, and my hands start to get dry, cracked & crinkly, just like the dead leaves falling from the trees. I've recently resorted to using glue to seal up the cracks & splits in my fingertips, so anything that could help keep them moisturized is a bonus. :D


David
 
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I don’t use those sintered ceramics anymore but if I do, I have used mineral oil for quite some time now.
 

Neko2

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I've been using mineral oil on diamond hones, and sometimes on ceramics, when I do use them at all. Might have to play with the glycerin too.


We're heading into the cooler, dryer winter season here, where I live, and my hands start to get dry, cracked & crinkly, just like the dead leaves falling from the trees. I've recently resorted to using glue to seal up the cracks & splits in my fingertips, so anything that could help keep them moisturized is a bonus. :D


David
See, we just need to find a use for coconut oil and shea butter in knife maintenance and you'd be all set!
 

r8shell

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I rarely use sintered ceramics without at least water on the surface, usually cut with a drop of dish soap or laundry detergent to break surface tension. One thing to be mindful of with glycerin is if used on porous stones it can mold if given the chance. Not a concern with sintered ceramics, though, as there's no appreciable porosity to them.
I use glycerin on India and Arkansas stones, and have never noticed any mold (and I'm not very conscientious about making sure they're totally dry before putting them away) I'll have to keep an eye out for that.
I don’t use those sintered ceramics anymore but if I do, I have used mineral oil for quite some time now.
That's interesting, because I've accidentally gotten a drop of oil on the ceramic and it made the surface so slick I didn't think it was cutting at all, so I carefully cleaned it off. Did you use oil just for final polishing of the edge?
 
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I use glycerin on India and Arkansas stones, and have never noticed any mold (and I'm not very conscientious about making sure they're totally dry before putting them away) I'll have to keep an eye out for that.
That's interesting, because I've accidentally gotten a drop of oil on the ceramic and it made the surface so slick I didn't think it was cutting at all, so I carefully cleaned it off. Did you use oil just for final polishing of the edge?

Yes, if I use a ceramic like that for a microbevel, I use the Norton brand mineral oil.
 
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New Title: Why use ceramic stones dry?

Fixed it for ya! :) I kid, I'm experimenting with them myself.

I guess it depends how you're using them. If using for actual sharpening, then yes, some kind of lube be it glycerin, soapy water, light mineral oil, etc., makes perfect sense.

If using only to refine/finish with a few light strokes on a super fine grit stone, there isn't much friction to begin with, and there won't be much loading either. So using it that way to experiment as a finishing strategy, I'm just using mine dry.
 

JJ_Colt45

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I prefer water with a few drops of dish soap ... but in a pinch I have used a few drops of food grade mineral oil ... never tried glycerine ... but I could see why it might work ... but as 42 stated I would be leary of the possibilty of contamination in any porous surface.
 
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yeah you really have a point about Spyderco's great ceramic stones loading up too fast. Now I'm a big user of the 204 Sharpmaker which also uses their same ceramic stones and I'm doubtful if there is a way to use those wet unfortunately but if any of you have a similar remedy for using the 204 Sharpmaker stones wet I would like to hear it.

I'm going to check out the use of glycerin for my Spyderco 302 benchstones and I'm anxious to try it. Where is a good place to find this glycerin that you are using? Is it a hardware store item? Or do any of the Dollar stores carry it?

Also I've been experimenting with the newer Dawn Platinum Overnight dish soap which seems to have more lubricity than any other dish soap I've previous used. The newer Dawn Platinum Overnight is also a good thing to soak your stones in before cleaning. It seems to make the final cleaning with Bar Keeper's Friend product much quicker and easier.

This is a most interesting and informative thread and I thank the BF member for putting it up.
 
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Where is a good place to find this glycerin that you are using? Is it a hardware store item? Or do any of the Dollar stores carry it?

Do a search with your favorite search engine. It is ubiquitous. No opinion as to whether it is better than any other similar lubricant.
 

r8shell

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yeah you really have a point about Spyderco's great ceramic stones loading up too fast. Now I'm a big user of the 204 Sharpmaker which also uses their same ceramic stones and I'm doubtful if there is a way to use those wet unfortunately but if any of you have a similar remedy for using the 204 Sharpmaker stones wet I would like to hear it.

I'm going to check out the use of glycerin for my Spyderco 302 benchstones and I'm anxious to try it. Where is a good place to find this glycerin that you are using? Is it a hardware store item? Or do any of the Dollar stores carry it?

Also I've been experimenting with the newer Dawn Platinum Overnight dish soap which seems to have more lubricity than any other dish soap I've previous used. The newer Dawn Platinum Overnight is also a good thing to soak your stones in before cleaning. It seems to make the final cleaning with Bar Keeper's Friend product much quicker and easier.

This is a most interesting and informative thread and I thank the BF member for putting it up.
Good luck giving it a try, and if you figure out a way to use the Sharpmaker wet I'd love to hear about it. (I've smeared a few drops of the glycerin on the rods, and it doesn't hurt anything, but it can't really float the swarf like it does on flat stones, and I have to clean up the mess that drips into the base)

I get glycerin at the drugstore, or in the first aid/skin care isle at the grocery store. Walmart has it, too. You have to look on the "weird stuff shelf" near the witch hazel and the corn huskers lotion. :D
 
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Regarding using lubrication on the Sharpmaker's rods...

In using mineral oil on my own ceramic hones, I've only applied enough to create a light, slippery sheen on the surface, spread evenly with a fingertip. It doesn't necessarily need to be dripping wet with oil, in other words, but just enough to keep the swarf from sticking to the surface, which is otherwise how it becomes clogged. It's not so much about literally 'floating' the swarf with a heavy layer of oil. My point being, even though the SM's rods are used in a near-vertical orientation, there might still be some benefit in lubing them, without worrying about all the oil running off of them.

Most of my ceramics that I've used with oil have all been handheld, i.e., blade in one hand, and hone in the other. I also use pocket-sized diamond hones with oil in the same manner. I tilt/angle the hone to keep the blade's apex oriented toward me, so I can see it. It that orientation, the hones are near-vertical anyway, much in a similar orientation as the SM's setup. It works fine for me this way, with the light coating of oil on the hone, and no worries about too much of it running off. Ceramic hones aren't nearly as porous as other wet/oil stones. The light sheen of oil is usually enough to make them work a lot better, because that little bit of oil will actually stay on the surface, instead of running off or being absorbed into the hone.

The biggest limitation with the SM's rods might just be their very narrow working area. As such, using some kind of lubrication on them may or may not have a significant impact on loading of swarf on the surface; especially on the corners of the rods, if they're used at all. But it couldn't hurt to give it a try. When the lube starts getting dark or gummy with a buildup of swarf, just wipe it away with a towel and reapply another thin coat to the surface. That's where the oil, in preventing the swarf from sticking, really pays off in enabling it to be simply wiped away, rather than having to scrub it out of the clogged hone when it's used dry.


David
 
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