Archive for February, 2012

Wicked Edge (WEPS) Chosera Stone Microscopic Progression

February 25, 2012

This is the second installation of the Wicked Edge Precision Sharpener’s (WEPS) progression of stones under the microscope. In this post, we will look at the complete Chosera WEPS stone progression. You can find the microscopic progression of the WEPS stock diamond and ceramic stones here. I highly recommend reading the stock progression first, as it contains information that will be applied to this post.

The knife is a Maestro Wu bombshell steel folding knife with the angles set to 20 degrees per side. All pictures are taken with a Veho 400x USB microscope, and the actual dimensions of the pictures are all 1mm wide by 0.75mm high.

On a new knife, or one I am profiling for the first time, I would normally start my Chosera progression after the stock 600 diamond WEPS plate. And according to this grit comparison chart, it is a clear step backwards to go from the 600 WEPS (16 microns) to the Chosera 400 (30 microns). But as we saw in the WEPS stock progression of the 1K WEPS diamonds to the WEPS 1200 ceramic, the depth of the scratches on the diamonds can be pretty deep, and while the 400 Chosera stones may be coarser, they will not scratch as deeply – so your deepest diamond scratches begin to be exposed and worked out at much lower levels. The 400 (and 600) Choseras are also excellent for doing maintenance and routine repairs without using the diamonds. While I know not many people will be convinced to go back to the 400 or 600 Choseras, this step back actually excels the sharpening process as it moves forward.

As usual, I will be doing a series of scrubbing strokes followed by sweeping strokes at each grit. Scrubbing strokes are aggressive, and are an up-and-down motion used to establish the scratches at each grit, and to account for any minor deviations due to the tolerances of the angle cube, and dishing in the stones, etc.. The sweeping strokes are alternating strokes the span across the entire edge from heel to tip or tip to heel, and they establish a straight line at the edge of the edge. I don’t generally use circle strokes with anything other than the WEPS 100 diamonds.

One thing I do with my coarsest Chosera stone (which may be the 400, 600, 800 or 1K Chosera, depending on the situation) when coming off the diamonds is to first use the stone with a slurry. A slurry is generated by rubbing two same-grit stones together (they should be pre-soaked and wet already). In this case, I rubbed the two 400 grits together. This releases 400 grit abrasives onto the surface of the stones, and makes them more aggressive. While they do arguably cut deeper (since the full size of the abrasive is loose as opposed to just a portion sticking out of the matrix), it will still not cut as deeply as the diamonds. It will not be “best” representation of the edge, either. At this early stage, I don’t worry about making the edge usable yet. For me, it’s the transition from the diamond scratches to the Chosera scratches that is key.

Below we have the 400 Chosera with slurry.

WEPS 400 Chosera - Scrubbing with Slurry

WEPS 400 Chosera – Scrubbing with Slurry

It’s hard to tell at this level what is lurking underneath as the slurry on the stones makes things rather “dirty”. Things do clean up better with the 400 Chosera sweeping strokes:

WEPS 400 Chosera - Sweeping with Slurry

WEPS 400 Chosera – Sweeping with Slurry

While the bevel is clearly smoother than the diamond finish, the edge of the edge is rather toothy and serrated. This is because of the slurry. If I wanted to stop at the 400 Chosera, I would not use a slurry. We’ll get to that in a little bit :)

Next, the 600 Chosera with water only (no slurry) scrubbing and sweeping:

WEPS 600 Chosera – Scrubbing

WEPS 600 Chosera - Sweeping

WEPS 600 Chosera – Sweeping

After the 600 WEPS, we can clearly see that the scratches are Chosera, and not Diamond scratches.

There is really not a whole lot of difference between the 400 and 600 Chosera stones other than the 400 is “harder” and generally better suited to softer knives while the 600 is “softer” and generally better suited to harder knives. FWIW, I personally like the 600 more than the 400 :)

The 800 Chosera is an excellent “lateral” move from the WEPS 600 diamonds.  I would use a slurry if I were coming straight off the WEPS 600, but since I am following the Chosera 600, I only used water.

WEPS 800 Chosera - Scrubbing

WEPS 800 Chosera – Scrubbing

WEPS 800 Chosera - Sweeping

WEPS 800 Chosera – Sweeping

There is an uncanny similarity to the 800 Chosera and the WEPS 600 Diamond finish at the edge of the edge. However, the polishing effect of the Chosera cleans up the face of the bevel, making it shine more. They are both very clean and ready for cutting at a basic sharpness level.

I want to take this moment to explain slurry and paste regarding the Choseras specifically. Slurry is loose abrasive that makes abrasion faster. On the Chosera’s it has a milky consistency that is roughly the same color of the stone.  Because the abrasives are loose and there are a large amount of them, I reserve slurries for the coarsest grits, and do not use them past 1K. Paste is the black buildup on the stone that accumulates as you use it.  It is a combination of water, abraded metal,  lose broken down abrasive that has been released from the matrix naturally (not through raising a slurry), and bits of the binder. On the Choseras, a paste is desired. It is a finer abrasive that serves to “polish the grooves” of the scratches while cleaning up the edge of the edge. This leaves the edge more refined than the advertised grit. The trick with paste is to keep it wet enough so it stays on the stone without dripping off. Also, the more strokes you do, the more refined the edge gets (but not infinitely).

(Paste is often called swarf, but as we’ll see in the Shapton WEPS progression, Swarf is the mixture of abraded metal and water that is not desired.)

In the case of the Choseras, the scrubbing action at each grit helps to create a paste, which then makes the sweeping strokes finish finer. It’s a fantastic 1-2 punch! :D

Now we will continue with the 1K Chosera:

WEPS 1K Chosera - Scrubbing

WEPS 1K Chosera – Scrubbing

WEPS 1K - Sweeping

WEPS 1K – Sweeping

The 1K Chosera is a wonderful stone for a working edge. It is often referred to as the “incredible hulk” since it bleeds green :D  You can see how smooth the bevel is, and how clean the edge of the edge is thanks to the effects of the paste.

WEPS 2K Chosera - Scrubbing

WEPS 2K Chosera – Scrubbing

WEPS 2K Chosera - Sweeping

WEPS 2K Chosera – Sweeping

The 2K Chosera may look a little rougher than the 1K Chosera, but the edge of the edge actually comes to more of a point than the 1K, and roughly equivalent to the WEPS Ceramic 1600 (although I think the 2K Chosera looks  a little better). Again, the paste has enhanced the performance of the stone, and there is actually a very nice mirror on on the bevel at this point, although the actual scratches are not even enough at the microscopic level.

A lot of guys swear by their 2K Chosera as the best all-around working edge, and the 2K sweeping picture shows why. :D

WEPS 3K Chosera - Scrubbing

WEPS 3K Chosera – Scrubbing

WEPS 3K Chosera - Sweeping

WEPS 3K Chosera – Sweeping

The 3K Chosera scrubbing picture begins to reveal some of the deeper scratches left by previous stones. Even though the Diamond scratches were well removed, you still have the earliest Chosera scratches to contend with. In fact, revealing and removing previous scratches is a fact of life with any progression.

The 3K sweeping is not much different than the 2K, although there is a thinner edge of the edge and the bevel is smoother, still. As we approach a microscopically smooth surface, the more “blue” the edge becomes. When it turns white, then we have achieved a a real mirror finish.

Much like the relationship between the 400 and 600 Chosera stones, the 2K is “softer” and more forgiving, and is generally better on harder knives while the 3K is “harder” and less forgiving, and is generally better suited for softer knives. Both the 2K and 3K progress to the 5K with no problems.

WEPS 5K Chosera - Scrubbing

WEPS 5K Chosera – Scrubbing

WEPS 5K Chosera - Sweeping

WEPS 5K Chosera – Sweeping

The scrubbing at the 5K Chosera level exposes the scratches quite cleanly while the sweeping creates a very smooth surface. At the macro level , this is a full mirror, but at the micro level the surface is not quite clean “enough” to give that mirror effect.

That brings us to the “critical leap” concept. In any progression, there will be a transition where the peaks and valleys are even enough to reflect the surface cleanly. Medium grits still create scratches that won’t reflect directly whereas polishing stones scratches will. This transition is the “critical leap”. On the Chosera progression, you have a visible mirror at the macro level by the 2K level, but not yet under the scope. The critical leap on the Choseras is therefore between the 5K and 10K levels.

WEPS 10K Chosera - Scrubbing

WEPS 10K Chosera – Scrubbing

WEPS 10K Chosera - Sweeping A

WEPS 10K Chosera – Sweeping A

WEPS 10K Chosera - Sweeping B

WEPS 10K Chosera – Sweeping B

Because the critical leap on the Choseras is between the 5K and 10K levels, it requires more strokes to perfect things since we are using the”slower” 10K abrasive size to abrade. The paste from the 10K leaves a slightly “imperfect” looking bevel and edge. Believe me, the bevel is a complete mirror thanks to polishing effect of the paste. The resulting edge is a little toothy due to the scratches, but very smooth due to the polishing of the grooves with the paste.

From here, you can definitely shave your face, or continue on with pasted paddles or Shapton stones.


Wicked Edge (WEPS) Stock Diamond & Ceramic Microscopic Progression

February 12, 2012

I was preparing to do a video on the use of the Wicked Edge Chosera stones, and I wanted to show some still shots to show what is happening at each stage of the sharpening process on the WEPS. I ended up taking microscope pictures of the whole “solid” WEPS paddle progression – 100, 200, 400, 600, 800, 1K , diamond plates, and the 1200 and 1600 ceramic paddles.

I am posting them below since there has been more interest about choosing between the higher diamond grits, the WEPS ceramic and the Chosera and Shapton WEPS stones.  I’ll be posting the Shapton and Chosera WEPS progressions shortly.

The knife is a Maestro Wu bombshell steel folding knife with the angles set to 20 degrees per side. All pictures are taken with a Veho 400x USB microscope, and the actual dimensions of the pictures are all 1mm wide by 0.75mm high.

I generally begin sharpening a new knife on the WEPS with the stock 100 diamond paddles using circles. This is an aggressive method, and as the picture below shows, it leaves seriously “crystalline” looking scratches. These random looking scratches make stock removal faster because the diamonds won’t get into ruts from a singular direction. The downside is that the leave such nasty scratches in all directions which will need to be worked out in order to prevent/minimize micro chipping at the finer stages (see my reasoning about that, here).

WEPS 100 Diamond – Circles

With the initial bevel set at the desired angle (in this case, 20 degrees per side), I can now begin the cleanup and refinement of this edge. With the 100 WEPS, I keep the angles the same, and begin using scrubbing strokes, which are basically straight up and down strokes. Scrubbing cleans up the scratches from the circles, and establishes a very flat bevel angle. You can see some very deep scratches, but they are all pretty much lined up now, but it is not ready to progress to the 200 stock diamonds yet.

WEPS 100 Diamond – Scrubbing

Scrubbing may line the scratches up and make a very nice bevel, but they leave the edge slightly wavy since you are only abrading a 3/4 inch wide section at a time as you scrub. As the final step to clean up any waviness, I use a sweeping motion, which is single alternating strokes on each side of the blade,  as seen below. This also minimizes the burr buildup.

WEPS 100 Diamond – Sweeping

From here you won’t need circles again. Each picture below follows the same scrubbing/sweeping pattern at each grit. My routine is to change grits, double check the angles with the angle cube, and then use scrubbing on each side to raise a burr, and make sure of any slight changes in angles have been removed. Then I switch to alternating sweeping strokes to clean up any waviness, and to keep burr formation to a minimum.

Below is the WEPS 200, scrubbing and sweeping. Some of the circle scratches from the 100 diamonds are still faintly visible.

WEPS 200 Diamond – Scrubbing

WEPS 200 Diamond – Sweeping

The WEPS 400 Diamonds start to reveal some of the micro chipping elements from my microscope lens digging into the edge for the pictures. On the 400 Sweeping picture, you can see how the deeper scratches terminates with micro chips at the edge. At this relatively coarse stage, they can still be worked out with the 600 diamond plates.

WEPS 400 Diamond – Scrubbing

WEPS 400 Diamond – Sweeping

By the end of the WEPS 600 diamond plates, there is a decent, although what I call a “minimal” working edge. Note just how much cleaner the sweeping edge of the edge is compared to the scrubbing edge.

WEPS 600 Diamond – Scrubbing

WEPS 600 Diamond – Sweeping

It is from here that all WEPS owners must make some decisions – to stop at the 600 stock, or continue with the WEPS 800/1K, the WEPS 1200/1600 Ceramics, the WEPS diamond compound on leather, or to the Chosera or Shapton WEPS stones. For this blog post, we will continue with the WEPS diamonds and ceramic plates.

My 800 and 1K diamond plates are relatively new (only about 3 months old) compared to my stock diamonds, which are about 15 months old, so they are a still a fair bit more aggressive than they will be when they settle in after a few more months. Nonetheless, you can see the scratches on the surface of the bevel are not as deep as the 600 even though the edge of the edge isn’t as clean as the 600.

WEPS 800 Diamond – Scrubbing

WEPS 800 Diamond – Sweeping

On the 1K WEPS diamonds, the bevel smooths out even more, and the edge of the edge is actually a “tip” of a point, whereas on the 600, there is a “flat top”. At this point, we have a  “sharp” knife that is what I would call a general purpose working edge. (I have very high standards!  :D )

WEPS 1K Diamond – Scrubbing

WEPS 1K Diamond – Sweeping

The WEPS diamond plates tap out at 1K, and from there the WEPS ceramic stones are meant to further refine and polish the edge. Before you see the pictures below, take one more look at the 1K edge above. Note how consistent the scratches on the bevel are, and how clean things look, minus the occasional bump on the edge of the edge.

If you’ve read any of my posts before this, I talk about how the different abrasive mediums abrade differently. It becomes quite apparent below that when you switch from the diamond setup to the ceramics that there are hidden scratches that become exposed due to the more shallow scratches of the ceramics paddles. On the 1200 scrubbing picture, the scratches going against the majority could be written off as me just not doing enough scrubbing to remove the previous scratches. But when you see the sweeping picture, you can see just how wide the residual scratches against the grain are. Although those scratches are rather shallow at this point, you can tell from the width that they do not belong to the 800, 1K or 1200 plates (they look more like 400 grit scratches). Note how those deeper scratches leave serrations in the edge of the edge.

The solution is rather simple, either go back to the 800/1K WEPS, or do more on the 1200 until those scratches “bottom out”.

WEPS 1200 Ceramic – Scrubbing

WEPS 1200 Ceramic – Sweeping

Lastly, I finished with the 1600 WEPS ceramic plates.  You can see that I didn’t quite work out all the residual scratches from the lower grits in the scrubbing picture, but they seem to be under control from the sweeping – I did do quite a few strokes to clean things up :)

WEPS 1600 Ceramic – Scrubbing

WEPS 1600 Ceramic – Sweeping

By the end of the WEPS 1600 ceramic paddles, you have a very nice edge that should easily shave arm hairs.

I will be adding the microscope Chosera and Shapton Progressions in the next couple of posts.

Spyderco Military in s90v – Shave Ready

February 6, 2012

A while back, one of the members of the Keeping Sharp area of Knife Forums challenged me to sharpen his Spyderco Military in S90V. When I got it, it was pretty darn sharp already – there was a chip in the middle of the blade, but the tip area was sharp enough to cut hairs off my arm.

I can tell you that the Spyderco Military s90v is a wonderful knife -I started off using the Shapton Glass stones, an the knife just took an amazing, super scary/aggressive feeling edge up to the 4K level.After that, it was a ton of work because there was a point of diminishing returns – as each grit became finer, it took longer to cut through the steel.

I had the knife cutting smoothly from the beginning, but it just took 4 tries to get it sharp enough to cut hair comfortably. Even at the time of the shave, it only whittled hair, not popped. You can see how thrilled I wasn’t as the shave progressed, but the end result was much better than I had ever imagined when I applied the aftershave.

A couple of things I noticed – one is that while the steel is abrasion resistant, it was still prone to some rolling of the edge as it got so thin. I initially started with a 16 degree angle on each side, and went through the WEPS 100/200/400/600/800/1K diamonds, then on to the Chosera 800, 2K, 5K, 10K with a little help from some Hand American .25 micron diamond to help speed up the cutting a little. (it helped, but I really did need diamonds all the way here!) but the test shave off that was horrendously rough.

I then upped it to 18 degrees and used the 15K Shapton with the HA .25 and then the 30K Shapton with Ken’s .050 Poly. This put the edge in the right place, but not enough to shave yet. I went back and did A LOT of stropping on .25 diamond on felt and then .050 poly on balsa at about 30 degrees per side. Then some canvas stropping and some clean leather (Tony Miller strop).

The second is the fact that the knife shaved waaaay better against the grain than it did with the grain – the exact opposite of what it should do! My guess is that the resistance offered by the hair against the grain allowed for the edge to “grab on” to the hair in order to cut it.

The edge under the scope was perfectly straight and smooth at each attempt – this leads me to believe that while the carbides may be tough, the steel around them sort of “fell out” as the edge of the edge approached “shave ready”. The knife was “sharp” way early on, but getting it to shave was the real challenge.

This was just a warm up – the true test will be my Rex-121 Mule made by Farid… Stay tuned!

Maestro Wu Bombshell Steel Knives in The News Feb.3, 2012

February 3, 2012

Maestro WU made the News again!

Zeit Online, a German news site just did an article on Kin Men and focused on Maestro Wu:

Page two of the article has even more about Maestro Wu.

Here is the weak, yet tolerable Google translation:

The diameter of Master Wu

What is on the Taiwanese island of Kinmen a decades-old conflict into a tourist attraction.

It looks like a scene from an absurd theater piece: Among the marching orders of the commander bellowed six uniformed men and women in lockstep on a huge cannon to. Together they carry a stretcher, is on – nothing. In their minds, and in the audience but they carry a heavy artillery shell, which they then kneel, they introduce into the gun by means of synchronous arm movement, and – accompanied by a loud bang from the speakers – fire. In the direction of China.

Only a few kilometers of sea separating the small island of Kinmen to Taiwan proper from the Fujian province in mainland China. Should it occur to one big, weird brother to incorporate the “renegade province” of Taiwan by military means, Kinmen would be back first thing in the scope. It would not be the first time
About a million shells fired the People’s Republic of China in the course of two decades on Kinmen. After a first wave in spring 1958 with live ammunition, the shells were filled later with propaganda leaflets. Twenty years of fighting the two countries are in a bizarre ritual: On odd days of shelling China, the island, on even days were firing the Taiwan armed forces of Kinmen back out – again with propaganda grenades, the contents of the political achievements, material and especially the praised Taiwan’s advantage over the People’s Republic. At that time the island was like a fortress, always ready to repel desires of the mainland.

Since the relations between Taiwan and China have expanded in the nineties, but has the climate changed to Kinmen. A large part of the army has been withdrawn. Some of the underground, deep into the granite island blown up military installations are released today as a tourist attraction for visitors. And the cast of the shell-enactment are not real soldiers, but student athletes, to earn the four performances a day in some money. With guests from around 230 kilometers from the main island of Taiwan, the spectacle is very popular, but more and more tourists come to the People’s Republic of China.

The former enemies even closer – in very practical terms. Day after day ten vessels operate between Kinmen and Fujian Province. The crossing takes just under an hour. The former provincial city Xiamen on the other side has emerged as a major metropolis. From the beaches of Kinmen can be seen in the distant haze grow the impressive skyline of the city. For residents of Xiamen, the island offers a welcome opportunity for day trips into the countryside. It is estimated that clean air, the old architecture and the famous sorghum liquor. Kinmen residents use the ferry, however, to go shopping and to schuppern urban air. All very peaceful and civil, so it seems. Yet visitors from the mainland ferry terminal are still welcomed in the Armed: the cute, smiling cartoon silhouette target with machine guns.

As if in a trance Wu weighs back and forth as he grinds the blank

The conflict has left its mark, and they are nowhere more palpable than in the blacksmith shop of the island Tseng-dong Wu, stainless projectiles, remnants of war days, made into knives. The idea came from his father, Chao-Hsi Wu, who learned his craft even during the Qing Dynasty on the mainland. During the Japanese occupation from 1937 to 1945 Kinmen drove the chronic shortage of material to the blacksmith and his ten-member family to the brink of ruin. And so began the resourceful Chao-Hsi Wu, part of Allied bombs that rained down during the Second World War on the island to use as a raw material for his tools and kitchen knives. Soon, even that source dried up. Until the Chinese “People’s Liberation Army, the island” in 1958 was under attack.

Be consumed by the remains of the following material battle son Tseng-dong Wu today. We meet him at work in his workshop, a small hall with a brick oven rußüberzogenen and a shrine with incense sticks to the wall. “He’s” the owner of this place, says Wu – meaning the local spirit, without which no blessing would be on its activities. The smith, a tall lanky wearing jeans and apron. Viewed from the side, he looks as thin as his knife blades, but his vice-handshake reveals immediately the craftsman.

In order to forge a knife, he cuts with the torch a piece of metal from one of the projectiles, which already has the shape of the blade and handle. In coal bed of the furnace, he brings it to glow, then hammering the narrow one Master Wu for his work, that the only way stieben spark across the room. The cut is ultimately the decisive factor: As in a trance, Wu weighs back and forth, while the blank on his lap to the grindstone rotating leads and approach grinds to a radio beam to the perfect sharpness.

Since the age of six has Tseng-dong Wu helped his father at work – like all his seven siblings. “First I have served as a youngster the bellows for the fire, which made me very proud,” he says. Gradually he learned to his brothers and all the steps. “The finished blades were hanging for sale on the workshop wall. Customers have always chosen my “The reason. Wu worked slower than his brothers, but incomparably more precise.

At age 16 he dropped out of school, although he would have liked to study. But his talent for forging a particularly fine blade was obvious, and the family should be maintained. Sun-Dong Wu Tseng acquiesced – the right decision, as he says today. Initially, the grateful soldiers stationed on Kinmen purchasers of his goods. But the boom began only in the nineties, when the tourists came. Wu’s reputation got around – in the catering trade, with foreign visitors, in the media. Finally, the knife master built around a portion of his workshop to the auditorium. Since then his work is like a stage on which the making of his iconic performance blades for is: Here forge a military dominated the history of his island to tourists for a piece of the future.

A consultant advised the Ministry of Industry Wu to establish a trademark that was best in himself So from Tseng-dong Wu “Maestro Wu”. Also embarrassed laugh about the blacksmith. With his 54 years he has maintained a friendly, boyish nature. “The Master is not me, but the customer,” he says. A shot that hits: Wu now supplies to Russia, Italy, France, the United States.

On Kinmen “Maestro Wu has four knife shops” opened. From time to time, he considers his blades also offer there, where his grandfather had once learned the craft: on the mainland. But he shuns the big leap. Wu feels as Taiwan – even though the coast of Fujian is so much closer than the main island of Taiwan, even though his family originally came from the mainland, like most residents of Kinmen.

The houses of the island is the common heritage to be considered. Many settlements are built in traditional Fujian style – and miraculously spared most of the attacks. They lead the visitors still remember how the lives of wealthy Fujianesen the time of the Qing Dynasty was like. The often used term “village” is somewhat misleading – it really is small, walled residences, the wealthy merchants between the 17th and 19th Century were built. With their characteristic swallowtail gables, granite and wood facades seem to be representative, yet modest.

Whoever enters through the double doors to escape from terraces, patios, walls and corridors shrines, has the feeling of moving through a nested series of small jewelry box. Many apartments are still inhabited by the heirs of the ancient clans, others serve as guest houses for tourists, mainly from Taiwan, Singapore and Europe. “At guests from the mainland, we are not” properly set, says the manager of a small pension. Your visitors appreciate the calm and elegance of the old houses. Mainland Chinese are often rude and loud. “You want to smoke, drink and socialize – sometimes disturbs the other guests.”

“Maestro Wu,” has nothing against tourists from the People’s Republic, on the contrary: “Such a group can be a whole boutique” buying up, says the smith, as he prepares Taiwanese oolong tea. The blacksmith carefully handled with delicate tea sets. The Gong Fu ceremony is a major fixture for Wu everyday bustle. Devoutly he sniffs his tea cups. Then he tells him that are now offered shells from around the world, most recently from Iraq. Wu raises his arms up: “The world is crazy,” laughs and embarrassed!. “I’m here but still have enough material for years!”

Maestro Wu Bombshell Steel Knives are currently available in Europe at and


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