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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 )
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”.
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 :)
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.