Ever Since Jens won the shaving competition by shaving his head with a chisel, everyone pretty much accepted the fact that whatever came next would take second place to his pure originality and genius/madness.
Until now. (video is below)
I stumbled on the ceramic knife as a razor quite by accident. As an experiment, I was sharpening a Kyocera ceramic paring knife as a reed knife when I noticed that the edge was getting sharp enough to actually cut some hair after using Ken Schwartz’s diamond paper at 6 microns. I immediately went to the store and bought another Kyocera Ceramic Knife – but the smallest they had was the utility knife, which was a little longer than the paring knife. No problem for me, though, since I’ve shaved with 10″ knives and big cleavers 😀
The factory edge off the ceramic knife is actually quite impressive – it’s sharper than a lot of other knives right out of the box, but it does require a sawing motion to be most effective. I’d rate the factory edge at about 2K, or 8 micron. The edge angles were a little steeper than I wanted since ceramics don’t have much give like steel knives, and they will chip out due to their ultra-hardness if the angles are too low. But for a straight razor knife, the rigidness of the ceramic blade could be combined with lower angles since the edge wouldn’t fold or roll like thin steel at lower angles.
Ken’s diamond papers come in in several sizes and span a huge range of grits (from 165 micron to 0.1 micron, or approx. 100 grit to 150,000 grit). For this project, I used his 3″x8″ diamond films on glass. I started with the 74 micron (~200 grit) diamond paper to establish the lower bevel angles. Since this was being done freehand, I would guess about 10-15 degrees per side is where I was aiming. As hard as ceramics knives are, I was quite amazed just how easy it was for the diamond films to abrade the knife. It was just like using a conventional sharpening stone on a piece of steel – I was using both forward and backward strokes (as opposed to single sided strokes) – and many of the same characteristics of sharpening steel still came into play, even though the most obvious feature that was left out was the lack of burr formation. The 75 micron was almost a little too aggressive, but it made quick work of the profiling. Then I went through the grits step by step – 45 micron, 30 micron, 20 micron, and 15 micron (320 grit, 500 grit, 800 grit, and 1K, respectively). It was a bit overkill since the diamonds really did perform, but I was still on a learning curve, so it was safer not to skip. I also did enough strokes to make VERY sure I had reached the edge of the edge since there were no real indicators of sharpness. I monitored the sharpness under my microscope (no pictures on this one, I was in too much a rush!)
Not until I reached the 9 and 6 micron level (1,500 and 3K grits) did the edge of the edge begin to actually “feel” sharp to the touch. It could cut hairs, but only with some force. I knew I was on the right track, and I was getting very excited!
After the 3 micron (~6K grit) the edge started to push cut paper, and the hairs on my arm were being cut with greater ease. This is where I had stopped with sharpening my reed knife, and I knew the 1 micron (15K grit) would send it over the top for shaving. And I was right! I wasn’t totally thrilled with the pressure still needed to cut a hair (which was more of what I was going on in terms of how the shave would feel) Under the scope, it looked just like a steel razor, only cleaner!
At the 0.5 micron (30K grit) level, things changed – wow. The edge of the edge really felt scary sharp, and believe it or not, I was able to treetop my arm hairs. Note to those who will inevitably try to do this: switch to all edge trailing no later than the 1 micron. Any angle changes or bumps from dirt, etc. can cut through the films. 😉
I was completely satisfied that this edge would shave off the 0.5, but I hadn’t really given Ken’s 0.025 micron (600,000 grit) poly diamond spray on nanocloth a really good workout, and I figured this would be the best way to see what it could do. It really did take things up a notch with smoothness and “glide”, which I knew would help my skin during the shave.
As for the shave, well the gauntlet got thrown down, and I had to step up my game to compete with Jens, the crazy viking Swede. I think I outdid him- for now! Enjoy!
Tags: ceramic knife, ceramic knife shave, diamond films, jende industries, Ken Schwartz, Knife Forums, knife sharpening, Kyocera Ceramic Knife, precise sharpening, Straight Razor Honing, Straight razor shaving