Posts Tagged ‘Shapton Glass Stones’

Jende Hapstone V6 Has Been Unleashed!

February 9, 2017

The Jende Hapstone V6 is now in stock! This is the first collaboration with Jende Industries and the Hapstone Sharpener. We’ve got the V6 sharpener tricked out with the Jende red and black colors, as well as a couple of other goodies.

jende-hapstone-1

One of the benefits of the Jende Hapstone V6 aside from its striking beauty, is the option to accessorize like mad – you can choose from a full line of Shapton Glass stones, Chosera stones, and from our complete line of Color-coded Jende Nanocloth Ultra Strops with CBN and Poly Diamond emulsions as well as our Kangaroo and Leather strops!

And if that was not enough, the Jende Hapstone V6 also has a rotary sharpening attachment, which clamps blades and rotates them without the need to move the knife at all!

hapstone-rotary-attachment

So if you’re in the market for a new sharpener. make it a Jende Hapstone V6!

 

Shapton Glass Stones for the Wicked Edge!

October 18, 2016

Shapton Glass Stones are now available for the Wicked Edge Precision Sharpener (WEPS)!  The full 10 stone lineup includes grits from 220 all the way up to 30K, and you can now make your own customized Shapton Glass Stone Paddles for the Wicked Edge.

Shapton Glass WEPS Stones

Shapton Glass WEPS Stones

The Wicked Edge Precision Sharpener is such a great platform, and anyone who uses one knows just how diverse the accessory stone options are. Shapton Glass Stones are some of the best sharpening stones in the known universe, and until now, the only only way to experience them was by using them in the full size stones. Now they have been brought together to make the WEPS even better! Be warned that there may be a small mushroom cloud that forms when you first use the stones 🙂

320 Shapton Glass WEPS Stone

The extensive grit range is unparalleled, and includes 220, 320, 500, 1K, 2K, 4K, 6K, 8K, 16K, and 30K grits. Our DIY Shapton Glass WEPS Paddles allow you to mix and match your grits to get the combos you need, and come attached to a Wicked Edge Paddle. If you liked the Wicked Edge before, you will fall in love with it all over again with the Shapton Glass WEPS Stones!

 

Shapton 16K Straight Razor Edge Chipping Controversy

October 30, 2011

This microscope progression of a Klas Tornblom 185 Hollow ground razor comes as a result of an ongoing conversation started back in 2009 with Sham (a.k.a. hibudgl on the forums), who is one of the most knowledgeable and skilled straight razor honers I know, and is also one of my mentors.

Basically, Sham claims that when finishing a straight razor on the 16K Shapton Glass, it causes microchips in the edge when more than 20 strokes are used. He has tried several approaches to the 16K, and all have failed him. You can read his complete thoughts about it, here on the Razor and Hone Forum.

I’ve known Sham long enough to know that as much as I don’t like it, he’s usually right. But being a die-hard Shapton fan, I naturally disagreed 🙂 Besides, lots of people like, and some even rave about the edge off the 16K Shapton Glass. I’ve personally had many wonderful shaves off the 16K Glass.

So while Sham and I are arguing, people are somehow still somehow managing to shave.  🙂

I feel that the majority of the problems anyone might have with the 16K Shapton Glass stems from underhoning, where the 16K scratches are revealing the bottom of deepest scratches which were not properly removed during earlier grits. (read my theory on razor overhoning). But this is Sham we’re talking about, and if you’ve ever shaved with a razor honed by him or spoken with him at length, you’ll know that he does know what he’s doing. So underhoning  is less likely the case here. Sham and I are also pretty much in agreement about underhoning, and he is of the mind that the use of diamonds in bevel setting process are the root of many of the problems experienced later.

Which brings the more technical possibility – the way the Shapton Glass series work. The Shapton Glass stones have a softer binder which allows for the more readily release of abrasive. They are designed this way to take on the harder and more abrasion resistant steels out there. In an all-Shapton Glass progression, it could very well be that loose abrasive may be causing little potholes, or microchips. Also, in conversations with Harrelson Stanley he has mentioned that the binder itself is a little harder on the 16K, which when it comes loose, may also get in there with the loose abrasive and swarf to cause microchipping. Keeping the stone clean is the best way to avoid this.

One of the reasons in my theory on overhoning is that the geometry may be too acute. With Shaptons in particular, they peel away the layers of steel at each level, gradually thinning out the edge of the edge on a razor. If that geometry is too acute for the steel’s characteristics, then it will break. A piece of tape or 2 to increase the angle is usually the remedy, and microchippng stops when the geometry is solid enough for the steel to hold that particular thinness at the edge.

So without further boring random facts, here’s what went down with the Tornblom on the microscopic level. All pictures are taken with a Veho-400x, and actual size is 1mm wide by .75mm high.

Before picture:

Klas Tornblom 185 - Before

Klas Tornblom 185 – Before

There’s not much to say here, since the goal was to get this razor to 16K.There is some rounding of the edge of the edge, from stropping most likely, and the bluish streaks from left to right are oil residue.

1. Setting the bevel with a 1200 Atoma Diamond Plate

Klas Tormblom 185 - 1200 Atoma Diamond Plate

Klas Tormblom 185 – 1200 Atoma Diamond Plate

I generally always go straight to diamond plates when honing for others to make darn sure that any failures and successes can be attributed to my honing. Most razors do require the removal of fatigued metal or rounded over edges, and if it’s been sitting in a drawer or antique shop, then it’s safer to remove the top layers that may have been subject to oxidation. You can see that the edge of the edge is somewhat serrated, and eve a little flaky – but the bevel is set, and this does cut arm hair.

2. #320 Shapton Glass

Klas Tornblom 185 - #320 Shapton Glass

Klas Tornblom 185 – #320 Shapton Glass

Here the edge of the edge actually looks worse than the 1200 Atoma, and that is true – the #320 Shapton is coarser. I used this stone to be sure that all the 1200 Atoma scratches were removed, and Shapton scratches were established.

3. #2K Shapton Glass

Klas Tornblom 185 - 2K Shapton Glass

Klas Tornblom 185 – 2K Shapton Glass

I skipped to the 2K because my 1K was out on loan, so this experiment is already somewhat faulted. To make up for it, I spent extra time on the 2K, and this is about where it should be. The edge is only slightly serrated, but beginning to line up nicely. The 2K scratches are all lined up and a pretty even bevel surface is developing.

4. 3K Shapton Glass

Klas Tornblom 185 - 3K Shapton Glass

Klas Tornblom 185 – 3K Shapton Glass

I love this stone! You can see just how much better the edge of the edge is lining up and how consistent the scratches on the bevel are.

5.  4K Shapton Glass

Klas Tornblom 185 - 4K Shapton Glass

Klas Tornblom 185 – 4K Shapton Glass

Off the 4K Glass, the edge has lined up quite nicely, and there is a slight hint of a burr. I’m not worried about any slight burr at this point because my “critical leap”, which is the leap from abrading to polishing is going to happen between the 4K and 6K on the Shapton Glass stones.

6. 6K Shapton Glass – Gray

Klas Tornblom 185 - 6K Shapton Glass - Gray

Klas Tornblom 185 – 6K Shapton Glass – Gray

You can see the transition from the duller bevel to the shinier, cleaner bevel of the 6K (my 6K white glass stone was also on loan with the 1K). If you look closely, you can already see some chipping/fraying at the edge of the edge. This will play a role later.

7.  8K Shapton Glass

Klas Tornblom 185 - 8K Shapton Glass

Klas Tornblom 185 – 8K Shapton Glass

The 8K Glass starts to even out the bevel, and the edge of the edge is juuust holding up…

8a. 16K Shapton Glass – 10 Strokes

Klas Tornblom 185 - 16K Shapton Glass, 10 Strokes

Klas Tornblom 185 – 16K Shapton Glass, 10 Strokes

With 10 strokes on the 16K Glass, the edge of the edge looks OK, and there is a minimal amount of fraying. With some stropping, this would be acceptable for shaving, IMO.

8b. 16K Shapton Glass – 25 Strokes

Klas Tornblom 185 - 16K Shapton Glass - 25 Strokes

Klas Tornblom 185 – 16K Shapton Glass – 25 Strokes

Now is where Sham’s claims come to life – (remember – I said he was usually right) micro chipping and fraying appeared.Just to be sure it wasn’t an effect of hidden underhoning, I did 25 more strokes.

8c. 16K Shapton Glass – 50 Strokes

Klas Tornblom 185 - 16K Shapton Glass - 50 Strokes

Klas Tornblom 185 – 16K Shapton Glass – 50 Strokes

25 more strokes did improve the overall edge, but you can see the edge of the edge has become too thin. I could also flex the entire bevel on my thumbnail, telling me that this geometry was too low. I actually stropped and shaved with this edge, and while it did shave smoothly, there was the “home alone” moment when I applied my Bay Rum. That completely confirmed that the edge didn’t hold up and I was dealing with a geometry issue. So I went back with some tape.

9. 16K Glass Stone – 1 layer of tape, 25 Strokes

Klas Tornblom 185 - 16K Glass 1 Layer of Tape, 25 Strokes

Klas Tornblom 185 – 16K Glass 1 Layer of Tape, 25 Strokes

With 1 layer of electrical tape, I went back to the 8K Glass first, then onto the 16K for 25 strokes. A clear microbevel has formed, but the edge of the edge is still too weak. I tried 2 layers, but it looked the same as above, and I took a deep breath and added a 3rd layer and went back to the 4K Shapton Glass.

10. 4K Shapton Glass – 3 Layers of Tape

Klas Tornblom 185 - 4K Glass, 3 Layers of Tape

Klas Tornblom 185 – 4K Glass, 3 Layers of Tape

11. 8K Shapton Glass – 3 Layers of Tape

Klas Tornblom 185 - 8K Glass, 3 Layers of Tape

Klas Tornblom 185 – 8K Glass, 3 Layers of Tape

I know this looks worse than the original 8K picture, but you must allow me some wiggle room.  🙂

12. 16K Shapton Glass – 3 Layers of Tape

Klas Tornblom 185 - 16K Glass, 3 Layers of Tape

Klas Tornblom 185 – 16K Glass, 3 Layers of Tape, 15 Strokes

Ok, so this does look worse, right? Well, yes and no. On my honing journey, I’ve been finding Swedish steel to be a little  funny (there are 8 more Swedes in the pile where this one came from). The steel is rather hard,thus on the brittle side, and will go to a point where nothing is happening, and then you suddenly have a microchip. If you look closely, there is actually no fraying of the edge at this point as seen in picture 8c above, yes there is some waviness in the edge of the edge, but it is clean.

13. Stropped and ready for the shave!

Klas Tornblom 185 - Stropped for the Shave

Klas Tornblom 185 – Stropped for the Shave

After 5 passes on my Kanayama 50,000 linen, and about 20 on the leather, this baby was ready for a test shave. The edge is thin, no doubt, and there are some teeth, but no real microchipping. The resulting shave was muuuuuch smoother than the initial test, and there was only a cooling feeling on my skin as the Bay Rum evaporated. With 2 full passes and some touching up, there was no burn at all. I even doused on a second helping of Rum 🙂

Conclusions

Microscope pictures are a helpful guide, but we can’t forget that anything that close looks ugly, and while I am a perfectionist, the trick is to know when to let certain imperfections go. That’s the hard part in this wonderful journey.

In the case of the Klas Tornblom 185 progression above, geometry was the key to preventing microchipping, but there was also the steel characteristics and the thin grind which, truth be told, I would’ve liked to put 1 more layer of tape on this razor. I was surprised at just how this the grind was on this razor, and how much effort it took to get her to shave well.

In regards to the 16K Shapton Glass chipping out, Sham is not entirely wrong – the edge will chip out if you do it “right”. Geometry plays a large role when using synthetic hones for razors, and the game is different than when using naturals.

Where Sham is spot on is the number of strokes on the 16K Glass (and 30K Glass for that matter) should be kept to a minimum – assuming underhoning isn’t an issue. When using an all-Shapton Glass progression, even I recommend people only do 10-15 strokes on the final stones. Keeping the stone’s surface clean is also essential.

The bottom line is that the 16K Shapton Glass IS suitable for getting a perfectly fine shave. And while the 16K Shapton Glass may be a little on the finicky side, the hone/stone is only one of many factors that combine together to influence the resulting shave.

Shave on!

2011 BLADE Show in Atlanta, Part 2 – What Happens in Atlanta…..

July 19, 2011

This is a continuation of the adventures leading up to the BLADE show in Atlanta in June 2011. Part 1, The Sharpening Party, can be found here.

WEDNESDAY

This being our first BLADE show, Ken of Precise Sharpening and I decided to show up the evening before the setup day to see if we could make a few friends. The approach into Atlanta was awesome!

Approach into Atlanta

We arrived at the hotel hungry. Once checked in, we hit the hotel bar for some dinner. It was obvious there were already some people there for the BLADE show. Ken and I sat down at the bar and we noticed a push dagger sitting on the bar where a person had left it while hitting the bathroom. The owner returned, and Ken immediately struck up a conversation that started with “That’s a real nice push dagger you’ve got there on the bar...” It turned out to be none other than Jim “Treeman” Behring and his son, James, of Treeman knives.

After a little discussion and some admiring, I asked Jim if I could try out the steel on some of my Shaptons. 😀 I ran up to the room and hit it on the 1K, 2K and 4K Shapton Glass stones. I must say, this dagger was already plenty sharp off the belt grinder – I was really impressed. So for this blade,  I was in it more for the aesthetic contrast the shine off the Glass stones would produce against the dull matte finish of the steel. I made it back down before the next round of drinks, and Ken asked how come I finished so quickly, and I simply stated “I wanted to get some work done, so I used my Shaptons”. 😀

We ended the night feeling super pumped for the next day, which was a setup day.

THURSDAY

This being our first BLADE show, and my first show together with Ken, we had no idea what to expect, and actually spent the entire day trying to figure out the lay of the table. We had all kinds of stones – Japanese Naturals, Shapton, Chosera, full sized, Edge Pro size, Wicked Edge size, and an assortment of Ken’s CBN and Diamond compounds. We had 3 sharpening stations as well – A Shapton pond setup, a WEPS station and an Edge Pro station. I even brought some Maestro Wu knives!

Jende Industries Blade Show Table

WEPS Station w/ custom Marble Basin

FRIDAY

This was the big day! We had a breakfast meeting set up with Clay Alison and Bob Nash from Wicked Edge, and our good friend Mark R., aka: Ytriech, from the Knife Forums. Although I had countless hours of conversations with Clay and Mark, we  had never met face -to-face, and it is always so nice to put a real face to the names. We were quickly all like old friends.

Bob (L) and Clay (R) of Wicked Edge

At the opening of the BLADE show, things got moving pretty quickly. I had planned NOT to sharpen, but that didn’t work for more than about 5 minutes into the show 😀 I started off with a Spyderco knife (sorry, the model escapes me) working it up to 30K on the Shapton Glass stones. Ken was swamped with immediate interest in the high end CBN and Diamond compounds with his balsa wood strops, and people salivating over the beautiful Japanese Natural stones.

Ken Schwartz in action!

Then a Tanto knife that someone had used their Edge Pro on was presented. So I sat down at the Edge Pro station and gave it my best. I was doing OK, but then Mark showed up. Mark is a big-time Edge Pro user, and I’ve seen his work before (which is MUCH better than mine on the EP), so I quickly got him to sit down and give the knife a go. He had that knife sharpened to a 2K Shapton edge before I could finish my next sentence! I had done most of the work already… 😀 Next thing I know, he’s doing some recurved blade! Watching Mark made me realize very quickly that there is room for  a lot of improvement in my EP skills. I’m really glad I got to see him in action – it was truly inspirational!

Go Mark!

It was at that moment I had such an amazing feeling – Ken, Mark and I had never worked together in person before, but the table was running like clockwork, as if we’d been doing this for years.

Then I got the first knife for the WEPS. It was an S30V blade. I must admit that I don’t get exposed to many pocket knives, and I don’t know my steels as much as I know my stones. I must also thank (blame) Locutus from the Knife Forums for making me want to put a 16 degree edge on this thing! That was a chore! That steel is tough! And I know it’s not the toughest out there. I ended up using the 16 degrees as a relief angle and opted for a healthier 18 degree  bevel. That was much easier 🙂 I stared with the WEPS stock diamonds, and continued with a nice 800/2K Chosera combo, and the knife was kicking sharp!

The rest of the day went quickly, and before we knew it, they were closing the doors for the evening. Mark, Ken and I went to dinner and began what is possibly the worlds most geekiest sharpening conversations in the history of mankind. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! 😀

For those of you who don’t know, Mark is Murray Carter’s first apprentice, and so we had an extensive discussion about almost every aspect of Murray Carter’s approach and philosophy to knife making and sharpening. Knives were coming out of nowhere from Mark – from his neck, his back pocket, his leg. People at other tables were actually starting to look at us. 🙂

What a perfect end to the day!

SATURDAY

Saturday was busy. I don’t know how many people passed through or how many knives got sharpened. One thing in particular stood out, though. and that was Larry Beverly’s “letter opener” with a 50 Caliber rifle round. Ironically, I had shot a Smith and Wesson 500 just a few days earlier, and had kept the casing as a souvenir.

50 Caliber letter opener

Larry Beverly

Naturally, I had asked Larry if I could touch it to the Shaptons….

Just like the push dagger from Wednesday evening, I was more concerned with bringing out the contrasts of the matte finish of the metal and the high mirror shine of the blades. Of course, it was probably the world’s most lethal letter opener, since I had taken it up to 6K. Unfortunately, I don’t think I was able to capture the shine with my camera at the show. Here is a picture below, but click here to see the full size version.

Letter Sharp!

That evening, Mark, Ken and I headed out to the Buckhead Pizza Co. in the Galleria Mall connected to the Cobb Centre, and had great pizza (and I’m from New Jersey, so I’m very picky) and even more knife talk! We met up with the Executive Chef, and told him to stop by for some free sharpening of his knives.

SUNDAY

The final day came all too quickly. John from the Buckhead Pizza Co. stopped by with his knife roll, and we spent a few minutes sharpening his knives up. After 2 wonderful meals there, it was the least we could do!

Buckhead Pizza Co.

Before we knew it, it was time to start breaking down and cleaning up. I’ll spare you the rundown 🙂

Afterwards, the adrenaline began to wear off, and we were able to calm down for a quiet, sober discussion about what had just happened over the past few days.

Relaxed and hungry, we hit the hotel bar for a burger, and, YUP – you guessed it – we had another intense knife conversation, complete with diagrams on napkins and scientific calculators (I’m not kidding! ) Mark is quite the closet propeller head!  In fact I commented on how Mark was the cool jock at the lunch table who was also really smart and popular. (He actually let out a genuine, ALLLLLLRRRIGHT! when Ken gave him a loud orange “May the Schwartz Be With You” T-shirt).

As the pumpkin hour approached, and the inevitable return from our weekend at the ball was closing in, we took a group picture.

3 Sharpen-a-teers

We had a totally awesome time, and we met so many more wonderful people who I didn’t get to mention, but who are not forgotten.

This was one BLADE show I won’t soon forget!

Shapton Professional vs Glass Stone Scratch Mark Comparison

August 1, 2010

Here are some direct comparison pictures of the scratch marks left by Shapton Professional and Glass stones, as documented individually here and here.

The same grits make it easier to compare, but for those without the same grits have been grouped to show their relative positions and results, as demonstrated by the 4K, 5K and 6K stones. I also compared the 15K Pro and the 16K Glass.

Full size pictures are here, here, and here.

Shapton Glass Stone Scratch Marks

July 31, 2010

This is a rough comparison of the scratches made by the Shapton Glass stones (white and gray). The process was the same as the with the Professional stones, I sharpened by hand using a single Jende Reed Knife for the entire shoot, working up from the white #120 to the 30K in order. I then went back from the 30K to the 4K, 6K and 8K  Gray stones, or High Carbon (HC) stones, labeled here as the JP stones (see this post that addresses the Shapton nomenclature). The Jende Reed Knife is a Medium Carbon Steel RC 60-61, and the steel type is from the Japanese standard SK series. I do not know the equivalent US Standard. It should be noted that results will differ on different metals.

The idea behind these pictures was not to produce high magnification shots of the edge, but more of an normal look at the results. The pictures were taken in the “worst” light so as to really see the surface of the bevel. You’ll notice just how “smooth” and polished the bevels come out in the 2K to 10K range, then how the scratches reappear at the 16K and 30K level.

Scratches from the Shapton Professional Shapton stones are here.

Better pictures of this chart can be found here and here.

Shapton Professional Stones Scratch Patterns

July 30, 2010

This is a rough comparison of the scratches made by the Shapton Professional stones. I sharpened by hand, using a single Jende Reed Knife for the entire shoot, working up from the #120 to the 30K in order. The Jende Reed Knife is a Medium Carbon Steel RC 60-61, and the steel type is from the Japanese standard SK series. I do not know the equivalent US Standard. It should be noted that results will differ on different metals.

The idea behind these pictures was not to produce high magnification shots of the edge, but more of an normal look at the results. The pictures were taken in the “worst” light so as to really see the surface of the bevel. At the 2K level, there is a hazy mirror, and by the 5K+ there is a full mirror. The 30K was difficult to get the light to not reflect so brightly, and I apologize for the crappy looking bevel on the 1K.

Scratches from the Glass stones (all of them) will follow shortly.

Here is a better picture of the chart.

East Meets West Get Together 6/2010

June 25, 2010

Ken Schwartz of Precision Sharpening flew in to New Jersey from California on Friday night. Although I have had countless hours of Skype calls, we had never met face to face until now.

We got home and jumped right in – Ken started unloading his equipment – some 15x loops, an inspection microscope with several eye pieces, and a thing that measures angles (inclinometer?). I had my 100x microscope. We didn’t do any sharpening since it was late, so we just talked theories and philosophies before heading off to bed.

Saturday started at around 7am for me. I started honing a razor on my Shapton Pros since we had discussed some of the issues I was having with my razor honing. My main concern was that I was not getting the edge of the edge with the glass stones. The harder matrix of the Pros seemed to enable me to get the edge of the edge better than the glass stones, which wear faster, causing a slight rounding at the edge. Things seemed to work better for me on the Pros in this regard.

When Ken woke up, we started seeing some of the spoils from his recent trip to Japan. He brought an Iminishi 5K and 10K, as well as a Japanese natural stone. He also brought some of his Stone Paper, which is paper smeared with stone swarf harvested during the cutting of the Shapton and Chosera Edge Pro Stones. Most importantly, he brought the most recent addition to the Shapton Edge Pro stone lineup – the 30K Pro!

We fooled around with the full size 30K Shapton Pro and created a few pieces of Stone Paper along with the new Shapton 10K Glass stone. Ken was very interested in trying the Shapton #120 and #320 stones, which have just come out.  The best worst knife we had in the house was a Cutco chef knife. Ken used the #120 and #320 Glass on that before switching over to the 1500 Pro to finish it off. (Below is a picture of use using the stone paper with a Maestro Wu cleaver.)

It was interesting to watch Ken sharpen – I use my elbows, but he uses his torso. As interesting as it was for me to watch, his rocking was making me seasick! For those of you that don’t know Ken, he is very precision oriented. He was very careful  and systematic in each stroke he made. I could tell he had visualized the path of the knife and how and where he was going to angle the knife on the stone to account for the length and curvatures – just like a golfer reads the green before a putt. Because of this, he achieved a very consistent angle from heel to tip. It was clear that Ken did waste one stroke, and progress was made even faster by the low grit Glass stones. It is obvious that his method of movement while sharpening works very well for him.

As the day wore on, we continued with my razors, pushing each stone to the limit. I tried the Japanese Natural stone Ken brought, and it was amazingly smooth and buttery for a rock. Overall, we determined that it was in the 12K-15K range. With the use of a Nagura, I’m sure that 20K+ could be squeezed out of it.

We also tried the Iminishi 5K and 10K stones. The softness of the 5K reminded me very much of the 4K Norton. It created a very nice, true 5K finish, even if slower than my Shaptons (of course!). The 10K was a surprising stone. I was sure it would be like a higher grit 5K, but it was much better. When used without paste or slurry it is a rough 10K – more of an 8K to me, but with slurry or paste, it eventually left a whopping 15-16K finish. I was quite impressed.

Then the fun really started….Keith De’Grau of Hand American stopped in with his wife. It was like Christmas and and birthday rolled into one! We had another guest over at the same time – Mike Blumenthol of Libra Technologies, who is an outstanding Chemist (amongst other things), and Keith, Ken, Mike and myself had one of the most eye-glazing conversations about the sharpening industry you could ever imagine! It was downright amazing and incredibly informative. I’ll spare you all the details….:)

While we were sharpening all day in the kitchen, my 89 year old grandfather was making the his mother’s gravy (tomato sauce) for dinner. I haven’t had this kind of old school Italian meal since my great-grandmother died about 20 years ago. Keith and his wife stayed for dinner, and we discussed a wide range of topics, drank some wine, ate some pasta, and just all around enjoyed ourselves as good friends do.

After dinner, Keith took out his briefcase and the fun continued. He showed us the Idahone glass rod, some of his new .25 micron diamond spray, and a new bench hone he had with interchangeable hones coated with different types of abrasives. I was checking the results of each one under 100x magnification, and I’ve got to tell you, there is nothing better than Hand American products (outside of Shapton stones!) We had a blast, showing off some Maestro Wu knives, using the stone paper, and Keith gets a special shout out for hitting 0.0 on the inclinomoter! We were like girls at a sleepover!

On Sunday, my Uncle, cousin  and brother came by for a quick visit, and we sharpened a couple of knives and a we had a pair of 13″ fabric shears that date back to pre-1914. They were impressed with the sharpness of things (see pictures). The rest of the time was spent taking pictures of the Edge Pro stones. We had to get out for an early morning flight, so Ken and I ended up staying up all night.

It was a great weekend, where friendships were formed and a whole lot of swarf was created. I can’t wait to do it again! 🙂

Here are more pics as a slide show!

Shapton Traditional, HC and HR Series Glass Stones (aka Pro, JP and “Glass” Stones)

May 6, 2010

Recently, the Shapton stones have undergone name changes, as shown on the Shapton USA website. There has been some buzz on the knife forums in the keeping sharp and in the kitchen sections over the past few weeks, and I imagine there are other forums that are having the same discussions.

In a nutshell, here’s the current terminology for the Shapton stone lineup:

Previously known as Currently known as
Professional Series Traditional Series
Glass Stones (White stones) HR, or High Rockwell
JP (Japan) Glass Stones (Gray stones) HC, or High Carbon

The differences can easily be the cause of some confusion, especially if you are like me and have known Shapton from before the glass stone days!

When Harreleson Stanley first informed me of the change from Professional to the now Traditional name, I immediately associated “traditional” with “Clay Binding” stones, such as King stones, and I thought that the term traditional was a little overkill.

To be honest, I have found the Glass Stones to be confusing from the beginning….If there were only the original white Glass stones, now known as HR (High Rockwell), I would still be disappointed in the downgraded Professional name, because when I first tried them in 2004, the Pro stones were revolutionary, much like the Glass stones are today.

However, since they addition of the gray HC, or High Carbon stones (formerly known as JP) to the lineup, the Professional stones do take a very close back seat to the glass stones for several applications, although I still reserve the now Traditional stones for other applications because of their harder binding, which keeps them flat longer.

For example, in general, I am convinced that Glass stones are better suited for straight razors and double bevel kitchen knives – especially cleavers with big bellies (try the 1K, 2K HR with the 6K HC and WOW!), while the now Traditional stones are better suited for carbon steel single bevel knives. IMO, The Traditional stones are superior for reed knife sharpening and for use in the Edge Pro exactly because of their ability to remain flat longer – provided the steel is less than Rockwell 63.

More to come on specific progressions. Right now, I need to start changing all the stone names on my website!

What is the Ultimate Edge on a Straight Razor?

May 2, 2010

So I’ve been offering limited free razor honing for members of Badger and Blade and the Shave Ready Forums. In my quest to produce the ultimate razor edges, I am pretty much using the Shapton Glass stones, with the occasional Chosera stone or two for a little variety. I take the edges up to 30K on the Shapton Glass, though.

I have been test shaving the blades, and I found that while they look perfect at 100x under the microscope, stropping on the fabric side of the strop caused the edge the break down. I figured the canvas side of the Kanayama strops are pretty tough, and maybe I was putting too much pressure, so I skipped the canvas and went straight to the leather side and the same thing happened – edge breakdown (we’re talking on a microscopic level here, nothing like large gashes or chips, just what is best described as fraying). The problem was that I was getting picture perfect shaves, but with this degree of breakdown, it was clear that the edge would only last for a couple of shaves before either needing serious stropping session or a quick run to the stones. How could I send these off to customers, most of who will not necessarily be as sensitive to the razor’s needs?

So I put in a call to two of my favorite Straight Razor Honers, Ray of Straight Razor Sharp, and Sham, aka Chesstiger1. They both said that I was over-honing. In light of the situation, I would have to agree, although I was not raising any burrs, it was clear the edges were too thin to hold up over time. Sham called me a perfectionist – but it was not a compliment. I have to admit though, I do like perfection! 🙂

Well it turns out that because I was using a slurry at the lower 500 and 1K levels, a small, rounded, what could be considered micro-bevel had formed, and I wasn’t fully removing it by the 4K level. This made the edges very fragile at the 30K level. I returned to the 1K stone, but this time without a slurry and made darn sure the bevel was flat instead of rounded. I continued on to the 3K and then the 4K.

Now, Sham suggested, and I agree, that one cannot over-hone on the 4K and below because there is still enough metal removal capabilities in the stone to keep creating a new edge. The 3K definitely fits that description, but the 4K (in this case the gray colored 4K HC series)  pushes the limits. It would be difficult, but with enough strokes (and we’re talking quite a few – something like 50+ strokes coming off a well shaped 2K or 3K edge), the edge could become slightly frayed, but you would need to really try. Coming off the 3K, I’m currently in the neighborhood 15-20 strokes on the 4K.

After the 4K, I am down to 8-10 strokes on the 8K, with 10 strokes pretty much pushing the limits, depending on the razor. Then on the to 30K with only 3 strokes – no matter what the razor. Anything over 5 has been causing breakdown, even on the flat bevels.

Stropping was my next concern. I know people will use the canvas side of their strops, so I knew that the edge must stand up to it. Ray said he only did about 3 canvas strokes on his Kanayama after honing, so after lightening up my stroke, I started doing 5 very light – only the weight of the blade – strokes on the Kanayama canvas side, then checking the edge under the scope at 100x. The edges on even the thinnest Boker full hollow ground razor have held up. This is progress in the right direction. I then proceed to the stropping and do about 50 on the leather, and check again for any breakdown of the edge. All the blades so far have held up, and passed the HHT (Hanging Hair Test).

Now the fun part. I normally shave maybe once a week, not because my beard doesn’t grow, but because I don’t need to shave for anything. But since I’ve been getting these razors from people, I need to test them out, and waiting to check several razors in one shave gives no clear indication of how a full shave will feel. Sham told me that a perfect edge on a razor is not as good as a well honed razor. That’s because a perfect edge may be incredible, but it will not hold up to the test of time. That was really good advice. I know I like the ultimate edges for the once a week shave, but if people are going to use my honing services in the future, the edge on the razors should get you more shaves than your average cartridge razor blade.

So I have shaved more this week than ever – I whopping 6 days in a row so far, and I have at least 3 more blades on the waiting list. Each shave has been a shave test WTG and XTG with a little of ATG for 1 or 2 blades max. If I were to use my previous ultra-sharp 1 shave edge, my face would be torn apart by now. It may be in part due to the use of wonderful shaving creams by Olivia, but I haven’t had any chaffing, redness, irritation, or weepers with the current progression, it seems that I have hit on a good, clean, smooth shave with an edge that still looks good under the scope after a shave.

I know there is still a lot of room for improvement and fine-tuning, but I think I finally have an idea of what the ultimate edge is on a straight razor.