The Science of Sharp Blog

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EL Alamein
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The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by EL Alamein » Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:49 am

Anybody see this?

https://scienceofsharp.wordpress.com/

It's a fascinating read with lots of electron microscope pictures. It is written by a gentleman named Todd who, I believe is a member at another forum(s).

I gave his honing method a go and it does produce a very keen edge. However, for my own tastes, it does not produce a comfortable edge. I tried it a few times on at least two different razors and the results were the same - a very keen edge but not so comfortable. Maybe I am doing something wrong?

My suspicion is that the metal polish I used in the process - TI white paste - does something not so wonderful to the edge. I have the Maas polish somewhere in the garage but I'm reluctant to dig it out at this time. Supposedly there is no difference in their effect on the edge so that's a bit of a disincentive to try it, but still it'd be nice to try one day.

I do find it fascinating that in the end all edges are supposedly double-beveled due to stropping (if I am reading him right). It sort of gives an explanation as to why Liam Finnegan's stropping method is effective.

Anyone else have any experience with this?

Chris

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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by drmoss_ca » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:14 pm

I'd expect the TI white paste to be a bit coarser than a metal polish. Otherwise I have to congratulate the author on his dedication.

Chris
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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by drmoss_ca » Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:37 pm

So last night I followed his basic sharpening advice - sort of. I took my 7/8 Hart, and honed it edge-first on my beloved 2000k-lapped Norton Arkansas for 20 laps, then another 20 edge-trailing. Then I did the same on the Suehiro Gokumyo 20k, both edge-first and edge-trailing. Not wanting to cut up some jeans, I did the wire-edge removal on an old strop, and not caring for the shave from diamond paste I used some HandAmerican green chrome paste on an Illinois 827 for the edge polishing part.
This morning I shaved with it, and it did fine. A bit too sharp for my taste, but I'd guess it will be as good as any edge after it has been thoroughly stropped on some Dovo canvas, which both reduces excessive sharpness, yet refines the edge at the same time into something more comfortable. Now there's a mystery to turn a scanning electron microscope on to!

C.
"Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse."
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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by EL Alamein » Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:48 pm

Glad you tried this. I find your description of your results consistent with what I experienced and that is comforting.

I had a similar thought about a linen strop treated with the Dovo white paste.

Chris

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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by brothers » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:23 pm

I am grateful to find out about this blog. I'm always interested in learning more about razors' edges. Looking forward to trying some new techniques.
Gary

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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by drmoss_ca » Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:50 am

Third shave with this edge today, and it has calmed down to a smooth experience. Makes me wonder if the deliberately induced wire-edge wasn't broken off properly. The first two shaves certainly felt like the edge was ragged.

C.
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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by fallingwickets » Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:13 am

looks like last post was 2016, however the owner seems to still respond to comments. btw, didnt squire do something similar back in the day?

clive
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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by EL Alamein » Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:01 pm

drmoss_ca wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:50 am
Third shave with this edge today, and it has calmed down to a smooth experience. Makes me wonder if the deliberately induced wire-edge wasn't broken off properly. The first two shaves certainly felt like the edge was ragged.

C.
That's an excellent thought about the wire edge.

I actually made the denim strop with the TI paste in it for this so it may be that the wire edge was not adequately stropped off in my case as the edge never really smoothed out all that much for me.

I originally hoped this technique removed less steel but in practice it seemed to remove more. I resolved that my own technique was better for me and removed less steel so back to my own technique I went.

Chris

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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by drmoss_ca » Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:18 am

It seems like a perfectly reasonable way to hone a blade but I'm not sure how this would fit into a scheme for maintaining an edge. One could imagine taking one step back (just the diamond paste) for as long as that worked, then going back one more and doing edge-trailing strokes on a fine hone, followed by the metal-polish strop to break off the fin, and then the diamond. I don't see any virtue in having to do the whole thing each time, and yes, it would cost metal. But that aside, it does offer another way to kill the cat, and I have a few stubborn cats that have survived all attempts so far. I'm keen [sic] to try it out on two or three famously difficult razors and see what happens.

For the unaddicted, the divide here is whether to hone in such a way as to avoid what would be regarded overhoning and the formation of a fin of thin flexible and useless metal at the apex of an edge, OR, whether to deliberately induce formation of such a fin, break it off and then burnish the apex to 'heal' the damage caused. The former is limited in the theoretical perfection of the attainable edge, because the edge-leading strokes cause micro-chipping of the apex, the latter is theoretically more capable of producing a finer edge but at the cost of losing more metal each time from the blade. Given that it boils down to honing edge or spine first, you might see this as one more expression of the little end/big end problem that led to civil wars in Lilliput.

C.
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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by drmoss_ca » Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:21 am

The three razors I have in mind are:
1. My oldest Livi, a Blue Tongue stainless damascus. When I get this razor sharp it stays that way for ever (well, several months) but I often have to cheat to get it there, which has meant a strop loaded with Flexcut Gold followed by one with Liquid Chrome.
2. A Wacker 8/8 damascus, which is just as hard as any Wacker ever was. I have never made it shave well, although I can get it to shave.
3. Perhaps for entertainment only, I have one of the five T-I damascus razors made for the old Yahoo SRP group. It's a peculiar razor, extra hollow yet 8/8 wide:
Image
Image
I could never get it sharp. I even sent it off to Lynn and it came back no better.

Anyway, I did the Livi and had a shave this morning just like the first shave with the Hart - a bit too sharp and scrapy, Presumably it will settle down after a few shaves and some time on the linen. I used a DiaSharp EF diamond plate (1200, I think) to cut the bevel, then did the recommended 20 laps edge-firt, and 20 laps edge-trailing on the lapped Norton Arkansas, then the Suehiro 20k, then used a denim strop with Silvo polish, the a green chrome strop, linen and leather.
So now I've done the same to the Wacker and tomorrow I'll find out what we've achieved.

C.
"Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse."
Pierre-Simon de Laplace

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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by drmoss_ca » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:07 am

Now I'm obsessing over this! I read the blog over again and realise I missed the simplified method, which seems to be:
1. 20 back and forth laps on a 1K stone (I used a Shapton Pro 1k)
2. 20 edge-trailing laps on a medium grit stone to make a tall, thin burr (I used a Shapton Pro 5k)
3. Strop on denim with metal polish to remove burr and create micro-convexity
4. Strop on leather with diamond spray (I used Liquid Chrome, not having any diamond spray)
5. Avoid the plain linen, strop on clean leather

So I went overboard, and re-did the Wacker, did the TI damascus, and just for good measure also did a pair of Dovo stainless razors that were always beastly to get sharp. All sail through my arm hair about 1/2" above the skin. Sadly, I have but one face to shave!

C.
"Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse."
Pierre-Simon de Laplace

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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by brothers » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:44 pm

fallingwickets wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:13 am
looks like last post was 2016, however the owner seems to still respond to comments. btw, didnt squire do something similar back in the day?

clive
I think the last time he (Squire) posted some microscopic photos of the edges of DE blades was about 8 years ago. At the time, I believe he said that he had lost his access to the technology he was using.

EDIT: I just checked and all of those photos were linked, and unfortunately it now seems that they have all been lost forever. C'est la vie :(
Last edited by brothers on Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Gary

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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by EL Alamein » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:50 pm

I've got my popcorn ready to read the results of this. My prediction is rough shave.

Did you catch the one post where he says that he does not breadknife his edges before starting yet another practitioner of this method does? Maddening.

Chris

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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by drmoss_ca » Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:46 pm

Well I've done it wrongly for two razors, and had oversharp shaves that have come around. 'Wrongly' meaning I skimmed and followed the examples of the worst hones that could be used (1200 diamond plate), and yet they still gave results on the scanning electron microscope and they did, in fact, work. The ones I have ready to go are done exactly as Todd suggests except for the use of chrome instead of diamonds. I do have a few syringes of diamond paste, but they come from an era when that was way out there, and they were made for polishing stone samples for geology freaks. Bought from, wait for it - cyberrockhound.com. That dates them for sure. But the point (as it were) remains: hone by avoiding a burr (and take those consequences), or hone by accepting the burr and deal with it (and the other consequences). Predictably, SRP regards him as a crank with no skill, nor any idea of what he's doing. Many so-called 'honemeisters' there who stand to lose some income. I'd be inclined to look at either method as valid, and sometimes one might choose one, sometimes the other. I have honed hundreds of razors edge-first, so I know that generally works. If this is a way that lets me deal with the few stubborn standouts that refused to submit to edge-first, then I'll hone them edge-trailing and say thank you very much!

Breadknifing an edge is all about making a point for your audience, no? All it does is say, 'Look - I can screw up this edge completely and still make it sharp later on.' Why would any normal person interested in getting a decent shave do that as it only makes the honing of the edge you have a bit harder. I understand why woodworkers might choose to get rid of a wire edge on a glass, or by cutting softwood. But simply ruining what's left of the edge you shaved with yesterday before refreshing it is just showmanship.

I'm rather impressed that razors I have taken to many, many hones and failed to sharpen are looking like they have acquired a shaving edge by following a simple recipe. I distrust simple panaceas (just like that one simple trick that helps you lose pounds!), but this process makes logical sense, has SEM evidence to back it up, and has, although imperfectly applied, worked on a couple of razors I have shaved with. I'm quite excited to see what happens with the razors in waiting, and whatever the outcome, I thank you, Chris, for the opportunity to get excited about all this again!

C.
"Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse."
Pierre-Simon de Laplace

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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by brothers » Sat Feb 10, 2018 3:49 pm

I've had a Red Imp Wedge laying around for several years, and I've never found the time or inclination to do anything with it. It appeared to be unused, and it had some very small chips in the edge. Now, in the interest of experimenting with different honing techniques, I used the DMT D8C Coarse to remove the chips (almost) and will be putting the blog findings to the test. After leaving the D8C I stropped the Wedge on a cloth with metal polish, then I stropped with diamond spray leather followed by clean leather. --- gotta start somewhere --- Tomorrow will be the test shave. I'm not expecting miracles, I'm just having a bit of fun in the midst of a very long and very cold winter.
Gary

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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by drmoss_ca » Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:24 pm

Coarse diamond > metal polish > diamond spray doesn't sound like a test of the method described, Gary, but I hope you have a nice shave!

C.
"Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse."
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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by brothers » Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:51 pm

No, it doesn't. It's probably hare-brained, but that's just something I dreamed up while I was reading his posts about the diamond plate and your posts about some stones and some stropping stuff. :D I'm betting on two facts: It won't be nice, but it'll get better as I go. I think this blogger might be right about some stuff.
Gary

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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by drmoss_ca » Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:09 am

Your prediction, Chris, was pretty much on. The Wacker shaves, but not very well. The two Dovo stainless razors, did better, and the TI damascus did very, very well. I think the issue is the recommendation to avoid the linen strop after using paste, as so often sharp edges feel better after a bit of stropping. All of them pop forearm hair like crazy, but the difference between an edge that can do that and one that is a pleasure to shave with usually lies in the stropping.
Undeterred, I have my 17/16 Friodur through the regime, followed with a thorough linen then leather stropping and I'll see how it fares tomorrow.

C.
"Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse."
Pierre-Simon de Laplace

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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by brothers » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:56 am

This morning's shave with the Red Imp Wedge was a two pass WTG/ATG. As expected, whiskers were removed which is actually a better shave than I previously have experienced with a custom razor that never cut a whisker no matter how many hours I spent "sharpening" it. So I suppose in that respect the Red Imp worked. This was exactly what I thought was going to happen when I started at ground zero and using the DMT Coarse (325). Today I am on step two of my personal Science of Sharp project.

I don't have a nanoscope but I have a pretty decent loupe that actually gives me a good view of my edge. Following today's shave the edge left over from yesterday's honing was predictably rough. No surprise coming off a 325 grit diamond plate. So much for that. I selected the DMT DEEF (8000) diamond plate and took somewhere (who's counting?) between 25 and 50 passes with one layer of tape. First edge leading and then edge following. Stubbornly, as an homage to yesterday's humble beginning, I then took the new edge to the diamond spray leather then to the clean leather for 50 laps.

Looking forward for tomorrow. Today's edge makes arm hair melt away like warm butter. As before, I am not predicting anywhere near perfection in performance. I am hoping for an improvement, but there's no guarantee.
Gary

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Re: The Science of Sharp Blog

Post by brothers » Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:34 am

Still having fun? Sort of, I suppose, in a technical kind of way. Certainly not in the quality of the shave.

After reading carefully several times and making notes, here's what I did this time:
1000 grit stone (Norton) 20 edge trailing laps;
4000 grit stone (Norton) 20 edge trailing laps;
Denim strip soaked with polish 30 laps;
Diamond spray .25 on leather 30 laps;
Clean denim strip 50 laps;
Clean leather 50 laps;
[Note: I improvised the following additional steps --- 50 laps on linen strop followed by 50 laps on the Jemico Red Russian hanging strop]

Notwithstanding yesterday's cutting of arm hair, the objective is to cut facial hair. Following all of the above, the blade looks good under magnification, and on the face it feels smoother than all of the grabbing I felt yesterday. Did the razor remove my whiskers, you ask? Little or none! I am not happy! After the shave I took the razor back to the Jemico hanging linen and leather strop for another 50 laps on each. The razor does indeed cut standing hair at about a half inch above the skin, and I can hear it pop. I think this is what they call "tree top" cutting.

Whether or not this razor is going to smoothly remove any whiskers the next time I shave with it remains a mystery. I may decide to change a couple of things before the next shave, and that would be to add some edge leading laps to the preliminaries and to substitute my 12K Naniwa Super Stone or the Norton 8000 for the Norton 4000. I am leaning toward the Naniwa.
Gary

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