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Sharpening a L-N A2 blade - pictures (sorry 56k...)

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Shady

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Thought people might like to see this. I have recently acquired a 'digital microscope', so I can now be a real train spotter about blade sharpening if I want to. (Can you see where this is going??? :) )

OK. Here's a 60 times magnification of the 'as supplied' edge on my L-N 62 (low angle jack):


It's with the bevel up (blade lying toward the bottom of the picture as you look): my apologies for the graininess/lack of features, but I'm still working on a decent mount for the microscope's stage... Key point is to note the almost 'crumbly' appearance of the edge... (but note that this was giving what I'd call 'reasonable' working effect. Not what I really like, but acceptable for mucking about in the workshop.)

This is what I turned it into after a fair bit of work flattening the back, up to 10000 grit (with the new icebear stone from Axminster), and then a quick 30 seconds at each grit up to 10000 on the bevel:



Note that I also stropped on leather with stropping compound. For comparison, here's a wilkinson sword razor blade at the same mag:




Conclusions?

1. The 10,000 grit stone is a beauty: comes ready mounted on a wood base, with its own nagura in the box. Surprisingly good 'bite' for a trad waterstone. (my others are Shaptons - I use 1000, 5000 & 8000)

2. I've omitted, so as not to bore you all, a number of piccies of the intermediate stages, back and bevel. I was surprised at how important 'decontaminating' was. As this was a little experiment, I was ruthless with myself about trying to eliminate all scratches that were obviously too coarse for the current 'level'. In the end, I found the best way was to flatten each stone under running water with my ceramic flattener, so that all old swarf/rubbish was washed away before bringing the metal to the stone, and then while sharpening, I used a plant spray bottle of water to blast off the swarf from the blade when I wanted to look at it (rather than using a grubby workshop hanky/rag as I tend to normally.

3. Semi objectively, I reckon the pics show that I've got a better edge than a commercial razor blade. Difficult because of the different angles and resultant effect of the light (again, I need to improve the stage), but I reckon that that stropped bevel is clearly more uniform than the razor.. You can see a couple of pits in the picture, but the edge is pretty uniform, given the magnification...

4. Once again I reminded myself how quick this process can be once a tool is fettled. The back took a while, because it was the initial flattening, but the bevel took no time at all - I use a honing guide, and saw away for literally 30 secs at each grit, rinse off, and repeat.

5. The degree of 'mirror finish' was a good indicator of progress as I sharpened. I took a couple of 'normal' photos of reflections in the blade back as I worked...

6. End result? It had hairs 'jumping' off my arm, cut a sheet of A4 paper without any tearing/ripping, and I then put it back in the plane and went at a piece of nasty soft pine with a knot in the middle. My micrometer showed that I had 1 to 1.5 thou shavings, and I was able to plane straight across the knot without tearout on either side (after checking which way was best - first run gave tearout)

I'm intrigued by the ability to actually examine what sharpening and use really do to a blade: I'm gonna take some pics of the blade after 'a few' shavings, and 'a lot' to see how it does. Similarly, I'm gonna repeat the process with one of my Clifton forged blades, and see what it looks like.

Sorry - not really much point to this post, but I hope people find it interesting - I enjoyed doing it...
 

DaveL

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Shady":zs71jixz said:
Sorry - not really much point to this post, but I hope people find it interesting - I enjoyed doing it...
Oh I don't know, very interesting to see the difference in the edge. 8)

Do you need a hand getting your anorak on? :wink:
 

Shady

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Ooh - you cruel person who has a life..... :wink:
 

Midnight

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Ooh - you cruel person who has a life.....
LOL..... never mind him Shady... jealousy's a terrible thing ehh...??

nice job with the pics... proof posative that it's not jus DC who can work wonders with the cutting edge....
 

Shady

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Here's a mid-way photo of the back flattening process- about 5000 grit, IIRC..

 

Noel

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Shady, interesting comparisons. You reckon the Icebears are better than the Shapton stones or do you use it as a final hone? Just wondering as I'd planned to go with the Shaptons in the new year.

Noel, who knows nothing about the £20 million..honest....

BTW, can I assume I have to go Stateside for the Shaptons? Haven't found a supplier in the UK.
 

Chris Knight

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Shady,

That is interesting stuff, thank you very much.

One test that would interest me is to know how long it takes with normal planing use, to turn your nice super- sharp edge into something that is just ordinary? Pictures taken after say, 5, 10, 20 strokes might be informative.
 

Shady

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Folks:

Noely -not 'better', so much as a reasonably priced bit of kit (about £36, I think Philly..) that suddenly popped up in front of my eyes in the Axminster site, at a higher grit than I had... I have, as mentioned, the 1000, 5000 & 8000 'professional series' Shaptons. I've just looked at their site, and you'd have to buy the '15000' grit stone at 129 dollars to compete with it... :( (edit - let me know if you decide to drop 500 dollars on the diamond stone lapping plate!!:shock:... I've found that my £7.50 flattening stone (see url below) seems to work quite well for me..:wink:)

I really like the shaptons, despite their price - primarily because none of them need to be permanently soaked (in fact, they discourage you from doing so), so they're quicker to use - I just spray with a plant misting bottle filled with water. They claim to be 'much harder' than normal stones: I dunno - I will still use a flattening stone (I've got the Ice bear job from Axminster: http://www.axminster.co.uk/category.asp?cat_id=207976) after each session - as much as anything else, it cleans off all the clagged on swarf that builds up.. But they are definitely nice to have when doing jobs like this one - initial back flattening of A2 steel is a bit of a chore with softer stones.

I did the same - ordered direct off their website from the states - arrived fairly quickly with no problems, as I recall.. The prof series come in a very well designed plastic box/mount: you take the stone out, sit it in the recess on the closed lid, and use it - the box has grippy rubber feet so that it doesn't slide all over the shop. Then back in the box after, which has drainage holes in the base.

Chris - I definitely agree - that's gonna be my next step. I'm thinking of a comparison between A2, a Clifton, and my Hock blade, taking pictures all the way 'up' the sharpening process, and then at (say) every 10 strokes on a piece of wood until the blades 'feel' blunt. I've just got to refine the lighting/mounting arrangements first - this was a quick and dirty play with a new toy... I'll let you all know when ready..
 

bugbear

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Darn; beaten to the punch.

Brent has done stunning (and methodical) work in this area.

BugBear
 

gidon

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Arghhh!! I'm too slow at this game. Took me a few minutes to find the link even though I had it bookmarked!
Cheers
Gidon
 

Shady

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Yes, thanks folks. I've now seen Brent's site - it is, I think, the same 'scope. I'm not totally convinced by some of his observations. Specfically, I've found that, subjectively, I definitely feel a better 'planing experience' after stropping, so I want to compare actual pics with this feel and his observations that it's a 'bad thing'...

(edit, and on reading, I'm a little overwhelmed by this obviously well researched piece - it's all that 'front tertiary micro bevel's connected to the back wear primary bevel's connected to the factory primary non-worn bevel' stuff... I just got a little lost somewhere in all that, and would like a slightly simpler, less 'dense' opinion (obviously I'm the dense one here - before Alf seizes her chance...:wink:)

Nonetheless, it should be interesting to attempt to replicate his results to some degree...
 

Chris Knight

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Newbie_Neil":2zk3r2p8 said:
Hi Chris

waterhead37":2zk3r2p8 said:
Pictures taken after say, 5, 10, 20 strokes might be informative.
ROTFL

Did somebody mention an anorak? :ho2

Cheers
Neil
Anorak? ANORAK??? Heck I only asked for three different usages to be investigated. Were I in the least bit anorakish, I would have wanted at least a dozen more
 
A

Anonymous

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Interesing stuff Shady :wink: We scientists like that kind of thing - keep it up and post more (detailed :lol: ) results

Nothin wrong with anoraks, just ask Chris :D
 
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