Hand Tools

I have a few thoughts on this...

David Weaver
..maybe nobody wants to hear them.

I did the "roll", or the unicorn for a few years on stones. at some point, I have posted several times that beginners start the sharpening foray looking for stones that work really fast for whatever their claimed grit level is.

Eventually, if you do enough woodworking and you freehand hone everything, you find that slower stones are faster than faster cutting stones. They give you control to do things like the unicorn.

I've also used a strop to do it, hard and leather, but I have a real aversion to something that maybe others aren't bothered by - the tiny defects that happen in an edge if there are any contaminants on the surface of a strop or a hard stone. you can make efforts to keep contaminants off of your strops and hard stones, but it just adds to the work.

I haven't done this with a spyderco, but the following are really good for a rolled edge:
* a completely settled in trans or high quality black stone (if you want buffer sharpness, then followed with a little bit of stropping)
* an aluminum oxide solid fine stone that I found from japan called "barber's oilstone" I can compare scratches from it at some point. it's slow compared to shaptons and kings, but it gives you the precision to do something like this quickly. I've been using it for quite a while
* diamonds on wood (have to charge often, but finish level is really high).
* diamonds on cast (have to strop afterwards and mind the pressure - I think the edge of a chisel can be bent a little bit with pressure, or possibly chipped off).

I'd bet whatever paul sellers is doing kind of unicorns things at the tip of a chisel, but the method to hand hone the rest of the bevel is goofery.

All of the hard surfaces above are super sensitive to any contaminants on them. anything at all, you get a notch.

Leather surfaces get a piece of wire edge? Stray piece of metal or abrasive particle? You get a notch.

The real beauty of the buffer is that it does four things:
* it either absorbs or expels contaminants
* it does an amount of physical work that we can't hope to duplicate in terms of time. This amount of work does what I see most people not doing - completing the sharpening job.
* it can take a very cheap abrasive and the issue of wax build up, etc, on a flat strop (large amounts of green stick or any stick need to be applied with extra oil or WD 40 so that the abrasive still moves around) is nonexistent on a buffing wheel. I've never cleaned my wheel - the chisel itself acts as sort of a comb vs. buffing a flat surface
*the give in the wheel takes a fairly coarse fast yellowcake (that's what I'd call that yellow stick if I marketed the system :) ) stick and makes an edge finer than anyone can hone in any reasonable period of time by hand.

The cost of most of my slow stones is the same or higher than a buffer, though. The japanese stone that I mention is great, but the only way I've seen to get it is to sort through antique store lots on yahoo japan (where they're selling 25 or 30 stones - sometimes there's one or two in those lots). They remind me of a spyderco, but they're not so cheap with material as the spyderco stones - they're 8x3x1 and stay put better.

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