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  • #51133
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    I am definitely not the most experienced here, but I did want to try to give back something since I have learned so much from many of you via this forum.  This post will probably be long, so I apologize for the length.


    Initial Setup

    My initial setup was a WE 120 that I purchased in August of 2018.  I also purchased the 800/1000 and 1500/Glass Platen diamond stones.  The vendor I purchased from also included a starter pack of 3M Aluminum Oxide lapping film in 9, 5, 3 and 1 micron grits.  I also got a Wixey angle cube, a USB Microscope and a Tormec Small Blade adapter from Amazon.  At first I was very disappointed in the results achieved. However, after a few knives, the new stones started breaking in and I switched from an edge trailing stroke to an edge leading stroke and the results were much better.  I added a couple of pairs of blank glass platens and a pair of Kangaroo strops along with 1 Micron Polycrystaline diamond emulsion and Ken’s .25 micron CBN spray.  After a few more knives, I came to the conclusion that I should have purchased the WE 130 rather than the 120.  I didn’t like how the jaws on the 120 caused the blade to cant to the left rather than being 90 degrees from horizontal.


    Upgrade to WE 130

    In November of 2018, I pulled the trigger and upgraded to the WE 130.  I ended up paying a little more to keep my WE 120 intact by purchasing a base and adjusters along with the upgrade.  This in effect allowed me to have a fully functional WE 120 and WE 130 rather than having most of the pieces of a non-functioning WE 120.  The truth is I haven’t used the 120 one time since upgrading to the 130.  It has been much easier and faster to clamp the jaws and the blade does not cant to the left like it did when clamped in the 120.  I also purchased a low angle adapter with the upgrade to give me more flexibility for smaller blades that the Tormec small blade adapter didn’t work as well with, added a set of two nano cloth strops and a bottle of Ken’s .125 CBN spray.  I was very, very happy with this upgrade and wish I had just purchased the 130 at the beginning.  The results were razor sharp knives each time I sharpened.


    USB Microscope

    I initially got this USB Microscope from Amazon  I wanted to get something I could use with my iPad.  It worked ok, but I had to disconnect from my home WiFi and connect to the WiFi of the USB Microscope each time I wanted to use it.  So, that was somewhat of a pain.  Additionally, it seemed that the battery was always discharged when I wanted to use it.  Because of these two issues, I just did not use it very much.  Recently, I decided to try another USB Microscope and decided on this one from Carson  The nice thing about this one is that it draws power from the USB port so I don’t have to worry about charging the thing or changing to a different WiFi and the images are great on my MacBook Pro.  Once again, I learned that my second purchase was better than my first.


    Angle Cube

    The Wixey angle cube worked fine, but did not have a magnet on the sides and didn’t have the best display. I recently upgraded to a DXL360s and have been very pleased at the difference in the two.  The DXL360s has a larger, backlit display, strong magnets on the side that hold the cube to the diamond plates and appears to have a higher degree of accuracy.  I am pleased with this upgrade and wish I had paid the extra money up front and purchased the DXL360s initially rather than the Wixey.


    Paddle Bumpers

    I ended up scratching a few knives when I allowed top of the paddle to drop onto the blade steel while sharpening.  I initially tried these split ring collar from Ruland Manufacturing These collars probably work fine with the older WE rods that are .25 inches; however, the newer guide rods are slightly larger.  I had try pry the collars with a screwdriver to make the opening large enough to fit over the guide rod and broke two of the four collars I purchased doing this. Additionally, the collars had to be adjusted with an allen wrench. I saw on this forum that another forum member, Airscapes, was selling 3D printed bumpers that could be adjusted to keep the paddles from travelling below the blade edge.  I ordered some a few weeks ago and these things are GREAT!  They are easy to adjust with just my fingers and do not slip when hit by the paddle. Also, they are plastic which quells my fear of marring the guide rods with a metal collar.  Airscapes, you did an GREAT JOB on these!  In my opinion these are a must have item for any WE system.


    Angle Adjusters

    The angle adjusters work fine; however, sometimes you can find yourself adjusting all the way in or all the way out with the micro-adjusters to get to the angle you need – especially when using the bar indents.  Moving from the WE 120 to the 130 made me appreciate the toolless operation of the jaws of the 130 and how much more convenient it was to be able to clamp and unclamp without have to use an Allen wrench.  Recently I saw a post about adjusters another forum member, NotSharpEnuff, was selling and decided to give them a try. We discovered he and I live a few miles apart and he met me after work and I purchased the adjusters from him.  The new adjusters are a dream.  Adjustments are totally toolless now.  And, the adjustments are more flexible because of a longer screw in the micro adjuster. NotSharpEnuff suggested that I turn the angle bar around so that the bar indents were facing the back of the sharpener. He said this would help me to adjust more quickly.  I also saw posts claiming this change fixed problems with the adjuster screws loosening in the middle of a sharpening session.  I have to say that I agree with everyone.  The indents get in the way more than helping.  Turning the bar around and taking the indents out of the equation definitely fixes things.  NotSharpEnuff, your adjusters are EXCELLENT!  This is also a must have upgrade in my opinion.


    New Sharpening Stones

    I recently added the 2200/3000 grit diamond stones, 1.4/0.6 Micron ceramic stones and the 400/600 grit rounded stones.  The 2200/3000 grit stones and the ceramics seemed pretty rough when sharpening the first knife, but have really smoothed out over the next several knives.  I have been using the diamond stones up through the 3000 grit and then going to the 0.6 micron ceramic stone.  The edge is definitely not as shiny as the lapping film, but is every bit as sharp.  So, I am curious to see just how good it will get after the next 15-20 knives.  I also sharpened my sister’s kitchen knives that had not been sharpened in over ten years.  The 100 grit was taking forever, so I ordered the 50/80 grit stones.  The courser stones did make it much easier to set the bevels on the horribly dull knives.  I got the rounded stones because my father in law has a Benchmade Crooked River we gave him for Christmas.  I wanted to see if these stones would do a better job on this recurved blade, but haven’t had the opportunity yet.


    Paddle/Stone Storage

    I purchased the plastic covers for the stones from Wicked Edge.  The covers fit too tight on some of the stones and were hard to get on and off. I ended up heating the covers with an electric heat gun and then pushed them onto the paddles to loosen the fit. This worked pretty well; however, the storage of the stones was still a problem.  I just did not have a good storage solution in place for the stones. Recently, I bit the bullet and purchased a hybrid Rack-it from forum member MarcH.  I loaded the stones onto the Rack-it and was very happy with the organization it offered.  Before the Rack-it, I would just lay the stones on the desk and then have to hunt for the right paddle in the midst of all of the other paddles.  The Rack-it solves that problem as well as making my wife happy about things looking not so messy and disorganized.  Marc, I really like my Rack-it.  You have a great design and the completed job was a fantastic example of craftsmanship.


    Sharpening Technique

    Like many of you, I scrub the blade initially with each stone, then alternate paddles with edge leading strokes with light pressure.  When setting the bevel, I try to use the least course stone to get the job done.  My current practice, if not removing material, is to start around 800 grit and then progress through the 3000 grit diamond stones and then the 0.6 Micron ceramics.  I think I am somewhat unique in my use of lapping film. One day I realized I had scrubbed and then sharpened a blade with lapping film (aluminum oxide) and the knife did not cut the film.  So, I kept doing that and have not experienced any problems.  Scrubbing the blade with lapping film sure does put a nice polish on the blade quickly.  When I went from the 1500 diamond stone to the 9 micron 3M lapping film, the shine popped after the first scrubbing.  I know this is not the norm, but it works for me.  I have also found that the much less expensive aluminum oxide lapping film (compared to diamond lapping film) works fine for 10-15 knives.  I have not used the diamond lapping film, so I cannot compare the two.


    Final Thoughts

    Many have stated that there is a learning curve with this system and that there is a break-in period for new stones.  I was very disappointed with the first couple of knives I sharpened; however, I believe the stones started breaking in and I began using an edge leading stroke as opposed to an edge trailing stroke.  I retrospect, I believe these two things made a big difference and caused the biggest differences in results.  I have never been able to get a knife hair shaving sharp – until now.  Now every knife I sharpen is hair shaving sharp and everyone that uses a knife I have sharpened comments repeatedly about how sharp the knife is.  I also agree with many of you about this being therapeutic.  There is something relaxing about the sharpening process and at the end a very satisfying feeling of knowing that you did something very well. Thank you to all of you for your knowledgeable posts and helping me to get to this point in my sharpening experience.

    • This topic was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by Dale.
    8 users thanked author for this post.
    • Topics: 59
    • Replies: 2020

    Dale, thanks for finally posting to the forum.  Even though you haven’t introduced yourself to this point, it’s obvious you’ve done an awful lot of reading, learning and putting into practice what you learned on the forum. Welcome!

    A while back Clay had posted on the forum that a horizontal scrubbing motion along the bevel, (side to side, from heel to tip), was proving to be very efficient when polishing with lapping films. The advantage was avoiding cutting the film strips.  You might give this try.  I’ll also add if you’re pleased with the Aluminum Oxide lapping films, (ALF) you’ll likely find the Diamond Lapping Films, (DLF), even better!






    (MarcH's Rack-It)

    • Topics: 35
    • Replies: 1893

    On lapping film and edge-leading strokes:

    I think I’ve been using DLF as long as anybody on the forum and I can confirm that for most applications, it will tolerate scrubbing (edge leading) strokes pretty well.   It does, however, require well developed stroke discipline.  There are a couple of points to be aware of:

    1. The film must be dead-flat on the substrate (glass or metal plate).  Any hint of a bubble or a grain of dust will create a “pimple” waiting to be shaved off.  Once sliced, the cut will provide a point for the edge to dig into.
    2. If the contact between edge and film is less than the width of the film, the edge will tend to bite into the film. This is usually seen where the contour of the edge has a somewhat tighter radius – The deeper the belly of the edge, the more likely it is to bite into the film.  Generally, straight or relatively straight edges are no problem.
    3. There is a transition point during which you first touch the film to the edge and another when you lift the film from the edge. If you touch the film to the edge, making contact at a corner of the substrate before achieving full width contact, or if you lift the film in a motion which allows the corner of the substrate to be the last point of contact during a down-stroke (edge leading), you will create a cut at the edge of the film.  Any cut created accidentally will be sure to expand at the first opportunity.
    4. Always maintain uniform pressures against the face of the stone/film. Whether you are scrubbing or not, it is key to this or any controlled-angle abrasive plates to lie flat against the edge being sharpened.  Feel the natural position of the abrasive plate and apply pressure uniformly across the face of the plate.  This is also key as you stroke past the tip.  Allowing the handle to rock out of this natural position will produce an unsightly mismatch of the bevels at the tip.

    There is a simple solution to items #2 and #3.  Always start and end a series of scrubbing strokes on the up-stroke.  This is simple, but not easy, especially if you have purposefully developed (as I have) a discipline of edge-leading strokes.

    If you’ve seen my video on sharpening plane irons, you’ll see that I use 3” wide film plates.  I’m done about 15 or 20 plane blades now and I use scrubbing motion throughout my sessions.  Here, the blades are flat and straight and the film plates are also flat and straight. The plate lies perfectly flat against the blade, with the pressure distributed evenly across the edge.  I’ve never produced a film cut I could attribute to the use of edge-leading strokes.

    4 users thanked author for this post.
    • Topics: 1
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    Thanks for the angle adjuster review.

    I do need to point out that the original modification came from tcmeyer.  His modification utilizes stainless steel knobs rather than the plastic knobs/jam nuts I use.  I switched to the plastic knobs due to the cost and the labor involved.

    If anyone wants to DIY a set, PM me and I’ll provide the McMaster part numbers.

    I will also make sets for those who don’t have the time or tools.    Send a PM if you would like a set.

    Ed K.

    3 users thanked author for this post.
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