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Functional vs cosmetic abrasives?

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  • #45757
    Cameron
    Participant
    • Topics: 2
    • Replies: 9

    So I’m considering picking up a WE120 and I’m debating on which abrasives to purchase. I’d be mainly sharpening EDC (M390, Maxamet, S35V) and kitchen (AEB-L, 52100) knives. While I’d like the edge to be pretty, I care more about it being functional (especially over the long term) rather than cosmetically attractive and would like to save as much time and money as possible in purchasing a new system to achieve this.

    As such, my question is: what abrasives would you consider “functional” and which would you consider “cosmetic?” I’ve read that anything above 1000 is more or less for show, but I don’t know how true this is, and if there is an advantage to a mirror edge, what it would be. Would you bother getting anything additional to the WE120 kit aside from an 800/1000 stone or is that enough to achieve what I would like? Much appreciated.

    #45760
    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 59
    • Replies: 2041

    Welcome to the Wicked Edge Forum Cameron.  The difference between a functional cutting edge and a cosmetically attractive edge isn’t that cut and dry.  The Wicked Edge because of the nature of the fixed angle sharpening system allows for the creation of very smooth consistent precise bevels,  Once your stones get broken in and you get past the learning curve so you’ve developed some technique and know what you’re doing the knife bevels will get smoother and flatter and thus shinier and appear more polished.  This just happens when you’re sharpening with the WE correctly.  So a functionally sharp edge tends to look good too.  I am mostly about function sharpening my kitchen knives to be used and not to just look at them.  I take all working edges to usually 1500 grit diamond stones followed with usually a two step stropping, (4µ & 2µ).  I do this just for the functionality but they look very smooth and shinny too.  And they stay sharp for a long time, with basic normal use.  Of course longevity and durability of the edge is determined by how hard you use and abuse the edge.  In my experience a 1500 grit stropped edge is sharper then a 1000 grit stropped edge besides looking prettier cosmetically.

    I understand your looking to get into this sharpening system with the least amount of expense and outlay….I would highly recommend you consider the WE130 over the WE120.  The self centering cam action vice jaws of the 130 is a much simpler, more efficient, more sophisticated and easier to use, clamping system.  It is well worth the added initial expense.

    Mirror edges are strived for when sharpening ultimate custom competition Chopper knives.  The kind used in contest to prove sharpness and durability.

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-It)

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    #45765
    Cameron
    Participant
    • Topics: 2
    • Replies: 9

    Really appreciate the reply!

    Could you explain a bit more the differences between the clamp in the WE120 vs WE130? I understand that the WE130 uses a lever instead of a set of screws found on the WE120, but what are the other advantages aside from just ease of use?

    #45769
    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 59
    • Replies: 2041

    The Lever system is self centering which means the knife is clamped in the center and is held vertical as both sides of the vice tighten in on the knife simultaneously as the lever is rotated clockwise to the locked position.  There is also a tension adjustment for fine adjustment and better gripping as needed.  With the WE120 Vice the left side of the vice is fixed and stationary while the right side is moved closer as the screws are tightened to grip the knife.  The knife is pulled tight against the stationary left side. Due to the shape of ground knives being relatively triangular shaped, although very thin, the knife is leaned over to the left fixed clamp side causing a cant to the clamped knife position that is easily compensated for with quick math calculations.  The lever action vice eliminates the clamping lean and the need to compensate. The advantage of ease of use and the increased clamping strength and better holding power make the WE130 vice much quicker easier to use and worth the initial investment.  This ease of use is really helpful for repetitiveness when repositioning a knife for touch-ups and subsequent sharpening sessions.

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-It)

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    #45774
    Organic
    Participant
    • Topics: 17
    • Replies: 928

    Marc is right when he says that the line between functional and cosmetically impressive is not distinct. Highly polished edges have less drag through whatever material it is that you are trying to cut, so they often preform better than a lower grit finished knife. However, the ultra refined apex that you get when putting a highly polished edge on a knife can be disadvantageous for some cutting tasks. For example, if you are going to be cutting a lot of zip ties and rope, you might prefer a knife with a 600 grit (or even 400 grit) finish on the apex rather than a heavily stropped 1500 grit apex because the knife will bite into those materials more easily. Highly refined edges are better than less refined edges when it comes to cutting vegetables, slicing paper, whittling hair, and similar delicate cutting tasks. Both types of edges are useful depending on the intended application of the blade. A good compromise between the two is to put a lower grit micro bevel on a knife with a highly polished bevel. This gives the knife the extra bite of the lower grit finish along with some of the smoother cutting performance that the polished bevels impart.

    If you’re just looking to get a great edge on your EDC knives and you don’t care about whittling hair or mirrored bevels, then going to 600 grit and stropping with the 4 micron / 2 micron set will give you what you seek. The strops help a lot to refine the relatively coarse finish enough to get it to sail through paper and easily shave hair. This finish should also be nice for kitchen knives as long as you’re not doing really delicate cuts.

    My preferred finish for most sharpening jobs is the same as Marc: 1500 grit with some stropping.

    The pro packs offer the best value if you anticipate that you’ll want to add accessories down the line.

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    #45805
    Cameron
    Participant
    • Topics: 2
    • Replies: 9

    Thank you both again for the help.

    On the Wicked Edge site, it indicates that there are features new to the 2017 model of the WE130. Is there a version before the current 2017 one, and if so, how can I tell them apart?

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    #45806
    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 59
    • Replies: 2041

    The earlier model, (pre-2017 version), did not have split jaws that help for clamping distally tapered knives due to the flexibility of these jaws.  There was not a tension adjustment, and the vice mechanism was more open, (i.e., the cam was visible from the outside, and there were some slight mechanical differences in the cam spring mechanism.

    The best way to tell them apart is the new version has solid appearing enclosed sides and the small tension adjustment knob on the back-side opposite the locking lever.

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-It)

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    #45825
    sksharp
    Participant
    • Topics: 9
    • Replies: 397

    If it were me, a little over a year in, I would opt for the 130 over the 120 in a heart beat. The clamp is faster, easier and simplifies the process quite a bit over the older clamp design. I think if you have diamond stones to at least 1000, 1500 preferably, and maybe the 4 thru .5 emulsions on leather(2 sets of strops) you would have a great start and may find it’s all you ever need. For quick and easy, the films are a good investment but I only us them on maybe 1 or 2 out of 10 knives.

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