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Micro Fine Ceramics vs Diamond Lapping Films

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Brewbear 06/01/2019 at 8:04 pm.

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  • #50324

    rummels
    Participant
    • Topics: 3
    • Replies: 14

    I have been sharpening my kitchen knives using the diamond stones progressing up through the 1500.  After the 1500 stones, I have been giving each side 20 strokes with the 9 Micro Diamond Lapping films.

    I recently purchased the Micro Fine Ceramic stones, mainly because they are not rapidly consumable, and the cost of new lapping films is adding up.

    I rubbed the surfaces of the micro fine ceramics together for about 15 minutes as a way to speed up the break-in process, and began using them on my knives instead of the lapping films.  I used the 1.4 micro side with 20 strokes on each side of the blade, and then .6 micro side. Again with 20 strokes on each side of the blade.

    But I immediately noticed that knives that were finished with the micro fine ceramics were definitely not as sharp as those finished with the lapping films (I sliced paper to test sharpness).

    Any insights that you could share would be greatly appreciated.  Could it be that the ceramics aren’t broken completely yet?  Is it that the micro fine ceramics simply don’t deliver the same level of sharpness as the lapping films?  Or could it be I need to use the ceramics longer on each side to get the results I have gotten from the films?

    Thank you

    rummels

    #50325

    Organic
    Participant
    • Topics: 17
    • Replies: 882

    I think your main problem here is that you aren’t doing enough passes. Diamond sharpening media abrade metal much more efficiently than ceramic. You will need to do a lot more passes relative to what you do with the diamond stones in order to remove the scratches from the previous grit. The stones might not be broken in yet either, but I got results that I was happy with from the first use of my micro fine ceramic set so I think that’s probably not the main issue.

    Clay has recently commented that the micro fine ceramics give an edge that preforms remarkably well on a BESS tester.

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    #50340

    rummels
    Participant
    • Topics: 3
    • Replies: 14

    Organic

    Thanks for the info.

    I know this will vary from knife to knife, but could you estimate how many passes you think it might take for the 1.4 micron micro fine ceramic to have the same affect as 20 passes with .9 micron diamond lapping film?

    Thanks

    rummels

    #50342

    Organic
    Participant
    • Topics: 17
    • Replies: 882

    I would expect that you’ll need 50 to 100 passes to get similar levels of scratch pattern uniformity. As you already suggested, this will depend on the knife’s blade steel, the blade length, and how worn in your diamond stones are. The only real way to judge this is with the use of a magnifying device such as USB microscope or a jeweler’s loupe.

    I would like to add that the diamond lapping films give a more radiant finish than the ceramic stones do, so don’t expect the bevels to be quite as polished looking as they are after the 9 micron diamond lapping film.

    2 users thanked author for this post.
    #50355

    rummels
    Participant
    • Topics: 3
    • Replies: 14

    Organic

    Thanks for the good info!

    rummels

    #50561

    wickededge
    Keymaster
    • Topics: 121
    • Replies: 2906

    Usually knives that we have finished on the Micro-Fine stones outperform knives we’ve finished by lapping in sharpness tests.

    -Clay

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    #50563

    Brewbear
    Participant
    • Topics: 6
    • Replies: 101

    My understanding is that using diamond films or micro fine ceramic stones is a matter of preference as well as longevity of ceramics vs. DLF, am I correct? In that case, would you say that going from 1500 grit/0.6 micron DLF to the micro fine ceramic stones is acceptable, or should I use the super fine ceramic stones between the 1500/0.6 micron DLF and the micro fine ceramic stone.

    I am aware they work a bit differently, that is why I’m asking the seasoned members here. I am happy (for now) with the finish I get from the 0.6 micron DLF but I also know that it can be better.

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by  Brewbear.
    #50565

    Organic
    Participant
    • Topics: 17
    • Replies: 882

    My understanding is that using diamond films or micro fine ceramic stones is a matter of preference as well as longevity of ceramics vs. DLF, am I correct? In that case, would you say that going from 1500 grit/0.6 micron DLF to the micro fine ceramic stones is acceptable, or should I use the super fine ceramic stones between the 1500/0.6 micron DLF and the micro fine ceramic stone. I am aware they work a bit differently, that is why I’m asking the seasoned members here. I am happy (for now) with the finish I get from the 0.6 micron DLF but I also know that it can be better.

    There are many good answers when it comes to the question of grit progression. I do believe that the 1200 / 1600 ceramic stones are unnecessary if you already have the 1500 / glass. The 1500 diamond will produce a very similar level of refinement as the 1200 / 1600 combination and will do it with fewer strokes. This has been demonstrated by Clay as evidenced with high magnification images in a previous thread. That said, the edge finish produced by the 1500 vs. the 1200 / 1600 combination may well be different from one another. I can’t say for sure since I don’t own that stone set.

    I don’t think there is an advantage to using the 6 micron lapping film between the 1500 grit diamond stone and the 1.4 micron side of the micro fine ceramic. It certainly won’t hurt your end result but I don’t know if it will do anything to improve it either.

    2 users thanked author for this post.
    #50566

    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 58
    • Replies: 1917

    For me, with the ceramics stones, it’s an “either or” situation.  Use either the Superfines (1200/1600) or the Microfines (1.4µ/0.6µ).  They are manufactured differently, have different scratch patterns and characteristics that I don’t find blend well together.  My personal preference is the Microfine set.  I have tried to utilize both sets of the ceramics in various orders of progression and I’ve never found an advantage to use both type ceramics in conjunction.

    I would use the 1.6µ/0.6µ right after the 1500 grit diamond stones, and finish with strops…no diamond lapping films in that progression.

    My other progression choice would be 1500 grit/6µ DLF then strops…no ceramics in that progression.

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-It)

    4 users thanked author for this post.
    #50567

    Brewbear
    Participant
    • Topics: 6
    • Replies: 101

    Thank you both for the responses. My question was spurred by Clay’s response in this thread “

    Usually knives that we have finished on the Micro-Fine stones outperform knives we’ve finished by lapping in sharpness tests.

    ” and my desire to improve. I was planning on ordering the complete set of DLFs along with the blank handles but I believe I’ll try the micro fine ceramics first. I remember @ Organic posting elsewhere about using ceramic stones and the fact they last much longer than DLF (apologies if I misread/interpreted).

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by  Brewbear.
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    #50569

    Organic
    Participant
    • Topics: 17
    • Replies: 882

    Thank you both for the responses. My question was spurred by Clay’s response in this thread “

    Usually knives that we have finished on the Micro-Fine stones outperform knives we’ve finished by lapping in sharpness tests.

    ” and my desire to improve. I was planning on ordering the complete set of DLFs along with the blank handles but I believe I’ll try the micro fine ceramics first. I remember @ Organic posting elsewhere about using ceramic stones and the fact they last much longer than DLF (apologies if I misread/interpreted).

    You are correct; I have previously stated that the ceramic stones are a great alternative to lapping films in the sense that they are likely a one time investment. I stand by that. The lapping films  / glass paddles require not only an initial investment but a recurring investment as the films wear out with use. The films will get you 8-20 good sharpening sessions before they require replacement. TCMeyer has reported that regular cleaning of the diamond films with rubbing alcohol improves their usable life substantially. It will take a lot of sharpening sessions to use up a sheet of the WE lapping films, so it is not like this is a huge financial liability or anything, but it is a factor that may or may not matter to you.

    I want to make it clear that I’m not telling you to skip the diamond lapping films in favor of the ceramic stones. I have diamond films (6, 3, 1.5) and ceramic stones (1.4, 0.6). I use them for different occasions. The films are really great when you want an impressive finish without an hour of extra effort. They abrade steel very efficiently especially when compared to the ceramic stones and you can get through an entire progression of diamond films in the time that it would take to make the most of one grit of ceramic. If speed or beauty are the goal then the diamond films are difficult to beat. The diamond lapping films also go down to 0.1 micron, which the ceramic stones can not match. I can’t comment on how that edge compares to the 0.6 micron ceramic edge because I don’t have the 0.1 micron film. I will defer to Clay’s statement about the relative performance of the two mediums in general. He has a lot of experience and quantitative data. When he says that edges produced by ceramic stones are superior, I believe him.

    Here’s an example of  how I use the diamond films and ceramics. I sharpened a few kitchen knives for a co-worker this last week. He gave me two chef knives. The first knife came to me in poor condition and I spent a lot of time with the 100 stones reshaping the tip, grinding down the bolster, and establishing the bevels to get the initial burr. I was pretty tired at that point and wanted to get the knife done so I could hand it back the next morning. I finished the progression with 200-1500 and then 6 micron lapping film, 4 / 2 micron strops on leather. When I handed it back to him he was amazed by how shiny the bevels were and reported back that he was able to cut a ripe tomato without smashing it (which was an impressive feat in his view). He said it was easily the sharpest knife he had used.

    I worked on the second knife over the memorial day weekend. This knife was in better initial shape, so it didn’t require all the extra effort at the lower grits. I used the 100-1500 diamonds and decided to go for the 1.4 / 0.6 ceramics followed by a stropping progression with 14, 10, 4, 2, 1, and 0.5 micron diamonds on leather. I’d guess I spent about the same total time as the first knife but the edge was undeniably better. It was tree-topping hair with ease and had a tooth to the edge that the other knife did not have. My coworker reported that he accidentally sliced off a substantial chunk of his fingernail while removing it from the paper that I had used to wrap the knife.

    Please bear in mind the anecdotal nature of these observations. Both knives were sharp.

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    #50570

    Brewbear
    Participant
    • Topics: 6
    • Replies: 101

    Awesome example Organic, thank you. I guess I’ll just have to bite the bullet and slowly build my “arsenal” of sharpening tools. There is sharp, and then there is SHARP!!!! I only have the 1500/glass (with 6 micron DLF) and haven’t touched the strops yet. I will slowly but surely build the set and be happy with the Kershaw Link in M 390 while the CRK Sebenza will wait a little while longer. In either case you delivered a sharp blade but the one sharpened with the ceramic was scary sharp. Yes, you went full blast with the strops too and I’m thinking that contributed to the end result as well but to my mind, the diamonds/DLF and strops will be the “quick and sharp” while the ceramics/strops will be “sharper than sharp, shave a gnat’s behind” kind of sharp. One of these days I’ll have the full set of stones and find a day or three dedicated to sharpening alone.

     

     

    #50571

    Organic
    Participant
    • Topics: 17
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    If I had done A few more grits with the diamond films and strops on the first knife it probably would have been similarly sharp as the second knife. I used the full strop progression on the second knife to try and give it a comparable level of shine as the first knife had, but the extra strop effort undoubtedly had an impact on the sharpness. You won’t go wrong with either the films or the ceramics. They are both great.

    lf you have strops already and just haven’t tried them then I’d say dive in! Strops take your edges to the next level.

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    #50572

    Brewbear
    Participant
    • Topics: 6
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    If I had done A few more grits with the diamond films and strops on the first knife it probably would have been similarly sharp as the second knife. I used the full strop progression on the second knife to try and give it a comparable level of shine as the first knife had, but the extra strop effort undoubtedly had an impact on the sharpness. You won’t go wrong with either the films or the ceramics. They are both great. lf you have strops already and just haven’t tried them then I’d say dive in! Strops take your edges to the next level.

    I have the diamond emulsion strops set, what I’m lacking (besides knowledge) is the time to actually “play” with them. I noticed you also used the 14/10 strops at the beginning of the stropping set. Did you switch to the emulsion set afterwards? Is there a reason why you started there? Many thanks.

    #50574

    Organic
    Participant
    • Topics: 17
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    The 10/14 is the diamond paste and the others are emulsions. The paste or emulsion is just the vehicle to get the diamonds onto the leather. It don’t believe that it plays a role in the actual sharpening process. I prefer the emulsions as they spread more easily and it is easy to get a fairly uniform coating on the strop sruface.

    I use the 14 / 10 set because I like to overlap grits when changing from one medium to another. I think it yields a more uniform finish and helps to eliminate any deeper scratches that may be remaining from previous grits. I have no quantitative evidence to support these claims. I can say that the 14 grit diamond strop increases the polish on the bevels after the 0.6 micron ceramic stone.

    There are innumerable ways to finish a knife using the Wicked Edge. I haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to possible progressions, but I do have a few favorite ways that work well.

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