I just finished an email marathon with an individual who was struggling with trying to grasp what de-burring is all about. This fellow had been reading many forums and blogs on this subject as well as perusing YouTube videos and had been completely jumbled up, confused, and somewhat mis-led by what he found.
I thought I'd take just a second to get something straight on this subject, make a short post that hopefully will be read by people who want the true skinny on what really works for de-burring and what doesn't and why.
Ok, first off we have two things to deal with as a consequence of sharpening....
2. Wire Edge
Common ways to de-burr....
What works for de-burring.....
1. Stropping with a rough(ish) medium/substrate (such as leather) that provides physical drag/draw.
The action provided from using a strop that offers draw is that the burrs are physically pulled away from and off of the edge.
2. Running the edge through a material (that's not harmful to the edge) that offers some sideways grabbing action applied to the edge such as something that self heals. This action pulls burrs off of the edge from the lengthwise direction.
What doesn't de-burr.....
1. Newspaper, balsa, polishing stones, or anything smooth (even smooth leather).
These items serve to either refine and/or align the wire edge and/or burrs. They will not remove burrs from an edge. The reason why they don't remove burrs is because they offer no physical drawing/pulling/grabbing action - they abrade slowly and align micro-teeth.
How to remove a wire edge.....
Use finer and finer stones/strops/hones until the wire is so small that it becomes practically insignificant.
This is just a small and very general outline of my thoughts on this subject. I hope that it helps to make things clearer for people.