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Hair Shaving Sharpness Off Diamond Plates?

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Hello everyone!

This is the first real post from a lurker turned member. While I have been sharpening on a guided system for several years, I only recently got into freehand sharpening a few months ago and REALLY enjoy it!

One of the things I have been doing to build my technique, and put in the "reps" needed to build consistency is sharpening/dulling/re-sharpening some cheap knives on diamond plates. These are 8 x 3 Ultra Sharp plates in either 300, 600, or 1200 grit.

While I can consistently get a very *sharp* edge, I'm only able to achieve hair shaving sharpness right off the plate sporadically. This is without stropping or finishing on a different stone, as I feel that would be cheating.

With that, I was wondering if you more experienced sharpeners thought my problem is more with the entire technique (from start to finish), or if you felt it may just be in the final, finishing stage of the sharpening?

Technique: I'm a hand switcher, edge towards me. I start out using firm pressure with back and forth strokes. For finishing, I have been experimenting a bit with edge leading vs. edge trailing, but have been using lighter pressure either way. I have also been trying the "Kippington" method, and that seems to work as well. I still experimenting with the finishing technique, which is why I wanted to ask what techniques/combination of techniques you would recommend.

Thanks in advance for any advice you are willing to share, as I am anxious to correct this!
 
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M1k3

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Are your plates new(er) or pretty used? I ask because some plates can come from the factory with clusters or proud diamond particles. Which will give you a hard time getting a consistent edge.

If they're used, I'd guess working more on technique. I'd also get a knife made with a decent simple carbon. They are a bit easier to sharpen. If you get the same kind of results, it's definitely technique.

Some cheap stainless can have carbide clusters and/or large carbides, usually unevenly distributed. Which complicates the learning curve. But is possible to do.
 
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Are your plates new(er) or pretty used? I ask because some plates can come from the factory with clusters or proud diamond particles. Which will give you a hard time getting a consistent edge.

If they're used, I'd guess working more on technique. I'd also get a knife made with a decent simple carbon. They are a bit easier to sharpen. If you get the same kind of results, it's definitely technique.

Some cheap stainless can have carbide clusters and/or large carbides, usually unevenly distributed. Which complicates the learning curve. But is possible to do.
Thanks for the feedback!

The plates are well broken in. I used a Wicked Edge (exclusive diamond plate paddles) for years, so I know exactly what you mean. When I first got these Ultra Sharp plates, I spent some time carefully breaking them in with a cleaver. My goal was to work the ENTIRE surface area of the plates, remove all the proud areas, and get the plates to wear-in to their consistent level for future sharpening.

*UPDATE: I just finished a sharpening session. I wanted to try out a few approaches in order to get some consistency in my finishing technique, as I'm pretty sure that's where the problem is. Like I mentioned, I had been trying so many different things over the past few days that there was a time that I got the result I wanted but didn't remember how I even did it!

What I did today was try 2 different techniques for finishing. I wrote them down in advance so I could carefully follow the recipe. I also started from scratch each time to see which one worked best.

Here's what worked best, at least so far:

First, I sharpen as I normally do, then

- Starting on the side with the burr, I did a few edge LEADING strokes towards me with about 50% of the pressure I did when sharpening, but at the same angle as I sharpened.
- I flipped the knife over, and did a few edge LEADING strokes towards me with even less pressure than I did on the other side in order to make sure I kept the burr as possible. This was still at the same angle.
- Then I switched back and RAISED the angle (thanks @Kippington!) and did 2 or 3 extremely light passes with basically just the weight of the blade.
- Flipped, and did the same pair of super light, blade-weight only passes on that side.
- Flipped one last time, and did ONE super light, very slow edge leading pass from heal to tip.

Checked the blade was was VERY impressed with the edge. While it wasn't hair popping sharp, it was extremely sharp, and this was off the 300 grit plate!


I'm still working on this, so please feel free to chime in with any advice as I am more than willing to put in the work to see if what works for you guys works for me as well. If not, I will be happy to post what works for me in case it can help anyone else out in the future.

Thanks again!
Mike...
 
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M1k3

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Sounds good. Another thing from @Kippington, strop on cardboard, like the kind from a cereal box. Just a few passes on each side.
 

inferno

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with diamonds some lower grits can produce a sharper edge than the high grits.

look up "the diamond plate progression" by science of sharp. complete with SEM images and all.

i think the 325 and 600 dmt produced the sharpest edges in his test. he could shave his face straight off the 325.
 

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Which knives are you sharpening?

Most cheap knives are made from fairly (or even very) soft stainless steel which tends to deform around the diamond clusters and pull them out of the plate rather than being ground away by the diamonds. I'd be leaning towards using a cheap stone or even w&d sandpaper for these knives.
 
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with diamonds some lower grits can produce a sharper edge than the high grits.

look up "the diamond plate progression" by science of sharp. complete with SEM images and all.

i think the 325 and 600 dmt produced the sharpest edges in his test. he could shave his face straight off the 325.

I did find The Diamond Plate Progression and thanks for pointing me towards that!

It's funny, but I just tried sharpening with my Atoma 400 plate. I was thinking this might be great since it's in between the 300 and 600. The rusult was...

HORRIBLE

Just like it pointed out in that article, the Atoma plates just don't sharpen really well. They are great at flattening stones, and that's what I will continue to use them for!

Which knives are you sharpening?

Most cheap knives are made from fairly (or even very) soft stainless steel which tends to deform around the diamond clusters and pull them out of the plate rather than being ground away by the diamonds. I'd be leaning towards using a cheap stone or even w&d sandpaper for these knives.
These are cheaper knives in CrMoV steel, but still take a great edge when I do my part.

Again, I'm not saying diamond plates are the best choice for these steels. I just want to get very good with them since I have a (now) 300 and 600 plate in my traveling kit for my mom and mother-in-laws knives. I like the plates because they are low maintenance, quick and easy to use, and I don't have to worry about leaving them in the car.

And now with my Quick and Easy Cardboard Bench Strops, I don't even need to have an actual strop in the bag. I probably will, but it's more of a just in case thing!

Thanks again for all the advice everyone!
 

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These are cheaper knives in CrMoV steel, but still take a great edge when I do my part.

Again, I'm not saying diamond plates are the best choice for these steels. I just want to get very good with them since I have a (now) 300 and 600 plate in my traveling kit for my mom and mother-in-laws knives. I like the plates because they are low maintenance, quick and easy to use, and I don't have to worry about leaving them in the car.
Just to be clear, the issue that I am decrbing is not "Are the plates are any good for sharpening the knives?".

It is "Are the knives are going to wreck the plates?"
 
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Just to be clear, the issue that I am decrbing is not "Are the plates are any good for sharpening the knives?".

It is "Are the knives are going to wreck the plates?"
Ah, got it. I guess I never thought of it like that.

So far it doesn’t seem to be messing up the plates. I haven’t noticed any glazing on th, and the knives are getting consistently sharp. I may try this little trick with an actual stone next.

My plan was to get really good with the plates as they will cut ANY steel, good, bad, or ugly.

Phase 2 of my sharpening workout was to see how sharp an edge I could get off ONE stone, whether that was a 500 Shapton Glass, 600 Chosera, or a 1K (either Shapton, Chosera, and whatever else I have). I wanted to really get a good feel for the stone, and the edge it made, so I could kind of “catalog” it in my mind, should I ever want to duplicate that edge on a particular knife.

Finally phase 3 was to incorporate a combination of plates and different stone grits, like setting the bevel on a completely dull knife with a 300 grit plate, then moving to, say, a 500 Grit Shapton Glass stone followed by a 2K Shapton Glass stone, the finishing with a strop.

For me I’m really trying to break the sharpening process down into different parts and work on them separately. That way when I put them back together the overall result will be much better.
 

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Which knives are you sharpening?

Most cheap knives are made from fairly (or even very) soft stainless steel which tends to deform around the diamond clusters and pull them out of the plate rather than being ground away by the diamonds. I'd be leaning towards using a cheap stone or even w&d sandpaper for these knives.
Won't be a problem either way.
After you remove the material you need and form a bevel, you must push/keep the pressure back and start developing the apex. Makes not difference what grit you have, as the amount of everything is just adjusted accordingly, but the principle is the same.
Also, my older plates are just fine after piles of softer knives. I'd say this is the easier way to get them shaving fast if only speed would matter.
 

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Unless you are sharpening bleeding edge alloys containing beaucoup Vanadium and/or Niobium carbides, you don't NEED diamond for sharpening. And diamond plates seem wretched to me now for most free hand (maintenance) sharpening.

Get you some Carbon steel edged blades and more traditional stones, natural or synthetic. Play with those free hand sharpening a while and compare to your experiences with stainless blades and diamond plates. Feel, time required to achieve razor sharpness?

I didn't believe it when members here first told me to get Carbon steel either. But I'm running aogami and shirogami core blades for daily cooking prep now, sharpening them free hand in SECONDS when cutting edges fade. Won't likely use the newer hi tech alloys & diamond plates/stones for anything but EDC and hunting knives which get used a lot between chances to sit down and run them over stones. S110VN is lovely to cut a few miles of cardboard with at a go but wretched to sharpen when you finally DO manage to dull/chip/roll the edge...
 
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... I'd say this is the easier way to get them shaving fast if only speed would matter.

THIS is exactly my reasoning with the plates as well. My theory of sharpening looks like this:

Sharpen the knives to the level needed to perform their cutting tasks easily, and do so as quickly and efficiently as possible.

It's also nice to be able to just have a very minimalistic kit on hand for sharpening any time.


dont waste your time :)

what stones do you currently own?

I have a pretty decent collection of stones:

Shapton Glass: 500/2K/15K

Naniwa/Chosera: 400 & 600

Aotoshi: 2K Green Brick of Joy

... and another popular 400 grit stone that I can't remember the name of right now, but know it's kind of an organ-ish-yellow.


... Get you some Carbon steel edged blades and more traditional stones, natural or synthetic. Play with those free hand sharpening a while and compare to your experiences with stainless blades and diamond plates. Feel, time required to achieve razor sharpness?

I didn't believe it when members here first told me to get Carbon steel either. But I'm running aogami and shirogami core blades for daily cooking prep now, sharpening them free hand in SECONDS when cutting edges fade. Won't likely use the newer hi tech alloys & diamond plates/stones for anything but EDC and hunting knives which get used a lot between chances to sit down and run them over stones. S110VN is lovely to cut a few miles of cardboard with at a go but wretched to sharpen when you finally DO manage to dull/chip/roll the edge...

I'll try that, but the problem is not ME getting those knives (I already have some nicer ones). It's the fact that my mom and mother-in-law do not.

I've sharpened their knives several times on the Wicked Edge, so I know diamonds work (and work quickly) for what they have.

I do enjoy sharpening nice knives on stones - That's awesome! My goal with sharpening not-so-nice-knives is to use whatever is quickest/easiest and get them sharp as quickly as possible. Add to that the fact that I'm not "touching up" these crappy blades. Oftentimes I am bringing them back from the dead, especially with the in law. I have no idea what she does to these poor blades, but based on what it takes to get them back to what I feel is acceptable sharpness, it can't be good!


... S110VN is lovely to cut a few miles of cardboard with at a go but wretched to sharpen when you finally DO manage to dull/chip/roll the edge...

It's funny you mention that. I have a Spyderco Military in S110V that I use EXCLUSIVELY for breaking down cardboard at our house. We live in a town that has a recycling can the same size as the large trash can, but recycling only gets picked up ever OTHER week. I use that knife to break down cardboard into small enough panels that I can stack for a month without it being emptied!

Speaking of which, if you have never read Jim Ankerson's Spyderco Military S110V Review check it out!
 
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Get you some Carbon steel edged blades and more traditional stones, natural or synthetic. Play with those free hand sharpening a while and compare to your experiences with stainless blades and diamond plates.
@Bert2368
Do you have any recommendations for a cheaper carbon steel Santuku and/or chef’s knife? I would love to try them out and do some sharpening experiments on them. Feel free to PM me with some recommendations if you don’t feel like posting here.
 
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