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post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Another rookie sharpening question (because I think I've drifted the thread below far enough away from its original purpose).


My sharpening is really coming along in leaps and bounds since starting a few weeks ago - it really amazes me.


My kit is 400, 1K and 5K Naniwa SSs, and a leather strop. 


My question is about deburring. I've read a lot of different approaches to this, and have sort have put together a hybrid approach of my own. I'm very interested in what everyone else's approach is.


Basically, I chase the burr on each stone until I am down to 5 passes per side. Then I strop on that stone each side 2-3 time, alternating each time. After I am finished on the highest grit stone, I run the blade through a cork a few times. Then strop on the leather, always alternating sides.


What do you guys do? Is there any advantage to deburring on the cork after every stone, or is it OK to leave it until the end
? I've heard some of the other forums talk of some steels having a 'stubborn' burr. How do you pick these, and what is the solution?

post #2 of 5

Let's start with some definitions and some basic technique.


Chasing v Stropping:

"Chasing" the burr and "stropping" aren't necessarily different. 


"Chasing" the burr means getting so much fatigue along the seam where the burr meets the (as yet unrevealed) edge, that the burr can flip from side to side with very little pressure. 


"Stropping" refers to using spine leading/edge trailing strokes only.  It can also mean using stropping strokes on a "strop," which is any of several materials, hard or soft, charged or uncharged.  In any case, you can chase a burr by stropping (on stones or a strop).


The idea with chasing the burr is to get it to change sides with a single, light pressure stroke.  Once the burr is chased that far, it can be removed fairly easily and will leave a fresh, metal edge behind it; as fine as the scratch on the bevels will allow. 


Because of it's very small contact patch, a honing rod creates tremendous pressure along the burr and seam.  If you want to use yours as a part of the deburring process; chase your burrs on your stones and/or strops to the flip on every stroke stage, then make sure with your rod.  The geometry does nearly all the work.  Three strokes per side, alternating sides with every stroke, and using very light pressure is enough. 



Some people deburr after every grit level, some only once they've reached a fairly refined level.  As it happens, I don't deburr until around 3K-5K based on the BDL Theory of Avoiding Unnecessary Effort Like the Frikkin' Plague; but that doesn't mean you should do what I do.  


There are a few ways to deburr.  Sometimes there's enough fatigue generated chasing the burr so that it falls off on its own.  You should be so lucky.


One of the most common is to dissolve the burr by sharpening using only full-length-of-blade edge leading/spine trailing strokes (the opposite of stropping) with a slight rotation.  More often than not, this is done poorly and incompletely.  I do it following the coarser grits, and out of habit with the finer.  Since I also deburr in felt and cork, you can deduce how well "dissolving" works in my opinion.


Another is to strop the burr off, again using full-length-of-blade strop strokes, with rotation, on a grabby strop, like felt.  Unless the burr is barely holding on and the sharpener really knows his onions, this hardly every works.  My suggestion is "don't bother," at least until you can consistently and effectively detect very slight burrs and consistently and effectively deburr using some other method.


The easiest and most consistently effective way to deburr is by drawing the (well chased) edge through one or a combination of several materials such as champagne cork, wine cork, a felt deburring block, a piece of soft-wood endgrain, or shirt-board.  At the moment I draw the knife through a CKtG felt block for intermediate deburring, and felt plus a very soft draw though wine cork for final deburring.  If you only want to use one, either works as well as the other.


Deburring should (almost) always be the final act of sharpening.  

The only exception is when stropping or "sharpening" a final, ultra-fine, "bright mirror" polish; i.e., 10K and finer with stones, 1u and finer with a strop charge.  Then, you want to use to use very few, very light strokes to create the polish, and avoid drawing any burr at all because effective deburring always creates some scratch.  That said, 5K + uncharged leather doesn't fall into this category.


Stropping pulls burrs all too easily.  If you want to strop as your last act, be very gentle and use very few strokes.  As it stands, your final leather strop is more than likely counterproductive.  If you really want to use that leather strop go 5K, leather, and deburr.   



post #3 of 5

As usual BDL gave excellent advise. I can also recommend the hard felt for deburring. 

You can't lay on the beach and drink rum all day unless you start in the morning


You can't lay on the beach and drink rum all day unless you start in the morning

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice, BDL - my sharpening has really been improving.


I've changed to a Bester 500 for initial bevel setting. I agree that the Naniwa SSs can be a little soft. They seem to gouge easy. I also might do a quick run over a DMT XC diamond just to set the intitial bevel for really blunt chipped knives. Haven't read any advice to do this but I find it an easy way to set a bevel on a really damaged edge.


I've been deburring on a wine cork, which seems to work fine.


Can I ask: why are some knives easier to deburr than others??


I've been working on some of my brother's old knives this week. I got his old Dick chef's 8" sharp pretty easily, but I also worked on a some cheapo unknown brand knives (a paring and a carver). I could raise a burr on both knives with the 1000 grit, but I couldn't seem to get it to the point that it would flip sides with one pass. I tried out a stropping motion on the 1000 grit once I thought I had chased it enough, but this just seemed to leave the edge in a way that I was no longer sure which side the burr was on (and not sharp, I might add!)


Is it just my technique? I don't think so, because I have had great success with other knives and seem to be easily able to chase the burr to the point where it flips easily, and then deburr. But with these two (cheap) knives I never seem to be able to get to that point.


Is it something to do with the cheapness of the steel?




post #5 of 5

Not cheapness, per se...more like "properties".  There are both cheap and expensive steels that are pretty easy to deburr, and steels of varying price that will give you fits.  The molecular composition of the steel and also the heat treat determine this.  While some cheapo steels are bad in this regard, some higher end stainless steels are notoriously difficult to debur.  At the other end of the spectrum most carbon steels, especially the purer ones like Shirogami, are very easy to debur.  White #1 basically deburs itself on the stones, IMOHO.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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