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            Creating a Mirror Edge - Advantages, Disadvantages, and Recommended Grit Progressions


            The purpose of this article is to provide information about the advantages and disadvantages of a mirror-edge, and provide a selection of recommendations for grit progressions to achieve a mirror-edge. 




            Benefits of a Mirror-Edge


            Push-cutting - Highly refined, polished edges outperform toothy edges at tasks which involve push-cutting. Some examples of those tasks are: 

            • Shaving

            • Carving

            • Chopping

            • Using a chisel or plane blade


            Less friction - An edge with a very high polish will experience less friction when cutting. Because the bevel is smooth, it will glide through the object being cut, without producing resistance. 


            Clean cuts - Polished edges create cleaner cuts in delicate foods like fish and fresh produce. These edges don’t tear or crush the food, producing better tasting and better looking dishes. Studies have shown a significant reduction in oxidation to food surfaces when they are cut with a highly polished blade versus a blade with large micro-serrations.


            Aesthetics - Many people find mirror-edges to be aesthetically pleasing, so this type of any edge can add value to knives. 


            When is the mirror edge a disadvantage? 


            Objects with a hard, smooth exterior, like cardboard, zip-ties, tomatoes, bread with a hard crust or packing tape are more resistant to highly-refined edges. A less refined finish is better at cutting these objects because there are micro-serrations on the edge of the blade that will bite into the object being cut. 


            Is it possible for a knife to have a mirror edge and perform well at everyday cutting tasks? It is with micro-bevels!  


            Adding micro-bevels to a knife is an excellent way to produce a great looking edge with less friction while cutting, that is also very effective for everyday cutting tasks like boxes and tape, rope and tomatoes. Start by establishing the bevels and then polishing them at a lower angle than you’ll want for your final edge (these are called the primary bevels.) Then simply widen the sharpening angle by 4-5 degrees and make a few, very light passes with a coarser stone (these are called the secondary or micro-bevels.) Here’s an example: Sharpen the knife at 20 degrees using one of the abrasive progressions listed below to create a mirror finish. Then, widen the angle on both sides of the knife to 24 degrees, and make 5 light passes with the 1000 grit stones. This will create a secondary bevel at the apex of the edge that’s barely visible to the naked eye, and will have micro-serrations that will bite into whatever you’re cutting. 


            Another great benefit of micro-bevels is they’re easy to maintain. Simply use whichever stone you used to create the micro-bevel, and do the same 5 light passes on each side of the knife at the micro-bevel angle to touch up your knife. 



            How to create a mirror edge - recommended grit progressions


            To create a mirror edge, it’s helpful to use small incremental grit progressions. The key to the mirror edge is in the middle steps in the overall progression, because these are the abrasives that will be removing deeper scratches. Spend more time with the 800/1000/1500 grit stones than anything else. 


            To achieve a mirror-like edge, it’s helpful to avoid coarser stones unless they’re necessary to re-profile the edge or remove chips or nicks from the edge; scratches left by 50/80/100/200 grit stones can be challenging to work out of an edge. Whenever possible, begin with the 400 or 600 grit stone. If the edge requires some slight re-profiling, additional time may be required. 


            The route to a mirror edge using the least amount of Wicked Edge abrasives is as follows: 


            1. 600 Grit Diamond Stone

            2. 800 Grit Diamond Stone

            3. 1000 Grit Diamond Stone

            4. 1500 Grit Diamond Stone

            5. 6 Micron Diamond Lapping Film

            6. 4 Micron Diamond Emulsion on Leather Strop

            7. 2 Micron Diamond Emulsion on Leather Strop


            To view the above product products, which are the least amount of abrasives recommend to create a mirror edge, click here

            Generally, it will take about 75 strokes per side with most of these abrasives, and up to 125 strokes per side with your 1000 and 1500 stones to effectively create a mirror-edge.


            To reduce the time to create a mirror edge, and to reduce your stroke count per abrasive, adding these abrasives is very helpful: 


            1. 600 Grit Diamond Stone

            2. 800 Grit Diamond Stone

            3. 1000 Grit Diamond Stone

            4. 1500 Grit Diamond Stone

            5. 2200 Grit Diamond Stone

            6. 3000 Grit Diamond Stone

            7. 6 Micron Diamond Lapping Film

            8. 3 Micron Diamond Lapping Film

            9. 1.5 Micron Diamond Lapping Film 

            10. 4 Micron Diamond Emulsion on Leather Strop

            11. 2 Micron Diamond Emulsion on Leather Strop


            Using some finer Strops and Lapping Film after the 2 Micron Emulsion on Leather is helpful to increase the edge’s shine. These are great abrasives to add: 


            • 1 Micron Diamond Emulsion on Leather Strop

            • 0.5 Micron Diamond Emulsion on Leather Strop

            • 0.25 Micron Diamond Spray on Kangaroo Leather Strop

            • 0.125 Cubic Boron Nitride Spray on Kangaroo Leather Strop


            To view the ultimate recommended grit progression to create a mirror edge, click here.  

            Another route to achieving the mirror edge involves Ceramic Stones instead of Lapping Films. Ceramic Stones take longer to remove scratches than Lapping Films, but unlike the Lapping Films, they won’t wear out. This progression also includes the addition of some strops with coarser compounds, which help remove deeper scratches.


            1. 600 Grit Diamond Stone

            2. 800 Grit Diamond Stone

            3. 1000 Grit Diamond Stone

            4. 1200 Grit Ceramic Stone

            5. 1600 Grit Ceramic Stone

            6. 1.4 Micron Ceramic Stone

            7. 0.6 Micron Ceramic Stone

            8. 14 Micron Diamond Paste on Leather Strop

            9. 10 Micron Diamond Paste on Leather Strop

            10. 4 Micron Diamond Emulsion on Leather Strop

            11. 2 Micron Diamond Emulsion on Leather Strop


            In the above progression, both sets of Wicked Edge ceramic stones are included. If only one of these ceramic stone sets is used, more strokes will be required to produce the same results. 


            To view the recommended grit progression that included ceramic stones, click here. 


            Troubleshooting


            1. Wicked Edge diamond stones need time to break in, and this period is usually about 20 knives. If the stones aren’t broken in, it is difficult to achieve a mirror edge.

            2. It can be more difficult to work out deep scratches on harder steels. If scratches are still noticeable, go back to the finest diamond stone and re-work the part of the edge where the scratches are present, and then progress back up to your finest abrasives.

            3. The heel of the blade (closest to the handle of the knife) can sometimes get neglected, because the stones don’t make a lot of contact with that part of the blade when a forward-motion stroke is used. Spend some time using vertical or scrubbing strokes at the heel of the blade with each of the diamond stones, ceramic stones, and lapping films. (Don’t use a scrubbing motion with your strops)

            4. Try cross-hatching the scratch pattern to verify that the scratches from the previous stone have been removed. Cross-hatching is an efficient way to concentrate the force applied the peaks of the scratches and helps take them down more quickly. Alternate your sharpening motion with each grit change. Use an up-and-away motion for 1 grit, and then use a down-and-away motion with the next grit and so on.






            Updated: 12 Jul 2019 04:06 AM
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