Guide to Honing With Diamond Lapping Film

Discussion in 'Hones/Honing' started by TstebinsB, Dec 12, 2008.

  1. As a cheaper option for new users who aren't sure about their commitment to straight razors, diamond lapping film (DLF) is a viable alternative to hones or pasted strops.


    DLF: 6, 3, 1, 0.5 micron, respectively​

    I like DLF because the film lasts longer than normal sandpaper. Also, the resultant edge is more refined than those produced from other papers.

    I buy my diamond lapping film from Precision Surfaces Interational. (Thank you to Seraphim for the recommendation.) They come in their respective storage bags. You can either purchase the film with Pressure Sensitive Adhesive or the plain paper. While the PSA is convenient, I purchased the plain paper because it's cheaper and just as effective. The sheets I purchased were Type A 3"x6". For our purposes, we'll classify Type A as the normal grade. At the time of this thread, the sheets cost $4.75 each. While the shipping & handling isn't cheap, I haven't found a better total price from one source.

    Flat Base​

    You will need a flat base on which to affix the sheet. The two easiest items to procure are glass and tile. I bought tile from Home Depot at $0.21 per piece. You need only one but since they were so cheap, I bought a few. I recommend that you glue the glass or tile to medium-density fiberboard (MDF) treated for water or on a block of wood if you like more depth. I'm comfortable with the thin tile so I did not do this.

    Water, if applicable​

    If you don't go for the PSA DLF, then you'll need to spritz some water on the tile so that the sheet can stick to the tile. I have a spray bottle that I use when I need to give my hones some water during use. It works pefectly in this case. Then I use my finger to smooth out any air pockets or puddles.

    Pictorial (sorry for the poor color balance :redface:)







    Final Notes

    I hone razors with the edge leading. If done properly, the edge will not catch and tear the paper.

    Since DLF doesn't perform exactly like stones, you may need to tweak your routine. However, the results are exemplary. Once you decide on whether straights are for you, you may look into stones. Happy shaving! :smile:
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 7, 2017
  2. Awesome post Telly! I was wondering if anyone would ever post pic's of this. I posted this picture of my Lapping Film Hone with a description of how I made it once....for some reason, the feedback I got was mostly from newbies, or non-straight shavers asking HUHH??? It seemed pretty straightforward to me. 1/4 inch thick flat glass....size 3x8. The glass plate is cemented to a 8" piece of 2x2 pine. The film is PSA backed. In the picture, I had too many air bubbles so I had to learn to apply the PSA film in a way that eliminated any bubbles. The film shown is 3M 1micron PSA backed Aluminum Oxide (for reference)
    View attachment 35979
    I have a couple diamond plates(DMC) and a nice combination Barber Hone, but I use Lapping film for finishing or touch-ups in a way very similar to that which you have outlined. I've been using PSA coated Aluminum Ox film though. I'm curious...has anyone given both films (Diamond/Alum-Ox) a thorough comparison? Am I doing myself a disfavor by using the Alum-Ox film by 3M? Also, I don't use a finer grit than 1 micron, after which I go to a pasted linen strop, and then a Tony Miller Latigo strop. Comments on this by experienced straight users? I get a comfortable edge that seems to hold up well.
  3. Before I started using DLF, I used aluminum oxide.

    Short comparison
    DLF: sharper, longer-lasting edge; quicker to sharpen an edge
    Alum Ox: smoother edge; isn't as sharp; takes longer to sharpen

    I'm not that patient with honing and I like an extremely sharp edge so I prefer DLF. I figure that I can smooth the edge out by making extra passes on the strop. It works for me.
  4. DLF will hone ANY type of steel! "Tough" to sharpen TI's? No problemo....super hard Japanese razor? Piece o' cake.....Ceramic blade? Yup, can handle that too!

    The thing I really love about the diamond laping film is that the honing feel is really velvety soft and smooth, and you can hone with water on top or dry.

    It doesn't last forever, but the results are excellent!
  6. I don't think either one is better than the other. I used water on the lower grits because that created a slight slurry, which would make honing a little quicker. However, whenever I'd put water on the higher grits, it'd just bead up. In both cases, I didn't feel the edge was better or worse with either method.
  7. I found that adding two drops of dishwashing liquid to the water on my DMT-series diamond-plate hones keeps it from beading/running-off and creates-and-maintains a terrific suction between the blade and the hone's surface. I imagine it works much the same, with DLF.
  8. fact, I find that adding a very small amount of soap, or even some shave lather to the water that I use makes it coat the honing surface without beading up and running off, and as you said, it creates more suction.
  9. I just purchased my first blade, yay. I still need to get a strop (vegan preferable), but I have access to lapping films from my wife's astrophysics lab. (they're from thor labs, haven't needed to compared to PSI prices).

    Anyway I have a few questions:
    Is there a video for honing with lapping films, here or at srp? Or better yet, anyone use these in the NYC area, and would be willing to show/teach me in person?

    Also I keep reading light pressure, leading edge, in an x pattern, but at what angle should I hold the blade? and what does "suction" and/or "feedback" feel how can I tell if I'm ruining my edge instead or actually making the blade sharper?

    Finally, how long will each sheet last, or put it another way how many hones before starting with a fresh sheet on my tile?

    Thanks. M
  10. Welcome to B&B!

    Please read through the Honing How To's section and watch this video. Neither of them are specifically for honing on lapping film but they're close enough to answer most of your questions.

    Each sheet lasts differently. It depends on how much work you need to do on the razor. I've honed at least six razors on the same progression of sheets and they're still working.
  11. Youll probably figure this out when you watch the video, but I want to make sure. The angle for the bevel is created with both the spine and the edge on the hone. You dont have to hold the razor at an angle like a knife, the razor has the angle built in :biggrin:

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