What's new

Burr Method Bevel Setting - What Mistakes Can You Make?

For years I’ve used a spyderco sharpmaker on knives and have had good results. It doesn’t raise a burr because you do alternating, edge leading strokes.

Because that is pretty much how you hone a razor, I never thought to question it, and it has worked for me.

Having said that, now I am trying to get better at freehand sharpening I am trying to use the burr method, and am succeeding with that as well.

But for many of the reasons stated in posts above, I’ll not be using it on razors.
 
For years I’ve used a spyderco sharpmaker on knives and have had good results. It doesn’t raise a burr because you do alternating, edge leading strokes.

Because that is pretty much how you hone a razor, I never thought to question it, and it has worked for me.

Having said that, now I am trying to get better at freehand sharpening I am trying to use the burr method, and am succeeding with that as well.

But for many of the reasons stated in posts above, I’ll not be using it on razors.
I should correct that, and say, I don't intentionally use the burr method on razors.

Since I do sometimes use half strokes to speed up setting a bevel, I might be creating a microscopic burr in the process. But it is not something I have ever tried to feel with my fingers, and it would be so small and fine I doubt I could.
 
I should correct that, and say, I don't intentionally use the burr method on razors.

Since I do sometimes use half strokes to speed up setting a bevel, I might be creating a microscopic burr in the process. But it is not something I have ever tried to feel with my fingers, and it would be so small and fine I doubt I could.
Ive seen some very high mag images of edges and generally they all show a slight favoring to one side as you cant do a complete last stroke on a razor or knife on both sides at the same time. Stropping on linen or an abrasive pasted strop is very effective in removing the last bit of wire or bur. So early on that is why so many get much better results when they use a pasted strop. And then many find they dont need it anymore as their honing has improved. High grit stones tend to leave much less of a bur or wire edge. Most of my kitchen knives get the 325 dmt. One and done. And I dont find any issue with wires or burs even at that low of a grit. It wasnt always that way though.
 
Ive seen some very high mag images of edges and generally they all show a slight favoring to one side as you cant do a complete last stroke on a razor or knife on both sides at the same time. Stropping on linen or an abrasive pasted strop is very effective in removing the last bit of wire or bur. So early on that is why so many get much better results when they use a pasted strop. And then many find they dont need it anymore as their honing has improved. High grit stones tend to leave much less of a bur or wire edge. Most of my kitchen knives get the 325 dmt. One and done. And I dont find any issue with wires or burs even at that low of a grit. It wasnt always that way though.

It's interesting what you say about the 325 DMT... I know a few very experienced and knowledgeable people regarded as top knife sharpeners who now use only this kind of thing (usually quite worn versions) - no waterstones at all. One you get to know it, and the knives you're sharpening, they can clearly work exceptionally well indeed.

The other thing that seems to have become very popular recently are vitrified diamond stones. Unlike plates they tend to get horrifically expensive, but last a very long time, and are particularly liked by people sharpening modern 'super steels' running north of 65 HRC. I don't sharpen this kind of steel often but when I have it's noticeably very difficult to raise burrs on traditional stones, even with high pressure. Perhaps next time I'll try them on a worn 400 atoma.

Q. - Does the '325' DMT plate equate to the same grit level in JIS? Or are they using their own scale?

---

Also FWIW - when sharpening kitchen knives people often tend to do it asymmetrically, depending on whether the user is right or left handed, so a slight favouring to one side on final strokes should make no difference. "70:30" sharpening they call it. And many knives are intentionally ground with a RH or LH bias, in which case you definitely need to sharpen asymmetrically. (Food release thing, so I know obviously doesn't apply to SRs!)
 
Wanted to share my experience from yesterday and I think this thread is as good a place as any.

I have an new Koraat 14 2.0. Ulrik's edge was serviceable but not exactly where I wanted it so I decided to hone it. (Without tape, so needing to reset the bevel). I deliberately wanted to take as little off it as possible so I thought I would try the "ax method" and see where that got me.

I have a few synth options that I've recently picked up but I'm still figuring them out so I chose to use film because I'm comfortable with it.

So. 5 micron film to start. Usually I'd set a bevel on 9 or 12 but I had a feeling 5 would work. I did about 6 strokes in one direction, light torque. I say about because I was talking to my wife at the time and lost count, but feedback told me to check the edge. I literally had raised a small but consistent burr on the whole length. Flipped it over and did another 6, which I did count, and had a burr on the opposite side. I honed it off with 10 more one directional strokes on each side, alternating 4/3/2/1. No circles, no back and forth half strokes, just moderate x strokes.

I did about 10 more full alternating x-strokes to smooth out a little roughness at the toe and heel. Then progressed through 3 micron, 1 micron, and .3 micron over paper. I didn't count strokes but it was less than 20 each, I was going off feedback. On the .3 it was 8, I believe. I finished on pasted balsa.

The point of that ramble was that even though I wasn't planning to use the burr method on the 5 micron film, I got one, and fast. I was aiming to start with 10 strokes per Alex Gilmore's method but I only did 6, because why waste steel? I certainly didn't expect a burr that fast based on past experience. Granted, excellent geometry and a very thin blade contributed to that.

But, if I had set the bevel with standard alternating laps, which would have avoided a burr, would I have ended up doing the same number of strokes per side (32, including cleanup)? Probably, who knows. 20 may have been sufficient. Hard to say. But I don't think I ended up "wasting" any more steel than I would have any other way.
 

Slash McCoy

I freehand dog rockets
Wanted to share my experience from yesterday and I think this thread is as good a place as any.

I have an new Koraat 14 2.0. Ulrik's edge was serviceable but not exactly where I wanted it so I decided to hone it. (Without tape, so needing to reset the bevel). I deliberately wanted to take as little off it as possible so I thought I would try the "ax method" and see where that got me.

I have a few synth options that I've recently picked up but I'm still figuring them out so I chose to use film because I'm comfortable with it.

So. 5 micron film to start. Usually I'd set a bevel on 9 or 12 but I had a feeling 5 would work. I did about 6 strokes in one direction, light torque. I say about because I was talking to my wife at the time and lost count, but feedback told me to check the edge. I literally had raised a small but consistent burr on the whole length. Flipped it over and did another 6, which I did count, and had a burr on the opposite side. I honed it off with 10 more one directional strokes on each side, alternating 4/3/2/1. No circles, no back and forth half strokes, just moderate x strokes.

I did about 10 more full alternating x-strokes to smooth out a little roughness at the toe and heel. Then progressed through 3 micron, 1 micron, and .3 micron over paper. I didn't count strokes but it was less than 20 each, I was going off feedback. On the .3 it was 8, I believe. I finished on pasted balsa.

The point of that ramble was that even though I wasn't planning to use the burr method on the 5 micron film, I got one, and fast. I was aiming to start with 10 strokes per Alex Gilmore's method but I only did 6, because why waste steel? I certainly didn't expect a burr that fast based on past experience. Granted, excellent geometry and a very thin blade contributed to that.

But, if I had set the bevel with standard alternating laps, which would have avoided a burr, would I have ended up doing the same number of strokes per side (32, including cleanup)? Probably, who knows. 20 may have been sufficient. Hard to say. But I don't think I ended up "wasting" any more steel than I would have any other way.
Congratulations! Yeah I would have started with 9u but apparently you made the right call. Well done.

Don't be surprised if you notice the edge improving day by day as you maintain on the .1u balsa. In fact, it will hurt nothing at all to run through the whole three stage balsa progression another time or two. Especially since you used picopaper under the final film stage. It will probably make a difference.
 
Congratulations! Yeah I would have started with 9u but apparently you made the right call. Well done.

Don't be surprised if you notice the edge improving day by day as you maintain on the .1u balsa. In fact, it will hurt nothing at all to run through the whole three stage balsa progression another time or two. Especially since you used picopaper under the final film stage. It will probably make a difference.
Yep, definitely.

For whatever reason, with my balsa edges, the .3/picopaper has been a consistently better jumping off point than either 1u or .3 on glass. It usually saves me time on the first 2 stages of balsa and I can focus on mellowing it out on the .1.

If my geometry is pretty good I can usually set a bevel pretty easily on 5u film as long as it's not too worn. For instance resetting a taped spine to no tape or the other way around, provided the edge was in a good place to begin with.
 

steveclarkus

Goose Poop Connoisseur
I set the bevel on 30u film using the burr method with great success and never trashed a razor. I go through a progression of films to 1u then pasted progression and achieve edges as good as any jnat edge I’ve used. I’m fact @Steve56 edge is the only jnat edge I’ve used that matched mine. All my razors are honed to 200k and I rarely hone anything any more because I don’t buy razors anymore. While I do admire people who have taken stones to such an extreme level, homing is just a chore to me and I want to get it done with as quickly and thoughtlessness as possible. I’ll be a Method man forever thanks to @Slash McCoy forever
 
I must say this has been a very interesting thread, reading opinions of all the SR experts here. Thank you OP!

Can I ask a q...

When I've used what I'd call the 'burr method' to set a bevel on a SR I do it with quite a bit of circular motion to begin with, along with x strokes, and I alternate sides quite often, trying to keep the amount of work done on each the same. I also check the feel of it often, until I get to a point where I raise a very small but noticeable burr on one side with almost no effort, switch to the other which hopefully at that point is at a similar level, and so should take similarly little time to switch it.

I am looking for burr formation, as being a beginner I find it a reassuring way to know the bevel is actually set. But what I don't do is work one side exclusively until I get a burr, and then switch and work the other until it's flipped*.

Does it make a difference? Should I be doing one method rather than the other, or just personal preference?




* This is though how I sharpen knives - all on one side then all on the other. Never really though about why I do it differently.
 
I must say this has been a very interesting thread, reading opinions of all the SR experts here. Thank you OP!

Can I ask a q...

When I've used what I'd call the 'burr method' to set a bevel on a SR I do it with quite a bit of circular motion to begin with, along with x strokes, and I alternate sides quite often, trying to keep the amount of work done on each the same. I also check the feel of it often, until I get to a point where I raise a very small but noticeable burr on one side with almost no effort, switch to the other which hopefully at that point is at a similar level, and so should take similarly little time to switch it.

I am looking for burr formation, as being a beginner I find it a reassuring way to know the bevel is actually set. But what I don't do is work one side exclusively until I get a burr, and then switch and work the other until it's flipped*.

Does it make a difference? Should I be doing one method rather than the other, or just personal preference?




* This is though how I sharpen knives - all on one side then all on the other. Never really though about why I do it differently.
I can envision a rounded apex where just sharpening on one side would result in going well past the center before a burr would form. It would seem that one should switch sides when the plane of the bevel crosses the spot where the final apex will be.
 
I must say this has been a very interesting thread, reading opinions of all the SR experts here. Thank you OP!

Can I ask a q...

When I've used what I'd call the 'burr method' to set a bevel on a SR I do it with quite a bit of circular motion to begin with, along with x strokes, and I alternate sides quite often, trying to keep the amount of work done on each the same. I also check the feel of it often, until I get to a point where I raise a very small but noticeable burr on one side with almost no effort, switch to the other which hopefully at that point is at a similar level, and so should take similarly little time to switch it.

I am looking for burr formation, as being a beginner I find it a reassuring way to know the bevel is actually set. But what I don't do is work one side exclusively until I get a burr, and then switch and work the other until it's flipped*.

Does it make a difference? Should I be doing one method rather than the other, or just personal preference?




* This is though how I sharpen knives - all on one side then all on the other. Never really though about why I do it differently.
Here's my very non-expert take on it. And I think this goes directly to why the burr method works well for inexperienced honers, but also isn't necessary. The first steps of bevel setting are really just establishing the relationship between the spine and the edge, right? Creating a geometry you can work with. Circles are fast and aggressive and can get you there pretty quick while also allowing you to focus on smaller areas of the blade if needed. Now obviously you're not going to get a burr on the whole length until that geometry is established. For a new honer, the burr formation is kind of a foolproof signal that the geometry *is* well established. But you and @bluesman 7 bring up a good point, I think, which is that just focusing on one side during that stage can create a lot more work when you flip over to the other side. Because of course. we're not just trying to establish clean geometry between the spine and edge on one side, we're also trying to establish an apex.

In the realm of "mistakes you can make," let's say our newb honer is grinding away happily with one directional strokes and has a nice fat burr raised on the toe half of the blade but not the heel. Due to his inexperience, he's going to just keep grinding away until he gets that burr to go the whole length. This may take a while, and if he doesn't vary his stroke he's going to take off quite a bit of steel on the front half just to get the back half serviceable. And then, he's got to do a bunch of work on the other side just to get the apex established. Yes, it will work. But it's not efficient.

But let's say our newb honer has a few razors under his belt and realizes early on that he's getting good contact at the toe but not at the heel. Maybe he uses a sharpie to verify this. Then, he can focus on the area that's not making contact, alternating sides so he kind of creeps up to it. Now he's established good geometry without excess work. At this point, if he wants to raise a burr, he can, with a handful of one directional strokes. But he probably doesn't have to.
 
Speaking of "happily grinding away," this was posted in the Jointing thread but it's one of the most unintentionally entertaining videos I've ever watched. Not for the faint of heart though.

 
Speaking of "happily grinding away," this was posted in the Jointing thread but it's one of the most unintentionally entertaining videos I've ever watched. Not for the faint of heart though.


I watched some of that on the train yesterday where he was sharpening the razor exactly like a knife (!) and thought I must have been missing some crucial detail or nuance. I take it this is emphatically not a recommended technique to set a razor bevel...?

---

What you and bm7 say above certainly makes sense. Sounds like I'm doing it in a fairly good way then :).

This is basically me btw:

But let's say our newb honer has a few razors under his belt and realizes early on that he's getting good contact at the toe but not at the heel. Maybe he uses a sharpie to verify this. Then, he can focus on the area that's not making contact, alternating sides so he kind of creeps up to it. Now he's established good geometry without excess work. At this point, if he wants to raise a burr, he can, with a handful of one directional strokes. But he probably doesn't have to.

---

Some of the debate in this thread I think comes down to at what point people are drawing definitions. I have a little bit of experience in telling at what point an almost imperceptible burr or wire has formed on steel, and cutting something like newspaper or cigarette paper is very good for this once you've got a feel for it. I don't know if people do that with SRs but it's worth trying out - the feel of the way that an edge goes through something like that is very telling.

(And yeah I know I should probably just remember to use a loupe more, but y'know... leopards, spots &c. ;))
 
I watched some of that on the train yesterday where he was sharpening the razor exactly like a knife (!) and thought I must have been missing some crucial detail or nuance. I take it this is emphatically not a recommended technique to set a razor bevel...?
It's an, um...unusual approach. Which he stays with all the way through his progression to 30k. Only does a couple of alternating laps at the very end after jointing the edge.
 
It's an, um...unusual approach. Which he stays with all the way through his progression to 30k. Only does a couple of alternating laps at the very end after jointing the edge.

Oh blimey does he?! I only saw the beginning of the video and assumed it was just an 'unusual' approach to setting the bevel or evening the spine in some way. I hadn't realised that was the technique all the way through!
 

Slash McCoy

I freehand dog rockets
I can envision a rounded apex where just sharpening on one side would result in going well past the center before a burr would form. It would seem that one should switch sides when the plane of the bevel crosses the spot where the final apex will be.
Exactly. Once I am a hundred or a couple hundred strokes in on one side, I evaluate and if I think I am past the central plane I will go ahead and switch sides. There is no point in honing on through to the far side to get a burr.

OTOH just going at it in baby steps on a rough or rough-ish razor like a GD or badly used vintage or a Dovo Best, will keep you removing steel for quite some time if you are not yet confident and able to detect a burr.

Remember though that this is not the only way to set a bevel, just the easiest to understand for a raw beginner and sometimes the fastest for a pro doing a 20 razor day.
 
The video is sped up by the poster. At about halfway where Howard is talking, it is clear the video is sped up and makes his technique look a little crazy.

That style of Japanese half lap knife honing is not uncommon for honing razors with many Japanese Kamasori honers.

Alex Gilmore uses a similar technique very successfully with his Ax method honing for Jnats where he sets a bevel on a 1k synthetic and removes 1k stria and finishes on the Jnat in under 50 laps.

Alex’s technique also uses a decreasing lap count, so he is not doing as many laps on one side and creating a burr. For example, a set of 20 laps on each side, then 10, 5, 2 and one. Alternating each side with each set. Alex also only does edge leading strokes.

As said, Howard gets away with it by jointing off the burr and resetting the edge.
 
I would say Alex Gilmore's method is only superficially similar...Schechter is doing what, 40 half strokes per side, per stone?

The attempt to shave arm hair, wet, at skin level off the 8k was instructive as well.
 
Top Bottom