What's new
  • Guest
    As per our long standing policy of not permitting medical advice on the forum - all threads concerning the Coronavirus will be locked.
    For more info on the coronavirus please see the link below:
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

How To Use a Pasted Balsa Strop

steveclarkus

Goose Poop Connoisseur
So you used very little, but alas, too much? Could you perhaps elucidate on how you know it was too much? I have lapped my balsa strops flat, and have my CBN emulsions, ready to apply. I just don’t want to ruin them with too much - this emulsion is a liquid, and I am concerned it will get absorbed into the balsa before i can spread it thin enough...
Honestly, I wish I had someone to show me. I could tell it was too much because I could feel it pull on parts of the balsa - mainly the edges of the balsa which were quite dark gray. I've only had a problem with the .1u, I guess because that is the one I use daily. I lapped it flat today as it was due anyway and it did need lapping. I reapplied the paste in tiny amounts on three sections of the strop and it didn't seem like enough but I'll have to wait and see. I doubt I used the half pea size Slash recommended. The particles are so hard and tiny I imagine they get all over the strop but I'm in as big a quandary as you. Maybe @Slash McCoy will give us more hints. I did finish honing a razor today and if what I didn't work, I'll be shaving off of .25 and should feel the difference.
 
Don’t overthink the quantity. It’s true that less is more, but if you’re wiping off excess after applying its forgiving- in my experience. I used well more than a half pea. Maybe two-ish peas? Then I rubbed it in gently with the heel of my hand and wiped it down with a cotton cloth. Some came off on the cloth.

Like Slash says, you just want it all absorbed into the grain of the wood. As long as there isn’t loose diamond paste, or a blanket of paste on the surface I think you’re going to be fine.
 
So you used very little, but alas, too much? Could you perhaps elucidate on how you know it was too much? I have lapped my balsa strops flat, and have my CBN emulsions, ready to apply. I just don’t want to ruin them with too much - this emulsion is a liquid, and I am concerned it will get absorbed into the balsa before i can spread it thin enough...
I wore a latex glove and wiped the drops of emulsion across the strop with my finger as soon as they were applied.
This worked well but the slightest delay and the drops of emulsion were just absorbed straight into the wood and wouldn’t spread.

I’d imagine your method of applying the strop to the emulsion on a tile will work very well as long as you have the strop in motion to distribute the abrasive the moment it contacts the wood.
 

steveclarkus

Goose Poop Connoisseur
Don’t overthink the quantity. It’s true that less is more, but if you’re wiping off excess after applying its forgiving- in my experience. I used well more than a half pea. Maybe two-ish peas? Then I rubbed it in gently with the heel of my hand and wiped it down with a cotton cloth. Some came off on the cloth.

Like Slash says, you just want it all absorbed into the grain of the wood. As long as there isn’t loose diamond paste, or a blanket of paste on the surface I think you’re going to be fine.
Thanks,’I’ll apply a tad more. I apply little spots out of the syringe around the strop rather than spreading a single dollop.
 

steveclarkus

Goose Poop Connoisseur
I wore a latex glove and wiped the drops of emulsion across the strop with my finger as soon as they were applied.
This worked well but the slightest delay and the drops of emulsion were just absorbed straight into the wood and wouldn’t spread.

I’d imagine your method of applying the strop to the emulsion on a tile will work very well as long as you have the strop in motion to distribute the abrasive the moment it contacts the wood.
I think I have figured out how to get good distribution using minimal paste - just an hour ago so this is really hot fresh scoop. There are millions of little diamonds in each tiny bit of this stuff so you really don’t need much. I, using the syringe type of paste, squeezed a line about 1/2” long on a piece of plastic. I believe this amount would be about the half pea @Slash McCoy recommends. I then took a toothpick and picked up really small dollops of paste and placed them strategically around the strop then rubbed the strop with the heel of my hand. This gives a very good wide distribution using minimal paste. What do you think?
 
That sounds great for a grease based compound like most diamond pastes. The emulsion @mjclark and I are using is a very liquid preparation.

My 0.5 and 0.1 both came in dropper bottles, so I found @mjclark has the right of it - just work quickly in spreading because the balsa soaks the liquid up right quick.

My 0.25 came in a spritzer bottle, so that made even distribution with very little product quite easy - I'm really, really not sure I got enough on there...

Time will tell I guess - I hand rubbed until it felt dry, then used the inside of a T-shirt to burnish the surface hoping to pick up any extra abrasive.

As friable as balsa is, I'm betting it's not that big of a deal. These abrasives may be quite tiny, but they are also quite hard, and balsa responds predictably to hard - it breaks out of the way. The particles should be embedded nicely in the surface of the wood, where they belong.
 
It turned out quite nicely. Working quickly, dropping one small droplet at a time and smearing it as far and wide as I could before applying the next, I was able to get sparse but fairly even coverage for both the 0.1 and the 0.5 micron emulsions. The 0.25 I bought came in a spritzer, and that was simplicity itself.

The first razor I took to them is a thing of beauty now. There are some problems with it, being about as cheap a razor as can be had (Chinese ZY pro sharp) so there are a couple of spots that won't polish up, but it shaves rather nicely for such a beefy thick spined beast. Under the loupe the finish on the flat of the spine and the bevel at the edge are gemstone like in their quality.

Now that I know I can work with these on steel without ruining it, I may take a couple of days and set up my two good razors with an edge polished to this level, so I can just keep maintaining them on the balsa between shaves.
 

steveclarkus

Goose Poop Connoisseur
It turned out quite nicely. Working quickly, dropping one small droplet at a time and smearing it as far and wide as I could before applying the next, I was able to get sparse but fairly even coverage for both the 0.1 and the 0.5 micron emulsions. The 0.25 I bought came in a spritzer, and that was simplicity itself.

The first razor I took to them is a thing of beauty now. There are some problems with it, being about as cheap a razor as can be had (Chinese ZY pro sharp) so there are a couple of spots that won't polish up, but it shaves rather nicely for such a beefy thick spined beast. Under the loupe the finish on the flat of the spine and the bevel at the edge are gemstone like in their quality.

Now that I know I can work with these on steel without ruining it, I may take a couple of days and set up my two good razors with an edge polished to this level, so I can just keep maintaining them on the balsa between shaves.
Do you believe .1u CBN following .25u diamond would give the same result?
 
Do you believe .1u CBN following .25u diamond would give the same result?
I wouldn't be able to tell you, being that I've not tried, but I would doubt it unless you made an unduly high number of passes with the 0.1 CBN.

I don't know how much steel you've polished from a more coarse start on larger surfaces, so I might be shooting past you on this one. I've noticed when I was learning to hand polish that if you don't work out a flaw at a given grit level, it will stay there. You just can't rely on a finer abrasive to polish out something you should have fixed on a coarser one. For this reason, any time I am working with abrasives and steel, I always go back two levels of abrasive coarser than I intend to have my finish at. Since I am after a 0.1 CBN edge, I start at 0.5 micron CBN.

Being that CBN is less aggressive than diamond, I could just be wasting extra time, and the CBN after 0.25 diamond might be identical, but my experience with polishing steel up until now leads me to doubt it unless you were to make an undue number of passes.

0.1 CBN following 0.1 diamond might be a happy medium between them though. That would probably be the best of both worlds if you only wanted to order one CBN emulsion, and make one additional strop.
 
If I remember, Seraphim at one point preferred a strop coated with both diamond and CrOx over just diamond. Perhaps there’s something to .1u CBN and .1u diamond finishes, either one after the other as you suggest, or maybe even on the same strop.
 
I’m using 0.25u diamond followed by 0.1u CBN for the first application of this method to a blade.
30 laps on the diamond then 60 on the CBN
But after that I’m going straight to the CBN only and touching up 50 laps on the 0.1u CBN on the same blade
This is working very well but the edge does seem to get progressively sharper and smoother with the first few touch ups.

So the suggestion that you need a lot of passes on the CBN after the diamond would seem to be right.

I love this thread!
The simple clear and foolproof method outlined in the OP which gives perfect results has springboarded us into more and more complex experimentation and deep discussions and generated several alternative recipes already.
I suppose when you get to the end of the rainbow you just find another rainbow :)
 
Last edited:
That's the nature of honing. If you seek out finer and finer edges, you go into deeper and deeper rabbit holes, looking for more and more things to optimize or experiment with. It reaches a point sooner or later with most of us where you are just satisfied with what you got, when faced with more and more complex experiments. Well, for most of us. There will always be envelope pushers who want to always see what is over the next hill, no matter what.
 
Speaking of which... Thorlabs has a film with a 0.02 micron diamond abrasive I've thought about playing with after 0.1 CBN. I'm not sure what could possibly come after that?
 
Top