How to Get a Polished Mirror Edge Using the Lansky System

June 5, 2013

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Depending on how you use your knives there are several different edge refinements that are ideal for different activities. You may have heard of either a “working” edge or a polished “mirror” edge. The simple difference between these two types of edges is the level of refinement. Both edges are sharp and usable for a variety of activities but a more refined edge experiences less friction and has a finer, smoother edge. A “working” edge is generally used to describe an edge that has been sharpened but not highly polished/refined and may be slightly rough. A working edge is often used in expedient situations or for hard working tools such as shovels, hoes, machetes and even some knives. A “mirror” edge is a highly polished and refined edge that, true to its name sake, is so polished that it is reflective. Achieving a mirror polish on an edge can be time consuming but definitely worth the effort. A “mirror” edge’s smooth surface provides less resistance when cutting which makes the act of cutting rope, wood or other dense materials a breeze. Less resistance = less friction= more cutting ability and greater control over the edge.

So how do you achieve a mirror edge? Like many things in life it takes time, patience, precision and the right tools. Using a Lansky Controlled Angle Sharpening System is ideal for learning how to put a mirror edge on a blade. You can depend on a fixed consistent angle, ascending hone grits and an easy to use system. It doesn’t really matter what Lansky System you use for creating a mirror edge but my personal favorite is the Deluxe Diamond System. I’m also going to supplement the Deluxe Diamond System with 3 accessory hones:

IMG_5332_LR.jpgLine up of the Lansky hones I'll be using to achieve a mirror polish

There really isn’t a “trick” to getting a mirror edge with your Lansky Kit. You just have to take your time using each hone to remove the scratching from the previous hone.

Start by making sure your clamp is assembled correctly and it’s holding the knife firmly. Follow these simple directions for clamp assembly.

 

  • Loosen the front silver screw four full turns. Using your fingers only, tighten the red thumb screw all the way and then loosen it back one full turn. Place knife in the jaws of the clamp then pinch the jaws of the clamp tight with your fingers while tight­ening the front screw. Do not over torque the screw. Fully tighten red thumb screw to lock knife in place. (Learn more about using the Lansky Clamp here!)

 

Now, assemble the hones you’ll be using. Depending on the sharpness of your blade you may only need to start with a medium or fine hone. Just make sure that you are removing all the scratching from the previous hone before moving on to the next finer grit.

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I used a Fine Diamond Hone to start (knife is already sharp). Notice the scratch pattern on the edge left by the hone

The difficulty comes when you start using grits above 1000. Be very careful and use slow even strokes to start polishing the edge. Keep an eye on the scratch pattern and marks left by your honing after every couple of strokes. Move on to a finer grit hone or the stropping hone only when all of the scratches are removed from the previous hone.

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After using the Ultra Fine Hone and the Super Sapphire Hone the edge is very refined, but not quite mirror polished yet

Once you have worked your way through all of the stones, it’s time to use your Lansky Leather Stropping Hone. The hone just by itself won’t do much to polish an edge and that’s why you need to load the leather stropping hone with stropping compound. I’ll generally use either jewelers rouge or just a simple buffing compound. Polishing compound comes in a variety of grits and may even be labeled in microns. If you’re looking for something generic, I suggest green compound for buffing wheels. You can generally find it in most hardware stores and it’s pretty cheap.

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Loading the Leather Stropping Hone with Green (Aggresive) Compound

 

Using the Lansky Leather Stropping Hone is a bit different that using the other hones. Rather than push the loaded stropping hone against the edge, you’re going to pull the hone across the edge. This will not only gently polish your edge to a mirror finish but also buff away any wire edge or burr that formed while sharpening, leaving you with a “scary sharp” edge.

IMG_5367_LR.jpgThe Red Compound is very, very fine and is used for the last step when producing a mirror edge

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A mirror edge! Great for checking your teeth on the go and cutting effortlessly 

Our final result is a perfectly polished mirror edge on this blade. The process is pretty quickbut make sure after each step that you are fully removing the scratches from the previous hone. Be Smart, Be Safe and Stay An Edge Above the Rest!!

 

Category: How To Sharpen

2 Comments

roger
Dec 13th, 2013
I have used the 5 stone system and the saphire stone plus 3 strops with green and red hone paste to successfully obtain a hair whittling mirror polished edge...although you must be VERY methodical and careful. It is a great budget system.
Luc
Jun 7th, 2014
Hi there Lanksy team,

Thanks for sharing. Great article.
I created article about your Lansky system - I hope you will share with me your thought
http://www.bladesharpening.com.au/iii-knife-sharpening-sharpening-stones/

Cheers
Luc

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