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Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic

Posted by RFL 
RFL
Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 19, 2012 10:05AM
Considering getting one, but questioning usefulness. I strop my edges regularly and only need a stronger abrasive occasionally. If needed, I use DMT fine (600 gt, 25 mc) and DMT extra fine (1200 gt, 9 mc) before I strop. The ultra fine ceramic is 3-4 microns (educated guess) so I would use it as an alternative to stropping when I am feeling lazy or for a quick edge touch up prior to light stropping. I use the Bark River compounds and find them to be very effective, even on coarsely sharpened edges (just takes awhile).

Will the UF ceramic be of much use? This would be my first high quality (hopefully) ceramic stone.
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 19, 2012 10:20AM
Maybe you could try some 3M micromesh on a piece of MDF first, to see if fine polishing is worth it? That should cost you a lot less. Eg

[www.woodworkforums.com]
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 19, 2012 10:22AM
I have the Spyderco UF and F in the standard benchstones and then an UF in 3x8. I like them over a 8000 grit waterstone (Henckels) simply because it is less maintenance and gives a comparable finish. I use it with water, and only on the final honing so it is ultra-light 5-10 grams. The stone hardly loads at all, again before I use it the knife is already very sharp. I don't think I would recommend it for touchups, unless you were very familiar with ceramics because the most likely thing that is going to happen is that it will behave like a smooth steel and just align the edge and not cut it at all.

It tends to get a bit of harsh reaction from the razor community because :

-it does not come lapped perfectly flat (you can see a pattern if you rake a knife hard over it)
-it is very hard to lap and it will act more like the lapping agent than a particular internal grit
-it is solid ceramic and thus just wears down, doesn't release fresh abrasive

Spyderco has always been clear that the only difference between the F and UF is the lapping finish, they are the same abrasive one is just finished finer than the other.A bit of perspective on the razor community, while they are correct, they are extremely precise and the main guage they use is the sensitivity of the skin in response to shaving as the guage of sharpness.
RFL
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 19, 2012 11:27AM
Good points, thank you.

What about the XX fine DMT instead of the UF ceramic, it is rated at 3 micron? It would make sense to stay with diamond abrasives. Again, this stone would be used for finishing or as an extra refinement before stropping.
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 19, 2012 04:14PM
I did some checking into the DMT xxf awhile ago as I was considering getting one for the sole purpose of sharpening ceramic knives. Reports on it are wildly scattered, some people report that initially it leaves a finish similar to the Spyderco medium, others that it has a scratch pattern similar to the Spyderco UF but is "different". The razor guys say it is much more coarse than the Spyderco UF ranking it 4000-6000. I often wonder if they are simply feeling the effects of lack of slurry and thus a lower aggressive and more rounded edge would actually be better. In theory it should give a more aggressive finish for slicing at a similar grit level, but of course you don't want to slice your face up in shaving.

If you were going to finish on a strop anyway why not simply make a more coarse strop as there are all kinds of abrasive pastes available. The ones loaded in alcohol tend to get good reviews :



RFL
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 19, 2012 05:54PM
Quote
CliffStamp
In theory it should give a more aggressive finish for slicing at a similar grit level.

This was my assumption as well and I am very curious to test it. I might end up getting both (DMT XXF and UF ceramic) just for shits and giggles. I like the idea of the diamonds cutting and polishing simultaneously.

What did you decide on for the ceramic blades, a strop loaded with diamond paste?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/19/2012 06:05PM by RFL.
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 19, 2012 07:17PM
I have a DMT fine, and had an x-fine but gave it away. The ceramic will respond to the DMT fine but I can not get it sharp as a steel knife. I spoke to Roman about it years ago he said it isn't possible to get a high slicing aggression on ceramic as it fractures and so you need a high polish. But I never really gave it a lot of effort either. I keep intending to look at it in more detail as I have a few ceramic knives. It is also possible to sharpen them with regular AO belts as I have reground tips and blades, it just wears the belts out fast. I also had a set of diamond pastes and gave them away as well. I really should pick up the DMT xxf just out of curiosity.
RFL
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 26, 2012 12:08PM
I remembered that my brother polishes the bevels and backs of his chisels and plane irons. Years ago I used/abused his chisels to the point of bluntness. I resharpened them, but only to a medium finish; definitely not a mirror polish. Since I remembered now, what I should have known then, I asked to borrow his finest stones. He lent to me a Suehiro #6000 (synthetic ceramic water stone) and (to my surprise) a Spyderco UF. The UF was over twenty years old and came in a black plastic case with rubber feet. He also gave me a King combination stone #1000/6000. It was brand new and unwrapped since he had never used it and forgotten he had it.

The Suehiro #6000 ceramic does not requires soaking, but it polishes slowly. The swarf is light and the surface cleans easily. The UF ceramic polishes quickly. Very quickly if moderate pressure is applied; however, this extra force causes the UF to load noticeably and tends to burr the edge. This is trivial since I will be stropping anyway. When heavily loaded, the UF requires aggressive scrubbing with Comet to clean.

The King 1000/6000 cuts very well. The edge produced has a smooth/clean finish but slices aggressively The #6000 side is not as refined as the Suehiro #6000 ceramic.

I ordered the DMT XXF and next week I will compare it to the UF. Any suggestions as to how I should compare them? When I am testing abrasives which should produce a similar finish, I go back and forth between the two to see if one will refine the other. I suspect the XXF will make the edge more aggressive and the UF will produce a higher polish. Very curious.
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 26, 2012 12:13PM
I would be interesting to know :

-loading rates
-ease of cleaning
-speed of cutting
-sharpness achieved (push and slice)
-edge retention
RFL
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 30, 2012 12:17PM
The new XXF DMT has a rough finish. All the diamond abrasives start rough, then progress towards the stated finish; however, the XXF is very rough for 8000 gt. It feels more coarse than the Fine at 600 gt. DMT states that the XXF is "broken in" at the factory, how coarse would it have been if it was not?

As new, the XXF dulls an edge refined on the UF ceramic. The edge produced acts like 2000 gt. I have a DMT ceramic rod (2200 gt) and the edge is slightly less refined, very far from 8000 gt. Due to the diamonds, the edge is very aggressive.

The XXF should refine progressively, however, I doubt it will surpass the effectiveness of 6000 gt. This is far from 3 micron. I will test/play with it for a week, but I will most likely return it.
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 30, 2012 01:58PM
I had an x-fine for a long time, it came much finer than the fine at 600 grit, it approached smooth to the touch. As a silly question are you sure it was an XXF?
RFL
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 30, 2012 06:55PM
Out of the box the XXF felt very rough to the touch. It FELT rougher than the F, which was surprising. The edge it produced was comparable to 2000gt. I used it for an hour and scrubbed it a few times. The edge it makes now seems to be 4000gt, I need to test it against the 6000 stone. The edge feels very rough on the UF for the first stroke or two, then it smooths out and glides over the stone. It must be the rough teeth from the diamond abrasive which the ceramic is smoothing over.

Now, the surface of the XXF feels smoother. However, it still feels rougher than the XF. When the XF was new, it felt only slightly rough and broke in very quickly. Now it is very smooth. If the XXF is going to smooth out to 8000gt it has a long way to go. It cuts like 4000 gt and I cannot see it surpassing 6000gt but who knows?
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 30, 2012 07:26PM
I never had any issues with the diamond stones breaking in, but it has been years since I bought one. I also don't use them very heavy just as finishing stones. For stock removal I always just use very cheap benchstones, I get them as gifts on a nearly continuous basis. I have eight of them right now, large dual-fine benchstones and with heavy pressure they will cut faster than even the x-coarse DMT. Quite frankly I don't see any reason to buy the DMT stones for shaping when you can get a $2 benchstone that cuts faster, just make sure you get one with a decent binder content as the very high binder ones will not cut very fast at all.
RFL
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 30, 2012 10:48PM
The edge produced from the XXF is not as refined as one from a #6000 King waterstone. It does, however, slice aggressively. I do not think the King is a "true" #6000 since I have used a Suehiro #6000 which was much harder and produced a finer edge. The XXF seems to have an effective grit of 5000. I do not think that it will break in much more, it might match #6000 eventualy but it should not be rated at #8000 (3u).

Stropping after the XXF produces a polished edge with a very toothy bite. After the UF ceramic, stropping gives the edge a high polish which floats through paper.
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 31, 2012 04:58AM
Is it still rougher than the XF? How does that one compare to a waterstone finish?
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 31, 2012 06:28AM
I recently acquired the full line (6 grits) of DMT DiaSharp 8''X3'' and I was surprised how the EEF seemed fine when I first saw and touched it. Just by finger feeling without looking at it, one would have to double check to be sure to use the correct side...

It's important to note however that I'm new to hand sharpening and therefore new to stones that are better quality than hardware stones.

As I'm still experimenting with the DiaSharps, I used the EEF just twice and noticed 4 things :

-I don't feel it removes metal, the edge feels like gliding over the surface ;
-It doesn't improve much the finish of the EF (1200 grit/9 micron), so far ;
-It began rusting on its edges in the course of the very first use of it while the others haven't so far even thought I used them more ;
-It developped a scratch pattern on the sharpening surface.


On the scratch pattern, there are trails of metal that was removed from the sharpened edges (they are matte grey and I know they are normal) but there seems to be some other scratches that appear to be true scratches that go through the diamond impregnated nickel platting as they are very narrow and shiny like scratches through paint down to the metal. They cannot be felt by finger nail though, I don't feel them.

I don't know if it's normal. Over the Keeping Sharp subforum at Knifeforums I've been told it's normal... But since it rusted so fast, I wonder if the nickel plating could be defective which could be the cause of the scratching too... I really don't know...

In regards to what was mainly discussed, the finish it leaves is still a ''relatively rough'' one, not what could be expected from a stone rated at 8000. DMT rates 3 micron as 8000 grit but Shapton rates:

-4000 grit = 3.68 micron;
-6000 grit = 2.45 micron;
-8000 grit = 1.84 micron.

So RFL's conclusion that DMT EEF is rather a 5000 grit makes a lot of sense.

If only the abrasive industry would drop the grit rating in favor to the average particle size in micron, it would makes life easier for all using abrasives, stones, etc. The micron rating is universal.


Quote
Cliff Stamp
(...) when you can get a $2 benchstone that cuts faster

Where do you get stones that cheap? What brand are they?

Thanks!



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/31/2012 06:38AM by SVallieres.
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 31, 2012 08:09AM
Quote
SVallieres
In regards to what was mainly discussed, the finish it leaves is still a ''relatively rough'' one, not what could be expected from a stone rated at 8000. DMT rates 3 micron as 8000 grit but Shapton rates:

-4000 grit = 3.68 micron;
-6000 grit = 2.45 micron;
-8000 grit = 1.84 micron.

So RFL's conclusion that DMT EEF is rather a 5000 grit makes a lot of sense.

If only the abrasive industry would drop the grit rating in favor to the average particle size in micron, it would makes life easier for all using abrasives, stones, etc. The micron rating is universal.

I was wondering for a while my DMT EEF wasn't working well for my straight razor. Then I found out this out and was like crap, gotta get another stone.

On the side, anyone have some tips on de-loading a stone. I have a couple that are choking on grimy swarf.
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 31, 2012 08:55AM
Quote
SVallieres
I don't know if it's normal. Over the Keeping Sharp subforum at Knifeforums I've been told it's normal... But since it rusted so fast, I wonder if the nickel plating could be defective which could be the cause of the scratching too... I really don't know...

The finer stones tend to collect metal from the knives much faster and those little pieces of metal will rust very fast as the surface area is very high. This can also cause corrosion on stainless steel knives if you use the same stone to sharpen a non-stainless steel as it will back deposit the non-stainless steel on the stainless knife.

Quote




Where do you get stones that cheap? What brand are they?

Dollar stores, flea markets, etc. will have no-name stones for extremely cheap, $5 is a lot to pay for those stones, they are usually imported in. There will be a large variability in efficiency of cutting so I just use them accordingly on different knives. If the surface gets a bit worn and I don't have the time to lapp them, I just add a little silicon carbide lapping compound to the surface and it breaks it up during the initial sharpening. But you do want to keep them lapped to both keep them flat and cutting at top speed. Just buy two and lap them against each other.


Quote
Old Spice

On the side, anyone have some tips on de-loading a stone. I have a couple that are choking on grimy swarf.

Assuming you can't just lap it, use an eraser on ceramics and soap+scrubbing pad on diamond stones.
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 31, 2012 10:34AM
Do you think the scratches I see (the very narrow shiny ones that appear to have gone through the plating down to the steel) have indeed went through the plating? I know it's difficult to answer without seeing it...

I didn't use it with a lot of pressure (as it's not recommended) and so far I used it as final sharpening step on cheap stainless scissors and a cheap stainless kitchen chef knife.
RFL
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 31, 2012 12:39PM
The cheap stones I have (no name, China made, $2) I got from The Sportsman's Guide and other surplus type catalogues, of course there is a shipping fee. Hardware stores sell them for $4.95 (big and gritty). At garage sales they sell for $1. I do not like the mess, so I prefer diamond and ceramic stones.

I abbreviate extra extra fine as XXFeven though EEF makes more sense. When I read EEF it makes me think of aggressive profanity or earmuffs (???).

The #8000/ 3 micron abrasive equivalent is standard for synthetic waterstones. So it makes sense that DMT would adopt it. Regarding particle size, DMT states the actual mesh size. Therefore, 3u should be the diameter of the largest abrasive particle. Shapton states the average size so who knows what the deviation actually is. 8000 is a fabricated amount anyway. Even microns can be misleading.

When comparing the different stones I used the following steels: 420HC (Buck), X55 (Victorinox), 1095CV (Case), D2 (BM), BD1 (Spyderco). For each blade the XXF edge was duller/ rougher than the edge produced on the King #6000. The Spyderco UF greatly refined the edge afterwards.

A note on tactile sensation. The DMT XXF feels coarser than the XF. The middle of the XF has a glass like smoothness, near the corners it is rougher. The XXF feels as rough as the roughest (unbroken in) parts of the XF. Furthermore, I lapped a novaculite fine stone on the XXF and the diamond surface was improved, but only slightly. The tactile sensation of the diamond surfaces are very similar to those of the King waterstone, except in reverse. The well used XF feels like the King #6000. The XXF feels like the King #1000.

The XF is #1200, however, since it is glassy smooth I can get a finer finish by using very light strokes. The effective edge is #2000. The XXF dulls an edge made on the UF ceramic. The edge produced is very aggressive. The blade scratches across the XXF even with light pressure and lubricant (H2O). Compared to the King #6000, the XXF edge is extremely toothy. I would consider the edge to be either a toothy #5000 or a very toothy and rough cutting #6000. Again, far from the floatingly sharp polish of the UF at #8000.

Since I strop anyway, I do not need the XXF or the UF. However, it is practical to know the effectiveness of each. The Spyderco UF ceramic is superlative. The DMT XXF is disappointing.
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 31, 2012 04:10PM
There seems to be consistency problems as there are conflicting reports here, has anyone talked to DMT directly?
RFL
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
July 31, 2012 10:43PM
I spoke with DMT customer service twice about surface finish and break in time. I was told that the coarser the grit, the shorter the expected break in time. Therefore, the XXF should take the longest. The coarse stone required no noticeable break in period. It just did not load as fast after the first scrubbing. Also, the fine stone changed very little. The XF went from smooth to glassy after a few edges and some scrubbing.

The XXF starts out rough, so break in is necessary. Since this can vary greatly and light pressure is used, no time period is given. The stones can be returned if they seem defective. DMT boasts very high customer satisfaction; few returns and almost no complaints.
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
August 01, 2012 05:14AM
Interesting, I did some more searching and posts on KF confirm that behavior, that the XXF when new can leave a much more coarse finish than expected. The most common recommended procedure is simply to lap it against a water stone, i.e., use it as a flattening plate for awhile. I never did see the sense in that and would see it more sensible to just use it as a more coarse stone for awhile.

I also don't agree with DMT's policy of shipping the stones in that state, it would take very little effort to lap them before sending them out and it would create a much more consistent experience for the customer base. However it doesn't seem like they are having any problems with success and it may just be that the number of people who would appreciate that is too small to make it worth while.
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
August 01, 2012 05:42AM
I have a xxf and have had the same problem. After using the xf the xxf seems to dull the edge. The xxf feels gritty as I slide an edge over it, even using very light pressure. I spoke to the dmt president at this years blade show. At the time I did not know who he was other than a dmt employee. He gave me his card and after the show I looked at the cards I had picked up and saw who he was. I asked him about my problem with the xxf stone. I was told that if I continued to have a problem I could call him (that is when I got the card) and he would make it right, he did appear concerned. He did suggest a longer break in and lapping the stone. My problem with lapping is that when you buy the xxf lapping it is not suggested only the break in period. If lapping is required then a buyer should be notified at the time of purchase of this required procedure. It appears that there is a problem with the xxf. I have not called dmt but at least it is an option.
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
August 01, 2012 07:31PM
For consideration :



Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
August 02, 2012 12:47AM
Hi Cliff,

I have been using DMTs in their whole range of grits and have had excellent results with the EEF. As an aside, the XXC is a bit of a mixed bag as the diamond particles tend to either dislodge or else shear off near the nickel substrata. Had much better results with the Atoma #140.

Quote
CliffStamp
Interesting, I did some more searching and posts on KF confirm that behavior, that the XXF when new can leave a much more coarse finish than expected.

IME this so, but only when new.

Quote

The most common recommended procedure is simply to lap it against a water stone,<snip>

I wouldn't use a water stone because the slurry that forms may undercut the nickel substrata and dislodge the diamond particles. I broke mine in with a Spyderco UF benchstone and it didn't take long at all. After this, it cuts beautifully.

For what it is worth, the scratch pattern of a broken in EEF is similar to that obtainable with a fresh #3000P Wet&Dry paper, A well worn in #3000P W&D paper is good to follow up with after the EEF as it gives a very good finish before moving onto either abrasive films or pastes.

I rather like the EEF because it creates less of a burr than other abrasives and is particularly effective on carbided steels. My only criticism, actually applicable to all diamond benchstones, is the tendency for the plate to lose its diamond coating around the edges, to a width of around 3-4mm over time; Not an issue with woodworking tools, though it can be annoying with straight or slightly concaved knives.

Other than the above, I have found that best results are obtainable if the plate is washed down before use, as airborne dust particles begin to impinge on the fine 3u diamond and also the use of a lubricant is very beneficial, personally favouring WD40 or a light oil. Soapy water is also very good, but messier.

Quote

.... I never did see the sense in that and would see it more sensible to just use it as a more coarse stone for awhile.

You could do that, but will be at it for quite a while and it will not break in evenly as you would not be using the whole of the surface each and every time.

Just a thought: It would be nice if Spyderco would release a whole set of diamond coated rods for the Sharpmaker, including EEF. IMHO their ceramics are struggling with some modern steels. It would also be nice if their rods would have slightly convex faces, but that would be asking for too much.

Cheers
John
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
August 02, 2012 05:24AM
Quote
john harper
I wouldn't use a water stone because the slurry that forms may undercut the nickel substrata and dislodge the diamond particles.

Yes, but don't people commonly use these as lapping plates directly?
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
August 02, 2012 01:59PM
Quote
CliffStamp
Yes, but don't people commonly use these as lapping plates directly?

The coarse plates are used for this purpose, but read a number of reports of the finer plates becoming ruined. Even the XXC is said to have a limited life in this role.

Cheers
John
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
August 02, 2012 03:59PM
John,

Thanks for the information, I have talked to a few people who use them on a regular basis and have been for some time, i.e., years. However it isn't like in general people keep detailed notes on this so it isn't trivial to sort this out.

Have you tried the lubricant that Trent sells or something similar?
Re: Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic
August 02, 2012 04:53PM
Hi Cliff,

Quote

Have you tried the lubricant that Trent sells or something similar?

No. Only what I wrote above, which works well.

Cheers
John
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