clean shave with knife

Shaving with Spyderco Military in S90V Knife

Some time ago, a member of the Knife Forums’ Keeping Sharp community challenged me to sharpen his Spyderco Military in S90V. When it arrived, it already boasted a pretty impressive sharpness. Despite a chip in the middle of the blade, the tip was sharp enough to slice hairs off my arm.

The Spyderco Military in S90V is an exceptional knife. I began using the Shapton Glass stones and achieved an incredibly sharp, almost intimidating edge up to the 4K level. However, the journey beyond that became a considerable effort due to diminishing returns – the finer the grit, the longer it took to refine the steel.

Initially, the knife cut smoothly, but it required four attempts to reach a comfort level where it could comfortably shave hair. Even during the shave, it could only whittle hair without easily popping it. You can imagine my evolving enthusiasm throughout the shave; initially not thrilled, but by the end, the result was much better than I had anticipated, especially when applying aftershave.

A couple of noteworthy observations emerged. Firstly, despite the steel’s abrasion resistance, it was susceptible to edge rolling as it became incredibly thin. Starting with a 16-degree angle on each side and progressing through various grits, including the WEPS 100/200/400/600/800/1K diamonds and Chosera 800, 2K, 5K, and 10K, I needed the aid of Hand American .25-micron diamond to expedite cutting (though diamonds were indispensable throughout!). However, the test shave afterward was incredibly rough.

Subsequently, I adjusted the angle to 18 degrees and utilized the 15K and 30K Shapton stones with added enhancements, but it still fell short of being shaving-ready. Returning to extensive stropping with .25-micron diamond on felt and .050 poly on balsa at approximately 30 degrees per side, followed by canvas and clean leather stropping, including a Tony Miller strop, finally placed the edge where it needed to be.

Secondly, the knife shaved much better against the grain than with it – an unexpected outcome. My speculation is that the hair’s resistance against the grain allowed the edge to grasp the hair for a clean cut.

Under the microscope, the edge appeared perfectly straight and smooth with each attempt. This led me to believe that while the carbides were resilient, the surrounding steel structure “gave way” as the edge neared “shave ready.” The knife exhibited sharpness early on, but achieving a shaving edge proved to be the real challenge.

Consider this a warm-up – the true test awaits with my Rex-121 Mule crafted by Farid… Stay tuned!

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