Sunday, August 7, 2022

What I Wish I Knew Before I Sharpened My New Civivi Pocket Knife

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Recently, I heard a lot of the hype about the CIVIVI Elementum, so I went ahead and got myself one. I heard good things about the Elementum with brown micarta scales and a D2 blade, so I picked up one of those.

(By the way, I got it from White Mountain Knives, which sells it for an absolute bargain at a shade of 50 dollars. It wasn’t hard to choose an EDC knife from their collection. Just like many other CIVIVI Elementum pocket knives, it’s a steal.)

I love this CIVIVI pocket knife. Everything about it is perfect for EDC. It’s comfortable to hold, use, and carry via the pocket clip, it has smooth contours that don’t dig into your hand, the action is silky smooth and the lock is solid. I could go on and on, but that’s the topic of another post.

I’ll admit I don’t know that much about knife steel, terminology, and whatnot. I’ve sharpened knives before, and when I got this CIVIVI pocket knife it had such an impressive factory edge, I thought I’d be good for a while.

I mean, the blade was scary sharp. I could shave with it if I wanted to. And, to be fair, the edge did last a while. A few weeks of cutting through paper and boxes every day, actually.

But paper and cardboard do wonders to a sharp edge, and within a few weeks, I wanted to touch it up again. It was still sharp, but I wanted it back to straight razor status.

So I took it to a 1000 grit-or-so soft natural Arkansas stone. I know from experience you can put a wicked edge on a knife with one of these.

I performed the standard, zen ritual. Back and forth, even sweeps across the stone, even pressure, and angle – the whole nine yards.

When I removed the burr, the blade was sharp, but nothing like the factory D2 edge it came with. It was slightly frustrating.

So I did some digging online and I think I’ve determined what my problem was, and boy, let me tell you, it’s something I wish I knew years ago.

I wasn’t stropping the knife. But now that I’ve learned how to do it, I’ll be doing it every time I need to finish an edge.

If you’ve never stropped a knife or tool, it makes a difference. Try it if you don’t believe me.

I’m no steel specialist, but what I read makes perfect sense, even to me.

It’s like this. Once you sharpen an edge, even after you remove the burr, you’re left with tiny “microserrations” that look like the tooth on a saw, except you can’t see them with the naked eye.

These “teeth” all stand out at odd angles from one another. The problem is they sort of “tear” material rather than cutting through it cleanly, even though they’re so small they’re impossible to see.

To strop a blade, you run it, spine first, along a smooth material like canvas or leather, in the opposite direction that you’d take while sharpening, with the edge trailing.

This action sort of sweeps all of the microserrations in a line, and the effects are significant. A razor that is sharp but not stropped will tug at hair; a sharpened, stropped blade will slice them effortlessly and cleanly.

So, basically, I’ll be stropping all my knives from now on, and not just this still-new CIVIVI pocket knife.

I’ll also be picking up a strop from White Mountain Knives, the place where I got the Elementum in the first place. You can’t beat rock-bottom prices on knife sharpeners (and strops). fixed and folding knives and free shipping in the U.S.- you should check them out!

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