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Xacto Blade kept sharp?

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flying_silverad

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Okay...I admit, I was one of those people that believed that you could only get a sharp edge from a single edge or double edge razor. Then, (and I know Micro is going to jump on me for this:D) the other day I played around with honing an xacto blade with a piece of 320 grit paper help against my bench. Man, was that sharp!

So now I think I'll find a stone and do it right.

2 Questions.

1- What type of stone would be right to shaprpen an xacto blade

2-Can anyone tell me the correct procedure for stropping such a blade?
 

sandman

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Check with Woodcraft Supply.

http://shop.woodcraft.com/Woodcraft/assets/html/homepage.asp?URLCheck=1

Go to the left and scroll down to "shapening"

They got stones up the wazzue!

That would be a lot.

Go with an oil stone (not water) and keep a can of 3 in 1 oil handy. Go with a 1,000 or 1,500 grit stone.

Also get a small piece of leather and glue it to a piece of wood to use as a strop. (an old piece of a belt will work.)

sandman
 

limd21

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There's lots of valid ways to get and keep things sharp. Oil stones, Japanese water stones, grit pastes and many other methods all work if used correctly. There is no single method that is always superior. This gets into religion among those interested in sharp instruments (woodworkers, knife makers, sword makers, etc...)

That said, one system that I've settled on myself for general sharpening is sandpaper glued to a flat surface - like a plate of glass. If you do a google search on "scary sharp", you'll find all sorts of material on this system. Basically, you use sheets of wet/dry sandpaper, typically starting with 200-300 grit and working your way up to 2000 grit. Though 600 is about as fine as most hardware stores will stock, auto body/paint supply shops will always carry the finer grades. Some guys have even gone above 2000 grit! BTW, I always sharpen "dry" - no oil, no water. Works for me. With this system, chisel bevels are so shiny that that you can see a very clear reflection - just like a mirror.

Another method that works well to tune up a new xacto blade to an even keener-than-new edge is to strop. Load a leather or hard cardboard strop with green rouge (sold for use on polishing wheels) and strop the edge. The factory xacto edge is pretty decent, but I was surprised how much better it got when stropped this way. This is also a great way to greatly extend the useful life of an xacto blade - just give it a few strokes on the strop every so often and they can last a long, long time!

Good luck!
 

Micromeister

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I don't normally use a stone unless I've really bunged up the edge breaking out a nick or something. I "Strop" the x-acto blade on a wooden backed leather clad block rubbed with jewelers rouge. Preparing the leather "an old Leather belt piece will work" is fairly simple, contact cement the hair side (smooth side) to the wood block. rub the jewelers rouge cake in the flesh side, working the rouge into the fibres. the leather will gain a shade of white. the rouge is available on-line from www.tandyleather.com in Texas for about 1.00 /cake.
Stroping strokes are done in reverse of Sharpening stone strokes, pulling the blade backwards over the "flesh side up" Leather. This technique is how we leather workers keep our headknives, and other cutting blades razor sharp for cutting leather in a single efforless pass.
This action removes the factory edge or wire edge created by sharpinging on a stone, making the x-acto blade as sharp as a razor blade without actually removing that much of the metal from the blade. It's more a polishing then shapening. Once this starting edge is obtained, 8 or 10 strokes on the strop each time you pick up the blade will keep is in razor shape.
Part of the trick is to keep the blade at as close to 20 degrees on both sides as possible.
If your looking for scalpel sharpness it will take a lot more time (an hour or so) since you must remove the factory edge angle on a sharpening stone, replacing it with a 20/0 degree taper, that's 20 degrees on one side, 0 Degrees (blade side flat against the stone or strop) on the other. Then stroping to super sharpness.

Sharpening on a stone grinds away the metal of your blade, over a fairly short time you will have ground into the untempered part of the blade. At that point the blade will no longer hold an edge and the blade or knife must be replaced. If your set on using a scarpening stones there are several 3 stone sets that will get the job done, ending with the finial sharpening on a "Hard" Arkansas stone. Remember the consistancy of your angle stokes on stone or strop are very important. varing this angle will make it extremely difficult to get a good edge on your blade. Always use a good sharpening oil on your stones.

I have #1,#2 and #5 X-acto knife handles on my workbench
purchased about 10 years ago that still have the original # 11, 16 and 24 blades. The trick is to strop the blade every time you pick it up. just 4 or 5 storkes per side will keep it super sharp.

Hope this little BSA training helps:D OH after using this process Watch your thumbs, NEVER cut anything while your holding it toward yourself or folks will be referring to you a NUBS:D
 

flying_silverad

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Okay...so the smooth side is NOT what you strop, it's the rough side?
 

powderburner

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I just use the blades for a little while and then . . . throw them away. (They are replaceable, they do come 100 to a package.)

I use three or four handles, and save the newest, sharpest blades for trimming paper (templates, decals, etc). When the very tip gets too dull for paper, that handle gets rotated to the #2 spot for average use (balsa and light cardboard BT). When the blade gets too dull for that, it gets rotated to the #3 spot for heavy cutting and generally abusive applications. And when the blade is dull, nicked, and tipless, it gets rotated to the trash.

I know, I know, I am a thoughtless, wasteful neandertal, a crude ravager of the environment. But considering that they only cost a few pennies, I just don't see it being worth my time to mess with trying to rejuvenate these little tabs of steel.
 

Micromeister

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Originally posted by flying_silverad
Okay...so the smooth side is NOT what you strop, it's the rough side?
Correct: the smooth side of you leather is the 'Hair side" , the rough side is the "flesh side". You want the flesh side up, which holds the rouge better. After a good bit of use the flesh side will take on a blackened metal loaded semi-smooth look. It's best to use the back side of the knife or blade held perpendicular to the leather surface, scrap with some force to roughten up the flesh side and remove most of the caked on debris, then reapply another good rubbing with the rouge cake, returning the surface to brownish white.

This method is great for pocket knifes as well. Just about any knife I have will shave hair.. pen knife to Bowie, Hand Axe to Full Axe. and any chisel I own get a stropping before they touch anything else.
Several of my Buck Folding knives have never seen a shrpening stone and have been used as straight razors on many a back country camping trip.
 

sandman

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I have used honing stones and leather strops for years on woodworking tool.

A hand chissel properly hones and stropped will plane a beautiful curl of wood that won't even need sanding when you are finished.

Hand planes purchased as junk in a garage sale when the blade is honed, stroped and properly adjusted will cut wood faster that a router without hearing protection!!

In fact one of the most beautiful sounds is the sound of a hand plane pulling a curl off of a piece of hardwood.

Besides...a properly sharpened tool will draw blood...but nothing a bandaid won't fix...now a router turning at 25,000 rpm...Yer goin' to the emergency room!

sandman
 

DynaSoar

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Originally posted by powderburner
I just use the blades for a little while and then . . . throw them away. (They are replaceable, they do come 100 to a package.)

I use three or four handles, and save the newest, sharpest blades for trimming paper (templates, decals, etc). When the very tip gets too dull for paper, that handle gets rotated to the #2 spot for average use (balsa and light cardboard BT). When the blade gets too dull for that, it gets rotated to the #3 spot for heavy cutting and generally abusive applications. And when the blade is dull, nicked, and tipless, it gets rotated to the trash.

I know, I know, I am a thoughtless, wasteful neandertal, a crude ravager of the environment. But considering that they only cost a few pennies, I just don't see it being worth my time to mess with trying to rejuvenate these little tabs of steel.
Same here. Buy 100, use them in rotation. I've been through maybe 2 per month, and I build daily.

If your environmental conscience bothers you, toss a few beverage cans in the recycle bin; about 4 of them should make uo for the 100 blades.
 

Ryan S.

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I have a bunch of these stones kicking around my basement....didnt realize they were worth so much
 

jetra2

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Originally posted by DynaSoar
Same here. Buy 100, use them in rotation. I've been through maybe 2 per month, and I build daily.
Where the heck do youse guys get 100 of these things!? I'm lucky to find five or ten!

Jason
 

powderburner

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Originally posted by jetra2
Where the heck do youse guys get 100 of these things!? I'm lucky to find five or ten!
If you only need the X-acto blades (and aren't making a $50 order with a bunch of other stuff) it might not be worth it to pay the shipping on only one item in a mail-order.

In that case, you save up your patience, put on your stalking cap, and stake out a few of the auctions on ebay. Just don't go crazy bidding up past retail. If the bid prices go up, stop and wait for the next auction. Sooner or later you'll get what you want and for a real bargain price. And probably a lot less shipping cost too.
 

Elapid

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is there really anything else?

diamond sharpening stones are the fastest way to an accurate edge. they are so much harder than the hardest steel that one bad stroke, and you're starting over...
 

powderburner

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diamond 'stones' are wonderful to use, and if I had a good ($100+) knife to sharpen, a diamond tool is what I would reach for---

but is it really worthwhile to spend $20 (or whatever they cost these days) on a tool, plus my time to do the work, to sharpen a 20 cent blade?
 

Elapid

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that there are about 15-20 sharpenable knives in every household...give or take a few.

i'd also bet that 99% of those are dull.
:(

you're right, for the households that own only one sharp blade, and that being an X-acto #1, diamond whetstones are a waste.
:D
 

BobH48

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If you buy their own house brand #11 blades, Tower Hobbies pack of 100 blades is only $7.99 and if you only order things that qualify for "parts express" , the shipping charge is $3.99.

So that works out to $.12 a blade even if you don't order anything else.
 

Banzai88

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I don't think so. I'd rather spend the extra $$ on more blades and change more often.
 

modeltrains

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Could one of y'all describe the mechanics of why the leather strop works?
That's a question I've wondered about occasionally for years but never thought to either ask someone or apply my own initiative on Google.
So, since I need to go do something else when the clock here strikes the hour, I'll ask right quick then come back later to see what has been said.
 

hobie1dog

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Chris_H

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I find it very useful to sharpen X-acto blades, and sometimes sharpen them before using because I can get them sharper than they are when new. I use a 6000 grit Japanese diamond stone followed by a 10,000 grit unknown and as I recall, very expensive Japanese waterstone. I sharpen them when doing intricate masking, as a sharp blade will not pull the tape, but any contact with metal along the blades edge quickly dulls them. Sharpening them is fast and easy. And very worthwhile, to me. I would be trashing some blades after like 5 seconds on some jobs. Sharpening them allows me to get some mileage out of the blades, and noticeably better cutting.
 

OverTheTop

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Where the heck do youse guys get 100 of these things!? I'm lucky to find five or ten!
They come in packs of 100. You can get them either non-sterilised (wraped in packs of five) or sterilised (individually wrapped, more expensive). I have started to think I should use sterilised since I manage to cut myself so much :(.
 

neil_w

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Snap-offs for the win. New blade always available in seconds, cost almost nothing. Work great. I use Olfa.

There are some jobs where the fine pointed shape of the #11 is needed, but I'm finding those to be pretty rare.
 

jlabrasca

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I sharpen (hone) my Xacto blades, mostly because disposal of the dull blades is difficult (they are officially not-recyclable at the curbside) I have one of those magnetic small-parts dishes that I use to keep nicked or broken blades, I expect I will be handing them down to my heirs. I also have stones in my shop to maintain chisels, so it doesn't seem like a lot of work to clean up the edge on a dull razor knife.

And, of course, when not in use, I keep my Xacto in a Drbal pyramid. It doesn't actually sharpen a dull blade but, if you keep it aligned to celestial north (NOT magnetic north -- a lot of people make that mistake) it will extend the time between honing by as much as 5%
 
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Nytrunner

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And, of course, when not in use, I keep my Xacto in a Drbal pyramid. It doesn't actually sharpen a dull blade but, if you keep it aligned to celestial north (NOT magnetic north -- a lot of people make that mistake) it will extend the time between honing by as much as 5%
Pics or it didn't happen. You know the rules of the internet
 

Chris_H

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Snap-offs for the win. New blade always available in seconds, cost almost nothing. Work great. I use Olfa.

There are some jobs where the fine pointed shape of the #11 is needed, but I'm finding those to be pretty rare.
Yep. This. Breakaway knives cover almost all the cutting needs. The Xacto is for specific intricate tasks.
 
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