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Thread: Why does the Pyramid method works???

  1. #21
    ace
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    Senior Member blabbermouth ace's Avatar
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    I remember reading somewhere that the Pyramid method is helpful, especially for Newbies, because it eliminates the issue of knowing when to move on from stone to stone. That is a difficult thing to master at first, and the Pyramid system avoids that problem. I started using it and found it very helpful, but there came a time when I could more easily tell when to move to a higher grit and now just go through a normal progression.

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    Senior Member rlmnshvstr8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haroldg48 View Post
    Back to the OP....I'm really curious WHY you want to know WHY it works. It reminds me of my wife asking why airplanes can fly. I can explain it in general terms, but I don't really care to because they do (airplanes, I'm still talking about), so WHY is she asking? Please understand, I'm not picking on you or your post, I'm a new honer myself, but I have more curiosity about people's thought processes than I am about WHY a proven mechanical process works.
    Harold,

    I'll try to explain it the best I can.

    First of all it it part of my curious personality of where I want to know how the world works. That is the reason I became a scientist. So in short it is part of who I am to question why and how something works or at least try to obtain answers.

    Secondly and lastly, I want to become proficient in what I do to the best of my abilities. I do know that the art will come with time, practice and experience. So I'm taking that off the table of my answer. A person who wants to become a diesel mechanic will go to school and learn the craft. They will learn the parts and tools, but most of all they learn how and why certain parts do what they do and how an internal combustion works. It is because of this why and how that engineers are the next year and the next year can build a better diesel truck. Because they can customize it because of their knowledge based on what conditions need to be met.

    For me in my field of work. Knowing how something works allows me to come up with tests to diagnose a problem and create a solution in order to fix it.

    Now if I may. When it comes to honing I'm just wanting to know just to know. It's part of who I am. Some me people are not like me in that sense and that is ok. For me I want to know so that I can be able to "see" what happens at least in my mind learn from it and be able customize my approach to whatever the situation requires instead of hitting and missing by shooting in the dark.

    I hope that explains my sometimes overly complex thought process. Plus I want to understand what makes it so forgiving for beginners because if it was just structure, that could be done with the progressive method (which I'm beginning to conclude as just a more advanced approach to honing) by telling the homer "do this and then do that". But what I have seen with it was "here are the mechanics, now learn some experience and you will get there someday".
    A fool flaunts what wisdom he thinks he has, while a wise man will show that he is wise silently.

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    Senior Member bluesman7's Avatar
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    I've had some other thoughts. During a normal progression, say going from 5k to 8k, there is a point at the 8k level where the majority of the 5k scratches are gone and the 8k stone takes on a different feel. I think at this point material removal with the 8k hone gets very slow because of the increased surface area and lack of purchase by the 8k grit. The edge may benefit from more material removal at the 8k level but progress is impeded because of the polish of the bevel. Stepping back to the 5k at this point, which now behaves as being finer than 5k because of the higher surface area and lack of purchase, breaks the surface and allows more work to be done with the 8k hone.

    The normal rebuttal to stepping backward in grit is 'I can see no benefit in putting 5k scratches on a perfect 8k bevel' the answer to that may be that we don't shave with the bevel but with the edge and if the edge can benefit from more material removal at the 8k level the easiest way to accomplish that may be to put some coarser grit scratches in the bevel.

    Caveat, I have not used pyramid honing except by accident when going backward to hone out a chip and noticing some unexpected refinement in the edge. All of the above is just speculation as to what might be occurring. I do plan on experimenting with grit step backs in my next honing session but I do not plan on using a stroke count recipe as I think I can learn more by feeling my way through the process.

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    Senior Moderator JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    Without man's inherent curiousity I suspect we'd still be living in caves and wouldn't even have the wheel. Some of us are content with flicking the switch, watching the lights go on or off, while others need to know what creates that light. In many things I'm satisfied with flipping the switch, in some few I too go beyond the utility to wanting to understand how it works.

    Regarding scratch patterns, when I began this honing journey I acquired a Norton starter set, a few ebay hollow grounds, and a few pro honed razors to have something to use, and to compare my efforts with the pro honed edges. At that time there was a lot of buzz on this forum about removing the scratch pattern from the previous grit before moving on to the next grit.

    Upon examining my pro honed razors, which had proved to be the real deal, where the razor meets the jawline, I found that those pro honers obviously didn't worry about the scratch pattern removal. When the razor was ready, it was ready, and no simonizing of the edge was needed. So continuing with the pyramid method, I only used my magnification to check for micro chips and to be assured the bevel was correct, ignoring the scratch pattern removal.

    Nothing wrong with the practice of removing the scratches from the previous grit if that is what floats your boat, but I found it unnecessary for achieving my primary goal of a shave ready razor. An old honer that used to be around here once said, as Ace noted in the post above, knowing when to stop is one of the prerequisites of expertise in honing. The pyramid method can assist in solving that problem for the neophyte honer. Maybe not completely, but to a great extent.

    Something like seven years into it, I still use the pyramid more often than not if I'm starting from (no pun) scratch. Not always, particularly if I've set my bevel and decide to use naturals to get to the final objective. Charlie 'Yardbird' Parker, the great jazz saxophonist, is reputed to have said,"Master your instrument, then forget all that stuff and play." Honing is kind of like that for me, Not that I've mastered it yet, but I'm beyond the stage of where it is frustrating, and at the stage where I can view it as Lynn frequently says, as "have fun."
    Last edited by JimmyHAD; 11-15-2014 at 02:56 PM.
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    Senior Member Crackers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haroldg48 View Post
    It reminds me of my wife asking why airplanes can fly.
    Well air moves faster on the bottom because there is less surface area and has to move slower on the wing top causing a low pressure or lift.... OH never mind. I think that by Pyramiding you are creating less surface area for the higher grit to remove IE just the ridges of the scratch pattern. I also agree that once the edge is done the bevel does not need to look pwiddy....
    A good lather is half the shave.

    William Hone

  7. #26
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Razor honing is one of those things, where there are a lot of variables and formula does not always work.

    It is much like learning a golf swing, where all the variables must be taken into consideration and what works for one may not work for the next guy. That is why there are thousands of books written on how to swing a golf club.

    The given is that most razors are not straight, we all have different stones and all of us have a different conception of pressure. Very few of us have the exact same combination and even then the razor itself and the driver will be different.

    The goal of bevel setting is to flatten the bevels and get them to meet in a straight line, the edge. Then proceed in a progression of finer stones, to polish the bevels and straighten the edge for more comfort.

    As we hone the grit creates stria, a land and groove or mountain and valley. The land and groove end in a jagged edge. The more we minimize the height of the land, mountain, the straighter the edge. That is the goal of polishing the bevel and edge.

    The main problem for the novice is pressure, and creating Deep stria, from too much pressure. A Pyramid allows the honer to go back to the lower grit and with lite pressure reduce the land/mountain height. If too much pressure is used, the pyramid does not work and often does not for novices.

    It is just a simple formula for the novice to try to better polish, if it works you hear from those that it worked for, until they calibrate the correct amount of pressure for their stones and razor. We don’t hear from the ones that it does not work for and give up.

    For much of this hobby what you do next, depends on what the problem is, the honer must first diagnose the problem.
    So when it sounds like it is mystic and you will only know by doing, is because of all the variables involved in the diagnosis, the largest of which is the razor... and the honer, (the unknowns).

    The opposite of a pyramid and progression honing, is one stone honing, where you use one high grit stone to set the bevel and finish. The problem with that is again, pressure. For most it would take too long and then they would use too much pressure, in an attempt to speed up setting the bevel and straighten the edge.

    Pyramid honing is simply a way to speed up polishing a bevel with a lower grit, by alternating grits with lite pressure, sometimes it works for the novice honer, sometimes it does not.

    YMMV
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