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Thread: Why does the Pyramid method works???

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    Senior Member rlmnshvstr8's Avatar
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    Default Why does the Pyramid method works???

    Hey,

    I have a question for you analytical honing masters out there, and I have been having a hard time looking for the condensed answers throughout the vast supply of forum info out there. Thus, in short, I was wondering why and how does the pyramid work?

    Before anyone answers I would like to explain myself a little bit better.

    First, I understand the mechanics of the pyramid method: about switching back and forth between two different grits. So I'm not looking for answers of how to do the pyramid method, but rather what is happening to the metal as you are performing it, both as you progress to your next grit but most importantly returning to the courser grit.

    Second, I already know that the method works, and that it is a foot in the door for us beginners on a tried and tested method in order to start the road down the art of honing. So please leave out the answers of "Just because it works" and "If it ain't broken don't fix it".

    Third, I know that it keeps a person from overhoning. But what is technical meaning of overhoning, and how does going back to the courser grit prevent that from happening.

    Forth, I have already read many posts that uses the phrase "Sneak up on the edge". And I know that once the edge has reached its pinnacle of sharpness, you do not want to go any farther on that grit lest you damage the edge and have to start again, but as with my previous point, how does going back to the courser grit allow you to sneak up on the edge.

    Lastly, I want to understand only the pyramid method, not the progressive method. I am not looking for opinions on which is better or worse. This is just a knowledge base question to understand the practical application of the method. But please if you can help me to understand why the pyramid works by using references to the progressive, then by all means, please help me to understand.

    Sorry if I sound a little anal, but I know that if I don't explain what I am not looking for, it would be a sure thing that I would get a world of answers that would be meaningless and not answering my question. And again this question is only about the theory and is knowledge based so that a better understanding may help me in the future produce better edges and answer some questions if I one day am asked the dreaded "Why?".

    Thanks for everyone's input ahead of time.
    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'll be following this thread. I had dismissed the pyramid idea early because I could see no logical reason for how it could possibly be any help to go backwards in a progression. I have all of the same questions that you have stated so well.

    Now here is my only contribution. During a recent honing session I had set a bevel on a King 800 and progressed to a 3k Naniwa. After some time at 3k, inspection at 100X showed a chip that was large enough to warrant going back to the 800 grit stone. I believe the chip had been there all along and that I had just missed it when progressing. After some time on the 800 I again inspected to verify that I had removed the chip. The chip was gone, but the thing relative to this discussion was that the edge condition and scratch pattern was much more refined than it would have been had I just stayed on the 800 until the chip was gone without the step to the 3k. The backward step resulted in the lower grit stone behaving as an intermediate grit between 800 and 3k.

    I plan on doing some more experimentation with 3k, 6k, and 8k grits. I have some thoughts about what is occurring. I'm thinking that the step back removes some of the irregularities of the edge without going back as far as the previous step, and then the forward step refines this more regular edge resulting in a higher degree of refinement than is possible with a normal linear progression. I will be honing another razor soon from bevel set up and try to have more to add to the discussion.

    I saw a post that alluded to industry using techniques similar to this. The OP stated that the theory of why it worked would be more controversial than whether it worked.
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    At this point in time... gssixgun's Avatar
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    Honestly reading your post I think you already have all the answers there, not sure what could be added..

    Only thing I can say is it was basically developed as a step by step system to help beginners get on the hones nothing more, just like most of the "Honing" vids out there, they are just the basics... They are mostly designed to get you from point A to point B as simply as possible, over the years they have been over analyzed JMHO
    I think you already have the reasons why it works

    Quote Originally Posted by rlmnshvstr8 View Post
    Third, I know that it keeps a person from overhoning. But what is technical meaning of overhoning, and how does going back to the courser grit prevent that from happening.

    Now the Overhoning question is best answered by you creating it on a razor with your hone,,

    Take a 1k and use excessive pressure and circles or a high stroke count and you will start to see the edge begin to deteriorate under magnification seeing it occur as you hone will give you a good idea of what to avoid... Now that being said the opinions on "Overhoning" have changed over the years, there was a time on SRP (go look) that every honing issue was met with a generic statement of "You probably Overhoned it" now it is more accurately met with a statement of "Are you sure the bevel is set correctly"...
    Once you attempt to create an overhoned edge you will more easily understand why that is...

    Not quite what you were hoping for I suspect, but I hope it helped

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    Senior Member rlmnshvstr8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluesman7 View Post
    I'll be following this thread. I had dismissed the pyramid idea early because I could see no logical reason for how it could possibly be any help to go backwards in a progression. I have all of the same questions that you have stated so well.

    Now here is my only contribution. During a recent honing session I had set a bevel on a King 800 and progressed to a 3k Naniwa. After some time at 3k, inspection at 100X showed a chip that was large enough to warrant going back to the 800 grit stone. I believe the chip had been there all along and that I had just missed it when progressing. After some time on the 800 I again inspected to verify that I had removed the chip. The chip was gone, but the thing relative to this discussion was that the edge condition and scratch pattern was much more refined than it would have been had I just stayed on the 800 until the chip was gone without the step to the 3k. The backward step resulted in the lower grit stone behaving as an intermediate grit between 800 and 3k.

    I plan on doing some more experimentation with 3k, 6k, and 8k grits. I have some thoughts about what is occurring. I'm thinking that the step back removes some of the irregularities of the edge without going back as far as the previous step, and then the forward step refines this more regular edge resulting in a higher degree of refinement than is possible with a normal linear progression. I will be honing another razor soon from bevel set up and try to have more to add to the discussion.

    I saw a post that alluded to industry using techniques similar to this. The OP stated that the theory of why it worked would be more controversial than whether it worked.
    So let me toss something out there, going with this idea of a more refined edge after you went back to the previous grit. Don't hate me for this, its just me tossing out an idea to see if it makes sense

    Could it be possible that using the pyramid method, that it is not just a course grit scratch pattern being erased by a fine grit scratch pattern as you would see if you just progressed from your 800 to 3K using the progression method, but going back (as the pyramid would prescribe) it would be somewhat as if you worked on a succession of several stones going from 800 to 3000 rather than just the 2. For example, 800, 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000, but only using two stones as like a slow progression up to your final grit.

    Or let me say it this way

    15 laps on 800, 1 on 3K = ~800 grit
    10 laps on 800, 3 on 3K = ~1000 grit
    5 laps on 800, 5 on 3K = ~1500 grit
    3 laps on 800, 10 on 3K = ~2000 grit
    1 lap on 800, 15 on 3K = ~2500 grit
    final 1 lap on 800, 15 on 3K = ~3000 grit

    This is just an idea, feel free to shoot it down if it sounds like none-sense. But it would explain the "sneak up" to the edge philosophy.
    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 Moderator JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    I looked all over for it and couldn't find it in print, so maybe Lynn said it to me on the phone ? I don't want to put words in Lynn's mouth and then quote him ....... but it seems to me he either wrote or said of the pyramid method ....... "Nobody knows why it works, but it works." Personally I just do it ........ can't remember who said that.
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    Senior Member rlmnshvstr8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyHAD View Post
    I looked all over for it and couldn't find it in print, so maybe Lynn said it to me on the phone ? I don't want to put words in Lynn's mouth and then quote him ....... but it seems to me he either wrote or said of the pyramid method ....... "Nobody knows why it works, but it works." Personally I just do it ........ can't remember who said that.
    Thanks Jimmy for the input. I guess I was just thinking that a round table like discussion might pull out some "Theories" as to why it works. Kind of like when you do a scientific experiment. You have a question. You know something works, but since you don't know why, you test it and find an answer even if it's what you think or not. And thus I am hoping someone has done such testing, or that some theories could be tossed into the pile for good thought and some good discussion and some wacked ideas can also be tossed out.
    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 celticcrusader's Avatar
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    Yeah Jimmy I think I saw Lynn saying the same thing in one of his video's, and It's difficult to put into words why it works but I have to say I really like this method and all I can say it works for me, I like using it for refreshing a razor that's just going off the boil so to speak alternating between my 8K and 12K.
    Last edited by celticcrusader; 11-14-2014 at 06:46 PM.
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    Senior Moderator JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rlmnshvstr8 View Post
    Thanks Jimmy for the input. I guess I was just thinking that a round table like discussion might pull out some "Theories" as to why it works. Kind of like when you do a scientific experiment. You have a question. You know something works, but since you don't know why, you test it and find an answer even if it's what you think or not. And thus I am hoping someone has done such testing, or that some theories could be tossed into the pile for good thought and some good discussion and some wacked ideas can also be tossed out.
    Sure, experimentation and analysis of results is always profitable. I have nothing but admiration for those who are so inclined. I'm just not wired to be one of them. I'll be following this thread with interest, hoping to finally find out 'why' it works. In the meantime, I'm just happy that it does.
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    Senior Member bluesman7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rlmnshvstr8 View Post
    So let me toss something out there, going with this idea of a more refined edge after you went back to the previous grit. Don't hate me for this, its just me tossing out an idea to see if it makes sense

    Could it be possible that using the pyramid method, that it is not just a course grit scratch pattern being erased by a fine grit scratch pattern as you would see if you just progressed from your 800 to 3K using the progression method, but going back (as the pyramid would prescribe) it would be somewhat as if you worked on a succession of several stones going from 800 to 3000 rather than just the 2. For example, 800, 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000, but only using two stones as like a slow progression up to your final grit.

    Or let me say it this way

    15 laps on 800, 1 on 3K = ~800 grit
    10 laps on 800, 3 on 3K = ~1000 grit
    5 laps on 800, 5 on 3K = ~1500 grit
    3 laps on 800, 10 on 3K = ~2000 grit
    1 lap on 800, 15 on 3K = ~2500 grit
    final 1 lap on 800, 15 on 3K = ~3000 grit

    This is just an idea, feel free to shoot it down if it sounds like none-sense. But it would explain the "sneak up" to the edge philosophy.
    I was thinking along those lines as I was typing my first response and that seems a plausible explanation. I think that there may be something more going on though.

    I definitely want to continue this discussion after thinking about it some more and hopefully spending some time with the stones.

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    Senior Member bluesman7's Avatar
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    As an experiment I plan on seeing if I can reach a higher refinement by going 800> 3k>8k>3k>8k instead of just a normal progression of 800> 3k>8k. I don't plan on a specific lap count but will be using magnification.

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