Honing is the process of smoothing metal after getting rid of the blemishes along the edge.
In a previous article I covered the importance of paying close attention to the ride-line of the shears, if you missed that you can check out “How To Repair The Ride Line“.
Honing is not a practice that is unique or specific to shear sharpening. Honing is a process that is as old as the hills and is used in any type of finishing work. Honing is commonly used by machinists to shave off small amounts of metal to bring engine parts into the proper specifications. That way all the parts fit together when it’s time for assembly.
Honing, when sharpening shears, does the exact same thing. The difference is when honing a pair of shears the amount of metal being removed is so very, very small but so very, very important. The actual sharpening of the shears is all about the skill of the sharpener in the honing of the shear blade.
So what do you say we do some honing?
The sharpening process is really a constant process of reducing the blemishes along the shear blade until there are none left. When it comes to getting the old edge off of a pair of shears it is necessary to use an abrasion that is going to get the damage off the shear without producing any significant heat. Once that is done, the next step is to get rid of the scratches caused by disk or wheel that was used to cut the damage off with.
The disk or wheel that I use for honing will have a very small abrasion on it and I will gauge what kind of work that it does by the kind of pressure that I put on the shear blade and how fast I pull it across the surface.I always do this honing process in a very light repetitive manner because there is very little heat produced.
Along with smoothing the metal, honing also produces a small burr along the leading edge of the shear blade.
This burr is one that we can control now. It is burr is even all along the blade and we know that there is no damage below it to produce any dead spots.
This is the time to polish the ride-line and stand the burr up and then hone the top part of the blade to bend the burr down. This is done repeatedly to get this “control burr” to break off and leave us will and clean sharp edge.
Sometimes it can take some time to accomplish because of the differences in the type of steal being used in the shears. However, by repeating over and over and checking the progress the “control burr” is taken off and a nice clean, sharp edge is produced.
Although we can’t see it…there can still be an ever so tiny bit of the control burr left that can’t be seen or felt at this juncture and that means it’s time to polish the edge.
You guessed it…polishing the shears is next in line.