#1: Due to the very small "radius of curvature" (e.g. sharpness) of a diamond knife edge, it should never be touched or cleaned with any solid object.
#2: Do as much gross "trimming" of the block first with a razor or scalpel blade. Then if available do the next level of "trimming" with a "used" knife, one that has striations and damages that render it useless for fine sectioning, but for the facing off process, it is just fine. Here is the place to put particular care in the shaping of the trapezoidal shaped base of the block. Before commencing with the "real" sectioning, with the "good" knife, clean the block with a spray of distilled water, followed by a drying with an SPI Duster.
#3: During sectioning, at periodic intervals, clean the diamond knife with a spray of distilled water, followed by drying with a puff of an SPI Duster.
At the completion of the sectioning session, clean the edge of the knife one more time, and make sure that the edge is completely dry before replacing in the special storage box, where the knife should reside until its next use.
#4: If pieces of sections or other debris of unknown origin have dried anywhere on the diamond (not just the edge) use the SPI Diamond Knife Cleaning Solution. Then clean with distilled water and a few drops of mild liquid detergent to remove any remaining residues. Do a final rinse with distilled water followed by drying with an SPI Duster.
#5: Do not wipe the diamond knife edge with anything and we include "anything" to include even wooden sticks, pith sticks or any other solid object. We realize that many researchers use such sticks regularly and do not believe such use shortens knife life. But we do believe that this practice, if used repeatedly, and we furthermore believe this is true for all diamond knives, not just SPI Diamond Knives), will eventually cause edge imperfections which will show up in sections as fine striations, bringing closer the time the knife will need resharpening.
#6: Do not use ultrasonic cleaners; the diamond knife is a very delicate instrument and ultrasonic energy could cause disruption to some of the materials of construction holding together the different parts of the knife. Again, this advice might be viewed as "controversial" since many persons do use ultrasonic cleaners and claim to experience no ill- effects to the SPI Diamond Knives.
#7: Never use acids, ammonia, or strong chemicals; they will not of course, effect the diamond itself but could cause damage to the metal boat or the shank holding the diamond to the boat. If corrosion product forms, it could contaminate future sections.
#8: Avoid chattering! Such problems can be eliminated (or at least reduced) by proper slowing the cutting speed, reducing the area being sectioned, curing the block to a higher level of hardness, or even selecting a knife with a smaller clearance angle.
#9: Make sure that the knife at all times is being firmly held in place as should also be the sample. Unnecessary damage can befall the knife if knife and sample are not properly anchored in place.
#10: Never use a knife angle that is smaller than you need to do your work! Smaller angles wear out faster and if smaller angles are being used unnecessarily, one will experience much higher resharpening costs.
Are there other "commandments" for diamond knives? Let us know your own experiences Make not just with SPI Supplies Diamond Knives but with anyone's diamond knives. We plan to be starting a new "page" of this section to put up "suggestions" from others, with complete attribution as to authorship.