So here is my take on this.
There always was, it just wasn't called micro bevels like we do today...
Let me try to explain this.
Every text I ever read about sharpening always makes mention of two angles;
The grinding angle and the whetting angle.
Top the primary or grinding angle, need to be shallow.
Bottom, angle A is the primary, B is the secondary.
You want to add a third one? Be my guess, but its not necessary...
So what are they and why bother with two angles??
You need a shallow angle to penetrate easily into the wood. That shallow angle is referred to as the primary bevel or the grinding angle. It is usually between 20 and 30 degrees, as seen in older text. Today we seems to favored 25 degrees (smack in the middle).
If you are using a chisel for paring, 20 would be fine, but it would crumble pretty quick if you were chopping mortise.
Nobody really likes to spend too much time sharpening, we all rather spend our time actually working wood.
The next angle is the secondary angle or referred to as the whetting angle in older text. That is the angle that we use on our stones after the grinding operation. Which grinding is usually done on a mechanical or electrical grinder, but I do mine on stones as well, as I am not a big fan of a hollow edge, produced by a round wheel. A bigger wheel will give you a shallower hollow, but it is still there.
Why that second angle? Because if will significantly reduced the time required to sharpen, since we are not doing the whole bevel again, AND perhaps more importantly, it will beefed up the edge (more metal behind the edge)
That small land of steel at a higher angle makes a lot of difference for the edge retention, but it is too small to make much of an effect on how the tool feels into the wood. If you were not adding that small secondary bevel and instead were to sharpen two chisels, one at 25 the other at 30, you will find a difference in how it penetrate the wood. Now touch up that 25 degrees by adding a 30 degrees micro bevel and compare it to the other still at 30. The one with the whole edge at 30 will be harder to push still than the one with the micro bevel of 30.
I called that secondary bevel MICRO, because really you do not need to have a wide land of steel at that secondary bevel to affect its performance.
I know some would argue that what we call micro bevel today are really a tertiary bevel (3rd one) but to me that is semantic.
I do my edge usually at 25 then tweak the edge by whatever work for the wood I'm working with. The exact angle? Don't know don't care!
What does that mean? If my edge is crumbling too fast, I'll simply touch up the edge with a steeper secondary bevel.
I do strop my edges often as I work, an habit I picked up from my carving days.
It keep my edge sharp longer and delay the inevitable trip back to the stones...
Other than that, that is all I do.
Oh, I do the back first real good the first time around (past pitting at the edge), then...
i'll just continue to polish it to remove the small burr introduced by whetting.
I do not care to take my edge to a blinding shine level, I stop at my finest stone, a 6000 grit waterstone, and I most certainly do not test my edges on any of my body parts. Nail, hair on my arms etc, paper or whatever (those test proves nothing, except that you are about to cut yourself and probably damaged that edge :-)
I'll have you know on good authority that blood cause rust on tools, so clean up immediately, save the tool, don't worry about your body parts, i'll grow back right?
I simply look at the edge under a strong lite trying to catch reflections and I test the actual edge on a scrap piece of pine.
My all times favourite knife.
Bought that knife in 1998, has been sharpened a bazillions times by now...
Can you tell if its sharp or not?
Same picture, blown up.
See the white bright white spots on the edge??
These means that there is sufficient thickness to reflect light,
it is overdue for sharpening :-)
Why pine? Being a softwood, the end grain crumble easily if the edge is not properly sharpen.
Once I got a shiny burnished surface left on the end grain cuts, I am done!
First cut with nicked edge shown above.
Cut easily still, but look at the scratches left
After a couple strokes on my 6000 stone
Better but I can still see lite spots on the edge
A few more strokes followed by stropping.
Pretty good, it is leaving a burnished surface
BUT... I will tweak that edge depending on how it react to the wood I am working on, by raising the edge a tad. Whetting angle, secondary bevel, micro bevel, whatever you want to called it...
Brazillian hardwood, forgot the name.
Look at the clean pore holes, cuts are shiny, burnished
AND I do not put any back bevels what so ever on my edges thank you very much... Not on my plane irons, and never on my chisels.
I may be lazy but never that lazy (ruler trick) ... :-)
Bob, sharpening his keyboard with help from Rudy.
That is his little stool to go up on the couch.
Its starting to shows some signs of puppy chew...
Must really puppy proof my shop... :-)