Honing Challenges

Use a straight. You know it makes sense.
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SirCur
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Location: Toronto, Canada

Honing Challenges

Post by SirCur » Sun Oct 05, 2008 5:33 pm

Gents,

Alright, I admit it - I'm a honing idiot. Obviously, running a company is simpler than honing a razor - for myself at least.

Here's the equipment:

Norton 4/8 combination wet stone
4 sided paddle strop with 3.0 / 1.0 and 0.5 diamond and chromium pastes

Here's the technique:

x pattern on the Norton - both sides in a pyramid progression
Paddle strop 1.0 - 20 times
Paddle strop 0.5 chromium - 20 times

I have tried various times with slightly different routines, and none of the above produce a razor that is sharp enough. The blade skips a little, and is uncomfortable. I can shave with it, but, it's clearly NOT sharp enough. For comparison, I have another razor that was purchased "pre-sharpened" from Vintage Blades - with regular stropping, this razor is great and produces excellent shaves.

Believe me, I have tried MANY times to hone this razor, and am fairly confident that my technique is OK. At this point, I am open to suggestions. Do I have the right equipment? Should I try changing the angle by using tape on the razor when honing? Do I have the right equipment?

I have shaved about 30 times with a straight razor, and my technique is getting better. Would like to be able to maintain a razor and hone it well - please advise.

Best ... Steve
To want what I have
To take what I'm given with grace
For this I pray

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Occam
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Location: Brisbane - AUSTRALIA

Post by Occam » Sun Oct 05, 2008 6:08 pm

Steve if there's anything I'd recommend above all... that would be the Spyderco ultrafine 3" wide stone... absolutely brilliant and the only hone I have needed since I put the first edge on it.

The Norton should be fine to get it up to final polishing with the Spyderco.

Also I'd recommend you take the razor in question and just cut into a matchstick or other soft wood along its length two or three times. Then do some strokes with the 4000 side - 20 or so... then another pass on the wood... then the 8000 side for about 30 strokes... one more gentle wood pass... then give it baby soft strokes on the 8000 for about 10-20 strokes... followed by stropping...

Let us know... the wood pass takes off your burr and when used judiciously leads to a perfect edge. Especially so when you're just starting out.
Ben

Merkur Futur in Au.

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kaptain_zero
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Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Post by kaptain_zero » Sun Oct 05, 2008 8:13 pm

Steve, could you give us a bit of history on the razor you are trying to hone? Make and condition when you first received it would be good. If it was not shave ready when you first got it, but it is a quality razor ie. not one of the known *bad* new razors sold on Ebay and the like, we can take it from there. It's hard to diagnose from afar with such little information.

The purpose of the pyramid honing scheme is to avoid a wire edge, however it is plain useless until you get the bevels fully established and a sharp edge, which is what it sounds like you're having problems with. So get back to us with those details and we'll take it from there. But just so you know, there is no point in going beyond the 4K hone until the bevels are good and the razor is sharp, the 8K and any other polishing hones/strops you might have will do nothing if the edge isn't already fully formed as all they do is refine/polish the edge.

Regards

Christian
Previously lost, on the way to the pasture. Now pasteurized.

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SirCur
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Location: Toronto, Canada

Post by SirCur » Mon Oct 06, 2008 7:24 am

Ben - thanks for the advice - will look at the Spyderco.

Christian - this razor is a Blue Diamond razor made in Germany, purchased from another member here. I believe it is 5/8 size, and was "shave ready" when I bought it. In fact, when I first used it, it seemed pretty good - certainly better than it is now. After using it a few times, I "shelved" it until I got a strop - maybe my stropping technique was the problem the first few times (I have 2 strops, an Illinois 827 and a Heritage latigo strop).

To be honest with you, I'm not even sure what you mean by "getting the bevels established" - is there a way to check this? I could take some pictures if this would help diagnose.

At this point, I can still use my Dovo Special, but, at some point it will need honing, and I would like to get my technique improved on the Blue Diamond if possible. Suggestions?

Best ... Steve
To want what I have
To take what I'm given with grace
For this I pray

Jukkie
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Post by Jukkie » Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:21 am

From my experience, bad strop-work can destroy shaves.

I don't know much in the way of honing, but in my experience, a badly stropped razor can still be stropped to acceptable quality.

BruceA
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Location: St. Paul, MN

Post by BruceA » Mon Oct 06, 2008 3:36 pm

Sir,

Imagine a drawing of a triangle with the two sides coming together in a nice sharp point. That would be an end on view of a nice established bevel. Now mentally lop off the tip and truncate that triangle, what's missing now is the edge of that figurative razor and to get it sharp again (or to start with) you have to establlish that bevel or get the sides to meet up at a sharp point. Getting to that sharp point by removing sufficient metal is the essential key in developing a fine shaving edge.

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kaptain_zero
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Post by kaptain_zero » Mon Oct 06, 2008 4:05 pm

Steve,

I just wanted to make sure it was a good razor and it is, and you've indicated that it was shave ready when you got it so at worst we're maybe dealing with a rolled edge from stropping. As for setting the bevel, it's usually only needed when you get an ebay razor that's been tossed around in a drawer, used for opening letters or cutting cardboard and or who knows what. Those kinds of razors will be so dull, there really isn't an edge anymore. So, the easy way to establish a new bevel is to simply cover the old bevels with a black marker pen and then hone until the entire bevel is smooth and shiny. Frequently you'll see that the ink from the marker will still show on the very edge for quite some time as you work on removing the excess steel that is in the way of a sharp edge. A cheap 30x loupe off ebay or from here would come in handy for inspecting the bevels though you won't see all the details of the edge itself.

Now as for your lack of success in getting a sharp edge... I'm not the best at *remote viewing* so I'm only going to offer some basic suggestions, and one is to watch out for excess pressure when honing. If you place any sort of pressure when you hone, a full hollow razor will actually flex enough that the very edge will not touch the hone at all. You need to keep the pressure very light and yet you need to keep the spine and bevel on the hone. I didn't think to ask if the blade has any smile to it? If it does, it will require a rolling stroke rather than a straight one as only a small section of the curved edge touches the hone at any given time... generally it's best not to start off on a smiling blade but once you learn how to hone it, it becomes easy.

Assuming it's a straight blade and you've not used pressure when honing, it sounds like you simply need to keep working at it.... try 10 or 20 strokes on the 4K and see if you can detect an improvement, if it's still *dull*, try 20 more... once it comes around, you can move on to the 8k side. I have a Norton here, but I never did like it and quickly moved on to a couple of Belgian hones, a blue and a yellow and they made a big difference for me. However, there are far too many honers out there that get good results with the Norton to say that it's not good for razors! I don't think I'd worry about getting a finishing hone for now... just work at getting the best edge you can with the 4k/8k and you can do a fine final polish with your pasted strop....

As for evaluating your edge......<sigh>...... that's probably the hardest thing to learn. I use the thumb pad test when first starting to hone a very dull razor but once I start to get close I've had better success using a modified hanging hair test. Unfortunately, what works for me won't necessarily work for you and I'm afraid you'll have to work that bit out for yourself. I can sympathize though, it's not all THAT long ago when I was where you are now... honing away with no apparent improvement. I did have the advantage of starting with a $10 junker razor I got from a second hand store and you might want to consider doing the same. I made a few mistakes on that clunker but it didn't bother me as it wasn't one of my *good* razors.... Funny thing is, it's still my new hone test bed, and it's one of my favorite shavers to this day... because it was the first razor I managed to successfully hone.

You might want to check out Straightrazorplace.com (assuming you haven't already) as they have a great basic honing forum where you might just find some more pertinent help and straights are all they talk about over there.

Regards

Christian
Previously lost, on the way to the pasture. Now pasteurized.

loueedacat1
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Post by loueedacat1 » Mon Oct 06, 2008 7:04 pm

You should get a yellow coticule from Howard at theperfectedge.com

great for finishing. I don't use pastes anymore.

BruceA
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Joined: Sat May 05, 2007 7:29 pm
Location: St. Paul, MN

Post by BruceA » Tue Oct 07, 2008 7:35 am

louee,

Are you sure you haven't simplified things too much? Down to one finishing hone? This is as if to say you have effected a cure for HAD. No D no more? :shock: If the cure spreads, this would wreak havoc on these fora. What would we dilettanti have to mull over and hash about? :cry:

Say it ain't so, louee. :(

:D :D :D

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blaireau
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Honing

Post by blaireau » Fri Oct 10, 2008 5:43 pm

Steve, a bevel must be set first, this is essential or the rest is worthless work. For an eBay, antique shop or flea market special it's best to start with a DMT Extra Fine 1200 grit stone. The 4K/8K Norton is OK but a better combo is a Blue Belgian, 4K stone, followed by a Coticule, 8K stone. A final polishing stone like an Escher or a Nokayama Karasu are superb. Most of my experience is with Eschers, bear in mind that these finishing/polishing stones cost big bucks. The final step is about 40 strokes on a latigo or horse shell strop. I hope that this helps.

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Scorpio
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Post by Scorpio » Fri Oct 24, 2008 5:11 pm

I agree that the bevel must be set. But I offer a less expensive way to do it. You don't need high dollar stones. To your current tools just add a 1k to establish your bevels on those ebay specials and a Chinese 12k to polish and then finish with your paste .5 diamond then strop.

Raf
"A well lathered face is only half of a good shave"

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