Now to expand on the two words 'you hone'. I have four sets of man-made ceramic hones, of which three are suitable for this job. None of the following applies to butter-knifed eBay specials, which need a new bevel at the very least. As you might have gathered, I use a seven day set of stainless Friodurs as my daily shavers. I tend to refresh the edges every three months simply because I can, and I love a fresh sharp edge. I use the solstices and the equinoxes as reminders, not for druidic reasons, but because they are convenient (believe me, I prefer other tools for my human sacrifices!) Having been disgracefully late for the winter solstice, no doubt because the honing at the autumn equinox was so good I forgot, I have been getting around to it only recently. I have played with the three sets of hones. They are as follows:drmoss_ca wrote:Something like that. If you can strop effectively the edge will only slowly deteriorate, until eventually you realise it isn't as good as it was. If the edge has had a good bevel, and hasn't gone too far downhill, the pasted strop will bring it back. Repeat this cycle until the edge doesn't come back with the pasted strop, and at that point you hone, then use the pasted strop, then the plain strop and you should be back where you started with a fresh blade. The 'should' depends on your skill with the hones!
1. Nortons etc. Refreshing a blade that is still shaving but not as good as it could be doesn't take much. Six strokes, or three round trip passes on the 4k, the same on the 8k, and then ten strokes or five round trip passes on a lapped (2k) Norton translucent Arkansas, followed by ten strokes (you know what I mean by now - five round trips) straight along the lapped (2k) Spyderco UF, ten strokes X-pattern, then ten strokes straight again, finishing with Glen's 3-2-1. Then I do fifty strokes/twenty five passes on an Illinois #827 with Flexcut Gold, the same on HandAmerican Liquid Chrome on another #827, then the same on a thick smooth antique Fromm horsehide strop.
2. Naniwas. Six strokes/three round trips on the 5k, 8k and 10k, followed by the translucent Arkansas, Spyderco UF, and pasted strops exactly as above. I have the Naniwa 10k and 12k and perhaps should substitute them sometime for the Arkansas and the Spyderco UF.
3. Shapton Professionals. Six strokes/three round trips on the 5k, 8k, 15k and then the 30k was used as with the Spyderco UF above. Ten straight strokes, ten X-pattern strokes, then ten straight strokes, finishing with Glen's 3-2-1. Then the pasted strops as above.
Now the interesting part. All are very close in the resulting shave, and unless you are an OCD freak, any regime would do. But if you want a ranking, the Norton 4k/8k/lapped translucent Arkansas/ lapped Spyderco UF comes last. It is very good, but not quite as smooth as the second place winner, which is the Naniwa set/lapped translucent Arkansas/lapped Spyderco UF. The winner has to be the pure set of Shapton Professional hones, which rather surprised me as I have neglected them somewhat of late. Very smooth, no pulling, almost BBS from the first downwards pass. That good. Wife approved, and she has much experience at testing my shaves with her various, um, parts. Essentially all of the above would be respectable, even superlative edges. But there are other considerations...
Ease of use: no doubt the Naniwas are the easiest to get results from. Somehow they just seem to suck the blade along, and it is hard to go wrong. The Shaptons are really just as easy, but I don't get the feedback from them that I get from the Naniwas. The good old Norton 4k/8k is not the easiest hone to learn, but is versatile and relatively cheap. The translucent Arkansas is in limited production - about 100 hones per year, and it must be lapped to show what it can do. The lapped Spyderco UF is child's play to use.
Cost: Naniwas are a bargain. Norton's are cheap, but the Arkansas will probably go up in price as this stone is relatively scarce. The Spyderco UF is cheap. The latter must be lapped, but any careful honer will want to lap his hones anyway. Add in the cost of a Shapton DGLP if feeling that only the best will do, or a few sheets of 3M diamond paper if wanting to do it cheaper. The Shapton Pro stones are not cheap, and the finer the stone the more the cost. I see they are now called Traditional stones by the importer. My advice would be to go for the glass stone series as they are much cheaper and more easily available (and SRD has a nifty wooden holder for them). The 30k Pro stone took me two attempts and two years to import from Japan, and was rather expensive. I can't say it is better than the 30k glass stone, but at least it won't disappear as quickly when I lap it.
To summarise, there are the following in my view:
Easiest to get results from: Naniwas
Ultimate Edge: Shapton Pro
Showing off less easy hones: Nortons
Best buy: probably Shapton Glass stones.
Don't forget that if you want an edge that will shave like a Feather DE blade, you need two pasted strops, one with Flexcut gold and one with HandAmerican Liquid Chrome. You also need a good smooth finishing strop, and I don't know of any like the thick, hard, shiny antique Fromm I have. The strops from SRD, Tony Miller and HandAmerican are all equal in my experience and are as good as you can get. I still use a TI paddle for stropping after a shave to dry the edge.