honing issue

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Henry_L
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honing issue

Post by Henry_L » Sat May 16, 2020 12:13 pm

Trying to restore an Oxford Razor.
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I went through a honing sequence 800 - 10,000 using lapping film and corundum stones, then extended stropping. The sequence and materials have worked for me before with other razors. But not with the Oxford -- it only irritated and did not shave.

My forum question is what next -- I've heard of breadknifing but am unfamiliar with it. Something else, another honing method maybe? I don't think it's my technique or tools as I've had success with other razors.

To the eye there are no visible defects to the Oxford edge, but I'm not trained here. Or do I simply have a bum razor?

Thanks folks.

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Re: honing issue

Post by brothers » Sat May 16, 2020 1:25 pm

I wouldn't consider breadknifing because there doesn't seem to be any serious blade damage that would merit such an extreme remedy. In my own experience, I have found that the first step (in your case 800) should result in the removal of arm hair before going to the next step. I'd recommend starting over with the same regimen that's worked for you before. I don't have any experience with this particular brand of razor, but I have had razors that simply won't cut, no matter how much time and effort was expended trying to find an edge that will cut. Sometimes it just happens.
Gary

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Re: honing issue

Post by Henry_L » Sun May 17, 2020 7:08 pm

Thanks brothers. Your first step note is new to me & I'll be putting it into practice. Maybe it is my prejudice that a vintage European (or American) razor can be whipped into BBS shaving. I'll repeat the sequence with added reps and see what happens.

I was curious if any forum members had alternate honing techniques or certain tweaks when the first round of honing doesn't take. I'm far from being an authority here. The upside is that a devolved straight razor does make a phenomenal letter opener. :!:

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Re: honing issue

Post by drmoss_ca » Mon May 18, 2020 4:57 am

Do you have a little handheld microscope or something like it? Otherwise you're in the dark about what's happening to the edge.

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Re: honing issue

Post by Henry_L » Mon May 18, 2020 10:42 am

Exam with a 10X loupe doesn't show anything suspicious (to me, again I'm not trained here).

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Re: honing issue

Post by drmoss_ca » Tue May 19, 2020 3:08 am

You need 60x to see things like a wire edge. Otherwise, you're dependent on instinct and experience. As when an over-honed edge with a ragged fin will pass the HHT all day long, but chew up your skin if you try to shave.
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Re: honing issue

Post by Henry_L » Tue May 19, 2020 12:00 pm

Thanks drmoss. I'll pursue a 60X instrument. Could you elaborate on the wire edge & overhoning? I'm quite the novice here.

Again, thanks.

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Re: honing issue

Post by drmoss_ca » Tue May 19, 2020 1:03 pm

Sure - when you hone you not only abrade metal, you push it around. Hone an edge for too long and you are left with a thin, fragile flap, or fin, of remaining metal that is also being abraded. This will be very thin, and probably rather ragged on its edge. It will catch easily on a hanging hair, but if you shave with it, the ragged edge will irritate, being so uneven, and bend or break in the process, making for even more irritation. The truly odd concept of bread-knifing is a way of removing such a fin. Honing with the edge trailing is especially likely to lead to this. Time was when various patterns of 'pyramids' were imagined to prevent this, going back and forth between coarser and finer hones, and gradually doing more strokes on the finer as you do fewer on the coarser. This was a way of allowing a finer hone to sharpen, but then one fearfully removed the (likely) imaginary wire-edge by going back to a coarser hone.

But the fact remains that you really have to overdo it in a massive way in order to make this 'wire-edge' or fin. Bread-knifing is unnecessary for most razors most of the time. If you can see the edge with a bit more magnification than a loupe, it is easy to see what's going on. Is there a ragged and uneven edge? Is the bevel of varying width? Are there divots in the edge? Honing was a black art practised in the dark before simple optic aids came along. A razor like yours might need more honing, or might be over-honed. How could you tell? It used to be all guesswork and experience. Now, there is no excuse for not knowing what the edge is like. Evidently, it is still takes some fine motor skills to get what you want, but at least you know what you are trying to do! Those gurus who used to prescribe the most complex pyramid systems of honing no longer mention them, and are happily doing back-and-forth strokes on their hones, or circular strokes. You can do whatever works, as long as you can see whether it is working!

I've been sent a couple of razors over the years that have been almost destroyed by endless honing. Just a tiny sliver of spine left, and all the rest abraded away. That's the end result of honing, going nowhere, so honing some more, and repeating until you no longer have any blade left. The solution to that experience is always even, steady strokes, with no pressure beyond that which keeps the blade on the hone. If it doesn't get sharp then, you are looking at bad steel or bad geometry. Those happen, but not so much with old razors or reputable modern razors. When I say, as I often do, that I am no magician at honing, I guess I mean there is no magic in it. It isn't complicated; it's easy. Just do it the right way and anyone will get a good shave!
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Re: honing issue

Post by Henry_L » Tue May 19, 2020 5:07 pm

Thanks much drmoss, quite useful. I think you're correct -- both honing and stropping have produced their own folklore and you can find all kinds of advice on the web, some contradictory. I settled on a 20 - 60X field microscope from Amazon. Suspect it will be quite useful.

One other question for the collective. When the first honing doesn't produce results, with what grit should you start another effort? Sub 800? You can get stones 240 & below.
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FYI from a prior post: the Wester Magnesium I posted on earlier now shaves very well. What I undertook worked in that case. Am now pondering whether to attempt rescaling myself (no experience) or to send it out.

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Re: honing issue

Post by drmoss_ca » Wed May 20, 2020 5:36 am

Depends on the state of the razor - if it is an old razor that has lain in an attic for decades and feels like a butter knife, you'll want to start with 1k or 2k. Those are just for creating a bevel when a new one must be cut. Anything coarser ought not to go near a razor, unless you are trying to hone out a serious chip in the edge. If you're dealing with a razor that you shaved with in the past, and it needs to be returned to its best, you might start with 4k or 8k. Or if you shaved with it this morning but feel it could be that little bit better, you might start with a finishing hone and then use some paste.

When you mentioned lapping film and corundum stones, which ones do you have?
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Re: honing issue

Post by Henry_L » Wed May 20, 2020 6:04 pm

drmoss: 1K, 5K, 8K, 10K stones. 800, 1200, 14K lapping film (in ascending sequence of course).

It's quite possible the bevel was not set properly when I began honing. I'm in that process now using my 1K stone. Am using the Burr method. Any counsel on that is quite welcome. Thanks.

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Re: honing issue

Post by drmoss_ca » Thu May 21, 2020 5:11 am

I looked it up, and it typifies what I often have to say about soi-disant experts who pretend everything is far more complicated than it really is in order to feel good about themselves. You don't need hundreds of laps on each side to cut a bevel! Unless you like 2/8" wide razors!
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Re: honing issue

Post by Henry_L » Thu May 21, 2020 11:25 am

Conflicting feedback has fogged me a bit: there is a process of setting the bevel that is prerequisite to honing and consists of a different technique? Does honing itself at a certain grit set the bevel? Is setting the bevel a construct?

Thanks.

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Re: honing issue

Post by drmoss_ca » Thu May 21, 2020 12:55 pm

Setting the bevel, if one either does not exist, or has been worn away, is a necessary precursor to honing. If one is already there, don't use a coarse hone to set what is already there! - as all you do is remove steel unnecessarily. Even when it's needed, I don't see any point in making a wire edge, fin, burr or filo morto and knocking it off repeatedly. I simply use the least coarse hone I can get away with (did two razors today with a 3k), and do back and forth strokes on one side, then on the other, gradually getting lighter and doing fewer on each side until I end up doing alternate sides just edge leading. Shouldn't take more than five minutes, and a good new bevel always feels much sharper than you would have expected from the grit of the stone used. Don't know why that is, but it always strikes me.
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Re: honing issue

Post by Henry_L » Thu May 21, 2020 1:48 pm

back and forth strokes on one side

Up and down on one side, with then against the edge?

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Re: honing issue

Post by drmoss_ca » Thu May 21, 2020 3:19 pm

Yes, just what they used to say was forbidden (see overhoning etc).
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Re: honing issue

Post by drmoss_ca » Sat May 23, 2020 11:14 am

Any progress to report?

I confess I'm a bit curious about your razor - it has design features that mimic older Sheffield razors - the concave spine, the grind of the shank, the name 'Oxford' and the use of the term 'Warranted' rather than the more modern 'Guaranteed'. It all seems to fit perfectly for an 1860's Sheffield razor. And then we see "Germany' in tiny letters. So I would guess this is a Solingen razor made for export, most likely to the UK, but possibly also for the American market before US-based razor manufacture got going, and made that way before the days when the majority of Solingen razors were shipped off to the USA for re-branding by any old barber shop. But my guess, it turns out, is wrong with respect to dating! The Germania Cutlery Works (1896-1938) used the brand 'Oxford Razor' between 1900 and 1938, and they used Swedish steel in their products. (Hurray for Eskilstuna! You have a good razor there.) The business was started by well-known cutlers - the Kastor family. I'm right that all their products were for export to the US, but still a little surprised that they chose to make a razor that looked so old-fashioned for those years. Now, one of the Kastor brothers, Sigmund, became a director of Wade & Butcher during WW1, and no doubt their old-fashioned designs were well-known to all the Kastor brothers. The Kastors were Jewish, and consequently the Nazis seized the business in 1938 and that was it for the German end of the business. Fortunately, some shoots of the family had moved in 1901 to the USA to handle the import of the German-made cutlery, and the US business - the Camillus Cutlery Company - existed up to 2007, when it filed for bankruptcy. The Acme United Corporation bought the name and intellectual property, and uses the name on survival and utility knives today.

If you get stuck, even with the help of the microscope, I'd be pleased to hone it for you.
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Re: honing issue

Post by Henry_L » Sat May 23, 2020 11:51 am

Thanks Dr. Moss. The Oxford's proving a bit of a thorn. A bit strange in that I have been working on another razor, a Clover, and was able to set the bevel using a set of 40 one-side circular laps, then on to alternate stroke honing.

This did not work with the Oxford. Currently I'm going with alternate stroke honing on a 3K stone, hoping that at some point repetition will produce results. Just got my 20-60X field microscope. I'll start with an exam of my Borker & Thiers Issard, then look at the Oxford for differences.

You're likely spot on with the history. The Oxford was an Ebay acquisition (tempted to say gamble). I based my purchase decision on the photos.

Now I'm pondering whether to rescale the Clover myself (would be a first effort). I don't have the setup to make scales but think I could manage pinning. I do have a Dremel, ball peen hammer and small anvil. Any experience here?

I'll post later on the Oxford. I want to do a web search for edge images so I have a better sense of what I'm viewing.

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Re: honing issue

Post by drmoss_ca » Sat May 23, 2020 1:53 pm

Well, that's a coincidence - did you know that the Clover was made by the same company?

Scales are pretty easy as long as you take your time and are careful.
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Re: honing issue

Post by Henry_L » Mon May 25, 2020 12:26 pm

The paste thread got me thinking about using same in my Oxford effort. It sounds like the red could be useful. Between which honing grits though? In checking pastes on Amazon one seller instructed single side stropping through 20 rounds or so, then alternating ( before going on to standard flip stropping). New technique to me.

Your insight is a light to this forum drmoss :!:

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