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Thread: Speculation as to excessive hone wear

  1. #11
    Chasing the Edge WadePatton's Avatar
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    Yeah, kids these days!

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  2. #12
    Senior Member Maladroit's Avatar
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    I think what happened is that many straight users applied their razors to whatever hone they had to hand, e.g. India, carborundum, coarse natural etc and the result was a severely degraded razor that didn't work very well. They then took it to a local barber who reset the bevel on a coarser Arkasas or whatever and finished it up on a coti - which they would have called a "Belgian stone". The result was what we see: severe hone wear but still just shaveable. Eventually the razor was effectively worn out and when the old guy passed on it found its way onto the second hand market where they got kicked around in boxes of job lots until they surface in some venue where guys like us find them and go: "egad, how did that happen?" The good ones that barbers, or other knowledgeable folk, owned and didn't abuse also eventually found their way to us and these are the ones we buy

  3. #13
    Living and Dying in Time JBHoren's Avatar
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    From what I have read, and from my own experience, one of the basic causes of excessive hone wear on a razor is a non-straight (laterally) spine -- no, the razor's spine, not the honer's. But seriously, I am reluctant to call it a "warped" spine, because warping (as we are familiar with the term) is generally caused by environmental factors -- heat, mostly -- and limited to natural/organic or otherwise flimsy materials; bone, horn, wood, celluloid, tortoise shell, and similar. But a razor is made out of steel -- strong stuff! -- and the spine is the thickest, strongest part of it. So, I'm going to stick with a non-straight spine as being, primarily, a deformation caused by a manufacturing defect; of course, it could also have been caused by an uneven grinding wheel but, absent any tell-tale grind marks, I'm still partial to poor manufacturing as the culprit. As far as fixing/repairing a non-straight spine, I doubt that many/most of us have either the tools or the technique to do so, and the best bet would seem to be gssixgun's method of applying extra electrical tape to low-lying areas of the spine, in order to present a more uniformly-straight surface to the hone and obtain a correct bevel and/or properly sharpen the blade's edge.
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  4. #14
    Chasing the Edge WadePatton's Avatar
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    Yeah, i have adopted the apply one layer, hone it down-then apply another layer over the top of the first, or some such variation when dealing with a "lumpy" spine once i have the edge corrected as much as it can be.

    I recently bought a nice Wester Bros that came with a barber/pocket hone. Razor appears nearly new. Some folks "got it". I still believe that simple ignorance during the decades of transition of blade shaving to throw-away shaving led the charge in making ugly blade shapes. That where blade-shaving was the only shaving such that it was passed father/uncle to son, that those blades lasted much longer.
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    Senior Member sheajohnw's Avatar
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    I suspect that the heavily worn vintage blades had frequent refreshing on a barber's hone or somewhat course bench hone.

    There are many detailed barber hone reviews posted on shaving sites. I am impressed that many hones are reported to be fast cutters and many are courser than 8K. Even the fine high grit barber's hones are often reported to be fast cutters. People had to use what they had or could find for razor maintenance. These fast cutting barber hones and courser bench hones could do a lot of damage and cause a lot of wear, especially in unskilled hands.

    Back in the day, SRs often sold for approximately $ 3.00, about $ 75 - $100 in today's currency. Razors were valued necessary tools that would not have been discarded lightly. I would not assume that most males were highly skilled at keeping shave ready edges. Friend and relatives skilled at restoring a shave ready edge were probably sought out from time to time and respected. Barbers were also probably asked to restore razor edges for a fee.

    People were often more skilled at manual labor back then, but access to quality information and products was much more difficult. I suspect that men shaved less frequently and may have gotten shaved at the barber's on weekends and for special occasions. Shaving was considered a sometimes necessary chore and shaving with a less than stellar razor was probably undertaken only when necessary.

    Even with all the information and products available today, there are many people who use dull kitchen knives and will not or cannot not sharpen their kitchen knives. They may try to improve their knives by steeling even when a trip to the hones is long overdue. I suspect this was also true for straight razors when they were the only means of shaving. Restoring an edge when stropping no longer was working was probably a problem for many people.

    "if you teach a poor young man to shave himself, and keep his razor in order, you may contribute more to the happiness of his life than in giving him a thousand guineas. The money may be soon spent, the regret only remaining of having foolishly consumed it; but in the other case, he escapes the frequent vexation of waiting for barbers, and of their sometimes dirty fingers, offensive breaths, and dull razors; he shaves when most convenient to him, and enjoys daily the pleasure of its being done with a good instrument." attributed to Benjamin Franklin

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    Last edited by sheajohnw; 04-03-2014 at 07:21 PM.
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  6. #16
    illegitimum non carborundum Utopian's Avatar
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    Regarding the worn toes...
    Several barbers manuals recommended honing a smile into the toe in order to accomodate an easier shave for the barber. In other words, that excessive wear at the toe probably often was deliberate.
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    Senior Member JSmith1983's Avatar
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    Alot of barber manuals stated to use more pressure on the toe and heel for 1 stroke and then 1 stroke normal pressure for entire edge to work towards a smiling edge. Alot of the razors that I have seen with a nice smile to them seem to be in alot better condition then ones that don't. I think that is because the person honing them were taught how to do so. As anyone on this forum that hones their own razors can tell you that the more you do it the better you get at it. Practice makes perfect. Alot of people a long time ago were probably used to sharpening their knives with pressure and varying angles and honing a razor was quite alien to them so it probably took awhile for it to take if at all. I know I had a hard time sharpening a knife at first and the blades suffered because of it, but with more practice I learned to do it better. I think the same goes with razors. I got lucky that this site was here for me to learn from everyone elses experience and if this site was around back then you would probably see alot less razors with damage or excessive hone wear. I think that alot of the razors with excessive hone wear were razors that a person honed with no knowledge as to how to do it correctly or effectively so the razors suffered. Whether or not the person learned how to do it better so different razors didn't suffer the effects who knows, but the saying that you can't teach an old dog new tricks is relative to the fact that some people are set in how they do things and don't want to learn because even razors with excessive hone wear will usually still function as they are supposed to. This is all in my opinion though.

  8. #18
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    I too beleive that many a toe was deliberately rounded to prevents cuts to the face.
    The worst cut that I have endured was from a square tipped straight that appeared to be new old stock and never honed. I honed it up to shave very nicely and with an awsome smoothness.
    It was so smooth and sharp that I soon found a flaw in its sharpness.
    In a long farly fast WTG stroke down one cheek I put just a little too much pressure on the toe of the razor and ended up with the biggest cut ever.
    Nearly 3/4"!!!!!
    I examined the edge under the microscope and found that the cutting edge went all the way to the corner on the toe.
    I learned the hard way that an absolutely square tip can be difficult to shave with.
    I would bet that a lot of fathers and grandfathers taught youngsters that the first thing that should be done with a new straight is to round off that square tip.
    Also generally most of the work is normally done with the toe half of the blade.
    When just that area needed tuning up a lot of the old timers just honed that part of the blade.

  9. #19
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    I think a good part of the problem was inherent - the razor had minor warp/kink/spine/grinding issues, and these things are still occurring today - hone enough razors and you'll see what I mean.

    A slight kink or bow in the spine, often too little to be seen by the naked eye, often gives a frown. Working on the frown alone makes it worse. The only way around it is to tape, which they did not seem to have done way back when, use narrow hones, or wear the spine down so it is acceptably flat (and worn).

    No matter what the grind, a slight kink in the spine at the tip will result in more honing being necessary in that area. As the tip reduces in width, the wear on the spine becomes more obvious, and also the metal gets thicker the closer it gets to the spine, so sods law dictates that we have to take even more metal off in that area.

    The post above refers to the OP believing that the razor was deliberately rounded. Read enough old barber manuals and you will see that this practice was routinely applied to razors, by giving extra strokes at the tip and the heel to encourage a slight 'smile' in the blade profile. That much is a fact.

    However, some of the most abused razors I have ever seen came from barbers active in the 1940s/50s or so. I have had the good luck to buy up stock from deceased barbers estates and can confirm this first person. The razors, mainly lesser known brands, were all horrifically mistreated and nearly every one of them was thinner in width at the tip than at the heel. I cannot see this being done deliberately, as it seems more of a symptom of busy barbers lifestyle. Quickly honing the razor between customers, stropping away for ages to pass the time, etc. This of course would not affect bigger concerns with many barbers and a huge array of razors.

    After enough honings the spine issue sometimes goes away, due to the high spots being worn down to coincide with the low spots, I suspect, so all we see is what appears to be excessive hone wear and then we go and blame the owner of the razor rather than the company who made it.

    No doubt some of it is due to poor honing, some down to amateurs practicing, but a good deal of it is down to the way the razor reacts to its initial quenching and further heat treatment and grinding.

    Regards,
    Neil
    Last edited by Neil Miller; 04-13-2014 at 04:23 PM.
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  11. #20
    Senior Moderator JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Miller View Post
    After enough honings the spine issue sometimes goes away, due to the high spots being worn down to coincide with the low spots, I suspect, so all we see is what appears to be excessive hone wear and then we go and blame the owner of the razor rather than the company who made it.

    No doubt some of it is due to poor honing, some down to amateurs practicing, but a good deal of it is down to the way the razor reacts to its initial quenching and further heat treatment and grinding.

    Regards,
    Neil
    Couldn't agree more with this entire post. I've often said that , in honing without tape, a relationship develops between the spine and the bevel. As Neil pointed out, oftentimes there is not a perfect parallel between the spine and bevel. The companies, even the custom makers, don't make these things with microscopic precision. Some end up better than others and if a layer of tape is used the anomalies between spine and bevel will show up in the variance of the width from point to heel and one side to the other. Most of them are pretty close thankfully but it is like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you never know in advance what you're going to get.
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