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Thread: Knife sharpening vs Razor sharpening - skill carry over value?

  1. #11
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHBBlade View Post
    A bit off topic,
    but the most significant carry-over I've experienced is from straight shaving back to DE shaving. After about a year of straight shaving, I find if I use a DE, the skill and knowledge gained from straights makes for sublime DE shaves.

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    That has been my experience also. Nothing teaches you what a light touch and using the right angle like a straight razor.

    And now back to our regular programing.

    I'd have to agree with previous posters in that it is all sharpening be it knives, straight razors, chisels or scissors. That is where the similarity starts and ends. Some of the skills learned in honing straight razors carry over into sharpening the others but the techniques use are different.

    There have been posters here that were new to straight razors and assumed that since they could sharpen a knife well they would find honing a straight razor a breeze to do. A surprising number have come back to ask what they were doing wrong honing since they had difficulty getting a straight razor shave ready sharp. I'd guess that if I were to get as serious about knife sharpening as I am with my straight razors I'd have difficulties getting the results I want with knives.

    With reference to stainless steel straight razors of which I have a few. I have not encountered a problem with them taking and holding an edge as compared to regular carbon steel ones. My guess is that stainless steel knives that can't hold an edge were made from the wrong stainless steel alloy and/or were not tempered correctly.

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  2. #12
    Senior Member tintin's Avatar
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    for me SR honing is way different than knife sharpening.I can hone a razor but barely hone a knife to a shaving edge. Once i learned what sharp really is (from learning to hone a razor) I also learned what sharp isn't. Many a knife sharpener can hone a knife but not a razor.
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  3. #13
    Senior Member S0LITARYS0LDIER's Avatar
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    They share common goals. Really those who say they are different and a razor is harder to sharpen are misleading those who already have knife sharpening skills and want to try honing a razor.

    The basic steps are

    1. Set the edge on a coarse stone (depending how dull, rounded, chipped the edge is)to establish a new cutting edge.

    The level of coarseness will be on a case by case. Generally razors use a higher grit stone to establish the primary edge.

    2. Refine the cutting edge using finer abrasives (stones/pastes) to the task that is required. I.e. push cutting hair or slicing sushi or cutting rope.

    Again depending on what is required of the knife some Japanese chefs sharpen to 12k +.

    3. Strop if required or steel to realign the edge.

    Not every knife gets stropped but just as with a razor the edge gets damaged and misaligned due to impact so it needs to be straightened

    They differ in the use of pressure and the use of different angles sure but sharpening knives is no different from razors.

    Razors are easier because of the built in honing jig (the spine). Namely you can't change the angle that the edge is coming into contact with the stone during the stroke as long as the razor is held flat against the stone. Knives have to be held at a consistent angle which is more difficult and some cannot achieve freehand sharpening of a knife and rely on jigs to hold the consistent angle for them.

    The biggest difference I noticed was that the type of edge I was chasing with the knife edges was less keen as what I was trying to achieve with the razor. No doubt because of what the task at hand is with either. This made me a big sloppier with my knife technique... Accepting less then perfect edges because it would still "cut".

    That is just me personally but like I mentioned some people are routinely achieving a 12k+ on their knives.

    When sharpening razors we don't use so much pressure that we flex the edge. I don't know why any competent knife sharpener couldn't lessen his/her pressure. If the sharpener is adept enough to finish a knife to a high degree of polish 8k+. They are not using high amounts of pressure on the finish stone just light pressure.

    A little bit of technique adjustment and they really don't differ that much. Your average knife user probably uses less fine stones but with a set of finer stones(as long as they're willing to invest) they can easily sharpen razors.


    Why this forum mystifies razor honing is unknown? It just takes time and practice to develop just like any skill.



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    Senior Member Butzy's Avatar
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    Level of difficulty in my opinion goes as follows from least hard to most difficult. The knowledge carryover is significant, but there are absolutely nuances in razor honing vs knife honing that actually hinder the learning curve as well in my experience

    -honing a knife to an acceptable edge
    -honing a razor to an acceptable edge
    -honing a razor to an outstanding edge
    -honing a knife to an outstanding edge

    I think there are a lot of folks who think they can get a knife to a great edge, and are actually getting what I would consider an acceptable edge. getting a knife to an outstanding edge takes skill and experience beyond what most people care to think about

  5. #15
    Senior Member S0LITARYS0LDIER's Avatar
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    Yes Butzy. I think you've nailed it with the least to most difficult chart.

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    At this point in time... gssixgun's Avatar
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    For me, it was the other way around..

    Razor Honing helped my Knife and Tool Sharpening, never really sharpened a knife/tool, I used those little sharpener things to try and keep them sharp,, Keep in mind if they cut a Tomato in the Kitchen with ease they are plenty sharp IMHO.
    I would be more prone to buying New mower blades each year then ever thinking of sharpening one Now however I actually sharpen Mower Blade, Axes, Chainsaws Chisels, even Leather Tools and Lathe Gouges..
    Perhaps it is the fact I have all the Stones, Hones, Wheels, and Belts to do so...

    So I look at it in the reverse
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  7. #17
    Senior Member Butzy's Avatar
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    True, it might really depend on what you started out with in the beginning...

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    I agree with SOLITARYSOLDIER. I used to be a knife nerd and always had trouble getting a consistent bevel. The built-in angle via the spine, the lesser amount of steel you have to remove, etc. all make honing a razor much easier in my opinion. I agree, honing is overrated. I can get a wicked edge on any of my razors (from pakistan or otherwise!) in 10 min with my chintsy set up.


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    Senior Member blabbermouth outback's Avatar
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    Knives in general only need to be sharp, honing beyond a few thousands in grt. is a waste of time. Unless it going to be used in combat.
    I've been sharpening all sorts of things since I was 8 year old, starting with knives.
    As criswilson10 said, its all in the techniques. Razors were a lot easier for me than for most. I guess because they have a built in honing jig called a spine, where a knife has to be gauged by hand and eye to keep the proper bevel. The hardest thing I've ever honed were the broadheads for my bow.
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  10. #20
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    I'd argue that knife sharpening is harder in some ways (although in truth they are quite different skills); when sharpening a razor you lay the bevel flat on the stone (except kamisori) whereas sharpening a knife you have to learn the correct angles and different knives have different angles (German vs Japanese blades).


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