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Thread: CPM M4 steel for razors

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    The Great & Powerful Oz onimaru55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spacetransient View Post
    I take no offense and appreciate your suggestions but I would like to point out I have three years experience with a straight. I have honed some thirty razors. So let us assume I have gotten lucky with a couple and actually gotten them sharp and polished. The result is the same. I personally cannot believe the nuances of my shave prep makes that much difference on the gross disparity of how many shaves I get with a blade. Or what angle I use for that matter- as long as I am doing my best within physical necessity.

    If others chime in agreement with you of course I will accept the truth of it and conscientiously try to change my ways.

    I have never received a bona fide "shave ready" blade from a hone master. So maybe I am lacking a true "benchmark" blade. My best success so far is with a Boker Red Injun. Anyone out there want to offer to hone that one for me?
    I think the advice offered by JohnG10 was quite sound & that you almost seem to want to argue for your limitations. There's a whole lot more knowledge & experience out there waiting for you if you want to embrace it. I've included a section from JimR's translation of Kousuke Iwasaki's treatise on honing.
    A low shaving angle is recommended by more than a few manufacturers.

    Section 7- How To Use a Western Razor
    In the instructions included with a German "Henckels" razor, it says that when shaving, "hold the
    razor almost flat against the face." Something very similar is printed on the front of English
    "Haddon" razor boxes.
    And in our country, we are taught to hold the razor at a 45 degree angle when shaving. This 45
    degree angle, whether it's in relation to the skin or to the hair, is a standing position. In other
    countries, the razor is used lying flat.
    Since long ago, Kamisori have been used lying flat. If you try using a razor at a standing angle, the edge will very quickly start to show signs of damage, and an edge that should shave 200 faces or more will only shave around ten.
    So if you think you'd like to preserve your edges as long as possible, keep the blade as flat as you can when
    you shave.
    Of course, if you haven't put a good edge on the razor, when you lay it flat it won't shave at all, and
    you will have to raise the angle. But shaving with an edge like that is a mistake.


    I also suggest you get a "shave ready" blade from a honemeister, if only to confirm your own edges.
    I'd be happy to hone your Boker but postage to & from Oz wouldn't be cheap. Someone more local may offer ?
    Last edited by onimaru55; 02-04-2012 at 05:23 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by spacetransient View Post
    The coarse diamond for bedding/leveling/slurry is on the way. Thanks for the recommendation.

    It is becoming clear to me that the primary consideration for razors over their history has been sharpen-ability. (Assuming the primary influence on shave-ability is blade sharpness).This was not so obvious (to me) before but makes perfectly good, even common sense now that I am dealing with it. One abrasive manufacturer even noted that their aluminum oxide lapping compound was recommended up to an HRC 62 hardness for steel; implying a diminishing return for those honing something harder.

    This also implies our razor steel technology was limited by our abrasive technology; not visa versa. Our great-grandfathers could have made "better" steel, but the abrasives were not commonly available to deal with it if they did, combined with the value added labor costs of such a blade would likely make that razor a white elephant. Fortunately for us, other options are present or emerging.
    I think you overestimate their steel making qualities.
    Supersteels rely on the ability to add and control the precise amount of special alloys that were largely unknown at the time, and which could not readily be processed or alloyed.

    For example, these days we know how to make wootz steel because we know the alloy elements and we know how to steer the process.
    When people made the original wootz, they lucked out on trying the right process with the right ores. Sometime after that, the original ores were no longer available, and the secrets of wootz were lost because smiths could no longer produce it and pass the process on. They knew it had to be something about the ore, but had no clue what or how to determine the right ore.

    Back in the day, they used simple carbon steel because that was what they could produce reliably turn out due to the simplicity. It's all they had. They were not held back by abrasives. They just didn't have the technology or the knowledge to reliably make supersteels, nor the heat treatment capabilities needed for such steels.

    It doesn't make sense either to go much harder than 62 anyway. 62 is plenty hard enough for anything to do with cutting. For all other applications, there are more important properties than hardness. Toughness and impact resistance for one. Those properties are extremely important in construction, making trains, etc. If they had had the ability to make supersteels, they would have used them for making trains and steam engines.
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    ..." the advice offered by JohnG10 was quite sound & that you almost seem to want to argue for your limitations. There's a whole lot more knowledge & experience out there waiting for you if you want to embrace it."

    ..."hold the razor almost flat against the face."

    "So if you think you'd like to preserve your edges as long as possible, keep the blade as flat as you can when
    you shave."

    "I also suggest you get a "shave ready" blade from a honemeister, if only to confirm your own edges.
    I'd be happy to hone your Boker but postage to & from Oz wouldn't be cheap." ...

    Actually, I almost always shave at less than 30 degrees, typically less than 20, except when when landing at the neck area. I was really referring to the implication that since my blades were not likely sharp enough, I need more shave prep. Sorry if I misunderstood or sounded rude. But I really am laughing as I write this, in a congenial way.

    I do take benchmark comparisons seriously- I would consider myself unscientific otherwise. The issue stemmed from complaints by some others that paid for such a service or razor, yet what they received was less enjoyable than expected, even disappointing in some cases -no "benchmark". As I learned to sharpen with better results I lost that desire.

    So I was somewhat combative in my challenge for that honed edge in the hopes that someone would actually take me up on the offer- I knew I could trust the person who would accept such a challenge in an open forum to deliver me a great edge (everything to lose, nothing to gain). I accept and I am honored; your personal attention and a real "benchmark" are worth more than the cost of delivery. Thanks

    I will still pursue searching for "better" steel however -until I find the best compromise for me. The shape and weight I like are not readily available on the vintage market. Doug's shape, weight and balance is almost perfect for me.

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    "I think you overestimate their steel making qualities."


    I really enjoy reading your historical accounts. Undoubtedly there was a lot of luck as well as trial and error going on in the past that can be far more reliably and scientifically produced today.

    And it is certainly beginning to look like for razor sharpness, an HRC of 62 with some, (but not high content) wear resistance alloys may be the point of diminishing returns for our current (affordable) stones and other honing abrasives. 1%-4% Vanadium perhaps? Nitrogen and or Niobium added?
    Last edited by spacetransient; 02-05-2012 at 04:45 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spacetransient View Post
    I was really referring to the implication that since my blades were not likely sharp enough, I need more shave prep. Sorry if I misunderstood or sounded rude. But I really am laughing as I write this, in a congenial way.

    So I was somewhat combative in my challenge for that honed edge in the hopes that someone would actually take me up on the offer- I knew I could trust the person who would accept such a challenge in an open forum to deliver me a great edge (everything to lose, nothing to gain). I accept and I am honored; your personal attention and a real "benchmark" are worth more than the cost of delivery. Thanks
    Well , the better the prep i.e. the softer the whiskers the more you can get away without an optimal edge or the easier a good edge will shave & the longer it will last. Even the hot towel helps.

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