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Thread: Hone or strop?

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    Default Hone or strop?

    Hi getting a little lost in the 101 pages on honing here, so I figured I could just make it a thread myself. I've recently bought two straight razors. Neither is completely dull, but I think a good honing job wouldn't do any harm.

    So there are two things I can do. I can either let them be honed by a local barber and then continue to strop them myself. Or I can try and hone them myself and of course strop them afterwards.

    Now, in both cases, I have the same question. How long could you go without honing your blade, just by stropping it before every shave? Will the sharpness last for a year, a month, a week? I've got no idea!

    In the second case, where I would begin to learn the process of honing myself, what kind of whetstones would I need? I have contacted a seller, who tells me that honing on a 1500/400 grit whetstone should be good enough, after which the stropping will do the rest. Is that true? Or does anyone have different recommendations or experiences?

    And when buying a whetstone, how important is the size of the whetstone? That 1500/400 one is quite small (4 x 1.5 x 1 inch). Could that be a problem when honing a straight razor?

    Lots of noobie questions! I hope the story is a little clear, because even for me it's still a bit vague. Thanks for helping either way!

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    Senior Member blabbermouth tcrideshd's Avatar
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    well the advise from the guy with the 1500/400 is not even close ,, probably another knife guy giving bad advice. 1000 is where we usually start setting bevels and 8000 for shaving and further if you choose. now until you learn how to shave with a straight , you really need to get the stropping down pat to maintain the edge it can last months ,or it could last a day ,, depends on your abilities.

    and the best advise I can give you is send your razors to someone who shaves with and does this honing for other straight shavers, there is a list in our vendors section of people who do this for a nominal fee, as to buying your own hones , it will cost you more than sending your razors out for a few years , and its as close as your post office. and they will be shave ready , then its up to you. do a search and see if you can find a mentor in your area to help you with the basics of shaving , good luck tc
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    +1 with tcrideshd. This "Seller" that you talked to seems, based on the info you have given, does not know anything about honing razors. Yes, If you start getting into honing, every once in a while you may see here on SRP that we talk about the 1k shave but that is not shave anyone wants to do rather than test to see how well that person's bevel setting skills are. So for you at this point only focus sending the razors out and make sure they are shave ready and work on the other aspects of the shave, before throwing in the inexperienced honer variable.

    Another concern that I have is that since it seemed like the vendor/seller your were dealing with did not know anything about razor honing, I would worry about the quality of the razors too. What are the brands of these two razors? Pictures are also a plus if you can post those too. But I'm afraid of that these razors you got may be on the "not worth the effort" list (my words) we have in the wiki library.
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    Senior Member DireStraights's Avatar
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    Please post pictures of your razors or at least tell us what brand they are.

    You will need a bit more than a 1k to begin honing. It is also not reccomended until you can shave and strop properly.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth Haroldg48's Avatar
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    Let's take it from the top:
    First, congratulations on taking the step of buying two straight razors. Now, please tell us what they are make and size-wise, where you got them and if possible, post pictures.

    Second, as had been said, assuming you have decent razors, once they are well-honed to "shave-ready" AND you learn to strop well, without damaging the edge, most new shavers can go 3 months or o before they need to be honed again. Some who are careful and good at stropping and shaving can go longer (6-9 months). It depends on your beard, your technique and your razor among other things.

    Third the guy who told you 1500/400 is wrong. For routine maintenance, the lowest grit you would need is 4000 and a decent shaving edge can be maintained with a 4000 and 8000. Most commonly people go then to 12000 as a finishing stone. A 1000 stone would only be needed if you were going to go back to the bevel setting stage. As was also said, you can get your razors honed for a few years by one of the knowledgeable folks on this forum for $20-25, so you could maintain 2 razors for a few years (with care) by buying no hones and mailing the razors off when they need honing. Since you're in Europe, it may be possible to find someone nearby who is a knowledgeable member.

    Fourth, when you do buy hones the most common size is 3" x 8". Smaller than that requires more skill and takes more time to learn and to hone.

    Hope that answers your questions. If you post pictures and descriptions, we'll be able to help you better.
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    You will find your shave count between touch-ups will increase as your shaving and stropping technique improves. But like the other guys have said, you really want to start with a shave ready razor from someone who knows what they are doing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grazor View Post
    You will find your shave count between touch-ups will increase as your shaving and stropping technique improves. But like the other guys have said, you really want to start with a shave ready razor from someone who knows what they are doing.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth eddy79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lejob View Post

    So there are two things I can do. I can either let them be honed by a local barber and then continue to strop them myself. Or I can try and hone them myself and of course strop them afterwards.
    If your have an old barber who knows straights get him to hone it and give you a lesson on stropping. I found a local barber and he has helped with all aspects including honing. Become friends with him and reap the benefits of his experience
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    Quote Originally Posted by eddy79 View Post
    If your have an old barber who knows straights get him to hone it and give you a lesson on stropping. I found a local barber and he has helped with all aspects including honing. Become friends with him and reap the benefits of his experience
    you may be able to have the same barber work with you when you begin to hone yourself.

    For honing and refreshing I started with a linen and felt strop with chromium oxide paste. It works well for me as a quick refresh between honing. I just bought my first stones a couple weeks ago and I went with the Norton 3 stone set offered by SRP which goes up to 8000. I am considering a 12K stone but haven't taken it to that point yet.

    As a newbie I get about 2-3 months out of a sharpening with leather and linen stropping before I start refreshing. I get another month or two after that before I put the blade back on the stone. I am quite sure everyone on here is right as they have said it will vary greatly between individuals

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    Welcome to SRP Lejob: If you can't find a local mentor use youtube as your tutor. Lots of good videos on how to shave, strop, and hone your S.R. Many S.R. shavers learned by asking questions on the forums and watching youtube videos.

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