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Thread: Beginner honing confusion

  1. #1
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    Default Beginner honing confusion

    Hi all,

    I started straight razor shaving a few months ago and have just honed my blade for the first time.

    I used a 4K and 8k water stone. 2 sets of 20 circles and 10 up down laps on the 4K. Then 10 up down laps on the 8k. Not sure if this is right as it's hard to find a definitive method online.

    My confusion is as follows.
    I felt it needed honing as the shave was felling rough on my face.
    Just to gather info I did the hanging hair test on the razor prior to honing as a reference. It kept cutting the hair no issue.

    I did the hone. Tried the hanging hair test and the hair slid across the edge without cutting. I was a little confused.

    So I shaved a spot on my arm quickly, shaved it nicely.

    I thought I'd do a neck shave to do a final test. The shave felt nice while doing it (not scratchy, not draggy) but it hasn't shaved as close as it used to. It is leaving a small amount of roughness behind.

    So, within my beginner's understanding, I have a few conflicting results.
    Can my shaver do a nice feeling shave but just not cut as close if it is not sharp enough?
    Was my initial method not great for honing?
    Is an 8k sufficiant to take the edge to the required sharpness?

    Thanks for the help.
    Simon.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth ejmolitor37's Avatar
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    1 thing not really important but nice to know, was it honed with tape one the spine? This can change or affect your outcome.
    Really I'd say if you were getting a bit of tugging going back as far as the 4k was not needed. But that's ok, the 8k should have been enough for touch up.
    Do you have a loupe? These are a tremendous aide in seeing what is happening with your edge.
    Is your stropping up to par? You may be able to strop the daylights out of your blade and bring it back.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth ejmolitor37's Avatar
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    When you were doing your strokes were you making an X stroke? Or straight up and down?
    Was the water being undercut? Meaning was the water in front of the blade edge coming up on the blade?
    I know these are allot of possibly confusing questions, but we will do our best to guide you and get you back in shape.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth tcrideshd's Avatar
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    And another thing it takes times to really get a feel for honing, you ain't getting it the first time out, down the road you will learn the pressure and how to get to the point it needs to be, so keep at it till your there,Mobutu don't be expecting perfection right out the gate. Tc
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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Which 4K and 8K water stone?

    As for "Is an 8k sufficiant to take the edge to the required sharpness?" I leave you this:

    The Famous/Infamous Norton 4/8 "JaNorton 2012"

    40 honers ranging from beginner to expert shaving for an entire month with razors honed on nothing but a Norton 4k/8K stone and stropped only on linen and leather. No pastes, no special Naguras, no frills. There are descriptions and videos laced throughout.

    Also, you don't mention anything but honing by numbers. Forget about doing x amount of this followed by Y amounts of that. The razor needs what it needs. Might be 20 strokes, might be 200. Do you have a loupe? If not, you're honing blind and I recommend rectifying that. 30x jeweler's loupes are cheap and effective. Here's another of my favorite threads:

    Second try at honing...seeking opinions/suggestions...

    pcm was kind enough to document his journey learning to hone for us. The good thing about this is there are up close photos of common dings and foibles you run into while honing, and photos once he got the edge right and ready to move on to the next hone in the progression.
    Last edited by Marshal; 08-15-2017 at 03:45 AM.

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    I was where you are not that long ago. I guess my first realization was just because I was rubbing the steel on the hone it wasn't necessarily making the razor sharper. As a matter of fact it's pretty easy to go backward if you don't know what to look for.

    As mentioned, a loupe will help a lot. Since you are not setting bevels yet your task is much easier. Find images of what a properly honed bevel looks like from the side. @Marshal provided a great thread for this. The first order of business is learning how to tell if the striations are reaching all the way to the edge. This requires an understanding of torque vs pressure and that is where the "art" comes into play. You have to go by feel IMO. Not enough torque and you don't reach the edge too much and you blunt the edge, thus going "backward".


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    Go to Lynn Abrams videos, he will show you the way to hone a razor using his method. I tried a lot of different methods and go back to Lynn's method. Considering how many thousands of razors he honed, he must be doing something right.
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    Sounds as if you honed a razor to become a tad duller.
    Nothing special about that, we all did starting out

    Furthermore, if the razor prior to your honing, felt a bit rough but still passed a HHT, I'd check that my stropping was sufficient as well.

    Anyways, now that you are at a place where your razor isn't quite up to snuff, then just take it back to the hones and give it another go.

    While it is sound advice to follow the pattern/counting scheme when first starting out, I would still argue that focusing on a light touch and trying to feel the razor getting sucked more and more to the stone as you reach the ideal output of any given stone would benefit you.

    This takes practice, but you will get there, honing isn't that hard
    And ys, an 8k stone of decent quality will be able to provide a fine shave, given the stropping is alright as well.
    No question about that.

    Good luck.
    Bjoernar
    Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years....


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    Maruka Shaman of West London JOB15's Avatar
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    Practice and learn.
    There are no shortcuts.
    Try to make sure you are reaching edge . That's a top tip .
    Maruka Kingpin of England

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    Senior Member Gasman's Avatar
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    It take time, just keep at it. I bet i put 150 hours into honing before i was getting most all my blades really sharp. Some were easy but other were a bare it get right. I still have issues now and then. Lynns ans gssixguns vids are close to the same process so watch them hone and learn to feel the razor. Good luck and keep it up.
    Jerry...

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