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Thread: The value of mentorship in learning to hone

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    Senior Member MikekiM's Avatar
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    Default The value of mentorship in learning to hone

    I have been wet shaving for many, many years.. straights for about a year. Nearly all of what I have had to learn about lathering, blade selection, shave technique, has been learned by reading, watching vids or chatting via the web. Along with a ton of mistakes and a few small successes.

    I tried to do the same with honing and it didn't get me too far.. Accurately describing the amount of pressure to apply to a stone, or presenting the difference between a milky slurry and a misty slurry... well, for me the vids just fall short.

    Fortune was bestowed on me when Michael, aka mjsorkin, offered to give me some personal time and share his technique with natural stones. I arrived at his house early Sunday morning; his family had yet to wake.. even Fred the cat was till snoozing..

    Michael's work bench would be an awesome place for any of us to go shopping.. Shapton glass, Naniwa's in all sorts of pastel flavors, Coti's, Thuringian, Norton, JNats...

    Together we worked three blades.. Michael examined my edges, as well as my technique (talk about pressure) and offered feedback. He was patient not only with my many questions, but in his approach to honing, which to me was a critical point to learn and mimic. Slow, deliberate and patient. He tested the bevel on single arm hairs rather than my technique of trying to mow down patches.

    He shared a simple explanation, visual and tactile, that helped me understand the levels of pressure he was using on the stones. And, watching him build and manage the slurry, examine, test and retest the edge and then use feather-like passes on the super sexy Tony Miller strop was like mini moments of magic. It would have taken me ages and much trial and error, to learn what I learned in a few hours..

    I struggled to find any more questions to ask him.. Michael was that thorough.

    Our community, and hobby, is graced many gentlemen and Michael is a gem among them. If you get a chance to spend time with him, as I did, you'll come away better than you arrived. His hospitality and generosity in giving without expectation, and the pride he takes in romancing the stones, are what I think epitomize the term 'gentlemanly'.

    Thank you Michael!

    PS - I've had a chance to shave with one of the three razors we worked on.. a 7/8 Bengall. The edge Michael coaxed from the Coti is sublime. I hope to be able to duplicate his work.. fingers crossed.
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    Senior Member Ludvig's Avatar
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    Sounds wonderful I am interested in learning how to hone. I don't have any stones yet and I don't have more knowledge than what I have picked up from videos and reading on the internet, which isn't too much. I have thought about buying a 1k, 3k, 8k Naniwa SS and a Zulu Grey stone as a finisher. And then maybe buy some old, used, razors to start practicing on.

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    Senior Member MikekiM's Avatar
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    If I could offer my humble opinion...

    Pick up one or two ebay specials as test razors.

    Buy a bevel setter. there are a few to choose from. King and Chosera 1k's are a good starting place of the many options.

    Don't buy anything else.. yet.

    Learn to set the bevel. It's more than 50% of the battle of securing a good edge.

    Post here for someone nearby who can offer you feedback and support.

    This will shorten your learning curve by about 60% or more.
    Last edited by MikekiM; 12-02-2013 at 04:22 PM.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth OCDshaver's Avatar
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    I couldn't agree more with the idea of having someone around that can help you along the way. The tips and advice are invaluable. And, at this special time of year, don't forget them and all that they've done to help you throughout the year. Anyone recognize this?

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    I'll be dropping that at the post office in a couple hours. Don't forget to say thank you to them!
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    Senior Member Ludvig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikekiM View Post
    If I could offer my humble opinion...

    Pick up one or two ebay specials as test razors.

    Buy a bevel setter. there are a few to choose from. King and Chosera 1k's are a good starting place.

    Don't buy anything else.. yet.

    Learn to set the bevel. It's more than 50% of the battle of securing a good edge.

    Post here for someone nearby who can offer you feedback and support.

    This will shorten your learning curve by about 60% or more.
    Thank you very much for the advice The chosera have a pretty hefty price tag though. Aren't the super stone 1k a pretty decent stone at about one third/fourth of the prise of the chosera?
    I looked at members in my country and the result was 87 members. And I don't know more exactly where they live and if they are able/want to teach. Most likely the nearest one is 500 miles away (that's what experience and probability says, but that could be wrong for once).
    Last edited by Ludvig; 12-02-2013 at 03:54 PM.

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    Senior Member MikekiM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ludvig View Post
    Thank you very much for the advice The chosera have a pretty hefty price tag though. Aren't the super stone 1k a pretty decent stone at about one third/fourth of the prise of the chosera?
    I looked at members in my country and the result was 87 members. And I don't know more exactly where they live and if they are able/want to teach. Most likely the nearest one is 500 miles away (that's what experience and probability says, but that could be wrong for once).
    I don't consider myself wealthy by any stretch, but I am far from cheap. I've been given the opportunity to learn the 'buy quality, and buy once' lesson a whole bunch of times, but sadly, I repeat the mistake of trying to cut corners. Having said that, and with no experience with the Super Stone, I bought the King (will sell it shortly) and will likely buy the Chosera. It is a harder stone, had better feedback than the King, and unlike the King, doesn't need to be soaked. I don't know enough to tell you which one to buy, other than realize that the bevel set is arguably the most important step, so spend as much as you feel comfortable.

    Yup...500 miles certainly puts a kink in face-to-face meetups. Today's technology can help closed the distance. Skype, Glance.net, Go-to-Meeting and such might be useful. Not as good as being there, but better than YouTube University or the single dimension of the written word.
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    Senior Member Airportcopper's Avatar
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    Mike also sat down with me on more than one occasion.. Guy is a complete gentleman, has the patience of a god! Since leaving his house I'm finally understanding progression honing breaking away from pyramids yay yay!! And actually just honed a red imp I restored from start to finish!! And it shaved fantastic!! Also learned from doing I hone better standing up then sitting down.
    mjsorkin, anthogia and MikekiM like this.

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    Senior Member mjsorkin's Avatar
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    Michael, thank you for this excellent post! I can only add that you are a great "student", and a lot of fun to hang out with. You are remarkably quick to pick things up, and you ask very good questions. I think that you will be getting great results in short order. You are passionate about this hobby and your restorations looked amazing.

    Giving a honing lesson on a stone I had never used before was a bit of a daunting task. Luckily your Coticule was very predictable and easy to work with. I wound up getting some pretty good edges, some of my best with a coti. It also helped that you had three wonderful vintage razors to work on.

    Thanks again for the opportunity to share my skills, and to talk at length about my techniques. It really was my pleasure. I just enjoy sharing this hobby with others. Isn't that what SRP is all about?

    Michael
    “there is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to nonlethal quantities of the drug make them resistant.”---Fleming

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    Senior Member mjsorkin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Airportcopper View Post
    Mike also sat down with me on more than one occasion.. Guy is a complete gentleman, has the patience of a god! Since leaving his house I'm finally understanding progression honing breaking away from pyramids yay yay!! And actually just honed a red imp I restored from start to finish!! And it shaved fantastic!! Also learned from doing I hone better standing up then sitting down.
    I'm glad to hear about your success with the Red Imp. That was a beauty of a razor, and it deserves to have a great edge.

    I also really enjoyed our sessions together, and look forward to the next time.

    Michael
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    " Atta Boy!!" sharptonn's Avatar
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    Nice read and good to hear of appreciative mentoring as well! Good work, Michael
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