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Thread: Honing and What I think

  1. #1
    Administrator Lynn's Avatar
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    Default Honing and What I think


    I have been thinking the last few days about the whole honing a straight razor scenario and it has led to some great memories and insight for me.

    It was just over 10 years ago that after shaving with a straight razor on and off for 25 years, that I really decided I wanted to learn how to hone my own razors. As a result of there being literally no information on the internet, I started my journey and the very first straight razor forum on the web. The purpose of that forum was to preserve the art of straight razor shaving so people like me would never be lost like I was at the time. This journey has led to a magnificent blending of what was old and what is new and what is yet to come.

    After a few months of searching, I was lucky enough to find a gentleman who had the kindness and patience to spend a significant amount of time with me so that I could learn how to hone a razor. I sent a razor off to him for honing so that I too would have a bench mark. At that time, I know of no one else honing razors other than those the knife stores who you would send them off to for grinding (Sometimes they came back shavable too). The cost back then was $35 to have my razor honed and it was not an ebay special. It was a German Best Class probably made by Dovo.

    The 1st hone that I learned to successfully hone a razor off of was the Norton 4K/8K combo using the Pyramid Method (No, I did not invent it) and I practiced with it on over 500 razors, did free honings for group members and thought I was getting pretty good by the time I had reached 1,000 razors. That's right I was shave testing right off the 8K for most of this time. During this time, I also picked up a bunch of Barber Hones and was playing with them on regular honing even though the instructions said 4-6 strokes was all that was needed. At this time I was doing full edge restoration and wedges all off the Norton stone, before I discovered how useful the Norton 220 and 1K were. The real quest for me was trying to discover a repeatable method of honing that a new guy coming into the forums could learn and not be too frustrated with along the way without spending a fortune. That quest has not left me, even to the present moment.

    The next thing I learned was that if you use a Coticule stone after the 8K, you could get a better polish on the blade and a smoother shave. I used this stone for over a year both with slurry and then with just water. During this time I also bought a Blue Coticule and played with it in lieu of the Norton 4K, but for me, it was a slow cutter and not near as consistent as the Norton 4K. We also had a member in the group at this time who honed with Belgium stones using them dry. Again, this would work, but did not have the consistency or speed that I was looking for. I also discovered green pastes and diamond pastes during this period and the flat bed hone and began playing with them all. I ended up liking the .5 diamond paste the best and the chromium oxide was pretty close. The red and the white were no where near as consistent. I pasted hanging strops, paddle strops and the flatbeds experimenting.

    Then, I bought an Escher Stone as I kept hearing that there was nothing better in the world for finishing a razor and the rabbi's if they could get one, would buy these over the Kosher Coticule for butchering. This stone turned out to be wonderful and I was able to get more razors shaving off it alone without pastes than I could using the Coticule. I ended up buying a Nakayama from David Poulan and have to tell you that the Japanese natural stones rock. I would never have believed I would like a polishing stone as well as the Escher, but I do love this stone.

    Over the next couple years, I tried Kityama Stones, Spyderco, DMT's, slate, Shapton, King, TAM's and a bunch of other stones putting all of them through the same paces to see if one was better than what I was using and how they compared to each other.

    Because of the visibility of the forums and the huge growth in both information and participating members there have been tons of new methods brough out and still new stones. I have found that Glen's method on staying on the 4K until is shaves arm hair is really an alternative to the Pyramid once a bevel is set. We have seen an entire new world develop in edge restoration, bevel setting, double bevel setting and spine taping over the last couple years.

    A couple years ago, the Shapton on Glass was introduced and I was really impressed with these stones. They were the most consistent stone I had ever used and once a bevel was set, you could virtually guarantee the razor would shave going through my usual routine. I though it was awesome. The only stone that was not as consistent for me was the 30K even when I dropped down to only using 5 strokes with it in lieu of pastes. Another interesting thing was that when I was in need of a complete restoration of an edge or repair, I found it easier sticking with Nortons the whole way.

    Recently I discovered the Naniwa Superstones and have really enjoyed these hones. They are as consistent a hone as I have ever found although I do need to go to the Norton 220 for that extra cutting ability. The things I find interesting still is that I can still shave with an edge off a Norton 8K, a Coticule, Escher, Nakayama, Naniwa Chosera 10K, Naniwa SuperStone 12K or Shapton 16K with out pastes or sprays, but I still prefer the edge and the shave with the diamond and chromium oxide.

    I hope the world of honing will continue to change and new methods will continue to come up. David (heavydutysgt) developed a rolling X pattern for smiling blades and uneven spines and wedges that works and he has great information available. Bart has come up with a method of honing a razor after the bevel is set using Coticule stones and varying the slurry. This too works and you know it works on other natural stones as well. I have also found that using circles combined with the X strokes puts an entirely new twist on this method and it works pretty well too.

    So here we are 10 years later and I have honed way more than 15,000 razors and am still learning from the people that come into this place. I usually try every hone that someone recommends and every method put on the table. My goal has not changed however. I am still looking for the stones and methods that will allow me to teach new people how to hone the quickest and easist and with the most consistency. There are many hones out there and many personal preferences. What you can do with a hone is a lot different than how I tend to look at honing. I tend to experiment with hundreds of razors every time there is a new stone or method before ever saying anything. If I can get the same result every time with 9 out of 10 razors or 10 out of 10, I will tell you it's more consistent than being able to get that result 5 or 6 or 7 times. For some this doesn't matter. A lot of times as was said recently, It may be the honer vs the equipment, but in any case it's worth a mention.

    This is the world of the internet and as so, new people don't know if the guy with 500 or 1000 posts telling them what to do and selling honing services has honed 10 or 20 or 50 razors or 1000 razors. I know there are people out there who can put killer edges on razors and have a lot of experience. I have had the pleasure of getting to personally meet some of them as well. I hope that some day there are 10 times the number of people providing these services and restorations and making razors for people. To me, that is the dogma or quest.

    I am not a scientific person and cannot express with diagrams and great pictures what honing all these razors has taught me, but I know it's still fun, I am still learning and waiting to see the next great stone and new method out there. I also grateful and appreciate the work of people with the talents I lack have brought to us.

    I would love for you guys to share your experiences as well and continue to enjoy the family that this place has become on every straight razor front.

    I aplogize to all the hones sitting in my drawers and cabinets that I have not mentioned here.

    Thanks for putting up with this post.

    Last edited by Lynn; 05-15-2009 at 10:11 PM.

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  3. #2
    Stubble Slayer
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    GREAT post and read Lynn. Thanks for sharing

  4. #3
    Junior Member MaxLOL's Avatar
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    This is relevant to my interest!

    I am new and trying to find an easy way to learn to hone. It is not a very good feeling that you have been trying to put something together for 10 years and its not ready....

    So basically there is no right or wrong way just trial and error...

  5. #4
    Senior Member OutlawSkinnyD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaxLOL View Post
    I am new and trying to find an easy way to learn to hone. It is not a very good feeling that you have been trying to put something together for 10 years and its not ready....
    what the hell does that mean?

    just go at it. people make honing out to be a lot harder than it really is. there is no easy way to learn just do it.

    lynn i think your being way more humble than you need to be
    keep all the good stuff coming!

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    JeffR (05-16-2009)

  7. #5
    Senior Member paco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn View Post

    My goal has not changed however. I am still looking for the stones and methods that will allow me to teach new people how to hone the quickest and easist and with the most consistency.
    I realize that you haven't reached the perfect combination yet, but could you give us the latest since you have found ways besides the Pyramids, or are they already in the forum some where?
    Consider where you will spend ETERNITY !!!!!!
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  8. #6
    Nemo Me Impune Lacesset gratewhitehuntr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn View Post

    I am not a scientific person.............
    this really made me laugh after tryin to log on the other day and seeing a message that said


    you are the man Lynn
    without you none of this would be here and I might have given up on str8s

    HAIL KING LYNN !!!!!

    wait wait ! not that kind of king !!

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  10. #7
    Senior Moderator JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    Here in the SRP Wiki are many of Lynn's thoughts on honing.
    Be careful how you treat people on your way up, you may meet them again on your way back down.

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    paco (05-16-2009)

  12. #8
    Senior Member kenneyty's Avatar
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    "putting up with the post", he says. Like we'd be offended to hear from the Guru on high

    That was great, Lynn. I still go back to your DVD 6 months in to shaving. Your years of experimentation and documentation have saved all of us countless hours, dollars, and trips to the emergency room. As long as you keep posting, I for one will keep reading.

  13. #9
    illegitimum non carborundum Utopian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kenneyty View Post
    "putting up with the post", he says. Like we'd be offended to hear from the Guru on high

    That was great, Lynn. I still go back to your DVD 6 months in to shaving. Your years of experimentation and documentation have saved all of us countless hours, dollars, and trips to the emergency room. As long as you keep posting, I for one will keep reading.
    He sure didn't save me any dollars. Before finding this site the only hone I had was a Swaty!
    tintin likes this.

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    PuFFaH (05-17-2009)

  15. #10
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    Without this site, this newbie would be flying with no radar. Your video was my very first intro in this wonderful world of shaving, then came SRP.

    Thanks Lynn

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