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intheshaw
12-04-2011, 05:06 PM
I'm looking to start shaving with a straight razor and my brother has an extra that needs to be honed. Now my question is will my current knife sharpening stone set up work on a straight razor:

Beston 500
Bester 1200
Suehiro Rika 5000

He has a strop for touch up work but nothing to hone a razor. Is it necessary to have a higher grit stone or will the 5000 suffice with the strop?

duderdo
12-04-2011, 07:27 PM
I've never heard of that stone (surely others have), but assuming it's only a little less fine than my Shapton 6k the shave wouldn't be too bad, but there would be quite a bit of room for improvement. Even a cheap starter strop pasted with CrOx would help smooth it out.

Kentos
12-04-2011, 07:38 PM
From reading a bunch of posts over the last year there does seem to be an unofficial agreement that the Norton 8000 is the minimum needed for a comfortable shave. After your 5000 the edge should be more than sharp enough to cut whiskers, but the comfort level may be suspect. I would say have at it, take a shave, and let us know your results.

paco664
12-04-2011, 07:44 PM
skip the 500.......

use the 1200 for bevel setting... the 5000 for polishing... and then you could go to pasted strop with crox or ceox or diamond spray/paste....

but you really should get a norton 4k8k.....

you also can get a c12k from ebay and go from 5000 to c12,000k and take your time.... that would work.... but take quite a while...

Wid
12-04-2011, 07:50 PM
If you are not familiar what a straight razor should feel like, send it out to get honed by someone that knows what they are doing.

intheshaw
12-04-2011, 09:06 PM
My brother has one that is honed, and one that needs some work. The 500 I wasn't planning on using, I was just listing the stones that I have. I've been considering getting something in the 8-10k range but not exactly sure what yet. He does have a strop but I'm not sure about paste. I've been planning on buying a strop for my knives anyways so I may just go that route for now for the extra straight that he has. I've been seeing a lot about coticule on here so I may decide to pick one up to advance my progression. I kind of figured that the 5k would not be enough but I figured I would ask anyways

paco664
12-04-2011, 09:08 PM
5k will get you to a pasted strop..... you can carefully work it from there on pasteds to get a good shave...

Slash McCoy
12-04-2011, 09:34 PM
I have shaved off my no-name 1K/6K combo. Not great but not too bad. Now, if you first soak the stone well and then hone with lather, and of course light pressure, you can make a 6K act more like a very slow 8K or better. So MAYBE if you use lather on the 5K, you could shave with it, but it wouldn't be a really good or comfortable shave.

The 500 could be useful for major steel removal. For instance, a frowning razor or a chipped or dinged edge could be breadknifed and then beveled on the 500 before hitting the 1200. For most honing, though, where there is no edge damage except normal wear, the 500 will not be in your progression at all. In fact, you normally won't be needing the 1200, either. The normal bevel setter is a 1K stone. A 4K is considered suitable for developing the edge and the 8K is a finisher or a pre-finisher. Your 5K is just a little finer than a standard 4K, so you will use that for refining or reviving an edge. Soak your stone and hone normally until you have all the edge quality the 5K with just water can give you. Then, to finish the edge, make up some lather in a bowl and keep applying it to the stone as you hone some more. In this stage, you must use especially light pressure, or the lather can't do its job. Its job is of course to microscopically elevate the blade from the hone so that scratches don't go so deep. Eventually you get enough stone particles in the lather that it works sort of like a slurry, but without the close grinding effect of a normal slurry. Where you might go 50 laps on an 8K or twice that on a slower stone or twice that again on a translucent arky, you might do a few hundred on the lathered stone to get the full effect. The lather prevents the full cutting action of the stone, making it excruciatingly slow. Then hit a pasted strop, which will complete the finish of the edge.

Light pressure means basically only slightly more than just the weight of the razor. If you are used to honing knives, this might be a totally alien concept. It won't feel like you are getting anything done, especially on the lathered stone. But a razor has a much smaller bevel angle than a typical knife, and the edge is very delicate and flexible. You actually deform the edge with moderate pressure. When the edge springs back and you do the other side, you are honing a deformed edge again. What this means is that you will end up either with a fin edge or a broken, jagged (can see it under a microscope) edge or a rounded edge. Also with more pressure the scratches left by the hone are deeper. No, you can't see them, not without a microscope, but they are there. And you will feel them with your face. You want a smooth and consistent edge for a comfortable shave.

I assume you already know that in honing a razor, the spine is always kept in contact with the stone. When you flip the blade for the return stroke, you MUST flip the edge out, keeping the spine against the stone. Don't believe me? Then try it the other way and you will never get a shaving edge as a beginner. Of course the edge leads, and the spine trails. You already know about X-strokes from knife honing. Do not let the shoulders bear on the stone. Doing so will elevate the heel of the razor off the stone, and press the toe of the razor, i.e. the tip of the edge, onto the hone, and you mess up the geometry of the blade and you won't get a decent edge. Don't drag the razor over the edge of the stone. Defects that you can't see or even feel will prevent the edge from shaving decently.

You will want a pasted strop for finishing, even after lathering your 5K. I suggest 3u diamond paste, or maybe 1u if you don't mind LOTS of laps. Then maybe 50 laps on another strop pasted with .5u CrOx. The CrOx (Chromium Oxide, the "green stuff") is known for leaving a smooth, face-kindly edge. Then, of course, 40 or 50 laps on an unpasted strop. You only need to use the pasted strop as part of the honing process, but you can significantly increase the time between honings by making 20 or 30 laps on the CrOx part of your daily shave routine before the unpasted strop. You MUST, MUST, MUST strop before each shave, or you will be getting a truly crappy shave.

I feel that the best strop for paste is a paddle strop, rather than a hanging strop. The flat, true surface of the paddle ensures continued flat polishing of the edge that you have put so much work into. Again, as with the honing, light strokes. When stropping, you still flip the edge outward and keep the spine against the strop, but you lead with the spine during the stroke. The edge trails. If you lead with the edge, you will probably filet your strop on the first lap. A block of balsa or soft pine, sanded very flat and smooth, with paste applied, works even better than a pasted leather paddle strop.

For the unpasted strop, a paddle works, but you might prefer a hanging strop. The trick with a hanging strop is to not make the strop sag. If it is not kept flat, you will round the edge and send your razor right back to stage one in the process. To keep your strop flat, you must pull it nice and taut, and not press down on it with the razor. Again, light strokes. Repeat after me... Light Strokes... Light Strokes... if you are not sure if your pressure is light enough or not, it is not light enough. Light pressure is your new mantra. For honing, or stropping. Shaving too, for that matter.

The above steps will get you the best possible edge without buying additional stones. However, it will still not be as good an edge as you could or should be getting. I really think as a minimum you should invest in a Norton 8K, which I think now runs about $45, and ideally also a C12K (Chinese 12K waterstone) for finishing. The C12K will be cheap as dirt. I have seen them of a size suitable for honing razors for $20. Those two stones will augment your current setup nicely.

This all is based on the presumption that your 5K (and any other rocks you buy) is flat. Check for flatness by drawing a grid on the stone with a pencil, about 1/2" pitch is fine. With spray adhesive, stick a full sheet of 2000 grit (no, that is not a typo! though in a pinch you could use 1000 I guess) to a flat pane of heavy glass. If your lapping plate (the glass) is not truly flat, this won't work. Now place your rock face down on the sandpaper and work it about 20 laps, corner to corner and then corner to corner the other way. Flip it over and look at your stone. If the pencil marks are still present on part of the stone, your stone is not flat. Keep sanding until it is. This is called lapping the stone. You should lap most stones when you get them. The process requires patience with some harder stones, like the Arkansas translucents or blacks.

Size does matter. Yes, you COULD hone razors on a 5" x 1-1/2" stone, but a 10" x 3" stone is much, much better, especially for a newbie. Really, 2" x 8" or so is the smallest you should even attempt to use. Width is more important than length, but anything over 3" wide is overkill.

Another option, if you do have your flat glass lapping plate, is to use lapping film instead of stones, and leave your stones for heavy edge repair. I just started using lapping film so I am not yet much of an authority, but I can tell you that it works crazy good, and a bunch of films and a glass plate and some spray adhesive are cheaper than even a Norton 8K. If you go finer than .5u (half a micron) for your finish film, you can skip the pasted strop, though some still like a few laps on CrOx to smooth the edge. Search for the threads. Seraphim is probably the acknowledged guru of lapping film here. Look for his posts.

Okay, so you decide on a method. You hone the razor. You hone your heart out. You put body and soul into it. You are one with your stones. Your mind is a stone. Your stone is your mind. You feel what the razor feels. It is a part of you. You are a part of it. You finish. You are so proud of your fine shaving edge. It even shaves hair off your arm. Big deal. My pocketknife does that on a dull day, and no doubt yours does too. How do you know your edge is all it could be? You shave your face with it. A few cuts, some stubble left behind, some redness. Is it your technique, or is it actually an edge that does not live up to your expectations? How do you know? That is why you really SHOULD send it out for honing. That way, first of all you know how a proper shave-ready edge behaves. Second, you won't be wondering if it is your shave technique or your honing technique. Third, you will have a benchmark for your own honing expectations. You will mess up your edge enough through sloppy stropping. Do you really want to start out by honing the straight razor that you will be teaching yourself to shave with?

You now have enough rope in the form of information to hang yourself with. You also have a get out of jail free card in the availability on this forum of guys who will put a really good edge on your razor for you. When you own two razors is when you should think about trying your hand at razor honing. If you get less than stellar results, you still have your other razor with a good edge on it for shaving with, while you keep trying to get the other one sharp.

Check this guy out. www.whippeddog.com (http://www.whippeddog.com) . There are others but this guy is pretty reasonable, and he has some cheap shave doodads including shave-ready vintage straights. I recommend his "poor man's strop kit" because you will probably ruin your first strop learning how to strop. No sense messing up an $80 strop when you can get something you can mess up and not feel bad about it for 1/4 that. Oh, the kit comes with pasted balsa block, too. It is a good cheap solution for the beginner. Anyway, I think he charges like $15 for honing. That is pretty reasonable and his edges are quite good.

intheshaw
12-04-2011, 10:29 PM
I've been looking around the whippeddog site and im considering picking up his complete setup for 70. The razor, strop, and barbers hone. I'm thinking about using his razor to learn on, and then the extra razor my brother has to learn how to hone on. I'm planning on atleast getting the strop from him, but what do you think about the complete set? Is it worth the extra money for his razor and barbers hone? He does have a lot of great looking, inexpensive shaving items, as I am also considering a silvertip brush from him.

I do understand basic stone sharpening theories, but taking it to this degree is completely new to me. I usually just use the 1200 to sharpen my knives because I can get them arm hair shaving sharp. I do want to eventually hone my straight razors myself but thats probably a good time away. Is it even worth getting into myself or just send it away to get done? How often do you have to hone a straight razor if you have a strop and paste?

Thanks for the help.

Slash McCoy
12-05-2011, 12:52 AM
I've been looking around the whippeddog site and im considering picking up his complete setup for 70. The razor, strop, and barbers hone. I'm thinking about using his razor to learn on, and then the extra razor my brother has to learn how to hone on. I'm planning on atleast getting the strop from him, but what do you think about the complete set? Is it worth the extra money for his razor and barbers hone? He does have a lot of great looking, inexpensive shaving items, as I am also considering a silvertip brush from him.

I do understand basic stone sharpening theories, but taking it to this degree is completely new to me. I usually just use the 1200 to sharpen my knives because I can get them arm hair shaving sharp. I do want to eventually hone my straight razors myself but thats probably a good time away. Is it even worth getting into myself or just send it away to get done? How often do you have to hone a straight razor if you have a strop and paste?

Thanks for the help.

1200 is fine for knives. There is no reason at all to go any higher. A slick razor type edge on a knife generally does not improve its cutting ability at all. In fact, I prefer my kitchen knives honed on nothing finer than 600 diamond. The cutting action and feedback are better, to me. For knives, it is all about the bevel, anyway. A consistent true flat bevel with 400 grit diamond on a kitchen or pocket knife will outcut a not so precise bevel finished on 20K shapton any day. For a razor, the bevel is already programmed into the blade, by the ratio of the spine thickness to the blade width.

Arm hair shaving sharp is not a shaving edge. If you don't believe me, shave your face with your pocketknife. Now, do it every day. For a couple of weeks. Tell me how it is. I consider a razor ready to TEST on my face only if I can float it 1/4" over my arm and cut hairs. There is sharp, and there is sharp. Face shaving tells me if a razor is ready to face shave. Arm shaving tells me only that an edge can shave my arms okay.

Larry's silvertip brush offer looks like a terriffic deal to me. I would go for it. Well, maybe have a look at www.starshaving.com (http://www.starshaving.com) as well, though they don't beat Larry's price. The strop kit is gonna be a great learner kit for you. Get the kit and not just the strop, and you will have the pasted balsa as well. Now, the barber hone I have to tell you... if you use lather, it will be adequate to maintain a sharp edge. But JUST. And a bigger set of stones will be much, much easier to use. At any rate, you will want to lap it unless he says it is already freshly lapped. I have seen some visibly, horribly swaybacked barber hones. Short hones get a lot of action right in the middle. I think you are trying too hard to get into honing cheaply. A beginner needs to have basic but good and easy to use equipment. A barber hone won't get you meaningfully into the game, IMHO. Barber hones work their magic only in experienced and knowing hands. Now his razors are generally an excellent newbie buy. Get one or two of his blades for a benchmark while you learn to hone on your other one is a good plan. His razors are mostly known, respected brands, showing their age, but totally functional, with a very good shaving edge. Well worth the price. So razor, yeah. Poor man strop kit, yeah. Silvertip brush, yeah. Barber hone, no, not yet. Get a Norton 8K and if possible also a C12K. With the poorman strop kit, you won't need an additional strop for pasted stropping. Maybe for now just get the 8K and get the C12K later on. You can use the lather trick on the 8K for finishing, by the way. Your 8K stone can give you 10K results, at the cost of your time and patience, with lather honing.

If your technique is spot-on, which in the beginning of course it will not be, you can maintain your edge almost indefinitely using a good, flat pasted strop. This assumes you do not ding or chip the edge, or round it while stropping or shaving at too high an angle. Initially, with a two razor rotation and shaving daily, figure after two months you might want your razors honed. After 4 months, most probably. Eventually you might be able to go 6 months or even a year. So sending your razors out for honing is not a bad idea, and as has already been said, in the beginning it really is the best way. With more than one razor, though, you can do your honing experiments on one and send the other out, and it acts as the control group while you tinker with your stones and stuff.

Yes, it is more practical for you as a beginner to send your razors out for honing. Learn to shave first, then learn to hone, is your best bet. But it really is up to you.

life2short1971
12-05-2011, 01:09 AM
Hats off to Slash. He never gives a half assed answer to anything.

ouch
12-05-2011, 06:31 AM
That's a fantastic set of stones for knives, but not quite complete for razors. The Beston 500 is a very aggressive cutter that should not be used on razors other than a real dog. Your 1200 should be fine for bevel setting and the 5K is good for initial polishing. From that point you can either go to pasted strops or a finer stone in the 8-12K range.

Make sure they're lapped! Flat enough for a knife isn't necessarily flat enough for a razor.

intheshaw
12-05-2011, 07:57 AM
I was looking at Larry's site some more, and it looks like he offers pretty much free honing lessons. He sends you a couple razors, you try to hone them, send them back and he reviews them. It's all for the price of shipping so it looks to be a great deal.

Now I was looking at some stone options, and it seems there is a lot of hype about coticule stones. Would it be better to get one instead of the Norton 8k? They are both respectively prices but the Norton is a bigger stone.

As of now, i'm planning on picking up the razor deal for 49 with the extra strop for 10. I'm gonna pass on the silvertip because I already have a best badger I like and will put that money towards a stone. I'm just trying to figure out exactly which stone to get.

Slash McCoy
12-05-2011, 08:43 AM
A coti isn't cheap. A large bout (irregular piece, not rectangular) would be cheaper than a nice rectangular stone, but still expensive comared to a Norton. The art of coti honing is best left until after you master ordinary waterstones, I think. There is an additional learning curve. OTOH, with a coti, you don't need any other stones except a coarse stone for fixing heavy damage. That's because you modify the coti's cutting action through the use of progressively thinner slurries and water. But you are already good to go with the addition of an 8K, and maybe a C12K, and the two stones together will cost only a fraction of what a good coti costs. Stick with getting the biggest Norton 8K and you are good to go, and put the C12K on your wish list. If you win the lottery after you learn to hone, then treat yourself to a nice big rectangular $500 coti to play with. Right now you say you want to get started cheap, and a coti is anything but cheap. You are just starting so you need to keep it simple and easy, and getting the most out of a coti is neither simple nor easy. The only answer for you other than just letting someone else hone for you, or learning to use regular waterstones, is lapping film, and since I am just starting with films, even though I did get pleasing results on my first session, I am not the guy to tell you how to do it because I might tell you wrong. So my rec is still to get the biggest Norton 8K if you are determined to hone.

intheshaw
12-05-2011, 10:22 AM
Ok - It looks like I'll just stay with the Norton 8k for now, it looks like I can get one for 80-90 bucks online.

Also would it be a good idea to pick up a couple cheaper razors to practice my honing on? I keep seeing lots of 5-8 razors going up for sale here and there for the 60-100 range. I'm seeing them on ebay and some forums, but im not sure if its worth trying to work on my honing with a cheap razor or if they are just that, cheap, and wont give me correct feedback.

paco664
12-05-2011, 10:41 AM
Hats off to Slash. He never gives a half assed answer to anything.

you ain't lying there.... lol...

paco664
12-05-2011, 10:45 AM
Ok - It looks like I'll just stay with the Norton 8k for now, it looks like I can get one for 80-90 bucks online.

Also would it be a good idea to pick up a couple cheaper razors to practice my honing on? I keep seeing lots of 5-8 razors going up for sale here and there for the 60-100 range. I'm seeing them on ebay and some forums, but im not sure if its worth trying to work on my honing with a cheap razor or if they are just that, cheap, and wont give me correct feedback.
one of my best shaving razors is a worsty pipe razor that i got off ebay for ~15$ shipped....... you do not have to spend a fortune to get a good razor..... and YES buy a cheapie to practice on before starting grinding on a new DOVO....


here is my worsty... this razor is awesome... made pre 1891... ~11/16ths blade... i left the original patina on the blade and it is slowly fading from the constant wiping off of lather.... this is the one razor i have that i KNOW will give me a excellent shave....

15$.... what a steal... :D

http://i486.photobucket.com/albums/rr226/barton664/IMG071.jpg

ouch
12-05-2011, 10:48 AM
Ok - It looks like I'll just stay with the Norton 8k for now, it looks like I can get one for 80-90 bucks online.

Also would it be a good idea to pick up a couple cheaper razors to practice my honing on? I keep seeing lots of 5-8 razors going up for sale here and there for the 60-100 range. I'm seeing them on ebay and some forums, but im not sure if its worth trying to work on my honing with a cheap razor or if they are just that, cheap, and wont give me correct feedback.


Before you jump into the Norton, keep in mind that there are different grit systems. A Norton 8K has a 3 micron grit, which is roughly the equivalent of a Shapton 5K, so it may not be any finer than your Rika.

It's always something.

intheshaw
12-05-2011, 11:38 AM
I'm not really sure what the micron grit of the Rika is. I've been on google for the last 20 minutes and nothing. I did find that some people think it acts more like a 3k-5k range stone and that a lot of people follow it up with a Kitayama 8000. Other than that, nothing on the Rika. I did see that the kitayama can produce results like a 10-12k stone and its price is very comparable to the norton 8k stone. Ive got to look into it a little bit more but the Kitayama 8000 might be a better step in my progression with a little bigger jump than the Norton 8k.

ouch
12-05-2011, 12:22 PM
I have the Kitayama, and it's a very nice stone, particularly for knives. It's made from crushed natural stones in the 8-12K range, so although it has been marketed on occasion as a 12K, it's not fair to label it as anything other than an 8K. Nice feel, too- smooth as butter.

ouch
12-05-2011, 12:23 PM
I also presume you got the Rika from Dave W. Martell.

intheshaw
12-05-2011, 01:09 PM
I also presume you got the Rika from Dave W. Martell.

I actually got it from chefknivestogo.com, as part of their 3 stone package. I've only used it a handful of times on some kitchen knives but I'm looking to use it for the straight razor. Have you used the kitayama 8000 on any straight razors? Its probably the stone I'm leaning more towards right now just because it seems like a better gap.