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Thread: Did I just shave with the world's sharpest straight? (0.125 Cubic Boron Nitride)

  1. #1
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    Default Did I just shave with the world's sharpest straight? (0.125 Cubic Boron Nitride)

    I promise, I'll try to take it easy with the superlatives.
    But I just shaved with a Joseph Elliot "Best Silver Steel" 6/8 wedge that Tom at Jendeindustries honed for me.

    It was finished on Ken's Cubic Boron Nitride spray on balsa @ 0.125 microns.
    And it is the sharpest razor I have ever shaved with

    It's noticeably sharper then razors I've tried coming of .25 diamond & the Shapton 30K Pro.

    Tom told me that from the test shaves he did that it was I "can expect a new level of BBS" And that sure is true!

    And maybe this razor can stand up to the title?
    I really think it's hard to get a blade any sharper then this & still be able to shave with it.

    When I first unpacked it, I was like a kid at Christmas, I just had to play with it before shaving.
    HHT with my wife's (I'm bald myself ) "normal" brunette hair was a good first measure. It fell silent from touching the edge, holding the hair well over 2 inches from the blade.
    I upped the ante & went for my 2-year old's flimsy blond hair.
    Same results...
    I even came up with a new test.
    "The falling flimsy blond hair test"
    It consists of dropping 1 flimsy blond hair from 2 inches above the edge.
    2 out of 3 times the razor severed the hair cleanly..
    Now I was getting a little tense.

    Standing in the shower I could actually feel my pulse slightly rise.
    "Could an edge this sharp really be comfortable?"
    "Would I come to work looking like Jason Voorhees?"

    Well you know, no guts no glory & all that & I threw myself in the deep end...
    Lathered up some Palmolive & gave the blade some laps on the Buffalo leather.

    OK...here we go..

    After a few strokes on the right side of my face I had a silly grin on.
    "This is ridiculously sharp!" 2 days worth of stubble just disappeared.
    And the cheek was left smooth, same thing with the neck.
    I didn't even have to go over the same spot more then once.
    But it sure needed a new level of concentration.
    I'm always focused when I shave with a straight, but still I have enough experience that I can somewhat relax & just let the hands do what feels best & sort of go with it. Sort of autopilot/zen if you like.
    Not possible with this edge. As soon as I got in that state it dug into my skin. Nothing serious, some Proraso cut gel stopped the little bleeding immediately. With any other edge this had just been a feeling of "Oops, a little to steep, better start over"

    After a full pass I was really smooth, I could easily have gone to work, wearing a suit & a tie & thought nothing of it.

    But why stop here?!

    Lathered up again for a XTG.
    No worries at all. Except that I could feel the edge several times trying to dig in. Around the jawline I actually had to go with less then no pressure.
    I sort of supported the weight of the razor just to keep it from biting.
    But once I figured that out, it went without any problems.

    Time for ATG.
    I wasn't really needed actually. A little clean-up around the muzzle would have been sufficient. But I went at it & the 150 year old Mr Elliot just didn't care.
    He cut the remaining traces of whiskers with the same ease his old makers had after-noon tea on the front porch..

    I was really surprised how good my face felt after wards, absolutely smooth but also quite comfortable. No rawness or irritation.
    Slapped on some Spanish Floïd & it did sting a little more then usual, but nothing severe at all.
    Jason's balm atop & now, an hour & a half or so later, I feel great!
    Very, very smooth & not irritated or red at all.

    For some comparison the other two edges I've tried that comes somewhat close to sharpness is .25 diamond that leaves me with a harsh feeling & irritation & the Shapton 30K pro edge that is the closest in sharpness & also shaves very, very close. But it has a different feel, a slightly "gripping" feel to the edge. On the other hand, the 30K edge is somewhat more forgiving. Maybe simply because it isn't as sharp as this one.

    The .125 edge was much more smooth then I anticipated.
    It somehow reminded me of a well honed Escher/Thuri edge, but so much sharper!

    Like I wrote earlier I don't think I could shave with anything sharper then this. Maybe someone with tougher skin can handle sharper (if you can get it!)
    And I don't think this edge is for everyday use, not for me.
    But man this sure was a great ride!
    And it is a great razor to have in the rotation!
    I'll definitely use it some more. Edge longevity will be interesting after a few shaves.

    And now I just can let go of the thought what 0.125 CBN would do to a full hollow MK series Heljestrand


    For full transparency I consider Tom a good friend & I've had many great conversations with him thru PM's.
    And he honed this razor for me for free.
    But please believe me wen I say that the above review is based solely on my own experiences without any hidden agendas.
    Can-can scratch patterns!

  2. #2
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    All this and no pictures?? Did it happen?
    Cheers, Luc - My Gear(Wiki) - Have a question, PM a mod. That's why we're here!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luc View Post
    All this and no pictures?? Did it happen?
    You are right!

    So, to start with, here is the people I have to thank for making it possible:

    The Inventor of the spray, the Honer & the Man who made the bench strop


    Next up is China Post who so swiftly & securely got the straigt all the way from Taiwan to Sweden (4 days!)


    And of course, the straight himself, Mr Joseph "Best Silver Steel" Elliot


    Found at an estate sale lying at the bottom of a tool box a long time ago.
    Dirty & ragged.
    It has always served me well & taken any edge from any stone or paste with ease.
    And now he has taken the sharpest edge ever
    Can-can scratch patterns!

  4. #4
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    Great Write up Jens.

    I should have my CBN here by the end of the day.
    Big question is which Razor do I use first and do I go 1/4 then 1/8th or try the 1/4 alone first to compare to the 1/8th? Decisions, decisions..............

    Days like this makes it nice to have a 7 day set or 2 for easy comparison of finishing techniques.

  5. #5
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    It all sounds great. Keep us posted.

    BTW, where or how can we get this magic cubic boron nitride?

  6. #6
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    You can get it directly from ken123 or find it in the kens corner at chefknivestogo.com.

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    let us know how the edge retention is.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by superbleu View Post
    You can get it directly from ken123 or find it in the kens corner at chefknivestogo.com.
    He sells boron carbide. The OP relates about boron nitride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kees View Post
    He sells boron carbide. The OP relates about boron nitride.
    http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kenscorner.html

  10. #10
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    It all started with this thread:
    http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?t=178248

    Where I asked about Boron Carbide.
    This is Cubic Boron Nitrate.
    Similar substances where the nitrate is a tad harder then the carbide.
    And also to be found in smaller grits.

    My initial thought was the carbide that Keith of HandAmerican sells.
    As an alternative to diamond. Often used by the knife people, but I've never seen it used by straight razor honers.
    So I asked if anyone had experience with it on straights.

    There this substance, Cubic Boron Nitrate came up, I hadn't even heard of it before.
    But the stars must have been aligned just right, because I had at that very moment two razors already at Tom's that he was gonna give the Shapton 30K PRO treatment.
    And Tom replied in the thread that he had just had gotten some CBN.
    Before I could PM him with a gentle request, he wrote to me & wondered if "it was okay for me if he tried the paste on one of the razors"
    YES it is! I kindly replied...

    To sort out the confusion:

    Boron Carbide is sold by Keith who runs HandAmerican.
    Cubic Boron Nitrate is sold by Ken who runs Precise Sharpening.
    Both gentlemen sells thru chefknifestogo.com
    They are also both in the picture in my second post in this thread.

    I know Tom's in the middle, but I'm embarrassed to say that I do not know which one is Keith & which one is Ken

    But I do know that all three of them has a very solid reputation in the knife/sharpening crowd.

    The CBN edge is to me a perfect example where you actually can use knowledge gained from knife sharpening to use in straight razor honing.
    Yes, it certainly is two different things, but this is pure beneficial synergy
    Last edited by honed; 12-21-2010 at 02:50 PM.
    Can-can scratch patterns!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by superbleu View Post
    Great Write up Jens.

    I should have my CBN here by the end of the day.
    Big question is which Razor do I use first and do I go 1/4 then 1/8th or try the 1/4 alone first to compare to the 1/8th? Decisions, decisions..............

    Days like this makes it nice to have a 7 day set or 2 for easy comparison of finishing techniques.
    I know Tom used several methods.
    One where he used the .125 after the 30K Shapton.
    But also where he stopped at around 8K and then went with some of Keiths 1micron Boron Carbide & .5 &.25 diamond before the CBN .125

    Unfortunately I'm not sure which method one he finally used on my razor.
    But I expect him to chime in when he sees this.

    I'd try all alternatives if I were you, experimentation is half the fun

    Quote Originally Posted by mainaman View Post
    let us know how the edge retention is.
    Will do!
    Can-can scratch patterns!

  12. #12
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    Whats the edge like as far as smoothness and such? I've used .1 micron iron oxide, but I find the edge to be harsh and unpleasant.

  13. #13

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    I never heard of Boron Nitride as a cutter. usually the nitrides are used as coating on things like watch cases for instance and tools also. Boron Carbide is so hard if you lightly run sapphire over it the sapphire will tear to shreds. As far as the cubic goes it just means instead of being made from ground up xtls it's made from tiny whole xtls. The same difference as the two types of diamond available out there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by honed View Post
    I know Tom's in the middle, but I'm embarrassed to say that I do not know which one is Keith & which one is Ken
    according to the caption on the picture here,
    Keith is in the Orange shirt, Tom in the middle and Ken is on the end with the glasses

  15. #15

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    Cubic boron nitride is widely used as an abrasive (ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boron_nitride).

    I've personally worked with it in cutting tools and grinding applications before.

    Cooked up in a ceramic binder, in fine grit, it might make a superb barber hone...
    Last edited by Sticky; 12-21-2010 at 03:17 PM. Reason: removed a link
    S.

  16. #16
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    I gave in. I bought a bottle of the stuff.

    Damn your stupid post Honed!

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sticky View Post
    Cubic boron nitride is widely used as an abrasive (ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boron_nitride).
    That's quite an interesting read.
    Thanks Steven,

    Bart.

  18. #18
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    Nice, thanks Jens!
    Cheers, Luc - My Gear(Wiki) - Have a question, PM a mod. That's why we're here!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thebigspendur View Post
    I never heard of Boron Nitride as a cutter. usually the nitrides are used as coating on things like watch cases for instance and tools also. Boron Carbide is so hard if you lightly run sapphire over it the sapphire will tear to shreds. As far as the cubic goes it just means instead of being made from ground up xtls it's made from tiny whole xtls. The same difference as the two types of diamond available out there.

    No, the "cubic" refers to the cubic lattice structure of the crystals.

  20. #20
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    WOW! Thank you for the review, Honed!!!

    I enjoyed every word, reliving my own experience off the very same razor! "The falling flimsy blond hair test" or FFBHT had me on the floor!

    Ken is officially a vendor here, so you can contact him directly .

    The whole BC and CBN thing is a little confusing. It took me a couple of weeks to get it all sorted out in my head.
    Basically, Keith from Hand American (the guy on the left) has BC in 1 micron.

    Ken from Precise Sharpening (the guy on the right) has .5 and .125 CBN.

    FWIW, the BC is a paste and the CBN is a spray.

    ChefKnivesToGo carries both of their products.

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