H.S.B. & Co.
Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co.
O.V.B. (or Our Very Best) was one of their best known trademarks.
O.V.B. products had a good reputation so I don't think you got ripped. That's unless the binder has degraded which makes it crumble and show up as pock marks in the surface.
The only O.V.B. hone I've tried was brown in color and aluminum oxide. Yours may be silicone carbide/crystolon/carborundrum (basically all the same thing) which are usually grey. Silicone carbide was advertised more often as non-filling than other synthetics (at least by Norton/Pike and Carborundrum).
It's a two sided barber's hone. The finer side is used for touch ups and refreshing a blade. Probably around 8k.
The coarser side would be used when more than just a touch up is needed. Probably around 4k.
Not suitable for setting a bevel though.
Synthetic barber's hones have a high ratio of abrasive particles to binder material. It will remove metal quickly which is why the instructions usually recommend 6 to 12 laps max. Any more and the edge can become quite thin and fragile with an aggressive scratch pattern.
It can be used dry (not the best way), with oil or shaving lather or just water. Usually they work best to wet the hone and top it with shaving lather. It's easier to clean off the swarf afterwards. It also cushions the blade a bit, making the scratch marks a touch shallower and the edge a touch smoother. They tend to glaze after some usage and have to be scrubbed with an abrasive cleanser or lapped. They will wear and dish over time but they are quite hard.
Last edited by Greybeard; 01-14-2012 at 02:44 AM.
Thank you for the very informative reply. I have a rougher barbers hone also, so this should be all I need to start honing? Would these be smooth enough to finish up on or do I need something higher in grit?
A barber's hone and a strop may be all you need if you are only going to have a couple of straight razors that are shave ready to start with. Or if you are unsure whether straight shaving will be for you. You can maintain a razor indefinitely this way as many did in the past.
Originally Posted by hig789
If you wish to restore razors or become addicted and collect many, or are searching for the perfect edge, then I would not recommend a barber's hone. It was a tool designed to quickly and simply maintain a shaving edge. It was not designed to set a bevel from scratch. It was not designed to correct problems from previous incorrect honing. It was not designed to give you the perfect edge. It was not even designed to give you the smoothest, most comfortable shave. It was designed to maintain an edge that you could shave with.
To set a bevel from scratch or correct problems you need a stone in the 1k range. The finer the scratch pattern it leaves , the better.
To refine the edge you need a progression (usually a jump, first to 4k then to the 8k range (in synthetic grit terms). You can shave off an 8k edge and most of our ancestors did so. To them a shave was just a shave and not a pleasurable experience. Shavers in shaving forums are looking for a better shave and the perfect edge. So they will add something in the 12k range and/or higher to further refine the edge.
The problem with a barber's hone is that it provides aggressive abrasion due to the high concentration of abrasive particles and the less than refined binder. This removes a lot of metal fast and if the edge is not perfect to start with or your technique is off, you can make it worse with a lot of laps (see frowns, uneven bevels, excessive hone wear). The type of abrasive (which is similar to some sand papers) also leaves a scratch pattern in the bevel that is hard to polish out with finer stones. It's these scratches that lead to a feeling of roughness in a shave. Unless your technique is perfect you can also reduce the edge to a thinness (overhoning) that makes it susceptible to bending and chipping just from the act of shaving or from stropping. Again, that's why it's recommended to use only 6 laps on most barber's hones and maybe up to 12 laps on finer barber's hones (like Swatys).
Last edited by Greybeard; 01-14-2012 at 07:16 AM.
Wow thanks again for the informative answer. I will probably have to add something a higher later on but at least I can use what I have for now, until a get HAD, which is probably inevitable.