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Thread: First time honing my own razor

  1. #1
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    Default First time honing my own razor

    Well, sort of honing my own razor. A couple days ago, I had one of my straights (5/8 Allen and Sons 1/4 hollow) listed on the BST; it didn't sell, so I pulled it back and kept it. The edge, although good enough to shave with, was getting a little bit tired. Up to this point, I'd been maintaining my edges with a WhippedDog pasted strop and a 3"x8" tile with a 1 micron lapping film sheet (aka cheap barber hone). To this point, I've been pretty successful with that method.

    This time, rather than refresh the edge like I'd been doing, I decided to go a little more advanced. I took out my 5, 3 and 1 sheets. I muted the existing edge on a glass and started over again. I wet the sheets down with water and some sloppy lather. On the 5, I honed 10 laps at a time until I could pop a few arm hairs, then honed 20 more past that (all told, it was 40 laps). On the 3, ten laps at a time until I could reliably shave arm hairs, then 20 more past that (40 laps there too). Forty laps on the 1 micron, followed by 20 laps on each side of the pasted strop and 50 laps on the leather strop.

    Shave report: quite a nice, smooth shave. It had a slight harsh feeling at first that mellowed out pretty quickly, but the end result was a good, close shave with very little irritation and no nicks or cuts. I'm not sure I'm quite up to bevel setting yet, but that would be the next step in learning to hone.

    Even if I never learned to set a bevel, the above should be all I'd need to do to keep a shave ready razor in good condition for a long, long time, right? Any tips on setting a bevel with lapping film?
    Josh - straight razor convert, Swiss Army knife collector

  2. #2

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    Congrats on the successful hone. I always enjoy the process and the result of getting it right. It's a valuable skill to have.
    Barring any bad luck like a ding or such I'd say you can keep an edge with LF for a long, long time and beyond.

    ...Ray

  3. #3
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    I received an eBay razor today for round two of learning to hone. A BW Middlebrooks 5/8" full hollow. On initial inspection, it looks like the blade has been pretty well maintained; the bevel looked almost brand new, though an attempt at shaving arm hair only popped one or two. I decided therefore to go with a routine on the 5, 3 and 1 micron sheets. I muted the existing edge on a glass and started back up on the 5 micron; ended up taking about 30 laps to get it back to popping arm hair. All told, 50 laps on the 5. Twenty laps on the 3 micron before I was shaving arm hair pretty reliably; forty laps in total. Forty laps on the 1 micron without and with the damp paper underneath. Twenty laps on the green and red sides of the pasted strop, followed by 50 laps on the leather strop. Time to shave.

    This is where it gets moderately interesting. When I started the shave, it was as smooth as any edge I'd ever used, but it didn't stay that way; it was smooth on my right cheek, but from the left cheek on, it started getting a little harsh on me. Not enough to cause burn or nicks, but the shave wasn't as close anymore after that. It's as though the edge sorta collapsed on me. Wire edge perhaps, overhone? I'm not real sure. Thoughts?
    Josh - straight razor convert, Swiss Army knife collector

  4. #4

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    I can't see how you'd 'overhone' an edge on 100 laps on LF. Sounds to me like the bevel wasn't set. It'll probably take more the the 5 micron to get it right. Do you have a bevel setting hone of some kind?

    ...Ray

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    I have 15 and 12 micron sheets, I've read that those are often used for bevel setting.
    Josh - straight razor convert, Swiss Army knife collector

  6. #6

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    I don't move off the 1K hone until that blade is absolutely POPPING hairs. I don't have experience with using LF for bevel setting but it can't be much different. Give the 12 micron a try first. It may be all you need. Then work down with what you got. Sounds like you're getting close...

    ...Ray

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    Round three...hone! Following Sando's advice, I started over with the 12 micron, going through a progression with 5, 3 and 1 sheets, pasted strop and leather strop. I dulled the old edge on a glass and honed on the 12 micron for 70 laps until I was able to pop hairs, then I did ten more after that. I used the marker method for making sure the bevel was set evenly. Fifty laps each on the 5/3/1 sheets, running HHT every twenty laps. Fifteen laps on each side of the pasted balsa and forty laps on the leather strop. Shave report: the edge seemed a little harsh at first, but mellowed out pretty quickly. I chose to omit the step of 1 micron with the wet paper, but I may try that next time I go for a touchup and see how it feels. Overall, the shave was quite comfortable and close, a far sight from what it was yesterday. Not quite the quality of a Paco edge, but I'd put it up against a good swiss army knife anytime. Very little irritation, no nicks or cuts.

    I'd call my third honing attempt a success overall. I noticed one thing about the blade though, when I went to set the bevel, I noticed that the edge didn't quite want to sit level on the hone, like it was slightly warped or perhaps flex in the blade. Hard to tell, but it was something to compensate for nonetheless.
    Josh - straight razor convert, Swiss Army knife collector

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    congrats

  9. #9

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    Hey, I knew you were getting close - good to hear it went so well. Aside from some different materials, your process is essentially the same as mine.
    And uneven blades seem to be common, in my experience. Rocking x-strokes usually do the trick.

    ...Ray

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