Section 7 - 10, Dovo Tortoise Special Hone Comparison/Results....
5/8 Dovo Tortoise Special - 8-Ways…
First – an overview. This is a continuation of THIS thread, or rather - the results of the test. The purpose of this test, is to try some of the most commonly used hones/pastes and provide insight/feedback based on the efficacy of the different sharpening methods. While this is called “8-Ways” it’s actually more than this, as it is 8 ways (or razors) at once, however as I felt a finishing method was inferior, I would “knock it out” of the test – by re-honing the razor, and finishing it on another method, for a total of 12 different "finishes."
Here are the finishing methods used within this test: 1.) Right off the Norton 8K (to compare the difference between the 8K to whichever finishing hone) 2.) A Chinese 12K 3.) A Belgian Coticule 4.) Escher 5.) Carborundum Barber Hone 6.) Kitayama 7.) .25 Micron Diamond paste 8.) .5 Micron Green Chromide 9.) Spyderco Ultra-Fine 10.) DMT 8K Diamond Plate 11.) Newsprint 12.) Vintage Belgian Coticule
Note – I grade them on an A – F scale (A being the best) based on their use/deployment as a finishing stone. This has nothing to do with the quality of the stone, the value, etc – it is PURELY based on performance. For instance, while some stones may not get the highest “grade” for instance, the Belgian Coticule, I still really like the stone, and feel it’s a superb stone to use to jump to higher grits/finishes.
Let’s get started!
1.) Right off the Norton 8K – the edge right off of the Norton 8K can be quite good actually. If you are experienced, and have a perfectly lapped hone you should be able to hone up a very nice, shave worthy edge on a Norton 8k. Now, while the edge is nice, it certainly leaves plenty of room for improvement, and I personally wouldn’t want to have to shave with a razor off of a Norton 8K daily, but you could, and you could do so comfortably. Overall about a C.
2.) Chinese 12K – the 12K is a very slow cutting stone, yet it delivers just a lovely polish. The edge feels VERY smooth against ones face, and is a radical improvement over the Norton 8K. The edge cuts very softly, and the blade feels very nice and comfortable against ones face. The edge finished on the Chinese 12K also seems to last quite a long time, and personally I feel this hone leaves a nicer finish/edge than the Belgian Coticule, however it does not cut as fast (which to me is not a bad thing) and can take longer to use. The edge I was getting from my lapped Chinese 12K was superior to that of my newly quarried Belgian Coticule (which is 6X the price of the Chinese 12k) – and both are natural stones. At least in my opinion this is the best finishing stone for the money. For $30 – you just can’t go wrong. B+
3.) Belgian Coticule – the coticule is about the most fun hone in my collection to use. It provides tremendous feedback (both felt and heard) and quickly and easily polishes the edge of a straight razor. Shaves from my newly quarried Coticule were smooth, irritation free, and quite nice… although I must admit, it left me wanting a finer/smoother edge. While very quick, and superbly easy to use, I preferred the smoother, more refined edge off of the Escher, Spyderco Ultra Fine and the Chinese 12K. A great stone, and quite a bit of fun to use, but for the money, I feel there are superior options. (Note: finished with no slurry) Overall – B.
4.) Escher – most everything you’ve heard about the Escher is probably true. This is a much finer hone than the coticule, yet cuts in a similar fashion. For some reason, it isn’t as much fun to use, at least for me, but it provides a much smoother, polished edge than that of the coticule. The edge from off an Escher has a fabulous mix of wonderfully smooth/comfortable on ones face, yet tremendously fine/thin and seriously sharp. For an edge this sharp, it is very forgiving, which makes this a really lovely polishing stone, and as a result they are highly desirable and pretty darn expensive. (Note: finished with no slurry) Rating = A-
5.) Carborundum Barber Hone – The edge off of the carbo is actually quite nice for how inexpensive these stones are. I’d rank it right around a Belgian Coticule, very nice, fine and comfortable. Rating = B
6.) Kitayama – this stone is certainly a cut above a Norton 8K, however I had mixed results with it. I was able to get the best edge from this hone without using a slurry, or the included slurry stone, and it was often a bit tricky to really get a razor where I wanted it, but once there, I felt this stone was every bit as good as the newly quarried Belgian Coticule, in fact, I thought it was superior. For me, this edge seemed smoother, and more refined than the Coticules edge. I’d put this stone smack dab in between the Coticule and the Chinese 12K. Since it is 2X more expensive than the Chinese 12K, I think the choice is pretty obvious. Rating = B
7.) .25 Micron Diamond Paste – After working my way from 1 micron to .25 micron diamond paste, I had a REALLY mean edge on the razor. Much finer/sharper feeling on the face, and not nearly as forgiving as the other finishing methods, but certainly the sharpest. Some do not like the feeling of an edge off .25 micron and find it too harsh. Personally I quite like it, and while it doesn’t feel as “smooth” or “luxurious” on your face as an edge does from a polishing stone, it’s certainly sharper. If you’re looking for the “sharpest” of the bunch, this is the clear winner, but if you’re looking for a razor that feels smooth against your skin, this probably isn’t your deal. The edge off of diamond pastes doesn’t seem to hold up/last as long as the edge off of a hone, however I think this is somewhat moot – as a touch up stropping on the diamond paste (which takes merely a few seconds) will instantly restore the edge. Rating = A -
8.) .5 Micron Green Chromide – of the pastes, this is probably my favorite. While it doesn’t leave as micro-fine an edge as the .25 micron diamond paste, it does leave a very, very fine edge, yet it is also incredibly smooth, much more so than diamond paste. Like diamond paste, the edge from the green chrome doesn’t holdup/last as long as one off of a hone, however again, it is much easier/less time consuming to refresh than that of an edge off of a hone. I think green chrome is a wonderful cross between the buttery-smooth feeling of the edge against your skin, and whisking away hairs like that of a hone, yet with the finer, sharper edge from pastes. Rating = A
9.) Spyderco Ultra-Fine – This is a neat, inexpensive hone. The edge off the Spyderco Ultra Fine, is well… ultra fine! VERY highly polished, and very smooth against ones face. This was also probably the easiest hone to use, and worked best dry. My results/experience is that the edge off of the Spyderco Ultra-fine is sharper than that of an Escher, yet the Escher’s edge feels a little smoother on your face, and as a result, I’d rate this hone about on par with the Escher. Rating = A-
10.) DMT 8K Diamond Plate – This diamond plate worked quite well, and provided an edge that was, in my opinion a touch better than the Norton 8K. I REALLY like this hone, as it cuts VERY quickly, in fact I would advocate gents purchase this INSTEAD of a Norton 4/8K, as it leaves a finer edge than the 8K side of the Norton, yet cuts FASTER than the 4K side of the Norton, and is a few bucks less expensive. Personally I am quite fond of this hone, and it makes honing quite simple. I don’t know that I would want to use this as a finishing hone, but I do know I haven’t used my Norton since I received this hone. An 8K that cuts faster than a 4K, that never needs lapping? What’s not to like! Rating = C+
11.) Newsprint – Well… this isn’t too glamorous… grabbing the local newspaper and stropping on it? Well, in any case, I tried it. For an edge right off the 8K of a Norton, it seemed to smooth things up just a touch, but nothing to fantastic. This really seemed to shine however, to “calm” other edges down. Let me explain – an edge off .25 micron diamond paste is VERY fine and tremendously sharp, yet it feels a little rough against your face, and while it will give you an amazing shave, it almost feels as if the razors isn’t as sharp as it should be against your face, as it “digs” into your beard because the edge is so incredibly fine. It works amazing, but many don’t like the feel of the shave. Now, by taking a big hard back book, and laying some newspaper on the book (both to elevate it, and provide a flat surface) and lightly stropping the newsprint, I was able to keep the good attributes of .25 diamond paste, IE: the super sharp edge, while marginalizing the bad attributes, IE: the harshness. Diamond paste, or the Spyderco Ultra-fine coupled with newsprint yielded remarkably fine, yet smooth and forgiving edges. I really like what newpaper seems to have done, and I’ll certainly use this trick from time to time. Rating = A
12.) Vintage Belgian Coticule – my vintage coticule seemed to perform much like an Escher, however the edge it put on the razor seemed to be the most rigid, and last the longest. A very fine, smooth, polished edge, yet very sturdy and robust. Of the stones in this review, it’s one of the best. (Note: finished with no slurry) Rating = A-
Firstly, I would recommend the DMT 8K from craftsman studio over the Norotn 4/8K, as I feel it leaves a finer edge than the 8K norton, yet cuts faster than a 4K, which makes for quick work of establishing a bevel and getting a razor shaving sharp.
Next - I would probably recommend finishing on diamond pastes, all the way down to .25 micron - then finishing on newsprint for the keenest, and easiest edge.
Now, if you are a fan of hones/honing, or if for some reason you are against pastes, as some fellas are for some reason, I'd suggest a Chinese 12K, or a Spyderco Ultra-Fine. I feel both offer tremendous value, based on their superlative results and price, and both are very hard and require little, to no maintenence.
I still think Coticules and Eshers are superb, and I will continue to own, collect and finish razors on them for kicks... but I feel, at least in terms of pure efficacy, they aren't worth the $, and there are superior options. I have been honing like mad with a Shapton 16K and 30K glass stone lately, and feel if you are going to be spending $100+ on a stone, it should be the Shapton 16K. While not part of this test, and while I feel you need an "in-between" hone (such as a Chinese 12K) before jumping from the 8K norton or 8K DMT to the Shapton 16K, I do feel for the $100 or so price tag the hands down "king of the hill" is the Shapton 16K glass stone for $99. For me, it is markedly superior to ANY of my Eschers or Coticules, and provides a superior edge. As for the 30K Shapton, so far it's pretty incredible, but there is a tremendous amount of "diminishing marginal utility" as you leave the $99 16K Shapton, and enter the $280 30K Shapton. The 30K Shapton is exceptional, and puts a feather-like (possibly sharper) edge on a razor, but you can get the identical result by using the 16K shapton, then finishing on .25 micron diamond paste. More info/results/feedback to come on the 16 and 30K Shapton Glass stones in another thread as I use them more...
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Last edited by joel; 01-06-2008 at 02:13 PM.
joel (at) badgerandblade.com