I know, YMMV, so there are no rules to break, just wise suggestions and techniques; but I broke them.
First a little history; I don’t have much experience using a straight, I wouldn’t have gotten into it at all except that I stumbled upon a straight at a flea market about a year ago, when I was looking for a vintage safety razor. The razor is a C-Mon Handmade Blackie. Got it shave ready and played with it off and on over the past year (mostly off) but I can get a SAS (Socially Acceptable Shave) with it. When it got duller, I’d use the powder/paste on balsa that came w/ the poor man’s strop kit. A few weeks ago, I started using the straight a little more and decided that I wanted to use it regularly. So I got a better strop w/ linen and wanted to get a hone, but I didn’t want to spend over $100 total for the hone(s).
I assumed I would get a Norton 4/8K, but I did a lot of reading and asked a lot of questions about hones and honing. I don’t plan on restoring any razors, I just wanted something to touch up the edge; to keep it shave ready, so it would only have to be actually honed once every few years. Suggestions about barber hones usually include this concept. I have to admit that I’m more drawn to natural hones rather than synthetics, but I researched them all, including lapping film. As you can imagine, I got lots of suggestions; the loudest, and perhaps the wisest, was to get the Norton 4/8K and learn to hone. Then I could get a finisher later. But I liked what I read about the edges a Coticule can give you; that you can just use it w/ water as a finisher to touch up the edge, plus the idea of one hone honing appealed to me as well. So here is where I broke rule number 1 (wise suggestion); I knew each stone would hone differently and that it would take a long, long time to get good, consistent results, but I didn’t go the synthetic route; I went to Jarrod’s. For $100, I got a sight unseen, lapped w/ slurry stone 6 X 2 Coticule. I ordered it on Friday, got it yesterday, on Monday.
This morning was when I really got busy breaking the rules (wise suggestions and techniques). I didn’t have a lot of time before going to work, but I did have a little. My razor was still sharp enough to pass the HHT w/ flying colors, and it shaved OK. But I knew it could be better/smoother. So I thought, even though I had never honed before, that nothing bad would happen if it just did a few X strokes on my new Coticule w/ water; it would just smooth up the edge a little. So, after 7 X strokes, I tried the HHT, and it failed miserably; I had to hold the hair on both ends, and use some pressure for the edge to cut it. My Coticule has some blue streaks/grain on about a third of the surface. It seems harder where the blue is than where the yellow is. My first thought was maybe I got a bad hone that will damage the edge; but what do I know, I’ve never honed before, and I’m new at using a straight. At any rate, even though I didn’t have much time, I grabbed the slurry stone and rubbed it lightly along the hone about 5 or 6 times. A slurry developed quickly; it was the color and texture of low fat milk. This surprised me for 2 reasons; 1) I read that you want a milk-like slurry, but I thought that referred to the texture only, not the color, and 2) watching videos of honemeisters creating a slurry, it looked like they rubbed their slurry stone for quite a while, with a lot of pressure before they raised a slurry. Anyway, I went to town with all kinds of strokes: half strokes, circles, X strokes, pig tailed strokes, and some others I made up as I went along. The only consistent thing I did is that whatever I did on one side of the blade, I did on the other. I did notice that after a while, when I did the X strokes, the slurry ran up the edge like I had read it was supposed to. So I tried the HHT, but it failed. It did shave arm hair though. I was now running out of time, so proceeded to dilute the slurry at an accelerated rate, going to town with all manners of strokes. The slurry was still riding up the edge mostly, so I rinsed everything and went to just water. The water just pushed in front of the edge, but I had run out of time; I should be on my way to work now, but I hadn’t showered or shaved yet. So I stropped the razor on linen and leather; 60 on each, but still no HHT success. After a quick shower, I just had to try the razor; just a small area on each cheek. It did shave, but it wasn’t comfortable at all; it pulled a lot. I quickly finished up w/ my DE, and was late to work. I know that I need to set aside some time to hone in a methodical way through the progressions, but I just had to share my enthusiastic blunders this morning.