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Thread: frown on straight razor from ebay

  1. #1

    Default frown on straight razor from ebay

    Hi, I have been straight razor shaving for about three months. I just purchased a russian razor and after a long wait got it in the mail today. I have made puctures of it: http://imgur.com/a/pZSpg. It looks like a very new blade and has obviously been restored, but unfortunately, from the last two pictures it can be seen that has a frown on the blade. I did however do a successful WTG pass today with only a few minor scratches. I don't have any experience honing and don't have any stones, but am wondering whether the frown is too big and whether it would be advisable for me to try to restore it as a first honing job. If not, is this something a honemeister could do?

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    Certainly that can be fixed. You can simply hone on a very coarse stone, freshly lapped, until it passes the sharpie test. You will be removing quite a bit of steel obviously, so you should check the bevel angle first and decide if you should tape the spine or not.

    To mesure the bevel angle, first hone the razor until you have a good bevel on at least the toe or heel. You should be able to see the contact area on the spine. From the back edge of the spine's contact area or bevel flat, measure to the razor's edge. Do this at a point along the blade where you have a bevel. Be accurate. Use a dial caliper or vernier scale. Next, at that same point, measure the thickness of the spine. The first measurement is the hypotenuse of a right triangle, with the right angle inaccessible inside the spine. The acute angle is half of the bevel angle. Half of the spine thickness is the opposite side. Now you can simply use those two figures to calculate half the bevel angle, double it and you have your bevel angle.

    Next measure the hypotenuse at the deepest part of the frown. This tells you what the bevel angle will be after you have straightened out the edge, if you were to tape the spine. If it comes out under 17 degrees, then consider taping the spine. More likely, just eyeballing it I would guess it will be around 18 degrees, which is a little on the obtuse side. So, since you are taking so much steel from the edge and reducing blade width so much, you need to see at least some reduction of the spine thickness, and so taping should not be done, or at least not the whole time you are honing out the frown. Use your dial caliper and your calculator to guide you, and try to end up with a bevel between 16 and 17 degrees for the probable best shave from the blade.

    If you end up with a wide bevel flat on the spine, you can always sand down the edges of it and re-round the spine. It's not a big deal. If it is VERY wide, then you should do so, not for cosmetic reasons but to reduce the contact area of the spine so that normal honing wears spine and edge proportionally thus preserving the bevel angle for generations to come.

    But back to the frown itself. It is a good idea to hone the frown out on a honing surface that is wide enough to accept the entire edge, and freshly lapped flat. You aren't going to do a good job straightening out the edge on a humpbacked stone or one that forces you to x-stroke. Your eyeball is no good judge of flatness. Lap that rock. If it is already flat, the grid will be gone after just a couple dozen laps anyway. Definitely start out very coarse. No sense diddling around with a 1k stone for several hours. When the frown is nearly gone, you can progress upward toward your regular bevel setter so you are not still dealing with deep, coarse scratches after your edge is straight. I use sandpaper for this operation. I glue 1/3 sheet (long way) of sandpaper to a polished marble tile, either a 12x12 or a 4x12 edge tile. The 11" long piece of sandpaper carefully applied with a very very light application of spray adhesive gives a nice flat surface. You can also use a very heavy piece of glass, or a calibrated granite lapping plate, or the sink cutout from a polished granite counter top. All of these surfaces should be flat enough. For a frown that deep I go with the big guns, grit wise. I would start with maybe 60 grit. It will help initially to hone with the spine leading for the first few dozen laps. Anyway, remember to stop with the coarsest grit when the frown is nearly gone and begin a progression, ending with 1k grit or finer. There. Edge is straight, bevel is set, and if you were watching your bevel angle and adjusting pressure toward edge or spine, and taping IF NECESSARY, you have a good shaving bevel angle. Now you can sand your spine back round if necessary, and continue the honing progression. You could also take this opportunity to sand and polish the blade if desired but you don't really need that on that blade. Continue your progression to your finishing stone or finishing film, strop, and shave.

    There was a time when I would have said, "Breadknife it", but I often found that the bevel angle had been made undesireably obtuse, requiring thinning of the spine. So, says I, why not just hone that rascal normally from the start? The only good reason I now see for breadknifing is if you do not have a stone wide enough and coarse enough to hone the razor flat and straight. And with sandpaper and flat surfaces available for it, there is no reason to limit yourself to your stones if they are inadequate. Breadknifing would be a good tool if the bevel angle was too acute, though. YMMV.

    No matter how you do it, it will probably shave. Lots of guys are blissfully ignorant of blade geometry and most of their razors will shave a face. Some better than others of course. For the best and most consistent results, though, shoot for a proper bevel angle, especially when you are doing a major repair and removing a lot of steel. An ordinary honing, if it shaved before, then it should shave when you are done. A small repair might affect the geometry a measurable amount but an amount that will go more or less unnoticed in the shave. A big job where you are taking off 1/8" or more of steel will make a difference in the shave if you let it do so.

    Now... you say this will be your first honing. Well, you can do it yourself but you would be better off putting it aside for now. Your first try at honing should be a simple touchup of a previously sharp razor that you have simply shaved with to the point where it no longer shaves well. A touchup only requires the use of your finishing stone or maybe 1u lapping film. After getting good results with your touchups, try your hand at setting the bevel of a razor in good shape, running your progression, and finishing. When you are getting good edges without backtracking, then it will be time to do some edge repair work. Try a few minor chips first. Then tackle your frownie. You will be glad you waited.

    Send it out? Yeah maybe. But make sure it will be done properly. Or at least make sure it will be done to your specifications. But I think you ought to put it aside and do it yourself, when you are ready for it.
    "A noble heart embiggens the smallest man." (Jebediah Springfield)

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    What is a frown?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MartialArtist View Post
    What is a frown?
    Alfredo
    www.doc226.com Items for Sale
    Honing & Resto

  5. #5

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    Slash pretty much answered you already, but just wanted to say that I've also bought a lot of frowning razors (they must have weird stones in France because razors from there always have frowns), and even though breadknifing works well, it definitely raises the bevel angle too much for my taste. I took the time to measure most of the bevels of my razors yesterday and noticed this right away.

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    Honing on a narrow stone, with poor x-stroking technique, will bias wear toward the middle, because the middle will always be on the hone but toe and heel will not. A lot of bad honing and frown is the result of "bending" the razor on the edge of the hone, essentially creating a very very skinny honing surface. That's not to say that a narrow hone can't work because obviously it can, and lots of guys who at least know how to do a consistent x-stroke get by just fine with narrow hones. But a newbie and a narrow hone and a razor can be a disastrous combination. A stone that is wide but not flat can be used to bad effect, too, and usually is. And for a full hollowground razor, placing the index finger on the blade near the edge at the center can flex the blade enough to put at least a slight smile on the razor when setting a bevel and using some pressure. I am actually slightly amazed that there are not even more frowning razors out there because there are so many ways for the clueless to make them so.
    "A noble heart embiggens the smallest man." (Jebediah Springfield)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc226 View Post
    +1

    Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Or, at least a couple dozen.
    "A noble heart embiggens the smallest man." (Jebediah Springfield)

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    I thought that'd be what it meant. It must be slight on this one because I didn't see it in the photos. I imagine that would me it is still fixable?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MartialArtist View Post
    I thought that'd be what it meant. It must be slight on this one because I didn't see it in the photos. I imagine that would me it is still fixable?
    Practically any razor is fixable. But many aren't worth the effort and the end results have varying levels of satisfaction. When it is just a frown and no other problems, it can be fixed with thought and effort and time. Whether or not it is worth it? YMWV.
    "A noble heart embiggens the smallest man." (Jebediah Springfield)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slash McCoy View Post
    Certainly that can be fixed. You can simply hone on a very coarse stone, freshly lapped, until it passes the sharpie test. You will be removing quite a bit of steel obviously, so you should check the bevel angle first and decide if you should tape the spine or not.

    To mesure the bevel angle, first hone the razor until you have a good bevel on at least the toe or heel. You should be able to see the contact area on the spine. From the back edge of the spine's contact area or bevel flat, measure to the razor's edge. Do this at a point along the blade where you have a bevel. Be accurate. Use a dial caliper or vernier scale. Next, at that same point, measure the thickness of the spine. The first measurement is the hypotenuse of a right triangle, with the right angle inaccessible inside the spine. The acute angle is half of the bevel angle. Half of the spine thickness is the opposite side. Now you can simply use those two figures to calculate half the bevel angle, double it and you have your bevel angle.

    Next measure the hypotenuse at the deepest part of the frown. This tells you what the bevel angle will be after you have straightened out the edge, if you were to tape the spine. If it comes out under 17 degrees, then consider taping the spine. More likely, just eyeballing it I would guess it will be around 18 degrees, which is a little on the obtuse side. So, since you are taking so much steel from the edge and reducing blade width so much, you need to see at least some reduction of the spine thickness, and so taping should not be done, or at least not the whole time you are honing out the frown. Use your dial caliper and your calculator to guide you, and try to end up with a bevel between 16 and 17 degrees for the probable best shave from the blade.

    If you end up with a wide bevel flat on the spine, you can always sand down the edges of it and re-round the spine. It's not a big deal. If it is VERY wide, then you should do so, not for cosmetic reasons but to reduce the contact area of the spine so that normal honing wears spine and edge proportionally thus preserving the bevel angle for generations to come.

    But back to the frown itself. It is a good idea to hone the frown out on a honing surface that is wide enough to accept the entire edge, and freshly lapped flat. You aren't going to do a good job straightening out the edge on a humpbacked stone or one that forces you to x-stroke. Your eyeball is no good judge of flatness. Lap that rock. If it is already flat, the grid will be gone after just a couple dozen laps anyway. Definitely start out very coarse. No sense diddling around with a 1k stone for several hours. When the frown is nearly gone, you can progress upward toward your regular bevel setter so you are not still dealing with deep, coarse scratches after your edge is straight. I use sandpaper for this operation. I glue 1/3 sheet (long way) of sandpaper to a polished marble tile, either a 12x12 or a 4x12 edge tile. The 11" long piece of sandpaper carefully applied with a very very light application of spray adhesive gives a nice flat surface. You can also use a very heavy piece of glass, or a calibrated granite lapping plate, or the sink cutout from a polished granite counter top. All of these surfaces should be flat enough. For a frown that deep I go with the big guns, grit wise. I would start with maybe 60 grit. It will help initially to hone with the spine leading for the first few dozen laps. Anyway, remember to stop with the coarsest grit when the frown is nearly gone and begin a progression, ending with 1k grit or finer. There. Edge is straight, bevel is set, and if you were watching your bevel angle and adjusting pressure toward edge or spine, and taping IF NECESSARY, you have a good shaving bevel angle. Now you can sand your spine back round if necessary, and continue the honing progression. You could also take this opportunity to sand and polish the blade if desired but you don't really need that on that blade. Continue your progression to your finishing stone or finishing film, strop, and shave.

    There was a time when I would have said, "Breadknife it", but I often found that the bevel angle had been made undesireably obtuse, requiring thinning of the spine. So, says I, why not just hone that rascal normally from the start? The only good reason I now see for breadknifing is if you do not have a stone wide enough and coarse enough to hone the razor flat and straight. And with sandpaper and flat surfaces available for it, there is no reason to limit yourself to your stones if they are inadequate. Breadknifing would be a good tool if the bevel angle was too acute, though. YMMV.

    No matter how you do it, it will probably shave. Lots of guys are blissfully ignorant of blade geometry and most of their razors will shave a face. Some better than others of course. For the best and most consistent results, though, shoot for a proper bevel angle, especially when you are doing a major repair and removing a lot of steel. An ordinary honing, if it shaved before, then it should shave when you are done. A small repair might affect the geometry a measurable amount but an amount that will go more or less unnoticed in the shave. A big job where you are taking off 1/8" or more of steel will make a difference in the shave if you let it do so.

    Now... you say this will be your first honing. Well, you can do it yourself but you would be better off putting it aside for now. Your first try at honing should be a simple touchup of a previously sharp razor that you have simply shaved with to the point where it no longer shaves well. A touchup only requires the use of your finishing stone or maybe 1u lapping film. After getting good results with your touchups, try your hand at setting the bevel of a razor in good shape, running your progression, and finishing. When you are getting good edges without backtracking, then it will be time to do some edge repair work. Try a few minor chips first. Then tackle your frownie. You will be glad you waited.

    Send it out? Yeah maybe. But make sure it will be done properly. Or at least make sure it will be done to your specifications. But I think you ought to put it aside and do it yourself, when you are ready for it.
    Thanks for the thorough explanation. I learned that I could finally apply my college trig classes :) I actually have an digimatic caliper. I tried to figure out the angle of the heel since that part of the blade is pretty sharp already and has a bevel set in it already. The measurement I got was was 14.86 degrees. For the part where the frown is the deepest, the angle I got was 15.713 degrees. Does that mean you would suggest to tape when honing? How does taping the spine affect the bevel angle? Doesn't it make it smaller since the spine stays the same width, while the metal comes off the edge only, or does something else happen. So does that mean that if I don't tape when honing, the angle would stay at 15.713 since both the spine and the edge will have metal taken away?

    Another thing I have a question on, is what kind of stone can I find with 60 grit? I looked on ebay and couldn't find any. As a guide I looked at Lynn Abrams DVD and there he showed four Norton stones similar to http://www.ebay.com/itm/Norton-Water...item3a864239c0. While the smallest grit is 220, Lynn said that he pretty much never uses that grit. The only hones I could see with 60 grit look like grinding wheels. Maybe I am misinterpreting what you mean?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecks View Post
    Thanks for the thorough explanation. I learned that I could finally apply my college trig classes :) I actually have an digimatic caliper. I tried to figure out the angle of the heel since that part of the blade is pretty sharp already and has a bevel set in it already. The measurement I got was was 14.86 degrees. For the part where the frown is the deepest, the angle I got was 15.713 degrees. Does that mean you would suggest to tape when honing? How does taping the spine affect the bevel angle? Doesn't it make it smaller since the spine stays the same width, while the metal comes off the edge only, or does something else happen. So does that mean that if I don't tape when honing, the angle would stay at 15.713 since both the spine and the edge will have metal taken away?

    Another thing I have a question on, is what kind of stone can I find with 60 grit? I looked on ebay and couldn't find any. As a guide I looked at Lynn Abrams DVD and there he showed four Norton stones similar to http://www.ebay.com/itm/Norton-Water...item3a864239c0. While the smallest grit is 220, Lynn said that he pretty much never uses that grit. The only hones I could see with 60 grit look like grinding wheels. Maybe I am misinterpreting what you mean?
    That angle doesn't sound right. Are you sure you measured from the back edge of the spine's hone wear strip to the razor's edge? And used half of the spine's thickness to find the acute angle and then doubled the angle for the final result? Something doesn't sound right. But if in fact the razor truly shows the measurements for a 15.7 degree bevel angle at the deepest part of the frown, you would want to tape the spine. But be sure you are right about the bevel angle first.

    Removing steel from the edge while keeping the spine the same will make the bevel angle LARGER. Removing steel from the spine while keeping the edge from wearing will make the bevel angle SMALLER. Shifting pressure toward the edge or toward the spine will adjust the bevel angle a lesser amount.

    If you don't tape and you are balancing the pressure normally, the bevel angle will initially stay the same as the current bevel angle where you have a full bevel at the edge. In other words, where the edge is contacting the hone. Initially the edge will wear slightly fast since there is less contact area with the hone. As the bevel spreads into the frown, the edge wear will slow, since there will be more contact area there.

    No I don't mean a 60 grit stone. I mean 60 grit sandpaper glued to polished marble tile or other suitably flat substrate. And only use this in the initial stages when there is lots of steel that has to go away. It leaves deep scratches and every time you take another lap on the 60 grit you are committing yourself to using the next higher grit until you get to the bottom of those scratches. OTOH you don't want to progress upward in grit too early and have to go hours and hours or even days on a finer grit. Normally no you wouldn't use anything this coarse. With normal honing you don't go coarser than 1k grit or at least 600 or so. Remember, you are taking away a lot of seriously hard steel.

    I will reiterate that you ought to put this aside for now and build up your honing and restoration skills progressively.
    "A noble heart embiggens the smallest man." (Jebediah Springfield)

  12. #12
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    I modified my picture to show exactly where I measured from: http://i.imgur.com/6GHUoa0.jpg. What I did was measure from the red line to the yellow line using a caliper. I initially was using a ruler for measuring the distance, but then thought that using the caliper was more accurate. Maybe I was supposed to measure from the red to the blue line? Although I wouldnt think that would make too much of a difference. The equation I used was 2*arcsin((T/2)/H), where T is the thickness of the spine, and H is the hypotenuse.

    Thanks for your help! You are right, it def shouldnt be the first honing project I start with, I just want to make sure I know how to start it when I get around to it. So what you mean is, I should start with, for example, 60 grit, then do something like 150 grit, then 240, 600 until I get to 1000?

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    The hypotenuse is from the red arrow to the blue arrow as the spine at the blue arrow will be thicker and therefore will be the spot that keeps your calipers from closing any further when measuring the spine thickness

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecks View Post
    I modified my picture to show exactly where I measured from: http://i.imgur.com/6GHUoa0.jpg. What I did was measure from the red line to the yellow line using a caliper. I initially was using a ruler for measuring the distance, but then thought that using the caliper was more accurate. Maybe I was supposed to measure from the red to the blue line? Although I wouldnt think that would make too much of a difference. The equation I used was 2*arcsin((T/2)/H), where T is the thickness of the spine, and H is the hypotenuse.

    Thanks for your help! You are right, it def shouldnt be the first honing project I start with, I just want to make sure I know how to start it when I get around to it. So what you mean is, I should start with, for example, 60 grit, then do something like 150 grit, then 240, 600 until I get to 1000?
    From the blue arrow.

    For polishing, I normally progress 50% each step. So theoretically from 60 grit you got to 90 grit but there is no 90 grit, so go 100. From 100 grit you go 150. From 150, 220. From 220, 300 or 320. Then 400, 600, and 1000. Then 1500. Then 2000. It's not written in stone but this is really hard steel so you don't want to reduce your cutting power too quickly by going too fine in one jump. At least don't double the grit in one step. Go less than double and you should be fine.

    For repairing an edge and setting a bevel, double the grit at each step or a little more. So yeah the progression you listed will work for the edge.
    "A noble heart embiggens the smallest man." (Jebediah Springfield)

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    Thanks for the sanding tips Slash. Probably explains why I've had trouble getting some scratches out. I need an intermediate step between 220 and 500 and between 500 and 1000. Another reason to stop at ace after my oil change is done.
    Matt - straight razors have a way of fixing carelessness . . . .

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    sounds good, thanks!

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