Honing School - Honemeisters & Newbies Unite!

Discussion in 'Straight Razors' started by BaylorGator, Jul 14, 2018.


I am a:

  1. Honemeister

  2. Not a honemeister, but I know my way around the stones

  3. Have enough skill to keep a previously honed edge sharp

  4. Total Honing Newb

  5. I don't hone, I'm just following for fun

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. gssixgun

    gssixgun At this point in time...

    Supporting Vendor
    A vote of encouragement here for the 4k bevel set

    Honestly, when I started honing professionally I probably did about 1200-1500 razors using ONLY the Norton 4/8 granted the older US made 4k was better than the Italian or the Mexican produced ones after, but not that much different..
    It can be done and it can be done very well that way it just takes a little more time and concentration
  2. CastleShave

    CastleShave Well-Known Member

    Those are most certainly a pain in the ass! A technique I learned with synthetics is slightly flattening the cornered edge on the side of preference of the stone. This helps getting the entire edge even the flex of the blade is furthest from the spine. Depending on your skill level you may still see a low point in the bevel, especially in the apex of the bow. How ever you will hit the entire edge because the rest of the steel won’t help it rise up.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Edison Carter likes this.
  3. CastleShave

    CastleShave Well-Known Member

    Such an excellent point I wish I had known this when I started out... I butchered my first razor lol.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Edison Carter likes this.
  4. DaltonGang

    DaltonGang Ol' Itchy Whiskers

    I would go back to the 1k myself, and pay attention to pressure. If you just stay with the 4k, you might be tempted to use more pressure, because it will likely be slow going. Extended time on a single stone can be frustrating.
    Edison Carter, Paul76 and gssixgun like this.
  5. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants

    Here’s a pic of the bevels at full view. I thought the width looked pretty even until I used the microscope. I’m a lot less worried about it now though, knowing that the width of the bevel isn’t really important to the shave. I suspected as much, but it was nice to hear it confirmed.
    On the pic of the other side I shaded the light with my finger so you can see the bevel all the way across the blade. Coincidentally adjacent to my finger is the portion of the bevel that I’m having problems with.
    Edison Carter likes this.
  6. gssixgun

    gssixgun At this point in time...

    Supporting Vendor
    Just a quick question here

    You are trying to recontour a slightly wonky razor, and you are fairly new to this, so you make it harder by trying to do it without scales on, which help to balance the razor by using your pinky under the scales as you hone ???

    You are making this harder then it needs to be, plus putting the scales on very well might mess up a fine edge..

    Hint: For next time,

    Set the Pre-bevel with 2-3 layers of tape BEFORE you restore the razor, this gives you an easier starting point that makes things way smoother as you set the pre-bevel without worry which leads you into the shaving bevel
    Billyfergie, mrchick, Arnout and 5 others like this.
  7. DaltonGang

    DaltonGang Ol' Itchy Whiskers

    I would stop everything now, put some tape on the entire bevel, and put some scales on it. Honing a blade without scales is harder.
  8. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants

    OK, again, lots that I don't know here. The old scales were broken off at the pin so there was no way to hone the blade using scales. I had no idea that not having the scales on was making the honing more difficult. Also, can you explain the "pre-bevel" concept? I understand what you are saying to do, but is this something you should always do prior to attempting to set a bevel with an old razor? I'm only familiar with the concept of setting the bevel to begin with.

    Anyway, based on this feedback, these scales will head off to @Pete123 for some really cool "cowboy style" micarta scales that I've already ordered from him specifically for installation on this blade. Then I'll putting some scales on the smiling Wade & Butcher myself. In the meantime, I'll practice honing on some more rat razors. Thanks guys. I'm learning a lot here, but still realizing there's still quite a lot left to learn.
  9. gssixgun

    gssixgun At this point in time...

    Supporting Vendor

    Yes, there is a lot to learn but my understanding was that was EXACTLY what this thread is about :D

    Whenever you start a restore on any razor that you cannot verify a positive bevel you should ALWAYS begin the process with a Pre-Bevel set
    This assures that you have Clean, Solid Steel also not pitted and Swiss cheese, there is absolutely no reason to restore a razor just to find you can't shave with it
    Cue the "It was great practice" statement :p Yeah well it would have been better practice to hone it and shave with it LOL

    But yes verifying the clean solid steel and learning that there will be issues with the honing BEFORE you polish out the blade helps immensely

    Also to clarify if you do this with 3 layers of tape, you will not be introducing the deep scratches / striations that a low grit Plate or Hone to the entire bevel but rather just the very Fin of the edge so they will come out easier when you are honing for a shaving bevel

    Also, you should verify the straightness of the Tang and blade BEFORE you build scales in case you have to build around an off ground tang or a warped spine which are much more likley the older the razor is :)

    What does Glen mean now ???

    Looking for the pics BBL

    Pretty self explanatory

    Check the razor on a flay surface to see how far off they are, you can also see twist and warp from this same test



    You can easily see how far off this razor is, and if you know that BEFORE you build the scales you can adjust for the issues easier
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018
  10. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants

    Awesome info! Thanks, Glen.
    Shojo510 and gssixgun like this.
  11. Arnout

    Arnout Well-Known Member

    A new pup, a few days delay in honing & repair work. 6 done, chinese but also splendid german and a french. 15 more to go, but most off the cleaning and polishing is done
    The ern was supposed to get red epoxy/ white scales. But, after 3 days of pouring, grinding and a bit of polishing i dropped them
    So i made wooden ones instead.
  12. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants

    Well, I am one happy camper today, gentlemen!

    I decided, having spent numerous hours attempting to hone 200 year old razors with warps and wonky bevels, that am no longer intimidated by a barely used Thiers Issard that I bought off a BST because some dude said he didn’t like how it shaved And found it difficult to . Under the USB microscope it was a bit rough and chippy, but the existing bevel was even and the blade was straight. So Let’s do this thing...

    Taped the edge, and did about 50 laps with an 8000 Norton just to see how the new, smoother grind pattern would line up against the existing bevel. Not bad. A little rocking would be required to get the very ends of the toe and heel, but no crazy blade gymnastics required. Dropped down to the 4000 and performed a couple hundred laps until the chips were gone and the only scratch pattern on the bevel was mine. Then up the progression. After 25 strops on diamond sprayed felt and 100 on leather, a smooth clean shave ensued. Victory!

    By the way, I did not use the USB microscope at all after dropping down to the 4000 grit stone. Instead, I looked at the blade with the naked eye under LED cannister lights that are above the table where I hone. FWIW, it was easier to see the resulting scratch patterns and determine results this way for me. Maybe running to the microscope was making me overthink things before. Anybody else have that kind of experience?

    I’ve still got plenty to learn, but could not have gotten this far without you guys. Thanks for all the help.
  13. Arnout

    Arnout Well-Known Member

    200 years old razor?? Pics?

    A microscope, in general i dont bother to get the thing out, but it learned me understand quite a bit about steel and stones.

    Diamond paste is something i keep far away from razors and razorhones.
    I dont like the sensation on the skin way to agressive, and it makes an invisible mess that is toxic when polishing the razor.
    Edison Carter and SevenEighth like this.
  14. Paul76

    Paul76 Well-Known Member

    Good work Randy. A clean shave is a great step in the right direction. I was told when I first started to learn that a microscope can just cause more confusion. I have a 40x loupe and found it works perfectly to see what I’m accomplishing. I had used a 100x magnification and I was seeing scratches that no matter what I did I couldn’t get rid of, and in trying I was wrecking an edge that was shaving decently. Enjoy the shave Randy.
    Edison Carter and BaylorGator like this.
  15. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants

    Slight exaggeration in order to make the point they are really stinking old compared to the razor I sharpened today. In reality Closer to 140 or 150, as the first Wade and butcher blade I’m working on probably dates prior to the 1870s. Definitely prior to 1891.
    Edison Carter and Arnout like this.
  16. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants

    Thanks, Paul!
  17. DaltonGang

    DaltonGang Ol' Itchy Whiskers

    I too would stay away from Diamond Pastes or Sprays. If you want a good progression with pastes, go with a Balsa Wood Strop, with CroOx on one side and FeOx on the other. Much smoother, and the Iron Oxide will make it nice and sharp.
  18. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants

    So, I received the bottom two razors yesterday. The W&B was ready to roll, but the custom razor on the bottom left was a mess and needed to go all the way to back to bevel set to bring back to shave ready. I was able to correct the wonkiness caused by uneven hone wear relatively easily. I’m finally starting to get a “feel” for the stones, and it seems like improving my honing gymnastics is coming through practice and osmosis. All the others needed honing touch ups, which were relatively straightforward. Honing, like SR shaving, has recently just “clicked” where I seem to have suddenly crossed over from novice to becoming moderately proficient at both. Still lots of practice remains to get good, but I’m happy not to “struggle” with the basic skillset of both.
  19. Paul76

    Paul76 Well-Known Member

    That’s great to hear. I know exactly what you mean when it just clicks, and the prices that you’ve learned start to come together. Keep up the good work. And the collection is looking good
  20. SevenEighth

    SevenEighth Well-Known Member

    I had a major breakthrough over the last seven days. @gssixgun 's talk of honing - gymnastics on wonky blades has been constantly ringing round my head in recent months and needling me because I have to admit I have been doubtful as to whether this is truly possible.

    Well... I was watching Keith V Johnson' s bevel setting 101 for the 100th time and started paying attention to how he grips the razor close to the heal, and what he was saying about torquing the razor. Hmmm... I thought. That would be a way to control the contact of the edge with the stone even if the blade wasn't straight.

    I got out a razor with a problematic warp, but which had been too nice to mess up. Instead of my usual grip I held it like Keith does, but I held the hone in hand like @Arnout told me I should, and I started drawing the razor up the stone in an X stroke. Except this time I lightly adjusted the rotation between the thumb and forefinger - AND made sure that the razor stayed on the hone heal to toe by keeping it straight using very very tiny lateral pressure.

    It was a little ungainly with the new grip at first, but I immediately felt feedback from the edge only and found I could adjust pressure away from the spine where it wasn't even. With hone in hand I was able to feel through both hands the amount of pressure and adjust accordingly. As I lightened my strokes through the progression I could do that laterally whilst keeping the edge in contact using light rotational torque.


    It worked. The result was a smooth sharp edge and minimal spine wear. I didn't need to take large amounts of steel off to flatten the razor. I just followed the shape of the razor through my strokes. I am astonished. So simple and yet so tricky.

    Glen, I am sorry I doubted you even for a minute. I did listen. I have been trying and this week something clicked into place.

    Whether or not I'll be able to repeat it any time soon, I don't know, but at least I now know it is possible.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018

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