Honing - what am I doing wrong?

Discussion in 'Straight Razors' started by DragonBoy, Mar 10, 2007.

  1. DragonBoy

    DragonBoy Team Player

    I have a 4/8k norton and I am trying to learn to hone.. I have a bunch of eBay razors to try on but soo far I getting nothing..

    I have watched Lees Dvd and as far as I know I have done what he does ?? No pressure on wet stone.. Following the pyramid.. And nothing seems to be happening.. After I finished the pyramid I cannot feel any difference in the edge.. It feels like my hone is a dud..

    So for experimenting I have tried the agressive pyramid - no difference.. I have (based on something LX Emergency once wrote) used pressure on the blade - no difference..

    To clarify: I did 15 passes on 4k, 10 passes 8k, 10 on 4k, 5 on 8k, 5 on 4k, 5 on 8k, 3 on 4k, 5 on 8k, 1 on 4k, 5 on 8k. After each set I did HHT with no luck..

    Any suggestions.. Im open for them :(
  2. xChris

    xChris Member

    eBay razors are usually no where near keen, and may have significant oxidation at the edge. The Norton 4K also won't be a low enough (aggressive enough) grit hone to remove the oxidized metal fast enough. A Norton 1K hone, or a glass plate with some 1K grit sandpaper is the usual method used.

    You have to hone enough to get past the oxidized metal, and get a good bevel going. Also don't forget to tape up the spine to prevent taking off too much metal at the spine.
  3. DragonBoy

    DragonBoy Team Player

    So it might be that the fault is not ME !! :rofl :D :cool:
  4. Joe C

    Joe C New Member

    Generally speaking, with an ebay razor, you're dealing with an older blade, which usually has a very oxidized (i.e., weak) edge. I'd say 100 laps on the 4k is a minimum (and I usually go for 50 laps on 1k) just to get rid of the oxidized metal at the edge, and get down to the good stuff.

    I firmly believe you need 2 things to improve your honing. First, get a well-honed razor from someone who knows what they're doing (or send one of your good ebay specials to someone to hone). This will give you a good basis for comparison for your own honing. Second, get a microscope. Radio Shack sells a 60x-100x pocket model for about 10 bucks (which is what I use). When you can see what the edge is doing, it's easier to correct it.

    It also doesn't hurt to lap your hones. Make sure they're clean. It's never a problem until you've got the most beautiful bevel established, then you get to the 8k and discover a piece of grit, and it knocks a huge chunk out of your perfect bevel.
  5. DragonBoy

    DragonBoy Team Player

    I do have a new pre-honed Dovo from Tony Miller to use as a comparison.. I will go back to my eBay razors and do more laps to see whats happening.. Thanks for the advice..
  6. moviemaniac

    moviemaniac Tool Time

    full ack.

    taping the spine also serves the purpose ov allowing one to give the blade a completely new honed bevel and get rid of the old one. Do your laps on a 1k hone until you've got a completely new, perfect bevel on both sides. Only then advance to the 4k, 8k...
    Oh, and prepare yourself to hone on the 1k for anywhere between a half and 4 yours, depending on the wear of the blade.
    And another thing: While working on getting a new bevel on the 1k go ahead and apply quite some pressure on the blade, but _only_ while working on the new bevel.
  7. DragonBoy

    DragonBoy Team Player

    Thanks for all the good advice guys.. I started to think that I was doing it all wrong.. Phew.. Now I only need a Norton 1k hone.. Any ideas where to get one.. Preferably in the EU.. Customs seems to be stealing all my packages from the US right now..

    Thank you
  8. Joe C

    Joe C New Member

    You don't need a Norton 1k. You can get by with the 4k, it'll just take longer. And I seriously doubt it'll take you anywhere near 4 hours on the 1k. Any you can establish a new bevel with or without tape. The tape is just to prevent excess wear on the spine when you have to perform a ton of laps on the hones.
  9. moviemaniac

    moviemaniac Tool Time

    When honing a new bevel the tape helps, as you can see how far the "new" bevel has already advanced over the old one.
    I restored a Wade&Wingfield two weeks ago and it took me something like 2,5-3 hours on the 1k. The steel was extremely hard and the previous hone-wear was excessive.
  10. Scorpio

    Scorpio Big Hitter

    When I hone I do use a certain amount of pressure, granted it is light pressure. It is enough pressure to keep the blade and the edge where I want them to go. To me "no pressure" is subjective. When I hone an eBay razor I try to put a little more pressure at the beginning of the stroke and ease up as I get to the end of the stroke. I do this until I start to get the edge to respond or show signs of getting sharper. after that I use equal amount of pressure for the rest of the honing session for that blade.

    Once I get to this point, I put about about 50-75 laps on the 4k followed by 50 on the 8k. By this point the blade should be getting somewhere close. I then follow with 50-75 laps on the 12k finished with 25-50 laps on the Green Chromium Oxide. I then shave a few hairs of my arms and depending on the edge I do a test shave. It is at this point that depending how the edge responds I may do a conservative pyramid but most of the blades I have done in this manner are ready or may need a few more laps on the Crom. Oxide to finish.

    I only use pyramids for blades with established edges that need some refreshing or it is time for their bi annual honing if needed.

    This is just what I have found that works for me. My routine might not work for others. I am not a honemeister nor do I claim to be one. I would followed the advise of honemeisters like Joe C. One of the things I learned is that on those eBay specials you have get through the oxidized metal to get to clean metal. Not long ago I was having problems with a Wade & Butcher, when I asked for a diagnosis of my work, most everyone responded with the oxidized metal answer. I had no idea what that meant until someone explained it to me. Once I reach clean metal it became one smooth razor. Sorry for the long post. Hope this helps.

  11. DragonBoy

    DragonBoy Team Player

    I just get overwhelmed with the amount of knowledge this forum and its members has to offer.. I lift my hat.. Thank you Gents..

    Happy Shaving
  12. LX_Emergency

    LX_Emergency Member

    And just to clarify myself....I've never told ANYONE to use a pyramid since I don't even use those myself. I just never saw the point. So It might have been someone else that suggestedthe pyramid to you.
  13. Bill

    Bill Man of Steel

    Ahh! But let me confuse the issue even more by adding another take on the honing thing. There has already been some good stuff said here on this thread that support slightly different philosophies. They all work and I like parts of each of them.

    As long as there are no nics in a blade, and there is somewhat of a bevel on the edge already, you should be able to hone a razor shaving sharp in 20 minutes. That's providing you are working with decent steel. Sheffield, Solingen, TI, etc. Paki steel don't count.

    I start with a 1,000 grit stone if the blade is dullish and I use stretched electrical tape over the spine. I also use what I would call considerable pressure to set the bevel. The kind of pressure that barely starts to flex the blade a tiny bit. After a while you get a good feel for this step. 100's of razor sharpenings. It takes from 10 to 30 laps to get the bevel established.

    Using this pressure negates whatever the adverse effects of using tape would cause to a bevel if little or no pressure is used. The pressure also allows the stone to cut the steel faster. I use one of those 30X jeweler's loupes I found on eBay to check to see if I have a bevel that forms a good cutting edge.

    Tape is measured in mils anyway, and it will protect the edge of the spine if you have considerable honing to do on an expensive razor. If you feel the need for a 1,000 grit stone, my take is that you also need the tape for this step.

    Once a bevel is established with the 1,000, you can remove the tape. Don't have to, but you can. For this next step, I use the 4,000 side of a Norton. A great stone, by the way. I still use pressure, but not as much. Probably in the neighborhood of 2 pounds. That is significant compared to what many others would do with a 4,000 grit stone. I'm not saying they are wrong. This is just another way to do it. Check with the loupe and make sure you have a consistant looking bevel surface along the entire edge before moving to the next step.

    Switch to the 8,000 grit stone. Use the same 2 pounds pressure for most of the work. When you get really close to a mirror looking finish over the entire edge, make about 10 -20 laps using light pressure to finish up.

    At this point I go to green paste (.5 micron), then to conditioned leather, and the final step (oh boy, I'm gonna open a can of worms) I make 10 -15 laps on a cork panel that I made for my HandAmerican flatbed hone system. Don't worry if you don't have the cork... It's probably only voodoo stuff, anyway. Cork is used to polish steel in kinfe making, so I just transposed the idea behind it to sharpening razors. It may only work because I imagine it.
  14. coolsimon

    coolsimon New Member


    well i must say that this thread contains a boatload of great info, for me honeing takes a wee while longer.....i lack confidence in myself so I take it slow and to add to that my personal time is limited to a few hours here and there because of my 2 year old...lol...as much as I know he would love to help...my outcome is the thing, dont feel like your on a clock, i find it very relaxing actually me,my thoughts and a mad sharp razor hopefully...

    Following all the advice on here and a little patience and time you'll accomplish wonders.

    my tuppence worth,simon
  15. DragonBoy

    DragonBoy Team Player


    It worked!!!

    Finally.. I have just shaved with a Swedish Erik Anton Berg razor that I honed myself.. Soo Cool!!

    It took around 350-400 laps on the 4k before it started to react to the stone.. So after that I did a fairly aggressive Pyramid.. 25/10..20/10..15/10..10/10..8/10..6/10..4/10..2/10..1/25

    And then 25 laps on .5 paste and finally 100 laps on the leather..

    Ohh!! Goodie..

    I feel like a 5year old in the worlds biggest Toy-store..

    Thank you all gents for your good advice.. I could never have gotten to this without you.. Do take a bow..

    Happy Shaving!!
  16. DragonBoy

    DragonBoy Team Player

    Yes Im sorry for the confusion.. What I meant was that I read somewhere that you use quite a lot of pressure when beginning to hone.. You did not make a reference to the pyramid.. Sorry..
  17. Joe C

    Joe C New Member

    Super! Glad all the suggestions worked for you. I wish I could say that many laps is terribly uncommon, but it ain't. lol I'm a big fan of the "fewer strokes, the better" theory, but you do what you gotta do to get what you want. You're in good shape now.
  18. xChris

    xChris Member

    Good to hear it worked out for you!

    I've got a Bartmann #22 (7/8) that I've put through two honing sessions already trying to get it honed up properly. I was trying to get it there with as few of strokes as possible, but looks like it's gonna be a marathon for this blade.
  19. Joe C

    Joe C New Member

    If it's one of those Wacker Bartmanns, be prepared for a long haul...those things are HARD!
  20. LX_Emergency

    LX_Emergency Member

    Yeah...I heard that comment before...people seem to think that by that I mean that I'm leaning on the blade or something.

    It's ok...it's all water under the bridge. If you want to know how I hone just check out the video I posted.

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