How to Test Sharpness on your SR?

Discussion in 'Straight Razors' started by Willk, Sep 23, 2019.

  1. MrEE

    MrEE Well-Known Member

    You can refresh an edge with just a12K stone, but it will take a long time to put a fresh edge with just a 12K. 8K stone's aren't expensive.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
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  2. gssixgun

    gssixgun At this point in time...

    Supporting Vendor
    You would have to give WAY more info before any of us could even start to assess whether your SR could be dialed in with just a 12k

    We know absolutely nothing about it at this point in time

    First questions I would ask

    What brand is it ??
    Did it ever shave well ??
    If it shaved well, how long ago was that ??
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  3. Willk

    Willk Active Member

    To answer the above questions: It never shaved "well", or nearly as good as my DE. (Mind you, this is the only SR I ever owned, so I have nothing to compare it to except a DE blade). The brand is uncertain, although there is a "Jackson Garanti" stamped in it. (See thread here)

    1st update:
    I sharpened my straight using a 3k, 8k, and finished with a 12k (about 10 passes on each whetstone). The blade is now noticeably sharper, but still not as sharp as my DE blade. I did a test cutting hairs on my arm and the double edge cut several hairs where as the SE cut very few.

    In any case, the end result was a much easier shave with the SR. Usually, there is a lot of uncomfortable tugging, especially around the chin, but with my new sharpened SR, it was a much nicer experience. The quality of the shave was similar to before I sharpened it. ie: you could still feel small stubble after the 2nd pass. (I usually finished with a DE for the 3rd pass). I plan to "hone" my sharpening skills so I can get my SR to be closer in sharpness to my DE blade, and then try it out.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
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  4. MrEE

    MrEE Well-Known Member

    A 12K is great but I finish with chromium oxide or diamond spray on a leather strop. It makes all the difference in the world.
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  5. Willk

    Willk Active Member

    I can try a diamond spray on my leather strop, if that indeed makes a big difference. Is it common for a good SR to be as sharp as a DE blade?
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  6. MrEE

    MrEE Well-Known Member

    You need a dedicated leather strop. You don't want to strop daily with spray or chromium oxide.
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  7. MrEE

    MrEE Well-Known Member

    My SRs are always pretty close to as sharp as my DE blades.
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  8. Robert1955

    Robert1955 Well-Known Member

    When I started off SR shaving ( not long ago) I thought the razors I had were sharp, so I sent them off to Fergiebilly and he honed them for me, this gave me a chance to compare razors, I built up quite a few blades and can easily get a great shave now...but one of the blades billy done remains untouched, this is my comparrison razor in case my standard drops without me realising it...I already done it with a gold dollar, I was sure it was shave ready....but it tugged really bad...half my cheek done and stopped...finished off with another blade but was eager to find out why the GD was sooo bad, it was just lack of concentration and not setting the bevel right, basically going thro the motions expecting it to be fine...I may have got away with a better blade, but gd are not famous for quality so really more care should have been taken...I enjoy honing so it was not a problem for me to re hone it...I did and it now shaves well. My touch ups are now generally a coti then onto a black ark...this works very well for me, actually just done 4 tonight after my shave and they are sharp...will strop tomorrow and that should be a even better smoother need for pastes etc, I find crox ok, but diamond spray is very aggressive, I dont use that much at all now.
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  9. Chuck Naill

    Chuck Naill Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't think 10 passes are going to accomplish much.
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  10. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    I've always been a fan of the hanging razor test. You hold the razor about 12 inches off the counter. Find a volunteer and drop it on their finger. If it hits bone, it's sharp enough to shave with.

    I'm still working out a few details. No one wants to volunteer for science. *sigh* kids these days. So privileged and self centered.
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  11. brit

    brit in a box

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  12. BardicDruid

    BardicDruid Active Member

    This is how my dad taught me to maintain a SR:

    And this is the best I've seen on stropping:

    And for keeping your razor in shape:

    A straight razor will not work well if not properly maintained, and there is no easy or quick way of doing so.
  13. Leclec13

    Leclec13 Well-Known Member

    Ultimate test is how well it shaves, and how comfortable.

    I’m prolly the minority here ( wait i am a minority). But I usually check by tree topping, Run blade not touching skin, and if hair cut/ tree topped it is sharp enough. My other test is holding a hair then cutting with blade like in dovo videos. I no longer do HHT 4/5 test. While I can get edge that sharp I find those edges leave face irritated. And I can get equal closeness with less irritation with a less sharp edge. Also the HHT test is often dependent on hair. A thicker piece of hair will pass HHT, While fine hair will not. After an edge is Honed properly I can maintain and edge on diamond pasted balsa and naked leather strop only. I’m going on about 8 months hone free on a SR that is in heavy rotation.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2019
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  14. Chuck Naill

    Chuck Naill Well-Known Member

    Well said, brotherman. :happy088::happy088:
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  15. Keithmax

    Keithmax Breeds Pet Rocks

    I also tree top the hairs on my arms or legs but the ultimate test is how well it shaves. I do not do HHT tests.
  16. Willk

    Willk Active Member

    Update 2:
    I tried using a "red" fine strop paste (3 micron grit) and it made a noticeable difference. I did about 10 strokes with the paste applied to the soft leather side of the strop, and about 50 strokes on the hard leather side (following Lynn Abrams Straight Razor Designs/ Straight Razor Place video above), and the result was a sharper edge. Not as sharp as my feather DE, but sharper than it was before. The shave experience was much better and more fun. Everything went smoother and quicker -even around the chin. The shave result was still far from BBS or even DFS (Damn Fine Shave), but I'm much happier using the paste now and then to "freshen up" the edge.
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  17. RezDog

    RezDog Well-Known Member

    So the basis for every great edge is the development of the apex, or bevel set. In order for the higher grit hones to refine the bevel it must be fully developed. A not shave ready razor has an edge that is formed similar to a U and a developed bevel is shaped like a V for the full length of the edge. Until that is correctly established the edge will never shave properly. It sounds to me like the razor in question has never had a proper apex. It is the very tip of the V that actually does the work. You can actually get a decent shave from a 1K edge with a good unpasted stropping.
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  18. Willk

    Willk Active Member

    hmmm... I wonder if that's my problem. How do you test for a V-shaped bevel? The Lynn Abram's video above doesn't talk about doing anything special to determine if your honing produced a "sharp enough" edge. The video showed him just casually running the blade back and forth on the different stones. My "chopping tree" hair test shows my blade is not as sharp as my feather DE blade. I used a 3k, 8k, and 12k, (plus strop paste). What am I missing? Or, are straight razors not designed to get as sharp as a DE blade?
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  19. Chuck Naill

    Chuck Naill Well-Known Member

    So, to answer your question, a SR can be made to be as effective as any DE. It's a combination of skills in honing, honing progression, honing materials, and learning to use a SR to shave. If you think about it, a DE is degraded by use whereas the SR is taken back to shave ready after use by honing or stropping. At the end of 5 shaves, any advantage the DE might have had is lost.

    If you stay the course, you'll figure it out. Just stay the course and don't let yourself get discouraged. You might want to consider 200k diamond pasted balsa.

    Also, films are effective.
  20. gssixgun

    gssixgun At this point in time...

    Supporting Vendor

    It isn't that easy,

    You watch people like Lynn or myself that have honed 10000's of razors and it looks easy,,
    One of the things you learn when teaching at the meetups is that people misinterpret so much of what we show in the vids.

    Pressure and Torque are essential to understand...

    This vid might have been the smartest one I ever did even though it was unplanned, this gives a good idea of what it is like to sit across the table at a meet and learn

    Once you get the hang of it, things get easier, but when you listen to people try and say "It is Easy" they have never actually taught a group of people and seen all the mistakes people can make
    It is a learned skill it takes time to learn and even longer to perfect

    To be clear on Sharpness:
    The Voerhaven papers put the Sharpest DE edge at .31~microns and the best SR edge at .32~microns, this is simply a statistical tie
    The real difference is in the "Smooth" not the "Sharp"

    or as some really smart, good looking fellow, said years ago "Sharp is pretty easy, Sharp and Smooth takes Talent"

    Hone On !!!

    ps: what @RezDog mentioned above about the 1k shave is a great learning experience, it started many years back on SRP when 3 of us that believed that the biggest hurdle to honing was in the bevel set and not in overhoning started a campaign to push that..

    We went so far as to offer to set the bevel for people and let them finish out the honing which had a 100% success rate
    After that I made the comment that if you can't shave at 4k you probably didn't get a good bevel set, that evolved to me saying that a 1k bevel set was 90 % of the work.
    I finally started saying that a 1k shave after 20 laps stropping on plain leather was the best test to your understanding that a good bevel set was 90% of the work.
    Some of the newer guys took the challenge up and started what they called the "1K Shave Challenge" most passed it and were very enlightened, you really can learn quite a bit by doing the full challenge.
    You simply stop at each stage, strop 20 laps on clean leather and test shave, it will teach you what each level is bringing to the table


    Bevel Set tests that you must learn or at least understand

    Thumbnail test TNT
    Thumbpad test TPT
    Arm Hair test AHT
    Loupe / Microscope
    Tomato Test
    Paper Test
    Tissue Test
    Magic Marker Test MMT

    One of these tests or maybe two will become your personal Go-No Go gauge to a positive Bevel set
    I can't say which will be the one or two that you will settle one..
    I always suggest you try them all until you eliminate the ones that are inaccurate or too troublesome to use.

    Good Luck
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2019

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