How to Test Sharpness on your SR?

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

  1. Slash McCoy

    Slash McCoy Well-Known Member

    Supporting Vendor
    Lower your shave angle. Sounds like you are scraping. One spine thickness worth of gap between face and spine is a good angle, even less if the edge is extremely sharp.
    Edison Carter likes this.
  2. gssixgun

    gssixgun At this point in time...

    Supporting Vendor


    The pyramid is a rather old system from years back specifically designed for the Norton 4/8 it can be used on other hones and grits but is was really designed to slowly sneak up on the final edge and not pass it by.
    It was designed to be safe for new Norton honers

    Hopefully it gets better with your technique
    Keithmax likes this.
  3. Slash McCoy

    Slash McCoy Well-Known Member

    Supporting Vendor
    Okay I just went back and read this post again.

    If the razor didn't treetop, you didn't get it sharp. If you gave up after only one self-directed attempt, you gave up prematurely. On Badger and Blade there is a sticky called "Newbie Honing Compendium" in the Honing subforum that will help you out if you can follow directions perfectly. Guys who do, get a scary sharp edge at least by the second attempt. Believe me, that is FAST. It takes some guys many dozens of sessions to reach that level of edge quality. You threw in the towel after one attempt.

    BTW, current thinking is that with any honing system that offers feedback, counting laps is counterproductive. Don't count laps on film. Look, feel, listen to what the razor is telling you. Look at the edge, too. REALLY look at it, under a very bright light. Roll the razor slowly and watch the reflection walk across the blade and onto the bevel. With a loupe or a strong magnifying glass, you can tell if the bevel is flat and true all the way out to the edge or not. Keep going until you are looking right up the edge. You can tell if there is any undeveloped edge if you see reflection where there should be none. If you are not absolutely certain with absolutely not the slightest doubt that you have a good bevel, try the burr method. Once your bevel is verified, your next stage of honing should see the blade strongly undercutting the honing water and sort of pulling a dry area along behind it. On to the next stage and you should start feeling a bit of stiction when that stage is nearly done. The next stage should be giving you very strong feedback in the form of stiction. Use these cues instead of how many laps you have counted.

    What made me go back to your post quoted above was Glen's reference to Pyramid Honing. Okay, there it is all about lap count. We used to laugh at that method over on B&B but actually it does something that many other honing styles do; it gives the beginner a rigid framework, a paint by the numbers system that reduces subjectivity and guesswork, "mojo", "feel", the zen mythology stuff, and gives the newbie honer something he can understand and that absolutely MUST work, even if not perfectly.

    What I am getting at is that if you use a method that is well documented and has a proven track record, you will succeed if you follow directions precisely with zero substitutions, zero additions or omissions, with absolute adherence to the system in even the slightest detail. If you can't do that, then you will be a long time learning, maybe long enough to give up entirely, or be satisfied with shaving with a crappy mediocre edge. You can't freestyle it and hope to get a great edge your first time at bat. Won't happen. You can't experiment or second guess guys who know what they are talking about as they try to walk you through the steps. You can't dismiss some point as being unimportant, because if it wasn't, it would never have been said or written. I am not the first guy in this thread trying to help you by telling you this. Pick a method and follow it. Follow it exactly. Precisely. Religiously, Do not deviate until you have created a few crazy sharp edges. I am talking edges that treetop at 1/4" above your forearm skin, edges that match the sharpness of a mild DE blade. Why shave with a dull razor? You can achieve your goal with a progression of film to 1u, or a progression of synthetic stones to at least 12k. Others have done it and routinely continue to do it. Notice I have not mentioned pasted balsa. There is no need to go there until you are able to max out your film or stones. It won't help you unless your 12k/1u edge is spot on. Your 12k stone won't help you unless you can bring your 8k edge up to shaveability. Your 1u film is a waste of time if you can't shave off your 3u film. Your 8k is a waste of time if your intermediate stone is letting you down. Or you are letting it down. And that stage does you no good if your bevel is not set properly. Same applies to film. It is a progression.

    Another thing. If you watched my film honing videos, (those are old, methods have changed, and I really need to update those) then you will have seen that I hone only in hand. I regulate pressure carefully, tailoring it to where I am in the process and the grind of the razor. Yeah, you need to be doing that. Lots of very competent honers bench hone. For learning, you should be honing in hand. And reducing your pressure gradually from heavy at the beginning of the bevel set stage (the full weight of your arm) through moderate (weight of forearm) and light (weight of hand) extra light (weight of finger along with the weight of the razor) to feather light (weight of razor only, or less) as you complete the finish stage.

    Fin or wire edge is caused by two things: too many laps, and too much pressure. With light enough pressure, you simply can't get a fin edge. Why? Because the fin edge or wire edge (basically and essentially the same thing) are the result of the edge being deflected upward off the honing surface, and steel being honed away behind that deflected edge, thinning it even more, resulting in still more deflection. This is related to the burr that you raise when setting a bevel using the burr method, or honing a knife. Obviously if you don't have enough pressure, or enough laps, you will have no artifacts on your edge. Too many laps contribute just like too much pressure. This is the root of the "over-honing" thing. If your pressure isn't light, you have a very small window between not honed enough to form a good tight apex (the edge) where the bevel surfaces meet, and deflecting that thin apex upward into a burr. Burr when proving the bevel, that's a good thing, for a newbie. Burr any other time, that's a bad thing. A fin edge is just a burr that gets pushed from one side to the other and ends up more or less straight after stropping. Anyway now you see why an arbitrary number of laps is no good. It very likely will be too many, or too few. Use the feedback.

    There are some situations where you count laps, yeah. The aforementioned burr method of bevel setting. You count strokes but only so you end up with more or less the same number on both sides. You break up the process into manageable sets so you don't remove more steel than necessary. Otherwise you just continue until you are DONE. The pyramid method. Because it is all about something the rawest newbie understands, which is the number of laps. Otherwise don't thing lap count. Think feedback. Think going with a stage until it is DONE. Until it has completely removed all coarser scratches left by the previous stage, and replaced it with its own, finer scratches. Until you see the feedback increase and plateau, along with cutting power of the edge. Don't go past it. You are only inviting fin edge, even if you think your pressure is light enough.

    Again, pick your method and stick with it, and do it correctly. If you don't know better than the guy trying to teach you, don't ignore his suggestions. Do the thing, do it right, and if it doesn't work, figure out where you screwed up rather than dismissing the methodology as ineffective. Every system you find online that has adherents who report good results, that has a proven track record, is valid and it is foolish to change anything as you pursue your first great edge. You don't know more than the guy who is getting fantastic shaves from his edges. It should be obvious.
    Edison Carter and Keithmax like this.
  4. Willk

    Willk Active Member

    Good points Slash. I'll have to refer your post next time I'm ready to hone. Also as an update, I used a lot "wetter" lather, and kept the angle of my blade more flat, and my shave improved a lot. Much less irritability and a bit quicker too. The corners of the chins are still tricky, but I'm experimenting with shorter and longer strokes to see which is ideal.
    Thanks for your informative post.
    Edison Carter and Slash McCoy like this.
  5. Slash McCoy

    Slash McCoy Well-Known Member

    Supporting Vendor
    Congratulations! To a large degree perfect shave technique can make up for a meh edge. Back in the day an 8k Norton edge was considered quite adequate and shaveworthy. Sure we are kinda spoiled now, but also the shaver back then knew he had to do his part. Good prep, slippery lather, correct angle and pressure, and maybe a bit of a slide or slice stroke. The slice stroke increases cutting power a LOT but just like it cuts whiskers easier, it cuts skin easier, too. If you are up to it you might try adding just a little bit of slice to your shaving motion. Be sure to stretch, pulling the skin upstream.
    DrStrange and Edison Carter like this.

Share This Page