Tutorial Razor Honing Part 2

Discussion in 'Tutorials' started by Steve56, Jul 19, 2018.

  1. Steve56

    Steve56 Well-Known Member

    Badly ground and Worn razors

    Basically you have two choices, correct the wear or hone the razor like it’s been honed in order to hit all the edge. Correcting the wear is something that many times is out of the realm of honing and into restoration. Correcting geometry (frowns, smiles, etc) has to be done with brute force metal removal because you cannot add metal back to a razor. I won’t spend much time on it, but if you want some experience with correction get a half dozen Gold Dollars and when they’re perfect you will understand what it takes to correct a razor.

    Two basic types of non-linear edges are frowns and smiles, and sometimes smiles were intended to be there by the manufacturer. Smiles are done with a rolling stroke, which means that the pressure at the beginning of the stroke is at the heel and transitions to the center and toe as you complete the stroke. It isn’t hard to do but it does take practice and it is a skill that’s essential to learning how to hone. The way to test your proficiency with the rolling stroke is to observe the stria at the heel, center, and toe with magnification. The striae should look the same, but probably won’t and you’ll need to go back and concentrate on the areas that you did not get enough time on. You’ll still do this even after you have a lot of experience, just to a lesser degree.

    Frowns are usually the result of many years of honing with narrow hones or pasted strops and spending more time in the central areas of the blade than the toe and heel, so the center wears more than the toe or heel. There are any ways that you can hone a frown, the most common is a narrow hone or using the side of a 1” thick stone so that the stone rides into thew frown. You can do this without narrow hones, with the appropriate stroke which you’ll also have to learn. But everyone has narrow hones that can hone a frown whether they know it or not, you can use the side of a stone if it’s thick enough or just use the corner of the stone to get into the frown (see below). I don’t like frowns and don’t have any in my rotation because they’re a PITA to hone, but there are compelling reasons to do so. The most obvious is that a frowning razor belonged to your father or grandfather, and you don’t want to brute force the frown out by turning your grandfather’s 7/8 Wade and Butcher into a 5/8.

    Razors with overground areas are pretty common in current razors especially if they used domed hones/wheels, and although a low area in a blade hollow is not really a frown, it’s treated the same way as far as honing it goes. You can see it in the bevel, for example the bevel will get very thin or even appear to vanish in one area. The hone won’t hit this area the same unless you use a different stroke, or the edge or corner of the hone to ride into the overground areas.

    Heel hooks are normal wear after a long time. They’re usually caused by hone wear on the edge without correcting the stabilizer wear. You don’t see them on stabilizer-less blades except as some sort of a frown. Oz Parker has a great post on correcting heel hooks over at SRP. This is a good time to mention that as you learn honing, you should not be running the stabilizer up on the hone. You can even hone the worst Gold Dollar just fine without removing or grinding the stabilizer as long as you don’t get the stabilizer onto the hone. A honed stabilizer means you still have some skills to learn, and I’d hate to get a fine razor back from honing with a honed stabilizer that wasn’t honed before.

    Wash the razor well, slurry is sticky and you don’t want any slurry on your strop.

    Tape vs No Tape

    I don’t like using anything or any method by rote. I like to understand the reasons behind using tools and use the right tool for the job.

    Reasons for using tape

    Increasing the bevel angle
    Protecting plated or decorated spines
    Framebacks (many of the frames are not hardened or even made of plastic or ivory)
    Kamisori (these can be difficult to hone because of the soft iron on the omote side)
    Preserving the appearance of the spine
    Wedges and near wedges

    Types of tape

    Most everyone uses Scotch or 3M electrical tape. It’s about 0.007” thick and commonly available. 0.007” Tape will increase the bevel angle by different amounts depending on the width of the razor, but a decent rule of thumb is that between 5/8 and 7/8, one layer will increase the bevel angle by about one degree, a little more on 5/8 and a little less on 7/8. I like the DuPont Kapton tape because I can get it in very thin thicknesses and a large number of widths. It’s more wear-resistant than electrical tape. The downsides are that it tends to be very expensive in the wider widths and the adhesive produces ‘rollers’ when it wears through. The second point isn’t a problem, it’s just the tape saying ‘change me’.

    The bevel angle of most straight razors should be around 17 degrees give or take a degree or so. If it’s a lot less, use tape to bring it into the usual range. I have a French razor that I bought at a brocante (flea market) that’s about 13-14 degrees and needs to be taped. I also re-ground an old Kamisori that had been rode hard and put up wet, and it needed 3 layers of electrical tape on the omote to substitute for all missing soft iron. But it worked. You should know when to use tape to correct bevel angle and that means knowing how to measure bevel angle. There’s lots of info out there so I won’t do that here.

    Tape can protect gold plated spines like the Dovo Bismarck and decorated or engraved spines. Especially if you hone for other people you don’t want to send back a pristine Dovo with the gold plate on the spine missing. Preserving the appearance of the spine is more important if you hone professionally so that the appearance of the razor doesn’t change and show hone wear which may be important to the customer. The spine was actually deigned to wear with the edge, but that doesn’t help if your customer is not happy. You can get the appearance of excessive spine wear if you have to say hone out a chip, and maybe surprisingly when honing a new razor. That angle between the hollow grind and the spine can be quite obtuse on a new razor, and even a little wear can look like a lot. The best example is a new Gold Dollar because I don’t think that they machine the spine at all, so the first time you hone one the spine looks like it wears tremendously.

    Wedges and near wedges are commonly found, and although you can hone a wedge flat, it’s quicker and easier to use tape so that the bevel is not the entire razor. Near wedges are to me probably the best example, because the hollow is so shallow, any wear looks terrible and the razor looks extremely worn with its wide bevels and spine wear, even though it may not be.

  2. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
  3. Nice write up Sir!!
    So when a frown is involved - and if i sometimes use tape does one need to hone without tape until the frown is corrected?
  4. Steve56

    Steve56 Well-Known Member

    I’d probably fix the frown with tape just for cosmetics.
  5. So tape (kapton) will not hinder the gradual fix of the frown on the razor?
    Correct me if I am wrong. So on my Ern the heels bevel is wider than the rest of the razor (middle toe), but at the same time the blades width is also just a little narrower than the middle and toe? To correct over time with honing I need more time spent on the middle and toe, basically an exaggerated ×-stroke?
  6. Steve56

    Steve56 Well-Known Member

    5CE971EB-FF21-492E-9898-D00AF8C48C36.jpeg It’s almost gone Mike, just hone normally. A smile or frown is when parts of the blade, not the bevel, are wider than other parts of the nlade.

    This is a frown.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2020
  7. Yes - the heel blade width is narrower, but looking through a loupe at the bevel the heels section of the bevel is wider than the rest of the blade. Not much, but it was ground that way. I
  8. Steve56

    Steve56 Well-Known Member

    Razors get thicker as you go up the blade toward the spine. So if the toe, heel, or middle is narrower (closer to the spine), the bevel will likely be wider because the steel is thicker there.

Share This Page