Broke all the rule

Discussion in 'Hones/Honing' started by BobK, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. I know, YMMV, so there are no rules to break, just wise suggestions and techniques; but I broke them.

    First a little history; I don’t have much experience using a straight, I wouldn’t have gotten into it at all except that I stumbled upon a straight at a flea market about a year ago, when I was looking for a vintage safety razor. The razor is a C-Mon Handmade Blackie. Got it shave ready and played with it off and on over the past year (mostly off) but I can get a SAS (Socially Acceptable Shave) with it. When it got duller, I’d use the powder/paste on balsa that came w/ the poor man’s strop kit. A few weeks ago, I started using the straight a little more and decided that I wanted to use it regularly. So I got a better strop w/ linen and wanted to get a hone, but I didn’t want to spend over $100 total for the hone(s).

    I assumed I would get a Norton 4/8K, but I did a lot of reading and asked a lot of questions about hones and honing. I don’t plan on restoring any razors, I just wanted something to touch up the edge; to keep it shave ready, so it would only have to be actually honed once every few years. Suggestions about barber hones usually include this concept. I have to admit that I’m more drawn to natural hones rather than synthetics, but I researched them all, including lapping film. As you can imagine, I got lots of suggestions; the loudest, and perhaps the wisest, was to get the Norton 4/8K and learn to hone. Then I could get a finisher later. But I liked what I read about the edges a Coticule can give you; that you can just use it w/ water as a finisher to touch up the edge, plus the idea of one hone honing appealed to me as well. So here is where I broke rule number 1 (wise suggestion); I knew each stone would hone differently and that it would take a long, long time to get good, consistent results, but I didn’t go the synthetic route; I went to Jarrod’s. For $100, I got a sight unseen, lapped w/ slurry stone 6 X 2 Coticule. I ordered it on Friday, got it yesterday, on Monday.

    This morning was when I really got busy breaking the rules (wise suggestions and techniques). I didn’t have a lot of time before going to work, but I did have a little. My razor was still sharp enough to pass the HHT w/ flying colors, and it shaved OK. But I knew it could be better/smoother. So I thought, even though I had never honed before, that nothing bad would happen if it just did a few X strokes on my new Coticule w/ water; it would just smooth up the edge a little. So, after 7 X strokes, I tried the HHT, and it failed miserably; I had to hold the hair on both ends, and use some pressure for the edge to cut it. My Coticule has some blue streaks/grain on about a third of the surface. It seems harder where the blue is than where the yellow is. My first thought was maybe I got a bad hone that will damage the edge; but what do I know, I’ve never honed before, and I’m new at using a straight. At any rate, even though I didn’t have much time, I grabbed the slurry stone and rubbed it lightly along the hone about 5 or 6 times. A slurry developed quickly; it was the color and texture of low fat milk. This surprised me for 2 reasons; 1) I read that you want a milk-like slurry, but I thought that referred to the texture only, not the color, and 2) watching videos of honemeisters creating a slurry, it looked like they rubbed their slurry stone for quite a while, with a lot of pressure before they raised a slurry. Anyway, I went to town with all kinds of strokes: half strokes, circles, X strokes, pig tailed strokes, and some others I made up as I went along. The only consistent thing I did is that whatever I did on one side of the blade, I did on the other. I did notice that after a while, when I did the X strokes, the slurry ran up the edge like I had read it was supposed to. So I tried the HHT, but it failed. It did shave arm hair though. I was now running out of time, so proceeded to dilute the slurry at an accelerated rate, going to town with all manners of strokes. The slurry was still riding up the edge mostly, so I rinsed everything and went to just water. The water just pushed in front of the edge, but I had run out of time; I should be on my way to work now, but I hadn’t showered or shaved yet. So I stropped the razor on linen and leather; 60 on each, but still no HHT success. After a quick shower, I just had to try the razor; just a small area on each cheek. It did shave, but it wasn’t comfortable at all; it pulled a lot. I quickly finished up w/ my DE, and was late to work. I know that I need to set aside some time to hone in a methodical way through the progressions, but I just had to share my enthusiastic blunders this morning.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2012
  2. just be patient and take it easy. i believe you will sucsess in a few days.
    just read the unicot honing method on
  3. ouch

    ouch Moderator Contributor

    You did not get a bad stone.

    If you never honed before, you shouldn't expect great results the first time no matter what stones you have.
  4. Kentos

    Kentos Moderator Emeritus

    Sounds like par for the course! Decide on whether you want to do a unicot or diluticot first. One thing about Coticules is that there is a specific baseline technique that should be followed. Just haphazardly doing laps wont give you a shave ready edge.

    Also, not sure where your rule number 1 came from :smile:
  5. Krodor

    Krodor Contributor

    wonderful work! Think of all you've learned!

    Once I get my slurry going and it rides up nicely, I do something like 2 drops of water / 20 laps on the rock. 2 more drops, 20 more laps. repeat over and over until you don't see any more white-ish stuff on the rock. Right or wrong, it seems to be ok with MY rock.

    Rinse everytyhing really well, then a bunch of passes with just water. then oil if I feel like it.

    at this point HHT popping, no problem. post strop, it's another notch better.
  6. It can take a while to master the coticule but you will enjoy using it once you got it nailed. Film is much quicker to learn and gives scary sharp edges much sooner. Cheaper too, but that point is moot since you already have the rock.

    A newly lapped Coti will smooth out after a few sessions. Actually this is true for most stones.

    If your stroke is good with no bending over the edge of the stone, light pressure, and always keeping the spine on the rock, it is likely that you aren't spending enough time on the thick slurry. Each stage of honing must do its job completely for succeeding stages to have a chance at getting their work done.

    Dilution speed is something that you will have to learn uniquely for your rock and your honing style. It may take a while to get it. With each failed attempt you will have eliminated one more way that didn't get the job done. You will get it if you keep at it.
  7. We would love to see pics of the stone. Your did well for not using one before. Just need to spend some time with some practice razors so you don't wear down your nice one learning.
  8. Isaac

    Isaac Moderator Emeritus

    Practice, practice, practice. You can have a great string of blades, and then hit a speedbump along the way. Always keep up the practice.
  9. Hi Bob!, Welcome to the wonderful world of coticule'll get a great edge in no time at all, but here's what I'd do if I were you...have you been to If not, what are you waiting for?, get your tail over there and read up. this is the index page- You're going to want to read every chapter eventually. I know from reading your post you're a bit impatient (you did say you didn't have time to hone but you did anyways) and there's nothing wrong with in this fast paced world, we're prone to wanting quick

    Okay, read this chapter- IMO, you will want to be able to memorize it. Seriously!, for it is the meat and potatoes of coticule honing. If you follow the instructions in that chapter, you will be able to execute a very good coticule edge first try, but you have to follow the instructions exactly

    Run your razor's edge over the lip of a coffee cup w/o any pressure at all (to dull the edge). This insures you are starting from scratch. Now you are going to correct the bevel. This *is* the most important step. follow Bart's directions to the letter and perform the arm hair shave test (after you think you have corrected the bevel). if you don't pass this test, don't even think of moving forward for if you do, you'll never get a good edge, so make sure your razor passes the arm hair shave test with flying colours...and you check the entire edge, the toe, the middle and the heel, and everywhere in between, both sides. If your edge shaves arm hair well both sides all along the length, congrats, you're ready to move on

    Krodor's advice is good where he speaks about dilutions...2 drops of water, 20 laps. Repeat, repeat, repeat. This is where a lot of guys get impatient . You don't want to be impatient doing your dilution phase

    that's my 2 cents. Bart spent a lot of time perfecting the information on that site. His technique is w/o peers...there is no better way, using coticules. Performing the dilucot as he states will garuntee you success


    Reddick Fla.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2012
  10. Thank you all for your encouragement. I have read up on things, to help me make a decision about what hone to get; pros and cons of each type. Now that I have the coticule, I will have to read more with focus on getting the best results from the stone I have. I didn't plan on honing yesterday morning, I just wanted to touch up the edge using just water and 6 or 7 light X strokes, but that didn't work out too well, which led to doing more than I intended; since I didn't have the time, that wasn't the thing to do. I have an update, which I will give in another thread later today, and in that thread, I will post a pic when I can, maybe tomorrow. The thread will probably be entitled, "Success! Well Sorta".
  11. ouch

    ouch Moderator Contributor

    A very wise man once remarked that you sort of have to "sneak up on an edge".

    The perfect edge is a moving and elusive target, and I can guarantee this- once you get a satisfactory edge, you will face a new challenge of duplicating the results. It just takes time and effort. It's part art, part science, and part magic.

    You may also not have received a truly shave ready edge, despite whatever the gentleman at the flea market told you about the honing prowess of his brother-in-law. Remember: a honemeister is nothing more than a guy with a hone and an ego. Without seeing your blade, no one can be certain that the bevel was set, and if it wasn't, it's going to take a whole lot more than a few swipes on a coti.

    Just keep at it and you'll do fine.

Share This Page