Learning to hone with Larry Andro

Discussion in 'Hones/Honing' started by DLBconductor, Aug 24, 2011.

  1. This past Monday evening, I had the privilege of sitting down with Larry Andriessen (Larry Andro - Whipped Dog Razors) for a two-hour session on honing. Other than refreshing an edge on a Swaty barber's hone, I have never honed a razor. I was excited to learn that he lives only an hour and a half from my home and was willing to give me a tutoring session.

    Larry is a great teacher. We started with a 5/8 Le Grelot 150 eBay razor that had a slight frown. He slowly took me through all the steps to make the razor shave-ready from light bread-knifing through a progression of grits from 220-12,000, finishing with .25 diamond spray on felt and the final stropping on leather. Throughout, he carefully explained not only what he was doing, but also why he was doing a particular thing. He was also careful to mention how others might disagree with him and what they might do instead. He was very self-assured and explained his philosophy of honing. My assessment is that he is very much a pragmatist who is process oriented and chooses to do that which is both effective and efficient.

    Along the way, I learned how to see the shine on a razor's edge, how to make the razor's edge disappear, how to successfully use the thumb test through the various stages of honing, and how to use the HHT test to check the full length of the razor. I must admit that everything I knew about how and why to use the HHT was wrong. Learning the how and why of the thumb test and the HHT test was invaluable. I also learned how to use the variety of strokes necessary for good honing. Rather than teaching me a "method," he taught me a "process" that allows me a great deal of independence in learning how to hone a razor.

    After the two-hour session, I believe I now possess the knowlege necessary to hone a razor from the beginning to shave-ready. Notice that I said the "knowledge" rather than "ability," "skill," or "experience." Only time and experience will tell whether I have the patience, ability, or skill to learn the art of honing.

    To begin my long journey in honing, Larry gave me a throw-away Torrey razor with cracked scales. He quipped, "If the scales break, that's what duct tape is for!" I took the Torrey and my newly shave-ready Le Grelot with me; leaving 5 other razors with him for honing. Hopefully, by the time I return to retrieve them, I will be farther up the learning curve of honing.

    I want to publically thank Larry for his graciousness and time. Between his demonstrations and my questions, it took two hours to do what was probably a twenty to thirty minute job for him. There is no way I can properly thank him for the knowledge he imparted by giving me this special time. His love for straight razors and honing is very obvious but more obvious is his desire to help beginners experience the thrill of straight razor shaving by providing low cost shave-ready straights and other materials to get them started. He genuinely cares about others. Larry is truly an excellent teacher, a gentleman, an artist, and a class act. Thank You Larry!
  2. Kentos

    Kentos Moderator Emeritus

    Larry is def a class act:thumbup1:
  3. Wid


    Very nice Donald, you lucky dog. I've had the pleasure of speaking with Larry (bought a couple of his straights) and he is quite the gentleman. IMO he is also very good at his craft .
  4. Legion

    Legion Moderator Emeritus

    Wow, Your a lucky guy. I wish I had that sort of tutoring when I started, it could have saved me a lot of time.
  5. My opinion of him exactly. A class act. And what I wouldn't give for that two hour honing session.
  6. mdunn

    mdunn Moderator Emeritus

    Very cool
  7. I've had the pleasure of dealing with Larry on two occasions when I was first starting out. First class gentlemen all the way. Way to go!
  8. Awesome! Larry has been very helpful to me through email, I would imagine a face to face would be very educational.
  9. Very cool. Learning like that, you will make progress leaps and bounds faster than you would doing trial and error by yourself...that's priceless. It's apparent you're very analytical and have already been working through all the info, and it will pay off in spades.
  10. Fantastic! Larry is great. I really appreciated the help and insights he gave me when I was starting out with straights.

    You got a lesson from a Master! Let us know how you progress.
  11. I think the most significant thing I learned is to decide what you are trying to do to the blade and to constantly evaluate how successfully you are reaching that goal. Testing and evaluating all along the way seems to be one of the secrets of good honing. Without a goal, 25 indiscriminate laps on the stone could turn out to be fairly meaningless.
  12. I'm getting way too much credit! But, since even my dog isn't obeying me lately, I won't fight it off very strenuously. :)
  13. Alacrity59

    Alacrity59 Moderator Emeritus Contributor

    Dogs are great at keeping us honest. I've not been able to sneak a cookie in over 10 years.
  14. Reminds me of one of the many times I pissed my wife off! She had a limited supply of M&Ms, and not enough to share with both kids. We were riding along in the dark, her sitting beside me. She quietly held the bag to her mouth, slipping M&Ms in, sucking them silently till soft, as is her habit, then even more quietly swallowing.

    From the back seat... "What is that smell? I hear a bag rustling!"

    I started laughing, and suggested my wife stick her head in the sack like a camel with a feed sack. Despite my opinion that my remark was quite funny, I surmised from the sudden sullen silence that it was not!

    You can't slip M&Ms past kids, and it sounds like you can't slip cookie's past dogs! :)
  15. Nice post op. Larry helped me with honing as well (over emails though). If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be straight shaving.

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