Rambling - A Coupla Weeks with a Kamisori

Discussion in 'Hones/Honing' started by Gamma, Jul 29, 2012.

  1. First - Based on just the visual appearance of these things - I'm not sold on why anyone wants to use a Kamisori. They look like a cross between a meat cleaver and a cheese knife; when you really look at it close up in your hand its just a menacing kind of blade.
    Reading the comments here/there I thought maybe I was missing out on something so I decided to try one.
    I got a 45mm Asuma, Yasuki steel, nothing really special I guess but it's pretty nice.
    First shave went ok, but something was off so I rehoned it.
    Second shave was ok but something was still off so I rehoned it again.
    Third shave was better but not what I wanted so - yes - I rehoned it.
    Same deal. WTF?
    Ok - For the 4th spin - I decided to just go on instinct and feel. I used a new Ozuku (not the big one, another new one) so I had that variable to work with but I was semi-dialed into it already. Anyway - I used info from the aforementioned (verifiable, knowledgeable, and proven) souce and had at it.
    I managed to get the bevel done right this time - Yae Botan got me home and Koma iced the cake. Sprinkles provided by a chunk of Mizu Ozuku that I consider to be a miracle stone.
    I haven't cut myself in a long time. Nicks - yeah, slices - no. Till today. The cut happened because I wasn't respecting the edge or the spike and I got careless. I never felt it, I just watched it happen - it bled but it stopped pretty quickly.
    I'm not blaming anything but my own carelessness here - but honestly, the edge is so freaking bizzarely sharp and smooth so I can see how my technique has to improve or I'm going to need a personal blood donor. FWIW - This blade is sharp like I've not experienced with a razor before.
    So - what I think is that this little cleaver of a razor has some promise as a shaving implement, but I'm still not sold on it as being one that I'd really enjoy in the long term.
    The hard/soft steel construction is interesting, the short hard slab of cutting edge (obviously) has merit. I do like not having to deal with working around scales at times too. But even so - it just seems weird somehow. And I don't know what to do with it when I want to put it down. Folding a traditional straight up allows me to just put it wherever I want to. The Kami needs a secure stand or something. Not sure what to do about that, but I can't have an open blade hanging around in the bathroom, or anywhere else, like that.
    At any rate - I'm kind of happy I nailed the edge, and got a laser-razor shave from it. The cut proofed the edge so even that's ok.
    I didn't put much wear on it during the honing sessions, so I can keep playing around with progressions and stuff a bit if I decide to keep going with it.

    But still - at the sake of sounding redundant - shaving with this Kamisori just seems a bit weird.
  2. Wid


    Tried one myself, didn't care much for it. Good luck with yours Keith.
  3. I sent mine back to the nice lender of a guy...If I had the high enough grit stones..I woulda kept it much longer and eventually got my own..they hold an edge like no other western razor..thats for sure!..but require 12k+ finisher/Jnat hones
  4. I have two which I've yet to get more than just an acceptable edge on. It really calls to me but I just can't get more than "ok" on the edge with both. Glad its just not me who finds these a bit more of a challenge to get right.

    I do have to mention some props to Kent who helped me get that far at least but again still having issues.
  5. Kentos

    Kentos Moderator Emeritus

    You can put it non stamped side down and the wedge will keep the edge off whatever you place the razor on.

    I like the kamisori because it gets so nice and sharp, and the short edge allows me to do a nice left to right pass on the upper lip without taking off my bottom lip. They are like cilantro or tripe stew. You either love em or hate em. You also can blunt the front and back spike too. 3 of my kamisori are blunted...including the one that came straight from the blacksmith in Japan. I can't imagine using one without the tip at least muted but YMMV. It isn't supposed to a flirt with danger everytime you shave with the thing :)
  6. The edge -
    Truthfully - I'm not much of a honing expert really, especially with these Kamisoris. So, I sought and received good direction from (who, I now realize, I originally referred to as 'aforementioned' but I must have edited the qualifying part out of the original post while typing) someone that knows his stuff (to a degree I'll never posess, I'm sure) and that helped tremendously. Another edified and equally kind member shared his approach to honing Kamisoris also. Combined, they both gave me an understanding that resulted in a base-line approach to work with.
    But - being a headstrong kinda person with no regard for the antiquity or rarity of the cleaver in question, I hacked together my own stroke progression to overcome my newb-ness with this one so I could get the edge to a better place.
    Basically - I just honed the snot out of it using a kind of traveling half-x-stroke move with alternating heel/toe-forward positions on the hard side (Omote). For the return I would do 1-3 x-strokes with alternating heel/toe positioning.
    I alternately went to straight x-strokes here/there (based on feel) and then returned to the original gymnastics I was doing.
    I did use pressure at Yae Botan, but not like the kind of pressure you would tamp an espresso puck with, more like finger weight+ pressure. Only at first, once I had the bevel 'cut' I backed off gradually until I had lighter than blade-weight pressure going on. After YB, I didn't use that level of pressure again, but I did start with some firmness at the beginning of each stage of slurry. What I did worked - but it's unproven and I would not recommend it. Still - while the event was technically wrong and a honing-crime against all Kamisoriville, my feeling is that it's a razor and it's supposed to shave, not tick me off.
    The ends do not justify the means - I'm just impatient and the Yasuki steel was tough.
    I do think the stroke method was fine, it's the pressure that's questionable here.
    FWIW - I figure that I was hitting a 7-3 (Omote/Ura) ratio most of the time.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2012
  7. Kentos

    Kentos Moderator Emeritus

    I agree. I think the only real key is to not over do honing the stamped side once bevel on that side is set.

    Everything else is fair game. I even sprayed my Jnat of unknown origin with .025 poly diamond a few times. Tradition is only important in things like a Tea Ceremony, year end Temple pilgrimages etc. Honing an old razor? Nyet :smile:

    TBO, IMO, the finer the slurry/stone the less worry over ratios. Once the hollow is worn out of the stamped side honing it would be a PITA. The non stamped, soft steel side is more easily rehollowed to prolong the life of the razor.
  8. Interesting. I received an old kamisori as a gift from my wife's Grandmother, it came in this cool little box that probably hadn't been opened since sometime after WWI according to her, when she still needed to shave the back of her neck to be able to properly wear a kimono.

    Anyway, I've been on the fence about honing it or not. On the one hand it would be cool to hone it up and use it, but on the other hand I read threads like these and decide to leave it as is.
  9. Maybe get someone that knows what they're doing to hone it for you?
  10. I loved mine but sold it. I still have a large chin gash to remind me of it however. In my current minimalist mode I doubt one will ever grace my den again but I truly enjoyed it.
  11. Kentos

    Kentos Moderator Emeritus

    If you have a good feel for honing and understand the thing about a kamisori being one the first "bi-metal" blades, you should be ok. It might be a good idea to get a less sentimentally expensive kamisori to practice on tho. While still a good shaver, my first attempt at kamisori honing left some irreparable battle wounds ;).
  12. I think you're right. It's on the smaller size so I should ship it to someone who knows what they're doing, I don't want to have to fix mistakes several times and end up with nothing.
  13. Telly knows someone who does a good job honing kamisori for money. I'd also be happy to do it for you for free, although I've only done a three kamisori and two folding kamisori (but didn't mangle any of them).
  14. Cool, thanks for the heads up. Maybe I'll see if I can contact him.
  15. A similar experience forced my Iwasaki to find a new home. Still have the scar. I recently picked up a RW Purist. Not really a kamasori but I haven't hurt myself with it yet.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2012
  16. Box, like this?

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  17. Mute the tips! No need for an uber sharp spike - ever.

    I like Kamis - they aren't tripe stew! :biggrin1:

    Will they bite? Sure... but with a little practice and attention, they give sweet shaves. The heavier blade structure makes them work like a 1/2 or 1/4 hollow (to me). They go right through the tough hair on my jawline and neck.

    Speaking of Kentos... you could do worse than follow his lead on these. He got me interested in them late last year and he has some great advice and posts. Check out his links on his sig line.
  18. I agree with ladykate. I first had a very nice Henkotsu that I sold and got a BB custom Kamisori and love it!! I wish I could afford 3 or 4 more of his kamis. What I like most about it is that it doesn't have the spike points, much easier to shave with.

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  19. Love kamisori and cilantro, hate tripe stew....go figure

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