I'm new to honing. I have never been able to do the HHT and have to this point not bothered with the TNT or TPT. Didn't really need to, since Lynn Abrams did my honing and my blades shaved well. Now, however, I'm becoming frustrated because I cannot do even one of these tests to confirm when to begin the polishing portion of the honing routine. A friend brought over an old Bengall for me to practice with. Had a smiley face, so I figured it would be a good one to practice on. Completely blunt when received. Did about 5 passes with a Norton 1000, then an aggressive pyramid with 4000/8000. Nothing. Ended up doing three aggressive pyramids, checking for sharpness each time (no double bevel present). Would not cut a held hair. Ran my thumb down the full length -- still felt blunt. After a couple of 4000 passes, tried TNT -- nothing. Visually, the blade "looked sharp." So, figuring I had to practice these anyway, I stropped on Crox and Latigo. Once again, tried HHT and TPT. Once again negative results. I figured what the hay, and shaved with it. Smooth, comfortable, close. Totally, if pleasantly, confused. Then I remembered I had a couple of razors I could test as "standards" -- one a Bismarck that Lynn did about a month ago and I know shaves beautifully, and another I just got from him and have not touched, even with a strop. Guess what -- neither will cut a hanging hair. I can run my thumbpad along the entire length of either one without it getting "sticky" or biting in. I question my own honing ability, but not Lynn's. And I now have two straights that I don't think I could improve on, and neither will pass the standard sharpness tests. Frankly, I wouldn't care at this point except that now I am honing my own I would like some way of telling I'm "almost there" and it's time to proceed to 12K, Crox, and/or strop. I have at this point really given up on these three tests, based on my own experience and some of what I've read in this forum. I've simply come to believe they are unreliable and worthless. Is there any other way to figure out when you are ready to finish up an almost done blade, short of actually finishing up and shaving with it? Of course, I can do this, but it will in some cases be a wasted effort, and I would like some kind of standard to know I have the best possible edge on my razors. Many thanks for any help offered.