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Adventures in Japanese natural honing.

Keeping at it and I think I am making progress. Honed an old Gold Dollar today after killing the edge. Found out some interesting things- the bevel was not well- set in the first place and I actually took several laps on a Chosera 1000 to get it reliably and easily cutting the skin on a tomato. Normally I would start on much finer films or the Jnat directly but obviously this razor was not ready for that and all effort in the finer grits or on a Jnat were wasted. Lesson 9385 learned..... maybe. :) As the old honing hands say, set the bevel, then go back and make sure you set the bevel. Then test it on a tomato skin to find out 1) if the bevel is really set and 2) where the not- quite- set areas of the razor are. On the Gold Dollar, both the toe and heel resisted while 75% of the middle was outstanding.

The second of today's lessons was that at the end of the dilution cycle on the Jnat, after a bunch of laps the razor / stone interface got very smooth feeling, as if the stone was no longer cutting. Very little physical feedback from the stone although my hearing is sufficiently damaged that I am not sure if there was any 'hissing' while doing laps on the stone or not. Anyway, probably 30 laps on the stone with no drag at all and off to linen and leather. About 30 laps on both and the razor tree- tops with the very best synthetic edges I have been able to generate. Shaving test tomorrow. Riding high on my newfound "skill", I grabbed a T.I. and did the same process. Somewhat disappointing because while it will tree- top, it does this considerably less aggressively than the Gold Dollar. I know T.I.s are more abrasion resistant so I did extra laps. The first cycle was actually pretty poor so I went back and again honed the razor from a light slurry to a nearly water finish with better but not outstanding results, again using the tree- top test. Will also shave with that razor tomorrow.

It seems I am making progress, have not become disillusioned yet and am still finding this interesting and fun. The plan is to carry on until a great shave results- so far, they have been fair- to- lousy to very good but not yet excellent.
 

Steve56

Ask me about shaving naked!
Sounds like you are making good progress, congrats!

I usually use a loupe to inspect the bevel set up to about 4-5k. After 4-5k, I give it 20 on leather and perform HHT - a set bevel will HHT without effort at this grit, an unset bevel will not. And you can test even very small areas with a hair.
 
It seems I am making progress, have not become disillusioned yet and am still finding this interesting and fun.
Good on you. In operant conditioning intermittent reinforcement is powerful :) I still remember a couple of thoroughly enjoyable edges that I somehow managed to get that convinced me to keep at it. (I haven't deleted doc's address though and doubt I will any time soon :p )

Let's keep having fun.
 
Well to clarify, it is a razor I have had for many years and I had set the bevel and corrected some pretty awful spine geometry long ago. Or I thought I did. Honing on film and especially diamond pasted balsa covers up a multitude of sins and that is exactly what I have been doing. Using a rock is not forgiving and requires that the entire honing process, including the bevel setting, be done correctly. So when I killed the edge on that Gold Dollar and went right to the Jnat I was quite surprised that I could not get any kind of edge on about 1/3 of the razor, near both the heel and toe. Looked at it and sure enough, both ends were shiny looking straight- on at the edge. So off to the 1K grit to set the bevel and even that took quite a while, still due to lousy geometry. What saved the day was the tomato skin test as the razor simply would not cut on either end until putting a lot of effort on the 1K. That same 'bevel set' would kinda', mostly hone on film and 0.5 micron diamond on soft balsa is amazingly aggressive and so will cut about any shape including gullies, rounded blades and even make a bevel where there was not one before.

I have been doing this for quite a while, maybe 10 years. And I have been doing it incorrectly for all that time. At the very least, using a flat, hard stone is showing me where and what I have been missing for all this time. And of course Alfredo's (I do not know if he invented it but I learned it from him) tomato test gives an outstanding test of exactly how the blade performs. I even use it through a Jnat progression because it can be seen and felt as the razor's edge becomes smoother as well as what areas of the blade are not yet performing as well as some others.

A Gold Dollar's bevel was not well-set? Inconceivable!
 
Finally, a very good to great shave fresh off the Jnat! The G.D. actually shaved quite well, including ATG and while it felt a bit rough and grabby, the shave was extremely close and alcohol produced virtually no burn. Big day around my house :)

Not so good with the T.I. though. Not quite sharp enough to shave, at least not without grabbing and stuttering across the skin. I gave up after two short passes. Also noticed a 'doodad', a 'dinkle', maybe a flaw about 1/2 down the blade. The shine of the honed edge continues beyond the edge of the bevel for about 1/4 inch or so near the middle. No I think I have been more than fair with my new Jnat and I believe we can all agree that while I am taking all the blame for poor honing, the stone is getting off scot free. So this defect I am going to blame on the stone! Not sure how the stone did this but it may be a byproduct of the oft- mentioned 'Mojo' that I have heard so many times. Anyway, I put the Jnat outside in a small pile of crushed stone so that it could think about what it did and perhaps endeavor to be a bit more accommodating in the future. Will report on how that works out as well as how the hone- resistant T.I. progresses.
 

Steve56

Ask me about shaving naked!
A 1/4” up the side of the hlade? Or the bevel is only polished to the apex in the middle of the blade and not neat the toe and heel?

Lol, don’t let a water stone freeze ….
 
Yes, the blade has a great bevel until the last 1/4" or 3/8" at both the heel and toe. I had to roll the razor along the stone as well as concentrate on both the heel and toe to set the bevel as well as every step in honing it. Again, balsa charged with 0.5 micron diamond is amazingly fast and aggressive, far more so than half- micron diamond film for example. And with the fibers wrapping around the blade as they leave the edge dragging a razor across will 'fix' just about anything, even a not- quite- set bevel. I use 'V' strokes on balsa and that too goes a long way to getting at an edge regardless of the actual bevel geometry.

As to the stone, not really up to me. If the stone learns its lesson quickly, it can come back inside quickly. I hate to be a disciplinarian but I really do not think this stone is making any effort to do even a decent job of helping me hone. If it does freeze then I will look at that as stonicide 'cause it will be welcomed back into the fold anytime it gets with the program.

BTW, not quite freezing here yet and besides, I let it back into the house although it is sitting on my counter with a note of shame hanging from it.

Another thing- I am having very troubling thoughts that it might, just might be a bit easier to hone on a longer stone. The stone I have is fine and all but again, just that quiet whisper about the 'next' stone. Pure evil thoughts for certain! But I do wonder if another two inches might make my strokes more effective..... (Easy Boys!)
A 1/4” up the side of the hlade? Or the bevel is only polished to the apex in the middle of the blade and not neat the toe and heel?

Lol, don’t let a water stone freeze ….
 
Yes, the blade has a great bevel until the last 1/4" or 3/8" at both the heel and toe. I had to roll the razor along the stone as well as concentrate on both the heel and toe to set the bevel as well as every step in honing it. Again, balsa charged with 0.5 micron diamond is amazingly fast and aggressive, far more so than half- micron diamond film for example. And with the fibers wrapping around the blade as they leave the edge dragging a razor across will 'fix' just about anything, even a not- quite- set bevel. I use 'V' strokes on balsa and that too goes a long way to getting at an edge regardless of the actual bevel geometry.

As to the stone, not really up to me. If the stone learns its lesson quickly, it can come back inside quickly. I hate to be a disciplinarian but I really do not think this stone is making any effort to do even a decent job of helping me hone. If it does freeze then I will look at that as stonicide 'cause it will be welcomed back into the fold anytime it gets with the program.

BTW, not quite freezing here yet and besides, I let it back into the house although it is sitting on my counter with a note of shame hanging from it.

Another thing- I am having very troubling thoughts that it might, just might be a bit easier to hone on a longer stone. The stone I have is fine and all but again, just that quiet whisper about the 'next' stone. Pure evil thoughts for certain! But I do wonder if another two inches might make my strokes more effective..... (Easy Boys!)
Both my TI's have sort of an s or sine wave shape. You need to avoid fighting the geometry. They shave better then any of my other blades, so you have something to look forward to. Photos would help.
 
Two views of my T.I.. These images are not the best but do show the flaws in the blade geometry: the spine is wide or 'fat' in the middle as is evidenced by the hone wear which shows the wear is greatest in the middle of the razor, on both sides.

The hollow grind geometry is off also, with the face side being thin on both ends of the blade. This is evident when watching the razor undercut water or slurry as majority of the razor contacts the stone nicely but the very ends of the blade do not contact at all, both heel and toe. The only two ways I know to deal with this would be to remove a lot of spine and bevel steel but that will result in a razor with a frown and a LOT of hone wear. The other way is to gently roll the razor for each lap on a hone. Starting off with the razor being tipped every so slightly so the heel will undercut water but then lifted until the toe also undercuts water by the end of the stoke.

I do not think my problem is really with the razor's geometry but rather with my ability to hone on a Jnat. I have gotten good, maybe even very good edges on other razors, but this T.I. seems to be very resistant and I suspect it is due to the high carbon content of the steel.

I have been told by a T.I. dealer that these types of grinding flaws are common on low- end T.I.'s but the more expensive types are much better. This dealer is local to me and offers a return policy so that the purchaser can inspect (but not alter of course) the blade and return it if not satisfactory. Also, the dealers who display the razors that they have in stock make it much easier to see the blade geometry without seeing it in person, thereby minimizing surprise and disappointment, or at least that is what I am hoping for on the next T.I. purchase.
 

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Steve56

Ask me about shaving naked!
What you’re describing may well just be a slight smile, and yes you have to use a rolling stroke. The spine is fat in the middle because a smiling blade is wider in the middle than at the heel and toe - if the bevel is ground to an even width. So a properly ground smiling blade - even slightly smiling - will not pass the ‘wobble test’ on a flat surface. It isn’t supposed to.

You’re correct, you can do a ‘YouTube’ and grind the spine perfectly flat and re-set the bevel. You’ll lose the smile, lose width, and gain hone wear.
 
I agree with Steve that a rolling stroke (whether x-stroke or straight) may need to be done. You could do rolling circles. Those are a little more difficult to control pressure in my experience. But it is possible and for small stones is sometimes the best. For these issues I may use a lot of sharpie often in order to make sure I am consistently rolling the razor in order to get to the apex.
 
Two views of my T.I.. These images are not the best but do show the flaws in the blade geometry: the spine is wide or 'fat' in the middle as is evidenced by the hone wear which shows the wear is greatest in the middle of the razor, on both sides.

The hollow grind geometry is off also, with the face side being thin on both ends of the blade. This is evident when watching the razor undercut water or slurry as majority of the razor contacts the stone nicely but the very ends of the blade do not contact at all, both heel and toe. The only two ways I know to deal with this would be to remove a lot of spine and bevel steel but that will result in a razor with a frown and a LOT of hone wear. The other way is to gently roll the razor for each lap on a hone. Starting off with the razor being tipped every so slightly so the heel will undercut water but then lifted until the toe also undercuts water by the end of the stoke.

I do not think my problem is really with the razor's geometry but rather with my ability to hone on a Jnat. I have gotten good, maybe even very good edges on other razors, but this T.I. seems to be very resistant and I suspect it is due to the high carbon content of the steel.

I have been told by a T.I. dealer that these types of grinding flaws are common on low- end T.I.'s but the more expensive types are much better. This dealer is local to me and offers a return policy so that the purchaser can inspect (but not alter of course) the blade and return it if not satisfactory. Also, the dealers who display the razors that they have in stock make it much easier to see the blade geometry without seeing it in person, thereby minimizing surprise and disappointment, or at least that is what I am hoping for on the next T.I. purchase.
I only have two TI razors. Both these are far from what you would call perfect in terms of geometry. The 7/8 i have is not a budget class razor, but is still the worst of the two i have. Both of mine come with an uniform and even edge. It needed to be honed, but the bevel was quite good. So if the blade is considered by some standard to be defect, how did they manage to hone it at the factory without grinding down the spine to force it flat on the hone?
The French and the German manufacturers do look at this a little differently then many end users. Dovo considers a razor with some imperfection better if they manage to preserve as much of the width of the blade as possible. Newer Dovo razors now have a smaller blade to satisfy the end user who wants a straight bevel line. The smaller blade might be more user friendly by some end user, but it is not considered a better blade.

In the right hands this type of geometry should be possible to hone on a flat wide hone. The solution for me handling these types of blades was to use two convex hones to establish the bevel and for the mid range work. I finished the the razor on a flat hone. When 90-95 percent of the work is finished on the convex hones, i only need to do rolling x strokes, toe leading, heel leading, blending each section during the finishing phase.
I think this is in line with how they hone the blade at the factory. The factory edges are for the most part not that good though, but that has nothing to do with the method. If they used a set of flat hones and the result was bad, we would not say do not use flat stones. I just got a razor from a different French manufacturer, who hones the razor the traditional way. That factory edge was quite nice.
Using narrow hones will probably get you to the same place. I am just saying what worked for me.
 
The razor does have a slight warp, with the back side, concave and the front, stamped side convex, but it is slight, something that a rolling X would easily fix.

The heel needs reprofiling, and now has a sharp corner, (see the shadow with the blue arrow). That heel will cut you and will turn into a hook left unrepaired.

The razor has been honed over and, on the stabilizer, and possibly the tang, (red arrows), lifting the heel half of the bevel off the stone. So, more pressure was used, to force the heel on the stone, causing increased uneven spine, bevel wear and a smile at the heel. Heel is honed on one side, toe is not, reversed bevel on the other side.

First correct the heel, move the heel well away from the stabilizer, (a 5-minute fix) tape the spine with 2 layers of tape and use a slight rolling X stroke and ink to fully hone the bevel. 2 layers will get the edge honed and bevel corrected, once corrected you can drop to one layer or no tape and reset on a 1k.

Ink will ensure you are honing the whole bevel, with a rolling X, without excessive grinding, tape will protect the spine from more needless wear.

You may need to hone the razor in 2 parts. Hone the toe separately by keeping the mid-point of the blade at the edge of the stone and allowing the heel to be off the stone. Then blend the 2 halves with a heel forward, slight rolling X. Roll the concave side up slightly and concave down.

This is not uncommon for new TI razors, I correct the heels on almost all TI razors I hone. Once corrected, they will lay flat on the stone. A slight rolling X so the heel falls off the stone will ensure a fully honed bevel regardless of the warp. Ink will quickly show your progress without magnification.

T.I. face 3.jpg
T.I. back, 2.jpg
 
I agree with all of you- the geometry is workable, and I have been doing rolling strokes to reach all areas of the edge. I am a bit surprised by the wear on the shank but I did get a bit frustrated and kinda' rocked it on a bevel setter. As to the corner on the heel of the razor, this is preferable to me and I use it as I have a beard and that heel makes a great way to get into corners. One of the attractions of this blank shape from T.I., and if (or is it when) I buy another, I will choose one with a crisp, sharp heel. It is not dangerous and easily muted and I do not want to round that corner.

But as I mentioned, this razor is just resisting me on a Jnat. Of course I am very early into using a Jnat but I have managed to get a shaving edge, some quite good, from the stone. This T.I. just will not yield a very good edge, even in the middle of the blade where it bears on the hone quite flat and straight. I believe T.I.'s high carbon steel, and I have no idea what it is alloyed with, is simply more abrasion resistant than most or all of my other razors. If it has any appreciably vanadium or manganese in it, it certainly would be more difficult and possibly much more difficult to hone, though using my normal material of diamond film the steel's resistance is not very important. Diamond and CBN will lance right through any grade and hardness of steel while natural abrasives are not nearly as hard or aggressive as those synthetic abrasives. I believe my problem is between me and a Jnat and of course with so little experience (two months or so) I am not finding the way to ramp up the honing to better deal with this seemingly tough steel. I think I take the T.I. out of the training regiment on the Jnat and hone other razors instead. Hey, so far my very best Jnat edge was on a Gold Dollar that I corrected the terrible geometry on long ago and it is a straight (at least the bevels and spine) razor (no pun intended) though it looks awful. Awful even for a Gold Dollar and I have three of them, more or less the same.

I am starting to suspect T.I. may be using the Chinese razor (and toaster, ship building and major appliance) factory to train their honing personnel. 🤬
 
Other types of stones might work fine with this steel, but i feel like i hit gold the first time i honed my TI. i used only three stones. Naniwa 3k pro, Coticule, then a Nakayama Asagi with Tomo slurry. The factory bevel was rolled, so i needed to do some bevel correction work. I did not find this steel more difficult to hone, but i may have been lucky with my stone setup.
The coticule seemed to cut the steel well. I did not spend allot of time on the jnat.
 
I agree with all of you- the geometry is workable, and I have been doing rolling strokes to reach all areas of the edge. I am a bit surprised by the wear on the shank but I did get a bit frustrated and kinda' rocked it on a bevel setter. As to the corner on the heel of the razor, this is preferable to me and I use it as I have a beard and that heel makes a great way to get into corners. One of the attractions of this blank shape from T.I., and if (or is it when) I buy another, I will choose one with a crisp, sharp heel. It is not dangerous and easily muted and I do not want to round that corner.

But as I mentioned, this razor is just resisting me on a Jnat. Of course I am very early into using a Jnat but I have managed to get a shaving edge, some quite good, from the stone. This T.I. just will not yield a very good edge, even in the middle of the blade where it bears on the hone quite flat and straight. I believe T.I.'s high carbon steel, and I have no idea what it is alloyed with, is simply more abrasion resistant than most or all of my other razors. If it has any appreciably vanadium or manganese in it, it certainly would be more difficult and possibly much more difficult to hone, though using my normal material of diamond film the steel's resistance is not very important. Diamond and CBN will lance right through any grade and hardness of steel while natural abrasives are not nearly as hard or aggressive as those synthetic abrasives. I believe my problem is between me and a Jnat and of course with so little experience (two months or so) I am not finding the way to ramp up the honing to better deal with this seemingly tough steel. I think I take the T.I. out of the training regiment on the Jnat and hone other razors instead. Hey, so far my very best Jnat edge was on a Gold Dollar that I corrected the terrible geometry on long ago and it is a straight (at least the bevels and spine) razor (no pun intended) though it looks awful. Awful even for a Gold Dollar and I have three of them, more or less the same.

I am starting to suspect T.I. may be using the Chinese razor (and toaster, ship building and major appliance) factory to train their honing personnel. 🤬
This is how bad one of my 7/8 TI razors are. I got it second hand, so it did not come with a high price tag. It shaves good, but is a little difficult to to hone on a flat hone.

20211118_201210.jpg
 
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The heel does cry out for reprofiling, yeah. I would not tape, but would instead allow a bit of hone action on the spine, while of course using a bit of a rolling stroke. This is a very good reason to hone in hand. It is actually easier to ALLOW the hone to roll in the hand naturally, than to try to force a rolling x with the hone on a bench. You could spend a half hour on that razor and really put it to rights. That's a good piece of steel there. All it needs is some thoughtful honing that will set it up for effortless touchups for the next couple of decades. YMMV, your razor.
 
The only Jnat I have is a bench stone. Much too heavy to hold while honing. And I am really resisting buying another stone or worse yet, several more stones. I have confidence in the stone I am using and really do not want to add further variables such as other stones while I am trying to learn what is appearing to be an entire new skill.

The Thiers Issard sort of got dragged into this thread and is not really my focus at this very moment. In fact, I did introduce it to a couple of pieces of balsa and now it is light saber sharp and waiting for a test- shave.

Anyway, thanks everyone for the input about the razor. If this natural stone adventure ends up in a place where I end up doing it regularly then I am sure this T.I. will again be dragged over one. If not, back to film and balsa which works very well for me. But as I mentioned before, using a natural stone is still interesting and fun so I will keep going.... just not with that T.I.
 
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