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Adventures in Japanese natural honing.

I have never owned any stone too big to hold in hand, except for my granite surface plate. If it was only 10 or 15 lbs I would hold that in hand, too. Don't let any reasonable weight dissuade you from honing in hand.
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.”

You are missing the point about the heel. The heel corner needs to be moved away from the stabilizer, so that the bevel sits flat on the hone. Most, probably all your issues are caused by honing on the stabilizer.

Note the photo below of a new TI Sonnant, note how far away the heel corner is from the stabilizer, also note the distance from the edge to the blade face etching/paint. A considerable amount of blade width has been ground away, that caused your spike heel. Your blade width and heel corner were probably very similar originally, they do not come with spike heels. As the blade width was ground away, the heel corner moved closer to the stabilizer.

Now you could only hone that razor heel, with a heel forward stroke, to avoid the stabilizer, or correct the heel. You can create a sharp heel profile and still correct the heel by honing a slanted heel like the one in the photo below. This is a common heel style on many Western Japanese style razors

The problem is not the stone, it is that the heel needs to be moved away from the stabilizer. TI’s may be a bit harder, but not that much harder, that any decent stone will not hone them, maybe a few extra laps.

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So I ran a second Gold Dollar through the sequence, starting with setting the bevel (again this was not done sufficiently a decade ago when the razor was new) all the way through diluted slurries on my Jnat. The edge looks great and after stropping is tree topping pretty well. Also shaves with no effort (dry, on arm, not an actual shaving test). It is in the que for a test- shave.

A quick question for you Jnat folks: I am raising a slurry with a 1200 grit Atoma. I bought this new a couple of months ago and it is certainly not worn out. I am doing 'X' strokes and figure 8's to raise the slurry with the majority of the Atoma movement in- line with the long axis of the Jnat. Does this make any difference? Does the Jnat become any more aggressive if the Atoma is used in a more side- to- side motion? I do not see any pattern at all on the Jnat and it actually has a bit of a sheen but I thought I would ask.....


Wiped out at 25
It might, it might not. But with Jnats I always tried for a very smooth surface on the main rock and rely on nagura for slurry/abrasives. When raising slurry for the finishing a tomonagura is my preference, mainly to preserve the main stone. YMMV
“Does the Jnat become any more aggressive if the Atoma is used in a more side- to- side motion?’


“I do not see any pattern at all on the Jnat and it actually has a bit of a sheen but I thought I would ask.....”

Jnat stone face or slurry is not dependent on the Diamond plate grit size or how the base stone is surfaced. The slurry and stone face break down quickly. Diamond Jnat slurry is very friable and will break down in a few laps and any groves made in the base stone smooth out quickly.

In other words, a 300-grit diamond plate will not produce 300 grit size slurry. A 300-grit plate will produce larger slurry than a 1200 plate, but both will break down in a short time and produce the same bevel polish.

It is not like conditioning a hard Ark, where stone face preparation can make the stone perform very differently depending on how the face is prepared.

Nagura add additional grit, that grit can act synergistically with the base stone grit to produce a Cocktail of slurry that can be tailored to a razor or edge.

You can tailor diamond slurry aggressiveness, somewhat, by the quantity and thickness of the slurry and refreshed by adding new slurry, or polish by working/thinning the slurry, but not the same wider range, like using nagura.
21 Nov. 2021 update: just finished shaving with a T.I. finished on pasted balsa and with a Gold Dollar finished on my Jnat. All the 'tests' I do showed the T.I. a lot sharper, starting with the tree- topping tests. But after putting the blades to my face, the G.D. actually shaved as close as the T.I. and left a no- sting face behind! Outstanding shave. Unfortunately the G.D. was not as sharp at the tip so all detail work had to be done with the T.I. This is my fault as the razor could use a bit more geometry fixing but I knew that going into this shave.

Now the next step is to dull and re-hone both G.D. I have been testing on and to see if I can do it again. And if not, perhaps learn a bit more about why not.

Anyway, thanks for the help and advise, especially you two 'honing guys' (you know who you are). I believe the collective experience, honing videos and many, many posts saved me a LOT of time getting to this first excellent shave. Of course I am not done learning the ways of rock- rubbing but this milestone is really appreciated as it gives an entire new view on Jnat honing.... it is impossible to keep throwing bowling balls and keep a good and positive attitude toward bowling.
Been a while but I am again getting back into honing on a Jnat. And the honing is getting better! I am learning to control torque and have started to concentrate on different parts of the razor. I have several razors, all vintage German or American, that have slight smiles and between an OK executed rolling stroke, and now concentrating on the 'main' razor but they putting some laps on the last inch or so toward the toe, it is working pretty well. I can generate what I would call a shaving edge that is OK to use and does not rip skin off my face but they are certainly not the equal of the better honing fork using Jnats. One thing that lags is the ability to hold the razor flat on the hone using only one hand- it tends to lift the toe or dig the toe in just a bit too much. So I am often using both hands as a crutch. But still, overall is it an interesting journey and I am finding it almost soothing and very pleasant now that I can achieve at least a somewhat sharp edge. Not able to achieve an edge good enough for a good kitchen knife is exasperating after a while. So now I am up to 'not embarrassing' when honing on a Jnat..... and am still hoping that a fine shaving edge, or better, lurks somewhere in the future. Also using razors with good or even better geometry makes the whole process much more achievable in my experience. Using vintage razors and taping the spine with Kapton 1 mil tape (yeah I know, a sin against man and nature) allows a lot of honing without taking a lot of steel from the razors. Spreading the honing across eight or ten razors really does reduce the wear on each one while also allowing me to learn some different techniques as the razors, while very similar, are all unique.

As always, thanks to all those who have shared their knowledge, skill and experience both here in the typed word as well as in videos. I have found that honing a bit while trying to note the trouble spots followed by re-viewing several honing videos really does help.
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