Best Finishing Stone and Reliable Source: advice for newbie

Discussion in 'Hones/Honing' started by Moots, Sep 7, 2018.

    I am three months into straight razor shaving. I'm comfortable sharpening knives, so when I made the jump to straight razors, I immediately purchased a Naniwa 12K. I also have an excellent Llama 90K strop. I've been using these to touch up my razors.

    But recently, I bought a couple of razors that need restoration. So I purchased Naniwa 1K, 5K, and 8K to go with my 12K.

    Then I started reading honing threads on this site. And I would like to buy a NATURAL stone that I could use for finishing and polishing, to give my Naniwa 12K a little nudge. I would like to purchase one very good natural stone. What would you recommend?

    Then I read the thread about poor quality, falsely stamped stones. And I am that guy who would buy one the phony stone, thinking I got a great deal, always wondering why I was struggling with finishing! So it would be helpful to also know a reliable source for that BEST finishing stone.

    Thank you,
  1. If there were a best, we’d probably all be using it. I use a Naniwa 12000 grit. Next up, and I have the equipment now, is 1μm lapping film over wet paper on an acrylic block.

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  2. I was using a Naniwa 12k but about a month ago switched to a Charnley Forest with oil. I am getting better finishes with that than the Naniwa and I like the way I can move straight onto the strop or put the razor away with oil on it.

    I have a couple of Charnley Forests now and have found them easy to identify.

    But also check out the threads on the hard Arkansas. There is a lot of love around for them. Dan's Whetstones seems to be the place for these.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
  3. You are probably all set with what you've got, but if you want to move to a natural stone that's cool too. I love my natural stones for razor work. Your question is going to get answers all over the map though. Every one of us has started out in different directions based on what we learned first or wanted to try. The very simplest natural stones to use I think would be a Thuri or perhaps a good harder end of the range coticule - both used with just straight water after your synth progression.
  4. Lots of favorites. Personally I prefer jnats for versatility. You need only one stone after the 1k. And the edge is infinitely variable depending on how you finish.
  5. Maybe there is no "best" natural stone. But it would be good to know your favorite, and a reliable source.

  6. Probably JNats are my favorite, just like buca. They aren't super easy for beginners though. As far as vendors, I'd talk to Alex Gilmore. He is a good guy and knows his stuff - and has buckets of awesome stones. He can point you in the right direction.
  7. Or, like any of us, you use what you find. A few boot sales, antique shops, and in a couple of months you may have 2-3 stones to learn with.

    Arkansas stones are great. Not always easy to set and learn, but provide top shaves once you get there. Very little maintenance after the initial effort. You can buy them online, and be 100% sure to get what you pay for.

    Coticules are a weird bunch, but are still the razor stone by exelence, and for good reasons. After a 12k stone you need the rigth one, and there is no way to know before hand. Requires learning, and sometimes a bit of maintenance.

    Thurigians are rare and expensive. If you have the cash or the luck they are more or less fool proof. I like mine a lot, but prefer a fast coticule and a fine arkansas.

    Jnats you need the stone and the naguras. Intimidating and often pricy, there seem to be a some fakes. I've avoid them so far, since I find plenty of cheap good stones locally, so I can't say much about them.

    Charnleys are cool, shaves great. But they have become pricy and quality varies. Still, with some luck or some cash you can get one and be happy. Got mine, love it, but the arkansas does the same trick even better.

    La lune and similars from France are great, but can peel your fave off it you are not careful. I would avoid them as a first natural stone.

    Some like the zulu stones. Not tried.

    Many others, like Vermont slates, trout stones, vosgiennes... but not easy to find.

    You can even pick up rocks on the side of the road, and find great shaving hones. I have a couple that I shave of time to time.
  8. Fendrihan, Japanese natural stones and chef knives to go have cheap ozuku asagi stones in koppa size . Get a diamond plate and your good to go. I would forgo the nagura set. Not necessary to get a great edge. Raise a slurry with a diamond plate and work that. Easy peesy.
  9. How are you liking the results off the 12k synth? What bears improvement there? Given the synth progression you mention, another issue is where to leave off synths and move to naturals. I would think that any natural finisher would be filling the office of the 12k, so after 8k, I would suggest AJ's Welsh purple slate. After the 5k, a coticule followed by AJ's Welsh purple slate. But coticules aren't cheap, if you're using a large one like the synths. The Welsh slate, on the other hand, is more affordable. If you are looking to improve upon perceived harshness or sharpness after the 12k, then a smoothed (or polished) black hard or translucent Arkansas oil-stone could help to calm things there.
  10. Great information. I'm starting to get a sense of what natural stones might work in a progression. Thank you.
  11. Alum of Potash and Paul Mallorca, are you buying these stones on eBay? What sources do you trust? Is AJ on eBay?

  12. AJ is on eBay and eBay UK as he's based in Wales. For coticules, I've always sourced from The Superior Shave, but Griffith shaving goods also has them. Dan's Whetstone for Arkansas stones.
  13. +1 on AJ_1001

    He is away until Sep 12th so there is a delay right now (I know because I just ordered something)
  14. My only eBay was a set of old hones from the UK. Priced like dirt, and covered in grime, what I found was a 11"CF, a grecian, a washista, a lyn, and some indias.
    I do look time to time. Last evening a 9" CF went for 26€. So plenty of opportunities...

    Most come from a net of contacts I developed over two years doing hundreds of boot sales. Now they call me, or send a picture when they have something interesting. I pay 10/20 bucks instead the normal 2, but I don't have to ride all over the place.

    Then there is some local Web sites where people sale old stuff. Sometimes there are good deals. First arrived, first served, and hundreds of collectors and ebay vendors are waiting for something good to show up... so is fairly rare I get anything.
  15. It might make sense to try edges finished on different finishers first.

    And, before gambling $$ on fleabay, it might be a good idea to check the BST section here on B&B. You can find qualified stones by honest members that have actually used the specific stone they listed. And - they aren't, usually, prone to inflating the specs, grit levels, etc.

    There are a million naturals out there - and thrice as many opinions about them.

    The main thing that I've found, is that deciding on 'only buying one' is, for most people, a flawed concept.
    Regardless of what anyone has to say about any one stone, there is no way to you to know what any one of them is going to do for you. Plus, always wondering what the stone you didn't buy will/can do is difficult to deal with.

    Going on other people's recommendations, which are usually only opinons, might not pan out in the long run.

    The 12k Nani was my first synth finsiher. It is a capable stone but I didn't find it to leave the smoothest edge.

    My first attempts to keept the sharp but to lose the bite led me to Coticules and Eschers. Folowing that I have tried many many stones that were hyped as viable options - but many, probably most, did not deliver the goods for me.

    I'm the kind of person that is inclined to learn first hand, and go through the stones one by one though. Not everyone is into that and trying edges honed on the stones in question would be a good way to cut through the opinons and get closer to the facts.
  16. Thanks Gamma. I am just getting to that point. I would like a little smoother and maybe finer edge than I am getting with the 12K Naniwa. And I would also like to experiment with natural stones. I'm learning from reading threads that with some stones, a little more water and lighter touch can give finer finishes. But I am really hoping that for my first stone (for razors) that I can find something at the 12K level or slightly above. Natural stones vary, of course, but which type of stone do you think might do this for me? Eventually I do want to try a lot of different stones, but it would also be nice to shorten the learning curve, as I am hoping that you and others might be able to point me in a good direction.

  17. Are you talking about Matt at Griffith shaving being away?
  18. No - I mean the vendor who sells the newly cut Welsh stones
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018
  19. Is there a link or online store name that I search to find AJ on eBay? Thanks.

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