Getting that next level of sharpness

Discussion in 'General Straight Razor Talk' started by Macarthskey, Aug 14, 2019.

    Im wondering if anyone can give some intuition or insight into this. I’ve been practicing since I got my new razor in last January. I can give myself a pretty good shave now but there is still one part on the sides of my lips where if I try to get to close a shave I get burned. It tugs a little more than I’d like it to, and I think that’s what’s making it burn (in this spot to get close I really need to go like 45 between across and against the grain)

    A must say that the big draw to me for straight razors has always been the notion that I can sharpen them myself. Turns out that is really a difficult skill but I’m getting better. But I still can’t quite get my razor as sharp as when I bought it. I can get it to treetop somewhat, but it doesn’t cut every hair when I test. When I bought the razor it was like a light saber, the hairs would actually audibly ping off the edge and fly away from the blade. It was wicked sharp.

    I’m looking for some advice as to what might be an area of improvement, be it honing or stropping. It’s really difficult for me to tell what I can do to improve.

    The razor is a filmaronica 4/8 inox
    I hone with a combination of coticule and BBW. And my strop is a dovo leather/canvas strop. I use a white alox/diamond paste I bought from the art of shaving on the canvas side, but I also tried putting a little on the leather. My morning prep is always heat the canvas with my hand then the leather. Then 8-10 strops with canvas then 50 with leather.

    The thing is (could be my imagination) but I feel like I’m getting ever so slightly worse an edge now. I feel like my best shave of my own sharpening was shortly after I tried getting the strop paste. Since my canvas is clearly getting some metal in it from the color, I was wondering if this could be attributing to my problems. I tried to search on how to clean this out but couldn’t really find anything.
  1. I think your stropping needs work.

    Use a solvent like alcohol and wipe down the canvas side to remove the metal, repaste the canvas. Do the same on the leather side to clean ,but then treat the leather with oil/cream and let it rest for a day. Dont apply paste on the leather again..

    Tighten the strop tension more to ensure a flatter surface (not concave) especially on the paste side. I think you are rounding the edge when stropping.
  2. How long or about how many shaves did the initial edge give you before you tried to hone it?
  3. As you said, honing isn't as easy as it looks. IMO, you need to step up and get a synthetic finishing stone. 12k Naniwa is a fine finisher. Again, JMO, Coties just don't make as keen as an edge. Some will argue and that's fine with me. Being new to honing, synthetics stones are much easier to learn on and can give the Lazer edge after some practise. Paist after a 12k edge works well too. Good luck.
  4. My initial impressions:

    You're irritation is due to too much pressure. You may think you're going light but the unconscious response to a less than keen edge is pressure. Fixing the edge will probably fix your irritation.

    Get a clean strop - clean linen and leather. Use them for everyday shaving and leave any pasted strop for a touch-up.

    Can't speak to the strop paste you're now using but I suggest rehoning the blade, stropping on a pasted strop about 20 or 30 round trips then cleaning the blade and stropping on the clean strop - linen then leather. Then shave.

    See if there is a difference and let us know.

  5. Coti should give you a nice edge. Put some water on stone and as you run the blade across the stone watch the ripple. Make sure it evenly ripples across the front of the blade as you run it across the stone. Once you’ve hit every part of the blade and it’s sharp you can always use some dish soap to bump the edge.
  6. You could try lapping film to give the edge a good polish, do you look at your edge through a loupe ?, That can point you towards any problem part of the can pick up a loupe for £3 off ebay...I use it on every blade I own, before honing...during honing...and after, that way you can see exactly what is going on...I have 3 loupes beginning to be a loopy collector, imo, the loupes that take the small button batteries are ok...but do not last compared to one I have that takes 2 x AAA batteries, I am sure you will sort it out.
  7. I’ve been thinking of a new loupe. Any aaa ones you would recommend?
  8. Perhaps this is not an issue for you, but I find it difficult to judge the proper shaving angle with a 5/8" blade. I much prefer 6/8" and 7/8". I can't even imaging shaving with a 4/8" blade. I also find it harder to strop narrow blades than wider ones. With sufficient practice, I am sure you can learn the proper technique to use a 4/8" blade, but I suspect the learning curve is a little more difficult.
  9. Hey guys thanks for all the feedback. Ill try to address the responses in order.

    Is there a reason that paste cannot be on the leather side? What harm will it do? As for tension, I have a hanging strop but I can try to pull harder.

    I think I probly used it for less than 10 shaves before I tried to hone it. I learned now that that was when I should have tried paste but I had read that with the stones I have I wouldnt need paste. Writing this makes me think it might indeed be my stropping skills which made me want to rehone so fast. But it also could have been my natural desire to practice with the stones. Back when I started I was honestly more interested in them than the razor.

    I might have to save up for another rock then...

    I read that the linen side is also used for cleaning, but I have never been able to get all the shaving scum off the blade without pinching a towel between my fingers to while the blade off. I try never to apply pressure to the last mm near the edge, but the fluff of the towel certainly does. Could this be detrimental? Or is this how everyone cleans their razor?

    Thanks for the tips, but can you explain the soap thing? I will watch for ripples next time I try to hone.

    What loupe zooms do you have? I do have a loupe but the edge looks perfect with it. Mine is 5x.

    I would have thought angle would be harder with a larger razor. Especially because the areas im having trouble with are only the sides of my mouth. But perhaps if I see a larger razor I like the look of I wont discount it. Thanks!
  10. You can put paste or spray on leather, but remember that fabric is cheap and leather is expensive.

    You can also apply pastes and sprays to balsa that has been sanded flat. Look for Slash McCoy's treads on "The Method".
  11. So this is the typical new guy scenario where you ask one question and get 40 answers that are TOTALLY discombobulated and then You’re not sure where to go except to cherry pick ideas from each person...

    The reality I’d wager is that you’ve now convexed your bevel. The evidence for this is “sharpness peaked just after trying paste...”, the fact you’ve only used a pasted strop this whole time(no longer own a clean strop?), and that it’s no longer tree-topping like new no matter how you try to strop or hone (assuming you’ve only tried to “touch-up”).

    The solution is to do a reset on a flat stone or films until you’re able to definitively say the entire bevel can shave your arm hairs easily, and you may be able to get it tree topping a few hairs close to the skin. Once you reach that point you should move on to trying to finish on your Coticule with just water, x strokes, and lightening pressure as you go. If you’re not confident in your techniques, try following the Dr. Matt YouTube series but with higher lap count at each stage and it should help you get somewhere close to the peak performance for your stone. Note I didn’t say all the way to the peak, just close. Every stone is a little different, so even once you get a great shaving edge you have to keep at it and keep trying different things until one day you’re surprised by your own edge. If you can bring your current blade back, go buy a <$20 Genco at auction and practice honing it to death.

    Past that I’d say get a new strop and leave it clean. The traditional usage is that the linen side is very mildly abrasive, but mainly exists to clean the blades edge prior to storage and prior to using the clean leather side. You definitely shouldn’t have ONLY a pasted strop. Even the guys hitting pasted balsa every single shave usually follow it up with a clean hanging strop. The routine that works for me is post shave I rinse the blade, wipe on a towel, rinse, wipe, strop a few times on my palm, then 5 ish on linen with zero pressure and put it away. Pre shave is another 3 or so linen, then 40 ish leather, then shave. Doing just that with no other magic tricks I can go pretty consistently 30 shaves between hitting the stones. Sometimes 20, sometimes 45+, but definitely a lot longer with just a clean strop than you’d think from hanging out on this forum.

    Other than that when it comes to putting finishing touches on the edge you need to try one step/change at a time and then test shave each adjustment. For example once you take the edge to a hanging pasted strop You can’t just switch back, so if you’re curious how your Coticule honing went you need to test shave that first. I’d be curious about the Coticule if I were you, I’d say over 50% of my Coticules can improve on a 12k synthetic edge so I think you already have what you need...

    Except for a clean strop. That was a booboo pasting all over that thing. Don’t try to clean it, leave it pasted and just get a new one.
  12. This one is more than adequate...

    Item number : 173393739785
  13. Sorry link is not working.
  14. MO1


    Yup this is what is running through my mind aswell.
    Convexed bevel (it has happened to me aswell)
    You need a clean strop, preferably with a clean fabric component)
    Your razor needs its bevel reset.
  15. Leather is used to align and straighten the cutting edge, if you use paste on leather you will keep cutting metal and not aligning the edge. Use the paste on the linen side, then the clean leather.

    As mentioned before you will have to reset the bevel probability.
    Since you will have to reset the bevel, I would first try 100-200 laps on the paste linen pulled tight and 60 on leather. If no improvement reset.
  16. That depends on the size of the abrasive paste. I have a kangaroo leather bench strop coated with 0.1 Micron CBN. It polishes the bevel, but does very little cutting. However, I do keep my hanging leather strops clean.
  17. He is not using 0.1 micron CBN...
  18. Maybe not, but if he is looking for the "next level of sharpness", perhaps he should be.
  19. I think he’s got fundamental bevel problems to deal with and a clean strop to acquire first.

    CBN on wood after a maxed Coticule would probably get you to next level sharpness though.

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