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Keen Kutter Barber’s Hone


I've had a pretty good one in the past, but I've learned that VERY few barbers hones are consistent. You'll get a good shave off one and the next one (same exact model) will be 4k. And a "Pretty good" barber hone is still inferior to Thuri/Coti/Ark/PDSO/Jnat/etc.
Says E.C. Simmons, so it's pre 1940. Could be much older too.
As a rule, I have found Keen Kutter hones to run from ok to good, when compared within their tier. And I've had a good bunch of of KKs through the years.

I like messing with barber hones, they're fun and they test skill sets. Anyone can hone well on an Escher, they're brain-dead simple. Getting a b-hone to work well enough to shave off of isn't quite as simple sometimes. Plus I think B-hones are pretty cool.

At any rate - it's impossible to judge one by looking as a photo like this. The white dusting on top can be anything, mineral deposits from water that was never toweled off, could be soap residue (lots of guys used lather on b-hones), could just be simple surface oxidation or dust from the box that settled and dried during humid/dry cycles. Really could be anything.
I have had, literally, scores of b-hones with white splotches like that and they turned out fine with some care. Or maybe a lot of care.
A hone with binder issues, where the composition is crumbling, will usually produce a dust that matches the stone's color, but you really won't see that until it's been lapped. Without lapping it, you won't know much. Using it as-is will often be disappointing. It's probably been sitting in hostile storage conditions for decades. But all sorts of dried up dust and oxidized surface matter will rub off of most found-in-the-wild b-hones initially.
The surface on that hone is super dry, and probably out of alignment. To see what it can do, it must be resurfaced and, at reconditioned.

If I needed a project and/or a new b-hone for whatever, I might go for it but I'd probably haggle. First I'd inspect to make sure there are no chips and/or cracks. Small chips are manageable but they devalue the piece IMO. Large chips are not worth dealing with and cracks turn it into a paperweight. That big sticker is annoying, the glue might be a pita to get off, do NOT use naptha or similar to get it off, don't soak it or use very hot water either.
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