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Lapping Film questions...

For those who use film to hone who are you? show your set up. Have you transitioned to rocks? Why did you transition? What rocks did you transition to? How do your edges compare to the edge from film? And if all these questions have been asked and answered well let's revisit them!
 
I started with film six years ago and quickly moved to Naniwa stones. The stones are much easier to use IMO. Because most of my honing is on smiling edges, the film would develop non uniform wear patterns with extended use. The edge from a 12k Naniwa is nearly identical to what I was getting from 1um film. Film has a very low entry cost, but in the long run it is a very expensive way to buy abrasives compared to stones.
 
I started with film six years ago and quickly moved to Naniwa stones. The stones are much easier to use IMO. Because most of my honing is on smiling edges, the film would develop non uniform wear patterns with extended use. The edge from a 12k Naniwa is nearly identical to what I was getting from 1um film. Film has a very low entry cost, but in the long run it is a very expensive way to buy abrasives compared to stones.
As of right now it's cost effective for me, although I have been looking at coticule stones quite a bit as of late. Until I can afford a fancy rock the film has been doing a great job and I am able to go from 12um-.03um for under $30 USD. So far my total expense has been under $40 USD. My base is now a 1" thick acrylic slab that is 12"x3" that was given to me! It's as dead flat as can be had...one day rocks will be another rabbit hole I'm sure!
 
Yeah, I will concede that the expense of the abrasive argument that I made is more philosophical in nature than can be realized physically. I know that I have spent more on stones than I could ever spend on film and I don't even have HAD.:001_rolle

Since good results can be had with either media it is hard for me to imagine anyone who started with film viewing it as a mistake. Film is a great way for people to delve into honing with next to zero investment. I do enjoy using stones more than I did using film though and I think that very few people who stick with the hobby will stay with film over stones for the long haul.

I have attended many razor meets that have a large honing focus and I have yet to see anyone break out film, though I have thought about doing it myself just to show newbies that it is a viable option.
 
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Yeah, I will concede that the expense of the abrasive argument that I made is more philosophical in nature than can be realized physically. I know that I have spent more on stones than I could ever spend on film and I don't even have HAD.:001_rolle

Since good results can be had with either media it is hard for me to imagine anyone who started with film viewing it as a mistake. Film is a great way for people to delve into honing with next to zero investment. I do enjoy using stones more than I did using film though and I think that very few people who stick with the hobby will stay with film over stones for the long haul.

I have attended many razor meets that have a large honing focus and I have yet to see anyone break out film, though I have thought about doing it myself just to show newbies that it is a viable option.
I have sharpened many knives as I am a Hobbyist knifesmith and agree with your sentiment on the feel of using a "rock" but I just cannot argue the results I have achieved with the film and as we've both stated the startup was next to nothing... Again the lure of a good sized coti has been at the back of my mind the whole time! Why a coti? Well because the first vintage razor that was pif'd to me by a member of the forum had a coti edge I found it to be a comfortable shave and I enjoyed it.. I haven't found a JNAT that didn't cost an arm and leg plus they seem to be more complex to learn but I could be totally wrong! Plus I haven't tried a JNAT edge... If you ever do what you were talking about with the film to show newbies it's a viable
option I'd like to hear the results!
 
I started out using lapping film because I didn't know if I'd like honing a razor nor didn't know if I could do it. Well after a few times on film, I graduated to Coti's and Arks. Some razors sharpen quite well on Coti's and Ark's. Others sharpen better on films, of course YMMV and its all from experience that I say all of this. I keep films around for setting bevels and clearing an edge if there is visible imprefections. Fine sharpening and polishing and regular maintenance I leave to the Coti's and Ark's.

Larry
 
I started out using lapping film because I didn't know if I'd like honing a razor nor didn't know if I could do it. Well after a few times on film, I graduated to Coti's and Arks. Some razors sharpen quite well on Coti's and Ark's. Others sharpen better on films, of course YMMV and its all from experience that I say all of this. I keep films around for setting bevels and clearing an edge if there is visible imprefections. Fine sharpening and polishing and regular maintenance I leave to the Coti's and Ark's.

Larry
Ok thanks for the input! Although the question remains.. Why? What made you make the change was it just because? Did the coti's give you a better polish than the film and to what grit did you go down to? The film I currently have goes from 12um all the way down to .03um
 
I’ve owned one set of Smith’s Arkansas stones since I was about 10, but only honed pocket knives and hatchets on them for years. When I got into straights and hand tool woodworking I started looking for sharpening options and arks just weren’t in vogue anywhere so I ended up with sandpaper/films on a piece of float glass for my initial honing. From there I got DMTs, then a few synth stones and CrOx paste... Now my garage is basically a zen garden of natural stones. Once I got pretty good with Arks, Cotis, and JNATs I feel pretty strongly that I got subjectively better and longer lasting edges with all 3 than I could manage on films so I left sandpaper/films behind and havent looked back.

To be fair back then I didn’t own any of the super fine films, but now I have up to .3u film on hand and never use it. When I say the edges I make are subjectively better I just mean I prefer them in use over what I can make on films. I really think films are the way to go in the beginning because you really can’t make an edge any keener than what .3u film on a flat surface produces. The thing is, keener doesn’t necessarily mean better in use- there’s more to an edge than just how keen the apex is formed. The subjective qualities in use can vary in a lot of ways, and some of those qualities are what ends up pulling people towards certain natural finishers.
 
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Ok thanks for the input! Although the question remains.. Why? What made you make the change was it just because? Did the coti's give you a better polish than the film and to what grit did you go down to? The film I currently have goes from 12um all the way down to .03um
The change is simple, wanted to try differernt medias to sharpen a blade and see how it felt when using them on my face.

Larry
 
The Method.

Once your film edge is dialed in, hit the balsa progression. It is exponentially sharper. Then maintain on the .1u balsa after every shave and you will never need to rehone that razor again. When you do it that way, it makes no real economic sense to buy stones unless you just want a Chosera or something for bevel setting. I prefer sandpaper on acrylic, me.
 
The change is simple, wanted to try differernt medias to sharpen a blade and see how it felt when using them on my face.

Larry
Larry thanks for the input!

The Method.

Once your film edge is dialed in, hit the balsa progression. It is exponentially sharper. Then maintain on the .1u balsa after every shave and you will never need to rehone that razor again. When you do it that way, it makes no real economic sense to buy stones unless you just want a Chosera or something for bevel setting. I prefer sandpaper on acrylic, me.
Slash, thanks again for the "Method" info. I have yet to evolve into the pasted Balsa strop technique. My edges have only gone to .3um on the films and I currently am still on the first set of 3"x11 1/2" strips and I am pretty pleased. The substrate is really my only change. I started with a 3/8" thick glass tile (which I found out was not "dead flat") and now I have a 1" thick clear acrylic 3x12" (as close to "dead flat"as I can get!) that works so much better. I know there is no 100% dead flat, but my substrate change made a world of difference even on my smiling edges. Thanks for the input!
 
Larry thanks for the input!


Slash, thanks again for the "Method" info. I have yet to evolve into the pasted Balsa strop technique. My edges have only gone to .3um on the films and I currently am still on the first set of 3"x11 1/2" strips and I am pretty pleased. The substrate is really my only change. I started with a 3/8" thick glass tile (which I found out was not "dead flat") and now I have a 1" thick clear acrylic 3x12" (as close to "dead flat"as I can get!) that works so much better. I know there is no 100% dead flat, but my substrate change made a world of difference even on my smiling edges. Thanks for the input!
Cool. I suggest trying this for a finish... a half dozen laps on 1u film over picopaper instead of .3u, and compare the shaves. Then try a dozen laps on 1u film over picopaper, with shave lather on the film, and compare that. I think you will find that .3u film while somewhat sharper, is not quite as comfortable as optimized 1u film honing. Subjective, but many other guys besides me have noticed the harshness of .3u film as well as .5u pastes. Seems to be sort of a sour spot, comfort wise. Progressing up to .1u improves comfort for most users. Stopping at 1u film with lather and/or picopaper improves comfort for most users, too. So in general and YMMV, you can have comfortable and pretty sharp at 1u, not so comfortable and a little sharper at .5u to .3u, and noticeably more comfortable and still sharper at .1u. My findings, not scientifically backed, but others have found the same thing.

The acrylic block you have is a very good way to use film. If you get three more, you can glue 1/4" thick balsa on them, lap the balsa, apply diamond paste as per the method, and you are ready to up your game like a boss. Yet another acrylic block, with sandpaper glued to it, will make a great steel remover for heavy edge repair or bevel setting.

Your 1" thick acrylic costs more, but is a considerable improvement over 1/2" or 3/4" stuff. It helps keep your fingertips below the path of the razor and makes for an easier, more secure grip.
 
Cool. I suggest trying this for a finish... a half dozen laps on 1u film over picopaper instead of .3u, and compare the shaves. Then try a dozen laps on 1u film over picopaper, with shave lather on the film, and compare that. I think you will find that .3u film while somewhat sharper, is not quite as comfortable as optimized 1u film honing. Subjective, but many other guys besides me have noticed the harshness of .3u film as well as .5u pastes. Seems to be sort of a sour spot, comfort wise. Progressing up to .1u improves comfort for most users. Stopping at 1u film with lather and/or picopaper improves comfort for most users, too. So in general and YMMV, you can have comfortable and pretty sharp at 1u, not so comfortable and a little sharper at .5u to .3u, and noticeably more comfortable and still sharper at .1u. My findings, not scientifically backed, but others have found the same thing.

The acrylic block you have is a very good way to use film. If you get three more, you can glue 1/4" thick balsa on them, lap the balsa, apply diamond paste as per the method, and you are ready to up your game like a boss. Yet another acrylic block, with sandpaper glued to it, will make a great steel remover for heavy edge repair or bevel setting.

Your 1" thick acrylic costs more, but is a considerable improvement over 1/2" or 3/4" stuff. It helps keep your fingertips below the path of the razor and makes for an easier, more secure grip.
I have been as of late trying the "lather method" on the .3um and have found it pretty darn good! No pressure other than the weight of the blade and only 15-20 edge leading laps seems to be the sweet spot. This is after 30 laps with the .5um still affixed to the block and .3um affixed on top of the .5um, it seems to be working fine for me! When the GM/UAW strike ends and funds permit I definitely want to try the balsa strop with .1um paste! Thanks for the response! And ideas!
 
I learned to hone using film with excellent results. As a matter of simplification, I started using Shapton stones - 1k, 5k, 8k & 12k. Results were the same and the transition was easy as I had already learned to hone. The true magic is in the .5, .25, and .01 balsa progression and post shave maintenance In my opinion, it doesn’t matter what method you use to get to 12k as long as you finish with the balsa.
 
I learned to hone using film with excellent results. As a matter of simplification, I started using Shapton stones - 1k, 5k, 8k & 12k. Results were the same and the transition was easy as I had already learned to hone. The true magic is in the .5, .25, and .01 balsa progression and post shave maintenance In my opinion, it doesn’t matter what method you use to get to 12k as long as you finish with the balsa.
That is an accurate summation, as long as the 12k edge is good, with a nice flat bevel and a tight apex. For a newbie this is easier and cheaper to achieve with film, but stones CAN work just as well. The real magic is, as you say, in the balsa progression and maintenance. If the 12k edge is not of high enough quality though, the .5u balsa will have a tough time maxing out, dooming the final result to mediocrity. The balsa cannot create the edge, only take it to the next level if it is already there and already above reproach. For a beginner this is asking a lot.
 
That is an accurate summation, as long as the 12k edge is good, with a nice flat bevel and a tight apex. For a newbie this is easier and cheaper to achieve with film, but stones CAN work just as well. The real magic is, as you say, in the balsa progression and maintenance. If the 12k edge is not of high enough quality though, the .5u balsa will have a tough time maxing out, dooming the final result to mediocrity. The balsa cannot create the edge, only take it to the next level if it is already there and already above reproach. For a beginner this is asking a lot.
Correction to my post. .1 balsa not .01. Agree completely, from experience, if the 12 isn’t finished, balsa won’t fix it.
 
I transitioned from NATURAL stones to lapping film. No hassles, no oil, much easier and consistent edges.

I still keep one razor honed on the coticule and one on the arks, but my most durable and enjoyable edges come from film. It's a no brainer, no circle method, no half stroke, no slurry dilution, no meaningless Japanese names and no non-sense. Just stick the film on a piece of glass or marble, rub your razor 50 times back and forth and move up in the progression. Then, just go and shave.

Add the savings from films to the math and it is really hard to argue rationally. I assume some people stick to stones either for sentimental or financial reasons (honemeisters or sellers of stones).... and I totally respect that

I just wish I had learned about it earlier so I could have saved a few hundred bucks in stones and several mediocre shaves with bad edges.
 
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That is an accurate summation, as long as the 12k edge is good, with a nice flat bevel and a tight apex. For a newbie this is easier and cheaper to achieve with film, but stones CAN work just as well. The real magic is, as you say, in the balsa progression and maintenance. If the 12k edge is not of high enough quality though, the .5u balsa will have a tough time maxing out, dooming the final result to mediocrity. The balsa cannot create the edge, only take it to the next level if it is already there and already above reproach. For a beginner this is asking a lot.
I can definitely see the bevel issues carrying over to balsa.

I remember reading you did a pass around of a balsa setup being touted as almost fool-proof, and then everyone was sort of shocked when a few people still screwed it up... in your opinion where did that train go off the rails?
 
I can definitely see the bevel issues carrying over to balsa.

I remember reading you did a pass around of a balsa setup being touted as almost fool-proof, and then everyone was sort of shocked when a few people still screwed it up... in your opinion where did that train go off the rails?
Honestly, I don't know, but my instinctive kneejerk reaction is to blame bench honing or in this case, bench balsa stropping, and/or excessive pressure. It is hard to convey just how light the pressure ought to be, or for the user to quantify the pressure he is actually using. And it is strange, yeah, because in the threads where the new guys were first trying it out, they all "got it" after just a couple of attempts. And the passaround recipients were not newbies. Still, it did, I think, establish as a fact that it CAN work, and work very well, for the average shaver. Who knows why it didn't work for everyone? And these passarounds are always fun and interesting for the participants, anyway, and the razors were just Gold Dollars, functionally modified but not cosmetically perfect by any means. So I really contibuted very little for what I think was a pretty cool activity. And now we know that yes, it is possible to do it wrong in spite of the best intentions and considerable experience.

They say we learn from our mistakes more than from our successes. By that measure, I am a friggin geniuls by now. Well, it wasn't really a failure but neither was it a completely solid and uncompromised success.
 
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