however the whole point of these exercises are not to get to the lowest common denominator, are they? We’d have stopped buying/using new or other hones and razors (and other kit) once we hit that min ROI break point.
I agree completely that for most of us who enjoy honing, it is not just about making a razor sharp (lowest denominator).
But when you try new things and learn they do absolutely nothing at all….well then you learned (hopefully) that it was sort of pointless
Some changes in technique, equipment, etc equate to a different results. Some do nothing at all or virtually meaningless.
To be contributing here and not just shooting holes in you guys’ theory and experimenting, I will say I generally flatten stones….but once upon a time I used to believe that it was super critical and the tiniest fault in flatness would result in sub-par edges. It’s not totally true. It’s just not. I can pick up a convex or concave or even a stone that has both convex and concave areas…..and I can generally hone a great edge. I have numerous oddly shaped stones that are hundreds of years old and seen massive amount of work and abuse…..and still great edges. So that theory or even mantra was not totally fact.
There is so much emphasis on the equipment but really the skill is more important. It really is. A great honer can use poor stones but great stones can’t help a poor honer. I would rather have a razor sharpened on a dished 1000 grit stone from a seasoned honer than what some folks produce from a pile of choice stones. This is what really moves the needle. So, when you get into the theory of honing on theoretical 30’ diameter balls……I first wonder if the person has the skills to actually produce a difference in edge…..and if yes the second…..is such a ridiculously minute different really noticeable anyway (NO). I was into target shooting most of my life and it used to crack my up to watch people dump money on parts and equipment that were 1000x more refined than their shooting ability - if they can’t shoot a rifle out of a box straight then how is a new fancy trigger and scope going to help? Same with honing - you first have to have the ability to hone well enough to notice that difference.
Couple of years back I experimented with honing on the large-radius sides of a set Arkansas slip stones. I wanted to see first hand an extreme version of all this contact point discussion and convex theory everyone was arguing about. I point out theory because you have to prove or disprove to be fact. I thought this curvature would be an extreme for sure. Reductio ad absurdism. Interestingly it honed just fine. For me anyway. I could see though as I did it how it could be screwed up easily if someone didn’t have smooth motion in their x stroke causing unintentional uneven-bevel-working. I have tried lots of goofy things that all work fine but I also know how to hone. If you don’t have so much experience then even using dead flat synth stones can be challenging.
It’s all just metal and rocks or other harder abrasive. It’s funny how it all works and how much better it all works as your skill improves. At some point you hit a level where most every stone you pick up can be learned or made to work and few razors, no matter how wonky, are not such a challenge. Which circles back to the fact that the hard to calculate convexity and differences in equipment just don’t result in anything appreciable……except for the fun in experimentation maybe.
I am mostly a exec type guy these days (directing global product development like your name actually), but once upon a time was more of an applied PhD scientist and used to love this expression: “Once again reality is #%*ing up my theory” I think of this a lot on all these convex type posts.