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My first kamisori

I unboxed my first Kamisori today; a Henkotsu. Based upon the stamp and packaging, my research indicates it was made in the 1960s. Another member posted an inquiry on kamisoris earlier today, and so Ithought I would share my experience.

Everything looked great upon unboxing; the razor was sold as NOS. There were some tiny chips that would be easy to hone out. I have seen this on my NOS Filarmonica as well. I it up to handling during manufacture and presale handling - maybe retail customers handling a razor and then not buying it.

I was fortunate in finding Keith's video (@Gamma) on honing kamisoris. So I did not make the mistake of putting the razor on a 1k stone and flattening the omote (soft side) right off the bat. And as Keith says in the video, forget the 7:1 ratio until you have established the geometry - otherwise you will be honing forever. I set the bevel on a Naniwa 3k. But having set the bevel, or so I thought, I could see that the toe was not there yet. I was able to slice a tomato all along the edge. But my loupe (10x) showed scratch patterns that indicated I had not hit the very end of the toe. And that is what I use to edge my beard. I'm glad I did not tape, because the spine wear was also indicative of the condition of the bevel at the toe. The spine had no wear at the tip and this let me understand why the toe was not getting the love it needed. It took about an hour and the toe is just about there. I still have about ten minutes work left, but I thought it was a good time for a break. And the spine wear is also uniform now. Yes, there was some spine wear. But is quite slight and very even. And this means that when I touch up in the future, the geometry will be there. I don't see how this can happen with tape.

I'll get back to it tomorrow and post again.

Henkotsu.jpg
 
I have tried Kamisoris multiple times and just never could warm up to them, love the tradition behind them and when I used them I used them as intended with the omote side towards my face and it was just awkward so after a few months I gave up.
 
Looking forward to updates. I plan to give 'em a try but will almost certainly be a heathen and ignore ura/omote fidelity while shaving. Well maybe attempt it properly once, just for the experience. I'll just be happy to get a good shave. I'm also fairly likely to seek outside assistance honing, should it ever get that far.
 

Herrenberg

Contributor
Whatever the intent was, when these razors were used by one's wife, I've been shaving with them, most days, for a while now, using both sides. I see no lack of function on the side you're supposedly not supposed to use. It's a two sided razor, both sides shave just fine. They don't even feel different to me.
 

Herrenberg

Contributor
But my loupe (10x) showed scratch patterns that indicated I had not hit the very end of the toe. And that is what I use to edge my beard. I'm glad I did not tape, because the spine wear was also indicative of the condition of the bevel at the toe. The spine had no wear at the tip and this let me understand why the toe was not getting the love it needed. It took about an hour and the toe is just about there. I still have about ten minutes work left, but I thought it was a good time for a break. And the spine wear is also uniform now. Yes, there was some spine wear. But is quite slight and very even. And this means that when I touch up in the future, the geometry will be there. I don't see how this can happen with tape.
Congratulations on your first kamisori!

I agree with everything you said, and I applaud your attention to getting the geometry just right, as the first order of business. The steel is hard, it takes a while, but the effort pays off in much more comfortable shaves, plus simpler honing in the future.

Uniform spine wear is definitely a good sign, and one I look for too, as a sign that things are going in the right direction.

Buying used kamisoris is a tutorial on all the mistakes that the previous honers made, usually favoring the toe on one side, and the heel on the other, but there are plenty of variations.
 
With respect to choosing a side to use:
I have been practicing with a plastic knife, always holding the omote to my face as is the tradition. For down strokes (edge facing down) I use my left hand and can cover my entire beard comfortably. Then for up strokes (edge facing up) my right hand can cover comfortably. Usually, those two passes are all I need. Going across the face, the right hand will work well from left to right. If I had to go the other way, I would simply use the other side of the razor - it's not sacreligious.
 
Well, it is taking longer than I thought. This kamisori is a challenge. But I finally got the geometry right, with a nice bevel on the omote. This was at the cost of considerable spine wear. I now understand why many of the kamisoris for sale have so much hone wear on the omote side. So after the second long session, I am through 5k with a very nice scratch pattern and a good bevel on both sides. On to my JNAT for the next session(s).
 
There is light t the end of the tunnel. I have gone through a progression on my Oozuku stone. I then stropped in for about 150 laps on shell cordovan with decent results. Coarse hair cuts at HHT 5. But that's not a major accomplishment. HHT with fine hair, root held inward is the true test. I am getting decent HHT on fine hair with the root held out. So it looks like I need a bit more time on the stone.
 
I'm coming in very nicely on the HHT with fine hairs, but only with the root out (recommended method). I am getting some results with the root in (my preferred test), so I will put in a little more time on the stone.
 
After a bit more on the jnat, I am not getting great results. I can get good results with coarse hair, but not with fine hair. I seem to have gone backwards after my efforts. When honing the ura, I get nice feedback on the stone. But the omote just glides or sticks. That iron side is hard to hone. I will keep at it.
 
It can take a little longer to get that flat side of the bevel well set. But that is what you need. Think like a wood chisel. Once well flat, the other side is easy and long term seems to stay that way. Good luck. When it is right you will know for sure. Almost sharp will almost shave :)
 
Whatever the intent was, when these razors were used by one's wife, I've been shaving with them, most days, for a while now, using both sides. I see no lack of function on the side you're supposedly not supposed to use. It's a two sided razor, both sides shave just fine. They don't even feel different to me.
My experience is the same as yours. I just treat it like any other blades and it has worked fine for me. Even for honing.
 
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