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My First Natural Finish

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
This morning I received a Chinese natural (Cnat) by Adaee. They rate it at about 12k. It's a monster at 30mm x 75mm x 200mm with a specific gravity of 2.77.

Why this stone? The only reason is ecause it was within my budget at about USD 50 including shipping. The stone had mixed reviews. Some thought that it was rubbish and other thought that it was the bees knees. With my order, Itold Adaee that I wanted to use it as a finisher on my straight razors and asked them to choose accordingly for me.

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Being the impatient person that I am, this afternoon I lapped this Cnat flat. It was pretty good to start with so didn't require a lot of work to lap flat.

I then got out two of my Titan 1918 ACRO T.H-70 SRs. Both of these SRs are in my current rotation and shave about equally as well as each other and are maintained on pasted balsa. I selected one and gently killed the edge on the bottom of a glass tumbler.

The killed SR then had its bevel reset on a 3k synthetic and then refined on an 8k synthetic. From there I took it to my new Cnat.

After about 6 laps on the Cnat with water, the blade started sticking so a couple of short pull strokes. I lightened up the already light pressure and added more water. A few more laps and it was again sticking. More short pull strokes. Weight of the blade only and more water - the same result.

I finally added a couple of drops of detergent to my water. Eight more laps and it was sticking again. That was about as far as I could take it so I finished off with about 6 short X strokes, applied Renaissance wax and finished up.

I then compared the two edges by tree-topping my chest hair with each. The killed-edge SR was definitely not as good as the one maintained on pasted balsa.

Tomorrow I will strop both on clean leather and do a comparison shave. I don't expect the Cnat edge to cut as easily as the pasted balsa edge, although it might. I am interested to determine if the Cnat edge is more comfortable to shave with.

More in about 16 hours (2230 UTC).
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
Wait. You smeared renaissance wax on the blade before the shave?
Yes, force of habit. All my SRs normally rest for about 3 or 4 weeks between each shave. (Dovo would love me.) The Renaissance wax is removed from the bevel/edge when I strop on clean leather before each shave.

Renaissance wax is not just "smeared" on. It is applied very sparingly and then polished to a good shine.
 
Yes, force of habit. All my SRs normally rest for about 3 or 4 weeks between each shave. (Dovo would love me.) The Renaissance wax is removed from the bevel/edge when I strop on clean leather before each shave.

Renaissance wax is not just "smeared" on. It is applied very sparingly and then polished to a good shine.
So you are polishing the edge to a shine before the shave?
 
If you get a good CNat, it can serve as a nice finisher. However, even if it is 12K, that is only around 0.8 micron. When you use pasted strops you are going a lot finer than that. I have several natural stones that finish out somewhere around the 10-12K level, but none are both sharp enough and smooth enough without pasted strops. I do have three stones: a Greek Vermio, a Zuly Grey, and an Imperia La Roccia that finish out around 15K. I can use them for shaving without pasted strops, but I much prefer using pasted strops afterward.

When I started using pasted strops, I started out with 0.5 micron CrOx and CBN. That was better than I could get even with a app. 15K stone. Then I tried 0.25 micron CBN and found further improvement. When I first tried 0.1 micron CBN I did not expect to notice a difference compared to the 0.25 micron, but my skin is so sensitive that I could feel a difference. Thus, no matter which finishing stone I use to refresh my straight razors, I always follow up with the pasted strops down to 0.1 micron. Since you are used to razors finished on pasted strops, I doubt you will ever be satisfied with a razor finished on a stone alone.

For the best edge you can get off the CNat, do what you have done already, but do your final x-strokes with very light pressure under running water. That is as good as it gets, but you will still want your pasted strops.
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
If you get a good CNat, it can serve as a nice finisher. However, even if it is 12K, that is only around 0.8 micron. When you use pasted strops you are going a lot finer than that. I have several natural stones that finish out somewhere around the 10-12K level, but none are both sharp enough and smooth enough without pasted strops. I do have three stones: a Greek Vermio, a Zuly Grey, and an Imperia La Roccia that finish out around 15K. I can use them for shaving without pasted strops, but I much prefer using pasted strops afterward.

When I started using pasted strops, I started out with 0.5 micron CrOx and CBN. That was better than I could get even with a app. 15K stone. Then I tried 0.25 micron CBN and found further improvement. When I first tried 0.1 micron CBN I did not expect to notice a difference compared to the 0.25 micron, but my skin is so sensitive that I could feel a difference. Thus, no matter which finishing stone I use to refresh my straight razors, I always follow up with the pasted strops down to 0.1 micron. Since you are used to razors finished on pasted strops, I doubt you will ever be satisfied with a razor finished on a stone alone.

For the best edge you can get off the CNat, do what you have done already, but do your final x-strokes with very light pressure under running water. That is as good as it gets, but you will still want your pasted strops.
Thank you for your comments. I also do not think that a natural stone is going to produce as keen an edge as my pasted balsa. The Cnat is only to see how far I can take it. If I get good enough, I might be able to go straight from the Cnat to my pasted balsa.

My first step in this little project is to see how keen and comfortable I can get an edge finished just off this Cnat. The razor I am trying this with has the hardest steel and, if not honed with care, can be susceptible to microchipping. It's just a fun little project for me that may extend my skills.
 
I don't think the cnat is very capable to bring back a "killed" edge. When testing a different finisher I take it back one stone or finish it then try my finishing stone.
 
I'll be interested to hear your thoughts here R. I like the standardized, analytical approach you're taking, and regardless of whether or not you Cnat is the best natural finisher in the world, I still think you'll get a reasonable first impression of the differences between natural edges and pasted balsa. Even if in this instance the Cnat edge isn't sharp enough for what you like.

As I say - very interested to hear the thoughts of someone coming from 'the other way' to what I know.
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
My first comparison shave was this morning. Both SRs are ¾ Titan 1918 ACRO T.H-70 with a very hard steel (about 70 RHC). Green ball SR (LHS) has an 18.6° bevel angle and has been finished and maintained on diamond pasted balsa, and the orange ball SR (RHS) has an 18.5° bevel angle and is finished on the 12k(?) Cnat.

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The shave started with my normal prep and face lathering with Palmolive regular cream. The green SR (balsa) was used exclusively to shave the LHS of my face and the orange SR (Cnat) for the RHS of my face. Three passes; WTG, XTG with fool's pass and another XTG in the opposite direction.

First pass (WTG), the orange SR (Cnat) was noticeably my comfortable to shave with. On rinsing the face before re-lathering for the second pass, the LHS (green SR) was noticeably smoother than the RHS (orange SR).

I re-lathered and performance my second pass (XTG + fool's pass). With the fool's pass, the orange SR (Cnat) was noticeably more tuggy than the green SR. For the rest of this pass (XTG), both SRs felt about the same. Rinsing showed that the green SR was definitely cutting closer.

Re-lathered for the final pass (XTG in the opposite direction). Again both SRs felt about the same. The final rinse before my aftershave splash proved to me that the green SR (balsa) produced the closest shave of the two.

I am not going to give up (yet) on the orange SR (Cnat). I will continue working on it to see if any improvement can be made. Later, I might even put a Cnat finish on one of my ¾ "Bengall" SRs which have softer steel and bevel angles around 16° to see if that helps.

Stay tuned to this thread.
 
I am not going to give up (yet) on the orange SR (Cnat). I will continue working on it to see if any improvement can be made. Later, I might even put a Cnat finish on one of my ¾ "Bengall" SRs which have softer steel and bevel angles around 16° to see if that helps.

Stay tuned to this thread.
Even after thinning my T.H.70, and thereby getting it back into the regular rotation, I am not sure what can and cannot be done with that 70 HRC steel. Does it have serious carbides? No way of knowing, they don't tell you what the steel is. It's hard to pick the right stones. I have to play with it and see what I can sort out. Best case, lots of different finishers will work. Worst case, it's the 15K CBN stone or The Method forever. Probably the latter.
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
The steel in the ACRO blades is a Japanese stainless steel. This steel was specifically developed for SRs by the Japanese steel maker in collaboration with Titan. They keep it a closely guarded secret. All I know is that, depending on the heat treatment method used, it can have a hardness in the mid 60s to about 70 RHC.

Richard Lau, the Titan marketing manager, has told me that their ACRO steel has a finer grain than similar stainless steel and stronger intergranular bonding.

I have found in honing this ACRO stainless steel, greater attention needs to be given to honing pressure, keeping it lighter than normally used with HCS. Because also of the steel's hardness, this means a lot more work (laps) to achieve a decent edge.

The extra work/time in honing an ACRO blade is not for everyone but, once properly honed, it holds an edge much better than most other stainless steels.
 
If you think Cnat is a more comfortable edge wait until you try out a Jnat edge, they are a million times better. I think you could like the right Arkansas edge and or Thuringian edge. All of those stones will have a finer finish than the Cnat. Coticules are the bomb but getting the right one takes forever and is only worth it IMO for those willing to hunt forever haha.
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
This evening I put the Cnat SR through more honing on the Cnat. I first worked up a light slurry on the stone using a small fine diamond plate. Then about 50 laps edge leading with a few pull strokes. Repeated this three more times watering the slurry down each time until the last set was water only. All was done with weight of blade only pressure.

Old habits die hard so I then treated my Cnat like a 0.1μm pasted balsa strop. Fifty laps with some short X strokes and water only. I then held the Cnat like a hanging balsa strop and repeated.

The edge now tree-tops chest hair almost as well as my balsa finished SR. Tomorrow morning will be another shave test comparison.
 
If you think Cnat is a more comfortable edge wait until you try out a Jnat edge, they are a million times better. I think you could like the right Arkansas edge and or Thuringian edge. All of those stones will have a finer finish than the Cnat. Coticules are the bomb but getting the right one takes forever and is only worth it IMO for those willing to hunt forever haha.
Which of the zillions of different cnats are you referring to? There are heaps of different ones available, and they all perform differently. Exactly the same can be said of jnats.

Is one countries rocks inherently better because they cost more to buy? Given the physical size difference between China and Japan one would assume that the odds of more good hones would lie in Chinas favour.

FWIW, I have not tried the OP’s type of CNat, so I have no idea if it is good, bad or indifferent. But assuming a country the size of China doesn’t have rock with excellent honing properties within its boarders seems pretty silly.
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
Which of the zillions of different cnats are you referring to? There are heaps of different ones available, and they all perform differently. Exactly the same can be said of jnats.

Is one countries rocks inherently better because they cost more to buy? Given the physical size difference between China and Japan one would assume that the odds of more good hones would lie in Chinas favour.

FWIW, I have not tried the OP’s type of CNat, so I have no idea if it is good, bad or indifferent. But assuming a country the size of China doesn’t have rock with excellent honing properties within its boarders seems pretty silly.
I also have no idea if this Adaee Cnat is any good. The stone has some good reviews in China and it was within my budget. That is the only reason why I decided to give it a go.

If this Cnat does not work for me, I will not be totally giving up on natural finishers. I will just have to wait until my budget allows me to try a different stone.
 
I also have no idea if this Adaee Cnat is any good. The stone has some good reviews in China and it was within my budget. That is the only reason why I decided to give it a go.

If this Cnat does not work for me, I will not be totally giving up on natural finishers. I will just have to wait until my budget allows me to try a different stone.
Yeah, that’s fine. You know I 100% endorse experimenting, and getting 1st hand practical experience with new things. I like that way more than people saying xyz item works or doesn’t work, because they read about it on the internet.

My favorite honing threads are guys who have already tried lots of different rocks, and still go hunting for new weird stuff in antique stores, or even digging them up themselves. That is being an enthusiast, not just treading a worn path.
 
I am just stating my opinion based on my experience. I tried a cnat that performed very meh for me. I have tried a bunch of other naturals including naturals from other people. Jnats were constantly the better edge for me, with arks and coticules performing good as well (better than the cnat I tried).

All about experimenting. I don't see why you wouldn't want to at least try out the edges a lot of people love. Not sure why there was aggression towards my reply.
 
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