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My Start, Borne of Generosity

I started a conversation with a member thanking him for his great advice and encouragement when I first began a few weeks ago. He thanked me for following up, and it's since turned into great experience with me, a humbled beneficiary. After showing interest and an eagerness to learn, I was given a starter kit of JNATs. Unbelievable. I don't know WHAT I did to deserve this. I have a base stone and three of the Naguras--a Botan, Komo, and two finishers/Tomo. I purchased a Mejiro and Tenjyou which I should have on Friday.

I believe I'm being taught as he was. I was instructed to lap the base stone with paper @ 400, 600, 800 and finish on 1000 under running water. The stone is beautiful. It's a lot nicer than beautiful actually.

Then followed instructions to create a bevel (on an eBay W.H. Morely and Sons) I picked up--with my Naniwa Super Stone 1K. I was told, "no bevel, no edge." That made abundant sense. The game plan is to shave after every step.

After creating my bevel and confirming with loupe (often along the way) it was established the entire length heel to toe, I was told to shave with it. Cheeks only. It was rough, but no nicks. I was on my way.

The next assignment was to take it to the Botan. My first slurry. Felt like a prom date! Call me a nerd. After copious tips from my mentor and hours of watching you know who on You Tube, I sprayed down the base stone and made a Botan slurry. I went to town, nearly drooling at both the mindlessness and meticulous attention to feedback, developing muscle memory, listening, feeling, smelling (I suppose you all know Naguras have a smell! I did not), and practicing just keeping the slurry on the stone I was done. It looked spectacular under the loupe. Grayish bevel at ca. 20x with no signs of scratches remaining. I called it done. After I rinsed and floated the blade over my forarm hairs--nothing. Seems I destroyed my first edge. OK. I thought of the Motown song, "Mama told me there'd be days like this" and the sage advice of my mentor. "Patience is going to be the catch-phrase. Your failures will far exceed successes in the beginning. Learn from them rather than allowing them to discourage you." These were just a few of the outstanding things I was told.

Only shaving. Everything's OK. Nobody's gonna die if I mess up. The end result is more practice, and there's no downside to that. Considering all I had done, I concluded perhaps my slurry was too much like a paste, and my pressure was too heavy.

Without rinsing the base stone, I diluted the heck out of it and used the lightest strokes I could muster. The feedback was immediately more discernible. It reminded me of the sound a skier makes at slalom. Shh, shh, shh, shh, shh. (Also reminded me of my ex-wife.......). Within 5 minutes the water was breaking ahead of the blade like the steel was a squeegee. I smiled. Two minutes later the steel was sticking to the stone like a magnet.

I had no doubt I was there. Just by feel. Again I rinsed, dried, and floated it over my forearm hairs. Nothing. OK--another teachable moment. I remember the words "parlor tricks" from my mentor, and HHT and floating over the forearm be damned--a little voice said, "Shave with it."

Well, I did and the edge was in the top 3 I've felt. Not a nick, cut or scratch. The alum felt like a blast of cold air. Life is good.

On Friday I'll use the second of 5 Nagura. Then I'll shave. If it gets any better than this, sign me up.

Balsa strops and films definitely do work. Having felt both, I feel the diamonds are perfunctory. They cut, the blade is damn sharp; but at the risk of stepping on ANYONE'S toes (NOT MY INTENTION), I'm going to put aside the diamonds at the µ level for awhile.

I find it either a happy twist of fate, or years and years of us evolving; that Nagura starts soft and coarse, and through the progression becomes finer and harder. Sounds perfect to the point of ingenious.

Thanks for listening, folks. If you couldn't tell, I'm thrilled to death. Most of all, I am humbled by my mentor who takes the time, expense, and most importantly--is generous with his knowledge. That's what these forums are for. One day I'll pay it forward. It's ironic and counterintuitive that once I master this stone (a workhorse pickup truck) and the Naguras, there will never be a need to buy a Ferrari stone because I know from the experience of others that in this sport, it might be better to hold on to what you have and what put you on the map, so to speak.

I'll keep you all posted as I progress.
Congrats on the stones. It is great people like your straight razor mentor that make B&B stand out.
That’s a fact!
Great story - congrats! The fact that you can rub a piece of steel on a (natural) stone and shave with it is pretty cool, right?
It's beyond cool. I understand the Japanese can control the hue of their edge with the degree of rubbin'.
Congrats to you both!
Thanks, @Steve56!


I shaved a fortune
I enjoyed you recounting your journey.... it sounds like it's already brought pleasure to you both and I suspect that your relationship will only deepen as time goes on.

Congrats to you both.
Thank you, @Phoenixkh. It has already brought nothing but--and I'm sure you're correct about your assumption. I just received my Tenyjou and Mejiro. I need to go to google images to see which is which. The stamps are written in some strange foreign language. :) Tonight it's the second slurry, having finished the Botan.
@FarmerTan I'm a journeyman electrician, and now I'm an instructor for my region's apprenticeship program. I frequently tell my students to gravitate to those who are generous with their knowledge, they will teach you the most. That's what happened to me and I feel like I owe much of it to this old timer who showed me the ropes. I also tell my students when the time comes, you should be generous with your knowledge. It's how we progress and evolve. Keeping it to yourself benefits nobody.
Progress report--

Tonight I used the step after Botan, the Tenyjou I received in the mail today. The Naguras are beautiful. To think of the thousands of years the sediment took to become stone amazes me. The science behind it blows my mind.

I created the same slurry and I'll keep it short, but as the feedback subsided I diluted well with water only because I did this with the Botan and it worked well. When dilution took me to almost honing on water alone--it felt like frosted glass (or frozen chocolate that I hear someone say on You Tube). :)

Tonight's shave was the best so far.

I bought a new Dovo Silver Steel Prima from The Superior Shave when I first came to this forum. I can honestly say the edge I'm creating reminds me of that Dovo when it was new (less than a month ago!).

Tomorrow night is Mejiro followed by a shave. My mentor is keeping tabs on me and I get the feeling I'm doing the right thing.

I feel blessed.
The Mejiro went without event, though I didn't sense too much of a difference in the blade. My mentor told me to only hone and try the razor again. I did and the shave was a bit better. Like I told him, I think I lack the experience to know if it's my honing skills, or my "still in the fumbling stage" with a straight.

With his permission I'll go with a Koma slurry tonight, strop--and shave with it tomorrow.
I stop when the feedback from the slurry is gone, and I confirm the edge’s haze/graying/new hue is uniform with the loupe.
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