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Natural Finish -v- Diamond Pasted Balsa

Just throwing in my 2 cents I think Steve is dead on with what he said.

I have one jnat I love a kiita after about 3 or 4 jnats (still want an ultra fine one though).

I have 2 arks (both trans 8x2 and 6x2, first 2 I have gotten both great)

1 coticule (favorite stones to hone on. Very expensive and very hard to find a good finishing one. I went through like 6+ coticules before finding one with a finish I love).

1 thuri (4.5x2.4 or something like that. Tried 3 or 4 thuris. 2 were labeled, escher and srd, but they all felt close to the same for me. Labels way expensive, non labeled might not be the stone you think it is.)

Since you like the paste I feel like ark will be the stone for you. Good jnat as well but that will probably be more expensive and some trial and error. I feel like thuris and coticules might not be keen enough for you. Jnats are my favorite, coticules are my favorite if I am shaving everyday. Arks always a good middle ground for me
 
I dislike diamond slurry/paste/powder/etc for finishing razors, never liked it, never will. Yes, I have used a ton of the stuff in a variety of formats, particle sizes down to (allegedly) .05 µm or so, both mono and poly, on every substrate I can find. Not for me. Not saying it's bad. Just saying I don't like it. I know there are certain people here/there/everywhere that need everyone to like what they like; but that's just not how the ball bounces in real life. Me no like diamond.
For cutlery, I would use it if I kept it around but I don't; I've found that there are better abrasives to use. I don't mind using it on a knife, just don't want diamond edges near my face.
As for natural stones, they take skill to use and sometimes it takes skills to use their edges also, especially with Coticules sometimes. Bart used to speak of this actually, he would reference the point in a shavers experience where they no longer relied so heavily on pure sharpness alone. Took me a while to wrap my head around that concept. Edges are a bit like what went on with photography - once I learned to strop trying to compare digital to film, things got better for me.
With edges, once I was able to appreciate each edge on its own, each blade on its own and each stone on its own, my life got better. The edges I shave with are where I want and need them to be, they work for me. I use abrasive compounds once in while, I have a dedicated edge longevity blade for testing the use and effect of compounds. Once in a while I will 'bump' an edge with a compound too. I usually re-hone the blade a few days later though.
 
My fence sitting days are over. I’m officially on board. To date, I’ve been exclusively a Method Man. While ‘The Method’ has always treated me well and my edges are laser sharp, I’ve always liked the idea of a natural stone finisher. Steel, stone and leather. It’s almost poetic in its simplicity. With the moto “buy once, cry once” I jumped in with a nice razor-sized Ozuku Asagi from JNS. It only took five days from order to delivery with DHL from Denmark to Australia. That’s pretty quick in my book. I couldn’t even get an Atoma from the same city that quick (ordered the same day).

It sure looks the business. I’m interested in learning a new way of honing and seeing where it takes me.

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@Tomo I might follow in your footsteps once I have finished with my current M7DS's. It would be good if you could start a new thread posting your experiences and what you learn with what you get.
 
@Tomo I might follow in your footsteps once I have finished with my current M7DS's. It would be good if you could start a new thread posting your experiences and what you learn with what you get.
I’ll let you know how it goes. We’ve been on a similar path with the honing so far. There’s not much motivation to change when things are going well but curiosity eventually got the better of me. I expect it will take some time before I’m getting the most out of this rock but we’ll see. I wasn’t expecting it to get here as fast as it did. It’s beaten the lacquer and lapping plate order to my door. I’m tossing up wether to give it a go now or wait until I have it sealed and set up properly. I do have a modest set of matching MK31’s that would make a good head to head test for a thread. Watch this space.
 
My fence sitting days are over. I’m officially on board. To date, I’ve been exclusively a Method Man. While ‘The Method’ has always treated me well and my edges are laser sharp, I’ve always liked the idea of a natural stone finisher. Steel, stone and leather. It’s almost poetic in its simplicity. With the moto “buy once, cry once” I jumped in with a nice razor-sized Ozuku Asagi from JNS. It only took five days from order to delivery with DHL from Denmark to Australia. That’s pretty quick in my book. I couldn’t even get an Atoma from the same city that quick (ordered the same day).

It sure looks the business. I’m interested in learning a new way of honing and seeing where it takes me.

View attachment 1160674
agreed. have been dabling with arks......now I have an ancient ocean Jaspe ordered. have in my mind a progression that should be really comfy for my needs. will have to see if it pans out.

it will go synths from bevel set up to 12k, then arks, finishing with Jasper. if the Jasper lands the finish in the range of .5u or close to i will have found what i want.

camo
 
Tomo nice to see you take the plunge. Mk31 swedish steel is great but hard and you are going from the fastest cutter know to a slower one so it will take a little longer. Depending on your stone and if you have a lazer in you hands. I would suggest a light slurry 20-40 laps. If you are getting a good under cut try trace slurry 10-20 laps, strop and shave and that will be your base edge you can try other experiments(skim milk slurry,trace slurry, no slurry) and how many laps to do for you and your stone.
Dialing it in can be a great learning experience. Just play with it a little to get until you get that aha! moment. Any question just ask I and others here would love to help you out.
Nice looking stone by the way!
 
compared to my other jnats, the ozuku produces the least comfortable edge.
the ozuku has a reputation of being fast, and producing laser like edges...
of all my jnats ozuku leans towards that mechanical harsh synthetic feel...
im Not saying the ozuku is not capable of a comfortable edge it takes a period learning the stone to soften that laser like feel...
i do love my ozuku...
so to address the original post. I would suggest another stone for first natural, that may produce a more comfortable edge.
 
The ozuku below is super easy to use, light slurry, hone till it breaks down - easy to see since it's mizu, and you done. No dilutions, no gymnastics. Edge on a Feon Yasuki is as butter as anything.
I have another one I got from So and that one is acting more like Biglo13 says, you have to learn how to tame it.
Naturals, you never know what you will get till you try them and learn them.

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Jnat first impressions:

Yesterday I got my Ozuku Asagi 5+ lapped up and ready to go. I used a new Atoma 400 for the grunt work and a new Atoma 1200 for finishing. I then lapped the surface with a matched Tomo Nagura. The first cab of the rank was my first SR the Ralf Aust, Carbon Steel 5/8” in Blackwood scales. This has been my training razor and general guinea pig to date. I raised a light Tomo slurry and did about 30 or so laps adding enough water to keep the surface wet and gradually diluting the slurry. Then I did 10-15 with clean water. I don’t really count anymore. The action was pretty smooth but there was some suction as the blade wanted to stick to the surface. Examination under a 10x loupe revealed that a new edge surface had been generated. The high polish of the 0.1 diamond was replaced by a more matt finish. I did not kill the original edge (I couldn’t bring myself to it). This training razor has a very slight smile at the toe from previous noobie abuse. This initial honing got the vast majority of the edge but didn’t quite get the full extent of the smile at the toe. The resulting edge might still be considered hybrid finish.

I was a little worried about the slightly matted surface finish on the bevel. I was sure the edge would be duller as a result. I did about a hundred laps on clean horsehide and tested the edge with my usual tree topping and hanging hair tests. I was relieved to see that the edge passed both tests with flying colours. I could not see much if any change from the diamond finish in the tests. The edge seemed very keen and I was happy to proceed with a shave test. I was not expecting a huge difference in the shave. If anything I expected more tugging given the look of the bevel under magnification.

I was surprised to see a distinct difference in shave performance from the very first stroke. At first I thought my angle was off but this edge was acting differently from what I was used to. The blade was noticeably smoother the edge felt soft. By this I mean that I couldn’t really feel the edge. Terms like shaving with butter knife or index finger started to make sense now. I was almost wiping away hair and could easily have forgotten how sharp the edge was. There was almost no resistance to the shaving stroke. The edge was still slicing hairs very effectively. I’m not sure if there was less resistance than with the diamond paste but there was a noticeable lack of resistance. The end result was excellent. Close, conformable, zero irritation and no nicks. This is fairly common these days but the result was a notably good one in terms of comfort. Overall the shave was noticeably different. I am confident that I could pick the difference in a blind test.

These are first impressions only and I will do further testing to form a complete impression. I’m sure that I am not getting the most out of the stone on my first attempt but I did not find it difficult to use as a finisher on an otherwise sharp blade. These stones are highly regarded by many and it seems to me that this is for good reason. I think that there may be more to generating a good shaving edge than bevel angle and ever finer abrasives. Perhaps the microscopic texture of the edge also plays a role.
 
Jnat first impressions:

Yesterday I got my Ozuku Asagi 5+ lapped up and ready to go. I used a new Atoma 400 for the grunt work and a new Atoma 1200 for finishing. I then lapped the surface with a matched Tomo Nagura. The first cab of the rank was my first SR the Ralf Aust, Carbon Steel 5/8” in Blackwood scales. This has been my training razor and general guinea pig to date. I raised a light Tomo slurry and did about 30 or so laps adding enough water to keep the surface wet and gradually diluting the slurry. Then I did 10-15 with clean water. I don’t really count anymore. The action was pretty smooth but there was some suction as the blade wanted to stick to the surface. Examination under a 10x loupe revealed that a new edge surface had been generated. The high polish of the 0.1 diamond was replaced by a more matt finish. I did not kill the original edge (I couldn’t bring myself to it). This training razor has a very slight smile at the toe from previous noobie abuse. This initial honing got the vast majority of the edge but didn’t quite get the full extent of the smile at the toe. The resulting edge might still be considered hybrid finish.

I was a little worried about the slightly matted surface finish on the bevel. I was sure the edge would be duller as a result. I did about a hundred laps on clean horsehide and tested the edge with my usual tree topping and hanging hair tests. I was relieved to see that the edge passed both tests with flying colours. I could not see much if any change from the diamond finish in the tests. The edge seemed very keen and I was happy to proceed with a shave test. I was not expecting a huge difference in the shave. If anything I expected more tugging given the look of the bevel under magnification.

I was surprised to see a distinct difference in shave performance from the very first stroke. At first I thought my angle was off but this edge was acting differently from what I was used to. The blade was noticeably smoother the edge felt soft. By this I mean that I couldn’t really feel the edge. Terms like shaving with butter knife or index finger started to make sense now. I was almost wiping away hair and could easily have forgotten how sharp the edge was. There was almost no resistance to the shaving stroke. The edge was still slicing hairs very effectively. I’m not sure if there was less resistance than with the diamond paste but there was a noticeable lack of resistance. The end result was excellent. Close, conformable, zero irritation and no nicks. This is fairly common these days but the result was a notably good one in terms of comfort. Overall the shave was noticeably different. I am confident that I could pick the difference in a blind test.

These are first impressions only and I will do further testing to form a complete impression. I’m sure that I am not getting the most out of the stone on my first attempt but I did not find it difficult to use as a finisher on an otherwise sharp blade. These stones are highly regarded by many and it seems to me that this is for good reason. I think that there may be more to generating a good shaving edge than bevel angle and ever finer abrasives. Perhaps the microscopic texture of the edge also plays a role.
your wording and description very much describes what ive found with the stones I've been using as well.

not feeling the edge sums it up well. you know it's there but it is not as pronounced as with a balsa edge.

camo
 
Jnat first impressions:

Yesterday I got my Ozuku Asagi 5+ lapped up and ready to go. I used a new Atoma 400 for the grunt work and a new Atoma 1200 for finishing. I then lapped the surface with a matched Tomo Nagura. The first cab of the rank was my first SR the Ralf Aust, Carbon Steel 5/8” in Blackwood scales. This has been my training razor and general guinea pig to date. I raised a light Tomo slurry and did about 30 or so laps adding enough water to keep the surface wet and gradually diluting the slurry. Then I did 10-15 with clean water. I don’t really count anymore. The action was pretty smooth but there was some suction as the blade wanted to stick to the surface. Examination under a 10x loupe revealed that a new edge surface had been generated. The high polish of the 0.1 diamond was replaced by a more matt finish. I did not kill the original edge (I couldn’t bring myself to it). This training razor has a very slight smile at the toe from previous noobie abuse. This initial honing got the vast majority of the edge but didn’t quite get the full extent of the smile at the toe. The resulting edge might still be considered hybrid finish.

I was a little worried about the slightly matted surface finish on the bevel. I was sure the edge would be duller as a result. I did about a hundred laps on clean horsehide and tested the edge with my usual tree topping and hanging hair tests. I was relieved to see that the edge passed both tests with flying colours. I could not see much if any change from the diamond finish in the tests. The edge seemed very keen and I was happy to proceed with a shave test. I was not expecting a huge difference in the shave. If anything I expected more tugging given the look of the bevel under magnification.

I was surprised to see a distinct difference in shave performance from the very first stroke. At first I thought my angle was off but this edge was acting differently from what I was used to. The blade was noticeably smoother the edge felt soft. By this I mean that I couldn’t really feel the edge. Terms like shaving with butter knife or index finger started to make sense now. I was almost wiping away hair and could easily have forgotten how sharp the edge was. There was almost no resistance to the shaving stroke. The edge was still slicing hairs very effectively. I’m not sure if there was less resistance than with the diamond paste but there was a noticeable lack of resistance. The end result was excellent. Close, conformable, zero irritation and no nicks. This is fairly common these days but the result was a notably good one in terms of comfort. Overall the shave was noticeably different. I am confident that I could pick the difference in a blind test.

These are first impressions only and I will do further testing to form a complete impression. I’m sure that I am not getting the most out of the stone on my first attempt but I did not find it difficult to use as a finisher on an otherwise sharp blade. These stones are highly regarded by many and it seems to me that this is for good reason. I think that there may be more to generating a good shaving edge than bevel angle and ever finer abrasives. Perhaps the microscopic texture of the edge also plays a role.
Your post has given me food for thought on trying out natural finished edges. I have a few spare HCS identical SR's and a couple of unknown tnats (Turkish naturals) so I might just start there and see what I find out. I will bring both SR's up to the same shaving standard on diamond pasted balsa, then refinish one on a tnat and compare with shave tests.

I have often thought that shave quality is not just about sharpness but includes bevel surface finish and how that affects the edge.
 
Follow up assessment.

Following my last post I’ve spent some more time with the Jnat finish. I went back to the Ozuku and worked the edge a bit more. Started off with more slurry and worked it longer finishing on clear water. I did back and forth strokes, circles, x-strokes, spine leading, a bit of everything. I totally erased the previous finish and got the whole length of the blade. Working the slurry longer seems to have given a better polish than before.

My observations are much he same as before. The Jnat edge definitely feels smoother and more comfortable than the diamond paste finish. The edge feel is less pronounced during the shave. The edge also seems to glide better. Post shave there is also a big difference in comfort. The typical post shave tightness is totally gone. I would normally go for a balm to combat any post shave tightness. This effect is noticeably absent with the Jnat. The alum test also seems to confirm that the Jnat edge is gentler on the skin. In terms of shave closeness I cannot tell a difference.

On a pure sharpness basis, the diamond paste seems to have a slight ‘edge’ over the Jnat. There was not much of a difference in the HHT. Both edges pass this test easily. The hair is perfectly lined up and both will clip the hair every time without hesitation. During the tree topping test is where you do see a difference. The Jnat will happily catch hairs on a regular basis making a ting, ting, ting, ting type sound as it goes along. The diamond paste will catch almost all the hairs making a long zzzzzzzzzzzzzziiiing type sound. The diamond past will also grab big clumps and take it off with one gone. I have always been of the thinking that sharper is better. Now I’m starting to think that there is a sweet spot of ideal sharpness. IMO that sweet spot is very very sharp but maybe not quite as ultra sharp as the diamond pasted edge. Afterall we don’t want to cut everything indiscriminately. We want an edge than is sharp enough to easily cut hair and preferably not sharp enough to easily cut or damage the skin. So why does the Jnat edge feel like it has less shaving resistance? This seems counterintuitive. I can only assume that there is less interaction between the blade and the skin but I'm not sure.

Again these are initial impressions. I have one stone, from one strata with one nagura. Not a big sample size. I am relatively new to SR shaving and honing with about 200 shaves. Both methods produce great edges for me but, like many others, I prefer the natural edge. I’m still in the honeymoon period with this stone but so far so good.
 
Tomo,

You are describing many similarities to my experiences as well. My edges with 1u film I always thought were sharp enough as compared with my coticule edges which always left me wishing for more sharpness but they had the comfort.

This Wakasa I just picked up recently is giving me consistently sharp edges similar to the 1u film but a level of comfort that exceeds any coticule edge I've had. I've not gone the diamond route, but how you've been describing your jnat edges are exactly what I'm getting off this Wakasa.

Honestly, it has given me the bump in sharpness without having to sacrifice comfort that I've been looking for since I started shaving with a straight in Feb of '14. The only thing other than a straight I've shaved with since then has been 2 shaves with a shavette...that was plenty sharp but not smooth at all.

I don't think this will be a "honeymoon" thing. It's taken me almost 7 years to find this level of keen...it's no fluke and I'm not just infatuated with a cool rock...although it is a cool rock lol

Sent from my SM-G981V using Tapatalk
 
Even though I’m thoroughly impressed with the Jnat, I’m not in any rush to give up my Method setup just yet. I think that taking an edge all the way up the films and pasted balsa is an ideal preparation prior to applying any other finish If your choice. The Method probably gives you the most perfectly sharp and polished finish you can get at home with very little skill required. It’s fairly cheap and very effective on even the hardest steels like my MK31. I can get perfectly comfortable shaves with my Method edges but I’m finding it much easier to do so with the Jnat edges.
 
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I think you guys are finding out why many of us chase the different naturals rather than settle on film or balsa. There is enough going on for each edge finish that differentiates themselves from each other.

May or may not be worth it though depending on your interest and goals.

we used to have a discussion about whether progression instilled something different versus just finish
 
Just throwing this out there. I read the Unicot and Dilucot pages on the CBE website at Unicot honing method - home of the famous Belgian Coticule Whetstone - http://www.coticule.be/unicot.html and Dilucot honing method - home of the famous Belgian Coticule Whetstone - http://www.coticule.be/dilucot-honing-method.html yesterday, and learned a bunch (the PDF versions are very good), including a bunch about the bevel geometry of the two methods and the use of pasted strops (on the Dilucot page).

No moral judgement here. Just that each method has it's own characteristics. If I were a caveman and a fellow caveman or cavewoman shared their use of tape or paste on their spear with me, I would definitely give it a try (as the alternative could be fatal) and I would just want to know what works best for me.
 
You know my main issue about using paste and compounds has more to do with replacing the substrate rather than the compounds themselves. At some point your substrate just gets too much steel in it and it has to be replaced. So trying to find a backing that allows for easy replacement of the Stropping component has been my biggest challenge. Back in the day SRD had the Modular paddle strop. At first it seemed like a good idea but replacing the felt attachment was still $20 every time it got too dirty. So ultimately I just tried to learn how to shave off the stones because I never had to worry about replacing whatever backing would be used for compounds.
 
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