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Natural Finish -v- Diamond Pasted Balsa

It's getting close for me. I think that I will be giving the natural edge a try in a couple of weeks. I still have some other project to finish first. I like @Tomo's idea about first giving an SR a 0.1um balsa edge and then refinishing on a stone. This could be interesting.

I have a couple of spare identical HCS SR's that I can try this out on. One I will leave with its B&B Method edge and the other I can put a natural stone edge on.
 
It's getting close for me. I think that I will be giving the natural edge a try in a couple of weeks. I still have some other project to finish first. I like @Tomo's idea about first giving an SR a 0.1um balsa edge and then refinishing on a stone. This could be interesting.

I have a couple of spare identical HCS SR's that I can try this out on. One I will leave with its B&B Method edge and the other I can put a natural stone edge on.
I think you should send out one of your matching 7 day sets to someone with different finishing stones (coticule, Arkansas, jnats). To add spice into the mix have the edges put on random days so you don't know what finishes are on the razors. Then after you rank the razors the guy could reveal the edges you were using.
 
I think you should send out one of your matching 7 day sets to someone with different finishing stones (coticule, Arkansas, jnats). To add spice into the mix have the edges put on random days so you don't know what finishes are on the razors. Then after you rank the razors the guy could reveal the edges you were using.
Great idea but with the current lack of shipping logistics in the Philippines it is an impossible task.
 
I like diamond pasted balsa, and also like my black ark. My other stones now remain unused.

So I'd recommend a black ark for your venture into stones. Dan's or SuperiorShave.

Black arks are slow finishers. I don't want to do 250 laps, so to make up for the slowness of the Ark I use it more frequently. Like every Saturday morning, fifty laps on the ark. then back to leather for the following week.

.1u diamond balsa is so exceedingly gentle on steel that you have to use it after every shave. Black arks are slightly more aggressive, but still, I feel I have to do it weekly. A nani12 is more aggressive still, so once a month is plenty for that stone.

I'm no expert on jnats, but my understanding is that their slurry starts off aggressive and becomes finer as you hone, so you can go for longer between honing.

But do you want to go longer between honing? The OP is used to The Method, meaning he's used to his razor always being sharp, day after day, same/same. Therefore I might suggest an Ark and frequent honings.
 
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Making some real progress with the Jnat recently. I’m starting to understand this stone better now. Been getting some screaming sharp edges recently after simple plain water touch ups. 20 or so laps with the spine down and a light torque onto the edge to ensure good contact. Then 20 or so laps with super light pressure just skimming the surface. I’m getting almost silent resistance free tree topping. You have to tree top over a white sheet to appreciate how much you’re getting. You can really dial up the sharpness by reducing the slurry.

And here I am starting to see the complexing of the OP. Natural Finish vs Diamond Paste. The diamond finish is pretty consistent but the natural finish has such a broad spectrum. Even the same stone can give different finishes. A slurried finish and a water finish are totally different. Then there are different stones of the same type that behave differently. Beyond that there are different types of stones with different geology.

Welcome to the rabbit hole. I can feel myself getting sucked in already.
 
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Just my perspective...dive right in! It sounds like you enjoy shaving with a straight razor, and honing is something you're probably going to enjoy. I've owned a variety of synthetics including Norton 4/8, King 1K, Cerax 1K, Naniwa Hayabusa 4, King 6K, Naniwa Guiken Fuji 8k, Naniwa Superstone 12K.

I sold off all of my synthetics except for the Norton 4/8 (because of its versatility), and the Cerax 1k (because it is an excellent bevel setter). From bevel set onward, I now rely solely on my natural stones (Coticule/BBW, variety of jnats, Thuringian/Eschers, Arks, and others) to bring my razors up from bevel set to finishing.

I'm not alone, and I think it is a natural progression of many honers. Start out with synthetics, end up with naturals. The repeatability with Synthetics as mentioned previously is great for starting honers. Once you become familiar and proficient with the process, I think you naturally gravitate toward wanting to learn and experience new edges.

So to answer your initial question, I personally think you'll be happy to have tried to learn a natural stone, and if done right, you'll very much like the edge from a natural stone. Go for it! feel free to reach out if you have any questions...
 

IMightBeWrong

Loves a smelly brush
Contributor
I recently received my first Portland Razor. They finish them on 12K Naniwa to my understanding. First shave was with their edge and I felt it could use some extra work for my taste, so I took it to some .5 diamond balsa followed by some .1 diamond. As usual, this produced a wickedly keen edge. Much better, but not my favorite. A couple shaves later, I busted out a Shoubudani and a nice piece of mystery Kiita that’s very fine as a Nagura and got to work diluting the slurry, then finished on the Shoubu. Another level. My shaves are always more comfortable with a JNAT edge than a balsa edge.
 
That's a very nice picture, the chubby two, with a bit of leather and stone
I really like this set up. There’s some ivory, steel and linen hiding in there too. Light years ahead of any throw away cartridge. But you need to spend the time to learn to use it. For a lifetime of awesome shaves, I think it’s worth the effort.
 
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I recently received my first Portland Razor. They finish them on 12K Naniwa to my understanding. First shave was with their edge and I felt it could use some extra work for my taste, so I took it to some .5 diamond balsa followed by some .1 diamond. As usual, this produced a wickedly keen edge. Much better, but not my favorite. A couple shaves later, I busted out a Shoubudani and a nice piece of mystery Kiita that’s very fine as a Nagura and got to work diluting the slurry, then finished on the Shoubu. Another level. My shaves are always more comfortable with a JNAT edge than a balsa edge.


Sorry for highjacking the thread, but this quoted always intrigues me. We often see that idea, that a natural edge gives a more comfortable edge, where balsa gives the sharper edge.

I suspect, although I'm not sure, that those are not different things. I mean, that maybe a natural edge feels more "comfortable" simply because it's less sharp.

I find the same thing. My ark edge seems more smooth and comfortable than my balsa edge. But what is "comfort"? Is it some other thing of its own? And what exactly would it be? For naturals, is there a variation in striation size compared to exact striation size from laboratory exact pastes? Or something else?

I wonder if that sense of lack of comfort on balsa, is just because we sense extreme sharpness and we have that feel of "whoops, better be careful here, this edge is not kidding...."
 
Sorry for highjacking the thread, but this quoted always intrigues me. We often see that idea, that a natural edge gives a more comfortable edge, where balsa gives the sharper edge.

I suspect, although I'm not sure, that those are not different things. I mean, that maybe a natural edge feels more "comfortable" simply because it's less sharp.

I find the same thing. My ark edge seems more smooth and comfortable than my balsa edge. But what is "comfort"? Is it some other thing of its own? And what exactly would it be? For naturals, is there a variation in striation size compared to exact striation size from laboratory exact pastes? Or something else?

I wonder if that sense of lack of comfort on balsa, is just because we sense extreme sharpness and we have that feel of "whoops, better be careful here, this edge is not kidding...."
This might be an oversimplification but I wonder if the discomfort some people claim to experience from diamond paste is really a matter of just doing too many strokes. I occasionally experiment with diamond spray and now I stop it only two strokes and that’s it. It gets the razor past that smart edge stage but not to the point that you have to be too careful when shaving. And it’s still quite comfortable. Just a thought...
 

IMightBeWrong

Loves a smelly brush
Contributor
Sorry for highjacking the thread, but this quoted always intrigues me. We often see that idea, that a natural edge gives a more comfortable edge, where balsa gives the sharper edge.

I suspect, although I'm not sure, that those are not different things. I mean, that maybe a natural edge feels more "comfortable" simply because it's less sharp.

I find the same thing. My ark edge seems more smooth and comfortable than my balsa edge. But what is "comfort"? Is it some other thing of its own? And what exactly would it be? For naturals, is there a variation in striation size compared to exact striation size from laboratory exact pastes? Or something else?

I wonder if that sense of lack of comfort on balsa, is just because we sense extreme sharpness and we have that feel of "whoops, better be careful here, this edge is not kidding...."
I'm not sure why, but I definitely feel a difference. I can get a smoother, more comfortable shave with a JNAT edge while being less careful. The Balsa .1 edge is good but unforgiving enough that I don't get as good a shave even being more careful. I will note that I have very coarse facial hair paired with sensitive skin, so my particular features likely have something to do with my preferences. An edge that is keen enough to pop the coarse hair while being smooth enough to stay gentle on my skin is the way to go. The "why" of it I'm not sure, I simply hone and shave based on the results I get for myself.
 
Technique is always improving.

And while that's a good thing, it makes it hard to know what is causing what. Over time, my shaves are more comfortable, less nicks and cuts. Less anxiety while shaving.

I don't think it's due to the stones. I think that over the years, I'm slowly getting better at shaving myself with a SR
 
I like diamond pasted balsa, and also like my black ark. My other stones now remain unused.
I’m finding the diamond balsa and black ark finishes to feel very similar. Exceedingly sharp and very crisp. I don’t think that I could tell a difference in a blind test. The bevel would be a give away under magnification but the face feel is very similar for me in my early testing.

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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).
Yikes, I just ordered a Norton 4/8 and some beater ebay straights to learn how to hone. I need a finisher to go with my Norton combo. I am leaning toward coti because I prefer smooth to keen but this makes me very apprehensive since I'm really hoping to just buy once and cry once regarding a finisher.
 
Yikes, I just ordered a Norton 4/8 and some beater ebay straights to learn how to hone. I need a finisher to go with my Norton combo. I am leaning toward coti because I prefer smooth to keen but this makes me very apprehensive since I'm really hoping to just buy once and cry once regarding a finisher.
Here's my perspective (may not be accurate). If you learn to hone well, you can use the basic synthetic hones and with plain jane chromium oxide (for example) and you will have a very sharp edge. Go back to an inexpensive slate or whatever finisher for a few laps and then strop on leather.

It will feel smoother than stopping with the chrome oxide paste and this is a progression that doesn't involve a rabbit hole.:)

Put this blade in a blind shave test with all the other rabbit hole honed blades :) and I don't think people will know the difference particularly if you tell them all the blades were honed with loving care by the best honers in the world using the most expensive specific specialty hones.

I also think the "smoothness" of natural stones is because they are less sharp and it feels better to shave with something a little less sharp than what pastes are capable of.
 
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Yikes, I just ordered a Norton 4/8 and some beater ebay straights to learn how to hone. I need a finisher to go with my Norton combo. I am leaning toward coti because I prefer smooth to keen but this makes me very apprehensive since I'm really hoping to just buy once and cry once regarding a finisher.
Send out some razors and try out these different natural edges
Arkansas, coticule, jnat, and thuringians (escher a popular but expensive brand). See which edge you like most. Just know finding a natural stones vary so you will still have to hunt for that nice stone
 
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