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Over-honing

The term over-honing can mean a few things, it's sort of an ambiguous term. In the old days, it was, seemingly, used to refer to honing that created a wire edge. The issue of burrs was not alledged to be caused by pressure, it was claimed to be due to excessive laps on a finishing stone, usually barber hones. At least, that is where I recall the term used most often. I've documented/proven the claim myself here; doing a lot of laps on a very fine stone or very fine slurry can result in edge distractions, burrs, wires, foils, etc. this has been regardless of pressure or force. And yes, it is possible to create a large burr using force/pressure also.

Speaking for myself, I achieve max on a Shapton or Nani 12k in under 12 passes usually. Maybe 15. Pretty much same for my work on an 8k. Once in a while I might approach 20 laps on an 8k. My observations are confirmed via empirical evidence; viewing under extreme magnification on a metalurgy scope in dark-field mode, as well as simple observation under less magnificaiton and shave tests also. Those stones are in fact that fast. I found this to be true early on and many years and blades later it's still true here in my house with my gear.

For me, if I was forced to continue honing past those low lap counts on a high grit stone, it would only be becuse the previous work was not handled correctly.
A 12k is fast at removing proper 8k striations, very fast actually. The Nani is faster than the Shapton in this regard. Neither 12k will remove enough steel fast enough to be a realistic option for a full bevel-set on an Ebay blade or a bevel that was set on a 1k. Remember, the amount of metal to remove after an 8k stone's work was executed correctly is super minimal.

The stones I'm referring to are Naniwa or Shaption, adding an 8k that is actually a 5k (Norton for example) into the mix might not yield the same results.

A 5k can do a bevel set pretty quickly on a razor that has only been used enough to just throw things 'off' a bit - but it won't set a bevel easily on an Ebay edge or a 1k edge either.

A stone is fast relative to what it's working on, it's not a blanket statement relative to all other stones.

Shapton 16k & 30k stones have been known/proven to perform best with super low lap counts and that using higher lap counts often ends with edge distratcions. I can vouch for this being true with the .44µm series 7 stone.

The quality of the edge (meaning, bevel angle, state of polish, edge width) brought to the finishing stage makes all the difference in the world. For example - someone honing a stock GD with a marginally set bevel may not see edge chipping on a Shapton 16k stone after 15 laps. The excesively wide bevel angle and the less than stellar bevel-set work could possibly prevent the Shapton 16ks liabilities from showing themselves. IME, the edge will still be sub-par, at least for me it will be sub-par. Not everyone has the same reference points.
The same undercookd fat GD edge will also be more tolerant of extended honing on any other stone. Bottom line, a thinner edge width that has been highly polished to max on all stones is more susceptible to edge damage than one that is less refined. As a result, the results on razor A in the hands of honer B might not equal that of razor C in the hands of honer D.
 
The term over-honing can mean a few things, it's sort of an ambiguous term. In the old days, it was, seemingly, used to refer to honing that created a wire edge. The issue of burrs was not alledged to be caused by pressure, it was claimed to be due to excessive laps on a finishing stone, usually barber hones. At least, that is where I recall the term used most often. I've documented/proven the claim myself here; doing a lot of laps on a very fine stone or very fine slurry can result in edge distractions, burrs, wires, foils, etc. this has been regardless of pressure or force. And yes, it is possible to create a large burr using force/pressure also.

Speaking for myself, I achieve max on a Shapton or Nani 12k in under 12 passes usually. Maybe 15. Pretty much same for my work on an 8k. Once in a while I might approach 20 laps on an 8k. My observations are confirmed via empirical evidence; viewing under extreme magnification on a metalurgy scope in dark-field mode, as well as simple observation under less magnificaiton and shave tests also. Those stones are in fact that fast. I found this to be true early on and many years and blades later it's still true here in my house with my gear.

For me, if I was forced to continue honing past those low lap counts on a high grit stone, it would only be becuse the previous work was not handled correctly.
A 12k is fast at removing proper 8k striations, very fast actually. The Nani is faster than the Shapton in this regard. Neither 12k will remove enough steel fast enough to be a realistic option for a full bevel-set on an Ebay blade or a bevel that was set on a 1k. Remember, the amount of metal to remove after an 8k stone's work was executed correctly is super minimal.

The stones I'm referring to are Naniwa or Shaption, adding an 8k that is actually a 5k (Norton for example) into the mix might not yield the same results.

A 5k can do a bevel set pretty quickly on a razor that has only been used enough to just throw things 'off' a bit - but it won't set a bevel easily on an Ebay edge or a 1k edge either.

A stone is fast relative to what it's working on, it's not a blanket statement relative to all other stones.

Shapton 16k & 30k stones have been known/proven to perform best with super low lap counts and that using higher lap counts often ends with edge distratcions. I can vouch for this being true with the .44µm series 7 stone.

The quality of the edge (meaning, bevel angle, state of polish, edge width) brought to the finishing stage makes all the difference in the world. For example - someone honing a stock GD with a marginally set bevel may not see edge chipping on a Shapton 16k stone after 15 laps. The excesively wide bevel angle and the less than stellar bevel-set work could possibly prevent the Shapton 16ks liabilities from showing themselves. IME, the edge will still be sub-par, at least for me it will be sub-par. Not everyone has the same reference points.
The same undercookd fat GD edge will also be more tolerant of extended honing on any other stone. Bottom line, a thinner edge width that has been highly polished to max on all stones is more susceptible to edge damage than one that is less refined. As a result, the results on razor A in the hands of honer B might not equal that of razor C in the hands of honer D.
True - everyone has different techniques pressures etc. The same results will vary from a different hand or even different grind or steel. Some do circles for me i will do 'some' half moon half stokes during bevels set - I am not much of a fan of doing circles - but they are highly effective - I just don't use them. I do like to do the particular back hone stroke with a light touch - it seems very effective at keeping the wire edge / fins' at bay.
 
With razors, burrs, foils and wires have not been a concern for me. Normal x strokes, proper use of a progression and force as it's applied to the apex has always worked perfectly for me. My approach has always been to not create issues that require resolution. On the odd occasion when extreme repair work has left me with an issue, I'll lift the spine a micron while working on a finer stone and after a few very light x strokes all is well again. I use the same technique when reprofiling cutlery.
 
I would like to share something that I have come to discover in my learning in my honing journey. I have been lucky to have had Steve56 and Doc226 as mentors. When i first started honing i was using way way to much pressure. I had the typical chippy over-honed edges - with harsh shave and all. About two weeks ago i got a new light installed over my honing table - and it opened my eyes and helped with my honing and magnification.

My progession is shapton 1.5k, 5k, 8k, and 12k naniwa. I would only then at the time do 30 laps to finish on the 12k - and i thought i was over doing the edge and chipping it. So thought i was seeing microchips with my 10x loupe- but the fact was it was remnants of wire- edges that resembled chippy steel. Steve56 brought this to my attention that bits of fin' can look like micro-chips .Come to find out i did 60 total laps on the nan/12k and it infact coaxed off the small remnants of burrs that resembled chips - I would do 10 laps on 12k then strop for 25 laps on bare leather then 10 more on the stone and so on etc. So now i have a perfectly straight bevel witu zero chipping or zero over honed fin'. Some may not belivee this but I even expermented on my Sterling hollow ground razor, and i did 100 laps on 12k, with no wire edges and zero chipping- i do a slight back-hone motion, before going forward when i finish on my fininshing stones. (Think of the way Sham does his honing motion)

I have watched all the videos of fellows only doing 10-15 laps on a naniwa 12k, and 8 laps on a shapton 30k. If a finiishing stone was that fast you could do a bevel set all the way to finish with just one stone -IMO no stone is that fast - there is no way you can get a 12k edge with only 10 or so laps (I now finish with 50-55 laps and i get a "actual" 12k finish on my bevels) Overhoning i have discovered in my experience is using way too much pressure, and not the high number of laps. If you do have a fin' at 8k and go to the 12k - the 12k will coax and remove any bits of fin' that is left. Super Super light passes will not raise a Fin' - if they are any pieces fin' the finisher will remove it - its all about super light pressure.
Same when we sharpen knives - 'any' finishing stone can remove/deburr any remnants of wire edges from a knife, without any assistance of strops loaded with compounds. Thanks again for the help Steve and Alfredo!
Congratulations on seeing the light. If pressure is correctly light, it is virtually impossible to overhone by using too many laps. Nearly EVERYONE, especially those beginner or intermediate guys who insist on bench honing, use too much pressure. Too much pressure. Too much pressure. TOO MUCH. Pressure. Honing in hand is the fastest way to self correct this practice.

One very good technique for defeating fin edge / wire edge, is the pull stroke. When you are done with a stage, especially the bevel set and the finish stage, lay the razor on the honing surface as if you were about to make a regular stroke, but instead of traveling down the hone, pull it off the side, about 3/4" or so. Flip the razor and repeat on the other side. A half dozen per side is good anti-fin medicine. Then do a half dozen regular laps with very light pressure to re-peak the apex. This works on film, stone, or balsa, though with balsa you must use a slight spine leading bias to avoid slicing into the balsa.

The way the old timers get away with excess pressure, and why they use so few laps, is that they actually stop JUST SHORT of absolute peaking of the apex. So, the edge is not deflected upward off the hone, and a wire edge does not form. Double the laps with the same pressure and you screwed the pooch. This WORKS. However, you get a slight <pun alert>edge in sharpness</pun alert> by instead using very light pressure and continuing past the point of stiction. The pull strokes are insurance, and they do a great job of stripping artifacts from the edge.

Fin edge, wire edge, burr, are all essentially the same thing. A thin and fragile edge is deflected upward by pressure, and steel is removed behind the edge, weakening it, allowing still further flex upward. A burr can be a good tell, when setting the bevel. It tells you that you have crossed over the plane of the other side bevel. Repeating the same strokes on the other side and finding that a full burr exists, verifies that both bevel planes have crossed over the center plane and all that remains is to remove the burr for a perfect bevel. This is done by diminishing pressure and diminishing sets of half laps until you are finally at one and one, and then you do very light ordinary laps, give it the pull strokes, and repeak the apex with a half dozen of the lightest laps you can manage. Starting the process with a perfect bevel gives you a tremendous advantage. A crappy bevel you can pretty much never recover fully from, with the progression. So here the pull strokes are useful. You can add them at any stage of honing, remembering to repeak the apex. They are IMHO nearly essential at the finish for the best edge.
 
Concerning the wire/foil - I have also used a piece of hardwood like Hickory or maple to join the edge lightly to set the apex back just a tad to remove the wire/foil/fin - then do about 10-15 super super light laps to bring back the apex to were it needs to be. Soft wood or cork didn't seem to work for me , and glass was too aggressive and would set the edge back too far. I don't 'try' to form a fin', when honing razors but sometimes it happens. Knife sharpeners typically use the burr method. I usually don't use the burr method, I can usually tell by feel with my fingers if the bevel is set on knives or almost any cutting tool. Years ago when I first started sharpening knives I did use the burr method. Alfredo's cherry tomato test is a infallible test - its pretty much fool proof, and it will tell you of you have a set bevel.

IMO - A stone by itself can and will deburr a cutting edge, with correct pressure, and technique.

I read a post that helped me alot of a fellow on here talking about rubbing chalk on a sidewalk and with various pressure, he was able to manipulate the scratch pattern with the same piece of chalk using various pressure amounts. He used the chalk as an example of pressure when honing. Made sense to me! Scratch pattern is also more aggressive or courser with heavier/moderate pressure on a high grit hone. My finishing strokes I use a feather light baby strokes. You can make an edge keener/finer by lighter pressures variations on a (for example)12k hone.
 
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Through my own personal experiences, proven via experimentation, and empirical evidence.

light pressure can and will in fact lead to edge distractions in certain circumstances. I've found that many new users will hone forever incorrectly and create issues along the way. One common scenario is underhoning via using lighter pressure than required for an extended period of time. Factually, that combination can create foils, burrs, and wire edges easily. I've experienced it first hand. The mechanisms involved with sharpening steel on abrasive stones will, can, and do create such conditions sometimes - not 100% of the time. There's more to it than simple mechanics.

Bench honing is fine, it's been fine for too many people to count for too long to imagine. Personally, I employ both methods and I see assets and liabilities in both; in-hand adds unwanted variables, bench-top removes flexibility. Factually, neither way has been scientifically proven to be objectively superior than the other. And either may suit a stone, person or their mood better. Until actual hard scientific data proving one or the the other is superior in some way other than a subjective sense, claims concerning superiority are, at best, only subjective reasoning.

There simply is no way anyone can make such broad sweeping statements, such as the comments about old timers and how they miss the apex,or the majority of new users always employing too much pressure, with any accuracy. There is no way to make objective claims about who is, or what majority is, doing what or has done what, or didn't do what or how. It's not possible.

From my perspective, proficient 'old timers' learned how to hone and limit strokes to avoid removing more material than necessary. I don't consider myself an old-timer but i do strive to be as efficient as possible, especially during final finish. Factually, I do hit the apex on of a razor's edge when honing on a 12k using 12 strokes or so. That's fact, not assumption. More strokes are not necessary when the earlier work is done correctly.

Not hitting the apex means not achieving an increase in sharpness. The claim of underhoning an edge to avoid creating a burr but that the treatment still achieved a sharper edge is based in imaginary conditions, not factual reality.

I mentioned earlier, I hone normally, have been a long-ish while. I don't promote technique gymnastics or drama.
I don't have, and have not had, issues with burrs, foils or wire edges. I mitigate those issues by employing a proper sequence of stones, handling pressure correctly, and executing x-strokes efficiently. Simple is usually best IMO.
 
Through my own personal experiences, proven via experimentation, and empirical evidence.

light pressure can and will in fact lead to edge distractions in certain circumstances. I've found that many new users will hone forever incorrectly and create issues along the way. One common scenario is underhoning via using lighter pressure than required for an extended period of time. Factually, that combination can create foils, burrs, and wire edges easily. I've experienced it first hand. The mechanisms involved with sharpening steel on abrasive stones will, can, and do create such conditions sometimes - not 100% of the time. There's more to it than simple mechanics.

Bench honing is fine, it's been fine for too many people to count for too long to imagine. Personally, I employ both methods and I see assets and liabilities in both; in-hand adds unwanted variables, bench-top removes flexibility. Factually, neither way has been scientifically proven to be objectively superior than the other. And either may suit a stone, person or their mood better. Until actual hard scientific data proving one or the the other is superior in some way other than a subjective sense, claims concerning superiority are, at best, only subjective reasoning.

There simply is no way anyone can make such broad sweeping statements, such as the comments about old timers and how they miss the apex,or the majority of new users always employing too much pressure, with any accuracy. There is no way to make objective claims about who is, or what majority is, doing what or has done what, or didn't do what or how. It's not possible.

From my perspective, proficient 'old timers' learned how to hone and limit strokes to avoid removing more material than necessary. I don't consider myself an old-timer but i do strive to be as efficient as possible, especially during final finish. Factually, I do hit the apex on of a razor's edge when honing on a 12k using 12 strokes or so. That's fact, not assumption. More strokes are not necessary when the earlier work is done correctly.

Not hitting the apex means not achieving an increase in sharpness. The claim of underhoning an edge to avoid creating a burr but that the treatment still achieved a sharper edge is based in imaginary conditions, not factual reality.

I mentioned earlier, I hone normally, have been a long-ish while. I don't promote technique gymnastics or drama.
I don't have, and have not had, issues with burrs, foils or wire edges. I mitigate those issues by employing a proper sequence of stones, handling pressure correctly, and executing x-strokes efficiently. Simple is usually best IMO.
IMO its purely simply mechanics - its rubbing a steel tool on a rock. Me I don't need scientific reasearch or proven data - I discovered I was using too much pressure - lightened up and walla. Im not claiming to be a pro, nor am I stating my finds are cannon/gospel - I just know what I have learned for me pressure was my enemy - lol - Im still infact green and very much a novice - I do know the light had came on in my head and I have discovered what I was doing wrong the entire time was too much pressare - for me it was that simple. There cannot be a magic number of laps, meaning to do this many laps and your done, because there are to many variables in a hand ground razor - meaning the edge is ground thinner or thicker behind the apex on various razors of the same grind or the exact same razor model # (meaning 2 Boker sliver steels (for example) can vary in thickness behind the apex), different steel recipes, Different grinds or different heat treatments etc.
 
Pressure is fine as long as you don't overdo it and you use decreasing pressure thru each grit. I bench hone and I use two hands always. Follow results is about the size of it. Staying up all night thinking about it isn't as beneficial imo as honing a fresh edge as often as possible and test shaving it. Razors are too similar for there to be any major difference in technique. Stupid hard steel is an exception. Hone away!
 

SliceOfLife

Contributor
Overhoning?

  1. Too much pressure at the leading edge, creating a wire.
  2. Uneven pressure from poor control trying to use minimal pressure (some people talk about less than the weight of the blade honing), creating a partial wire.
  3. Refining an edge thinner/finer than the steel can hold, creating tears and divots in the edge in use (mostly a problem for RSO (gimmicky "razors" made of crap steel), but possible in actual razors if there's a perfect storm or damage from restoration.
  4. Microchips forming due to pitting that is obscured at lower levels of honing, but as you thin/polish the edge, punches through the bevel.
  5. An edge that is honed on an inefficient hone/medium that begins to damage the edge more than its ability to refine an edge can keep up with (usually a problem of low quality natural hones or very bad vintage synthetics)... essentially denting/mangling/bending an edge during honing.
There's probably another half dozen descriptions I'm neglecting to mention. It seems almost everyone means something different when they use the term.
 
Doc226 helped me a lot a couple years ago too. He put a great edge on my Hart Steel razor that I’ve kept pristine and only shaved with about 6-7 times and it’s a razor I use to compare my own edges to. Great guy.

As for my own technique now, it depends on the type of stone I use but I always pay attention to how the blade feels as it goes across the hone. It might be just my brain but it seems like every stone has a way of telling me when it’s done its job, like when an Arkansas starts to stick to the razor for example. Then I finish with a few slow strokes and strop.
 
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