Questioning Everything | One Superior Edge | One Superior Shave

Discussion in 'Hones/Honing' started by Chan Eil Whiskers, Jun 30, 2019.

    There are a lot of ways to get a straight razor sharp enough to shave with. Well hydrated beard hair isn't the toughest stuff known to mankind, and it doesn't take a hyper keen edge to give you a comfortable shave. There are lots of natural stones that will give you a good to excellent shaving edge, the trick is to find which stone suits the way you hone so that you end up with a good edge. Some stones are easier to use than others, but there are lots of ways to get there

    The technique used to hone a razor is going to have a very large effect on the comfort and perceived sharpness of an edge, especially if the edge is slightly convexed for the same reason slightly convex edges work very will in kitchen knives -- less friction.

    DE blades are ground and honed stropped with power equipment and hence have extremely accurate honing angles and finish. I would expect them to be sharper, more evenly honed, and far more consistent blade to blade than anything hand honed, just the nature of the beast so to speak. I assume the angles are similar, I don't think DE blades have obtuse angles or they would be very uncomfortable from the drag, just like a very obtuse angle straight (as in too much tape or too much bevel wear).

    As far as and 8k edge being "finished", probably so if done correctly - the issue is the polish on the bevel and the size of the scratches and hence "raggedness" of the apex, and if you use shaving lather or something similar with light pressure to "float" the bevel to get very fine, shallow scratches, the edge will be similar to that from a finer grit stone without the lather, etc. A matter of practice, and millions of men got perfectly acceptable shaves from straights honed on a barber hone.

    Which reminds me, I need to recondition that Panama hone I have and see how it works someday. Grandpa ended up with a couple, plus another barber hone of some sort that need to be re-surfaced (some scratches and gouges, it's pretty battered). No idea why he had them, as he went to the barber until after WWII and the only only razor I ever saw him use was a DE of some sort when he was in the nursing home.
  1. I’m gonna toss this out there once more to try and stifle the flames on this dumpster fire...

    I still believe Jim has stumbled onto superior forged steel. The whole “every razor is the same when honed the same” argument doesn’t hold up. A gold dollar just WILL NOT take and hold the edges Jim just experienced and that’s why this whole experience blew his mind. The upper limit just moved higher, because the razor in question may or may not be the first in his possession that’s actually capable of taking that keen an edge and surviving through a shave.

    Now the second reality here and one that clearly not everyone can accept is that you CAN hone razors on old school natural stones to a keen enough state where you clearly experience the physical limits established by the metallurgy of the steel. Especially when you hit the right stone for a particular blade, because each stone cuts by a different mechanism and certain blades actually have a preference towards one stone or another. Not every blade reaches the same point on the same stone, but the right stone can take a blade to the limits of what its grain structure will allow for a fine edge and blades have different finite limits.

    If you are honing a whole stable of razors by any means and all your edges seem identical in use... you’re not at the absolute limits of keen for your best pieces of steel.

    If you can’t grasp this train of logic I don’t know how to help you and I won’t bother to try any further.
  2. I don't find all my edges to be identical at all, if fact, I have said as much to several here in the past. Those razors that just won't get sharp no matter what you use is a source of frustration, but more, a challenge. It doesn't cause me to get discouraged however. I sent this one beloved razor to my mentor who confirmed the bevel was set correctly. I've use films, a Coticule slurry to clear, a Thuringian slurry to clear, a Thuringian under water, .5 and .3 film, and finally 200k diamond. I got the best result this AM, but it's no where nearly as efficient as the one I used yesterday, a Leo Koch's Marcella.

    You last sentence is bothersome and perhaps why the fire started. I don't think Jim or I are asking for help. In fact, very little help has been provided. The drama from a few was unfortunate. Neither Jim or I are stupid, dense, or dull. We've been dedicated to this daily for some time. We are learners. We have not arrived, but we for damn sure ain't new to the show.

    Getting your panties in a wad because someone said they didn't like a Thuringian edge is immature or worse. Surely we are hear to discuss, not bash. I will continue to use my stones. I will continue to experiment. What works for me may or may not work for you. The idea that we think we can tell someone else what they need , should be able to use, and if that can't they are a "noob", just shows what a limited experience and mind some communicate that possess.
  3. I've thought about your point often, professionals didn't have the number or type of honing devices that are available today. That said, when I look at auction razors I see a lot of use or abuse or both on the toe. I suspect had these folks had access to films and diamond paste would they not have employed? I say they would just as we use fuel injection today and not carburation on our autos.
  4. Chan Eil Whiskers

    Chan Eil Whiskers Contributor

    There's no question that the Herder I talked about early in the thread wasn't sharpened sufficiently. Once I figured out why I was having problems with it, and started over with it, and spent enough time with it, I got it quite sharp. I'm now enjoying its shaves well enough, but that's not the entire story.

    I've learned two or three things as this thread has progressed.
    • Some steels (or methods of working steel) are better than others. The Japanese razor in the OP is a superior steel and/or blade.
    • Well used magnification is a great help. This was not a new piece of information, but my magnification took a leap when I figured out how to modify the Plugable USB scope.
    • My honing has improved. Specifically my X Strokes have improved. It's not like they were bad before or anything like that, but I watched a video recently and noticed something I'd not noticed before which seems to have made a significant difference when applied to my use of the Double Convex Ark 8x3.
    In my opening post I said something which I look back on as a strange thing to say. I was talking about the vendor's honing, my technique as a shaver, and wondering why the vendor's razor seemed so sharp and said this...

    Obviously I was discounting the possibility of Japanese steel and/or grinds being vastly superior.

    I'm not sure if Japanese razors are vastly superior but I'm sure they're so good that I'm reaching for my Japanese razors over the others in my collection. This includes Japanese razors honed by the vendor (I now have several of his) and Japanese razors honed by me (I have several).


    My honing has improved. Japanese razors are the bee's knees.

    Happy shaves,

  5. The difference there IME is that the steel was actually forged into shape over the course of a few heat cycles before quenching, and then of course the quenching and tempering have to be done well too.

    This is another of my opinions that seems wildly unpopular in the razor world. Anytime I post that the actual shaping, hammering, and heat cycling of the steel prior to quench makes an enormous difference on the finished steel grain structure and edge qualities I get attacked by someone who thinks it’s been disproven by other modern steel manufacturing developments. I’m not sure why everyone is so opposed to that idea, I’m most definitely a man of science and a consumer of many forged powder metal or cold rolled steel products. As a consumer I’ve seen the world, and it’s just my view that my upper tier of razors in terms of edge performance all share some type of hot forge working in common. My upper tier of woodworking tools are all the same.

    Japan isn’t the only place to source blades made that way, but they’re the only country that truly kept An unbroken chain of apprenticed blacksmiths through the industrial revolution. There has been a boutique blacksmith revival recently, and some of those blades are excellent as well but it can be hard to separate the real deal smithed blades from the pretty but soulless fluff, and there’s not any price difference or marketing difference between the two.

    Japanese blades are underrated right now so I’m glad you’re getting them while they’re hot! Swedes are great too, but I’d wait out the current price craze.
  6. I might change, but right now I am concerned if I got either a Swedish or Japanese razor, all I would gain is that I have shaved with one.
  7. Esox

    Esox Ambassador

    I'm with you on both counts. The better the steel the better the edge. High grade steels arent cheap.
  8. Chan Eil Whiskers

    Chan Eil Whiskers Contributor


    But, you might have a lot to lose. Consider that you might neglect your other razors; then they'd all run away. You'd be left with just a bunch of Japanese and/or Swedish razors.
  9. That’s a serious risk.

    The same thing can happen to new guys early on with NY vintages... you start a collection and hit on an old Little Valley or Robeson or something for $10 and next thing you know you have a collection of purely western NY.
  10. I love it!! :a14:That would be so sad :117:
  11. For me it would that the pricey Swede or Japanese would not shave as well as the $7!!!
  12. That is true. There are a lot of great razors that are basically unknown. Good steel, good temper, skilled grinding = great razors, no matter what. Filarmonicas are famous for thin grinds, but I have a German Simmons Hardware Hornet that makes a Filly look downright chunky. It takes a long time to hone just because it’s so thin that you can’t push on it very much at all. I’ve said that whoever ground that one was really, really, good and they were having a really, really, good day. And some of my old, honestly ugly (unless you love ‘em) French framebacks shave as well as a CVH or Filly.

    However, the Swedes and Japanese (and the vintage French IMO) had all these qualities in spades. Especially the post-war Japanese who had the advantage of great modern steel, and they used Swedish steel a lot, and replicated tamehagane steel in a modern forge. They were also an artisan culture, so releasing a badly ground razor would have been a cultural taboo. I have a lot of Japanese, never a single bad one.

    If it’s a Tanifuji-made Japanese or a pre-war CVH/Swedish, it’s pretty much a sure bet.

    Edit: and of course a Filly 14 in good shape is also a sure bet.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019 at 3:38 PM
  13. I’ll consider if the price is right.
  14. Yeah I completely agree and would toss a few American and British brands in with one exception...

    You mentioned the steel and I feel like Filis are some of the very best grinds, but honestly I think they’re typical Solingen steel tempered a bit harder than the norm. I’d bet my money that they’re German “14” forged blanks from another big brand ground and finished much better under the guidance of Jose Monserrat Pou. Great razors but I don’t think those or CVHs are worth the current price surges.
    Everyone should try one of each at some point, though for sure.
  15. I dont get this. A manufacturer uses the same steel, forging, quenching and tempering process to produce razors, yet one somehow magically becomes superior forged steel.

    I really hope the Fiat I order becomes a Ferrari.
  16. I've pretty much stayed with first Sheffield, then Solingen, and American brands because I have some feeling of connection. The reason I got into straights was to connect to my great grandfather whose razor I was given and was subsequently lost in a house fire. It never occurred to me before coming to the forum that I would ever be able to shave with a straight as he did. His was similar to the Fremont, probably Clauss Cutlery, model I have with the ivory colored celluloid scales. That razor was the first I honed and continues to be among the most efficient razors in my small collection. I have no idea if the steel is good or not, but it does take an edge well.

    Perhaps the better steels need less maintenance, but I really doubt they shave better on a day to day basis. Since I have more than a few razors, I probably would never realize the benefit of a better steel.
  17. They don’t all use the same process that’s the point. Japanese blades often are made by actual blacksmiths hand or spring hammering them to shape at a forge and anvil, not just shaping a forged “blank” by skilled grinder operators. They’re often individually hand quenched in water, then small batch tempered by cooling in rice straw ashes.

    If you’re familiar with western razor manufacturing of 1920s-1960s, probably none of that sounds familiar at all.

    I guess I’m not sure where your confusion lies here... who are you assuming is using the exact same processes with the exact same starting steel?
  18. So the only way to get a great close shave is to use a blade made by a master? Nothing else will suffice? Lol. I can get a beautiful 3 pass bbs with a $4 gd that you know wasn't made by a master. And a one pass dfs with the same. No mod. Just hone and shave.
  19. Chan Eil Whiskers

    Chan Eil Whiskers Contributor

    There's no reason for me to doubt you can get great shaves with a Gold Dollar. If you report that you can, then why should I doubt your report.

    That said, it says nothing about variations and quality differences in various steels and various manufacturing processes.

    When I first reported that I'd bought but not received a couple of Japanese razors several gentlemen told me much the same thing either on the forum or in conversations. They said they would be interested in seeing if I found the razors superior, or they believed I might be spoiled by the Japanese razors, or they wondered if I'd notice like they had how it's hard to reach for other razors when Japanese razors are right there whispering about in your ear about their abilities.

    I'm certainly not going to tell anyone I know anything about steel or making razors, but my experiences with the Japanese blades have been very good.

    Happy shaves with whatever razor you use,


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