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USB microscope is a game-changer.

I'm fairly new to straight-razor shaving and honing (~2 months). And I was getting really frustrated by my inability to bring my razor's edge back after it started pulling. I made at least three separate attempts to run it through my Naniwa progression (1k, 3k, 5k, 8k, 12k). But each cycle was just a little worse than the last. I had a couple of jeweler's loupes which were well-rated on Amazon. But they were almost totally useless. So I was honing "blind."

Then I watched a knife-sharpening video on YouTube last week; and the guy was using a USB microscope. So I thought that was a great idea and picked one up from Amazon for ~$35. And I can't tell you what a game-changer it is!! As soon as I plugged it in, I saw exactly what my problem was... I wasn't taking anywhere near enough strokes on my stones to ever actually finish the job...

Here's what I saw as soon as I looked under the microscope (this was actually after a fresh hone):
signal-2019-06-25-233452.jpg

And here's what I did after I could finally see my work for the first time:
signal-2019-06-27-193458.jpg

It actually shaves better now than when I first got it! And I'm totally psyched about that:thumbup:

Here's the microscope I used.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00XNYXQHE?psc=1&ref=ppx_pop_mob_b_asin_title
 
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That is one place that they are very useful indeed. In time, you can catch things like this with a loupe just as well, but it's not that easy when you don't yet really know what you're looking for. There are little tells you can learn to look for though. I like using a loupe while honing, then sometimes I will scope the results just for further info/reference.
 
That is one place that they are very useful indeed. In time, you can catch things like this with a loupe just as well, but it's not that easy when you don't yet really know what you're looking for. There are little tells you can learn to look for though. I like using a loupe while honing, then sometimes I will scope the results just for further info/reference.
The biggest problem for me, using the loupe, was that the light was terrible, I'd totally lose my place on the blade if I tried to adjust the focus, and it fatigued my eye really badly to keep squinting through it. Now I just have a massive image on my computer screen, right above my honing tray.:biggrin:
 
The biggest problem for me, using the loupe, was that the light was terrible, I'd totally lose my place on the blade if I tried to adjust the focus, and it fatigued my eye really badly to keep squinting through it. Now I just have a massive image on my computer screen, right above my honing tray.:biggrin:
You are really starting to enable me lol
 

SliceOfLife

Contributor
I don't say it because people don't like hearing it... but 99% of the "shave ready" razors I've encountered have had micropitting on the edge that was large enough to significantly impact the shave. Micropitting you can't feel on the hones and certainly can't see with the naked eye. 100x is a BARE MINIMUM in my opinion to even hope to see all the pitting that could impact a shave... and 200x is more likely what most people's eyes would require. Yes, you can tell if the edge is damaged during the shave... but that's one terrible shave... and you can't confirm whether or not you fixed it without ANOTHER SHAVE. What if you didn't? Two terrible shaves. How many attempts before you give up? I've encountered numerous razors that were pitted through to the extent that you NEVER got a clean edge... even if you honed it back almost to the spine. Some of these razors were polished over the pitting so you couldn't tell it was pitted without looking close. A microscope eliminates these horrible shaves and prevents you wasting a LOT of time on razors that are too far gone with pitting to salvage.

And a pitted/chipped edge vs a smooth one is absolutely night and day. Near torture vs a genuinely soothing experience. I genuinely wonder how many regular straight shavers out there have never felt an edge that didn't have micropitting based on the states I've received "shave-ready" razors in, in the past. I suspect it's a statistically significant amount.
 

PJO

Contributor
I’ve never honed a straight razor edge and probably never will — honestly, I was just intrigued by the “USB microscope” in the thread title. And I am not disappointed. Way cool images. I see lots of potential for viewing and photographing other things like bugs, seeds, etc.

Am now checking out wifi microscopes that will work with my iPhone and iPad. Thanks for the idea!
 
I'm fairly new to straight-razor shaving and honing (~2 months). And I was getting really frustrated by my inability to bring my razor's edge back after it started pulling. I made at least three separate attempts to run it through my Naniwa progression (1k, 3k, 5k, 8k, 12k). But each cycle was just a little worse than the last. I had a couple of jeweler's loupes which were well-rated on Amazon. But they were almost totally useless. So I was honing "blind."

Then I watched a knife-sharpening video on YouTube last week; and the guy was using a USB microscope. So I thought that was a great idea and picked one up from Amazon for ~$35. And I can't tell you what a game-changer it is!! As soon as I plugged it in, I saw exactly what my problem was... I wasn't taking anywhere near enough strokes on my stones to ever actually finish the job...

Here's what I saw as soon as I looked under the microscope (this was actually after a fresh hone):
View attachment 994422

And here's what I did after I could finally see my work for the first time:
View attachment 994423

It actually shaves better now than when I first got it! And I'm totally psyched about that:thumbup:

Here's the microscope I used.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00XNYXQHE?psc=1&ref=ppx_pop_mob_b_asin_title

Outstanding!
I have been using a GOOD microscope for years now and would never be without one. I totally agree
with Slice, I bet there are MANY honers out there that don't really know what they could be producing in the way of refinement on their edges if they would just give up letting "good take the place of best" and get some good magnification. I really don't know why there is so much opposition to this subject on the forums.
With experience you will be able to work better w/a loupe but if you choose to repurchase one get a very good one with outstanding quality glass and corrected FOV.
Also a good light source that can be adjusted.
Keep observing, testing and improving. Then share, there are quite a few of us that really do want to produce the PERFECT EDGE!
 
Proper magnification will make a huge difference in your honing -- I got a cheapo USB 'scope and discovered I was nowhere near a decent apex on most of my razors (or some of my knives, for that matter) and no matter how shiny the bevel is, if the apex is still rough and rounded, it ain't gonna shave worth a hoot.
 
Huge difference. Thanks for sharing.
Didn't know you could get a better setup in that price range. I need to buy one of those eventually. For now I'll have to keep squinting through my $5 loupe.
 
I’ve never honed a straight razor edge and probably never will — honestly, I was just intrigued by the “USB microscope” in the thread title. And I am not disappointed. Way cool images. I see lots of potential for viewing and photographing other things like bugs, seeds, etc.

Am now checking out wifi microscopes that will work with my iPhone and iPad. Thanks for the idea!
If you find any good options for the iPad, please pass it along. Seems like all I see require a laptop or other option with usb.
 
The problem with many inexpensive USB microscopes is that the pixel resolution is too low to see what you looking for. The first USB microscope I got had 2MP resolution. Although the magnification was sufficient, the resolution of the image was not sufficient to see what I was looking for. I upgraded to a Celestron 5MP USB microscope and have been pleased.

USB microscopes can be misleading, however. If the bevel is not properly set the bevel angles will not form a clean apex. You can polish the bevels to a high mirror shine, but if the bevels do not come together, you won't get a good shave. Once the bevel has been set, you can then use the microscope to monitor your progress in removal of the scratches left by the bevel setting hone.
 
I've been using a USB scope for years now. Its a great thing. Just don't get too picky. I used to. I also did some testing and although my scope was said to be as high as 300x, in reality its 100x. And at that strength i can only see about 1mm of the bevel/edge. So it gets to be a pain trying to look at the entire edge.

Keep yours backed out like you have it and get used to seeing what you see. It can be a great way to hone. But I warn you, if you zoom in to the max you will be wanting to fix even more. That's when you have to keep in mind of how big some of those flaws really are. A chip that is less than the diameter of a hair is not a big deal. But it can look huge!
 

SliceOfLife

Contributor
Outstanding!I totally agree
with Slice, I bet there are MANY honers out there that don't really know what they could be producing in the way of refinement on their edges if they would just give up letting "good take the place of best" and get some good magnification. I really don't know why there is so much opposition to this subject on the forums.

No one likes being told that what they've been doing for weeks, months, years is wrong. No one likes being told that what they've been convincing themselves is a good edge isn't. No one likes admitting that pride impacts their judgment. In general, people don't like looking or feeling foolish. Most people would rather dig their heels in and declare that chips in the 5-100micron range either don't impact their shave... or they'd certainly never make the mistake of not honing them out if they did. And the ones still learning and willing to consider that their edges aren't great generally don't know the actual magnification of what they use or buy. I've seen guys claiming 400x up to 4000x on images that clearly were well under 100x. Usually from a cheap USB scope that claims certain magnifications it could never attain accurately. Yet, their edges look good at 10 or 20x or 40x and they don't know how to tell it's not 1000x, so they're happy and they recommend the same cheap scope to others, and it perpetuates.
I've had a guy whose razor's bevel took up all of about 5% of his scopes FOV in 800x600 images insist to me that his images were 5000x. For days. You just give up at some point.

It's not expensive for someone who hones a lot to pick up a decent scope. Schools upgrade all the time and dump their old scopes for next to nothing. It's just a matter of it being possible to hone without one, and since plenty of good, experienced honers do so I think people don't want to admit that they'd "need" one... or even be helped by one. For me, it saves me a ton of wasted time and a lot of bad shaves. That makes it a necessity in my eyes.

But what really convinced me was when I started straight shaving. I bought several "shave ready" razors, from multiple long-time members on shaving forums. Shaves weren't great. I bought a $7 toy 40/100/400x plastic scope at a yardsale and looked at the edges. Every... single... one... had micropitting IN the edge. These "shave-ready" razors were basically bonesaws. And the Buy/Sell threads (on another forum) I bought them from, had guys pitching in "Buy from so and so, he's a great honer! Best edge I've ever shaved with... etc etc etc"
 
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Nice work -- good magnification helps get that bevel apex nailed. But, I recall one fellow saying sometimes too much magnification can be a bad thing for honing. (everything in moderation or something?)

A 10x BelOMO achromatic triplet more than satisfies my honing magnification needs for about the same cash outlay. Bonus: not made in China, not USB, and still expected work flawlessly 10, 20, 30+ yrs from now when the USB standard is long dead. ;)

The triplet saved me from the $5 Chinese 30x LED loupes that performed awfully in comparison. No more eye strain here struggling to see what's going on. :001_302:
 
A couple of my razors that provide fantastic shaves look like crap under a USB microscope. There is definitely a level of diminishing returns in edge refinement as far as the resulting shave goes. They (USB scopes) are good tools, just try not to get too carried away.
 
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