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Using Pastes to Finish an Edge

I still have a lot to learn when it comes to honing. I know the "sharpest" edge will not necessarily have the best feel while shaving. My question is what stone would have a finer grit than .25 diamond spray. Being we are basically using finer and finer abrasives to polish the edge. I am currently finishing on pasted strops and getting great shaves. I would like to try a good finisher though. My face doesn't seem to be as sensitive as most here. I have had two razors that were honed by vendors respected on this site and barely notice the difference between their edges and mine. Thanks guys. I love these threads. I have learned a lot from y'all.

You have found the real crux between different honing methods and what causes us our endless "controversy." Different abrasives leave different finishes on the edge. It is more complicated than it first appears. On a microscopic level all abrasives leave scratches in the blade steel. Diamond scratches are different from Crox scratches are different from Jnat scratches etc. How those scratches feel on our face both during and after the shave affects how we feel about a particular edge. That is why one shaver will prefer a very very sharp Jnat edge over a very very sharp film edge and vice versa. The same thing happens in the DE world all the time where everyone has their own favorite blade, but for us getting the ideal edge involves a fair amount of work so occasionally we get a little defensive about our particular favorite. I am a coticule guy and to a quarter micron diamond paste guy my edges would feel poor by comparison. Those diamond edges would feel equally poor to me. We bring tons of math and and well thought out theory and practice to the process, but the last step of shaving is always dependent on feel and perception on an individual level.
 
No synthetic stones, that I am aware of. Certain naturals can behave in a manner that would suggest a finer grit, even though they have no true grit rating. For instance, some hard jnats when the slurry has broken down a lot.

I would caution you on the .25u diamond, though. This is subjective of course, but to me, the .25u diamond is a very awkward stage that produces edges that I do not find very comfortable. However, moving on to .1u diamond seems to give me a much friendlier edge. YMMV, of course, and my use of pastes is probably a lot different than yours. See http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php/473580-How-To-Use-a-Pasted-Balsa-Strop.

I currently use dmt's then 1micron diamond spray followed by Crox. I have thought about the finer diamond sprays, but don't want to commit a strop. When you are finishing on naturals are you still working with a slurry or just clear water. You use the slurry to cut faster correct?
 

Steve56

Ask me about shaving naked!
As far as JNats go, slurry cuts faster than no slurry, yes. JNat slurry "breaks" after some honing whereas coticule and Thuri slurry do not, at least in the same way. If your JNat is not as fine as you'd like, you can dilute slurry while decreasing pressure until you are honing on clear water with blade weight pressure. Clear water finishing usually adds some keeness and "brightens" up the edge feeling a bit IMO.

Cheers, Steve
 
I still have a lot to learn when it comes to honing. I know the "sharpest" edge will not necessarily have the best feel while shaving. My question is what stone would have a finer grit than .25 diamond spray.

It's not only that the feel of the edge that happens to be sharper may disappoint the user (not necessarily due to being sharper). Far, FAR more important in my experimentation with extremely high levels of refinement is that the sharper you get, the worse the edge holds up. There are ultra-fine edges that can give you an amazing shave if you use them only for the ATG pass after another razor does a WTG/XTG pass. Try to get a full shave out of them and it will be awful. The edge degraded during the first pass too much to be used in later passes.

I think a lot of times when people find an edge "too sharp" for them, they're actually finding an edge "not durable enough".
 
It's not only that the feel of the edge that happens to be sharper may disappoint the user (not necessarily due to being sharper). Far, FAR more important in my experimentation with extremely high levels of refinement is that the sharper you get, the worse the edge holds up. There are ultra-fine edges that can give you an amazing shave if you use them only for the ATG pass after another razor does a WTG/XTG pass. Try to get a full shave out of them and it will be awful. The edge degraded during the first pass too much to be used in later passes.

I think a lot of times when people find an edge "too sharp" for them, they're actually finding an edge "not durable enough".
You mean the edge breaks down during the shave, and the cutting and knicking is a result of the degradation? (Just looking for clarification or expansion. I'm following along, not joining:)
 
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Would changing the angle of the bevel using tape during honing strengthen the edge? I would think you could then refine the edge more, but it wouldn't necessarily be "sharper" and should hold the edge better.

It looks like I am also going to have to research honing with naturals.

Thanks for all the info gents. Extremely helpful.
 

Steve56

Ask me about shaving naked!
Yes, tape can help in the last few strokes. Alex and I had a related conversation a while back, and he was of the opinion that a sizeable percentage of folks are shaving off an unstable or false edge, wire, fin, foil, whatever you want to call it, that breaks relatively quickly and gives a harsh (duller) edge.

I know when I was learning to hone razors, when I got a harsh edge, I'd think it was because it was too sharp. Nope, it was because it wasn't sharp enough, or all parts of the edge weren't sharp enough. I was learning on JNats from my knife life, and the slurry kills false edges pretty easily with the way I hone, so at least I didn't have that problem.

Cheers, Steve
 
If you only hone on tape for maybe the final half dozen laps, you pretty much double the lifespan of the edge with very little loss in sharpness, particularly if the razor has a very acute (under 16°) bevel angle. The problem is most guys wanting the compound bevel effect, overdo it. When you overdo it your pasted balsa is ineffectual and your hanging leather strop is reduced in effectiveness unless you use tape for that as well. What a PITA!

I like to do a few "pull" strokes off the edge of the hone, pulling the blade sideways. This does an excellent job of taming the fin edge. YMMV.
 
Tape to set a small secondary bevel at the end is also the crux of Bart's Unicot method for coticules, of course. I don't use that method myself but I also have a hard time finishing on my coticule with dilucot - mostly due to still learning both the stone and honing, though. Apparently Unicot works great and is simple.
 
You mean the edge breaks down during the shave, and the cutting and knicking is a result of the degradation? (Just looking for clarification or expansion. I'm following along, not joining:)

Basically. I've had Jnats that could give great "last-pass" shaves. Close and comfortable. Go for a three pass, and they chew your face up.
 
Would changing the angle of the bevel using tape during honing strengthen the edge? I would think you could then refine the edge more, but it wouldn't necessarily be "sharper" and should hold the edge better.

It looks like I am also going to have to research honing with naturals.

Thanks for all the info gents. Extremely helpful.

That works, but in my experience generally lower angle and less refinement offers superior performance in shaving to higher angle more refinement. Basically you gain more sharpness per durability lost by lowering angle. This seems to hold up to right around 13-15 degrees with our razors, depending on the steel... which is probably why they tend to be ground slightly above that (leave a little margin for error), It would seem going much below that sees the pendulum swing, at that point you're losing too much durability as you decrease the angle. Similarly, going much above 17-18* gets to the point where no level of refinement makes up for the loss of sharpness from the increased angle... though your edge can get extremely durable (for our purposes). I've got razors in the 19-21* range I use as box cutters. But within our range it's definitely something to experiment with. I had a razor awhile back. US made, German steel, very hard steel, very thin grind, <13* angle. One of my best shavers off a coticule. Couldn't put my finest Jnat edge on it, it just wouldn't survive the shave. Yes, I could tape it (throughout honing) and get good Jnat shaves off it, but the Coti shaves were of such quality, it wouldn't have made much sense.
 
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