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What about metal being taken off the spine when honing?

I see various videos where people hone a razor with the spine directly against the stone. What seems like an obvious issue is wear on the spine. I see there are some who hone with tape on the spine - is that to change the angle or to protect the spine?
 
Some do it to increase the bevel angle, particularly with true wedges, others do it to protect the spine. Once you use tape on the spine, your always have to use it or reset the bevel without tape and go through your progression again to shave-ready. Personally I am normally not a spine taper.

I hone with a taped spine to protect the spine when I need to remove a lot of metal off the edge to get close to a bevel set. I then remove the tape and finish setting the bevel and progress without tape. The only time that I have done this was after bread-knifing the excessive (to me) smile out of Gold Dollar W59's and having to reset the bevels from a 180° bevel angle.
 
I would personally only use tape to raise the spine if i had a blade that had a bevel angle which was to shallow for the steel to support it. By using tape you change the bevel angle a little less then one degree (electrical tape on a 7/8 razor results in a change of approx 0.9 deg). Some use it to protect the spine for various reasons. Some use it to create a micro bevel for various reasons.
In theory the spine and the edge is suppose to wear at the same rate, to preserve the original bevel angle.
To me it is a tool. The geometry is more important to me then some spine wear, but i do not have any rare vintage razors, or anything really expensive.
I also feel that some of the feedback from the stone is lost by using tape. I have only used electrical tape. I know some use 1 Mil (one Mil is 1/1000 of an inch) Kapton tapa, which is thinner. I have not tried it. This changes the angle of the same razor by 0.12 deg. So it is not only tape or no tape, it also matters what tape you use.
If it is a full hollow ground razor, like the Dovo you referred to earlier, it does not take much work to go from with tape to without. So you are not really committed to only using tape if you decide to.
Based on your previous post, it seems like this is your first razor. I am not saying you will do this, but a common mistake when you hone your first blade is to apply to much pressure on the spine. In that case it might make sense for you to use tape, just to get a feel for it. I guess you have done your research, and this is probably covered in great detail by others, but just in case:)
Everyone needs to find what works for them, without getting to confused about advice from multiple sources.
A black marker and a loop was really helpful for me.
 
I see various videos where people hone a razor with the spine directly against the stone. What seems like an obvious issue is wear on the spine. I see there are some who hone with tape on the spine - is that to change the angle or to protect the spine?
There are several schools of thought on this. One is the (to me, but I might have too much misplaced faith in my fellow shavers!) ridiculous presumption that a newbie will for some reason bear down on the spine and wear the spine of the razor down to cardboard thin while setting the first bevel. This to me is utter balderdash. I had originally wrote another word that starts with a B but remembered that it would be redacted by the forum software. Anyway it is felt by many that a newbie simply cannot help himself and will ruin a razor unless he tapes the spine before touching it to stone. I am sure that there are some examples of this being the reality, but in general all a beginner must do is to balance the pressure between spine and edge, remembering that the goal is to hone the edge and the spine is just the honing angle gauge.

Another is that "Oh, no, SPINE WEAR!!!" will ruin a razor and destroy its resale value and cause panic on Wall Street. Let's be perfectly clear. There are razors that ought to be kept pristine, as jewelry, and there are razors that are tools and should be maintained and used as such. The faces of all my hammers have dents and scratches. OH NO!!!!! One of my pocketknives is worn to about 80% of the original blade width. The HUMANITY!!!! And my razors have "Hone Wear" on the spines. If you don't want your spine worn, and you are a razor, don't come to my house.

Clear-thinking honers realize that the bevel angle affects the honing and shaving characteristics of the razor, and that the bevel angle is determined by the working width of the blade and the thickness of the spine. They also recognize that over time, the edge is honed away and the blade becomes more narrow. The "honing wear" on the edge is the bevel face, and it does not get significantly wider on a hollowground razor until it is worn to about half width. That takes a very very long time, lots of regular use and honing. So the wear to the edge is not readily apparent. It is not obvious. It rings no alarm bells. But the wear to the spine jumps out and grabs you by the retinae. Suddenly the formerly rounded spine sports a flat strip where, horror or horrors, steel has been worn away by the action of the hones. No cause for alarm, gentlefolk. This is natural. As long as you are not placing excessive pressure on the spine, the wear to the spine is proportional to the wear at the edge. This system has worked well since the invention of the hollowground razor. It worked quite well all the way up through 1946, the year that vinyl electrical tape was invented, or up through Al Gore's invention of the internet, at which point the first straight razor forums formed and someone said "Hey I got an idea... let's prevent "hone wear" on the razor spine by protecting it with tape!" and monkey see, monkey do.

Yes, there are lots of vintage razors out there that are "ruined" by having their spines worn to half the original thickness. Most of them also have their blades worn to half their original width, too. Et Walah. Bevel angle... maintained. Without even any conscious effort. When you hone and shave with one of those "ruined" razors you will be treated to a perfectly fine shave, though the blade will be very light and skinny, of course.

Before tape, ALL razors were honed without tape, even wedges. Wedges were of course honed freehand with the spine slightly elevated at the finish. I have it on good authority that a fingernail under the spine was often used to spot check the angle. Tape was a gift from heaven to full wedge owners. One could hone flat to set a rough bevel, then add a layer of tape for the true working bevel and even a second layer for an exquisite microbevel with a perfect bevel angle, a robust edge and good shoulder relief. With the all important consistency of honing angle that gives that nice flat bevel face and sharp apex. But the full wedge razor is much different from near wedge or hollowground razors. The whole side of the razor is the basic bevel face, and you will NEVER, in any reasonable timeframe, create a truly great edge with so much contact area. And the wedge razor is thinner at the spine specifically to allow for a compound bevel at a useful bevel angle, anyway.

Now it is established that for hollowground razors, the majority of razors in use, that the bevel angle is important and that it is set by the ratio of the spine thickness to the working blade width. This is, with the razor held spine up / edge down, the distance from the top of the spine's hone contact area down to the actual edge of the razor. Half of the spine thickness divided by the working width is the Sine of half the bevel angle. As one changes, the other should change proportionally. When you tape the spine, you are doing two things. You are enforcing an immediate increase of bevel angle by about a degree. No biggie. One degree on a normal razor isn't a dealbreaker. In some cases it can be beneficial, actually. But it also prevents further wear to the spine while allowing wear to the edge. Slowly, ever so slowly, this WILL cause the bevel angle to change. So slowly that you may not notice the difference in 10 or 20 years of regular use and honing. But your razor should last 200 years. Why ruin it in only one lifetime? That is stupid and someone will cuss you in your grave for your well intended abuse of what ought to be a great vintage blade.

Finally we are no longer living in the stone age. The more enlightened among us and the budget minded beginners are honing with lapping film and finishing on pasted balsa as per The Method. Tape is not really a good thing with those two media, especially the balsa. CAN you use tape? You can do whatever you want. But it is not optimum.

Perhaps the biggest argument against tape is it is simply not needed. An extra bother. An unneeded PITA. No, I don't mean the iconic Middle Eastern hollow version of the flour tortilla.

There is one type of honer who will probably feel compelled by circumstances to use tape as a matter of course, and that is the professional honemeister. He doesn't want customers bawling on the boards how the idiot ruined his beautiful pristine razor with the dreaded SPINE WEAR. Plus the honing process will be much quicker, and for a pro, time is money. And there is a 50/50 chance that the last guy to hone it used tape, and to straighten the mess out by setting the bevel without tape takes longer. The pro doesn't care about creeping bevel angle change because it isn't his razor and he isn't responsible for it's long term usefulness. He wants to get them in the door, get them shaving sharp, and get them back to their owners quickly enough that he isn't working for minimum wage after paying for all his gear and postage and gas money. Most pros will hone your razor without tape, at no extra charge, but you must request it. It is not the end of the world if your razor is honed with tape. As a beginner, just deal with it. You won't even notice it. Once you are ready to start honing your own razor, simply set the bevel from scratch with no tape. It won't take all that long. Then you have an edge honed without tape and you can maintain it on the balsa, no problem.

Obviously, the bevel angle can be manipulated and customized and corrected by judicious use of tape when honing. If a razor has too acute a bevel angle, (under 14.5° or thereabouts) then taping the spine is the answer to a fragile edge or one that wants to chip out when honing. Conversely, one can simply apply pressure directly to the spine to thin it, even going so far as taping the EDGE, to beat the razor into shape. This is often done with some Gold Dollar models, or the infamous ZY razors. Most users will agree that the sweet spot is around 16.5°, ± 1° or so. And so, well considered and reasoned use of tape is not a bad thing at all. For full true wedges, it is practically required. But calculate the existing bevel angle before determining that tape is needed.

If you WANT to hone your razor with tape, by all means, go for it. Your razor. Nobody else's business.
 
First, there are no rules.

You will not ruin a razor using tape, it takes seconds to apply a strip of tape to a spine and the amount of change to the angle of a new razor is negligible. The bevel angle of a taped spine can be erased in about 20 laps on a stone, and I defy anyone to shave with the same razor with a taped and not taped bevel and tell the difference.

If you are new to straight razor honing and learning to hone, tape the spine. Too many new honers use way too much pressure, too aggressive a stone and do way too many laps. They needlessly grind the spines.

If the spine is excessively ground, the fix is to add tape, at times multiple layers of tape to make up for the lost steel.

So, tape your spine while you are learning to hone, once you have mastered honing, then decide if you want to continue to use tape or not. By then you will have discovered that you do not need excessive pressure, aggressive hones and minimal number of laps, any spine wear will be minimal. At least you will have a pristine spine to hone on.

If you restore hundred year old vintage razors and spend hours sanding and buffing, why would you mar your work by not using tape?



There is no down side to using tape, but it is your razor, and there are no rules.
 
One thought. If you plan to sell a nice razor someday and get a good price back out of it. The first thing a buyer will throw at you is the spine wear.
 
One thought. If you plan to sell a nice razor someday and get a good price back out of it. The first thing a buyer will throw at you is the spine wear.
True. But why would you sell a nice razor? I don't get it.

Me, if I was buying, I would request the measurements, and if I like them then I honestly don't much care about the cosmetics. I don't pay extra for a beautiful hammer. I don't pay extra for a beautiful razor. Well, usually not, anyway. And I don't value a razor or any other tool less because it appears to have been used.
 
I will pay extra for a beautiful razor, but heathen that I am I will then proceed to use it as a tool. Good-bye gold wash on the spine, I'm making tomorrow's ebay horrors today.

Every new car I've ever had I washed and waxed and babied for about a year, then proceeded to Just Drive It and honestly, a nice car well-used is more satisfying to me than riding around in a spotless parade float.
 
I will pay extra for a beautiful razor, but heathen that I am I will then proceed to use it as a tool. Good-bye gold wash on the spine, I'm making tomorrow's ebay horrors today.

Every new car I've ever had I washed and waxed and babied for about a year, then proceeded to Just Drive It and honestly, a nice car well-used is more satisfying to me than riding around in a spotless parade float.
Off topic. When i wash my car my wife says i just make room for new dirt:)
To me a razor is a tool, but i respect those that think differently.
 
True. But why would you sell a nice razor? I don't get it.

Me, if I was buying, I would request the measurements, and if I like them then I honestly don't much care about the cosmetics. I don't pay extra for a beautiful hammer. I don't pay extra for a beautiful razor. Well, usually not, anyway. And I don't value a razor or any other tool less because it appears to have been used.
I am definitely not concerned with spine ware. Most of my razors are super old like diptoe and stubtail and wedges and I only do light restorations using the spine as is no regrinding. Now I use tape because these are thick heavy razors with wonky spines and it helps keep the bevel inline and not huge most of the time. I have bought one or two over the years that were not that old and even though they were nice razors I decided to sell and use the money toward the ones I really like. First thing the buyers throw at me is the smallest unseeable bit of spineware.
 
I dislike using tape because it's a pita. Constantly changing tape as I go, pffft.. so annoying.
Every so often on the 1k during bevel set, gotta change the tape. If you don't, you're riding a sine wave for an edge.
Personally, I'd suggest to a new guy to hone without tape on a beater before suggesting to use tape on a new razor. I am a big fan of learning from mistakes, not via helicopter parenting. But that's just me. I don't believe in using little oily sock cozys, special high end lubricants, or those silicone wiping bowls either. Whatever, at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. Do what makes you happy.

To me - It's a razor, not the Talmud.
If I sell a razor, and it has wear, and a buyer crows about it - bye, see ya, sorry, no time for whiny b/s.
If someone doesn't like me using or not using tape - sigh, see above.
There is no graveyard of razors ruined by tape. I have many razors honed on tape, yes - it's true, I really do; none have died.
I hate using tape, but I'll probably hone on tape tomorrow. Life is funny like that.
 
I’m green when it comes to honing, but I enjoy it and hone regularly. My razors come with plenty of hone wear, uneven wear, wonky bevels and double bevels and such. I have avoided using tape mostly, because the same fellas who hone lots of razors don’t wave the banner for tape. So I just try to make things work without tape. That being said, I have a couple of old wedges that came very worn and I added substantially to that wear trying to set a bevel. I taped them both, not because of wear or how they looked, but so I could shave with them. Taping helped move things along and I just felt it was the right thing to do.
 
There seem to be lots of arguments about this subject and strong feelings on both sides. I think it's mostly academic, as there are relatively few fellows here who will wear out even a single razor or even hone enough on one single razor to make any significant difference in the included angle even if they used tape every time.

For me this is a simple subject. For an initial bevel set on a new razor I never use tape. I want to make sure that the geometry is good on both the spine and the bevel first. After that, I will use tape on a razor with nice engraving or gold plating. Any other razor I generally do not.
 
For an initial bevel set on a new razor I never use tape. I want to make sure that the geometry is good on both the spine and the bevel first. After that, I will use tape on a razor with nice engraving or gold plating. Any other razor I generally do not.

Exactly as I do.
 
There seem to be lots of arguments about this subject and strong feelings on both sides. I think it's mostly academic, as there are relatively few fellows here who will wear out even a single razor or even hone enough on one single razor to make any significant difference in the included angle even if they used tape every time.

For me this is a simple subject. For an initial bevel set on a new razor I never use tape. I want to make sure that the geometry is good on both the spine and the bevel first. After that, I will use tape on a razor with nice engraving or gold plating. Any other razor I generally do not.


Well Said,

Alx
 
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