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What Honing Stone to get?

I am new to Straight Razor Shaving.

I got lucky and bought a nice Genco straight razor in great condition on ebay.

I sent it out to be honed to be sure I had a shave ready razor to start with.

I shaved for the first time yesterday and it went surprisingly well. No Blood, No irritation, Close shave.

I have done my research so I have a Alum block, Skeptic pencil, Arko shave puck, Simpson brush, After Shave balm, Tony Miller Strop.

I am now interested in a Whetstone. It has been suggested to me to get a Norton 4K/8K stone and I would be fine.

Does anyone have a opinion on this or a alternative suggestion.

Do I need to get a flattening stone also? I will be using it for my straight razor only.

Thanks in Advance!


I shaved the pig
I have maintained a shave ready razor with a leather strop and 12k synthetic stone successfully for a period of time. If only using one stone I would lean towards a finisher. I have limited experience with paste, but judicious use of CroOx on linen has helped refine an already quality edge for me (sometimes).
I would ask the person you sent the razor to what he finished with. You already said you liked his edge, so that sounds like a great starting point. I would also wholeheartedly advise against the Norton, 4/8.
Why do you not recommend the Norton seems to be pretty popular. I guess there are better stones?


B&B’s Champion Corn Shucker
Why do you not recommend the Norton seems to be pretty popular. I guess there are better stones?
Very few people that I know use the Norton 4/8 these days. Yes, there are much better options. The naniwa 12 k gets a lot of love around here, and for good reason. But like I said, I would start by contacting the guy that honed your last razor to find out what he finished with.
If I were getting myself synthetics today and I did not have anything I would look the shapton Rockstar stones. Might be best though to find your preferred edge (getting different finishes from other people) then working from there.
Very few people that I know use the Norton 4/8 these days. Yes, there are much better options. The naniwa 12 k gets a lot of love around here, and for good reason. But like I said, I would start by contacting the guy that honed your last razor to find out what he finished with.
He suggested the Norton
Norton 4k/8k, as mentioned is not nearly as recommended as it used to be. When I was starting up; one of the big straight razor forums at the time was owned/modded/admined by a guy who also had a very small webstore that sold only a handful of products... they all pushed Nortons on folks and surprise surprise... his webstore sold that as basically the only stone he stocked.

I've used them and they were whatever. Closer to a King ($15-20 stone) than to a Naniwa ($55-100+ stone)... except in price where they are closer to the Naniwa.

There are more options; with better availability, and often times even closer in price than they were then to the Nortons... really no reason I can think of to buy Nortons these days.

That said; you don't even need a 4k/8k unless you plan to damage your razor. You need a finisher/touch up stone.

As David mentioned Naniwa 12k is one of the more popular/reasonable options if you want to get a synthetic. But of course you could go for a natural stone (Jnat, Thuri, Coti, PDSO, Ark, etc)... also.

With naturals it gets more complicated; as there are a bunch of stones out there getting pushed by the guys selling them and their friends... and more sellers of junk stones as "Jnats" with fraudulent or misleading listings... and guys flat out lying and claiming one type of stone is another. But if you are careful and make a smart, educated purchase; most people do tend to prefer the natural stones finish to synthetics.

And of course there's always the pasted balsa method as well. Basically thick plexy with some balsa put on it; lapped flattish; and some abrasive powders. I believe they go 1 micron, .5 micron and .1 micron for the full "Method" that is detailed in another thread here. Personally I find just getting a good Natural finisher easier than that process; but lots of guys have good success with it.

Flattening stone? With synths maybe? I don't use my synths often enough I ever really need it. With my naturals... I never flatten them except when I buy them to take out waves and dishing from their previous owners. If you buy one lapped/flat you shouldn't need a stone to do that; just using it to maintain a razor.

That said; often the best/cheapest way to get a natural finisher is used and in rough shape, and spending $30 on a cheap diamond plate to flatten it may make financial sense vs buying one clean and lapped.

He suggested the Norton

I'd be very surprised if he FINISHED on the Norton. It's not really fine enough to comfortably shave off of; even if you like it as a stone.

Most of the guys who used it even when it was somewhat popular were following it with a finishing stone or a pasted strop. I'll still never forget the 2 week long back and forth I got in on this forum with a guy who was swearing up and down that 8k Norton finish was a great shave... Then around his tenth reply he let slip that he always stropped on 0.5 Chromox... but still maintained that abrasive stropping didn't do anything (despite his choosing to use it) and he was shaving off a Norton 8k finish. The brainwashing that forum did on those poor Norton guys will probably echo throughout the internet for decades.
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I would get a coticule, a cheap 220/1k# chinesium diamond plate and a hard ark of some kind(regardless of its color, a truly hard ark, by pike standards). You can just about everything you could ever need to do with a razor with that set up. Get help from people on here to find you good samples of the natural stone but with practice that'll get a razor as good as I've ever seen one get.


Staff member
When I started I used the Norton (which was the style at the time) but only for mid/pre finishing. I still used a natural finishing stone after that. Since all you will be doing is maintaining the edge, all you need is a finishing stone, and as said above, a 4/8k ain’t that.
The key thing to know about Norton stones is that they do not use the same grit size classification as Japanese stones (and not all Japanese makes use the same one either). What that means is that a Norton 8k is much closer to a Japanese 4k than a Japanese 8k.

Their popularity 30 years ago had a great deal to do with the fact that most Japanese stones were not marketed in the US. They are pretty standard "soft binder" waterstones, much like King stones by and large I think -- I've not used one. Nothing at all wrong with them as far as honing razors, except that you need a finisher after the 8k if you want to actually shave comfortably.
The vast majority of people who, long ago, recommended the N4/8k, took their razor to an abrasive charged linen afterwards.
They liked to pretend that stropping on Cromium oxide, approx 30k in grit terms, wasn't part of the sharpening.
So they weren't shaving off the 8k, their blade had a Crox edge.
Note - the main voices promoting that stone were also the people selling it to the members of their forum.
Plus, In the very beginning, it was the only readily available stone.

Non-hive-mentality people ventured away from the matrix. Other stones proved to be more capable, more reliable, and overall - deliver the sought after performance the Norton stone could not keep up with.

The Norton 8k is a 3 micron stone, so compared to a Naniwa stone, it is in the 5k region. If that is good enough for someone, that's great. For me it isn't so I don't use that stone. I don't like the grainy feel of the painfully slow 4k side that needs 20 minutes of soaking either. The rubbery 8k is not enjoyable.

So, if someone asks, I don't recommend the Norton because I don't believe it's worth the price of admission.

All that said, if someone likes that stone, and the finish it leaves, then so be it.
Can one hone a razor on a Norton 8k? Yes. With experience, well. With paste? Very well.

If the edge is pasted after the 8k it is no longer an 8k edge, .50um Chrome Oxide, CBN or Diamond is about 30-60k, depending on which chart you read.

All synthetic stones can make a harsh shaving edge, a lot depends on your skin and beard type. Some folks save off an 8k with no problem. I personally do not like the finish off a synthetic stone even a 20k. But if stropped on .50um paste, the same edge is comfortable.

You can also finish on a Natural stone for an even more comfortable edge. If you finish on a pasted strop or Natural stone, then the 8k will work just fine and it does not matter if the grit is as fine as another 8k stone, you are not shaving off that edge, just like which 1k you use does not matter.

I honed on the 4/8k Norton in the 80/90’s. I recently dusted the Norton 8k off and honed a few razors on it just fine. It still works and better than I remember.
What do you want to use the stone for?

If you want a stone to finish the existing edge on the razor, you will need a finishing stone like a 12k to 16k synthetic stone, true hard Arkansas, Coticule or JNAT.

If you want a progression to put new edges on razors then you will need a bevel setter and midrange stones like 1k, 3k and 8k synthetic stones - and a finishing stone.

Lots of choices.
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