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What's the lowest grit stone you're able to get a shave-ready edge with?

Are you able to get a good, comfortably usable edge without going to something like a Naniwa 12k or higher?

What's the lowest grit stone you can accomplish this on?

I asked a barber who does straight razor shaves what he uses, he just uses a single stone handed down from his grandfather along with a strop, he said that's all his grandfather ever used. He didn't know what the grit of the stone is, has no awareness of the various gear that gets discussed in here. He learned from his grandfather to use this one stone and a leather strop and that's the extent of his knowledge.
I've had surprisingly good shaves with 1,4,8k Norton bevels mostly out of curiosity. They were all a step or two above acceptable in smoothness and sharpness. The problems for me were the predictable edge degradation of the 1k and the 4 & 8 losing smoothness noticeably very quickly.
I'm comparing this to good vendors' edges and my usual Arkansas edges, so all the usual caveats.
I accidentally shaved off a Shapton Pro 1.5k once. I think what happened is I reset the bevel with tape one day while I was doing a bunch of honing and forgot to finish it. The shave wasn't particularly uncomfortable but it wasn't very close. I put it aside and I discovered my error some time later when I went to touch it up on 8k (without tape) and looked at the bevel under the loupe and found I'd been polishing the upper part of the bevel but not the apex. Somewhere on here there is a picture of it.

Fuji 8k is actually a very plausible edge, though. Haven't tried deliberately shaving off my 4k.
I suppose so much of it comes down to variances in beard coarseness, shaving ability, honing ability and skin sensitivity.
I’ve only been at this three and a half years so would class myself as just leaving the beginner category really. And I have a tough beard.
I need a really sharp razor for comfortable shaves especially atg on the usual difficult bits like top lip and chin. I don’t know what grit my stones would class as but I’d guess upwards of 10k and these are fine for me.
When I started the process of learning to hone on JNATS, my mentor asked me to shave with my edges after each step of the progression.

Could I shave after my bevel set on a 1K? Yes, and I did. Would I want to do that again? Probably not. But to answer your question I would say 8K on synthetic or Mejiro Nagura on my JNAT.
How shave ready? Someone here talked me into trying a shave off a DMT-C to prove that it could make an edge shaveable (which is 325 if memory serves). And yeah it shaved without too much trouble... but I certainly wouldn't do it day to day (I'd say it was maybe a hair better than a Norton 8k shave). 6k JIS falls in that camp too, and honestly I can't remember an 8k JIS shave, though I seem to remember feeling that was a reasonable "bottom end" shave for daily use. 10k JIS is just fine in my book if you are ok with Jsynth shaves. Naturals? Bottom end for me would probably be the lower end of average for modern coticules (I've had a LNV and a couple La Grise that fell in this camp), or a fine Charn/Turkey or an average Lynn id. The finest Hindo I've had got really close to shaveable, but I'd still call it subpar.

In the end, once you get a good jsynth and learn to shave off it, or a good hard/trans/sb ark and learn to hone on it, or get good results off pasted balsa, or buy yourself a good razor Jnat, a PDSO, A Thuri, or a very good coticule... there's not much reason to break out Charnleys, lunes, worse Cotis & jnats, etc, etc anymore other than to experiment. So the argument in my book is less "whats the worst good finisher" and more "what 'finishers' do you consider subpar/should be avoided".

As for Slash's preferring balsa vs any stone, I won't say there's no stone out there that will give him a shave as good as what he gets off Balsa. I will say that if he's looking for a stone that gives him a shave that matches up/feels like what he gets off balsa, I've tried a LOT of stones and that stone probably doesn't exist. His edges off balsa are fantastic, but I've got lots of stones that give fantastic edges as well. They're all fantastic, and they don't feel the same. I still shave off stones rather than using pasted balsa, but hell, I'll admit that's probably because I tried the fantastic stone edges first and that's what I'm used to. (and I find a few honing passes on a jnat/thuri type stone a bit easier for me vs a few stropping passes on balsa... again probably just because that's what I'm used to).
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At the beginning of my journey (I'm now about 1/1,200 through), my mentor had me set a bevel with a 1K stone. I used a Naniwa 1K SS. My next task was to shave (just the cheeks) with it. His point was that a properly set bevel will shave. His point was well taken. I know it is doable. I also know I will never again shave after setting a bevel with a 1K stone.

I know I didn't answer your question, I would NOT call that bevel "shave-ready." Far from it--but I had to relay the tale.

The next shave was the same blade, after Botan Nagura. That was more comfortable, but far from luxurious.

The next was the same blade after Tenjyou Nagura. More comfortable yet, but not what I'd call shave-ready if I were putting the blade on BST.

The next was the same blade after Mejiro Nagura. Much better. Not perfect, but markedly better.

The next was the same blade after Koma Nagura. Starting to see the sunlight. The whiskers cutting sounded less like buttering toast.

The next was the same blade after Tomo Nagura. Best shave I had (at that point of my learning, perhaps 7 days in), when you're an apprentice, every Journeyman is superman.

The most recent was a different blade, having gone through the above (but not shaving after every step) but the very last hone was only my base JNAT and water. Mind you, it was first distilled, then RO treated, then deionized, then re-distilled--but after the water treatment (just kidding, it was good-'ol tap water) the shave is smooth, somewhat buttery, and I develop the tendency to make like Sigmund Freud and stroke my face; even though there's no hair on it.

I've yet to get the same shave twice, but I experiment with thinning out the slurry with water at the end, feeling for feedback with every sense I can muster, varying my pressure, my stroke, X's, circles, fwds/backwds, like a heroin addict looking for "that high," I'm looking for "that shave."

I'll let you know when I get there. Don't hold your breath.

Shout-out to my Sensei.


Girls call me Makaluod
I have shaved off an 8k Chinese synthetic. It shaved but I wouldn't call it a shave-ready edge to my desired standard. For that, I need a 0.1μm (about 200k) pasted balsa strop or now my (unique?) Cnat.
An8k JIS and some dovo red and black paste on balsa, canvas, denim from an old pair of pants etc. can make for a nice comfortable shave.
$10 will get you a pretty big piece of fabric from ebay and elsewhere to makes some strops and try different abrasives.
When I started out, I purchased several Naniwa Superstones 1K, 5k, 8K, and 12K. I later added the full sequence. The edge off the 8K was not sharp enough for my coarse beard. The edge off the 12K was sharp enough for my beard, but not smooth enough for my sensitive skin. I found the Naniwa 10K to be a great intermediate stone to use prior to finishing on other stones.

I then started exploring natural stones.

A coticule produced a wonderfully smooth edge, but it was not sharp enough.

A modern Thuringen (not a vintage Escher) and a Vermont Green slate. and were not quite good enough. They produced an edge similar to the Naniwa 10K.

A Tushima Ocean Blue and a Chinese 12K and a a LlLyn Melynilyn (Yellow Lake) Welsh slate each produced a better edge overall than my Naniwa 12K, but were still not quite what I wanted. I could shave off of them, so they would be considered the minimum for purposes of this thread, but they did not give me the edge I wanted.

The Greek Vermio slate, the Zulu Grey from South Africa and an Imperia la Roccia produced an edge that finally could give me a good shave. I estimate that they hone somewhere in the 15K level.

Looking for an even better shave, I then tried some high grit synthetics. A Shapton Glass 16K was similar to the Naniwa 12K in the edge it produced, I now use it for knife sharpening.

An expensive Suehiro Gokumyo 20K (0.5 micron) produced a superb edge, even better than my three favorite natural stones.

Like @rbscebu, I do not consider any edge to be shave ready until it has been stropped on pasted strops. He uses diamond abrasives on balsa. I use Cubic Boron Nitride (CBN) abrasives (0.5 micron, 0.25 micron, and 0.1 micron) on microfiber strops. The result is a superb edge, exceptionally sharp and exceptionally smooth. Although I can shave with a lesser edge, my face appreciates the difference the ultra fine pasted strops make.

I realize that many people can shave off an 8K Norton or Naniwa. Some love a Coticule edge. When purchasing new straight razors, only a few have had an edge that I could use out of the box. Even razors that many would consider "shave ready" were not quite ready for my face. Thus, I had to learn how to hone my own razors. I could not rely on others to hone razors for me.

If you look at an edge under magnification you will see that an edge does not get really straight/smooth until about 8k, there is a big difference between 6 and 8k.

Some, 8k’s like Snow White and Fugi are capable of higher finish.

So, 8k is the limit, you can shave well off most 8k and Chrome Oxide and very well off CBN and Pellon strop.

Most barber hones and naturals are in about 6-8k range, though some can produce higher finished edges, like Arks and Jnats.
Many types of abrasives are friable. That means that they can break down into even finer abrasive particles. Silicon carbide, which is a common abrasive often sold as carborundum (not to be confused with aluminum oxide corrundum) is one of the more easily friable abrasives. I believe many barbers hones are made of carborundum. That is why a barber's hone in the 6-8K range might be able to produce an edge considerably finer than expected for an 8K hone.

On the other hand the garnets in a Coticule have low friability. Thus, an 8K Coticule is going to produce an 8K edge.
Yesterday I made some geometry correction of my recently acquired GD66. And I set the bevel with King 1K. I applied 30 passes of strop. After that it was able to cut hanging hair easily. And with newly acquired Shapton 5K I made 70 passes and 50 passes of strop. Microscope shows a mirror finish on the edge. This morning I shaved with my GD66. One pass and chin touch up gave me a decent DFS+.

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