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Who's Using a Mid-Grit Natural Hone?

Steve56

Ask me about shaving naked!
Folks,

So who’s using a mid-grit natural and what are you using?

Maybe the starting point is to define a mid-grit natural for the purposes of discussion. It’s the stone in between the bevel setter and the finisher, the finisher being the last thing before stropping on clean linen and/or leather. I’d define it as somewhere in between 4k and 8k synthetic equivalent in terms of serving the same purpose.

I’d lump most but not all suitas, a lot of but not all coticules, Hakkas, Takashimas, Hideryamas, coarse akepins and shallow strata JNats, finer naguras like Tsushima and some Chu (the big ones) in this category.

I’ve been using Hakkas and been very pleased with them. The lvl 2.5 Hakkas I have can produce a shaving edge with a lot of work, but it isn’t the best shave in the world. I’m trying a new Ohira from Max which he described as a little harder but much finer and faster than a Hakka, which interested me because I have a new extremely fine finisher and actually tried using TWO stones before this particular finisher.

Pictures welcome as always! Here are mine, left to right, coarse to fine:

Atagoyama extra coarse akepin, about 2K, Hakka lvl 2.5 yellow and red about 6-7k, 330Mate kan akepin about 6-7k, Ohira MHUG (Max’s hone of undetermined grit - yet) but first razor does HHT 3+, La Dressante coticule, about 7-8k.

Cheers, Steve
 

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I have a large Tsushima stone that I use after bevel setting. It's a bit slow, but has a really wide range and is very pleasant to hone on. You might mistake it for a synthetic stone to look at it, it's very dark grey the whole way through.
 
I do use naturals for mid-range honing, but I don't neccesarily consider all of them mid-range hones.
A coticule, for example, ranges somewhere higher than a typical bevel-setter but some set bevels fine.
But - they also finish well. That - to me - is not a mid-range hone, but I use them for mid-range honing.
A Mikawa Nagura, Tsushima Nagura, etc - all viewed similarly by me.
Not to mention finishing on Mejiro or Koma slurry...etc.

A stone that I do consider to be a mid-range natural is, for example - a Dalmore Blue.
 
I admittedly don't know a whole lot about mid-range natural stones. As Gamma mentioned, I will a lot of times use a coticule to do midrange work, but you can also finish on a coticule, so that doesn't really make it a midrange hone.

One hone that I know very little about is Aotos. I would love to get my hands on a 'razor-friendly' Aoto, but there are so many of them out there that I'm sure are not suited for razors. How to 'sift' through them? I guess I just need to read up on them and learn more about them….A lot of Aotos are considered 'midrange' hones, am I correct?
 

Steve56

Ask me about shaving naked!
Hi J,

Yes, but I gather they have quite a range, from about 2k typical of current offerings, to near 8k, a vintage hone that was offered at over $800. So that's why I have Hakkas and the new Ohira. But I think most suitas will do the work of a blue aoto as a mid-grit followed by something finer. I do understand that tool people like the finish of a good blue aoto as a final finisher, but I don't have much direct knowledge.

Cheers, Steve
 
I've seen Aoto's billed anywhere from 2-6k.
They are a mixed lot for sure. The bit one I had was on the coarse end of the scale.
 
TB is mid range i beleive as well as an ohira kiita i have, and the ikarashi works great for bevels that dont have a long way to go. Ive been alternating TB with ohita kiita. works well imo.
 
Gotcha. Yeah I have been using my Suita as a midrange hone, but I can't really call it a midrange hone because it works excellent as a finisher too….Very mellow edge.

I am going to do some more research on Aotos….But perhaps a Hakka would be a better option…maybe I have found my next HAD purchase; a midranger!!
 

Steve56

Ask me about shaving naked!
John, you're going to find really good mid-grit stones are considerably rarer than good finishers, though I'm encouraged by my Hakkas and I should also mention, stones seem to be coming out of Ohira that are softer than suita. I've seen a kiita or three and the stone I just acquired is likely in reality a kiita with some iro in it.

Buca3152, how's your Ohira kiita in terms of hardness/fineness?

I don't have a Takashima or a Tsushima, but I've heard good reports on both from both knife and razor people.

This is one reason I started the thread, I felt like blue aotos were kind of dodgy both in grit and quality, and vintage stones are up there, more than I think they're worth unless like I say that's your final finish and it's what you want. Keith said it pretty good about the mixed lot, I think you can do better.

Cheers, Steve
 
John, you're going to find really good mid-grit stones are considerably rarer than good finishers, though I'm encouraged by my Hakkas and I should also mention, stones seem to be coming out of Ohira that are softer than suita. I've seen a kiita or three and the stone I just acquired is likely in reality a kiita with some iro in it.

Buca3152, how's your Ohira kiita in terms of hardness/fineness?

I don't have a Takashima or a Tsushima, but I've heard good reports on both from both knife and razor people.

This is one reason I started the thread, I felt like blue aotos were kind of dodgy both in grit and quality, and vintage stones are up there, more than I think they're worth unless like I say that's your final finish and it's what you want. Keith said it pretty good about the mixed lot, I think you can do better.

Cheers, Steve

Great advice Steve, thank you! I think I'll read up on Aotos just to get familiar with them, but I will keep an eye out for something other than an Aoto if they're too much of a mixed lot.

I really would love to get a toishi-sized Tsushima Black…I have a TB Nagura that I absolutely adore, but I think having the full-sized one would be a treat to hone on!!
 
My oohira kiita was bought as a level 4. it is fine imo .I had a few issues early on with chipping but i lapped it very well and finished it with a bbw. no issues at all. now it does self slurry, so im thinking its less than a 4. Botan slurry is much more yellow than white. if that helps.

and Jp the TB is a BRICK of a stone. BIG is all i will say!
 
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Steve56

Ask me about shaving naked!
Thanks Buca3152, that helps. I have yet to investigate the new Ohira, but it seems very promising as a stone on the upper end of mid-grit. Doesn't feel as good as a Hakka (unlapped), but seems finer. Sold as a lvl 3 but a "lot finer and faster than a Hakka". Seems true, remains to be seen how much if any better than a Hakka. BTW you can shave off a Hakka lvl 2.5 - at least both of mine - after a lot of linen and leather but it isn't something you want to do indefinitely.

John, Max can fix you up, I looked at one not long ago!

Cheers, Steve
 
The 4 Tsushima Black Toishi I've had this year were, size wise, really manageable.
I've had the largest cuts - they're monsters. Good stuff, but the smaller slices are definitely easier to deal with IMO.
I've not had the Mountain variety though, strictly the Ocean sort.

These stones were/are a lot harder than those I've had in the past too. I'm really digging it. All of them have a wonderful fragrance and I can finish on them too.
The slurry, depending on how it was handled initially - is quite versatile. I really like the stone.
 

Steve56

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Gamma,

How does a finished razor compare to a more conventionally finished edge, like a good kiita or asagi tomae?

Cheers, Steve
 
The 4 Tsushima Black Toishi I've had this year were, size wise, really manageable.
I've had the largest cuts - they're monsters. Good stuff, but the smaller slices are definitely easier to deal with IMO.
I've not had the Mountain variety though, strictly the Ocean sort.

These stones were/are a lot harder than those I've had in the past too. I'm really digging it. All of them have a wonderful fragrance and I can finish on them too.
The slurry, depending on how it was handled initially - is quite versatile. I really like the stone.

Interesting, I've never thought of finishing on one. I just assumed they're too soft. Can I ask how you would go about doing that?
 
For those that have mid range naturals, do you use them on knives as well. And what would be a good one for knives because I have been toying with picking one up soon to use on my knives and could use a recommendation
 
I've always been after a two-step approach, which sort of precludes a middle-range stone. Soft Ark for bevels and translucent or black Ark for the finish. One side of the soft Ark can be smoothed, taking it towards the middle, and one side of the translucent or black Ark can be kept freshly lapped, again, taking it towards the middle.

Like Brooksie, I know that what I would ultimately want from a middle-range stone is a stone that can do everything. Two-sided hard or true hard Arkansas perhaps? Lily white Washita? Or maybe a BBW? Don't think a Hindostan would really fit in with a Jnat progression.
 
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