Bit the bullet

wdwrx

Well-Known Member
Well, I bit the bullet and went at my Kanayama linen with some sand paper. I was trying really hard to like it and it just didn't feel right.
I hit it with some dry W&D 320 , about 12 full up and down passes. (just on side) Brushed off the lint and went to it. Sweet!
Smartened it right up. It seems to have a more gentle action now, and doesn't feel as agressive. That very pronounced wash-board sensation is much reduced.

A bit of a gamble, but I think it's paid off.

(Note: I do not recommend this to anyone as any kind of regular practice. I figured i'd take one for the team if it didn't work out.)
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
Thanks for posting that, Chris.

I don't own a Kanayama, but have been able to try the one Gary owns briefly during the Coticule weekend. I too, couldn't figure out what the linen component on that strop's supposed to do. In the mean time I've started wondering about the other leather component, the one you're supposed to use before the final stropping on the fine Cordovan leather. Maybe that's supposed to have the function we're accustomed to get from our softer linen strops? I can't be able to figure it out, unless Gary decides to emigrate to Belgium. Or unless someone buys me a Kanayama for Christmas. Unfortunately, my wife doesn't read this forum. Not that it would matter much.:-/

But basically, I wonder if the sequence isn't supposed to be this:
Kanayama linen: purpose to clean and dry the blade (post shaving, mostly)
Kanayama first leather: equals typical western linen: purpose the clean the blade from micro corrosion and/or honing debris.
Kanayama finish leather: equals typical western strop: purpose to (re)align the fin.

Kind regards,
Bart.
 

wdwrx

Well-Known Member
Well, I wasn't stepping completly blindly. I was hedging my bets a bit. It's a practice I've read about in the olds texts I've dug up, more than once, so I took a bit of guidance from our forefathers. And I took a less-is-more approach. I was really quite light and careful to not overdo it.
Wether it is more effective, my first impression is that it might be. I feel visceraly that it is operating a lot smoother, and i like the sensation it has now, so I'm inclined to use it, where before I tended to avoid it. That can't hurt. It really is a nice strop with the stiffness it has.

I can't speak to the extra leather, I only opted for the two part strop. The leather is like stroping on silk. And quite effective in edging the HHT up a bit.

cheers,
-Chris
 

JimR

Well-Known Member
According to the Japanese barber's text I have, as well as discussions with my barber and Naomi-san himself, good linen is vital--and by good, they mean firm and coarse. Yes, it's to clean the blade but also it's to really help maintain and refresh.

The final leather is supposed to smooth and prepare the edge before shaving, the coarse linen is actually capable of minor touching up, and extending the life of an edge.

In this way of thinking, then, smooth, soft linen is redundant; why not just use leather?

I hesitate to speak too much about the strops because, of course, I sell them, but what a lot of people seem to think is Kanayama strops are simply an expensive version of every other strop available. I keep getting asked "When is the leather going to break in?" or "Why is the linen different form other makers?"

These are not like other strops. The leather is already as it should be--it takes Naomi-san a WEEK to make it as close to perfect as humanly possible, so break in is not an issue. It's broken in. It's ready. No sanding, neetsfoot oil or palm-rubbing needed.

And the linen is as it is because after decades of experience, competing against nearly 20 other makers in Tokyo alone, this is the material that users found best.

If you don't like it, that's of course a matter of personal taste and you can do as you want. De gustibus non est disputandum and all that. But don't assume there's anything wrong with it. In the end it is a form of cotton--not chromium oxide, not aluminum oxide, not abrasive or damaging. It's different, of course, but it's supposed to be different.

Here's the thing: Naomi-san has more years of experience dealing with these materials than most of us have experience of being alive. Making strops is what he does, it's all he does, and it's all he's done since before any of use were born...Imagine how deeply Bart will understand Coticules in 60 years; that's how Naomi-san is with strops now.

So yeah, I think he knows what he's doing, and I certainly don't think that the linen is going to hurt anyone's razor, if it is used correctly.
 

wdwrx

Well-Known Member
Thank you for that thoughtful response, Jim.
I certainly meant no disrespect to Naomi-san.
Nor did I think there was anything wrong with the strop.
I've used it daily for two weeks now, alternating between it and a TM. I found it has a substance and heft to it that more closely resembles my vintage linen. Definitely a step above anything else I've tried. Though I didn't notice any difference in efficacy.
Please don't let me give the impression I've sanded it down to nothing. I simply scuffed the topmost surface lightly. It is still quite a bit more substantial in feel than my others. It isn't substantially changed in any way, except to be a bit more muted.
It might be considered to be the difference between a pair of brand new blue jeans straight off the shelf and a pair that have been washed a time or two. I imagine that all I've done is accelerate the break-in period by adding a small amount of wear.
It's also not the first time I've tweaked or modified a tool to suit my own tastes. I don't consider it to be as drastic a move as pasting it would be. I haven't done anything to alter it's fundamental nature that wear wouldn't have done.
The end result for me is that now I'll use it more comfortably, for many many years to come.
I'll try to post pics tomorrow, if anyone is curious to see the difference.

As for the leather.... rest assured there isn't anything I'd do to that.


Cheers,
-Chris
 

JimR

Well-Known Member
Chris, I didn't mean to give the impression that I saw any disrespect, and as I said--if you don't like using it as it is, then by all means do whatever will make you happy.
 

garyhaywood

Well-Known Member
i've had two kanayamas a 50k and now the 80k , i sold my 50k to torlof. since i got back jim was gave me great customers service and replaced my second suede component as there was just a slight defect in the original. I may note he exchanged and was first class sorting this out forme . thank again jim r.

Jim and i had a email coversation about the linen and he no's its not my cup of tea. as i'm use to tm linen . i am going to start using the k linen .

i have honed three razors one my own one for chris of his vintage coticule and one for some one else. I actauly love the second component it feels like velvet followed by cordaven which has slight less draw but finishes great, has much more draw than any hors hide.

The shaves of these three razors have been out standing ly smooth, i'm sure its due to these leathers and of coarse the coticule. i used tm linen the only reason why is because it does show a big differance on the hht which is what i'm looking for .the k linen seems to not do any thing for me in that departmant. i have compared them side by side. i have a razor two hone today. i will compare them both agin tonight. this time i'm going to strop on the k linen with a little pressure as i have been doing latley and it works better for me and does no harm also.

i have tm cotton and i never took a shine to that neither. i determined to not just leave my K linen in its box so i will get it out tonight.

i will say that my kanayama is now my go to strop.i will be using this every day. Even though it is broken in , like jim says after a week or two it realy settles and feel perfect
 

DJKELLY

Well-Known Member
Bottom line, Chris, you only worked one side of the linen and can easily turn it over if you discover the benefits of the harsher side.
 

wdwrx

Well-Known Member
Alright! I was second guessing myself, so I took some time tonight to work with my strops.

In an effort to solicit your Observations and Reasoned Arguments, I would like to present to my Fellow Gentlemen of Inquiring Disposition the following Experiment and Inquiry:

I took a W&B I have with a wicked smile that has proven very tricky for me to get. With the coarse hair sample Gary sent me, it came off the hone with a HHT 1. Playing the violin but no cutting action on the hair. I took 4 passes on the TM linen to remove any residual debris and and re-tested, for another HHT 1, but a tiny bit more action on the violin.

I then went to my modified Kanayama linen, and did about 80 laps and retested. I was able to achieve a partial split and length-wise slice very, very consistently. A textbook hht2. Moving over to the un-sanded side, I did 40 laps and retested. Same results: HHT2. Back and forth, 2 more trips with each side showed no change in HHT results. It seemed obvious I'd reached some sort of equilibrium between the two sides. Neither side sowed an improvement over the other, nor a loss in HHT values.
I then took the blade to the TM linen, 40 laps, and tested for a hht3. Marked improvement which showed consistent over several hairs.
Back to the un-sanded side Kanayama,40 laps, and a marked drop in HHT back to HHT1+. Not quite a HHT2.
No improvement on the sanded side.
Then I reversed the order, after 40 laps on the TM, I went to the sanded Kanayama before the un-sanded side and tested to show a HHT2.

I actually repeated it several more times while composing this report, and found it faintly amusing that I could bounce back and forth between the HHT results at will depending on which strop I used. I've tested HHT during stropping before, but never to this extent, nor did I ever really "go back".

So I've drawn a couple preliminary conclusions.
First and foremost in my mind, I don't believe in any way that I've degraded the function of my Kanayama by sanding the surface lightly. Each side showed identical results, consistently, over several trips back.
The benefit for me is that I do like the sanded side better. Switching between them, I really have a personal preference for the smoother action sanding has created.
Secondly, the TM linen made a marked improvement in HHT results. Consistently improving this one blade's results a full HHT point.

More than 40 some laps doesn't really make any difference. Without having spent the time to really break it down, all I can say that 80 laps didn't make an improvement that wasn't seen already at 40 laps.

The last thing I have concluded, is that the TM linen appeared to be more effective in improving the HHT values.

With that, let me say this: one razor, one test, rookie's hands.... Don't take my word for it. I plan to repeat the test with the next few razors I hone and see if it shows similar results. I haven't shaved with the razor yet and based my (preliminary) conclusions solely on HHT results.

Now, this process has raised a few questions in my mind...
What does it mean that the results would rise and fall from strop to strop? Am I working on the edge of this blade's capabilities? Or is it a function of the strop? Or my honing? If I came off the hones with a higher HHT value, would the strop knock it back to a HHT 2, or improve it? Would one then improve it more than the other?

What exactly is the untreated fibre doing? I can't help but think that it must be making a physical change in the edge, but of what nature?

hhhmmmm........
Back to the strops...

This matter is one this Gentleman considers worthy of further Investigation, and the Aplication of Sound Scientific Principal to further explore the implications.

I hope I've presented my actions clearly. I think that this little test is fairly sound and should be repeatable by any Gentleman who is in posession of each, or other strops, and I would hope said Gentlemen might be so moved as to attempt to undertake a similar Course of Enquriy and share with us their results.

BWhahahah :D I gotta lay off the turn of the century publications, they're wearing off on me... :) ... and the rum!

Cheers,
-Chris
 

garyhaywood

Well-Known Member
thats exactly what i have found time and time again. I also compared shaves. i did 60 k linen and finished on just the leather on myb old 50k kanayama. I shaved and somthing was just lacking . I stropped the same blade on tm linen then finished on the leather. There was a big improve mant in the shave. I only tryed this once. That is why i use my tm linen no matter what after honing. I tryed last night stropping a all ready shave ready blade on k linen and leather and the hht was just the same . so there was no set back, i just find the tm linen seems to be more efective, i will trye this some more.

gary
 

wdwrx

Well-Known Member
Thanks Gary,
BTW, Thanks for posting my stone. Did you get the Paypal?

I played around a bit more last night, and I could definitely tell that the strop was dropping the HHT results back. I went all the way through two more leathers (Black Bear and Kanayama) to a HHT 4 or 5, back to the Kanayama linen, and retested to show a distinct drop to HHT 2+. I will test next to see if the leather is able to recover those values from a starting point of HHT2.

Cheers,
-Chris
 

garyhaywood

Well-Known Member
yes i did criss thanxs very much. i found the leather doe not make up the differance. in my experiance the linen works just grest along with dovos canvas also . linen is my favourite
 

wdwrx

Well-Known Member
Some further explorations:

Different razor, again a weak HHT off the hones.
80 laps on the Kanayama showed an increase in HHT values. 40 on TM linen showed an improvement over that and a trip back to the Kanyama linen dropped the hht again.

Going straight to the leather Kanayama from the same linen showed a HHT 3.(80 laps)
Going through my strop progression < K. linen, TM linen, Bear hide, Kanayama leather, > showed a definite increase in HHT values.

So as Gary said, the Kanayama leather on it's own doesn't appear to be able to recover the HHT values lost. I assume this is where the addition of the middle grade of leather may come in in the 3 part Kanayama strops.

In an effort to answer my own questions regarding just how far back the linens will drop the HHT , I think I'll try to hone a razor on a synthetic progression to achieve the highest HHT i can and test that.

Another thing I'm starting to question is the practice of using linen in daily maintenance. Is it really required? Or desirable? Both the TM and the Kanayama linens dropped the HHT values off the leather, so it occurs to me that this may impact the general keenness and longevity of a razor in active use.


Kind regards,
-Chris
 

Woodash

Well-Known Member
wdwrx said:
Another thing I'm starting to question is the practice of using linen in daily maintenance. Is it really required? Or desirable? Both the TM and the Kanayama linens dropped the HHT values off the leather...
They say the linen is supposed to knock any crud off of the blade before going to leather. Makes sense to me. That, and perhaps heating it up slightly to make the edge more maleable - who knows. I do know that I used to slightly degrade an otherwise well-honed blade by variable (BAD!) stropping technique when I was starting out. Not to suggest that that's what you're doing, but it is possible. For me, I had to learn what I was doing wrong in order to correct it.

Bottom line: linen before strop and after shave works for me.
 

wdwrx

Well-Known Member
Thanks, Steve,
Of course, there is the possibility that I am stropping improperly, but I don't believe that is the case here. If anything, my little study has improved my confidence in that area. Until I did this, stropping was something i did without really examining it, following the accepted wisdom. After being able to play the HHT like a game, and achieving reasonably consistent results from strop to strop, I'm sure that the effects are a result of the stropping medium.

As to removing crud (not oxidization, which is a bird of a different feather), that should be simple enough. I often use just my fingers or forearm stropping to remove any visually apparent debris when using my microscope (which i should lug out again...) and it seems quite effective. There isn't anything left behind that would worry me about being deposited on my leathers. I guess I'll try using a razor for a period of time without using either linen, on the premise that leather stropping may not always overcome this apparent loss of performance caused by the linen.

Caveat: I have yet to shave with either of these razors, so any suppositions I've made are based solely on HHT and SAH performance.

Cheers,
-Chris
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
I'm not sure this is the best place for this, but we're discussing strops and linen so here goes... I'm not 100% convinced that linen is essential. Yes, I've been an advocate for it in the past, but my Hand American Old Dog strop with the embossed leather component in place of linen, and I'm finding it very effective. I've been pleased with it for my daily maintenance, and, in fact, after my last honing session, I used it instead of my normal linen/leather routine with very very good results. I need a lot more experience with it before making any definitive statements of my opinion, but it seems like it may possibly reduce the amount of time spent on the strops. More to come...
 

wdwrx

Well-Known Member
hhmmmm.... very interesting. Thanks for your input, Paul.
I'm not entirely making this up from whole-cloth.... I've done a ton of reading of old publications on the subject, and it is often implied that linen isn't a routine part of maintenance. I've read texts that advocate not using linen after honing, but to go directly to leather. One (that I've since been unable to find again) seemed to suggest that linen was to be used only after the blade no longer continued to shave well, but before returning to the stones. "rough up" the edge was the phrase used IIRC.

With that said, there were several strop treatments our fore-fathers did that we no longer do, but they are no longer around to quiz about their practices. I've asked Torolf to sell me some of his strop material, which i plan to treat with currently unorthodox methods, but taken directly out of those old texts.
The one that interests me the most is to treat the linen with beeswax, in conjunction with aggressively sanding the surface of the strop. My thoughts are that that may provide a less aggressive stropping medium.

Cheers,
-Chris
 

garyhaywood

Well-Known Member
wdwrx said:
Some further explorations:

Different razor, again a weak HHT off the hones.
80 laps on the Kanayama showed an increase in HHT values. 40 on TM linen showed an improvement over that and a trip back to the Kanyama linen dropped the hht again.

Going straight to the leather Kanayama from the same linen showed a HHT 3.(80 laps)
Going through my strop progression < K. linen, TM linen, Bear hide, Kanayama leather, > showed a definite increase in HHT values.

So as Gary said, the Kanayama leather on it's own doesn't appear to be able to recover the HHT values lost. I assume this is where the addition of the middle grade of leather may come in in the 3 part Kanayama strops.

In an effort to answer my own questions regarding just how far back the linens will drop the HHT , I think I'll try to hone a razor on a synthetic progression to achieve the highest HHT i can and test that.

Another thing I'm starting to question is the practice of using linen in daily maintenance. Is it really required? Or desirable? Both the TM and the Kanayama linens dropped the HHT values off the leather, so it occurs to me that this may impact the general keenness and longevity of a razor in active use.


Kind regards,
-Chris

criss just latley i have honed two razors. i stropped on linen tm that is. the hht was a nice grip and pop. i then stropped on k suede leather. the hht was a more softer pop no as responsive but just a nice soft pop. then final leather was the same. this seems to be the kind of hht i'm getting of my new kanayama. so in actaul fact the hht is not as responsive, but i think thats due to the edge being seriously smoothed out by the leathers. reason being is the shaves are so smooth. when you get your razor back i think you will be surprised how mellow it shaves, mainly due to the hone but also due to the strop, i'll be realy interested to see if you notice the differance. My livi razor was honed by livi, it shaved well . i no for a fact it was honed on manamde hone and finished on his cro.ox, the hht was a1 a good 5. now i rehoned the same razor on my la vainette finished it on my kanayama tm linen, the hht was not as good. The shave was twice as smooth. so realy i think you have to no how to judge your hht. i look for a nice soft pop that indicates a nice soft edge .
 

TM280

Well-Known Member
Hi Chris,
I think the beeswax idea is interesting. But it can be very sticky. In my opinion, sanding serves to make a linen less aggressive, while at the same time softening the surface (perhaps just another way of saying the same thing) and providing for more draw. I would also assume that beeswax increases draw.

Now, what is interesting is the idea of what effect we are obtaining. Gary seems to be on the right track with talk of smoothness, something directly related to draw.
I associate aggressiveness with high increased HHT (Kanayama linen aside...), potentially a keenness effect. I gave a good friend of mine a strop with a cotton component I treated to obtain aggressiveness. I did this on purpose as he is new to straight razor shaving and I wanted to minimalize his maintenance time on the strops. I don't know if this was the right approach, I need to have him over and have him try my other strops now that he has some experience (and I need to see how the razor is doing...). I should say that I manipulated his leather strop for good draw, perhaps evening these effects out while giving good edge retention. That was my theory, anyway.

I haven't done anything with my Kanayama linen, though my less stringent testing of it matches what Chris reports. I keep trying it out on different razors and keep going back to a vintage cotton I have (cotton is vastly underrated). I have to do some digging in my memory banks for fiber reactions, wool is easy to manipulate but plant fibers are hardy stuff...

Well, my two cents, a little disjointed (they sell Chimay in Norway too...:thumbup: )

regards,
Torolf

PS. I sent you an email, Chris.
 

wdwrx

Well-Known Member
Some good points you've made there Gary. I'll take it as a warning not to assume too much from the HHT. :)
That's mostly why I've added the warning that I haven't shaved with these razors. I guess that really makes this a futile gesture, at the end of the day. In spite of my pretensions, it isn't really a very scientific endevour. You guys are acting as a bit of a sounding board as I go through the process of learning as much as anything.

Unfortunatly, I'm running a back-log of razors to test shave to so I haven't even got that data point:D I'm running about three behind, mostly because since I've gotten my dilucot down, I've really learned to enjoy a nice shave with a good razor.
I've oiled the razors, and set them aside, and made a few notes so eventually I will get around to an actual shave. I'll know more about the relation between my HHT results and the shave then.

I've finally gotten around to snapping some photo's of the sanded Kanayama linen, and I've included snaps of the Bear hide and vintage shell I've been using. The shell has a diamond embossed reverse, and the bear hide has a horizontal line embossed on it. I've barely even touched the back side of either, so i'd like to hear more about your impressions, Paul (don't let that exclude anyone, I'm interested in everyone's experience).
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