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Half strokes and finishing


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I'm still just starting to touch the surface of the information on this site. Please forgive me if I have overlooked the answers to my questions, and for being a novice.

I am wondering if anyone uses half-strokes through the entire dilucot process, with very light pressure for finishing?

If no... what is the advantage of the x-stroke, other than alternating the sides of the blade?



Well-Known Member
I use half strokes through the entire process except for the final finishing.
Also I perform a few slow and exact x-strokes in each dilution step to see if the edge properly undercuts the slurry, and as long as the razor doesn't undercuts the slurry I do not dilute more(do keep an eye on the density of the slurry so it doesn't thickens)

hope this helpes



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Drybonz said:
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It has been proven that during polishing steel at the edge starts to display a plastic flow. I believe that, by doing halfstrokes during final polishing, you would force the layers of metal at the very tip to go back and forth, hence impair the keenness. It's rather desirable to point them away from the edge, so this is where X-strokes come in. This is how I feel about this after having read scientific report on sharpening that Bart had quoted many times (I don't remember the name of the scientist though).

While it is certainly not 1:1 relation, think of sharpening a knife, just for a better picture - when you go with edge trailing, a thin strip of metal appears at the edge. There's a lesser tendency to form it, when you go with the edge leading.

Probably Bart will chime in, if I wrote some bollocks above. Well, he will, anyway. ;)

best regards,


Well-Known Member
Bollocks?!?! I don"t see any bollocks in what Matt wrote. That's my take on it as well.
In addition, I am partially convinced that half stokes with slurry mitigate slurry dulling as for 50% of the time the edge is trailing, and not subject to having the very tip of the bevel contact the slurry head-on, while still having the bevel abraded. but if you did all your strokes edge trailing, I'm positive you'd end up with a "fin" or "burr". For that reason, it's my humble opinion that x-strokes through dilutions are less efficient than half-strokes. (I know that wasn't your question). During the final stages of water-only honing, slurry dulling isn't an issue so the plastic flow of the very tip of the bevel needs to be compensated for by using x-strokes. If you used stricly half stokes to finish, I believe that the lack of slurry dulling would promote the development of a burr.
And beside, I can do lighter and smoother x-strokes than I can half stokes, which I think is important at that stage.

(did that make any sense? I'm not even through my first cup of coffee!)


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Matt said:
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Guys, thanks very much for the replies... this actually does make very good sense to me. I have been using the proper technique, with x-strokes to finish, but felt slightly more in control of the blade with my index finger in position for the half strokes, and this is what made me start wondering about the reasons for the x-strokes.

As with many things, I guess it boils down to not messing with long-time proven techniques... but for a novice, like me, sometimes it is helpful to learn the reason why things are done a certain way.

Thanks again.


Well-Known Member
I've been doing X strokes throughout the entire process. Feels more comfortable for me. Both roads lead to the same ending right? Perhaps just a difference in the time it takes. I do use quite a bit of pressure though during the dilucot process to help speed the process up. 15 laps and about 7 to 8 dilutions got me pretty good results. We'll see how it shaves tonight though.


Well-Known Member
The old and original way was to use normal x strokes all the way. to set the bevel we used half strokes. Then bart came up with using half strokes from start to finishing. Then on water with just x light strokes. The new method just speeded things up. The differance was say from 40 to 90 minutes with normal x strokes. Fifteen minutes with new method. I still think its a good idea to learn dilucot with the old method. Then after a couple of months, or so switch to the updated method. I think this way you will apreciate the new method. using the older method with normal x strokes will also improve your stroke dramaticly.



Well-Known Member
Let's define 2 different sharpening conditions: one where you're operating within 95% of the keenness your hone can provide, and one where you operate near the limits of what the hone can do.

In the first situation on a Coticule, it doesn't matter what you do, as long as the blade remains in proper contact with the surface of the hone. Circles, figures of 8, halfstrokes, it's all good. Some are of course easier to hone the blade evenly along its length, but as far as steel removal is concerned, It doesn't matter.

In the second situation, we're trying to squeeze the last bit of keenness out of the Coticule, and during this stage we are shaping the last bit of the very edge, the part that will eventually define the quality of our shave.
Because you're aiming for the maximum of what the Coticule can provide for keenness, you can't afford anything that would hold it back.
This calls for:
- low and consistent pressure (that "consistent" is often overlooked)
- strokes that intermittently work both sides of the edge, to minimize any bur formation
- no use of slurry
- the avoidance of edge trailing strokes

This last statement perhaps demands further explanation. Bur formation is a process that depends on the displacement of steel, caused by deposits of steel debris and by a plastic deformation at the surface level of the steel. Note that at the thinnest part of the very edge, the steel is not much more than "surface", hence this plastic behavior becomes rather important. This bur displacement takes place in the trailing direction. That's why it's better to hone with the edge leading. Otherwise the very tip will exist out of bur-like steel, with excellent keenness but poor durability. This explains why pasted stropping induced keenness reverts back so easily to its previous state.

Kind regards,


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Pasted strop and edge longevity: I'd heard of the short life of an edge obtained by crox on a stop. So I tried drawing a diamond-shaped grid pattern on one side of a C12k, and doing about 20 normal edge-leading strokes. It toned down some harshness - never experimented with doing more or less strokes. The resulting edge had no issues with weeks of use.