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Ray. I formaly apologize. You were correct.


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Today, Robert Williams started a thread on, about the science of shaving.

He started with defining the properties of beard hairs. The conversation also discusses the HHT.
Too my surprise, Robert showed a drawing with the Cuticle shingles running in the opposite directions as I always assumed.
Using hairs that I keep in a small box for the purpose of the HHT, I have no real idea which end I'm holding. If it doesn't work, I simply turn the hair around. That is after the hone. After stropping it doesn't matter. Anyway: I have always believed that when the hair was held at the root side the direction of the cuticle shingles would facilitate the cut.
This is incorrect. The cuticles are arranged in the oposite direction. Tomorrow I will make corrections in the articles that hold the error.

Apologies to everyone that may have been confused by this error. And especially to Ray who got it right so many months ago in one of the first threads ever made here in the Cafeteria. He was correct all along. And I was wrong.
The thread on
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Kind regards,


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I was wondering about this. I've always held the hair with the root end forward when doing the HHT (for the reason you mentioned), and I was always confused with the (old) instructions in the Academy. I kept thinking that my edges weren't up to scratch.

Still, it only made me try to get them sharper!!:lol:

Thanks for clearing this up.

EDIT: On reading the post you linked to, RW's saying that ideally the razor should pass the HHT in the opposite direction (with the root side held), as that's the way the hairs are held in the follicle (on the skin). I pass this sometimes, but always closer to the holding point, where the bending resistance is highest.


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yohannrjm said:
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While I see the logic in Robert's reasoning, it's just not how my ("calibrated") HHT-results correlate to checking the edge coming straight off a Coticule.

I can't pass the HHT in that direction, straight off the hone. Only in the "easy" (against the cuticle grain) direction. Severing it in the "difficult" direction, is an ability imposed upon the razor by the subsequent stropping session. That's how I have incorporated the HHT in my honing.

My error was to think that I was holding the hair at the root, when I held it in "easy" direction. All the rest of the information is valid.

Kind regards,


This is too funny, and quite a relief as well.

Here I was thinking I was a bit of a slow learner because, after three months of practicing, I'm just now becoming able to pass HHT off coticule (versus after stropping) while holding at root end after what seemed like far, far too many laps on water compared to the results I see others post about...

...when, all along it hasn't been because of my honing abilities (or lack there of) but because I too just always assumed holding the hair by the root end would facilitate the cut without giving it the least bit of thought. The worst part is, I've seen quite a few pictures of hair strands and how the shingles go in the direction of hair growth - I really just never took one second to put 1 + 1 together to get 2 :blush: ).

So it turns out I may actually be a little ahead on the the 'learning to hone' curve rather than a little behind...


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i've started going straight to the strop and judging hht if its not quite that good i go back to the hone with water. i find stropping can improve quite a bit not always enough .Thats when i will go back to hone.


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This is interesting… Without thinking, if you pluck a hair from your head, you would naturally be holding the tip, and then immediately proceed to do the test… without turning it around to grasp the root… but that would require two hands, and most likely, one hand is already holding the razor. I am not sure cutlers in the old days bothered to turn around the hair when they test the edge (if they did pluck hair for testing).

I don’t have a single strand of hair on my head, so I use human hair bought from the saloon… well… I hope its human hair. So I guess with my stash of “human” hair gives me a 50/50 chance of grabbing a root (unless it’s plastic hair… then it may not matter).

But lately I have been a bit lazy, and I tend to forget my stash of “human” hair when honing… so now, the hair on my left arm is missing… maybe I should learn to hone with my left hand to even things out a bit.
In any case, testing with arm hair (or some other hair still attached to the skin) may resolve the issue of “which way is witch”.


Active Member
Here is a slightly different HHT topic that is not worth its own thread. In New England, humidity varies greatly (we are in the sixties today, ugh). What do you think, is the idea of humidity possibly having a direct effect on HHT silly?


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Humidity does, in fact, have quite a bit to do with the performance of the HHT. Human hair is used in laboratory instruments to measure humidity changes in the air in very minute percentages.

Today we are having normal temperatures here in Arizona, 103 degrees with 8% humidity. In order for me to get a reasonable indication from a HHT, which by the way is only a test and nothing else, I need to moisten the hair between two fingers in order to allow the Keroten or scales to open some on the hair itself.

In your case, I think humidity is a good thing for HHT but you just need to make sure the hair is clean before using it, oily hair is not good to use.



Active Member
Thank you Ray. This may be just another reason why many reject HHT as a credible test with repeatable results. I personally do not rely on it - I know my hones and observe other things to determine if I am finished or not yet - but I frequently do it anyway (is not it a satisfactory feeling when an edge passes the test? :lol: ).


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From's official article about the HHT:
[note]Standardization of the test

1. Moisten the hair. This avoid all possible variations in outcome, due to fluctuations in humidity of storage conditions. A good way to do this, is to wet the thumb and index finger, pinch the hair and drag it through. Allow the hair a few seconds to settle.
2. When performing the test, hold the hair at the tip side and slightly angle the edge of the razor away from you. This maximizes the possibility for the edge to catch between the cuticle shingles.[/note]

The HHT is the cornerstone of my honing. I sometimes go back and forth between the HHT and finishing variations on a Coticule. With the honing methods I use, the only other option would be to go back and forth between test shaves and finishing, which wouldn't be very practical. I can read a TPT very well, but not as precise as a calibrated HHT.

That doesn't mean someone else couldn't be doing without the HHT. Using the Unicot method, I can do perfectly without a HHT. I know the outcome up front. :) But not with the Dilucot approach.

Kind regards,


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Bart said:
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Exactly the same way I go too, I have learnt from my experience that the better the edge passes the HHT, the better the shave will be, it is such a direct relationship, the greatest skill again in my experience is learning how your particular hair sample reacts to the test, for example I use my wife's hair as I head shave, and Alicia is a natural blonde making her hair quite fine, so I have learnt two things, through OTB I was fortunate enough to be able to do a direct comparison between My hair sample and Sir Barts own, a clean pass on Barts equals a very loud violin/catch and pop with a fumble on mine, and the other thing I learnt was to finish a razor on a coticule that pops fine hair, and the shaves are wonderful.

My kindest regards
Ralfson (Dr)