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Swaty anyone?


Well-Known Member
Hi all,

I have this old Franz Swaty razor hone I want to put to good use. But I have no idea on how to actually get the best out of it. Without any better knowledge I'd just use it as a regular finisher with no or only very thin slurry. But maybe some of you have some more and detailled experience and can share it here.

Hi Rico,

I have a image of Swaty original instructions and if you wish, I will mail it to you. I know that Swatys were very famous barber hones at old times. I have one too, but since I clearly have two left arms (when we speaking about razor honing)... I cannot comment its finishing capabilities. Anyway, I afraid because it is artificial hone it cannot beat coticule in terms of smoothness.


Edit: Btw. I have for you a interesting razor. Soon I make the pictures of it and send them to you.
I have an "Apart" brand hone, made in the same city as the Swatys, and reputed to be similar. The instructions basically say it's a touch up hone (for when a previously honed razor starts getting a little dull), and is to be used with lather and only 4-5 strokes. I've used it a couple of times, and shaving lather works better than water. Plain water just pools up and moves around.
I've heard that story about using lather on hones before. i didn't know that it was specilfically recommendet for these hones. Thanks anyway, I'll give it a try.

Urmas, the instructions would be great. You have my email. And you really got me curious about that razor ... :rolleyes:

Either lather, or a little dish soap mixed in with water.

Here's what my "Apart" hone says, in English (there's also instructions in German, if that interests you):

The "Apart" Hones

For Razors, Surgical Instruments and Fine Steel Tools

These Hones will produce quickly a very fine, durable edge on the most delicate Steel Instruments and Tools. They are manufactured on scientific principles from the finest of materials, contain no veins or irregular formations in the stone and remain in first-class condition for any number of years.

Should after long use, Hone require cleaning, rub surface lightly over with fine Emery Paper.

To avoid a wire edge on Razors, do not overhone, 4-5 strokes on the Hone are sufficient.

Water or Oil can be used on these Hones.
I always got good results off of barber's hones using Lather...I wouldn't use slurry on a barber's hone, seems to be a different animal altogether.
DG7 said:
Water or Oil can be used on these Hones.

That is an interesting one. In fact, when I put water on my Swaty it used to pearl and run off just like on a oiled surface. Then, I planed it on some very fine sanding paper and the effect was gone. Obviously, someone had used it with oil before.
Thanks pal.

It sounds like some of these barber hones are hydrophobic. Does anyone know which synthetic materials these hones were made from?
They're very dense stones. One tiny drop of dish soap or the lather will fix that water thing.
Well… barber hones are an interesting species. They are made in much the same way as pottery. The abrasive is mixed with “fusible” clay and water, then placed in a mold and baked in an oven (kiln). Then the working surface of the “stone” is lapped (if necessary) and in come cases the surface is glazed to give it a shiny finish, at that point it is ready for market.

Those that are glazed have a glass like surface and water will “pool” on the surface. However if the surface is lapped the glaze is gone and water is less likely to pool (so you can easily tell if it has been lapped post-factory because the surface no longer glass-like and takes on a lighter color… you can’t miss it).
Incidentally, the same is recommended when the hone has become glazed from use, to rub with emery or pumice (lapping?). Note: we are referencing two different type of glazes… 1) the glaze they put on at the factory, and 2) glaze that occurs from embedded metal particles (or a surface needs refreshed) after the stone has been in use for some time. So one wonders why glaze the stone it will be gone as soon as it’s rubbed with abrasive.

I am often puzzled but the “… 4-5 strokes is sufficient”. I suppose it would imply a razor that only needs a touch-up, but what about a razor that was previously “shave ready” but was used to a point where it needs a little more than a touch-up… should we use 5-10 strokes?... most instructions for “Swaty” type hones do not explain. However, instructions for two sided hones do say “… if the razor is very dull then first a few strokes on the Course side then finish on the Fine side”.
I believe most Swaty type stones are slow cutters, I don’t know why… maybe it’s because it is difficult to determine how fast they cut relative to other types of hones, in any case, it is said they are unsuitable for heavier wedge type razors.
Speaking of using the Swaty type with slurry, I’ve experimented with it (mentioned many months ago in a thread on SRP). The barber hone does indeed become a different animal.

But for the curious folks reading this thread a few centuries from now, some photos collected form various sources, instructions and info on those Swaty type hones. Some photos may not be legible so I transcribe those but please note: there may be some errors but it’s the best I can do with the photos.

Franz Swaty hone (winner of the 1903 medal)


Since the decease of the inventor Francis Swaty, Wahring-Vienna, who died on the 18th of Dec. 1883, his son Francis Swaty (chemist) is the sole manufacturer of Alumin hone.
These hones have a world wide reputation since 1879 and upwards of 3,330.000 are in use. Every hone is warranted. Swatyol is the best honing oil for razor on the Swaty-hones.

Swaty Alumin razor-hone
1. The two sides of the alumina hone differ in roughness; the one marked with the firm is the sharper one.
2. Half hollow and thick razors must be honed first on the rougher surface (but not too long) and then on the finer surface as directed under 3.
3. On the finer surface only the thin hollow ground razor can be honed in the following manner: Put the razor with the back and edge flat on the hone as the above woodcut shows and draw the razor 3 or 4 times against the edge; when drawing the back, the razor must be turned on its back. Then ret the edge. Should it not be sharp enough commence the same process again until the required sharpness is produced.
4. The honing can be done with oil water or Swatyol.
5. Should the rougher side by long use get too smooth rub when dry with rough emery paper or with a flat piece of pumice stone and plenty of water.
6. Should the finer surface by long use get too smooth rub it gently with fine emery paper.

Note: for those of you (including myself) confused by (…flat on the hone as the above woodcut shows…) “woodcut” refers to the diagram at the top of the page… “Woodcut” - the image is first relief-carved on wood (mirror image) and is used in the printing on paper.


Instructions for another Swaty razor hone, possibly later than the above (note: there is no mention of a “rougher side”)


And now from my small collection.
Winner Razor Hone. It has two sides brown (Swaty type) and white (hard chalky).


The Apart Hone (Swaty type)


Perforated Razor Hone (Wireless Hone), (Swaty type) (for 50c)


Perforated Razor Hone (Wireless Hone), (Swaty type). This is the large size mentioned on the label of the one above (for $1.00).

Interesting... Notice line #4: Hone Razor every second or third shave.
Interesting... Notice line #6: When the razor is sharp it will stick or cling when drawn lightly over the wet fingernail.


And finally, the “speed demon” of razor hones The Corborundun Razor Hone.
Wow, right on buddy, thanks a lot for that!

Here's my little swaty:



So what about your experience using them? Were you able to fin a method that delivers consistent and good results?
I haven't tried it out yet since there are too many razors flying around (not mine though) that I have to work off before. I read the instructions about doing only 4-5 strokes. Seems awfully sparse. I mean, with its smooth and glass-like surface the hone really does not make the impression as if it was fast cutter. I heard these small hones were "pocket" hones a barber could carry around for his daily use. Maybe if it is used daily then 4-5 strokes will do the job of keeping the edge keen.