Thoughts on Feed-back From a n00b's Perspective or: An Ode to the Belgian Razor Hone

wdwrx

Well-Known Member
On proof reading this post, I noticed that it's more of a blog (or rant) than anything, so please read it with a bit of patience for a noob's enthutiasim:)

I took a Joseph Haywood to my coti tonight. One I'd previously honed it on synthetics, to a modestly sharp edge using one layer of tape, and promptly forgot about.

So this time, re-setting the bevel to it's new tapeless state, with a fairly heavy slurry, I banged off a bunch of half strokes with a bit of pressure. But I was noticing a funny thing. As I went, the vibrations and draw were changing. The blade's travel across the hone seemed to become easier, smoother in parts. Some areas of the blade seemed to feel "catchy", or less smooth than other areas. So I flipped the hone end for end, thinking it might be a different area of the stone causing this sensation, but didn't see any difference.
At about that point, I started checking for SAH, and found a few good areas, and a few spots that weren't quite there yet. So back to the slurry and half strokes.

With a bit more work, the SAH passed over most of the length of the blade. But at that point, almost the entire blade had smoothed out over the hone. Didn't matter which way I held the hone it was smooth the entire way.
At this point, I was starting to get a glimmer of what might be going on and I really started to pay attention. A few strokes showed just the faintest change in feel near the tip. So I focused a little on that area, some circles, a little bit of finger pressure, and that little area started to smooth out too. And started shaving arm hair.

I figured it was time to move onto the dulicot stage. I refreshed the slurry again, and started with lighter strokes. But I noticed that that abrasive feel was back again. A little fainter, but still noticeable. And it was fading as I went. Some areas on the blade showed a little more of that strange catchiness than others, so I applied a little more attention to that area, until it went away. Even on moderate slurry, it started to feel like the hone got glassy. As soon as I'd dilute a bit, the grittyness came back. No fresh slurry, just a bit of water, but a whole new feeling to the hone. More abrasive feeling, but slightly less than before. Again, things would smooth out, some areas sooner rather than later. Some more half strokes, a few light circles, even a few 1/2 rolling-swaying-X strokes to get at that stubborn tip. Even a few tip leading strokes.

I imagine you all know where this is going; 'round about here, the light came on! I continued in that way right to the very end. Only diluting after the entire edge felt like it was on a glass hone. Wasn't counting strokes at all. No routine. Just whatever stroke seem needed. Every stage I made showed this re-iteration of grittyness to glass-smooth transition. Even under running water, it started gritty again, but smoothed out.

So as i think about what the hell point I'm trying to make, the only way I can think to sum it up is to say that I expected the stone to feel like it was grinding something away. I was not expecting it to feel like it wasn't. I certainly did not expect the stone with a fairly thick slurry to feel smooth. I was also surprised that simply adding water would create a real noticeable change in the stone. I'm not sure what changed this time, why things seemed so fundamentally different. Before i even hit the strops, i just knew this was going to be a killer edge.

I thought I knew what was going on, I mean, I've read about this alot, I thought I had a handle on what was happening, but I'd never really felt it and put it together this way before. This time it was different. I was just going through the motions before, and getting a pretty good edge, thinking I knew what I was doing, but not like this. Every time I use this hone, I learn something.
I feel like a bit of a dummy: why hadn't I noticed these things before? I've been working pretty hard at getting this honing thing down, and I've used a fair selection of hones, and honed a handful of razor a few times each now on this coti alone, and gotten a couple of decent edges, but I've never experienced the depth of feedback and tactile sensation as I did tonight with this razor and my Belgian Razor Hone... I've come out to the other side, and finally understand Bart's signature.:lol:

Thanks for taking the time to read this giant post, and i hope I haven't bored you all.



Cheers!
-Chris
 

kairen

Member
From a coticule newbie perspective is truly enlightning, i've never read about, please senior forgive me, the tactile feeling on the stone when sharpening and polishing a razor on a coticule

Thank you for sharing the experience
Luca
 

BlueDun

Well-Known Member
Hi Chris,

you are definitely on the right track! Congratulations :thumbup:
And with posts like this you will never bore anybody here. This is the true stuff, this is why people hang around here, share their experience and enjoy to hear that someone again did make a little step towards his personal perfect edge.

But ... you forgot to post the actual outcome. Did it turn out to be the killer edge you expected?

Cheers
BlueDun
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
Thanks for sharing that Chris.

You've reached the Zen-state of Coticule honing. Isn't it wonderful? :)

:thumbup:
Bart.
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
That was a very enjoyable read :thumbup: ... But ... But... How was the shave B)
 

wdwrx

Well-Known Member
:)
I was starting to think I'd gone a little nuts: hanging out at the kitchen table on a Friday evening, honing my little heart out... and writing about it....?!?

BlueDun said:
... you forgot to post the actual outcome. Did it turn out to be the killer edge you expected?

Cheers
BlueDun
Thanks for asking... without a word of a lie... HHT5 off the strops. I've been using my daughter's hair, (she volonteered to give up a small lock:rolleyes: ) and it is soooo fine, each strand is almost invisible. The hair will just fall silently away with no sensation or noise at all. SAH 0.5 cm above the skin, and small pieces of hair just seem to appear, scattered about, no feeling of tugging or anything at all.
I'll shave with it tonight.

As a continuation, as I write this, I'm in the middle of doing the same thing to my W&B FFB, (going tapeless) because I woke up thinking about this, and wanted to see if I could repeat it. ... I know.. WTH am I doing honing at 7:00 am on a Saturday morning?!?!... Don't I have cartoons to watch, or something?

At first I thought WTH?... now I can't feel anything... feels completely different. So I carried on a bit with it, not really "getting it" this time... It just didn't want to smooth out at all. This was going on so long I was starting to doubt myself, and wondering wether last night's success was just a result of that extra mohito. At one point, I was doing strokes with my eyes closed, listening hard for even a hint of that change. Finally, after a full thirty minutes, I was starting to feel a slight change, first in little sections, in areas that naturally got the most attention, like the heel, and part of the belly before the tip, but just ever so faintly. Almost faint enough that I thought I was imagining it, but, each of those little sensations started to grow, and at that point, I thought: "there it is!"
Once that first little breakthrough happened, I started being able to chase it. For example, one of the first areas that had that feeling of smoothness was just in front of the heel, so I started doing 1/2 strokes, only on the first part of the blade, from heel to middle. Once that little section started to smooth out, it made the other areas stand out; the difference from the part of the edge with that sticky, catchy, "feels like something is being ground" to the smooth part became much more obvious.

The difference between this W&B and last night's J Haywood is huge. The Haywood seemed to be shouting at me, in the linguistic equivalnet of "L O U D A N D S L O W", where this W&B was [sub]whispering[/sub]. I wonder if it's a difference in hardness of steel, tempering, or what? I spent 10 minutes at bevel setting with the J.H., and fully 40 minutes with the W&B to get it to the same state over the length of the blade.
I can't hep but think there was a certain element of chance in the success i had last night in that I finally put a razor to the coti that spoke loud enough to get through my thick skull. It's cues and the changes were obvious enough, and happened fast enough that I couldn't help but notice them. The W&B, OTOH, was very subtle, and the changes were very gradual, and barley noticeable at first. If I hadn't had some idea what to look for, I never would have found them with this W&B.

This must be like learning a new language... wandering around, nodding "yes" even though you only understand a fraction of what's being said, for the longest time... to that point where all of a sudden it all starts making sense, you start to pick up the lingo, and the nuances and subtle things become clear.
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
Yup... that's the language of a natural hone. The hone speaks in “Parables”, and it’s your job to interpret that parable. This is why most old carpenters and craftsmen prefer a natural hone. Incidentally: I am yet to find a man-made hone that “communicates” like this.

And the flowing is my opinion…
I believe when you get that grinding feeling, the bevels are flat and they finally meet at the edge, so at that point, the “top-side” bevel is closest to the surface of the hone, so the edge starts peeling the surface of the hone (some folks will say the edge is “digging in”), and at that point it’s time to move on to the next stage of the sharpening (whatever that next stage is… diluting, stropping?).
... End of opinion.

But whatever that sensation, certainly it’s a sign that something major has happened in the sharpening process.
This is one of the reasons I like to use a narrow hone, so I can better feel exactly where on the edge this "drag” is coming from, so I know exactly where to concentrate my efforts to get the edge evenly sharp.
 

wdwrx

Well-Known Member
Boy, this is elusive.... every blade does something different. I tried 4 different blades yesterday, trying to feel this "thing".
At times I was starting to think I was nuts... some blades seemed like they were never going to smooth out. I had all these visions of finishing up with a little toothpick shaped blade.:scared:

Here's a rough idea of what I found, from a purely subjective view.
Most of the razors I tried all started at about the same state; reasonably sharp off a mixture of synthetics and C12K and Thurry, one layer of tape and pasted paddle strops.
I started with a down-stroke on glass and used no tape. All the “test” razors were honed purely using the dulicot method, stropped 100 times with TM clean Linen, 60 times on Bear Hide, and 100 times on Russian Shell.

One, a little "Jim Slick" never did come around. It went from rough feeling to less rough feeling. But never got to a smooth draw. I finally gave up. Under magnification, the edge shows a slight jaggedness to the profile, and maybe micro chipping. Feels harsh on SAH. This one washed out and didn’t make it to the finals.

The W&B took a long time, 4 times longer than the J.Haywood but finally got to that glassy feeling draw on the hone. Under magnification, the edge looks very very smooth and even. SAH is smooth and easy. HHT is all over the place. One hair might pop, the next will just bend away. SAH is very smooth and sharp. The shave was lacking something. However, this razor has yet to take an edge I’ve found to my liking. I attribute that to my honing skills with this blade’s geometry.

Also on deck: an Eskiltuna Gjustal FB previously pro-honed to 30k Shapton with a micro-bevel and promptly dulled through my initial attempts at stropping and shaving. This one also took a fairly long time. One little area on one side at the heel took a tremendous amount of work. Over all the razor didn’t quite achieve that glassy feeling on the hone but the abrasive feel became very smooth and even. Under magnification it shows a very nicely refined bevel, very even. HHT again is weird, providing no usable feedback. SAH is smooth and very sharp. The shave was pretty good. This one was one of the top two.

Gary’s J. Haywood: One of the other top two. Honed very nicely. Nice glassy feel on the hone. HHT 4 or 5. SAH very smooth and sharp. Shave: pretty good.

Ralfy’s “Electric City”. Took this one back to the hone to check how it felt. My previous attempt with this blade did not leave it with that nice even feel I’ve started to look for, so a few passes with like slurry and finish under water brought it to about the same level. SAH smooth and sharp, HHT 3. Shave: OK. As keen as the other two best, but the razor felt light and jumpy and, well.... cheap. I’m rethinking wether or not to send this one to Ralphy.

My comparison razor was my King Cutter, honed with slurry on a coti, Nani12k, Spydee UF and finished on coti under running water. Very sharp and smooth.

So what I found was that the top three razors were all in about the same ball park. The W&B seemed to lack something (but then, it always has, in my hands) All the coti edges provided a very smooth, forgiving shave, particularly for the first WTG pass, but lacked sufficient keenness to provide a close ATG shave. Comfortable, but just not close. By far the keenest was the King Cutter.

Trying to relate that to the visual information from the microscope, tells me that my HHT does not necessarily relate to the state of the edge. There are some variables here I’d like to pin down. There does seem to be some correlation to the look of the edge and it’s shave. In my simple terms, a sharp looking edge seems to be sharp. All the coti edges had a very similar appearance, showing a fairly refined looking bevel, a nice even bevel edge line, some apparent roughness. But they do not look like Tim Zowada’s micro-graphs of a coti edge. Way more scratchy!

As far as my conclusions... I have no frickin’ idea! I’m probably even more confused than before. My full on honing regimen can provide DE sharp edges (well, almost). Way too sharp for a comfortable shave. Crazy close, but oohhh so unforgiving. My coti edges seem to provide a very comfortable shave, but not really very close. Maybe my honing stroke could be improved. I’m going to try some variations now: lather is one that comes to mind. The BBW side again, though a couple attempts with this haven’t proven fruitful. Certainly the 12K/UF/Coti route again.

I’m left wondering if a different coti would up the keenness enough to justify the cost? Is my skin/whisker combo too much for a pure coti edge? I’ve seen reference to lots of guys using the coti in a progression of other hones. I’m not a purist about it, as much as I like this coti, at the end of the day, it is just a tool; I try not to be too sentimental about ‘em. The mini razor carousal between Ralfy, Gary and I will tell me a lot.

Like a first lover, this coti has left an indelible impression on me, and maybe taught me a few tricks as well.....

Kindest regards,
-Chris
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
OK take a break... put down the hones and razors for a few days... remember you are still learning to hone with that stone and a rest will do you much good... even the experienced sharpeners need rest.

BTW have a close look at the Electric City… is it nickel plated?
 

wdwrx

Well-Known Member
Break... WTH!?! This is a break! hahaha. :D
Mind you, I have been neglecting my household chores, and the kids, and the dog... and SWMBO...

As to that EC, I can't really say... I've found your post showing a nickel plated razor, and it doesn't show any of the bubbling or peeling, even where the finish shows pitting or wear at the pivot. Though the finish is very bright and shiny, very chrome looking. It feels tinny to the touch and doesn't give a nice ring if struck. I also can't I work up a flap of plating anywhere. If pressed, I'd say probably not... but maybe.

Work is about to slam down on me for the next month or so anyways, I'll have no choice but to take a break then... That'll be it for my essay length posts for a while too B) I've been enjoying my lazy summer so far....
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
I think it's time to take your top3, and turn them into Unicot edges. (
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). Make sure to use very light honing strokes.

If there's a distinct improvement in the way these razors shave, you have still things to learn about Dilucot.

Microscope images don't tell anything about edge keenness. Be my guest, looking for it anyway, but you will be chasing ghosts that have no relevance for the way a razor shaves.

Reading your assessment of the way the razors shave, I can't help myself wondering how much experience your have shaving with straight razors. You seem to attribute certain characteristics to the edge, that I would attribute to the razor model.

Whether you decide to follow my advice to Unicot them or not, I think it might be best to put most of these razors away at a future point, and focus on only one. One razor, one hone. Keep at it till it shaves you perfectly. Only then, pick another razor and bring that one too perfection as well. There's nothing more confusing than too many variables.

Kind regards,
Bart.
 

garyhaywood

Well-Known Member
good advice , i always work with just the one razor untill its shaving to how i like it. I started honing two or three at a time . The trouble was i'd forget how i did what and how i acheived the edge i was looking for i'd even forget which coticule i used, hence thats why i'm selling my combo.

criss the grabbing and catching on the hone you were experiancing. i've noticed the same thing towards the end of the stroke and at certain spot on the hone where my razor resists etc. why this is i'm not sure . It does disapear as i dilute and also comes back . i think its due to the razor costantly rubing up and down the hone. Also slurry just poking out of the surface of the hone. you will notice as you go to normal x's this will disapear as if the slurry is sinking back into the surface. after resting the hone and then going back to the hone the hone is totaly smooth.

i've used 12k naniwa after dilucot when i have failed and the 12k does work you can shave of that alone as i was quite impressed by the 12k but not the 10k naniwa for some reason. then you can add coticule just a thew laps . i try all these combinations also TI rasoir paste is great. I would say 12k works like the ti paste gives similar edge.

I always go back to coticule and start agian. Why? because i want all my razors to shave great of my coticule. i use the combinations as back up when i just don't get there . the coticule is very challanging, i'd say any one that can get a great edge of coticule , should be able to hone a razor up on most hones out there. i just rehoned my puma i've been working on this for the last two weeks . the razor shaves does'nt pull but lacks somthing. hht has'nt been the best ever. tonight i honed again. this time i did 25 laps per set 50 in total i started out with 15 in total 30. Tonight is the best hht of the hone so far and after stropping i was more than happy, i just hope the shave is good. the razor is inox may be trhats why its taken more laps i don't no .

cheers gary
 

wdwrx

Well-Known Member
Bart said:
I think it's time to take your top3, and turn them into Unicot edges. (
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
). Make sure to use very light honing strokes.
Consider it done.

Bart said:
If there's a distinct improvement in the way these razors shave, you have still things to learn about Dilucot.
No doubt! And honing in general, and shaving with an open blade too.

Bart said:
Microscope images don't tell anything about edge keenness. Be my guest, looking for it anyway, but you will be chasing ghosts that have no relevance for the way a razor shaves.
I know.. I just thought checking them visually against my tactile experience would help. I'm mostly looking to learn to judge the size and pattern of the scratches, and check the edge for any gross anomalies. Anything beyond that falls into the "neat-o!" category.

Bart said:
Reading your assessment of the way the razors shave, I can't help myself wondering how much experience your have shaving with straight razors. You seem to attribute certain characteristics to the edge, that I would attribute to the razor model.
This one stopped me cold. I had not considered this at all. The razor model thing, not my inexperience, which is a very big factor. I mean, I find that wedgy razors, and frame-backs seem to feel "right" on my face and in my hand, but beyond that I really don't know enough to have an opinion. I've got some real questions here.... I better buy more razors!:lol:

To digress: I've been shaving with an open blade only since February of this year. So six months now... No DE experience at all( Beyond a couple touch-ups) Needless to say, I am but a straight razor infant. One pro-honed blade, and I promptly began learning (read: teaching myself) to hone. I've broken all the rules: too many razors, too many stones, and apparently, too much time on my hands.;)

Bart said:
Whether you decide to follow my advice to Unicot them or not, I think it might be best to put most of these razors away at a future point, and focus on only one. One razor, one hone. Keep at it till it shaves you perfectly. Only then, pick another razor and bring that one too perfection as well. There's nothing more confusing than too many variables.
It cuz a' the good advice I'm here in the first place! Well, doesn't mean I'll follow it to the letter... mostly I have to come around to being able to say with great conviction: "ya know... I shoulda' followed Bart's advice in the first place":p

"Learn to do by doing" has always been my de facto motto, side trips, blind alleys, misguided notions, out and out mistakes, all are part of my particular learning style (mind like a steel trap.. this one!)

In all seriuosness, what you all have said is good advice: I will take a break from it; I had a bit of a marathon honing session yesterday. I need time to process, and set new nueral pathways and all that jazz. It was important to me to chase this little epiphany I had, and I did learn a lot, and I flatter myself a bit to think I've come to understand my new coti a little bit better. And also, new challenges to meet: "One razor, one hone" sounds like a good one to me.

In my own defense, I wouldn't normally try to hone that many razors that quickly all at once on a regular basis, I was essentially trying to do a compartive learning excersise kind of thing to see if what I thought I had discovered was for real or not, and I needed to do it in fairly short order while the sensations were fresh in my mind. I don't want you all to think I'm a complete dummy, trying to build Rome in a day!:)

Your most humble servant,
-Chris
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
wdwrx said:
It cuz a' the good advice I'm here in the first place! Well, doesn't mean I'll follow it to the letter... mostly I have to come around to being able to say with great conviction: "ya know... I shoulda' followed Bart's advice in the first place":p

"Learn to do by doing" has always been my de facto motto, side trips, blind alleys, misguided notions, out and out mistakes, all are part of my particular learning style (mind like a steel trap.. this one!)
Chris,

The Coticule Inclined are typical Gamma Males: they don't lead the pack, nor do they follow the pack. A Coticule Inclined enjoys the journey more than the destination, and he can't truly enjoy a personal success if he feels it isn't authentically his.

That makes Coticule.be a contradictio in terminis: gathering the "ungatherable", guiding the "unguidable". :rolleyes:

Excuse me for the bluntness of yesterday's post. Coticules are Earthy tools, no matter how philosophical you may approach using them, in the end your hone will force you with both feet to the ground. I was only helping you to land. :D

I enjoy following your learning curve, and I think you're making lightning fast progress.:thumbup:

Kind regards,
Bart.
 

wdwrx

Well-Known Member
"Unguidable" is one of the nicer terms i've had applied to me... And reality checks never hurt either! No worries!

I am left with the question of where to go from here? What do I need to work on? One razor and one hone sounds like a good idea but if I keep doing what I've been doing, I'm sure I'll keep getting what I've got.

My honing stoke, I think, is pretty even, and light. Not to say I can't improve, I'm just not sure how to improve it.
I'm thinking I should post a you-tube vid for critique...

I've already been using Gary's suggestion of resting the hone, particularly before going to the water stage, though as I have no explanation for the mechanism that may be at play here, it's currently filed under "superstition".

I''ve certainly got the patience to do 100 or 150 laps, and move slowly through dulicot, so I don't think I'm outrunning my hone. If anything, I'm probably not moving up fast enough. Maybe...
Could i be over-honing? Is that even possible on a coti?

To further address the issue of blade style vis a vi sharpness:
I'm not sure where to go with this; I do know i can recognize to a certain extent the sharpness of the blade on my face. Actually, I can do sharp. Really really sharp. But my real hunt is for comfortable. At the end of the day, I can always pull out the Kai and load up a fresh blade. I can't say I've noticed that the blade style plays as big a role for me as the keenness of the edge. IDK... spoken like a n00b?

In part my shaving style probably plays a role in this. "Brutal" is the word I'm sure the gent's at B&B would use to describe it. Kidding... mostly. I find I'm trying to settle at the two-pass shave, generally N-S, S-N with only slight regard for the "beard map", XTG at upper lip (no more "fool's pass" for me!) and a (slightly)scything W/XTG over the chin as a touch-up pass (technically a third pass) I end up clean shaven enough to pass inspection, but my stubble length is long enough to not cause in-growns. My best compromise between comfort, closeness and efficiency.

Anyways, Bart, I've followed some of your advice: I turned one edge into Unicot, one edge I did with the N12K/UF/Coti route (to see if it was repeatable.. and it seems to make for a nice shave). One I would like to leave at the state it's in, to use to benchmark further attempts.... I'm quickly running out of razors! That crazy sharp Edelweiss is lookin' pretty good for a trip back to the hones... That one is a good candidate for the "one razor, one hone" journey... (as long as i have a back-up or two)

Thanks for taking the time to help me out guys! Without exception, you all are the most gracious of gentlemen!

Kindest regards,
-Chris
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
Yay Chris, your doing well my friend, I can only really add one thing, when it comes to a razor thats honed to its best potential using the dilucot, my benchmark is an everyday shave that includes up to four ATG passes on my neck, if I can do that with no burn, rash,weepers, etc. then I know the edge is as good as it gets.

And just for the record it took me about a year of experience on 30 different Razors to be able to reliably achieve that.

Keep up the good work, and remeber this: the first stages of learning the skills to master the Coticule Craft are quick and easy to accomplish, as you develop, the goal you are aiming for gets thinner and thinner, and takes longer and longer, its a marathon that can start as a sprint. if you dig?

My best wishes
Ralfson (Dr)
 
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