Honing for Beginners

Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby panthera » Fri Sep 25, 2015 7:35 pm

Thug wrote:Just a word of caution.

I've dealt with Mike before and I wasn't pleased with his customer service.


Thanks Thug, could you please PM specifics?
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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby Thug » Fri Sep 25, 2015 8:58 pm

This is from another shaving forum, comparing the ZG with the Suheiro Gokumyo

I've had both. I found the Zulu to give a smooth, comfortable edge but the level of sharpness seemed on par with an 8 to 10K stone. Some people don't like an edge quite as refined as the 20k will give you. But if you find yourself going to pastes or sprays to get that last little push after the stones, you might like the 20k. You won't need the pastes after using the 20k. After using the Zulu, I was still looking for more. I moved on to a couple Jnats and they were closer to what I was looking for, quite good actually. But the 20k was the the answer. Its easy to use, produces a great edge consistently, and does so with no fuss. There's no special magic you need to figure it out. But what kind of edge you like most is what will determine if you should get it vs. the Zulu. My suggestion is to have someone hone one of your blades on the 20k before you buy it. If you like the edge you'll have your answer.


What's interesting is the 8k-10k level!!
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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby panthera » Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:18 pm

Thug wrote:This is from another shaving forum, comparing the ZG with the Suheiro Gokumyo

I've had both. I found the Zulu to give a smooth, comfortable edge but the level of sharpness seemed on par with an 8 to 10K stone. Some people don't like an edge quite as refined as the 20k will give you. But if you find yourself going to pastes or sprays to get that last little push after the stones, you might like the 20k. You won't need the pastes after using the 20k. After using the Zulu, I was still looking for more. I moved on to a couple Jnats and they were closer to what I was looking for, quite good actually. But the 20k was the the answer. Its easy to use, produces a great edge consistently, and does so with no fuss. There's no special magic you need to figure it out. But what kind of edge you like most is what will determine if you should get it vs. the Zulu. My suggestion is to have someone hone one of your blades on the 20k before you buy it. If you like the edge you'll have your answer.


What's interesting is the 8k-10k level!!


Thats interesting, thanks Thug! The ZGs seem to be quite the 'marmite' hone. Some really love them and some don't really rate their performance.
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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby RiverValleyTrading » Mon Nov 09, 2015 8:10 am

Hi All,

I've been putting in some honing practice this weekend by refreshing the edges on two of my straights. Here some of the important things I picked up:

(My setup: I current;y have a soft / Hard Arkansas combination stone, and a black Arkansas surgical stone)

Take your time: Don't be in a rush to get razor on the stone. Before you start:

Ensure your work surface is stable and flat.
Ensure your stones are clean and free any kind of debris.
Ensure you have enough room to work in.
Make sure your stones are flat (keep an eye out for any chips or nicks in the surface).
Don't over do it with oil (if you're using oil stones).

Take a minute extra to examine your razor:

The blade could have a slight smile or frown; or the spine could have very slight warping. (You will have to adjust your stroke on the hone accordingly). Test it by laying on a flat piece of marble.

If you are taping the spine of your razor, ensure the tape is flat and even. Take a minute extra, and re-tape if you are not 100% happy.

Once you start honing,

Don't apply heavy pressure. I use a similar stroke to when I sharpen knives. Stroke the blade across the stone as if you are trying to shave a thin layer off the top of it. (I find this works best for me). Work on the stroke technique. it takes practice.

Keep checking ht edge with a magnifier to ensure you are actually honing the edge of the blade. Using a felt-pen helps.

Keep checking your tape on the spine (re-tape if you notice any wear and tear).

There are some things I'm still battling with,

I still find it tricky to decide when is the right time to switch to the next stone. (Lost a chunk of skin on my index finger from 'testing' :oo ).

Some people say the sound of the blade on the stone will change and then you should change up. Anyone else find the same issue?
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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby Thug » Mon Nov 09, 2015 8:20 am

Excellent advice RVT.

Honing is an art in itself.

A further piece of advice... Watch plenty of Youtube videos. :lol:
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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby panthera » Mon Nov 09, 2015 8:47 am

Great advice there RVT!

When changing from 4k to 8k grit I can't 'feel' when the razor is ready to change in terms of the metal's response to the stone, I usually just see how well it passes the HHT.

On the 8k and on my Zulu the blade sliding across the stone almost starts to feel sticky when it is ready, as if the blade is getting sucked into the stone. I've only noticed that with Solingen steel so I'm not sure if that is the same across the board.
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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby HenkB » Mon Nov 09, 2015 8:56 am

How does one determine the grit of natural stones?

I do like the idea of a natural stone (like the zulu), but then the OCD side in me wants to know precisely with which grit I work.

So, now you can understand a bit of my dilemma...

otherwise, where else can one get a 12k or 16k hone in SA? (I like to finish off on that after an 8K)
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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby RiverValleyTrading » Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:01 am

HenkB wrote:How does one determine the grit of natural stones?

I do like the idea of a natural stone (like the zulu), but then the OCD side in me wants to know precisely with which grit I work.

So, now you can understand a bit of my dilemma...

otherwise, where else can one get a 12k or 16k hone in SA? (I like to finish off on that after an 8K)



I'm not sure of any precise way to measure the grit of the natural stones. They do vary from stone to stone.

ShaveHavenSA would be right man to speak to for high grit stones locally. Also, Thug has a contact for stones from Japan.
This is how my Grandfather shaved
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This is how I shave.


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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby RiverValleyTrading » Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:07 am

panthera wrote:Great advice there RVT!

When changing from 4k to 8k grit I can't 'feel' when the razor is ready to change in terms of the metal's response to the stone, I usually just see how well it passes the HHT.

On the 8k and on my Zulu the blade sliding across the stone almost starts to feel sticky when it is ready, as if the blade is getting sucked into the stone. I've only noticed that with Solingen steel so I'm not sure if that is the same across the board.


Thanks Panthera! :thumbup:

Thug wrote:Excellent advice RVT.

Honing is an art in itself.

A further piece of advice... Watch plenty of Youtube videos. :lol:


Very true! Some great videos out there.
This is how my Grandfather shaved
This is how my Father shaved
This is how I shave.


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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby panthera » Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:01 am

HenkB wrote:How does one determine the grit of natural stones?

I do like the idea of a natural stone (like the zulu), but then the OCD side in me wants to know precisely with which grit I work.

So, now you can understand a bit of my dilemma...

otherwise, where else can one get a 12k or 16k hone in SA? (I like to finish off on that after an 8K)


You can't determine the grit of natural stones and anyone that tries to is guessing- you can give a reasonable assumption based on how the edge responds after an 8/10/12k synthetic but generally any stone that improves an 8k edge is classed as a finisher.

If you want a synthetic finisher, try www.importitall.co.za. You will pay a premium but their service is fantastic and they can source the Naniwa SS 12k and high grit Suehiros which are very well regarded. The edge off of a Naniwa SS 12k is said to be very good. I used them to get my Norton combo stones and one other item and both times they have been very good.
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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby ShaveHavenSA » Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:39 am

Good day everyone.

Please use caution with these. This is what I do and what I did. Try to find the method that works for you.

How to know when to move to next grit / stone:
When I started out I felt the edge with thumb, put thumb LIGHTLY on edge (with razor pointing forward) and move thumb left and right. Edge should get stuck on thumb. This is a bit dangerous but it worked for me in the beginning.
As time went on I started using my thumb nail: Wet nail and let edge rest on nail, Pull backwards at a slight angle. The blade should bite into nail (almost like it grips). If blade is blunt then the bite will be more like a slide. DO NOT apply pressure, only weight of blade. This method also works to discover chips that's not visible with the naked eye or when you remove small chips. You will always feel the chip on your nail.
At the moment I us a combination of nail, sound and feel. This feel is not the same as the thumb technique. If you hone in one direction only then the "slide / glide" of the blade becomes smoother. When this happens I change direction maybe to circles or X or half moons etc... until that one becomes a smooth glide and so on until I feel the blade bite into my nail. DO NOT drag the blade on the nail if you feel a heavy bite. The blade is ready to move to next step. It can cut through nail if they are thin.
The sound is just the sanding sound that changes to a smoother rather than a gritty sound. I can't always use the sound as I mostly have headphones on.
The blade that sucks onto a stone happens rarely but is also a good indication that the edge is flat.
Note: You can over sharpen an edge.
Note: Hair test happens after the leather strop not before. You need the super fine edge to split hair.

Grit of stones:
In my opinion, Natural stones can be placed into an "estimated" grit size. Manufactured stones can be measured more correct as the grit particles are added to compounds etc...
Its fairly safe to ask the manufacturer in what category the natural stone falls and use it accordingly. I use a Belgian Coticule as my part of my finishing stones and this is estimated at between 8000 and 10000. I have a 8000 Japanese synthetic and I can promise you that the Coticule is way finer that the Japanese.
It's just what works for me.
Note: Not all steel reacts the same. Stainless for example is harder and will need more honing.

Time frame: This is what works on average for me on a fairly decent blade with no chips.
Only if needed - Bevel setting: Between 30 to 100 strokes - 100 is a bit high but if you set a Gold Dollar then you'll understand
Hone: Each faze between 30 to 100 strokes.
Oxide: 20 to 30 strokes
Leather: 50 to 100 strokes the last 10 being slow and precise
All of the above is on the weight of the razor only with the exception of bevel setting. If the edge is uneven then you might need to apply pressure in different places. And this is where RVT gave excellent advise. Rather look again just to make sure.
Be careful on the edge they chip easy if bumped.
Roll over spine - not edge

Tip: Do not underestimate the power of a slurry / nagura stone.

PS: Great advice there RVT.
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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby Thug » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:07 am

If you are looking for stones such as the Suehiro Gokumyo 20k which is a highly rated finishing stone, rather import yourself as opposed to using Importitall.

Check the price difference...

http://www.importitall.co.za/SUEHIRO-GM ... 6DNB0.html

http://www.toolsfromjapan.com/store/ind ... ts_id=1976

27 000 Yen = +- R3 200.

Even if you courier the stone here, you'll still land it at half the price of Importitall.
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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby RiverValleyTrading » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:28 am

ShaveHavenSA wrote:Good day everyone.

Please use caution with these. This is what I do and what I did. Try to find the method that works for you.

How to know when to move to next grit / stone:
When I started out I felt the edge with thumb, put thumb LIGHTLY on edge (with razor pointing forward) and move thumb left and right. Edge should get stuck on thumb. This is a bit dangerous but it worked for me in the beginning.
As time went on I started using my thumb nail: Wet nail and let edge rest on nail, Pull backwards at a slight angle. The blade should bite into nail (almost like it grips). If blade is blunt then the bite will be more like a slide. DO NOT apply pressure, only weight of blade. This method also works to discover chips that's not visible with the naked eye or when you remove small chips. You will always feel the chip on your nail.
At the moment I us a combination of nail, sound and feel. This feel is not the same as the thumb technique. If you hone in one direction only then the "slide / glide" of the blade becomes smoother. When this happens I change direction maybe to circles or X or half moons etc... until that one becomes a smooth glide and so on until I feel the blade bite into my nail. DO NOT drag the blade on the nail if you feel a heavy bite. The blade is ready to move to next step. It can cut through nail if they are thin.
The sound is just the sanding sound that changes to a smoother rather than a gritty sound. I can't always use the sound as I mostly have headphones on.
The blade that sucks onto a stone happens rarely but is also a good indication that the edge is flat.
Note: You can over sharpen an edge.
Note: Hair test happens after the leather strop not before. You need the super fine edge to split hair.

Grit of stones:
In my opinion, Natural stones can be placed into an "estimated" grit size. Manufactured stones can be measured more correct as the grit particles are added to compounds etc...
Its fairly safe to ask the manufacturer in what category the natural stone falls and use it accordingly. I use a Belgian Coticule as my part of my finishing stones and this is estimated at between 8000 and 10000. I have a 8000 Japanese synthetic and I can promise you that the Coticule is way finer that the Japanese.
It's just what works for me.
Note: Not all steel reacts the same. Stainless for example is harder and will need more honing.

Time frame: This is what works on average for me on a fairly decent blade with no chips.
Only if needed - Bevel setting: Between 30 to 100 strokes - 100 is a bit high but if you set a Gold Dollar then you'll understand
Hone: Each faze between 30 to 100 strokes.
Oxide: 20 to 30 strokes
Leather: 50 to 100 strokes the last 10 being slow and precise
All of the above is on the weight of the razor only with the exception of bevel setting. If the edge is uneven then you might need to apply pressure in different places. And this is where RVT gave excellent advise. Rather look again just to make sure.
Be careful on the edge they chip easy if bumped.
Roll over spine - not edge

Tip: Do not underestimate the power of a slurry / nagura stone.

PS: Great advice there RVT.



Thank you very much ShaveHavenSA! Great advice and tips. :thumbup:
This is how my Grandfather shaved
This is how my Father shaved
This is how I shave.


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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby panthera » Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:58 pm

ShaveHavenSA wrote:Good day everyone.

Please use caution with these. This is what I do and what I did. Try to find the method that works for you.

How to know when to move to next grit / stone:
When I started out I felt the edge with thumb, put thumb LIGHTLY on edge (with razor pointing forward) and move thumb left and right. Edge should get stuck on thumb. This is a bit dangerous but it worked for me in the beginning.
As time went on I started using my thumb nail: Wet nail and let edge rest on nail, Pull backwards at a slight angle. The blade should bite into nail (almost like it grips). If blade is blunt then the bite will be more like a slide. DO NOT apply pressure, only weight of blade. This method also works to discover chips that's not visible with the naked eye or when you remove small chips. You will always feel the chip on your nail.
At the moment I us a combination of nail, sound and feel. This feel is not the same as the thumb technique. If you hone in one direction only then the "slide / glide" of the blade becomes smoother. When this happens I change direction maybe to circles or X or half moons etc... until that one becomes a smooth glide and so on until I feel the blade bite into my nail. DO NOT drag the blade on the nail if you feel a heavy bite. The blade is ready to move to next step. It can cut through nail if they are thin.
The sound is just the sanding sound that changes to a smoother rather than a gritty sound. I can't always use the sound as I mostly have headphones on.
The blade that sucks onto a stone happens rarely but is also a good indication that the edge is flat.
Note: You can over sharpen an edge.
Note: Hair test happens after the leather strop not before. You need the super fine edge to split hair.

Grit of stones:
In my opinion, Natural stones can be placed into an "estimated" grit size. Manufactured stones can be measured more correct as the grit particles are added to compounds etc...
Its fairly safe to ask the manufacturer in what category the natural stone falls and use it accordingly. I use a Belgian Coticule as my part of my finishing stones and this is estimated at between 8000 and 10000. I have a 8000 Japanese synthetic and I can promise you that the Coticule is way finer that the Japanese.
It's just what works for me.
Note: Not all steel reacts the same. Stainless for example is harder and will need more honing.

Time frame: This is what works on average for me on a fairly decent blade with no chips.
Only if needed - Bevel setting: Between 30 to 100 strokes - 100 is a bit high but if you set a Gold Dollar then you'll understand
Hone: Each faze between 30 to 100 strokes.
Oxide: 20 to 30 strokes
Leather: 50 to 100 strokes the last 10 being slow and precise
All of the above is on the weight of the razor only with the exception of bevel setting. If the edge is uneven then you might need to apply pressure in different places. And this is where RVT gave excellent advise. Rather look again just to make sure.
Be careful on the edge they chip easy if bumped.
Roll over spine - not edge

Tip: Do not underestimate the power of a slurry / nagura stone.

PS: Great advice there RVT.


Awesome post SH!
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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby panthera » Mon Nov 09, 2015 3:12 pm

Thug wrote:If you are looking for stones such as the Suehiro Gokumyo 20k which is a highly rated finishing stone, rather import yourself as opposed to using Importitall.

Check the price difference...

http://www.importitall.co.za/SUEHIRO-GM ... 6DNB0.html

http://www.toolsfromjapan.com/store/ind ... ts_id=1976

27 000 Yen = +- R3 200.

Even if you courier the stone here, you'll still land it at half the price of Importitall.


Eish that is pretty pricy. They do absorb all custom fees though.

Have you used them before Thug?

How much was your courier for your stones from Japan?
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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby Thug » Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:40 pm

panthera wrote:
Thug wrote:If you are looking for stones such as the Suehiro Gokumyo 20k which is a highly rated finishing stone, rather import yourself as opposed to using Importitall.

Check the price difference...

http://www.importitall.co.za/SUEHIRO-GM ... 6DNB0.html

http://www.toolsfromjapan.com/store/ind ... ts_id=1976

27 000 Yen = +- R3 200.

Even if you courier the stone here, you'll still land it at half the price of Importitall.


Eish that is pretty pricy. They do absorb all custom fees though.

Have you used them before Thug?

How much was your courier for your stones from Japan?


No customs duties on hand held synthetic honing stones.

No, haven't used Stuart. I was chatting to him quite a while before I went to Japan. When I was ready to place my order with him, I never got any response despite a couple of emails. So eventually I gave up with him.

I then placed an order at this place (http://www.metalmaster-ww.com) he also has an Ebay store, with the hope of them arriving at my guest house in Japan. Unfortunately because one of the items wasn't in stock (and he never communicated that fact), he never posted the whole order. Despite a number of emails and a PM on FB Messenger to find out where they were, only once I complained on Paypal did I get a response. He posted them to Tokyo the day I left which didn't help in the slightest. Only once they had returned to Kyoto did he then dispatch again but I have no idea what the shipment cost is to SA as he is covering that cost.

My suggestion in future would be to ship to a mail forwarding company in either the US or UK and get them to then courier out to SA.
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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby panthera » Mon Nov 09, 2015 5:32 pm

Thug wrote:
panthera wrote:
Thug wrote:If you are looking for stones such as the Suehiro Gokumyo 20k which is a highly rated finishing stone, rather import yourself as opposed to using Importitall.

Check the price difference...

http://www.importitall.co.za/SUEHIRO-GM ... 6DNB0.html

http://www.toolsfromjapan.com/store/ind ... ts_id=1976

27 000 Yen = +- R3 200.

Even if you courier the stone here, you'll still land it at half the price of Importitall.


Eish that is pretty pricy. They do absorb all custom fees though.

Have you used them before Thug?

How much was your courier for your stones from Japan?


No customs duties on hand held synthetic honing stones.

No, haven't used Stuart. I was chatting to him quite a while before I went to Japan. When I was ready to place my order with him, I never got any response despite a couple of emails. So eventually I gave up with him.

I then placed an order at this place (http://www.metalmaster-ww.com) he also has an Ebay store, with the hope of them arriving at my guest house in Japan. Unfortunately because one of the items wasn't in stock (and he never communicated that fact), he never posted the whole order. Despite a number of emails and a PM on FB Messenger to find out where they were, only once I complained on Paypal did I get a response. He posted them to Tokyo the day I left which didn't help in the slightest. Only once they had returned to Kyoto did he then dispatch again but I have no idea what the shipment cost is to SA as he is covering that cost.

My suggestion in future would be to ship to a mail forwarding company in either the US or UK and get them to then courier out to SA.


Sorry to hear about your experience with the stones, hopefully it wont be too long before you get them.

I didn't realise there were no import duties on stones! If I add to the collection in the future I will go your route above. That website has an impressive selection of naturals too.

Was this also the company you got your razors from? Also are you aware of any reputable mail forwarding companies that you have heard of?
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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby Thug » Mon Nov 09, 2015 8:03 pm

panthera wrote:
Sorry to hear about your experience with the stones, hopefully it wont be too long before you get them.

I didn't realise there were no import duties on stones! If I add to the collection in the future I will go your route above. That website has an impressive selection of naturals too.

Was this also the company you got your razors from? Also are you aware of any reputable mail forwarding companies that you have heard of?


Here's Takeshi's ebay store http://stores.ebay.com/Japanese-tools-m ... 7675.l2563 Couldn't post the link earlier because Auction sites are banned at work.

Got my razors from Japan Nippon who has an excellent rep on various shaving forums. http://stores.ebay.com/Tamahagane-Honsh ... 34.c0.m322

You can use either of the following mail forwarding companies:
- http://www.postbox-courier.com
- http://www.stackry.com

Prices are pretty similar. You get your "own" postal address and once received, they courier the goods to you.
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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby panthera » Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:15 pm

Thug wrote:
panthera wrote:
Sorry to hear about your experience with the stones, hopefully it wont be too long before you get them.

I didn't realise there were no import duties on stones! If I add to the collection in the future I will go your route above. That website has an impressive selection of naturals too.

Was this also the company you got your razors from? Also are you aware of any reputable mail forwarding companies that you have heard of?


Here's Takeshi's ebay store http://stores.ebay.com/Japanese-tools-m ... 7675.l2563 Couldn't post the link earlier because Auction sites are banned at work.

Got my razors from Japan Nippon who has an excellent rep on various shaving forums. http://stores.ebay.com/Tamahagane-Honsh ... 34.c0.m322

You can use either of the following mail forwarding companies:
- http://www.postbox-courier.com
- http://www.stackry.com

Prices are pretty similar. You get your "own" postal address and once received, they courier the goods to you.


Thank a lot, very helpful :thumbup: .
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Re: Honing for Beginners

Postby Thug » Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:52 pm

Pleasure.


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