Honing Japanese Straight Razor - Kamisori

Honing Japanese Straight Razor - Kamisori

Postby dappershaves » Fri May 21, 2021 10:29 pm

Fundamentally a kamisori is made by forge welding together soft iron and hard steel together. The softer and cheaper iron is used for the back (omote) and handle whilst the harder steel is use for the bevel (Ura). The Ura aslo has the maker’s signature. Its the same technique used in forging katana swords and Japanese kitchen knifes. The image below clearly shown the forge weld of the 2 different metals. The razors will also hone differently as fewer strokes are required on the harder steel side thus honing ratios is used such as 10:2 or 7:1

When you hone a kamisori, the standard way is to hone more on the Omote than the Ura. The iron needs to be brought far away from the edge of the razor for a good shave, so honing is focused on the Omote to expose the hard quality steel. The exact way of doing these ratios will differ from person to person but also stones and steels.

Sharpening can be a very rewarding process especially if know your stone’s behaviour and capabilities. Just by feel you will know exactly what’s happen, but this like any skill requires a lot of trail, error and a lot of patience to get hair popping results. I prefer full natural whetstone progressions including bevel set and don’t use anything coarse on Kamisori’s, as example if you think of grit using synthetics I don’t go below 4K on undamaged edges whereas a Solingen (German straight) would require 1K. But for Japanese razors you don’t need 1k cutting power unless you are correcting serious damage.
Typically Honing Progression using ratios such as 10:1
1. Repairing serious damage - King 1k synthetic -> 30 laps on a suede strop to clean the edge.
2. Bevel set - Coticule with heavy slurry (1k synthetic)-> 30 laps on a suede strop to clean the edge
3. Mid Range Refinement - Coticule with light slurry (3-6k synthetic) -> 30 laps on a suede strop to clean the edge
4. Polish - Coticule with running water (8-12k synthetic) -> 50 laps on a suede strop to clean
5. Optional finishers/polishers such as Thuringian, slates and Novaculite can also be used
6. Leather strop: 30 laps seude, 70 leather
When I get to step 3 I hold the stone in my hand as I get a much closer connection with stone in terms of feedback.
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