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  1. #1
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    Default How can you tell if your blade is sharp?

    I saw this one video on you tube where the guy sliced off a strand of hair he was holding. I tried it but I just can't get the same effect :-)

    Anyhow, I think my stropping skills need to be improved because I can't get a smooth glide when going against the grain around my chin. As far as my stropping technique, I've watched quite a few videos on youtube. I do about 20 cycles every time before I shave. Holding the strop tight with a light stroke of the blade up and down, and flipping it on its spine.

    Questions:

    1. How do you test to know your blade is the sharpest it can be?

    2. How many times do you run the blade on the strop before you shave?

    3. When do you use the stropping paste?

    4. When do you use the linen side of a two-sided strop?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member TomSD's Avatar
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    The HHT (hanging hair test) never worked for me either. I've heard of wetting your nail and dragging the blade across it but couldn't figure that one out either. The way I tell is just by shaving with it, lol. It would be nice to have a reliable way to know how sharp my blade was though.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdizzle707 View Post
    I saw this one video on you tube where the guy sliced off a strand of hair he was holding. I tried it but I just can't get the same effect :-)
    Took me a bit to figure that one out too. I hold a hair from my girlfriend's brush between my left thumb and forefinger, and simply move the blade through it, like chopping wood but very slowly, and if I've stropped properly, the hair simply pops off when the blade touches it.

    Quote Originally Posted by jdizzle707 View Post
    I do about 20 cycles every time before I shave. Holding the strop tight with a light stroke of the blade up and down, and flipping it on its spine.
    Your technique sounds fine, but 20 is probably not nearly enough. I do 60, and so do a lot of other folks around here. It really doesn't take long at all once you get the feel for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by jdizzle707 View Post
    1. How do you test to know your blade is the sharpest it can be?
    That's not really relevant. You don't want it to be the sharpest it can be, you want it the right sharpness, and while the HHT is a good indication, there's only one absolutely fool proof way to tell that I know, and that's to shave with it.

    You can save your face by shaving a patch of your forearm. The hair is softer, but at least it will give you a good idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by jdizzle707 View Post
    2. How many times do you run the blade on the strop before you shave?
    20 laps on the canvas, 60 on the leather before every shave. 10 on the canvas after I shave.

    Quote Originally Posted by jdizzle707 View Post
    3. When do you use the stropping paste?
    There's 4 basic kinds of stropping paste. Dovo sells them as yellow, white, red and green.

    Yellow is strictly a leather conditioner, and should be used whenever your leather strop starts to feel too dry and/or rough.

    White is a chalk paste which has a very mild polishing effect. Some people like to use this on their canvas strop.

    Red is a mild abrasive paste, and is used to refresh an edge that has been used. How often depends on your personal preference, the quality of your razor, and your skill in shaving.

    Green is an abrasive honing paste. It won't hone a dull edge, but many people like to use it as a final step in the honing process. This is a subject of debate that I'm not qualified to give an opinion on.

    Quote Originally Posted by jdizzle707 View Post
    4. When do you use the linen side of a two-sided strop?
    Already answered that one.

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    Two other things to mention.

    1. There is a HUGE amount of information in the wiki. (link at the top of the page). If you're asking these questions, I would really encourage you to read more in the wiki. There's great stuff in there.

    2. The tumb nail test should only be used to test a razor in the early stages of honing to check for micro chips in the bevel. Performing the TNT with a hones razor is not only very dangerous, but will probably do enough damage to the edge that it needs to be honed again. Razors are meant for shaving hair, not slicing thumbnails. YMMV

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  8. #6
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    #1 and only true test is the shave test. However, as a newbie, you don't exactly have the shaving technique down so...thats not so good for new shavers.

    My second line test is the arm hair test. I attemp to cut off a single hair, if I it pulls, not ready. If I move the blade and nothing happens, then when I lift the blade I notice that the hair was sliced so cleanly through that the hair just hung on the blade...its ready.

    More recently, I've been using the HHT and floating leg hair test as well. Thanks to...Bart? I can now get consistent results with the HHT. The key was to wet the hair. Or maybe my honing has gotten better. Probably both.

  9. #7
    At this point in time... gssixgun's Avatar
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    Clarification here since it is NOT in the Wiki

    Dovo pastes

    Green = 5-8 micron very aggressive

    Red = 3-5 micron aggressive

    Black = 1-3 micron medium

    White = Linen conditioner actually abrasive quantity is unknown

    Yellow = Leather conditioner only

    (Dovo micron sizes do NOT relate directly to Diamond micron sizes Dovo pastes are a milder abrasive)

    The other green paste is .50 CrO2 Chrome-Oxide which is used as a final paste by many after honing There are differences in the quality of many of the Chrome Ox pastes.... WATCH the stuff made into bars

    Diamond paste ranges from 20 micron down to .10 that I have personally seen, there might be more....

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  11. #8
    At this point in time... gssixgun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdizzle707 View Post
    I saw this one video on you tube where the guy sliced off a strand of hair he was holding. I tried it but I just can't get the same effect :-)

    Anyhow, I think my stropping skills need to be improved because I can't get a smooth glide when going against the grain around my chin. As far as my stropping technique, I've watched quite a few videos on youtube. I do about 20 cycles every time before I shave. Holding the strop tight with a light stroke of the blade up and down, and flipping it on its spine.

    Questions:

    1. How do you test to know your blade is the sharpest it can be?

    2. How many times do you run the blade on the strop before you shave?

    3. When do you use the stropping paste?

    4. When do you use the linen side of a two-sided strop?

    Thanks!

    The real answer to the question of tests is this .....

    Sharpness test are for people that hone razors, to be used as we hone them to make sure we are hitting the levels of sharpness through the honing process... and even then they are subjective

    Doing all those tests... Dulls the edge... why do you think we follow a test with a few laps on the hones...

    Many of your other questions have been answered already....

    Here is the best test for a new straight user... that I can think of

    Lather up and shave one smooth perfect stroke from the sideburn to the jawline... Stop and rinse, feel that one spot is it smooth??? then you are probably OK....
    The other tests are not all that reliable, honestly I can pop arm hairs at 1k in the honing process but I ain't shaving with that edge... Some of us can pass an HHT at the same level but again I ain't shaving that edge on MY face......

    Just to make myself very very clear,, A TNT WILL dull the shaving edge...
    Using the TPT WILL dull the shaving edge....
    The HHT IS NOT a reliable sharpness test..... Unless you have made it into one through quantitative testing...
    Last edited by gssixgun; 04-26-2009 at 10:01 AM.

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  13. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by gssixgun View Post
    Clarification here since it is NOT in the Wiki
    Fixed, I hope: Finishing Pastes - Straight Razor Place Wiki

    Feel free to amend and enhance.

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  15. #10
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    #1. I shave with it. If the shave is comfortable, then the blade is sharp enough. To me that's the only real test.

    #2. 20 on linen. 12 - 15 on Latigo. 12 - 15 on horsehide.

    #3. I don't use stropping paste, but if it works for you.....

    # 4. I use the linen before every shave.


    "Cheap Tools Is Misplaced Economy. Always buy the best and highest grade of razors, hones and strops. Then you are prepared to do the best work."
    - Napoleon LeBlanc, 1895

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