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Thread: Need honing help, new Dovo 5/8

  1. #1
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    Default Need honing help, new Dovo 5/8

    Hi, all. This is my first post here, but I've been lurking for some time as I've been considering entering the world of straight razor shaving.

    Santa was kind to me this Christmas, and got me a Dovo "Special" 5/8, a Norton 4000/8000 waterstone, an inexpensive Dovo strop, and the various other shaving paraphernalia to get me started. Santa was on a budget, however, so we decided against the sharpening service at classicshaving (though I understand it's excellent), and I figured I'd have to learn to hone the blade myself eventually, so why not now?

    I soaked my waterstone for a good 15-20 minutes, and went over the honing info (again) here at straightrazorplace and in The Art of The Straight Razor Shave while it was soaking.

    In my excitement to get honing, I neglected to test the sharpness of the blade before I began, and I realized in retrospect that that would have been smart to do, since it would have given some indication of how much I needed to hone (doh!). I started on the 8000 grit side, but after a couple minutes on that side, my razor didn't seem any sharper, so I flipped it around to the 4000, worked on that side for a bit, then switched back to the 8000 for what I hoped was the finisher. It would appear that my blade is now probably duller than it was out of the box. I tried the falling hair test, and that didn't work. I believe the hair may have even laughed at me. When I draw the blade across a wetted thumbnail, the blade slides smoothly across, so I assume I'm dealing with a dull, and not overhoned, blade.

    My first questions relate to the stone. First, should there be water pooling on the honing surface, or will that cause problems? The stone was fairly wet coming out of the water, and I would also rinse the stone with a bit of extra water when I saw a dirty-looking bulidup (presumably steel particles and/or some dirt). As a result, there was a layer of sitting water on the hone while I was working it.

    My second question is exactly how long should I hone the blade? The answer, I assume, is "until it's sharp (test it frequently), but not overhoned", but I'd appreciate any reasonable ballpark figure just as a reality check. I don't know if I'm just being impatient, but it seems as though I'm not making any progress, and I need to get an idea whether my technique is a lot worse than I think, or I just need to be more patient.

    Finally, I'm honing as gently as I reasonably can (whilst keeping the blade flat on the stone), and I believe I'm using proper technique, but on the off chance that I'm not, I'm not going to bugger up my blade as long as I'm not doing anything outlandish with it, right? (I hope!)

    Any additional tips or advice would be appreciated!

    Ah, one other thing. I'm using the X pattern hone as demonstrated here and elsewhere, but The Art of Straight Razor Shaving seems to imply that if your stone is wide enough to accomodate the entire cutting edge of the blade, then you do not need to use the X pattern. My stone happens to be wide enough; should I maintain the X pattern anyway?

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    Member AFDavis11's Avatar
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    Welcome,

    Lots of questions.

    First, water is fine on the hone. Second, off a new razor its typically 2-4 passes on 4K and 40 on 8K for me. Thats unimportant now as you have dulled it.

    I suggest you lap the hone, extensively, if you haven't done that yet.

    I suggest you send your blade out for honing, that way you can see and feel what your objective is. This need not be expensive.

    You probably won't damage the blade.

    Keep the razor flat. At this point I think you should (and certainly can) run the blade the full width of the hone with a toe leading stroke. Later as the edge sharpens I'd return to an x pattern, but especially being new you may find the full width helpful.

    A Norton cuts very, very fast and prefers light touches. I'd suggest at this point you keep going but go slow and watch the blade carefully for rise off the hone.

    Thats assuming you want to continue honing it.

    For any other suggestions; I'd consider buying a RadioShack handheld microscope, they run $10 complete with internal light source.

    Oh, and btw the 8K is doing a lot, you just can't see it, or sense it.

    Again, welcome to the forum. You'll get lots of advice today and please keep reading.
    Last edited by AFDavis11; 12-30-2006 at 09:26 AM.

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    Super Shaver xman's Avatar
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    Check the Permanent Archives section of the Help Files for a descriptioon of the Pyramid honing method and use it.

    I go pretty much straight down the hone with the heel leading.

    X

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    I went through this when I first tried honing, I spent nearly a month trying to get my formerly-shave-sharp razor back to even pocketknife-sharp with no success until I lapped my norton, at which point it popped out a shave-ready razor with no trouble at all.

    Lap both sides off the norton with 600 grit wet-dry sandpaper on something flat. I use a faux-marble tile from the home improvement store (about $2), some guys use a piece of glass. Soak the norton and get the sandpaper wet, then take a pencil and draw a grid on both sides of the hone, then lap using a figure-8 pattern until the lines are gone, then give it 5-6 more laps for good measure. Then flip and lap the other side. Scrub it under running water with a washcloth or pot scrubber to make sure all the grit is gone from the hone (it has a tendency to stick into the 8k side).
    brokenknee likes this.

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    generally though, aren't all the dovos and TIs from classicshaving.com just in need of a stropping before use?

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    Member AFDavis11's Avatar
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    No, a very light honing though.

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    Pogonotomy rules majurey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jinkswitch View Post
    ... and I would also rinse the stone with a bit of extra water when I saw a dirty-looking bulidup (presumably steel particles and/or some dirt)...
    Another newb here, but couldn't help notice this part of the post. Am I correct in thinking that the 'sludge' (forgot what the technical name is) that builds up from waterstones is actually something you want/need when honing at higher grits (e.g. 8000 and coticule/12,000)?

    I have been using a prep stone on my belgian coticule to create this buildup. Can't remember where I picked this up from though (either a past thread or Lynn's DVD). Or have I misunderstood?

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    Senior Member 0o.Mark.o0's Avatar
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    I was (still am) in the same boat as you (same razor, same stone, same strop).

    I burned through a whole pile of metal and succeeded in getting one small patch beautiful. The rest pulled and burned and scratched.

    I ended up cheating in two ways. First, I sent it out through the classic shaving sharpening service (to Lynn Abrahms) and second I used a pasted strop.

    When I got it back I didn't strop it and jumped right into shaving with it(in hindsight I should have) and was disappointed. I should have thought about it more clearly, there's no way that anything is going to get it as sharp and stroping on the linen and then leather side when it was properly honed in the first place.

    So, I monkied around with it and then took the second short cut
    (this only worked because Lynn got it to the stage where it could work i.e the perfect bevel and hone) Chromium oxide paste on a pasted strop. It is such a fine grit that when you are almost there, but keep losing it (overhoning the right edge) it does the job nicely.

    So many swipes on a pasted strop and then a hanging strop and I finally had a blade that could shave quite nicely. Now I just have to learn how to use it... with out cutting myself... even more than I have already...

  9. #9
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Another tip, it's easy to overshoot your honing. Just one or two passes on the hone can take your edge from just right to over-honed. It will seem like you'll never finish honing when in fact you were there, but didn't know it. Sometimes less is more.
    You are right about frequent testing.

    Scott

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