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Thread: Can't get 2 razors to shave

  1. #1
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    Default Can't get 2 razors to shave

    Fellas, hope you are all well. I haven't posted in long time, but troll around a bit. I've been using the same basic Dovo 5/8 since I started SR shaving 2011. It's served me very well. My honing and stropping technique has improved a lot, far from perfect. Recently I noticed it wasn't shaving well, especially at the toe, and had developed a bit of a frown. Long story short, I FUBAR'd it. Maybe I'll make a separate post about it.

    Anyway, I have a couple of other razors that I've ignored for years because I could never get them to shave well, and I didn't want to mess them up. I very carefully honed and stropped them, and still can't get them to shave well. The razors are in good condition. The bevels are set. The spines are nearly perfect, but not quite. When putting a straight edge along the spine, there are a couple of high spots which cause light to be seen, but very small. I feel that the edge needs refinement. To the naked eye and in camera phone pics, scratches on the edge bevel are visible.

    My honing set-up is: 2k, 4k, 8k, 10k, 12k. Early on I formed the opinion from reading/listening/watching others that one should go through a progression of stones to further refine the scratch pattern from the previous stone. I currently strop on an SRP paddle strop w/ 1micron diamond spray on felt, 0.5micron diamond past on leather, and naked leather. I've used different compounds on other substrates, mainly balsa, and all have produced good results with the Dovo. Not so with these 2 in question.

    My previous stroke pattern was as follows on each stone (and I realize that' it's prolly too much): 20 laps edge leading, 40 circles each side edge leading, 20 laps edge trailing, 40 circles each side edge trailing. For this round I didn't do any circles, and didn't count strokes. I tried to do as minimal as possible. I try to use light pressure. I angle the blade to keep the stabilizer of the stone. I use my left hand thumb + fingers on the toe end of the spine to create equal pressure across the blade. I taped the spine on each razor this time. Previously I did not, so there's some hone wear.

    I know I'm really close, I just can't quite get there. In this current time, I'd rather not purchase any new gear, but saying that, I've been wanting to get - feel the need for - a finishing stone: coti, Jnat, etc. I have a SRP 3" black bovine strop + canvas. I just prefer the paddle strop. I've been curious about getting a higher quality leather strop, and maybe a linen strop.

    Here's the first razor. My father sent it to me a several years ago. It was sitting in a drawer for decades. Doesn't feel as good quality in hand as the basic Dovo 5/8. Very good condition, but the edge bevel at the toe has a slight ding or chip in it. The front 1/3 doesn't shave arm hair well. The back 1/2 shaves arm well. It doesn't face shave well at all. Pulls hair in every direction, and won't shave clean.
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    Here's the second razor. A smiling wedge I purchased from a member here several years ago. I've tried to learn and refine my technique for honing a smiling wedge. I'ts much better this time than when I first got it. The entire blade will pop arm hairs effortlessly. But it doesn't face shave well. Pulls hair in every direction and won't shave cleanly.
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    I'm open to all suggestions. Thanks fellas!
    Last edited by mpukas; 05-08-2020 at 04:22 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    From your photos your edge does not look polished. On second razor it looks like micro chips on edge.
    I would start from scratch. Tape spine and reset bevel. Then go thru progressions. Use a rolling 'X' stroke. At final stone check with loupe for scratches on bevel. If none strop. Watch your pressure on stones. Do about 50-100 passes on higher grit stones.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    So, first. Your bevels are not set.

    Are you using magnification, what power if you are?

    The first two razors have massive hone wear and will require at least two layers of tape to make up for lost steel on the spine.

    You need to fully set the bevel, a common error of new honers. Stay on the bevel setter, (2k should easily set a bevel) use 2 layers of tape, and change the tape as needed. Ink the bevel as needed to see where you are making contact at the edge and when you are reaching the edge fully.

    Once the bevels are fully set, then and only then move up in grit. Then it is just a matter of removing each of the previous gritís stria.

    Looks like you have all the stones you need.

    Use circles only at the beginning to set the bevel, then x strokes to even the stria pattern. You can do circles at the beginning of each stone to remove the previous stria faster, but it is not necessary at the higher grits. You must finish with x strokes to lay down an even stria pattern and straight edge.

    Here is a post of a new honer going from bevel set to shave ready with some great micrographs that he took of the entire process. Your edges and bevels should look like his at each stage.

    Second Try at Honing.

  4. #4
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    As was said , imo bevel not set. Easy way to be sure. Set it and try to shave. If it doesn't cut the whiskers then back to your bevel setter. If your new, new guys have a tendency to lean more on the spine instead of toquing slightly towards the edge.
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  5. #5
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    Thanks for the responses guys. I'll read through the honing link. I do not have a loupe or scope. I'm looking at getting both as I'm typing this.

    In your words/terms, what does setting the bevel mean? I've read/heard different opinions/accounts, and have my own. I'd like to hear interpretation when you say the bevels are not set. And, how do you, personally, determine when the bevel is set.

    The other area I don't fully comprehend/agree with is using 2 layers of tape when setting a bevel. I can see using 1 layer of tape when setting a bevel to protect the spine from excessive wear, but what is the purpose of using 2 layers of tape?

    I do know that the edges are rough and not polished. On one hand I'd like to think I can achieve a polished, comfortable edge with the gear I currently have, as it's worked well for my deceased Dovo. But on the other hand I can't help but think I can up my strop game.

    I realize my questions have been asked and answered countless times already, and I greatly appreciate the feedback. Thanks again!

  6. #6
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    FWIW, I've been sharpening my JP kitchen knives on JP water stones since about 2010, and SR shaving and sharpening my razor(s) since about 2011. I'm much better with kitchen knives than SR's. I never wanted to get too far down the rabbit hole, as I personally have a tendency to get too obsessive and focus too much time, effort and $$$ than I want to, so I made a conscious effort to learn just enough to get consistent, acceptable results. And I have high standards. I've know for a long time that I need to learn and develop my skills further. I really, really want to get a couple of higher end razors, finishing stones, strops, but I first want to improve my honing skills.

  7. #7
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    Well with knives many recommend raising a bur on one side and then doing the same on the other. Otherwise your edge may.not.be 100%.apexed. this is the same thing. Until the edge meets in the middle you have nothing.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member HungeJ0e's Avatar
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    You need to learn what each stone does... once you have a sense of what each level in a progression does, then you'll know if you're ready for the next. Otherwise moving on based on number of strokes is just going to hurt you. Having a loupe (20x or 40x) will aid immensely.

    Additionally, as Euclid discusses above, edge leading x-strokes should end each level. And setting the bevel is the foundation. There are a few tests, but a basic one is with the bevel set it should cleanly shave arm hair at skin level all along the blade. From there, having the loupe will show you how the stria are being worked all along the edge at each level. When you've got a uniform stria, strop and shave at that level. 4K should shave, albeit uncomfortably, with the grain. 8K should shave well with the grain and shave passeably against the grain. If you're maxing out the 8K, that's a razor shaving pretty well. Beyond that is just levels of keeness.

    Key points: (i) Work on a consistent edge leading stroke
    (ii) Setting the bevel is the foundation and requires patience. Moving on before that's done is a waste of time.
    (iii) Know what you want out of each level. Don't move on until you've got that.
    (iv) It's not that complicated. Don't overthink it.
    Last edited by HungeJ0e; 05-08-2020 at 07:12 PM.
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  9. #9
    High Priest of Low Budget Shaving CrescentCityRazors's Avatar
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    On the second razor, it looks like you tried to take a smiling wedge and hone it flat and straight. That is usually not a good idea. Before you do another one like that, work on your rolling x stroke. It is important to not roll too much but you need to roll enough to hit at least 95% of the edge without creating the dreaded hourglass at the midpoint of the blade. The first razor I honestly don't see why you can't get the bevel set. Try honing one side only. Make it the "show" side. Hone that side until you can detect a burr on the back side, from end to end. Then flip the razor onto the back side and hone until you get a burr on the show side. Finally equalize the lap count on both sides, and hone that burr off with moderate pressure diminishing as you go to very light pressure. Now your bevel is definitely set. Your burrs proved it. The edge should easily shave arm hair. It should feel very sticky when you drag the edge across the base of your damp thumbnail, with no skipping or sliding. If you examine the bevel under a very bright light, with magnification, you should see a very consistent reflective surface adjacent to the edge and extending all the way to the edge, with no separate reflection from the edge. If you don't have a loupe, a strong magnifying glass will work.

    Tape? Make sure you need it, before you go there. Do you know how to measure the bevel angle? If not, take a dial caliper and measure the thickness of the spine at the mid point of the blade. Next, measure (be careful not to ding the edge! This requires a delicate touch.) from the razor's edge to the upper edge of the spine's bevel surface, and I will do the calculation for you. Also maybe you could show us an end-on view of the blade for an eyeball estimate. It LOOKS like the spine has been ground down a lot, proportionally to the blade width, but be sure. If the bevel angle is very acute, you need tape on that spine when you hone. But regardless, make sure you aren't just sending all your pressure to the spine of the razor as you hone. Honing in hand makes this far less likely. Bench honing, especially when you are trying to "control" the razor with two hands, often leads to errors.

    Get that bevel set, before you move up the grits. Nothing you do will matter, if the bevel is not set.
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    Senior Member PaulFLUS's Avatar
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    You mentioned getting finishing stones. The stones you have should be sufficient to get them shaving. Past what your stones can do it is just refining the edges. I wouldn't go to that yet. What you're saying doesn't match what the pictures show. Not trying to dog you out, just help you get to where you want to be. I spent a lot of time following a system instead of a method by which I mean following a progression of counting strokes rather than checking the edge visually and with tests like those mentioned already. Once I let go of that and paid more attention to the blade things improved quickly. I think my biggest problem was I thought I had a handle on it but I was NOT paying enough attention to the right things. Now, what I mean by not matching is you describe your strokes but the blade looks like you used a straight stroke. Some razors because of their geometry require more attention to one area than another and especially that wedge needs to be rolled during the stroke. That doesn't look like what you have. You talked about laps but there are striations on the blade which makes it look like you went from stone B to stone C before removing all the stria from stone A. You also have scratches on the heel above the bevel and on the tang which makes it look like you are crashing into the stones with it unevenly. With circular strokes it's really easy to do that. I think we all hit the tang or stabilizer once in a while but that is why the strokes have to be very deliberate and methodical so as to avoid that. You've obviously done a lot of strokes but that can be bad if they are not good consistent strokes with the proper pressure and the right angle. Also, you said the bevel is set but the skinny is if its not shaving after doing what you describe the bevel must not be set unless you did some serious rolling of that edge on the strop. You also mentioned sharpening your knives on the same stones? Have you checked to see if your stones are flat? I would make sure you have them dead level flat because that too will give you headaches you don't need when you are still trying to get them to shave. As for taping, if you do tape then make sure to use the same amount the whole way through and either tape or don't tape but don't mix. There's actually more to it than that but that's discussion for another time.
    I would try first making sure those stones are dead flat. Next try slowing down your stroke so it's consistent. Make sure you look thoroughly at the entire length of the bevel (once it's set. Get that sucker set first as others have described.) for consistent striations and stria removal from the last stone. Once you finish with 8K that joker should shine like a mirror the whole way down with no visible scratches to the naked eye. Then as long as you're stropping correctly you should be in good shape. Oh, also check for micro-chips. You should be able to feel any with the thumb nail test but also try using a Q-tip along the edge, If any cotton hangs or pulls that is a chip or a bur. You've got lots of support so stick with it and you'll get there. If I can do it any (other) idiot can do it.
    Last edited by PaulFLUS; 05-09-2020 at 08:43 AM.
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    As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. PR 27:17

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