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  1. #11
    Coticule researcher
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    Jan 2008
    Thanked: 1212


    Glen made quite an observation there. Longevity is something that comes overnight, as you learn to maximize the efficiency of your shave, you automatically find the most economical way of using the edge in terms of longevity. But you said 2 to 3 shaves. That's not solely about stropping and shaving, unless something is very wrong. If you want to question your stropping technique (pressure mostly, I reckon) you could try halving your lap count, and see if that doubles the shave count... Probably not, but it doesn't hurt to try and rule major stropping issues out.
    Now lets look at your honing. There's a lot in it that I recognize.
    Quote Originally Posted by FatboySlim View Post
    I usually do about 20 laps on the ChromeOx strop. I try to use light pressure, but a tendency to drift into using too much pressure has been a honing problem for me I have to watch.

    I think this is too much. Coming off the Shapton 16K, the edge really does not need much further smoothing. I don't know if you have a way to look at the edge at magnification, but you would see that 5 laps on CrO really affects the scratch pattern a lot.
    When I had my share of longevity problems, I decided to skip the CrO for a while, and see if I could improve my honing skils without it. Not doing CrO makes it so much clearer where the edge is after honing. With me, my use of CrO really masked my inability to get the edge keen enough on the hones. Improvement did not came overnight. I slowly got better on the hones, and now that I feel confident enough to go back to the CrO, I don't really feel I have the need for it anymore.
    I'm not saying CrO is the single cause of you longevity issues. I am saying that, if you need to do more than a few laps on it to gain all there is to gain with it, then you're not doing full justice to that fine hone collection you have there.

    I generally single-tape the spine, and keep that tape on throughout the progression, including the ChromeOx balsa stropping.

    If I'm starting with one of my typical eBay "looks good for it's age" razors (haha), I start on a DMT1200 to set the bevel. I stop when I can shave arm hair, with some pressure. This can take anywhere from 60 to 200 laps, depending. I've had a few "smiling wedges" that I've gone as high as 400, because I was being inconsistent.

    Sounds all very familiar. I do more or less the same, minus the tape. (70)

    Then I move to either a King 4K water stone, or the blue side of the coticule, with slurry. I stay on this until it grabs arm hair above the skin, and ideally cuts some of it. Anywhere from 40 to 100 strokes, depending. If it takes more than that, I start over on the DMT1200.

    Still steady as she goes. (90)

    Next is the yellow coticle with thick slurry, about like heavy cream rather than milk. I refresh with water about every 10 to 20 strokes or so until all the slurry is washed off, and I'm finishing with plain water. I've honestly stopped counting total strokes when I use the coticule, and try to go by feel, decreasing pressure as the mix changes from slurry to plain water. When I get a nice glassy "suction drag," I stop. At this point, the razor should easily grab and pop arm hair above the skin, and pass HHT. Estimate 40 - 80 strokes. Sometimes many more. If it won't sharpen, I start over on the blue.

    Here's something I wouldn't do. I have included at each honing stage, in purple, my rough estimate of a level of keennes you need to hit to succesfully complete that stage. When you do a few laps on that Coticule with creamy slurry, you're dropping down to (65) or something. As you slowly wash the slurry while honing, you need to climb all the way up again. It is very likely to stay behind during that process.
    After the DMT 1200, I'd go for the Blue (with a light slurry). I can't comment on the King, but I'm sure it's a good hone. After the Blue, I would go to the Coticule with water only (about 100 laps). This is an edge to shave with and find out how you like it and how it lasts.
    If you feel at that point it could be keener, I'd go to the Shapton 16K, right after the Blue, hone till it passes the HHT with great ease and probed keeness during the TPT maxes out. Again, I would shave with this edge as is, and see how it fits you. If you feel it could be smoother, I'd hone about 20 ultralight laps on the Coticule with water, after the Shapton 16K. Somewhere in that equation lies your ideal edge, and I bet it lasts you longer than 10 shaves.

    This is gonna take a while to figure out. Keep us posted.

    Good luck,


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    FatboySlim (12-19-2008)

  3. #12
    Senior Member 2Sharp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Fulton, Missouri
    Thanked: 183


    My finishing technique is similar to yours but my CrO comes after the 30K Shapton and I get between 4 and 10 or 12 shaves depending on the steel in the blade. I have concluded that I have gotten used to the fine edge the CrO provides and when it deteriorates a little I want it back to where it was. I have a tough beard and figured that was the reason the edge comes off of its peak sharpness and smoothness. To me it's no big deal and touching up on the hones is the price I pay for the shave I want. I have 6 or 7 razors in rotation so the trip back to the hones and CrO doesn't come that often.

    Don't go to the light. bj

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    FatboySlim (12-19-2008)

  5. #13
    W&B, Torrey, Filarmonica fanboy FatboySlim's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Thanked: 252


    Thanks for so much great advice guys. It helps that there are some common themes running through this. I wasn't sure if the edge longevity issue is due to honing, stropping, shaving, or a combination. I decided to post to the honing forum first, because I've always gotten great help here. And I'm among other honing fanatics.

    Glen, your questions about shaving pressure and stropping pressure made great sense to me. Using too much pressure was easily the #1 problem I was having back when I started straight shaving in the summer, and I was getting horrible shaves. While I'm getting good shaves now, I'm probably still using too much pressure, I'm still very much learning this. I'll try backing off. Same with the stropping pressure, thanks to you and the other people who chimed in with that possibility. And, patience.

    As far as the razors I use, my guess is my shaving pressure has gravitated me toward big ol' British razors, like Greaves, W&B, and Reynolds, half-hollow to wedge grind, 6/8 or 7/8ths. I have a few nice German 5/8s full hollows, but they tend to leave my skin more raw and they dull much more easily on me. Again, suggesting pressure... My favorite shaving razor is a heavy Greaves 1/4 hollow with a smile that I bought off the BST from holli4pirating - that's the one where the edge lasted a full week of daily shaves.

    Bart, thanks for the detailed honing analysis. I will try backing off on the yellow coticule slurry and increase the strokes, and temporarily stop using ChromeOx, just so I can get a feel for the edge straight off the coticule.

    2Sharp, I understand your point. Once I was finally able to start honing up good edges, I wanted to keep the edge at a very high level, and didn't mind the extra honing to keep the edge I wanted. But now that I've been trying out more 5/8ths full hollows and getting one or two shaves max, I figured I was doing something wrong. I had a conversation with my Dad about my Grandfather's routine, and he said he remembered seeing him stropping all the time, but rarely remembered him honing. Maybe coincidence, but it got me thinking.

    I'll update this thread to let you know how it goes, and thanks again for all the good input.

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