The online community of knife collectors, A Knife Family Forged in Steel
OK a place to discuss specifics on where to buy, what to buy and how to keep sharp. Its my face we are talking about here!
I can't recommend anyplace to buy razors that can't be found with an easy search. Well, I did get one of my two razors on "whippeddog.com". He has a bunch of "sight unseen" razors for $41. It's a plain razor and while you can ask for a color you aren't guaranteed anything. BUT, they do come actually "shave ready". It's a decent razor so you don't waste money but the real reason I bought one was so I could have a SHAVE READY razor to judge my honing on my other razor. A friend gave me a hollow ground Boker with no handle. I made a handle for it and it's my favorite of the two.
About honing. I've been working on it for 10 months or so and am finally getting pretty darn good results. I can shave and hear the whiskers being cut. It's the same sound I heard when I used the $41 shave ready razor. The shave readiness of that razor only lasted me one shave because you are supposed to strop between shaves. When I stropped the edge I did more damage than good. This is because honing and stropping a straight razor takes time and practice to learn how to do it. So to learn how to hone I suggest you read everything and watch every video you can and then practice a lot. For stones I use the Shapton Glass bench stones I have for knives. I have the 320, 1k, 4k, 8k and 16k stones (3"x8"). These things REALLY DO A GREAT JOB. Knives and razors both. Most of the finest grit razor hones the experienced guys recommend are about 12k. I was going to get a small 12k stone but didn't because if I got that it wouldn't be something I would use for my knives. So the 16k Shapton is a finer grit and also I use it for knives also. I got the 16k stone about 8 months ago. I have been using the other Shapton's for a few months and have been VERY impressed with them. But when it comes to the final result the 16k does put the edge into a different level of sharp. Truth be told most pocket knives dont' need anything of a higher grit than a 2k IMO. But, the 4k, 8k and 16k will put a super smooth edge on a knife if you want one. For EDC pocket knives most people seem to like a slightly toothy edge like a 1k or 2k will produce. Some even like stopping at a 600 grit. But tha't knives. A razor needs the absolute smoothest edge possible. Keep in mind this tool will be used to scrape whiskers off your face. BTW, Wal Mart has a nice styptic pencil for about $4. LOLOL I became skilled with using this tool quickly. LOL Anyway, if you are going to hone your own razors I suggest honing it after every shave. Experienced shavers only strop between every shave and hone after between 10 to 20 shaves or so. I recommend honing AND stropping between every shave only to give yourself more practice. Or get a "practice honing" razor. I use my $41 razor for practicing even when it doesn't need it. Here's a tip I use. On the first few strokes on each stone use a little more pressure then lighten up the amount of pressure before going to the next higher grit. Pretty much the same as when sharpening knives. BUT, while some things are similar between knives and razors they are two completely different animals when it comes to sharpening them. Just go by all the advice the pros give and practice. Pro guy will say do this and you will do that and it won't work. What he said to do is probably just fine but it takes practice to get the results he does. One thing I can't do still is what Lynn describes on his DVD. He says use 4 passes on each stone then go to the next. I do more like 10-15 passes on each stone. For a long time I was counting to 4 then changing stones. My edge just didn't seem to get much sharper. So I increased the number of strokes and that helped a lot. When my skill gets better I'll probably need less strokes. Time will tell. Another thing that I believed REALLY HELPED ME OUT is the addition of the 16k stone. I very well may be wrong about this but I think beginners need the higher grit stone more than the experienced guys do. People who are more skilled at ANY SKILL can get much better results with limited tools. I should stop talking now because I'm still in learning mode. While I see improvement anything I think right now is apt to change any time. The only good advice I can give regarding honing and stropping is take advice from the pros and practice, practice, practice. That means DON'T STOP HONING when your razor is as sharp as you can get it. Keep honing trying to develope the "feel" or "touch" or whatever you want to call it. A less expensive razor is a good one for practicing. Don't practice on your new $200 razor. :) Good luck.
Well that is good advice Jack and thank you. By the way I pasted that link in a blank space an it is the razor that Stephen bought and is using. I know you did not do it but I had to put it somewhere! On to Razors a High carbon steel razor sounds like a good start to me. I never though of perhaps getting two razors and work on and practice on one.
Also I do not have a 16K stone. I believe the highest I have is an 8K. Might have to look at 16K, although would I need everyone in between as well.
And by the way there is this link: http://www.shavenation.com/ He sells all kinds of shave related products as well as links for how to sharpen and shave on his YouTube page.
Steve, don't let Jack's plethora of information confuse you LOL.
An 8K stone is sufficient if you have a proper strop. Personally I use yellow coticule stones. Which are generally rated somewhere between 8K and 12K.
Here's a video of me using a small and cheap one followed by stropping the razor.
It surely is a plethora of information and thanks for that video!
I'm sorry to be so long winded. I just get scared something won't be understood. I only got the 16k so I could have something of a higher grit and also use the same stone on my knives because it's a bigger stone. The conicles and such as that are what ALL the experienced guys talk about. And they would be less expensive than the 16k Shapton glass also. Another reason I jumped on the 16k Shapton glass is I got it for less than $100. I couldn't beat that price anywhere. When it comes to taking advice just use anything I say as info and not advice at all. My knowledge is no where near good enough to be giving advice. And as Alexander said, other's have also said an 8k is fine and a good strop (and skill) makes going to a higher grit stone not as necessary. Their input is worth tons more than anything I might say.
Well I like the detail Jack, what ever it is advice or just info and I do like to comb through it to be sure I understand. As I have said I always sharpened knives on a stone but no where close to where I am going now! This is all new territory for me. I have my stones now, am practicing and hope to eventually get to razors. Still a ways off though!
Great video Alex. As always, the guys who know what they are doing only use a minimum of tools. I'd love to get a strop like yours and will someday I hope. The speed you strop is absolutely unbelievable to me. I'd ruin the edge going that fast without doubt. I do think I need a good hanging strop though. Stropping now for me is on my bench strops I have always used for knives. I have a cheap hanging strop but haven't been able to get the hang of it. I feel so uncoordinated it's hard to imagine getting good results (which I don't). I'm sure it's a matter of practice and I'm just impatient.
I watched Lynn's DVD from "straightrazorplace.com" when I got it. Probably should watch it again now that I have some practice time under my belt. I'd probably get more out of what he says and shows. Great video. It's really appreciated.
Well, that is a nice video Alexander. I have been shaving with a straight for 4 months now. I started using my Shapton GS's. Then going to strops. I have since quit using the Shaptons and only use a padel strop with compound followed by linnen and bare leather. I like your strop technique. I do it basically the same way.
I watched the Shave Nation videos before I tried anything and got familiar with them. They were a great help. He teaches you how to hold the razor, shave the different areas of your face, strop and prepare your face and apply your soap. Just seeing it done helps a lot. My first week was bloody, but after that I got pretty good at it. I still cut myself everynow and then but only when I try to rush it.
I have to say,shaving with a straight razor give you a since of acomplishment. When you get that first real good shave, you will walk out of the bathroom with your head held high.
One bit of advice for anyone considering using a straight, don't shave naked. Make sure you have something covering you incase you drop the razor.
I've been watching the guy on Shave Nation's videos. Very helpful. He seems to have good products at very competative prices also. I'd recommend anyone checking out that site if they haven't.
I watched Lynn Abram's video on honing a new razor to set the bevel using Shapton glass stones 1k-16k. I have two razors and took both through the entire process just for the experience. They didn't need it. Other than that though I agree that stones are very seldom needed if you maintain the razor with stropping. That's what experienced people have been saying but I always seemed to need to go back to at least one high grit stone to keep my razor shaving more than 3 or 4 shaves. My stropping is getting better now and I think that's the key. Getting good at using a strop on your razors is about as important a thing as there is I think.
Jack, I strop on a compound every week and a half to 2 weeks. Other than that I use the hanging strop.