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Thread: 3 steps in maintaining a razor edge???

  1. #1
    Spyderco Forum Registered User jackknifeh's Avatar
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    3 steps in maintaining a razor edge???

    THIS IS ABOUT HONING AND MAINTAINING A STRAIGHT RAZOR.

    I've been straight razor shaving for almost one year as well as maintaining my own razor edges. From reading and watching videos I've seen 3 different things to do to maintain the edge.

    1. Stropping using a leather strop between shaves.
    2. Refurbish the edge using a linen strop with chromium oxide then a leather strop.
    3. Honing the edge using stones.

    All stropping was done using a hanging strop in videos.

    My primary concern right now is continuing to use flat strops or getting a hanging strop with linen and leather and learning to use that.

    So far what I've been using to maintain my razors has been my knife tools. Shapton glass stones in 4k, 8k, 16k grits and normally two leather strops mounted on glass and/or wood. They are treated with .5 CBN on a leather strop and .1 micron CBN on a kangaroo strop. I have intended to get a good quality hanging strop. I did get a cheap one which is just one piece of leather. I'm sure it does a good job within it's limitations (no linen strop for example) but I haven't gotten the hang of using it. All I've managed to do so far is ruin every edge I use the strop on. That's why I ended up using my flat strops. However, most people seem to use the hanging strops and as a newbe I doubt I'll figure out some better method so I think it's time I invest in a good quality hanging strop and get the hang of it. Before I do that however I'd like to know if my understanding of maintaining the edge is accurate. I'll explain what I'm thinking and would appreciate any info on if I'm right or wrong. If wrong, how am I wrong? Any help is appreciated.

    Honing on stones will create two flat bevels that meet at the apex. Stropping will smooth and refine the edge. Using a hanging strop the strop will always have a very slight concave shape which will create a slightly convex shape on the razor edge apex. I'm thinking about extremely small amounts of steel removed with each stropping. Each time you strop you will be very slightly creating a slightly more convex bevel on the edge. The benefit of this is that every stropping will have a more dramatic effect on the edge apex than if using a flat strop. A flat strop will be applying the same amount of pressure on the entire bevel which will result in less steel being removed per stroke. That statement is based on knife sharpening thinking. I try to keep any knowledge on knife sharpening out of the razor honing/maintaining because the technique is so much different. However some of the edge basics are the same it seems.

    So using a hanging (flexible) strop puts the shave ready edge back on the edge more rapidly than using a flat strop. Using a hanging strop will also convex the edge bevel faster. After a while (many shaves) the edge will need a more serious touch-up than stropping with the leather strop.

    Refurbishing the edge has been explained as using a linen strop treated with .5 micron chromium oxide paste then the leather strop. The linen strop will remove more steel than the leather strop and flatten the bevel some. This will mean the edge will be easy to touch-up using the leather strop again between shaves. This refurbishing can be done a few times but sooner or later a complete honing using stones will be needed bring the edge back to the starting point of a razor's edge.

    Then you start over using stones creating new flat bevels with stones.

    Does my understanding make sense and is it accurate? I want to know as much as I can before investing $75 or more on a hanging strop. It seems that is a good estimate on the cost of the better or best quality and performing strops for complete maintenance. I have wondered if getting one strop which has one leather and one linen strop combined necessary? Maybe they come seperate as two different strops but I don't remember seeing them sold this way. They seem to come attached at the "hook" end of the strop.

    Any help and info is appreciated.

    Jack
    Last edited by jackknifeh; 07-25-2014 at 10:24 AM.

    My EDC for a while. Stretch with carbon fiber handle, Chaparral 2, Dragonfly 2 with kirinite MOP handle, Manbug with bolster/red bone handle. Super blue/420J1 blades on all three (except Chaparral).

  2. #2
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Donut's Avatar
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    Everything I see says you do more passes on a strop to repair an edge.

    The use of a flexible strop makes me think that you want a convex edge on a straight razor.

    When the strop doesn't do what I want, I typically use the 30 degree slots with the ultra fine triangle flats, but the edge I get seems too aggressive. It wants to cut me.


    I've been meaning to ask someone who knows what they're talking about... about the type of edge you want on a razor.
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  3. #3
    Spyderco Forum Registered User jackknifeh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donut View Post
    Everything I see says you do more passes on a strop to repair an edge.

    The use of a flexible strop makes me think that you want a convex edge on a straight razor.

    When the strop doesn't do what I want, I typically use the 30 degree slots with the ultra fine triangle flats, but the edge I get seems too aggressive. It wants to cut me.


    I've been meaning to ask someone who knows what they're talking about... about the type of edge you want on a razor.
    If you mean the 30 degree slots on the Sharpmaker I think you need to stop doing that. This is based on unlimited ignorance. But that angle is way too high for a straight razor plus the angle is controlled by placing the spine and the edge on the stone or strop at the same time. You don't need to know exactly what the angle is. But I bet it's down around 5 degrees per side. But I really don't know. Someone here gave me a Boker razor that had been used and honed quite a bit I think. This is based on the amount of spine that has been removed during day to day honing. I bought a razor new and the spine on it is much wider meaning the angle on that razor will be higher than on the Boker with a narrower spine.

    The key to a razor is it needs to be kept at ultimate sharpness all the time. Even when it's the dullest it will be and needs to be thoroughly honed on stones it's still a very sharp edge. Just not the edge you want to be shaving with. We strop between shaves then sometimes the edge needs to be refurbished and once in a while the edge needs to be honed with stones. According to the experts actual honing shouldn't need to be done more than once a year or maybe longer. That would be assuming the person is maintaining the edge with strops properly. Right now I'm not maintaining the edge as well as I should. Still learning.

    Jack

    My EDC for a while. Stretch with carbon fiber handle, Chaparral 2, Dragonfly 2 with kirinite MOP handle, Manbug with bolster/red bone handle. Super blue/420J1 blades on all three (except Chaparral).

  4. #4
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    If you watch many of the sharpening videos on YT you will see people get knives which easily whittle free hanging hair and are even beyond that in sharpness, and they just use normal knife sharpening techniques. There is nothing inherently different than sharpening a razor than a kitchen knife, while this is actually a bannable offense on some of the razor forums to say, it is only recently that kind of extreme cult-like mentality has emerged.

    If you watch Murray Carter's razor sharpening video he does it the exact same way even using the exact same stones as he does with a knife. The only difference is that he leaves the edge on his knives a little more coarse from a 6000 grit waterstone and with the razor he does a few passes on a chromium oxide loaded strop to raise the polish as shaving is more of a push cut.

    As for angles, the lower angles will give higher cutting ability, but sharpening a razor at 15 dps doesn't break anything. There are people who have shaved with all kinds of blades and the very high carbide and ceramic ones can even require 20-25 dps in order for the edge to stabilize.

    Traditional razor sharpening is actually becoming more rare people professionals don't sharpen razor blades any more (or very rarely) because of the possibility of transfer of disease and so disposable blades are used which can cost < $0.25 per blade. This also means each shave it done with an ideally sharpened blade.

    Sharpening razor blades is done more as a hobby by a niche group of people who simply like to use classic razors and sharpen them, nothing wrong with that of course. But they are just a particular type of knife.

  5. #5
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Donut's Avatar
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    I don't think 5dps is right. I don't have an angle gauge, but my razor doesn't seem very shallow-ly ground. I think 15dps is a reasonable edge on it.

    What razor did you end up getting?
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  6. #6
    Spyderco Forum Registered User jackknifeh's Avatar
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    I just realized or noticed the title is misleading. I'm talking about straight razors. I think most realized this. Sorry. I wish you could go back and change a title.

    As Cliff mentioned most people probably use disposable blades instead of straight razors. I only decided to shave with a straight razor a while back because of my interest in sharpening. Being able to sharpen a tool and truely benifit fromt he edge is something I enjoy. I like getting knives hair whittling sharp but even when they aren't that sharp they still do a great job. The straight razor OTOH needs to be at the top of the sharpness scale to do it's job. For the past several months I've been living with sub-standard shaving because I'm honing and maintaining my own razors. I'm beginning to finally notice a better edge in the past month or so. As usual and against all advice I've been over complicating the whole honing process. Lynn at straight razor place shows many ways to hone and maintain a razor but when he does one he only uses one method I'm sure and it's a very simple process. He does however demonstrate using different stones or strops which I appreciate. But you don't need all the different options in your home. To keep things simple from now on I'm only going to use a "poor man's strop" I got on whippeddog.com and a flat strop with .5 CBN every once in a while but between shaves I'm only going to use the hanging strop. I'll see how many shaves I can get only stropping on the "poor man's strop (hanging strop). I'm getting a better feel when using it now.

    Jack

    My EDC for a while. Stretch with carbon fiber handle, Chaparral 2, Dragonfly 2 with kirinite MOP handle, Manbug with bolster/red bone handle. Super blue/420J1 blades on all three (except Chaparral).

  7. #7
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Donut's Avatar
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    Here is my argument to a razor being sharpened to 5 dps.

    If you watch ANY video about straight razor shaving, they say that you change the angle that you hold the razor until you are getting a comfortable shave. A 5 dps edge would mean you would have to hold the razor almost flat to your skin for the edge to be cutting even with/close to your skin. If you look at the angle they are holding the razor from their face, it is not close.
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  8. #8
    Spyderco Forum Registered User jackknifeh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donut View Post
    Here is my argument to a razor being sharpened to 5 dps.

    If you watch ANY video about straight razor shaving, they say that you change the angle that you hold the razor until you are getting a comfortable shave. A 5 dps edge would mean you would have to hold the razor almost flat to your skin for the edge to be cutting even with/close to your skin. If you look at the angle they are holding the razor from their face, it is not close.
    When I said 5dps that was just a guess to indicate an angle much less than a knife might have. I actually have no idea wht angle is on my razors. I have two. One (my favorite) is a Boker that was given to me by a very generous forum member. A significant amount of the spine had been removed over what appears to be years of use. My other one was new and has a much thicker spind. The angle on this one will be higher than the boker. How much difference there is I have no idea but my guess is there is a TINY bit of difference.

    Does anyone know what angles are normally on a straight razor? My guess is 5dps is possibly on the high side of a guess.

    I don't hold my razors with the spine close to my skin. I'm guessing to say the angle of my razor when I'm shaving is around 20 degrees between my skin and the razor. That would be 20dps I guess. But the angle varies I'm sure as I go around the chin or jawbone or other curves. The angle I hold my razor may be between 15 and 30 degrees per side. I'll check it with my angle cube.

    Jack


    Jack

    My EDC for a while. Stretch with carbon fiber handle, Chaparral 2, Dragonfly 2 with kirinite MOP handle, Manbug with bolster/red bone handle. Super blue/420J1 blades on all three (except Chaparral).

  9. #9
    Spyderco Forum Registered User jackknifeh's Avatar
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    I can determine the approximate angle per side of my razors. I'll check it and be back.

    My EDC for a while. Stretch with carbon fiber handle, Chaparral 2, Dragonfly 2 with kirinite MOP handle, Manbug with bolster/red bone handle. Super blue/420J1 blades on all three (except Chaparral).

  10. #10
    Spyderco Forum Registered User jackknifeh's Avatar
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    I laid my razor on a piece of wood with the edge apex on the corner of the wood. I laid my angle cube on the corner of the wood where the edge is and with the cube also resting on the spine I got the following angles inclusive.

    Boker: 16 degrees inclusive, the spine on this razor is 4.3mm thick.
    $41 razor (L. Herder & son): 20 degrees inclusive, the spine on this razor is 5.4mm thick.

    The $41 razor is less than a year old and has far less use than the Boker. Since honing the razor on stones removes steel from the spine also that is why older, more used (honed) razors will have a narrower spine. They may come at different thicknesses when new as part of the design of different razors. Anyway, my two razors have one edge angle at 16 incl. (8dps) and one at 20 incl. (10dps). So my 5dps guess was low.

    Jack

    My EDC for a while. Stretch with carbon fiber handle, Chaparral 2, Dragonfly 2 with kirinite MOP handle, Manbug with bolster/red bone handle. Super blue/420J1 blades on all three (except Chaparral).

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Stamp View Post
    If you watch many of the sharpening videos on YT you will see people get knives which easily whittle free hanging hair and are even beyond that in sharpness, and they just use normal knife sharpening techniques. There is nothing inherently different than sharpening a razor than a kitchen knife, while this is actually a bannable offense on some of the razor forums to say, it is only recently that kind of extreme cult-like mentality has emerged.
    Sharpening razor blades is done more as a hobby by a niche group of people who simply like to use classic razors and sharpen them, nothing wrong with that of course. But they are just a particular type of knife.
    Hey Cliff I'm in no way trying to dispute what you just said because I do agree with it a lot. But I was taught by a retired barber as well as what Sal Glesser showed on his 204 Sharpmaker video as well as a video I saw on the website "StraightRazorPlace.com to be slightly different that what you would use to like sharpen a fixed blade hunting knife or even a folder for that matter.

    Because what I do to sharpen a straight razor is to lay it flat on some stone really fine or even ultra-fine. With the razor laying fllat on its side you use the spine part of the blade for support laying flat, then you just move the cutting edge of the razor into the stone at a skewing angle. I don't know what exact angle that gives you but it's very narrow to be sure. I've used that method for the past 2 years and have had decent luck with it.

    Now I do agree that the main methodology is similar sharpening the two types of cutting tools but I've never sharpened any knife to that narrow of an angle. I've come close to doing it with replaceable box cutter blades but I do find straight razor sharpening to be a little different from a couple of aspects. And when it comes to stropping I'm much more careful with a straight razor than I am with any type of knife blade.

    It seems to me that Straight Razors actually work more on a shearing action than they do a slicing action as you would use a knife for most of the time. If I am slightly wrong or I'm just mis-communicating this tell me where I'm off. But since I seen Sal and that guy over at the Razor Forum demonstrated doing it that way I've had much better luck overall than I used to in the past. Thanks for your great tips Cliff>> JD
    Long Live the SPYDEREDGE Spyderco Hawkbills RULE!!

  12. #12
    Spyderco Forum Registered User jackknifeh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JD Spydo View Post
    Hey Cliff I'm in no way trying to dispute what you just said because I do agree with it a lot. But I was taught by a retired barber as well as what Sal Glesser showed on his 204 Sharpmaker video as well as a video I saw on the website "StraightRazorPlace.com to be slightly different that what you would use to like sharpen a fixed blade hunting knife or even a folder for that matter.

    Because what I do to sharpen a straight razor is to lay it flat on some stone really fine or even ultra-fine. With the razor laying fllat on its side you use the spine part of the blade for support laying flat, then you just move the cutting edge of the razor into the stone at a skewing angle. I don't know what exact angle that gives you but it's very narrow to be sure. I've used that method for the past 2 years and have had decent luck with it.

    Now I do agree that the main methodology is similar sharpening the two types of cutting tools but I've never sharpened any knife to that narrow of an angle. I've come close to doing it with replaceable box cutter blades but I do find straight razor sharpening to be a little different from a couple of aspects. And when it comes to stropping I'm much more careful with a straight razor than I am with any type of knife blade.

    It seems to me that Straight Razors actually work more on a shearing action than they do a slicing action as you would use a knife for most of the time. If I am slightly wrong or I'm just mis-communicating this tell me where I'm off. But since I seen Sal and that guy over at the Razor Forum demonstrated doing it that way I've had much better luck overall than I used to in the past. Thanks for your great tips Cliff>> JD
    Ben Dale (EP inventor) in one of his videos showed how even a thick blade camp knife with a razor sharp edge that would easily shave arm hair was still a poor tool for chopping a corrot because the edge angle was too high and the blade was too thick. A razor is considered shave ready when it's sharp enough to shave comfortably with. However, there is still a "range" of sharpness that a "comfortable shave" falls into. Once the razor is dull enough that it doesn't "strop" back into sharpness it needs to be re-honed. But, even at the DULLEST a straight razor is and still will shave it's VERY sharp compared to most knives. So, while a knife can be sharp enough to shave with as a lot of people have demonstrated a knife is still not the best tool. Especially for those with thick whiskers. I mean the diameter of each hair. Seems to me those whiskers would definately require a thinner blade and thin behind the edge. As I found out earlier the edge angle on razors is 20 degrees inclusive at the most. Of course this is just after using my two razors to check angles. I believe my results to be accurate though. I tested each twice and rounded to the closest whole number. Both tests on each razor rounded to the same numbers (16 and 20).

    Using the spine to control the angle is a HUGE help in getting the edge sharp with razors. Without the spine the angle control needs to be controlled by the person, just like when sharpening knives free hand. I may try to sharpen a straight razor free-hand someday. I mean not using the spine. I can get knives sharp enough to shave with but the blades are not as thin. Free hand sharpening a blade as thin and fragile as a straight razor might make for a fun experiment. I'm 99% sure I can't do it. Even with the spine controlling the angle a razor still needs a very light amount of pressure. Such a light amount of pressure that it takes practice to apply such a small amount of pressure. Even with knives I don't think most people use the light pressure needed for the really keen edges. Or if they do and are getting razor edges on their knives they are better at it than me.

    My EDC for a while. Stretch with carbon fiber handle, Chaparral 2, Dragonfly 2 with kirinite MOP handle, Manbug with bolster/red bone handle. Super blue/420J1 blades on all three (except Chaparral).

  13. #13
    Spyderco Forum Registered User jackknifeh's Avatar
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    Kind of on a side note. I started straight shaving last Sep. only because I was intrigued about honing the edge. So I have spent a lot of time practicing on stones and not as much time as I should have practicing stropping. While the time on the stones was well spent I believe if I'd have gotten more proficient at stropping sooner I'd have had many more pleasant shaves. So in case there's anyone out there just starting to use and maintain a straight razor focus on stropping ability first.

    OTOH, since I was destroying the edge when stropping at first the only way I could even get the edge back enough to shave with was with a stone. The finest grit I had at the time was an 8k Shapton glass. Now I've gotten a 16k and that's better for when the edge is just dull enough for a strop to not quite get it back to really sharp. Or actually a more aggressive strop. Linen with .5 micron spray or compound or something.

    Here is something I've had to learn over and over. You can't read or watch videos and learn. Well, I mean I can't. I still have to "do". I have to "do" a lot. You learn of course but I normally learn just enough to be dangerous. Especially when you are as hard headed as I am. When I consider what I've learned about honing a razor now I can see that it's exactly what the pros say in their videos, books, etc. But until I spend time "doing" I just didn't get it. Actually, I'm just barely "getting it" now. My ability to maintain a straight razor is just now good enough to not destroy the edge. The straight razor edge is so much more fragile than a knife. Also, while the same stuff applies about burrs, edge apex and all that, the technique to get good results is completely different.


    Jack

    My EDC for a while. Stretch with carbon fiber handle, Chaparral 2, Dragonfly 2 with kirinite MOP handle, Manbug with bolster/red bone handle. Super blue/420J1 blades on all three (except Chaparral).

  14. #14
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Jax's Avatar
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    Hi Jack
    Next time you are honing on the 16k,and then are about to do the last few strokes,try lifting the spine off the stone a 1/4 inch and do a few freehand swipes like you were putting on a micro bevel,
    Then try using your hanging strop
    I think this could help deal with the hanging strop dulling thing.
    Jax

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