HONING UNDER WATER IN A POND
Posted on December 27, 2013
Here is a video I made of a finishing technique for finishing with water only.
About the pressure when honing. This is going to be the one thing that is individual to you alone, we can all use similar stones but the hand pressue will always vary from person to person. All I can suggest is that to develop a steady pressure that comes natural to you, that you can repeat without even thinking about it. I would think that most everyone uses a lighter pressure at the end of a honing session on a particular blade, the weight of the razor is a term used but this is up for individual interpretation as it would be hard to actually measure as the blade has to be controlled to some degree. I do lighten the pressure at the later stage but maybe not as much as others. Most of my videos are about stone speed and performance. I am not a real honemeister as I mentioned before. The razor I honed for you was just a foundation edge that was done quickly, I shave off all of these edges but they only tell me how the stone performed from stone to stone. I am only testing in a controlled sequence how one stone compares to another and not how I can fiddle with or add on to that sequence to make the blade the sharpest. I have to reject some stones because they do not cut fine enough or fast enough and TheAxMethod is my way of weeding through my inventory.
The video I sent you of honing in a pond is a variation of honing under running water at a sink, the idea is to minimize the effect of slurry, ie. loose particles. With a good stone this should create a keener edge because only the imbeded particle’s exposed portion with their lessor abrasive actions are affecting the blade, and these promote shallower scratches. The weight of the razor finishing stroke does this same thing, that of minimizing the cutting power or action. This is all based upon the a edge that is already 98% developed and can already shave. Our skin is so sensitive that we can feel the difference between a highly refined edge and a slightly less so edge. You can read of fellows who spend up to an hour honing with very light pressure in an attempt to polish the bevel, the whole bevel, thinking that it will be sharper. It might be but it is really only the edge that shaves, not the flat of the bevel.
Did you get a 1k stone for Xmas? The diamond plates tear up these hard thin steel edges quite a bit, and the agressive nature of coarse abrasives in general leave fractures into the deeper body of the razors bevel that create weak steel. A 1,000 stone leaves the edge weak also so for long lasting tenacious shaving edges it is best to have a progression of stones or a progression of nagura stones that lead into you final stone, healing the edge by gently removing material so the edge is based on solid virgin steel. You can achieve an excellent shaving edge with just one stone skillfully used, but a progression of abrasives will lead to a stronger edge that will withstand the pressures of continious stropping and shaving.
The honyama type stones found near Kyoto are known to be made of an abrasive of decomposed radiolarian chert. Chert as a mineral has a nature of cleaving and at these microscopic sizes the weight of a razor and or the tumbling of the chert in a slurry seem sufficent to pressures that encourage cleaving. The garnets in the Coticules will crush but I believe that the pressures necessary to crush or fracture them are greater than those exerted by a razor under what we would consider normal honing conditions. There are advantages to either of these abrasive compounds of course, and both will work in developing an edge sharp enough to shave with if the skill of the user is able to coax them to. Almost anyone with some history in useing these stones will claim that one stone in his collection works better with this or that steel over the others. Fineness, abrasive content, binder materials all factor into the equation. This is our quest, to match up with our own developed skills those stone and steel combinations. Buying more and varied stones can make some difference, but the real jumps in performance in regards to the abrasives will come from your technique in using them.
Good luck, Alex