Basic Razor Honing

Razor honing is not complicated, but it does take some practice to become proficient. There are several different ideas and various techniques. Please consider this to be a basic guide and not an exhaustive study on the subject.

When honing a razor the edge and spine of the razor are on the hone at the same time. It is the thickness of the spine, relative to the width of the razor, that sets the honing angle. The razor is slid across the hone towards the razor's edge. At the end of the stroke the razor is rolled over its spine, so the other side of the blade is in contact with the hone, and then slid back to the opposite end of the hone. One pass on each side of the blade is considered one “lap”.

Be sure the honing is even along the entire edge. Depending on the hone you may have to angle the blade or even slide the blade toward the handle, during the pass, to be sure to sharpen the tip.
 

It is very important to not push down on the razor while honing. The weight of the razor is sufficient to get the job done.

At Hart Steel, we use one layer of electrical tape, to protect the spine, while honing. The tape is placed lengthwise on the spine and then folded over the sides. The tape is optional, but we like it.
 
Most hones for razors are usually used wet. Depending on the hone, they may only need to be lightly sprinkled with water. Other hones may need to be immersed for several minutes, until they stop absorbing water.
 

After the stones, many like to finish their bench work on a Balsa hone. Balsa hones are treated with mild abrasives. The most common is 0.5micron Chromium Oxide.

The stroke on Balsa is the same, but this time the blade is pulled away from the edge. If you go towards the edge, you will cut in to the Balsa.
 
A common honing progression looks like this:
 
  1. 4000 Norton – 10 laps
  2. 8000 Norton – 20 laps
  3. 16,000 Shapton, or 12,000 Chinese – 20 laps
  4. Classic Green Paste on Balsa Hone – 20 laps

After the hones, the blades are finished on the hanging leather strop. The stroke is the same, but this time the blade is pulled away from the edge. If you go towards the edge, you will cut the strop. Pull the strop tight, and do not push down on the blade. 50 laps on a quality strop is usually sufficient. Do not try to go fast. Speed will come with time and practice.

We hope you find this helpful. If you need further information, please don't hesitate to contact us.