So, i'm at the point where i'm getting great shaves from my razors, and can touch them up fine on a barbers hone. I don't intend to hone my own razors properly ofr a while, but theres something thats confusing me.. i'm not entirely sure what a bevel is and how to set it? any explanation would be great
I am also new honing so I hope someone else can add to this. In short the bevel is the two slanty sides of the blade that lead to the edge of the razor. The bevel is pretty easy to see esp with a magnifying glass. It will look like a triangle with the razors edge being the apex. Here is some good info regarding bevels (http://straightrazorplace.com/srpwiki/index.php/Bevel-setting_in_theory_and_practice).
You are doing pretty well if you can put an edge on your own razor. As for setting the bevel I am also a bit confused about this from the point of view of when do you know the bevel needs to be set as opposed to just touching the razor up as you have been doing. Will there come a point when the edge will just not sharpen with a touch up?
What I do know is that a lot of ppl use lower grit stones to set the bevel. The Naniwa Chosera 1k stone seems to be a well recommended choice although I have read ppl have set the bevel with higher grits and even Coticules. It appears setting the bevel is very important in that if the bevel is not set properly you will be wasting your time trying to put an edge on the razor with your finishing hone.
In theory once a razor is sharp it shouldn't need the bevel reset unless the edge gets damaged. I've read about someone who had one straight razor and kept it sharp for 23 years (think it was 23, it was over 20 anyway) using only a barbers hone. He was doing regular touch ups but it worked well for him.
The 1k Chosera does a good job of setting the bevel. You know the bevel is set properly when it can cut hair along the full length of the blade. After this you just use higher grits to polish the edge. An edge that you can shave with is around 8000 grit (it might not be comfortable but it will work). But for comfort you would want to go to 12000 and possibly beyond.
To set a bevel is rather straight forward (on a razor with no issues). The simplest way to describe it is that you rub the razor back and forth on a stone until it gets sharp. You rub it one way, flip the razor and then rub it the other way.
Now what you use it set the bevel and hone from there is entirely up to you. There are countless hones (natural and synthetic) available for you to choose from. There is even lapping film (designed for use in polishing fiber optic connectors) that is cheap and quick and does a damn fine job.
Picture a chisel.
You can sharpen it for years and never have to reset that huge bevel, but the sharpening does set a secondary bevel. What you are doing when touching up is setting and refining that secondary bevel.
At the point in time when you have softened that secondary bevel so that it is no longer effective you may have to drop back to a 4000 to 8000 grit range to reestablish that secondary bevel. That is usually done with some tape to offset the angle.
Unless you chip your edge, you should have absolutely no need to go all the way back to a 1000 grit stone to reset a primary bevel. In fact the only people who should be worried about a primary bevel are razor restorers.
For the sake of $20 +P&P if you get beyond touch ups - send it to a pro.
If you are really interested in learning to hone, get a few ebay specials and learn to reset and edge on those. Don't go messing with a razor with a perfectly good edge as your learning point.
Setting the bevel is probably the most important part of honing, there's no point in moving to next step unless it's set along the full length of the blade.
When you've set the bevel properly on your razor, if you look at the edge of the blade whilest it's traveling up and down the hone you should see that the blade is undercutting the water on the hone. The water should be traveling up and onto the face of the blade.
Often you'll see that most of the blade is undercutting the water on the hone except for one spot on the blade, this means the bevel's not set here. To fix this you should apply light pressure on that spot whilst honing until it starts to undercut the water like the rest of the blade.
Once the razor is undercutting the water on both sides of the blade you should make sure the bevel is of even width on both sides, do a couple of extra laps on the offending side of the blade if this is the case until you're happy both sides are of even width.
By this point the blade should be cutting arm hair easily and you'll be able to move onto the next step. I hope this helps, it's kind of hard to explain though without pictures.
I found a picture on another site that shows what I was trying to explain about the razor undercutting the water/slurry on a hone, this should help you visualize it better.
that helps a lot, thanks i was wondering how to know when it was set :L I won't be honing my own razors for a while (other than touchups) but someday i hope to be able to do it
how do you know if they're of even with? can you see it unaided?
I just do it by eye, it doesn't have to be spot on but just once they look even to your eye it should be fine. You want it to be straight, parallel to the cutting edge and not wavey.
This's what it should look like:
Before you start honing you should also inspect the spine of the razor first to see if the razor has been previously honed and that the honewear on the razor's spine is even.
You can see in the picture below that the spinewear is uneven and you can see how the uneven spinewear mirrors the uneven bevel, which is why you should correct this first off.
Well worth getting a coticule and a 1k to start restoring and honing up some ebay specials.
Yes, but a jeweler's loupe is handy.