Thoughts on Hones/Honing


At this point in time ....
Aspiring honers are often not clear about what they are trying to accomplish when it comes to honing razors. In particular, they are often unsure of what they are doing and how often they should be doing it. Some questions you might want to answer for yourself before you start buying hones:

■ Are you an "end-user"; someone who only hones a previously shave-ready blade back to shave-ready?
■ Are you a hobbyist who is chasing the absolute finest edge that may be obtained where money is no object?
■ Are you a frugal shaver who is after the cheapest way to complete your morning shave?
■ Are you a collector who needs to take E-bay specials from butt-ugly to shave-ready?
■ Are you a Honemiester; someone who gets paid to do all of these things for others?
■ Are you a razor restorer who needs to take damaged blades and bring them back to life and shave-readiness?

Each of these types of honer profiles have different requirements for the stones they will own. Theoretically, you can survive using the "one stone" approach, but each razor does have an optimum stone set - and more importantly, a technique for using the required hones. So generally, when somebody asks what stone or how to use what stone, the question to ask them is: "What are you trying to accomplish with the stone(S)?"

Refreshing vs. Starting from Scratch:

The types of hones required depends first and foremost on the type of honing you want to do.

Hones needed for refreshing a dull blade:

If the only task you want to perform is refreshing edges that have previously been established by a Honemiester (the process is often referred to as "touching up"), you need only get a fine grit finishing stone or a barber's hone for this. Either of these hones can be used to keep your razor(s) shave-ready for years.

Hones needed for restoring razors:

If you want to set a bevel, or have many different types of razors, you will need a full set of hones.

A bevel setting stone approximately 1k

DMT's 325 600 1200, Shapton 500, 1K and 2K, Coticules with slurry, Norton 1k, Naniwa SS 1k Naniwa Pro 1k King 800 or 1k and many others

A sharpening stone approximately 4k

Norton 4K, Shapton 4K Naniwa SS 3k or 5k, Belgian Blue with slurry, Naniwa Pro 3-5k

A polishing stone approximately 8k

Norton 8k, Shapton 8k, Naniwa 8k, Yellow Coticule Naniwa Pro 10k

A finishing stone 10k and above (this is often subject to debate, however)

Shapton GS 16k-30k Shapton 15k Naniwa SS 10k-12k or Gokyama 15 - 20k, Thuringens, Escher's, Many different natural Japanese finishers, Charlney Forest, Extra Fine Coticule, even some of the Arkansas stones...

You have several choices of how to accomplish this setup whether you use natural, man-made stone, or a Diamond-style stone, but you are going to have to be able to cover those 4 grit ranges. There really is no true shortcut here if you expect to take razors acquired in need of restoration from butter knife dull (or damaged) to shaving sharp: You are going to end up needing these types of stones.

Pastes can be used after the hones and before the final stropping also these can be used for re-freshing the edge before going back to the hones for a touch-up...

A few different types

Dovo Pastes:

Green 5-8 micron
Red 3-5 micron
Black 1-3 micron
Dovo pastes are a much more mild cutter then say a diamond paste of the same micron size...

Diamond Paste:

From 3 micron down to actually .10 micron if you really wanted to...
These pastes are fast and many people use them incorrectly and manage too get a harsh edge, when used correctly and on the right razor steel these will most likely be the sharpest edge you will ever feel...

Diamond sprays:

Mostly found in 1.0 .50 and .25 micron watch the Carat content here, the higher the better

Chromium Oxide Paste/Powder .50 micron (CrOx)
Probably the most universal of the pastes, get the most pure you can find, and no the bars at Woodcrafters are not pure...

Cerium Oxide Paste/Powder (approx).25 micron (CeOx)

Super fine, super soft, and super smooth, polishing media...The bar at Woodcrafter's is of unknown quality at this time

Other Pastes and Powders:

Iron Oxide
Aluminum Oxide
Cubic Boron Nitride CBN

Both of these can also be used again be very careful when buying this stuff as the purity and the micron sizes are very important...

Carbon blacking/lamp black:

This might be the oldest of all the sharpening "pastes" when used on a leather strop it increases draw

Wood Ash:

Another old fashioned one very slightly abrasive when used on Linen strops and Leather strops..

White chalk:

Can be rubbed on a linen strop to increase the abrasive qualities


The ink itself is a very fine abrasive and so is the paper..

Keep in mind that different razor steels like/dislike different pastes, and the different media that is used to apply it including Balsa, Linen, Leather (paddle) Leather (hanger) and Felt paddle and hanger all give different results on different razor steels....

The above are only my personal opinions and observations... There are no set rules in Razordom...