I can certainly understand some people's obsession with getting edges to be mindblowingly sharp, with that comes the desire to own, and use an array of whetstones, oil stones, diamond plates and various other abrasives. They come in many forms, shapes, sizes and compositions, and one often pick up variances from the very same product, even more so when using natural stones. When you start sharpening stuff on whetstones you soon realize whetstones are not just whetstones, the user develops likes and dislikes, emotions of looking forward to working with one stone and dreading taking up another. Like people, they all have very distinct properties, like to be touched in certain ways, some give easy, some just frustrate the living hell out of you, and they mostly deliver different results when given the same task.
We'll get into an overview of whetstones in later blogs, but this one is to demonstrate the ability of one stone, the Sigma #6000 that I have grown particularly fond of. I have always wanted to take a razor from crappy production finish to shave ready on one stone, and managed it fairly easy with this one.
To indicate the cutting ability of this stone I have taken a few (pretty bad) pics of the honing process at X 480 magnification using the El cheapo microscope on our site, it does work much better when in use though (live view), and is a very handy tool when sharpening stuff. I did what would be considered utter madness by some and used a pair of scissors to inflict some damage on the cutting edge of a Dovo carbon steel straight razor, the damage that was done is likely to exceed anything one would expect to find on your own razors, so I am fairly confident this stone can cover a wide spectrum of work. The black marks is where I marked the spot with a ballpoint pen, when one approaches a good edge it is quite hard to find the same spot after a few laps on the stones.
Pic one right after meeting up with Mr Scissors.
Pic 2 is after 25 laps on each side of the razor on the Sigma #6000 using medium pressure.
Pic 3 after 25 more laps on the Sigma #6000 using medium pressure.
Pic 4 after 25 laps on the Sigma #6000, both sides of the blade using medium pressure.
Pic 5 after 50 laps, same story as the others.
25 More laps and the damage is undone, the last strokes were done with progressive lighter pressure on the blade.
Final edge after stropping on our local leather strop.
On this razor I shaved off the #6000 finish and was very happy with the performance. For working razors I follow no hard and fast rules, there is lots of sense in using in a progression of stones, but I like experimentation and hardly ever do any two razors using a single 'recipe'. In my opinion one should use what you have and get your razor comfortable to use with the least amount of work. By 'use what you have' I mean you would need a stone or two and not to attempt it using a paving brick from your driveway! If we talk prize razors or something you want to get to an insane level of sharpness, it is a different ball game, but I'd love to see more guys honing their own razors without thinking it is a huge learning curve to get it to a shaveable edge. You can really 'own' great shaves with self-honed razors, great food prepping if you learn some basic sharpening skills of knifes and best of all, a happy wife with a smooth shaven hubby and sharp cutlery.