Straight Razor Honing Services

Straight Razor Honing Services – Where to find them?

I live in Asia where straight razor honing services are hard to find. Straight razors are captivating my imagination. That’s why I began a quest to find a straight razor and want to learn to use it.

Like I told you in my previous post, I tried to find a cheap straight razor. I went to eBay and found a lot of cheap and “vintage” straight razors. I bought some of them.

I was fascinated by the old ways of shaving. People were using a cut throat razor like a very common tool. I was afraid of using one. I think it was because I put a lot of respect to knives. A sharp straight razor is like a sword to a samurai. With proper technique, a samurai can cut almost everything.

 

Where to find straight razor honing services?

I bought a lot of straight razors from eBay. I was so ecstatic. I tried to cut the hair on my arm using all of them to see if they are sharp enough. To my disappointment, none of them can cut smoothly.

At that stage, I was so clueless about straight razor shaving. I took the next logical steps. I asked around the shaving forums.

In there, I met Glen Mercurio from Gem Star Customs. His id in shaving forums is gssixgun. I learned that he is one of the best that provide honing service. Alas, he is located in the United States of America.

Why the sad face, you asked? Like I stated, I live in Asia. For me to send all my razors to Glen, the postage fee will choke me to death. It is way too expensive.

I really wanted to use the service of Glen. But he also said it wouldn’t be economical for me to send all the razors to him. But Glen asked me if I would like to send my razors to Singapore. He has a friend there that can give the honing service. I immediately said that it was the best. As Singapore is just next door.

I was waiting and waiting for Glen’s friend to contact me. Finally, he did. His name is James G. Keegan, Jr. He is actually based in Taiwan. I was a bit disappointed. I thought that I can ask my brother, who is in Singapore, to pool my straight razors. But, hey, Taiwan is just two doors away. Still way closer than USA.

 

James G. Keegan, Jrjames keegan straight razor honing service

I immediately exchanged information with him through emails. He suggested me to send my straight razors to him. He needed to inspect them through a microscope. YES. A microscope.

I thought all you need to do is just put the straight razor on the whetstone and do some honing. Why was a microscope was needed?

This is why. straight razor honing stones

 

straight razor honing 1

 

straight razor honing kit

 

straight razor honing services 1

 

straight razor honing stones 2

Those are some nasty looking pictures, aren’t those?

James was kind enough to let me know that even though all the razors can be honed, he preferred that I shouldn’t do it. The condition of the razors was quite bad. He was willing to return the money that I already sent to him. No service provided so he wouldn’t accept my money.

I ended up buying one of his shave ready razor with the money that I sent him.

 

Synthetic or Natural Edge Straight Razor

James is a friend of Glen for more than 10 years. Because I was recommended by Glen, James was willing to provide his service for me. He can hone your razors to a synthetic or natural edge. Your preference.

What is a synthetic or natural edge? I was asking the same question. James responded with this answer.

A synthetic edge is an edge created by the use of several synthetic honing stones. A natural edge is an edge created by real stones from stone quarries or mines, mostly from Japan for the good ones. The commonly held belief is that a synthetic edge is sharper. This is not the case if your razor is honed by a competent professional, of which there are few. The true difference is that a synthetic edge generally feels more gentle on your face, often so much so that you don’t realize how good and close the shave is until afterwards. While my reputation is more as a synthetic honer, I can tell you that all of my personal razors are honed with natural stones and I recommend those for you unless the razor itself dictates otherwise.

 

Straight Razor Honing Stones

Natural Honing Stones are made, well,  from natural stones. They are carved from quarries. You may find these names: Coticules, Eschers, Thuringens, Arkansas, or Japanese Naturals.

Synthetic Honing Stones are man made. (Duh!) The benefit of a synthetic honing stone is you get the exact grit that you want. 1,000 grit is 1,000 grit. Some of the names that might be familiar are Norton, Shapton, and Naniwa.

So there are Natural Honing Stones and there are Synthetic Honing Stones. You can choose your own preferences if you want to perform honing a straight razor yourself. Learning can be fun. 

But first, you must learn to know what Grit is. Grit is used to measure how fine or coarse a whetstone is. The lower the number, the coarser it gets. The higher the number, the finer it gets.

The low number like 1,000 grit is used to clear all the pits and cuts. Also use to make a bevel.

The high number like 12,000 grit is used to smooth the edge of your straight razor. A finishing touch.

Glen recommended you to have several stones to maintain your straight razor sharp.

Let me give you a really good piece of advice.
To REALLY learn to hone razors…
You start at the Finisher stage with simply maintaining your razors and slowly work backwards down the grit range, after learning the “Honing Gymnastics” on a hone that can do the least damage  :p

Now feel free to ignore that advice and buy all the stones and jump in the deep end LOL
I have been recommending the Naniwa SS set
1-3-8-12 for a few years now as the most SR friendly and cost effective way to hone.. You will be hard pressed to beat the edges that these can produce at any price.

Straight Razor Honing Kit

So this is the set that Glen has recommended.(If you can’t see them, please whitelist us in your ad blocker)


1,000 Grit Naniwa Blue Super Stone

3,000 Grit Naniwa Super Stone

8,000 Grit Naniwa Super Stone


12,000 Grit Naniwa Super Stone.

 

If you just want to use a straight razor honing service. You can contact Glen at his website.

Or if you are like me, living on the other side of the earth from USA, you can contact James in Taiwan. You can reach him through his email jgkeegan@gmail.com  or you can find him on Facebook.

 

Your thoughts

Have you ever use a straight razor honing service before? Where? Can you promote it here?

Share your experience down below.

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18 Replies to “Straight Razor Honing Services”

  1. Wow! The microscope images were pretty gory. I have seen some magnifications of metal, when looking at tattoo needs, but it’s always amazing to see.
    Superb amount of information, here!
    Thanks, so much!

    1. Hi Derek,

      It was a shocking revelation for me. Corrosion can do some good damage over the years. That’s why we need to take care our straight razor. Hope you can use this information to find a good honing service.

  2. Arief,
    You have peeked my interest. I like shaving with wet shaves and shaving creme etc. I have never used a straight razor. I am going to have to check this out. I was really surprised about the microscope findings, That was also very interesting and a little concerning. Your information was great. Thanks again!

  3. Wow, I never expected sharpening razors can sound so technical and intensive. To me, I always thought that razors are something you can’t sharpen. If you finish it, it’s time to throw it away.

    Interesting what your friend told you. One more important thing I noticed is that the whetstones you have displayed here are quite small. They really are meant for razors.

    Do you think it’s a good idea to use those whetstones (the lower grit ones of course) to sharpen my kitchen knife? I mean it’s cool that I can get it specifically for my razors, but it would be more awesome if I can use anywhere else in my life.

    1. I never thought it will be so technical and intensive, too. I just know that you need to sharpen it regularly.

      You are right that the whetstones are really meant for razors, but they can be used to sharpen knives. But you just need to use the lower grit. the 12,000 grit is really for a smoother result. Kitchen knives do not need that kind of grit.

  4. I recently caught the straight razor shaving bug. I was interested in knife making and soon discovered SR’s. As an Arkansas native I was interested in honing my own SR’s using Arkansas stones. I purchased a few 100+ y/o razors from eBay advertised as “shave ready”. My first razor was a 1920’s carbon 5/8 blade from Union City Mfg of Union City, Georgia. After a couple of weeks of stropping and shaving I dinged the toe on the edge of the sink. My heart sank but I took it as an opportunity to learn how to repair and hone a blade. I started with an 8 x 3 x 1/2 soft Arkansas from Dan’s and this proved too smooth to work out the ding. I eventually used my coarse Gator stone (60/80 grit) to work out the ding. I was able to remove the damage but I discovered that I had to reset my bevel. I went back to the Arkansas soft and reset the bevel, then went to the same size Arkansas hard and finally finished with the same size Arkansas translucent. I began each stone using a “Japanese stroke” then ended using a “Western” stroke with lighter and lighter pressure. A quick 50 laps on a Tony Miller fast bridle strop and the razor was back in business. This was my first razor hone and I either got lucky or my patience paid off. Perhaps I didn’t give myself enough credit since, as a native Arkansan, I’ve used the softer stones for years on hunting knives. Perhaps an unfair comparison but the edge I get from this series versus the “shave ready” (5K to 12K water stones) seems a bit smoother to the face. I’ll pay closer attention to new “shave ready” blades and my series of stones to see if this holds true. Thank you for the interesting article.

    1. Hi Jeff,

      I think that all people that have found their way to a traditional wet shaving caught a bug. I caught a RAD (Razor Acquisition Disorder).

      It is so wonderful that you live in Arkansas. You can use a natural stone from your hometown.

      You are doing great with razor honing. I don’t think it was a beginner’s luck. With your comment here, I understand that you already have a good knowledge on how to hone a straight razor. That is superb. You now can buy any “shave ready” straight razors and hone them to a true shave ready condition.

  5. I forgot to mention that I purchased all of my stones in the same size– 8″ x 3″ x 1/2″ from Dan’s Whetstone (I have no affiliation whatsoever with Dan’s other than as a customer). I tested the soft, hard and translucent using a grid pattern drawn with a grease pencil on both sides. Each stone was slightly higher in the center and I was able to lap each stone within 20-30 minutes using 220 grit and 600 grit silicon carbide paper. After reading some horror stories of guys ruining expensive lapping plates on Arkansas stones I thought I would mention this. Perhaps this is why some don’t like Arkansas stones and/or they are just impatient to being with.

  6. I am in need of a new razor. I have never used a straight razor. To be honest they have always scared me a little. Do they take some getting used too? I can never get a really close shave because my beard is pretty rough. Interesting read.

  7. Hi!
    To be honest, I know nothing about razors. But, I find it is interesting to read your post. Because I learn new things such as honing and two different methods based on types of stone. Thank you for your sharing!

  8. When i was in the service I hated shaving because it was something i had to do, but a couple years ago I stumbled upon a book I think it was called the art of shaving. And since then I found a true love of shaving. I have been trying to get the hang of keeping the shape up on my beard clean using a mach 3 but it is difficult to do. I wanted to try out the straight razor partial because i think shaving with a straight razor is a beautiful art form, and because i think it would be easier after all that what my Barber uses to shape me up.
    But i could never get a razor’s edge that was worth a damn. Thanks for this informative post I will try and hone the blade myself or i will reach out to Glen Mercurio, for his services.
    Have you found it difficult to keep the edge after it has been professionally honed? I might have missed this but how often do you strop the razor is it after or before every use.

    Thank you
    Juan

  9. Oh my gosh, in all those movies where they show someone shaving with one of those straight razors or even worse when someone else is shaving someone… I always think it is going to go wrong!
    You are right it really must be an art form.

    1. Hi Lynne,

      Those movies were the reason that I was reluctant to try straight razor shaving. Even a traditional wet shaving using a DE safety razor. Somehow using a modern multiblade razor seems safer.
      Lucky for me that I found out the truth about the enjoyment of wet shaving. It is all about the softest touch.

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