Straight Razor Maintenance With A Coticule Whetstone. Regular straight razor shavers will know the feeling of the edge beginning to deteriorate. You have to work harder to get a good clean irritation free shave. The edge starts to catch and tug at the hair. Those with sensitive skin will develop some irritation on the more tender areas of the face or neck. These are all signs that your razor needs a touch up or full re hone.
The most common and easiest method to touch up a straight razor is to use a pasted strop. This is a linen or canvas strop with a sharpening paste or powder applied to its surface. Problems with this technique arise when too much paste is applied to the strop and when the strop is overused. This method of touching up a razor will impart a new feel to the razor, that of the sharpening medium. Those who like the feel of their freshly honed synthetic or natural edge may find themselves suddenly disappointed.
Its my opinion that all straight razor shavers should, at some point, learn how to hone. By touching up your razor on a fine stone of your preference, you can maintain that fresh off the hone feel and greatly prolong the time between needing a full bevel set and re hone.
You can use a Belgian Coticule Whetstone to bevel set and to touch up your straight razors. This is the easiest stone to use due to its size and is the best stone for those new to honing razors.
You can use a Belgian Size 6 Coticule Bout for touching up straight razors. This size stone can also be used in the same way as the full sized stone, for bevel setting and finishing. It requires some dexterity and honing practice before using the size 6 coticule with a slurry stone to bevel set and finish a straight razor.
First test the edge with a hanging hair or your thumb pad to get a feel for how sharp the edge is.
Place a layer of insulation tape on the spine of the razor. This will ensure the tip of your razor is in contact with the stone and you will need less work on the stone to achieve the desired results.
Generously wet the surface of the stone with plain water.
Lay the razor flat on the stone with the sharp edge facing in the direction of travel up the stone.
Gently slide the razor along the length of the stone, also moving it in a sideways motion, so the whole length of the blade comes into contact with the stone. You are best to apply some pressure to the razor. Imagine you are rubbing out pencil with an eraser and replicate that pressure.
You may need a slight rocking motion to ensure the ends of the razor contact the stone if your razor has a curved ‘smiling’ shape to it. Stop before you go over the edge of the stone. Flip the razor over and do the same with the opposite side. 1 movement up and back is termed 1 pass. Your razor will need approximately 20-100 passes to get it back into tip top condition. Make sure the stone does not dry out, add more water every 10-20 laps.
Test the edge after every 20 passes to see how it is improving. You need to find a pressure that works for the razor and improves its sharpness. Keep the pressure as constant as possible during each pass.
If you get to 50-60 laps and can feel some improvement stop honing, strop the razor and give it a test shave. By the time you get to 100 laps you should have tried out 4-5 different pressures from no pressure upwards and have found a point that the edge sharpness is improving. You should not need to exert more than approximately 300 grams of weight onto the stone (you can do some laps with the stone on kitchen scales).
Things that will adversely effect you touch up attempt: Applying too much pressure to the razor, not holding the razor flat on the stone, running off the edge of the stone, honing on a dry stone.
Less is more when touching up a razor. Do the minimum amount of laps until you can feel some improvement. If you are new to testing the edge of a razor with the hanging hair test stop at approximately 50 laps, strop the razor and test shave.