Open main menu

How to Use the Hone



The hone being the only means of sharpening a dull razor, its use becomes at once of the utmost importance to those who wish to keep their razors in perfect order.

Hones are seldom used dry, but are usually covered with either water, lather or oil: first—to prevent heating the blade which would quickly spoil its temper; second—to keep the particles of steel that are ground off the blade from entering the pores of the stone, which would soon fill up and result in what is known as a glazed surface; and third—to make the surface of the hone as smooth as possible.

Before commencing the operation, wipe the hone clean, then put on a few drops of oil or else cover it with water or lather. This will float the little particles of steel ground off the razor, thus preventing them from remaining directly on the hone to impede its full and equal effect. With most hones you may use either water, lather or oil; but do not change from one to the other; whichever you begin with, use that exclusively. It requies a longer time to produce a keen edge when oil is used but the edge is somewhat smoother. Most barbers use lather and we should advise the beginner to do so.

Directions for Honing.
The hone, with its fine surface up, should be placed perfectly flat on a table or other solid foundation. (The rough surface is intended merely as a support and not for use.) After covering the
Shaving Made Easy, 1905 - Honing.png


hone with lather, place the razor flat upon it as shown in Fig. A. With the thumb and fore finger, grasp the razor back of the heel, so as to have firm hold of both the blade and the handle. Draw the blade from heel to point, forward against the edge, and with a moderate degree of pressure, until it comes into the position shown in Fig. B. Now, without lifting the blade from the stone, turn the edge up, so that the razor rests on the back of the blade. Slide it forward on its back from point to heel and let it fall into the position indicated in Fig. C. Push the blade from heel to point against the edge, finishing the stroke as in Fig. D. Turn the blade on its back, slide from point to heel and let it fall into the first position, as shown in Fig. A. Continue honing until the blade is sufficiently keen and free from nicks and inequalities. This may be known by drawing the edge, very lightly, across the moistened thumb nail. If it sticks to the nail slightly, it is an indication that the honing has developed the little teeth which constitute the perfect razor edge, and that the razor is now ready for stropping.

If the honing be carried too far, a "wire edge" will be produced, and this must be removed. To do this, draw the edge with a steady hand across the moistened thumb nail in the manner indicated above. The blade should then be drawn once or twice across the hone as before, in order to unite all parts of the edge and cause a perfect equality of keenness from one end of the blade to the other. With this done, the operation is in general performed, and the wondrous difficulty of honing the razor vanishes.

Special Directions.

The following directions should be specially observed.

First—The blade should be held perfectly flat on the hone, so that the back, as well as the edge, touches the stone. If the back is raised from the stone so that only the edge touches, the bevel will be short and the edge blunt.

Second—In drawing the blade across the hone diagonally against the edge, the heel should be about one and a half inches in advance of the point, and care should be taken to maintain the same angle when the stroke is reversed and throughout the entire operation. This sets the teeth at the proper angle, that is, slightly inclined toward the heel. We have likened the edge of a razor to that of a saw, but there is this difference: saw teeth incline away from the handle and toward the point, while the razor teeth incline away from the point and toward the heel. This is correct in principle, for the saw in use is pushed away from the handle toward the point, while the razor is usually drawn away from the point toward the heel.

Third—Press with equal force on all parts of the edge. With a good hone, very little pressure will be required.

The time required to hone a razor depends much on the condition of the razor and the hardness of the steel composing it. When the edge is in the usual condition—that is when it is free from nicks and has merely become thick in consequence of the injudicious use of the razor strop—it will need very little honing: eight or ten strokes in each direction will be quite sufficient. When, however, the edge has nicks: though so small as to be scarcely perceptible, the operation will require more time and attention. Should the nicks be large, it will be better to send the razor to a cutler to be ground.

If the razor is well cared for and properly stropped, it will not require very frequent honing, probably not oftener than once in from six to eight weeks. When it is required you will become aware of it, from the fact that stropping will not sharpen it.