04-30-2015, 11:50 AM
#1
User Info
This is the second thread in my series on evaluating all my finishing hones. The first thread covered the Welsh Slate Hones. 

In this one, I'm going to cover my oilstones. Now, at this time (end of April 2015), I have a few oilstones up for sale in the BST. So, I'm not going to evaluate those, as that could be seen as an advertisement for those hones. This thread is tied to them, as I recently obtained two more oilstones, making it imperative for me to sell some of the old ones. Smile

-------------------

The three I'm going to evaluate here are my last Charnley, a large Black Arkansas Hone from Natural Whetstone, and a small Translucent Arkansas hone from Dan's Whetstone. Here they are in order from left to right.

[Image: IMG_20150430_144310.jpg]

They're oilstones in the sense that they're usually used with a light honing oil. I have used them with water, soapy water and oils. 

Some details about these oilstones:
1) They're pure finishers. They don't remove much steel; instead they just burnish and already-finished edge.
2) You need to use many, many strokes with them. 
3) They're 'surface hones', in that their surface has to be prepared properly before use. Let me explain this a bit more:
 If you were to lap the surface of either a Charnley or an Arkansas hone (let's say to 1000 grit), you'd wind up with a stone that could finish an edge, but would leave you with a harsh edge. To properly prepare the surface of the stone, you need to polish the surface some more. I used a carbon-steel chisel and some time and elbow grease and polished the surface so that they started to get reflective (you can see that somewhat with the Black Ark in the pic above). Properly prepared, the Arks and Charnleys will polish even a 15K edge. My hones need some more work before I would consider them 'ready'.
4) Both Charnleys and Arks are versions of novaculite - a stone with very tiny quartz crystals. 
5) They are all more aggressive with lighter lubricants - honing on water is quickest, and it gets slower with light oils and even slower with heavy oils. Conversely, the finish gets finer with the weight of the lubricant. 

------------------------

For my tests, I used a couple of excellent razors: A C-Mon Blackie and and a Le Grelot. Both were first finished on a coticule up to the point where they were shave-ready (and they were shave tested as being very good edges). After that I moved to the oilstones. The question was: would the oilstones make a difference? Would it be good, or bad? 


1) The Charnley. 



This is a small stone, and I never use it with water. I did 150 strokes on the Le Grelot with light oil (WD-40). I checked the edge under 10x magnification and decided to do another 100 strokes on the Charnley. After this, the edge was a 'silent killer' on the HHT - gently touch a hair about an inch from the holding point to the edge, and it would fall away silently. Honestly, this is the only hone I've ever had which gives this quality of a HHT.

However, the HHT is just a test. The only thing that matters is how well the razor shaves. 

This edge was an excellent shaving edge. It was extremely sharp and very comfortable. However, in the ATG pass, I tended to get a weeper or two. Also, my face felt 'peeled' like when I use my R41 with a Feather blade. There was a deep burn when I applied my aftershave. 

I refinished the edge on the Charnley using a heavier honing oil next (150 strokes) and the edge toned down a bit. The HHT wasn't as good, but the shave was much more comfortable. 

[Image: IMG_20150430_144341.jpg]


2) The Large Black Arkansas


This is much larger than the other hones, and needed fewer strokes to finish my edges. I used this one with the C-Mon and the Le Grelot. I first finished the edges with 100 strokes on pure water. This resulted in a very nice edge - nice HHT, but way nicer shave. 

I then polished the surface of the hone a bit more with the chisel, and went back and did 50 strokes on water with both razors. Oh my! The edge was a wonder to shave with. It was so comfortable, and so smooth - among the best edges I've ever shaved with!

I never do ATG in my upper lip area. So with just a WTG and XTG pass, if my blade is not sharp I wind up with a bit of tactile stubble in that area. The edges finished on this hone gave me a shave on my upper lip that was almost as close as the shave with my R41 (after a full 3-pass shave in that area). The rest of my face was as smooth as I can ever get - with any razor! 

So, it was close, but what stood out was how comfortable it was. I would be hard-pressed to remember a more comfortable shave. 

And to think that I can still improve the surface of this hone. If the edges keep improving, I will be very, very happy indeed. 


3) The Translucent Ark


According to Dan's the Black and Trans are essentially the same hone. However, I feel that the Trans is softer than my Black Ark. I checked this hone on the C-Mon. I used 300 strokes on pure water and then 100 strokes on honing oil. 

The edge was pretty good. Very close to the Charnley edge, but not as smooth as off the Black. I believe this is because I have more work to do on the surface of the Trans. Still, it was pretty nice. 

--------------------

The upshot of this is that these hones all make a very nice coticule edge sharper. The Black Trans also makes it smoother. I believe this is because I have spent more time on polishing the surface of my Black Ark. Maybe the others would match it if I were to get their surfaces to be as smooth as the Black. 

Now, remember that I really like coticule edges as shaving edges. These hones seem to improve them, and I find that impressive. They're not necessarily better (as that's a subjective thing), I certainly do find them to be better for my face, though. 

37 1,743
Reply
 04-30-2015, 05:23 PM
#2
User Info
A good read, Yohann! Thanks for sharing.  Smile

83 21,109
Reply
 04-30-2015, 10:40 PM
#3
  • Thug
  • Active Member
  • South Africa
User Info
A great review Yohann.

Do you by any chance have a Zulu Grey? Any thoughts on it?

I should be getting a small sample of one in the next week or so which should be arriving with the JA Henckels 5/8" I recently purchased.

0 403
Reply
 05-03-2015, 03:08 AM
#4
User Info
An interesting read, thank you.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

0 3
Reply
 05-05-2015, 05:30 PM
#5
User Info
(04-30-2015, 10:40 PM)Thug Wrote: A great review Yohann.

Do you by any chance have a Zulu Grey? Any thoughts on it?

I should be getting a small sample of one in the next week or so which should be arriving with the JA Henckels 5/8" I recently purchased.

I've never had the Zulu Grey - I wasn't very attracted to it because of the uneven reviews it's got. From what I can tell, used properly, they give edges comparable to a nice Thuri.

I can compare the oilstones to a good thuringian, and I'd have to say that the edge off the black Ark is much more to my liking than the Thuri. However, these oilstones are not very versatile - they're only good for polishing the edge after the razor is already shave-ready.

The Zulu should be more versatile, from what I've read.

I'll be interested in hearing your thoughts on the Zulu when you get it.

37 1,743
Reply
 05-05-2015, 09:22 PM
#6
  • Thug
  • Active Member
  • South Africa
User Info
Thanks for your thoughts.

I'll let you know what my thoughts are once I receive it.

0 403
Reply
 05-07-2015, 01:36 PM
#7
User Info
Great review of finishing hones, I learned a lot.  One question though. You said you used a carbon steel chisel to polish the hones.  Can you explain how to do that?
Thanks,
Tom

0 7
Reply
 05-07-2015, 04:59 PM
#8
User Info
(05-07-2015, 01:36 PM)tom6392 Wrote: Great review of finishing hones, I learned a lot.  One question though. You said you used a carbon steel chisel to polish the hones.  Can you explain how to do that?
Thanks,
Tom

Hey Tom,

It's quite simple. You get a wide chisel (you can get 3-4" wide ones), and run it over the stone (after it has been lapped) like you're honing it. I use quite a bit of pressure when doing this.

After some time (many, many hundreds of strokes) the novaculite hones get a shine on the surface from this treatment. This seems to make them much smoother and finer.

If you don't properly prepare the surface of these hones, they still put a sharp edge on the blades (I've tested this), but the edges are harsh and lead to an uncomfortable shave. If you read older posts about Arks and Charnleys on SRP you'll see a lot of people complaining about harsh edges. In fact, when I bought my first Charnley, I had the same issue with the edges.

If you do this treatment (basically, just hone a chisel on the stone), it will mirror the surface of the hone. You can see that the Black Ark in the pic above has a reflective finish (I'm still working on it, so it's not perfect yet). As it gets smoother and more reflective, it puts an amazing polish on the edge of the blades. These edges are super-sharp, but still very comfortable to use.

37 1,743
Reply
 05-07-2015, 06:41 PM
#9
User Info
Thanks Yohann. I have a black Arkansas hone that finishes pretty well, but I will try the chisel treatment to bring it to that next level of polish.
-Tom

0 7
Reply
 05-08-2015, 02:37 PM
#10
User Info
Nice, well written post. Thanks!

I have a large black Arkansas (from Dan's), and a medium sized "butterscotch" translucent Arkansas. I get better final edges off the translucent, but I think that is probably because it is decades old, and the surface is as smooth as greased glass. My black Arkansas is only about 8 months old, and I have spent hours and hours breaking it in with fine grit wet to dry sandpaper and a chisel. I always hit it forabout 200 strokes after my coticule, and prior to moving on to the translucent Arkansas. Like you, I can't find anything that finishes an edge like a real hard, well used Arkansas stone.

1 67
Reply
Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)