Going with Synthetic Stones:

While I truly love the edges that natural stones provide, there's really no way to determine exactly what the grit or hardness of the stone is and it often takes a really long time to determine what type edge it provides. So with that being said, I have decided to go with Shapton's Water Stone products. This also includes the natural Arkansas oil stones as well. Even though they're much more affordable compared to the Japanese water stones, they still are not quite what I've been looking for: 

The reasoning behind this decision was based upon last night's honing session. It took a really long time to set a bevel on my Soft Arkansas oil stone with the Jinhou. I was pretty much wiped out after that and it really wasn't where I wanted it, so I started over using my old Norton 4/8K combo stone. For those that are new to honing their own straight razors, avoid the naturals until you get you get some time in with the synthetic stones first and have learned the basics and do NOT go cheap either if you can help it. 4.5 hours to hone 2 straight razors is unacceptable and I can't really afford a Japanese water stone. The surgical black is somewhat affordable, but I really need to get back to what I know truly works. All of my experimenting is done at this point.

Ike & The 207:

Tonight's shave felt extremely good. Tonight I decided to go with a Skin Bracer  themed shave so I went with Strike Gold Shave  and the...