Beginner's Stone Progression:

There's 2 questions I get asked often when it comes honing straight razors. The first is "Where do I begin?" Basically there's many different paths as to where you should begin but if you are and/or have just bought your first stone, then this progression will be perfect for you. As you become more expereinced, then you can look at other progressions and/or techniques. The second question I get asked a lot is "What stones do I get or do you recommend?" That will be a answered later in this post because it too can vary due to both experience and other factors. Now I must tell you that this is my current set up and I'm in the process of changing it. Okey lets get started:

Stone #1: Naniwa Professional 600 grit (bevel setter/repair stone):
In terms of both bevel setting and minor repairs, you can't beat this stone. Especially if you are honing razors that require a lot of metal to be removed to set the bevel and if you want to complete minor repairs such as small dents, chips and nicks in the blade's edge along with some slight pitting. This stone will get all of that done rather quickly without much effort and excessive spine wear. I personally consider this my pre bevel setter/repair stone which is a must have if you are going to be honing others and/or are a vintage razor collector and it won't dish and wear out on you either:

Stone #2: Suehiro 1K side:
I got this mighty mini combo stone off Amazon for around $21 bucks shipped. And for beginners, you do NOT leave this side of the stone until the bevel is set. To check if the bevel is set you simply wet your thumbnail with water and using the weight of the blade only, gently drag the razor across your thumbnail. If the razor struggles to go across your thumbnail and feels like it's trying to dig into and split your thumbnail wide open from heel to toe, then congrats you have set your first bevel. The best 1K stone is the Naniwa Professional 1K stone. Both the professional 600 and 1K are known as the New Chosera line which is the same stone minus the wooden base and is not quite as long and only .75 inches thick instead of being 1 inch thick but they'll last a lifetime:

Stone #3: Suehiro 3K side:
Next up in your progression is the 3K side of the Suehiro 1/3K combo stone. This is where your mid range work usually starts and where some more experienced people start depending on their philosphy and what kind of situation they're dealing with. But for beginners this should be your mid range stone until you become more experienced. There's other stones you can use which are well suited for this. They are Naniwa Specialty 3K, Shapton glass 4K, Naniwa Specialty 5K, Shapton Professional 3K and 5K. The Shapton glass 6K is more of a polishing stone in my humble opinion than a mid range stone and Norton 4K along with the 4K side of of the combo stone. Be warned about the Norton combo stones and full size stones. They tend to dish really bad and usually have to be bought once a year, so I don't recommend them. In fact I regret buying my Norton combo:

Stone #4: Norton 8K :
This would be considered your polishing and/or finishing stone if you don't have any higher grit stones. I like to do a minimum 2 sessions on this stone to finish a razor off. The first time around would be a polishing while the second time around would be your finishing session and should more than shave ready at this point and you would follow that up with a full stropping routine. Once again, try to avoid Norton's combo stones and full size stones. They dish very badly and apart from the 8K, 1 year is about all you will get out of them:

Now this is what I currently use. If you need a reference guide in terms of grit just remember to start with either a 1K, 4K, 8K, 12K or you can start with a 1K, 3K, 5K, 8K, 12K until you get the basics down and are more comfortable about your edges. Once you get roughly around about 4 to 6 months of honing experience in, you can start experimenting with various other techniques and progressions. I've still not quite decided on what I want to use just yet but Shapton is looking really good to me at the moment. I'll have to see what I can find that doesn't hurt the budget too much. I've heard that both Naniwa's specialty line and the super stone lines dish really bad but I've not experienced or seen this yet so I really don't know for sure. That's simply what I've heard. Now I've not seen or heard a single complaint about either of Shapton's, Suehiro's, and King's product lines at all. Quite the opposite in fact. I've been told that King's stone lines are extremely thirsty but otherwise a great stone. So my guess is to get what you can afford that doesn't get any complaints. Any way I hope this helps someone out.

Asian Plum & The 430:

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