Honing with a honiong stone refines the sharp edge of the blade, removing the 'burrs' that form on the cutting edge of the razor (the fin) during shaving.
Step one: Wet the honing stone with plenty of water.
Step two: Grip the wooden handle with your left hand and rest the honing stone securely on a flat surface to ensure safety.
Step three: Hold the shaft of the blade with your thumb and forefinger. Place the blade flat on the hone in the start position. (Fig. 2)
Step four: Draw the blade towards the hone handle with the edge side leading. If the blade is wider that the width of the stone the blade should be angled and drawn downwards as it travels along the stone. This way the heel and the point of the blade are sharpened in one movement.
Step five: Once you reach the end of the hone stop and roll the blade over on its spine and draw the blade away with the edge side leading. (Fig. 3)
Repeat this process several times. Remember to use equal pressure and ensure that both the spine and the edge of the blade are in full contact with the honing stone throughout the process.
There are several methods to testing the sharpness of a freshly honed blade; these are the thumb test, the hair test and the shave test.
The thumb test: Run the edge of the razor over a moistened thumbnail, if the edge clings or drags then the blade is deemed sharp enough.
The hair test: hold up a single hair and place the edge of the blade against it. If the hair is cleanly severed then the blade is sharp enough.
The shave test: Only the shave will tell if the edge is keen enough. What is sharp for one man may not be sharp enough for another. It is only through trial and error that you truly establish the correct sharpness to suit your beard.
If done correctly honing will be required every few months. Only when the blade becomes dull and pulls during shaving does it require honing. If daily stropping does not bring the edge back to a sharpness level that suits your beard you will have to return to honing on either honing stones or pasted strops. It is possible to extend the time between honing if you use a pasted strop. This is a strop with abrasives on it.
See also our extensive guide to Strops and Stropping.
For one to one advice on honing stones and strops please call us on 0141 880 3040, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.