Need Straight Razor Sharpening Help

Feb 13, 2001
I am sure that this topic has come up in the past, but I am a newbie with conflicting advise in need of assistance. I have a collection of about 25 old straight razors going back to the early part of the 19th century. I hone them from time to time on a so-called wet razor hone (part of a 4 sided strop/hone combo). But the quality of my blades is going down. Some have lost their edge entirely. What to do? Should I invest in a blade sharpening system (eg. the Edge Pro Apex, Skarb, et. al.) or should i get some sort of hones (don't have a clue what kind). Anyway I really need the advise of this forum. Please help. Again, this for dtraight razors and not knives per se.
The Knife Center has a web page on sharpening straight razors:

They indicate that German razor manufacturers use water stones and yet the knifecenter correspondent has his doubts. This is due to BS from Juarnich about lubricants being bad on hones. Having sharpened things by every method known to man for over 40 years I can safely say that lubricants work fine on hones.

What I use (cause I can find them in considerable variety) is Japanese water stones. I get mine at a local wood workers store. You can easily find them in 8000 grit and finer. I would get one of these and lay my razor flat on the hone and hone with water. You might want to experiment with one of your cheaper razors for prefered stroke. I Gently work in circles at first, then edge-forward for a little bit, then finish with edge trailing strokes.

By the way, when you hone edge-trailing or strop on leather, end your stroke by flipping your edge upwards when you reverse your stroke rather than picking up the whole blade. This is hard to explain, but you are trying to preclude picking the spine of the blade up before the edge and thereby rounding the edge. If you don't strop carefully you degrade your edge over time.

After honing your straight razor you still need to refine your edge with a strop. Do not use serious abrasive on your razor strop. Even red jeweler's rouge is harsh for razors.
Welcome to Bladeforums! Relax, we know EVERYTHING !!! so you're in good hands now ...

Invest in a Spyderco Sharpmaker ( Bayou Lafourche has a nice price )

Although the Sharpmaker is primarily made for sharpening knives, if you follow the instructions in the included video, you will see it also does straight razors.

Warning! I have never sharpened a straight razor in my life, with my Sharpmaker, or any other way. In fact, I don't even shave. But I've sharpened knives well enough to shave with.

The Sharpmaker will also do scissors, chisels, axes, potato peelers, and nail clippers. Really! Does a great job on them, too.

Once again, welcome to the wonderful world of sharp, shiny objects!
There is a GREAT faq here on sharpening razors. Read it. I did, and I am anxiously awaiting my strop, compound, and hone, which should be arriving any day.

I have an old straight edge I picked up 20 years ago, and can't wait to see if I can get it to shave. If not, DOVO has some beautiful looking straight razors on the internet.
Thank you for the responses so far. I still would like to know the following:

If a straight razor is dull to the point that none of my honing works, what can be done to start a new edge?

AND do any of the sharpening systems work well with straight razors. especially the very common hollow ground razors?
The sharpening "systems" elevate the blade to too high an angle for straight razors. The common hollow ground razors are designed to be layed flat on your hone when you sharpen. The hollow allows the final edge to be worked when you hone. One of the things that Japanese water stones are designed for is to polish the side of a blade. They are nice to use on razors not only to put a fine edge on the blade, but also to not mar the side/spine of the blade.

Rather than using a sharpmaker ceramic rod as a hone for a razor you might look at using the finest grade of Spyderco ceramic bench hone.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Jeff Clark:
Rather than using a sharpmaker ceramic rod as a hone for a razor you might look at using the finest grade of Spyderco ceramic bench hone.</font>

The Sharpmaker technique allows use of the rods as a hone, by laying them side by side in the grooves in the base.

I shave with a straight razor as a luxury. It is a treat. It takes some time.
I have a very fine stone called "Belgin Red" to hone. Thanks Granpa. I don`t know if you can buy these. DOVO might be a source. They made one of my razors. A hard AR may work.
This is seldom required, but you lay it flat. The spine gives you the angle.
Standard hone to feel an even wire edge and reverse. Circles work fastest. Keep the spine on the stone. I see no point in being fancy. You are just taking steel. I do do a sweep , but I don`t think it matters. It makes me feel more pro. Finish with a canvas strop then leather. You don`t want steel particals embeded in the leather. I put a polishing compound in the canvas, but the leather ,no.
Strop before you shave. After, screws it up somehow. It needs rest.
Be sure to pull your skin tight.
There was a Hollander on rec knives that did a great deal of research on this. I think he was an MD. You might be able to find that data.