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Norton Waterstone 4K/8K Razor Honing Guide

Norton 24336 Japanese-Style Combination Waterstone 4000/8000 is one of the best honing stones in the world. It’s versatile and you can use it for multiple tasks. It is amazing for making your straight razor sharp. One of its best advantages is that it has two surfaces with different grit. 4K on one side and 8K on the other. These surfaces are enough if you wish to make the edge of your razor shave ready. In this article we will explain how to hone your razor using Norton 4K/8K stone.

Norton 24336 Japanese-Style Combination Waterstone 4000/8000

One of the first and the most important question straight razor owners ask is about honing quality. Is it possible to shave right after honing at 8K side? In general yes, you can get rather acceptable shaving. But it’s recommended to use finishing stone or natural stone for final polishing. You will get much better shaving experience in the long run.

Preparation

When you get a new Norton it comes with a special case. This case can be used as a stone holder. It allows to place the stone on it and use it with comfort. All you need for this is to place it on the closed box and you are done. Special trotters on the bottom make the box stable and it doesn’t move.

A new stone usually feels a little grainy. You can feel it with your hands. This is about both sides. Even 8 000 side feels a little grainy. You need whittle these grains away until it has a very smooth feeling before you use it. We recommend using special Norton Flattening Stone for Waterstones for this purpose. It will help you to remove all the excessive grains and will prepare your hone.

Soaking the Waterstone

Before you use any Waterstone you need to soak it in water for about 15 minutes. All you need for this is a deep glass with still water. Put the stone in this glass and let it stay there for 15-20 minutes. It will absorb some the water and will be ready.

Razor Position

Many people don’t know how to hold the razor during honing process. They think that there must be special angle between the blade and stone surface. But the secret is that no special angle is required. Just put the razor above the stone and that’s all! This is the best angle. You don’t need to maintain specific angle with your hands. The image below shows this perfect position:

Straight razor honing position

Pay attention: this position must be unchanged during the whole honing process!!! Don’t use your hands for setting the angle.

Setting Bevel

Place Norton stone on the box and water it with sprayer. This water will make honing process easier. If you don’t have sprayer just pour some water on it and use your fingers to distribute it.

If your razor doesn’t have a bevel you don’t need to buy 1000 stone specially for setting it. Use 4000 side for this purpose. Most of new razors don’t need this! They already have a pretty nice bevel and this step is not required.

If you want to set a bevel you need to perform 40 circular motions for both sides of the blade. Use pressure. There is one thing you should always remember: the blade must lay perfectly flat on the stone! If it’s not perfectly flat you may harm the edge. If you do everything right you will see metal particles after several motions.

After you finish with circular motions make 15-20 simple strokes. Move the blade towards the edge and keep it flat.

You will have to repeat above steps couple of times in order to set perfect bevel. Some razors require only one repeat while others may need two sessions of honing.

Honing

Honing routine is very similar to setting bevel. But now you must move from low grit and medium pressure to high grit and no pressure at all. It’s like a pyramid.

  • Step 1. Start with 4K side and make 40 circular motions for both sides. The main difference from bevel technique is that you don’t need to pressure a lot. The pressure should be light.
  • Step 2. After this repeat 40 circles cycle for both sides at 4K again but now don’t pressure at all. Use weight of the razor. Just let the blade touch the hone and perform 40 circular motions for both sides. The grip should be comfortable and the blade should lay absolutely flat.
    How to find out if the blade becomes sharper? Most of the people use their forearm for this. Try to shave off some hair on your forearm. If the razor cuts the hair easily you can move to the next step. If the razor isn’t sharp enough – you did something wrong. Try to rehone using above steps (without setting bevel).
  • Step 3. Now it’s time to use 8000 side. Water the side with your sprayer. After this take the blade and make 8-10 standard strokes without pressure. Use only weight of the blade.

These 3 steps will make your blade shave ready. You can go to your bathroom and give it a try. Don’t forget to strop it as usually. Stropping will prepare it for shaving.

Polishing

Of course these 3 steps can’t give perfect sharpness. If you want to make the edge perfect you need to use finishing stone. Naniwa SP491 12000 Grit Honing Stone is one of the best. Make 10-15 strokes on Naniwa 12K without pressure and your blade will become extremely sharp. If you don’t have finishing stone try to use special strop with thin layer of chromium oxide. We revealed how to make and use it in Straight Razor Refreshing guide.

As you see Norton 24336 4000/8000 honing stone is a very good and versatile choice. All straight razor owners can use it for sharpening their shaving tools. It’s not too expensive and combines 2 surfaces with different grit to provide you with all you need for maintaining your razor. You can use it not only for regular sharpening but also for setting a bevel.

Common Mistakes

Here is a list of common mistakes people usually make when using this great stone:

  • Don’t use unprepared stone. When you receive a new stone it is a little grainy and it must be prepared. If you use unprepared stone it may harm the edge. It’s much more difficult to get a decent honing with unprepared Norton. How to do preparation? You need special Norton Flattening Stone for this. Use this flattering tool until both sides feel smoothly.
  • When you do honing motions always keep the razor flat. It’s very important. If you don’t follow this tip you will not get good result.
  • Pressure is the key to the entire honing process. Sometimes you need to pressure lightly and sometimes it’s not required at all. Many people think that if they don’t press no result will be achieved. But that’s a huge mistake. Movements with no pressure polish the edge. It becomes sharper and sharper. Always pay attention to controlling pressure!

Hope this Norton Waterstone 4K/8K honing guide will help you to keep your razor in good shape.