The Restore & Sharpen Process

Short video showing how I apply rattan over red felt in a criss- cross pattern on a kamisori handle.

Sharpening can be a very soothing and an almost meditational process.  It takes a lot of patience, and in order to achieve a really smooth 'hair popping hanging hair sharpness' you need good stones and of multiple hardness OR a couple of good stones with multiple levels of Nagura.  For all the razors I restore, I obtain  'hanging hair sharpness'.  


The Kamisori/straights I receive are often in a pretty poor state, arriving rusted/corroded and never shave ready. All the restoration I perform is done by hand as I favor this approach over heavy machinery/grinding, fearing that the heat coming from machinery could in some way damage/warp the ‘integrity’ of the blade.   


Firstly, I sterilise the razors in Barbicide. I then remove the rust, polish the staining out and if necessary, remove old or damaged handle binding or scales. There may be occasions where the blade could be polished further however doing so could remove the lettering hence in all cases like this I favor keeping the shine to a minimum. To be honest, Kamisori look their best when they are not mirror finished - it's the distressed look which makes each one so unique.  Once happy with the look of the razor, I start on the honing and sharpening process, which, dependent upon the hardness of steel can take anything from ten minutes right up to 2 hours. The process I choose to follow is necessary to get the blade to ‘hanging hair sharp’. What you ultimately want from your razor is not only a close shave but also an experience, which you look forward to. I follow the steps below to get each of them to this point. 


The stones I favour are to always use a synthetic stone for the bevel set and from that point forward I favour natural Japanese stones (JNS) as they put a lovely edge on, and are very versatile when used with different naguras.  What I have 'discovered' through the resoration of kamisori is that the hardest stones are not always the best for providing the best polished edge as recently I have achieved lovely edges from using a soft JNS with multiple Nagura.   


  1. Shapton 1000 glass stone: Bevel set and honing
  2. 30 strokes on a canvas strop - removes the burr.  If you struggle with step 1 in terms of it takes you too long, try this step after 3 to 5 minutes.  It can often make all the difference and speedily move you on to step 3 without 'rubbing your razor away'
  3. Series of natural Japanese stones and Nagura (3)
  4. Nakayama Koppa Asagi Level 5 whetstone with Asano Tenjou Nagura slurry: Blade polishing - this is optional dependent upon the results I achieve with the previous stages as recently have discivered that super hard does not always equal super sharp/polished
  5. Chromium oxide impregnated balsa strop: balsa stropping - optional
  6. Canvas strop (Kamisori respond extremely well on these) - absolutely essential 
  7. Leather strop: final step in the blade sharpening process- I use 2 strops, one on rougher leather and the final stage on very soft/smooth


I then shave test each and then sterilise one more time in Barbicide.  I then wrap in anti-corrosion paper, stamp and store in an air/water tight Peli container. 


Here are some really useful tips I am happy to pass on:


Honing Tip:  When I get to step 3 I often hold the stone in my hand as think I get a much closer connection between the razor and stone - you need to be careful as you could cut yourself, though I never have hence it can't be that dangerous!


Honing Tip:  Do not spend more time on the lower grits i.e. 1000 than you do on the higher.  If a bevel needs to be created then you need to spend time on the 1000 grit.  In all other cases I usually spend more time per stone, the higher the grit/Nagura/harder the stone, I go to.  


Canvas Strop:  A good (or old) rough canvas strop is one of my favourite tools for sharpening as has saved me hours - they really are invaluable not only to create an edge for the first time but to maintain one also.  If no canvas available, denim stuck to a piece of wood is every bit as good. 





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