The Method

(putting it all together)

The Method is a system of edge formation, improvement, and maintenance that gives the beginner a rigid dogma that is meant to channel his efforts into the greatest possible level of efficiency and productivity. With The Method, I do not endeavor to teach the beginner to be a honer. Instead, I show him how to simply BE a honer. The Method is not a process. The Method is an event. The Method is the paint by numbers approach to honing. Simply use the correct numbered colors and stay within the lines, and the instructions will make you hone in a manner that produces an incredible edge, easily, quickly, and cheaply. Again, the focus is not on teaching, not on learning, not on skill development. It is all about telling the wannabe honer step by step how to do the thing, in such a manner than the only way to fail is to not follow instructions accurately. Those who do follow the directions precisely, generally end up with an extremely good edge, generally better than the average professional edge, on the first or at least by the second attempt. So the results are very good. The time spent in pursuit of these results is trivial. The cost in equipment required to achieve this is less than the price of one good synthetic finisher.

Pretty much any style of honing can be presented in such a way as to minimize subjectivity, guessing, and what I call faith-based honing. Most do not approach the edge quality of a full blown Method edge, and none exceed it. Results are consistent. There is no voodoo, no mojo, no hocus pocus, no zen myscicism, no smoke and mirrors, no becoming one with the steel. No magical rocks. No elves or gnomes or leprechuans or faeries or imps or demons. But as I said, other ways of honing will work, and can be presented in a systematic manner that only has to be folled precisely to a chieve great results. The Method seems to be the best method for this.

And so, here I give you The Method. The method has contingencies for simply refreshing an edge that has dulled through normal use. The Method incorporates the fully optimized use of pasted balsa, a route to edge improvement that has been around for a while but never before taken to its greatest potential. The all important setting of the bevel is presented in the form of the Burr Method, something definitely nothing new, and something sneered at by the honing elite, but the surest way to achieve a great bevel and just as importantly to KNOW that the bevel is a good one. The progression from bevel to finish is all about the new kid on the block, lapping film. Film is versatile, cheap, effective, consistent, and uncomplicated, compared to other honing media that offer lesser results. The Method even incorporates a convenient way to evaluate an edge without actually shaving with it, to qualify an edge at any stage, from purchase to stropping to pre and post shave to dulling from use, to honing and before and after daily maintenance. In other words, any time the edge quality may have bumped up or down.

The most important aspect of The Method is it is a system that is laid out in detailed instructions that have only to be exactly and rigidly, even religiously, followed. This is the key to getting a beginner on his first self-honed edge without a long trial and error learning process. Other honing styles can be configured similarly. One, the Pyramid Method, was specifically engineered to make use of this philosophy, and though many snickered at it, the chances of a newbie creating a decent edge first time at bat were pretty good, if a bit time consuming and inefficiently. The thing is, it worked, because it was a set of instructions, not a bunch of YMMV crap. You could probably present Jnat or Coticule honing the same way. Definitely synthetic stone honing. I leave that to someone else. I chose this way because for so many reasons, it is simply the best. NOT THE ONLY WAY. Just the best. NOT THE MOST INTERESTING WAY. Just the best. NOT THE MOST CHALLENGING WAY. Au contraire. The Best. NOT THE MOST ARTISANAL OR CRAFTSMANLIKE WAY. The Best, that's all. NOT THE WAY A PROUD OWNER CAN SHOWCASE HIS EXPENSIVE EQUIPMENT. Just the best way to gitter done. There are many reasons to hone in other styles and with other tools, and any well considered reason is good enough, and perfectly valid. I will never speak out dismissively about Jnats (well, except maybe in jest, to tweak the tails of the elitist rock snobs) or coticules or thuringians or Elbonian Moonstones or any means that can be used to create a shave-worthy edge. But this is the best. Can't argue with that.

Like any other honing style similarly presented, the real advantage is in the structured guidance and detailed instructions. If those instructions are not followed precisely, the results will not be optimum. If the aspiring honer allows himself to disregard even one small detail, he will disregard others and still others. If he makes one compromise, he will make more. If he substitutes or changes anything, he is lost and undone, on the slippery slope to honing hell. And so the accolyte to the structured madness of Method honing MUST be willing to set self aside, to stop overthinking, to recoil in horror at the idea of even asking if this or that will work, if this thing can be replaced with that substitute, or if a certain style is just as good. To have the surest chance of early success, it must be taken as dogma. As canon. And so I will state as I often do, that YOU MUST FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS OR YOU WILL CERTAINLY FAIL. Now this process is aimed at the beginner, and of course a skilled and experienced honer knows that certain details could be tweaked slightly, or that for a very small difference in results, a certain element could be changed or a substitute introduced. NEWBIES, YOU ARE NOT THAT GUY!!! If you want to succeed, follow the directions accurately and without question. If you enjoy frustration and failure, disregard that, do your own thing, and get the same sort of results that beginners have gotten for hundreds of years. Up to you.

In the below listed articles I am making certain assumptions, that the newbie has at least a dozen or so shaves with a straight razor already, that he knows basic terminology and nomenclature, and that he has a hollowground straight-edged straight razor in at least fair condition and usability. More articles defining and explaining these things will be published here as time permits. It is possible for a complete newbie to be handheld through his first method edge even if he has never held another razor in his life and has never shaved with a straight, but for now I assume some basic knowledge and the aspiring honer would do well to acquire that knowledge before proceeding, or he will be lost.

And now, I present the component parts of:

The Method

  1. Setting The Bevel.
  2. Progressive Honing with lapping film.
  3. How to Finish or Refresh the Edge with Lapping Film
  4. Edge Maintenance and Improvement with a Pasted Balsa Strop.

I am somewhat hesitant to direct those newbies wanting to become Method honers, to discussion forums, because The Method, by its very nature is not open to discussion and argument, overthinking, conventional wisdom, antiquated ideas, controversy, quackery or crackpot theories are destructive to the dogmatic mindset of the aspiring Method honer. But with my fingers crossed and knocking on wood, here you go.

Discussion Forums

Discussion Forums

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