The Invisible edge Chinese 12K natural stone (Cnat)

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280
Thought i'd write a quick review of the Chinese 12K natural stone that are being sold by The Invisible Edge link:


Firstly the stone as it arrives is much like the photo on their website, rough and un-prepared as below

chinese-waterstone-12000-grit.jpg

as you can see the cut marks are very coarse and it was very dusty. I set to work lapping mine with wet and dry paper on a sheet of glass and worked through a progression right up to 2000 grit. the finished article then looks like this

chinese 12k.jpg

The finish is exceptionally smooth and a lot darker once all that dust is off.

So first off i used this with water at the end of a 1K, 3K, 6K progression and to be honest i wasn't impressed with the results, it barely seemed to make a difference. Not to be deterred i thought i'd give it another chance and use it with a light oil, so on my next go i used the same previous progression but then did around 120 laps with a light oil, the result was a lot lot better, but for me it still wasn't up to what i would consider shave ready and so i have been finishing with a few laps on 1 micron lapping film and finishing on pasted strops with CroOx and FerOx. Now that could be just my personal preference as that's how i finish all my razors.

Still wanting to explore the possibilities of this stone i decided to try a little experiment, i have an old Gold Dollar razor that i keep just experiment with new stones, I know this razor can take a very good edge so i decided to see if i could get it shave ready using just a welsh slate hone and a couple slurry stones that i recently acquired and the Chinese stone, after the bevel was set on a 1K synthetic.

So I bread knifed the blade across a 400 grit stone to ensure i was starting from scratch and reset the bevel on a cheap 1K stone, it was cutting arm hair at skin level at this stage. From there i went to the slate with slurry, diluting the slurry as I went, and just honed until it felt like time to move on. I'd already decided that i'd likely need around 500 laps on the cnat to finish so i broke this down into sets of 50 half strokes on each side with 10-20 X-strokes in between each set and then finishing with another 50 x strokes, light pressure only. Finally i stropped it on plain leather for 100 laps.

I had already prepared myself for the fact that it may not be quite up to standard despite the fact it was tree topping my leg hair, and i had a DE on stand by to finish off the test shave. I was however very surprised to find that it delivered a very close shave BBS all over, on the downside it could have been a little smoother, I didn't get any obvious irritation but it wasn't as smooth as i'm used to. This could possibly be rectified by stropping on paste and i'll see for my next shave.

My verdict? I was genuinely surprised at how sharp this left my razor, yes 500 laps is a lot but by doing half laps for the majority of it, it only took around 20 minutes so that's not a deal breaker for me, and i do read that users of Arkansas stones do a similar number of laps any way so perhaps not too excessive. I would say that for the cost it is definitely worth a try if you're prepared to put in the time and balk at the cost of a 12K synthetic. That said lapping film is still cheaper if it's all about the budget, personally i prefer this to lapping film in use, it just feels nicer to me, which is of course subjective.

Given this experiment i do find myself wondering if i need a 3K and 6K stone any more, and could the slate and slurry combo replace these steps, i shall pick up another inexpensive vintage (or 2 :)) and try the same progression and see what the results are like.
 
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Bazz, from the way you describe it I would stick with a stone progression up to the highest stone I have before using the 12k, as it is a "Waterstone" I would defo avoid oil, did you soak it before first use ?, these stones can take easy 15 mins to fully soak, they can suck faster than a whore on overtime. Hope it works out, and look forward to the next test.
 
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Bazz
Messages
280
Bazz, from the way you describe it I would stick with a stone progression up to the highest stone I have before using the 12k, as it is a "Waterstone" I would defo avoid oil, did you soak it before first use ?, these stones can take easy 15 mins to fully soak, they can suck faster than a whore on overtime. Hope it works out, and look forward to the next test.
Honestly i think you could soak this for a month and it wouldn't absorb more than a teaspoon, whilst they may be listing it as a waterstone it is in reality a lump of rock that isn't porous. This quoted from Neil Miller's excellent article that is stickied in the straight razor sub forum:

"For some absurd reason it is often recommended that the Chinese 12000 is soaked before use – it even appears on one of the various types of packaging they come in. They are so hard and adamantine that I think you would have to soak one for months to get any water penetration – my advice is to save yourself the bother and just pour a puddle of water on it."

I couldn't agree more, except that oil just seems to work so much better.
 
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995
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Honestly i think you could soak this for a month and it wouldn't absorb more than a teaspoon, whilst they may be listing it as a waterstone it is in reality a lump of rock that isn't porous. This quoted from Neil Miller's excellent article that is stickied in the straight razor sub forum:

"For some absurd reason it is often recommended that the Chinese 12000 is soaked before use – it even appears on one of the various types of packaging they come in. They are so hard and adamantine that I think you would have to soak one for months to get any water penetration – my advice is to save yourself the bother and just pour a puddle of water on it."

I couldn't agree more, except that oil just seems to work so much better.
My dad has always kept his whetstones in water, some of these whetstones he has had longer than me, and im 50. He mainly uses them for his chisels and knives.
 
OP
Bazz
Messages
280
Had a second shave with the test razor this morning and before use i stropped it on CroOx for 15 laps and then FerOx for 20 laps then leather for 70 laps, the result was excellent, smooth and sharp and a sublime shave.
 
Messages
549
Honestly i think you could soak this for a month and it wouldn't absorb more than a teaspoon, whilst they may be listing it as a waterstone it is in reality a lump of rock that isn't porous. This quoted from Neil Miller's excellent article that is stickied in the straight razor sub forum:

"For some absurd reason it is often recommended that the Chinese 12000 is soaked before use – it even appears on one of the various types of packaging they come in. They are so hard and adamantine that I think you would have to soak one for months to get any water penetration – my advice is to save yourself the bother and just pour a puddle of water on it."

I couldn't agree more, except that oil just seems to work so much better.
Well in that case I might use oil :) :) or maybe dawn n water.
 
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