Everything you need to hone your own straight razor,
from dull to shave ready, on a JNat
We realize that a bewildering array of honing options exists, and we believe in a K.I.S.S. approach for beginners: why not just use two stones? All you really need to hone your own straight razor is a bevel setting stone, like the King 1000, and a JNat (Japanese natural stone) finisher, with its own nagura slurry stone.
If you find you enjoy honing razors, you can achieve finer edges with a progression of synthetic or natural stones before the JNat, or with an assortment of nagura on your JNat base stone. Your JNat and bevel setter can become the foundation of a larger system over time.
What’s in the name?
Nakayama is the mine; not a brand name. Nakayama are the most sought after stones in Japan. There’s a wide range of stones that came from that hole in the ground, ranging from masonry grade through premium grade select stones suitable for sword polishing and honing razors.
Maruichi is a brand. We understand that Kato-san used the stamp during the years he ran the Nakayama quarry. This stone is Tokusen, ‘special select’.
Kiita means ‘yellow plate’ and these stones are very desirable because they are known to generate a rich, creamy yellow auto-slurry.
Nashiji refers to its intended use: ‘meant for fine finishing of Nihon kamisori’ (and also Western style folding straight razors)
Karusu translates to ‘crow’. Stones receive this designation because there appears to be a flock of flying crows. There’s one very visible ‘crow’ on this stone, and several smudges on the other end. Also, more crows appear on the back side.
Lv 5 tells us it’s been graded as a Level 5. It’s a hard stone, able to put a very keen edge and fine polish on a razor’s blade, but not so hard that it won’t release particles that become part of the slurry. When used with a diamond plate (or ‘diamond nagura’, or traditional nagura, the stone contributes to the slurry.
What makes a quality stone?
An outstanding stone cuts quickly, while delivering a fine polish. People who hone with JNats love the feedback they get from the stone… the way the blade tends to stick to the stone as the steel conforms to the stone, and it nears the perfect edge. Many bargain JNats have inconsistent surfaces that wear unevenly and ‘dish’ easily. Other cheap JNats are so ridiculously hard, it’s like trying to hone on a ceramic tile. Either condition can impact both the final shaving edge and feedback received while honing.
This Nakayama is a high quality stone, with sufficient end surface that it can be both handheld while honing your straight razor, or used securely on a bench in an optional rubber-base whetstone holder.
Why a JNat? JNat edges are revered by many straight razor enthusiasts as the finest shaving edge. They’re not over-the-top crazy sharp, where you’ll nick yourself at least once every shave, but rather comfortable, drag-free, and forgiving of mistakes in your technique.
Why buy from Gentleman’s Blade?
Can you buy stones sourced from the Nakayama mine for less? Absolutely! We’re not bulk stone brokers. Buying stones through auctions or discounters can be risky, however. Stones from a particular mine can vary greatly, ranging from masonry grade through select, with prices ranging from about $75 to over $30,000. If you buy a disappointing whetstone, you could struggle with horrible edges for months, believing the problem is your honing technique, when in fact it’s just a low grade stone, suitable perhaps for cladding a fireplace, or sharpening shop tools; but not razors.
Individually selected and razor tested: Each stone should be judged on its own merits. In other words, just because one superb finishing stone came from the Ohira, Ozuku, Okudo, Shoubudani or Nakayama mine, doesn’t necessarily mean another one — even with identical stamps — will perform exactly the same. (Note: to properly lap a stone for use, the surface stamps will be removed in that process.)
We select our natural stones very carefully, working with vetted suppliers. Where possible, the JNat stone has already been hone tested by our supplier. Most stones are imported directly from Kyoto, Japan. When it arrives, we hone test the stone here, and then shave test the results, to make sure we can put a fine shaving edge on an actual razor with it, before we will ever ship it.
Lapping and chamfering: Before we send out a JNat finishing stone, we grid lap it (so it’s completely flat) and then chamfer the edges (put a slight bevel on them, so the edges don’t interfere with full contact of the razor with the stone).
What you see is what you get: The above photo is of the actual JNat hone and nagura for sale on this page. (It’s quite common for bulk stone suppliers to use ‘representative’ stone images in their marketing. The actual stone shipped could be quite different.)
Nagura: A 109g genuine Asano-stamped Mikawa Shiro nagura slurry stone is included. The Botan slurry provides and intermediate grit point between the bevel setter and the finishing slurry.
Bevel setter: An 8 x 3 x 1″ King Deluxe 1000 synthetic water stone is included for setting the bevel of your razor(s), as required.
Diamond plate: Your stones are going to have to be lapped (flattened) on a regular basis. The included Atoma 1200 diamond plate perfect for the job, and it can also serve as “diamond nagura” in the final finishing process; something Cole will cover in your tutorial video.
Magnification: To see the progress you’re making on removing scratches in the bevel, as you heal the scratches and then polish it to a keen shave ready edge, we’re including a 60x magnification jewelers loupe.
Training and Support included: We deliver a lot more than “a rock.” Cole will be happy to prepare a custom video in which he hones a razor from scratch, with the very stones you’ll be receiving in your order. If you want to send in your razor, or purchase one from our store, he can even video the entire honing process with the razor you’ll use. Back home, since the stones (and possibly the razor) will be the same, you should be able to duplicate Cole’s JNat edge exactly by following the steps in the video.
Important: This set includes one-of-a-kind natural stones. In other words, there’s only one, and when it’s gone, there will never be another combination just like it.