When your open razor blade becomes dull through use, you'll want to hone (sharpen) the blade. You can try stropping (on a separate strop) with an abrasive paste (green or black) which will provide a sharpening effect, but this only really extends the period between honing.
Frequency of honing
There is much debate over how often you should hone. We recommend honing when when you feel the blade dragging on your stubble and generally isn't doing such a good job on your cheeks.
Wet or dry honing?
Most manufacturers will recommend to use water with their hones although some experts recommend dry honing. We recommend you try both to see which result suits you best.
Wet Honing Technique
Wet the honing stone with water and pour on more at intervals whist honing.
Make sure the honing stone is on a flat surface and hold it steadily with your other hand.
With your dominant hand, hold the blade with your thumb and forefinger. Place the blade dead flat on the hone, so that the edge of the blade and the spine touch the hone.
Using equal pressure push the razor with the edge leading, until you get to the end of the hone. It is crucial to hone the whole edge in one stroke, so if your razor is wider than the honing stone, move the blade in a diagonal or curved line across the hone (see diagram).
When you arrive at the end of the hone, flip the blade over on it's spine and push it back again (see diagram)
Repeat this process 4 to 5 times.
Important notes on the honing technique
Keep the blade dead flat during honing and never let the spine lift off the hone while the blade is moving, otherwise you will blunt the blade.
It is important to complete the same number of strokes for both sides and to use equal pressure during honing.
How do I know it's sharp enough?
There are a few ways of determining the sharpness of a blade.
We recommend sharply placing the blade's edge against a single hair, if it cuts it cleanly then it should be sharp enough.
You can also use a moistened thumb to run against the blade, if it pulls or catches the skin then it should be sharp enough.
After these tests, you can try stropping then shaving with it. If still it's not keen enough then go back to the honing stone!
Alternatively, leave it to the experts!
If you don't fancy honing yourself or would like to see what a really sharp edge feels like then why not try The Strop Shop who offer a professional mail order honing service to the UK.