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Should I Shave Or Should I Go Now?

September 26, 2012

Cast Iron File Handle

Last weekend, I went to one of the local tool auctions (the only tool auction?) in my area that takes place like three times a year. I was in the market for a cast iron file handle and didn’t feel like paying the $29 or $39 eBay price. I knew they had one listed for this auction and figured I’d be able to get it for less.

When my item finally came up, I was dismayed to see the previous item received no bids, so it got tossed into the lot I was bidding on. Blergh. I hate buying junk I don’t want. But what can you do? So when I picked up my cast iron file handle (for $7.50 – suck it, eBay!), it came with a beat up sharpening stone.

Those old stones at auctions are usually oil stones so old and dished they hold water. Not that you’d want to even pick them up, they’re so grimy and disgusting, much less drink from them. Hence, I received my flat of items (there was also an old Millers Falls marking gauge/depth gauge and a tiny little Millers Falls ratcheting flat screw driver in the group) with some disdain.

After the auctioneer got to a point where I wasn’t watching for any of the next hundred or so items, I glanced down at the grungy stone and raised an eye brow. Oh! It was a water stone. And it had a label on it!

“Light Green”

Later that evening, I cleaned up the water stone with my 220 DMT. It made some nice slurry and I had to pry the flattening stone off of it more than once. It made me think it was a higher grit finishing stone. So I got on-line and started researching the label, which simply read “Light Green”.

After about 15 minutes of research (which included some time on a forum for people who shave with straight razors, called, I was pretty sure of what I had. Turns out that grungy water stone I’d never given a second look was a Light Green Escher hone, estimated at about 12,000 grit, and used as a finishing hone primarily by barbers and men who shave with straight razors. Oh, that’s cool.

Apparently, this wonderful stone is the crème-de-la-crème of straight razor hones. Not only that, but they are highly sought after because the quarry they came out of in Germany can no longer mine them due to nature preservation laws. And a nice-sized stone, in good condition and with labels, can go for more than $300.

Wait, what? That piece of junk stone I paid $1.875 (when you divide $7.50 by the four items in the box) for is worth over $300?!?!


Escher Light Green Hone

Too nice, apparently, for use in woodworking. An inquiry on the forum was responded to by several guys who said it would be a crime to use the stone for anything but straight razor honing. They suggested I sell it (I’m sure to one of them… at a discounted price because I got it for such a good buy) and use the money to buy some nice woodworking tools.

A part of me says, “Screw them, I’ve got myself a new finishing stone for my smoothing planes.”

Another part of me says, “Screw THAT, I’ve got myself a tidy little profit of $300 or more if I sell it!” (Oh, Wayne Anderson, your plane just got a little closer to reality!)

And, then, a very little part of me says, “I wonder how hard it is to learn how to shave with a straight razor…”

12 Comments leave one →
  1. September 26, 2012 3:24 pm

    Funny story. Interesting how a little research finds a jewel in your auction lot. Myself, I’d be tempted to find a straight razor and learn to use it. The upside is if you don’t like it, you can still sell it for $300.


    • September 26, 2012 3:39 pm

      I do so hate paying $40 for 16 razor blades every few months. I suspect I’ll hold on to it a while and see how I feel the next time I have to go out and buy razor blades. I might just track down a nice ready-to-shave razor from one of those guys and give it a try…


      • September 26, 2012 5:12 pm

        OK, listen – I hate to be a nudge, but I think I pretty much own the ‘punk rock song titles’ blog post naming oevre.

        Please desist.

        And for the record, my vote would be keep the stone, quit shaving, and sell your car for the Anderson plane.

        nice stone.


      • September 26, 2012 7:15 pm

        You give me full rights to anything related to the Grateful Dead and I’ll leave you the punk. Dael?

        (did you see what I did there?)

        (plus, I pride myself on witty blog post titles. What would you have used for this particular one if not that which was used?)

        Would love to never shave again. But we have a Sleep Number bed and my wife would happily convert both sides to her sleep number if I tried that.


      • September 26, 2012 7:20 pm

        Also, my wife loves my car (Toyota Venza) and would likewise kick me out of the garage if I got rid of it.


  2. Roger Davis permalink
    September 26, 2012 7:26 pm

    But, $300 is a lot of money…..just ask Wilbur Pan!


    • September 26, 2012 8:51 pm

      Oh, believe me, Roger, i know! It is one quarter of a Wayne Anderson smoother!

      (Can you tell what I have on my mind?)


  3. Robin permalink
    September 26, 2012 10:42 pm

    Check out badgerandblade for a bunch of helpful guys to get you into shaving with a straight and best place to get a shave ready razor is Larry at
    Straight shavers arguments about sharpening make woodworkers arguments look like child’s play 🙂


  4. September 28, 2012 2:34 am

    If you shave there will be trouble if you sell there will be double.
    It’s one thing saying they go for up to $300 and another thing getting that money. How much have the other guys offered? or have you seen any in completed listings on ebay? $100 buys a shapton 16000 grit which is a very difficult stone to beat. Woodworkers need good stones too though we tend to prefer stones that cut faster, many of the stones the razor folk rave over would take for ever to put an edge on a plane blade. If it was mine I would sharpen some tools with it and see if I fell in love with it, if I didn’t I’d sell.


    • September 28, 2012 6:32 am

      You are absolutely right, Robin.

      When I searched completed listings on eBay, many had indeed sold for more than $300.

      The Light Green is supposed to be one of the faster-cutting of the Escher stones. But I was going to do just what you suggested; try it out for a while, the see if I want to sell it.


    • September 28, 2012 10:26 am

      To further expound upon my earlier thoughts (now that I’m in front of a keyboard and not using a touch pad)…

      Listings that didn’t sell for that much were usually very poor quality stones or unmarked stones where the seller was assuming the brand or where the reserve/BIN price was well over $300.

      I was thinking about trying to come up with a price I think is fair and maybe just list it for a fixed price on the straight razor forum in their For Sale section and see what happens. Sure, you miss out on the chance of a bidding war, but you also get a sure thing sale.

      And, yet… I relish the challenge of writing a great eBay listing post. A few years ago, I sold my Utilikilt (I shrank and had to get a smaller size) on eBay for more than I originally paid for it brand new because of a few people bidding against each other for it. What can I say? I’m a persuasive writer.

      I wondered, too, why people would want an overpriced natural stone with synthetics on the market that are supposedly higher grit. Maybe it is all mental, but most of what I read seems to indicate people think they get a better edge from the natural stone.


  5. February 18, 2013 10:12 am

    For the record, I decided to unload the hone. Recently sold it on our favourite auction site.


    (that last part was a preemptive laugh)


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