Murray Carter's Video on Razor Sharpening

Regarding Murray Carter’s Video on Razor Sharpening

The razor world was tranquil until Murray Carter of Carter Cutlery, a distinguished ABS Master Bladesmith and 17th Generation Yoshimoto Bladesmith, released a video on straight razor sharpening.

For those unfamiliar with Murray Carter, he’s a somewhat polarizing figure among knife makers. His sharpening techniques often stir debates across various forums. While he commands immense respect, just as many individuals ardently defend his methods as criticize them. 🙂

Before delving into the videos, I want to clarify that I hold no bias against Murray Carter, his techniques, or anyone discussed here. This post aims to offer a comprehensive perspective, presenting evidence and arguments beyond previous debates with Murray Carter about his techniques.

This post covers a vast array of points, necessary to address the multitude of accusations and counterarguments surrounding the initial video, which we’ll view shortly.

The video created a buzz in the straight razor community, sparking a response from Brad, aka Undream22, known for exceptional razor restores. While Brad’s video response was respectful and more of a friendly challenge, it lacked detailed technical explanations for the use of tape and slurry, which Murray addressed in his response video, along with concepts like edge trailing versus edge leading and the use of hanging strops versus paddle strops.

Murray’s second video needs to be understood in the context of responding to strong criticism from certain members of the shaving community.


Carter’s Method Recreation

Initially, the reaction from the straight razor world to Murray’s first video was skepticism and claims like “you can’t do that” or “it won’t provide a smooth shave.” Essentially, critics argued that his method deviated from traditional straight razor honing practices. To explore this firsthand, several members from the Badger and Blade (B&B) forum attempted to replicate Murray’s method as shown in the video.

In the first video, after burring the razor with the 1K stone, Murray took minimal strokes at each subsequent level. Using a Chosera 1K and a Shapton Glass 6K stone instead of the commonly used King 1K and 6K stones, microscope pictures were taken at each stage, revealing differences between Murray’s method and traditional razor honing.

Murray’s approach, resembling knife sharpening, involved back-and-forth motions on one side until a burr formed, then switching sides. This contrasted with traditional methods using specific stroke patterns, like the “X-stroke,” resulting in more overall strokes and a gradual approach to refining the edge.

Results indicated similarities between Murray’s method and traditional razor honing at the early stages, but notable distinctions emerged, especially in scratch patterns and burr removal.


Post-stropping, the razor passed the HHT (Hanging Hair Test) but exhibited slight whittling before the hair eventually popped. The shave, while decent for a With The Grain (WTG) pass, presented some resistance Against The Grain (ATG), indicating room for improvement.

Subsequent attempts, following conversations with Jason from Carter Cutlery, revealed that Murray’s first video was edited, and he performed more than just two strokes per stone. This revelation significantly influenced the experiment, allowing for sharper edges at each level before progressing. Adjusting the approach accordingly led to a more comfortable shave.

Further refinements were made in subsequent attempts to achieve a refined edge in fewer stones, combining learned techniques and existing knowledge. These alterations produced substantial differences from the original method.


Various aspects raised by Murray Carter merit attention, including taping the spine, the purpose of razors as tools or heirlooms, the role of pressure, edge trailing versus edge leading, and the use of hanging versus paddle strops.

Taping the Spine of a Razor

Taping the spine serves multiple purposes, beyond mere aesthetics or ease of honing. It significantly influences the edge’s strength and geometry, often overlooked in contemporary razor manufacturing and honing practices.

Historically, razors evolved from thicker blades to hold softer steel at the edge, necessitating a robust spine. Over time, razor grinds became more hollowed, implying a breaking-in period with older, dished stones to establish optimal geometry and edge angles. Present-day precision-oriented practices promote flat honing, assuming ideal manufacturing processes, which might not hold true.

The argument for taping lies in preserving proper geometry, ensuring edge strength, and avoiding issues with thin, fragile edges prone to poor shaves.

Razors as Tools or Heirlooms?

The debate centers on whether razors should be treated as tools for everyday use or as preserved artifacts. This dichotomy mirrors the arguments in the knife-making community, with varying opinions on the preservation of older razors versus their active use.

Preservation methods differ, with some techniques leading to extra steel removal during sharpening, affecting the longevity of the razors. Balancing preservation and utility remains contentious.


Pressure’s role in sharpening and honing is challenging to convey objectively. Murray Carter’s method involves more pressure than the standard straight razor honing practices, raising questions about its impact on the edge’s integrity. While lesser pressure is typically advocated for stronger and truer bevels, the experiment revealed instances where slight pressure had distinct effects on the edge.

Edge Trailing vs. Edge Leading

The discussion over edge trailing or leading strokes involves considerations of abrasive surface interactions and the effect on the edge’s precision. Edge leading may offer a more precise edge due to its interaction with fresh abrasive surfaces, while edge trailing could lead to smoother abrasion over debris.

Hanging Strop vs. Paddle Strop

Murray’s advocacy for a paddle strop aims to maintain the edge’s precise shape and avoid rounding, in contrast to the compressibility of leather on a hanging strop. However, the critical factor appears to be clean leather, crucial for minimizing abrasive effects and preserving the edge.


Murray Carter’s razor sharpening method undeniably works, albeit with potential wear on razors. Whether it’s the most desirable method remains subjective, depending on individual preferences and the intended use of the razors.

The controversy surrounding sharpening techniques, compounded by the politics within the straight razor honing community, invites introspection and individual exploration. This comprehensive perspective aims to encourage critical thinking and initiate personal journeys to ascertain the best approach.

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