Pierre “La Lune"

Lune Label 1.jpg
Lune Hone 1.jpg

Pierre La Lune 

This appears to be a ‘La Lune’ razor hone from France. It’s definitely from France, and it definitely looks like a La Lune. But – there was no label; so its provenance has been lost and we just have to deal with that. To me - it’s a La Lune.  

These are interesting hones and not all that common here in the USA.  They’re not really what I’d call rare, just uncommon. 

I’d say this is a schist type of rock, that’s what it looks like to me anyway. It’s softer than it feels, if that makes sense. It has a bit of a brittle nature to it – which fooled me at first. But it laps easily enough; and the purplish slurry is awesome to see and feel.

The edges and corners need, or – IMO – should - be rounded off. Otherwise, I think this stone will tend to cleave, split, etc. Upon arrival, this example had some precarious looking corners that seemed like they were begging to be bumped so they could chip off. I lapped it into submission; all the corners and edges have been chamfered, rolled, etc. 

The feel of this stone is odd. It’s dense, and the lustre or polish is a bit different than many other hones I’ve handled. It almost feels glazed in a way – glazed like the skin of Duck à l’orange, not glazed like a heavily worked Arkansas stone. It’s just a feeling, like the stone was somehow encapsulated in something.

First look – after the working surface was polished to a glassy level of smooth; after feeling the slurry and inspecting it while lapping, this stone is loaded with what I am reading as microcrystalline quartz. The action is smooth but it is also very aggressive. 

My first side-by-side shoot-out with this little slab-o-fun was with a Thuringen; an Escher of the blue/green variety to be exact. The Lune’s scratch pattern proved to be way more pronounced and more clearly defined, the striations appear to be notably deeper also. Overall, the Lune produced a polish that was in no way mirrored but very well structured – all of this was viewed/judged under 4x magnification. 

The scratch pattern photo was taken with a 50x objective on my little microscope. First, I honed about 1” of the razor on the Lune, then about ½” of that area was honed on the Escher, which wiped the scratches from the Lune reasonably quick, but only with a good amount of effort and pressure.   

The abrasive in the Lune is quite ‘sharp’ while appearing to be very consistent. What I think I’ll need to do is to avoid using this stone dry or with just water. I’m going to need to add some cushion I’m going to see a smooth shave. Quite often, I’ve seen these hones billed as an oilstone, and I’m guessing this is one reason why. Glycerin mixed with water should do the trick. 

Approx. Dimensions: 4.0 x 1.9 x 0.7” / 102 x 48 x 16 mm

Weight: 8.2 oz / 231 g


After Some Additional Testing

I was convinced that I’d have to cushion the blade’s ride across the surface. I was shaving with a razor that had a nicely finished edge and after the first pass I put a few drops of glycerin on the hone with water and gave the blade a few passes until the feedback told me I was done. Before the test – the edge cut well and was quite smooth. Afterwards, there was a bit of irritation. I worked the edge over on a small Escher and continued the shave with that edge which proved to be equally sharp but smoother. 

For the third pass, I used the Lune again; this time I put a bit more glycerin in the honing solution. The sharpness seemed to be bumped up a good bit, but the smooth factor suffered a little bit. Not to the point where I’d complain, just not as smooth as the Thuri finished edge. 

I know what you’re saying – where are the edge pix? Where is the hard copy empirical data? Sorry – I don’t have the time or patience to photograph and/or document every single thing all the time. I judge my edge against the shave 99.99999% of the time because that’s all that matters to me. When I start shaving with photographs of edges maybe I’ll change my mind about that. 

The follow up test was with an edge finished to 5k and then taken to finish on the Lune. Surprisingly, I had an extremely keen edge that felt smoother than the previous blade did. I did use lather as the honing medium, which may have added more cushion. I think juggling the viscosity and/or type of honing medium is the key to achieving max success here. 

A guess - I don’t think further testing is going to yield sharper edges than what I’ve see so far, but I do think I would see smoother edges. I think, overall, this particular stone could get me to a point where edges are equally smooth as one off a Thuri, and possibly a bit keener. I’d have to work with this stone for 6-12 months to make that call with authority though. 

This is an exceedingly effective stone. It’s more capable than a Thuri in that it’s going to be able to bring back a more worn edge with greater ease. I find it to be equally capable in the bottom line sense. The feedback on the Lune isn’t all that lovely, but it’s not horrible either. When the stone is dry, I get a ‘scraping’ type of sensation, but it’s not gritty. lather and glycerin quelled that feeling significantly, but then the feedback wasn’t lively enough for me to be jazzed about it. 

I think, with continued practice, I’d nail the right combo of stroke/hone solution/etc. At that point, I would be/could be served very well by this La Lune. Having one of these around would mean being able to keep most razors going for a very very long time.

Note – Lune hones can be reddish, red/purple, purple, grey, or blue. Perhaps there are more colors, but those are the variations I have seen and tested. I am not convinced that the colors indicate much, other than the fact that the grey type seems to be identical to the SSOFGR hones. Similarly, the Special Stones can be found in the same color variations as the Lune hones.

Lunes were often ‘graded’, and some had ink stamps indicating how fine they were. I suspect those marks were more random that some would want us to believe. Side by side comparison of a very fine and extra fine Lune showed me they were identical. 

© Keith V Johnson 2014 - 2018