(Whetstone, Hone, Sharpening stone, Water Stone, Razor-Hone, Oilstone – all essentially mean the same thing: a natural or synthetic fine-grained stone used for sharpening cutting tools). Quarried by hand in small numbers, the Zulu Grey is a unique, indurated sedimentary rock formed over 200 million years ago in the late Permian Period in the province of Kwa Zulu-Natal, South Africa. The stone is quite hard, exceptionally strong and dense. The Zulu Grey whetstone is quarried for its ability to impart a smooth final shaving edge on Straight Razors, however it would be equally effective at finishing a wide variety of fine-bladed tools and instruments. The stone is of course a natural product and as such each hone has an inherently unique appearance. Colours of the whetstones range from Grey-Blue to Grey-Green with a fine speckled pattern on the face of the stone. Some of the hones may also have what appear to be orange swirls or stains – this is created by iron oxide present in the stone and is quite beautiful in appearance.
There is no definitive grit number we can assign to the Zulu Grey as it is a natural hone, however many experienced users have estimated grit ratings from 12-15k+, but really these sorts of figures are not at all scientific, nor very useful when talking about natural honing stones. Each hone will be slightly different from the next, and natural hones in general will always perform in different ways with different types of steel. The Zulu Grey is nonetheless a ‘finishing stone’ in the truest sense of the term. It will improve or smooth the shaving edge off of an 8000 -12000 grit synthetic stone. Some users will even go to the Zulu Grey after a 16000 grit Shapton GS, as they find it smooths out the crispness of the edge left by the Shapton. It is certainly not the be-all and end-all of natural razor hones, but in the same breathe it is not sold at an exorbitant price either. It is however, an honest, authentic natural product that works exceptionally well as a finishing stone for straight razors.
A slurry may be formed on the stone to help speed up the cutting ability if required. To do this one may use either a Zulu Grey Slurry Stone or a fine, broken-in diamond plate (credit card sized is perfect). The stone will work well with either plain water or a thin honing oil. Remember though, that the stone is slightly porous and if using oil, then the stone is best dedicated to the continued use of oil.
The Zulu Grey is wholly unique amongst other natural honing stones from around the world, and quite simply cannot be found anywhere else. A humble grey stone holding within it the beauty and strength of Africa prepared in the earth millions of years ago for you to use, cherish and pass down to generations to come.
Each Zulu Grey starts out as a rough block quarried from the earth using basic hand tools. The blocks are examined for consistency and those with obvious hard inclusions - that could damage a razors edge - are simply not processed any further. The consistent blocks are then cut along the bedding lines down to hone-sized slabs by use of a large diamond saw, with water as a flushing agent. These rough-cut hones are then inspected again for consistency and sorted. The hones are then sanded by hand one at a time bringing the very rough surfaces down to a reasonable flatness to begin lapping. Lapping is likewise done by hand one at a time using a DMT Dia-Flat lapping plate which is certified flat to less than 0.0005”.
The lapped hones are then polished up in a progression from 400 to 1000 grit Norton wet/dry paper set on a certified flat granite slab. The flattening and lapping process is very time-consuming and labour-intensive, but well worth the effort. The lapped and polished hones are then carefully chamfered to protect your razor while honing. Each Zulu Grey is thus properly lapped flat and ready for use when you receive it. The hones are finally hand-wrapped in a simple, textured 180gsm paper and supplied with two adhesive labels for marking the underside of your Zulu Grey hone.
Leadtime: Our current order list puts the waiting period at around 3 weeks. This is a general estimate and the time may in fact be less but it could also be more. We’re working on reducing the leadtime, with hones sized, wrapped and ready to go – but until that point, your patience and understanding is greatly appreciated in this regard. The process of preparing these hones is lengthy and labour-intensive. Good things will however, come to those who wait.
Shipping: Parcels are sent via standard international airmail which includes a tracking number. This is the most cost-effective option while still being reasonably fast and secure. The parcel will usually take around 10 working days to reach all destinations. *Shipping and packaging costs are built into the price on all products to all destinations around the world.
Because our hones are natural products we cannot guarantee them to be free of imperfection. Each hone will be entirely unique and contain its own minor blemishes and cosmetic flaws. This however, adds to its appeal as a ‘natural’ product. That being said, we will not sell any hone that we ourselves would not be pleased to own. Visible hard inclusions are checked for, and general consistency of each hone is part of our scrutinizing process. However, should you receive a hone that has somehow broken in transit, or that you are simply not satisfied with due to any fault on our part, or some aspect of the product that appears to not be in line with how the item is described here on our website, then we will gladly resend you a new hone of the same size. You need not return the original product to us. We only ask that the shipping cost be paid for on the replacement item. We don’t issue refunds as a policy, however we will do all that is necessary, going above and beyond to ensure that you are perfectly satisfied with your transaction. Simply contact us and let’s discuss any concern.