Many of you might have been very fascinated by the way their grandfather or any older person used to shave when you were a child and reason which you tend to feel like using a straight razor. But the straight razors that were used back during the time of our grandfathers are still considered to be the best. If you too have ever had a thought about owning a vintage straight razor then you will be delighted to hear that you will get such straight razors in the market.
The vintage straight razors usually come a bit costly but are surely the best and are a work of art. But just buying a vintage or old straight razor aren’t enough, you need to restore them to its original glory to have the suave shave you expect. In this article we will provide our readers with an idea on how to restore an old razor. We will further provide you with the consideration that you need to take while buying a high end old razor and which brands to choose from. To know more about the same go through the below mentioned paragraphs.
The technicalities of straight razor:
Before we go deep in to the article and learn more about the stuff it is important to understand about the various parts of a straight razor.
- Tang: The attaching point that is the tail of the intersection between the scale and the blade is known as tang. The tang looks more like a tail that comes out when the razor is folded and helps the razor to get back together when it is closed.
- Point: The tip of the blade is known as point.
- Spine and Cutting edge: The left hand side of the point is known as spine and the right hand is the cutting edge.
- Scale and Pin: The surface of the handle is known as scales and end before the tip of the scale is known as pin.
- Grinds: Straight razors come in two grinds, one is the hollow ground and the other one is wedge.
- Hollow grounds: The hollow ground blades are made for the convenience of the individual and go soft on the skin.
- Wedge blades: These blades are known to have blades which are larger in size and takes time to sharpen the.
Both these blades are known for the terrific performance the same provides. The experts recommend the beginners to start their straight shaving journey with the help of the hollow ground blades as they are easy to sharpen and are forgiving for the skin.
Finding such blades:
Finding a normal straight razor is an easy task but when things come down to buying a vintage razor things can get costly and searching is a time taking task. Normally, the best way to get a straight razor is by inheriting them. If you have had an older man in your family then there are chances that you will get one of these. Or else you can ask somebody who has one such in their attic or are about to throw away.
Another place to find such vintage razors is the antique shops where you might find them but will be costly. But one thing that is important to keep in mind is that a vintage razor always doesn’t mean that it will be the best. You need to identify with certain things before you settle down with the idea of buying the same.
Considerations to look before you buy:
In the present day there are various kinds of straight razor companies that provide vintage or old razors for the customers and are known to be the best. The first company that makes an entry is from Solingen, Germany which is known to have been making blades for all purpose for more than a century. Some of the famous companies that are known to keep vintage straight razor with them are:
- H. Boker and Company
- Dubl Duck
- J.A. Henkels
The next companies which make an entry in to the list are from Sheffield, England. This particular place is known to be the culinary capital of the world. The companies which are found here that provides vintage straight razors are:
- Fredrick Reynolds
- Joseph Allen and Sons
- George Wostenholm
- Joseph Rodgers and Sons
- Joseph Elliot
- Wade and Butcher
The companies from America that are known for providing vintage straight razors are:
- Case or Red Imp
- Genco Cutlery Company
- J.R. Torrey
- Ontario Cutlery Company
- Geneva Cutlery Company
- Shumate Razor Company
Other companies that offer vintage straight razors around the world are:
- C.V. Heljestrand of Eskilstuna, Sweden
- Filarmonica from Spain
- Thiers Issard and Le Grelot of France.
The makers of all these brands are known for the quality they provide both in the vintage straight razors and the brand new straight razors.
Normally, if you find a razor form any of the above manufacturers or from the cities mentioned above then it is best to go for them. The cost of good razor which is old and are free from ant visible disturbance may be a bit higher because it helps in providing a great shave.
Things you should avoid while buying a vintage straight razor:
There are some important things that you need to keep in mind and avoid so that the whole restoration doesn’t become a problem.
- The first thing that is important to keep in mind is, if you find that the blades of the razor are chipped and specifically in the cutting edge then it is better to avoid buying it.
- Also if you see that the vintage razor you are about buy has burn marks in the same then the best decision on your part will be to part away with it.
- Another thing there is certain vintage and old razors available in the market which have visible discoloration. These razors might have the problem of heat damage in the same.
- If for any reason there is significant rust or a deep fighting in the blades of the razor then it is better to not opt for buying the same.
- Avoid buying those old or vintage razors that are made in Pakistan.
- Spine is an important part of a razor blade and if there are scratch marks or flattened symptoms in the spine then it means that the blade has been honed for many a times and it is not all good to buy the same.
When all of the above considerations are fulfilled then there are chances that old razors that you buy are so old that they will be rusted, covered in dust that have not been done with for years and even rusted. It is important to get rid of all these so that you can get a desired shave.
Restoration of an old or vintage razor:
Just buying an old razor is not the only task you have. There is a certain way of getting a great shave after restoring an old razor. Now, we will give you a detailed idea about how to restore an old razor.
After you are done with the buying part of an old razor you will need to restore it. There are basically two areas to shield in the restoration process.
- Sharpening and stropping the cutting edge
It is a said fact that an old razor is bound to find some darkened marks as well as patina in a metal like steel. All these happen due to improper storage of the razor and moreover a metal tends to change color as it grows old and thus polishing the same becomes very important.
- The first thing that you will need to clean up the blade is sandpaper or something like Dremel which is a power tool. This toll will help in re-surfacing the blade and will thus help in removing the rust from the blade. This process helps in making the blade smooth as ever.
- Start with polishing with one after another for smaller pits and rust. For the blades that has larger rust or pits then it best to start with grits that are lower such as 320. To give the blade a mirror finish it is best to cross the mark of 10,000 grits.
- The process of getting the grits right is to go for long as well as even strokes. This whole process takes time and thus patience is the key to a mirror finish.
- The next thing you will need to get rid of the rust is a buffing tool. This power tool helps in proving and polish to metals and particularly used by the jewelry shops. This tool further helps in removing any scratch (minor of course) and patina from the blade.
- It is best to open the pins that attach the blade to the scales so that you can even clean and polish the areas that are hidden behind the scales.
- If you don’t want to remove the pins then it is important to clean the pins and the scales with the buffing tool. The tough areas can be cleaned with the help of cottons and toothpicks.
- Another important necessity that is important to keep in mind is that after cleaning the blades rub of the residue that is left by the cleaning. For this cleaning you will need alcohol or something like barbicide which is easily available with the beauty stores near you.
- Keep one thing in mind and that is cleaning the residue should be done with utmost care and attention.
- If you open the blades then it is important to get them back together with the help of ball-peen hammer. If you don’t open the same then it is best to bring them together with the help of the ball-peen hammer as the pins tend to get loose with time. This should be done with light hands because the pressure might crack the scales which are generally made with plastic, animal shell and horns. Moreover, the scales tend to get weak as they grow older.
Sharpening and stropping the cutting edge:
Just cleaning the blade of the straight won’t do. To get a suave shave it is important to sharpen the blade. Here is a way in which the vintage razor can be honed and stropped. As the normal thought goes people might think that honing or stropping is a difficult task but in reality is easier than you think.
- Before we start to know more about the honing technique keep in mind that old razors need to be cleaned and should be free of rust and pits.
- Wipe the razor after you are done with the cleaning of the rust and pits.
- There are two types of stones available which helps in honing the blades of the razor. One is wet stone and the other one is ceramic stone.
Honing with wet stone: Using a wet stone to hone the will need lubricant for the surface of the stone such as, oil, shaving later or even water. There are two reasons why using a lubricant is beneficial. One is that it helps in keeping the stone in a normal temperature so that the blade doesn’t get heated up. The second reason is that the lubricant helps in keeping away the residue of the steel that tends to get accumulated with time. For a proper honing clean surface is very important.
Honing with a ceramic stone: Ceramic stone doesn’t need any kind of lubricant because it is a dry honing.
- For this process you will need a flat surface where you can lay the ceramic stone. Make sure the flat surface is up in the coarser side.
- Now, the razor should be placed on the hone so that the spine and the edge of the blade don’t touch each other. Why is this consideration important? Because a touch with the edge and the spine of the stone will end up making the bevel short and the edge dull (you won’t want that).
- To start the sharpening procedure it is important to put the razor by the shank and start with the process of sharpening. The sweeping of the sideways is important because the stone’s width is smaller than that of the blade. It helps in sharpening the edge of the blade totally and evenly at the same time.
- Now, draw the razor blade to the point from the heel and then onward beside the edge of the blade but with average pressure. One think that you should keep in mind is that while the honing process goes on the edge of the blade should point in the course of the stroke you are providing the same with.
- Turn the edge of the blade without even lifting it up from the stone. In this way the back of the blade gest rest while you continue with the other side.
- Now, continue the process of drawing the razor blade to the point from the heel and then onward beside the edge of the blade but with average pressure.
- It is important to continue with the honing process unless and until the blade is sharp enough. The best way to test whether the blade is sharp enough is with the help of the thumbnail test. Just like you draw the edge of the blade from the point to heel in the stone, do the same with the edge form the heel to point! If the blade provides a dig to the thumbnail with the smooth and fine stroke then there is nothing to worry because the blade is sharp ready.
- If the blade is not sharp enough then there are chances that it will go smooth without creating any dig on the thumbnail and if the blade over sharped then you might end up cutting yourself. This test is great for assessing the sharpness of the blade and is very useful.
- Another thing that is worth the mention is that, honing a razor largely depends upon the quality or the condition of the old razor. If for any chance the razor is too hold to handle then it will take much time while honing it. Patience is very important when it comes down to honing such old razors.
- Normally, it is seen that, sharpening an old razor takes about 8 to 10 strokes to sharpen the same but if it is too old then chances are there that it will take time get honed. If the razor has various nicks and then there it is best to go for professional honing.
Stropping the razor:
After you are done with the sharpening procedure it is very important to strop the razor for better and timeless shave.
- Most of the shaving set these days come with strops. But when you are using old or vintage razors then there are chances that you won’t get a strop with the same. Make sure you buy one (you will definitely have one if you use straight razor).
- There are normally hooks attached to the strops and that is used for the purpose of hanging the strop in the bathroom or somewhere else where you will carry the work of stropping.
- A strop normally has two sides. One side is the coarse one and the other side is the leather one.
- If the razor is being stropped just after the honing is done then the best is opt or the leather side of the strop. If you are stropping the razor after you are done with the shave then go for the canvas side.
- The process of stropping the razor will need to hold the bottom of the strop with one hand and hold it tight enough. Because a loose holding of the strop will make the edge of the blade dull and you will end up honing the razor blade over and over again.
- Now, hold the shank of the razor with your other hand and keep it flat on the strop till the farthest end possible.
- Don’t confuse with the honing procedure because the edge of the razor won’t lead the strokes like it does in the case of the honing. So, how to judge whether you are doing it right or not? The edge of the blade will be facing you while you stroke the razor away and the edge won’t face you when you are stroking the razor towards you.
- The blade of the razor needs to be drawn towards you while the edge of the razor blade points away from you. Make sure that the razor’s heel is always up front to the point of the razor.
- Now, the razor needs to be rotated once the end of the strop is reached and that too on its back. The same needs to be continued until you find out that the side which is still to be stropped comes in interaction with the strop. Just remember one thing while doing the same the edge of the razor needs to face you while the stropping is done.
- For the second level of stropping, the blade needs to be drawn away from you so that the heel of the razor is up front from the point of the razor.
- You will need to provide the razor with about 15 to 20 strokes and that too in every direction. That way it will help in retaining the sharpness of the blade. A normal stropping takes about 30 seconds to the most but if you are totally new with this particular razor then there are chances that it will take some time. But don’t worry start out with even strokes that are slow to moderate and then with time start with developing the stropping speed.
Things to keep in mind about the whole restoration process:
As we are about to complete with the restoration process there are some important consideration that are worth the mention for an all-round benefit on the part of the individual. The things we are about to mention should be kept in mind so that you have a hassle-free restoration and you have a feeling of ecstasy to have completed a commendable job.
- We had earlier mentioned the use of power tool such as, buffer or Dremel for the purpose of restoration of an old or vintage razor. These tools come with special instructions from the manufacturer. Such instructions are important to keep in mind like the usage of protective eye gear, hand gear and even some kind of garments that will help in doing the work with ease.
Why are the protective gears important? Not because the manufacturer says so but because you are working with a metal and while you go on polishing the same with the power tools chances are there that the metal residues might just affect you. Also the power tools themselves are not forgivable materials, thus it can create some kind of disturbance with eyes, hands or any other part. The protective gears help in keeping you safe while you do the work of restoration. If any other instructions are mentioned then make sure you keep them in mind too.
- Another thing that is important to keep in mind and that is the power tools are harsh objects that are used to restore the blade. But these can even go on to damage the metal. So, it is important on your part to see whether the hardness of the metal isn’t damaged with the power tools. The best way of keeping this thing in mind is keeping a cold glass of water behind you so that you can dip the razor in the water after you are done with the polishing. Make sure you don’t touch the blade with your bare hands.
- It is important to note that the sanding paper or the buffing tool should not be used for the purpose of sharpening the bevel or the cutting edge in any way.
- Working with the metal needs concentration and focus because if you lose your focus the end result might be something you don’t want.
- As the general thought goes there are people who think that straight razor means you need to hone the same because it gets blunt easily. But in reality this thing can be avoided if the straight razors is sharpened, used and then dried. Further you need to strop the same after you dry the same it tends to keep the blades sharp for a longer period. Normally, a sharpened blade if kept in this particular way tends to remain the same for a period of 6-8 weeks before it needs honing. The need to sharpen the blade will be given away in a simple step like, if the blade doesn’t sharpens after a stropping then it means the blade needs honing.
- There are chances that even after the steps for restoration mentioned in the previous paragraphs are maintained and then also the end result isn’t what you had expected then the reason might be due to the heavy pits or scratches in the blade. It is best to go for the experts or professional who have made a name in of restoring old or vintage razors.
- There isn’t any hard and fast rule that a good or a classic razor even if it has large or heavy pits and scratches needs to be done with mere instruments. In reality even the best in the business needs the employment of heavy instruments. The restoration instruments such as, buffing tool, sand paper and even scales are important to get back the original uniqueness and the shape of an old razor that was once known for the great quality that the same provided.
We sum up:
The whole restoration is process is worthwhile for the energy and the money you give away to give the razor its original look. Things might not be that simple at the first instance but they are not tough even. We have brought forth the article for those people who have a fascination for straight razors and want to have a close and suave shave that they have always dreamt of. But that doesn’t in any way means that a person who for a long time has been shaving with a safety razor or a shavette can’t go for a straight razor. Straight razors as described by the experts are supposedly the best when it comes to an unmatched shaving experience.
If you have been thinking of using a straight razor for a long time now and haven’t gotten any inspiration to do so then may be the idea of restoring an old or vintage razor to its original glory and then using the same might heighten your spirits. But for the beginners there is an important consideration to keep in mind about the straight razor. It is important to start with razor that is forgiving on your skin and first attain the skill of using the same. only after you are done with the expertize of giving your cheeks the necessary shave then only go for restoring an old or vintage razor and then start using the same. Don’t worry restoration of old razor is not a tough task that you might have been thinking for a long time now but in reality it is interesting and worth it.
This particular article is in no way a final destination to your restoration need but an idea you can have. If you want a more detailed understanding then there are various books and ideas available both online and in the retail market for your help. But this article is one great option for the help of people who want restore a vintage razor sitting in the comfort of your home. Make sure you take all the consideration in mind before starting with the processes because all these instructions are very important bot for the individual using it and the razor itself. If you too have these ideas of restoring an old razor that you have in your attic for a long time but don’t know how to restore it then cheerio! This article is the exact one you need.
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