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Matthew Krotzer

straight razors

25 posts in this topic

Been thinking of doing a straight razor once I get my heat-treating down. Thinking about the traditional ones I have makes me wonder how much of the design is a result of a production enviroment. Just like modern knife manufactures make a trade-off or just make crap. :)

 

How much of straight razor design is about tools/cost to produce? Are razors made at x angle because it's the best angle or did factory settings dictate the dimensions.

 

All the ones I have are a hollow grind of some degree with the backs being about 1/4 inch thick, the biggest being 5/8 inchs wide. Wanted to get a bigger 6/8, 7/8. or even 8/8 but never did. I often wander what size tha backs are of the larger razors, anyone know? The bigger razors are known for being better shavers, I wonder if the edge is more acute than the smaller ones. I'll have to try one.....

 

My beard is pretty coarse, I can sharpen a razor to hair popping performance but it doesn't shave me that good. My feather disposable blade straight razor does very well. Mayeb the edge is thinner and more acute?

 

Something else to think about is the blade angle to my face. I think I would naturally adjust for a more acute angle. Then you gotta figure out what angle the steel can take for the facial hair........

 

If I made one, it would be a simple carbon steel, and have some some kind of cold treatment.

 

any thoughts,

matthew

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Most of the oldest razors are wedge grinds. It wasn't until large stone wheels came into industrial situations that hollow grinding was introduced. Then heat treatment improved with the use of molten lead baths and blades could be worked thinner with the introduction of better steels. The width of blade to spine is 1:3.5 on the average. Then you should consider that shaving is a dynamic process with the blade operator changing angles and pressure according to the instrument used and the shape of the face etc.

 

If you're going to use a cold treatment, why not make the blade from S30V or some stainless steel that will benefit from it instead of wasting your time and money on a simple carbon steel?

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If you're going to use a cold treatment, why not make the blade from S30V or some stainless steel that will benefit from it instead of wasting your time and money on a simple carbon steel?

 

Thanks for all the info. :) I'm not at all setup to heat-treat stainless properly. With the cold-treat, even with dumb 1095 I can increase the hardness.

 

I figure for something that is only for cutting, I want a ultra-hard blade. If the heat treating is right there shouldn't be any trouble. Seems to me the people who get crumbly edges aren't doing their heat-treating right. If someone wants to correct me on this please do, just qoute a metalurgy source. I figure a ultra-hard edge should shear off rather than crumble.

 

Stainless is pretty much not on my list for anything :) If I had the heat treating technology I would go for higher alloyed tool steels, like m2.

 

Something else I just though about, I always heard barbers favored wedge grinds. I think it's probably easier to keep a hollow ground of fullered blade honed properly.

 

matthew

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Thanks for all the info. :) I'm not at all setup to heat-treat stainless properly. With the cold-treat, even with dumb 1095 I can increase the hardness.

 

There are a bunch of knife folks out there who heat treat stainless steels just fine without a lot of techno-whizbang.

 

I figure for something that is only for cutting, I want a ultra-hard blade. If the heat treating is right there shouldn't be any trouble. Seems to me the people who get crumbly edges aren't doing their heat-treating right. If someone wants to correct me on this please do, just qoute a metalurgy source. I figure a ultra-hard edge should shear off rather than crumble.

 

If the dumb 1095 is heat treated correctly in the first place, cold treatment is unnecessary. You should find and study John Verhoeven's book, "Heat treating for Bladesmiths". It was published online but may be published by ASM in the near future. Well worth reading IMO.

 

Razors are not required to be ultra-hard either. They'd be fairly difficult to hone if they were. You might be surprised at some of the actual, rather than mythological, hardnesses.

 

Something else I just though about, I always heard barbers favored wedge grinds. I think it's probably easier to keep a hollow ground of fullered blade honed properly.

 

It's easier to hone a hollow ground razor because there is less material actually resting on the hone surface. On the other hand, there is less flexibility in the wedge and the edge is unlikely to wear unevenly if honed improperly. The angle at the cutting edge is essentially the same.

 

There are a great many things to think about when it comes to razors and steel.

Edited by Mike Blue

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If the heat treating is right there shouldn't be any trouble. Seems to me the people who get crumbly edges aren't doing their heat-treating right. If someone wants to correct me on this please do, just qoute a metalurgy source. I figure a ultra-hard edge should shear off rather than crumble.

 

 

Just thought about this a little harder, and a tap is a good real world example I think. Ultra hard an purpose specific + good heat treatment. :)

 

 

 

Razors are not required to be ultra-hard either. They'd be fairly difficult to hone if they were. You might be surprised at some of the actual, rather than mythological, hardnesses.

It's easier to hone a hollow ground razor because there is less material actually resting on the hone surface. On the other hand, there is less flexibility in the wedge and the edge is unlikely to wear unevenly if honed improperly. The angle at the cutting edge is essentially the same.

 

 

Cool post. I feel its easier to get a great edge with harder steel. Just my preference and limited experience. And yeah, having two relatively small bearing surfaces keeps things nice. :) I never liked hollow grinds until I layed a hollow ground knife flat on a stone. When I get my heat treating down I'll give a flat ground razor a try, no cold-treatment. See if I like it. :)

 

matthew

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heres one i made

i really like makeing them

ive studied some old ones and i think THIN is the most important thing about them

so that wootz razor was ground to 0.005 AFTER HEATTREATED

it was that thin along way up the blade

i ground it on 2 different wheels

first grind was made w an 8 in wheel

the last one was on a 3 in wheel

HARLEY

wootzrazor.jpg

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I say go for it, and make the blade as hard as you want to. Then shave with it a few times and see what you think. :)

 

Dammit Harley there should be a way to see that thing close up on your site, instead of just that dinky little piccy ! I'd like to see it up close !

Edited by Howard Clark

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I say go for it, and make the blade as hard as you want to. Then shave with it a few times and see what you think. :)

 

Dammit Harley there should be a way to see that thing close up on your site, instead of just that dinky little piccy ! I'd like to see it up close !

 

mike

it shaved like silk

thin is in

i had to grind 2 blades for it

the first was so thin i tinfolied it in a spot

but then again u know me i didnt and dont shave much:)

howard it has a primary and a turchery(sp) grind

 

and it was hard!!!!!

almost fragile

i looked at some really old razors and they all had been ground on 2 different size wheels

harley

p.s.

i,ll try to do something about the pic size

Edited by larry harley

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...a primary and a turchery(sp) grind

 

Harley you are so BUSTED :excl: That ole APA format (sp) shows itself when you least expect it. :D:D:D

 

Made my day that did. Hehehehe

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Harley you are so BUSTED :excl: That ole APA format (sp) shows itself when you least expect it. :D:D:D

 

Made my day that did. Hehehehe

 

ok blue !!

ats bout enough outta u!!!!!!

rat fink:)

 

u blow my cover in front of all these folks

and your in big trouble

how about this??

 

 

theres a big grind then a little bitty grind

harley

we r hillwilliams since college

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Mathew,

Good thread.....I've always been intersted in making one of these....... (yours look real cool Harley).... I've been reluctant to actualy try one though...... you mentioned the big ones have a reputation of a better shave........ maybe cause they are easier to handle , or have more mass and the inertia keeps them from bouncing as much ? If the old ones are so good most if not all were probably staight carbon steel ( I'm just guessing) why wouldn't 1095 be OK.....

So have you made one yet?

give us a peek when you do

Dick

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cut throat razors - I shave exclusivly with one, have spent some time studying them, and am in-process of making a few.

 

I actually might vote against ULTRA-HARD for the blade (above RC 60), however this might depend on how you hone the thing. A slightly softer (think 56-60) is more responsive to stroping than an ultra-hard temper.

 

Now, When I say stroping, I'm refering to the pre-shave strope, and NOTHING with cutting compoundsor rouge, just plain dry leather/canvas (I just use my pant leg and arm for this..it works great for Me).

 

anyway, Your referance to taps as ultra-hard cutters is kind of off-target here, in My opinion. A tap in its essence has thick- almost scraping edges to do the work (guys correct Me if i am wrong). A razor is about as thin and delicate as an edge gets, outside of a scalple. it needs a bit of "flex' at that level to not just break away and dull that way. This is just My two cents worth of food for thought

 

BTW... harley...That's about as tricked-out as a razor can get in that pic... DAMN good work..I'm jelous :)

Edited by Brett Josef Schmidthuber

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I keep finding that I can get a razor sharp edge on a blade, so that it will shave hair off my arms and legs(bare spots to prove it:D) no problem, but when I go to shave my face, it just tugs the hairs out and soesn't really shave them. What is wrong with my edge? Not sharp enough? Not thin enough?

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There's a couple things that could be going on here sam. First off, welcome to the hairless arm/leg club...Think of it as multi-tasked manscaping.

 

Alright, The hair on your arms is generally easier to shave than your face, that goes double for your legs. Both due to their thickness as well as their lenghts. What are you using to sharpen your edges? I go with My ultra-fine translucent arkansas ( It's only a little rougher than window glass...barely...) though I know a guy who does it on the glass....Stroping is important as well.. Like I said, I do it "dry" without any compounds. You have to experiment. I work it on the stone a bit, then strope a bit, then stone it and so on for a while, ending on strope. This is done do make absolute sure I have no burr anywhere on the edge. Usually this almost never happens when I sharpen a knife (just how it happens..dont ask), but a super thin edge will be more prone to this. Burr = BAAAAAAAAD

 

Edge thickness is definately important..once again, like larry said - thin is in, so as shallow an angle as you can manage. You also must make SURE there are no remaining coarser grit marks on the edge. With razors, As the height of the edge is usually very minute, as most of the super-thin geometry is taken care of in the primary grind in a blade like this , so you may want to try magnification to see. same principle as with a knife, but a knife (generally a thicker edge) requires alot more work to make everything silk-smooth...

 

Also, your pre-shave prep might be the gremlin responsible. ususally its best to wait until right after you shower and let your facial hair get softened by the hot water. Or just a towel and some hot water pressed onto the face for a bit, then lather up.

 

and You have to play with the angle at which the edge contacts the skin. This can change depending on what part of your face you're working on.

 

Hope this helps, if not I'll try to be clearer.. As you can tell, Im a big straight razor fan - Gillette/schick/those mach-30 garden HO abominations can.. *CENSORED* :)

Edited by Brett Josef Schmidthuber

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COOL Brett, I use a stone, that is coarse on one side and fine on the other, it is very old, and the coarse grade side is like a very fine grade on a modern stone, so it is really a fine ultra fine. I think the problem is burrs, not much stropping done but with the stone, I barely get a wire edge anyway, nothing 2 or 3 swipes on the pant leg doesn't take care off. I think a much more polished edge is what I need, as well as the other tips you gave me, as well as continue to seek out a barber shop that still gives straight razor shaves, and get a good look at his/her method. And I am with you, damn friggin 50 blade vibrating french face ticklers, BAH!

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Hmm..double sided stone - Watch out Sam..you might be getting a little grit contamination with that. If you hone with oil, it might be picking up a few coarser particles and running onto the "fine" side with them. That's another factor that could interfear with your results.. ( Dontcha just LOVE dozens of variables?)

 

You might wanna try dry-honing.... Scrub the hell out of both sides with a rag and a dab of dish soap. after its dry, try honing with just a dab of water on the surface though you might need to clean the stone down if youre doing alot of sharpening on it. I used to be a disbeliever in the dry hone, but I've come to love the results after giving it a fair shot. There's no slurry full of suspended steel particles to worry about messing with your edge...It's something to try anyway

 

And vibrating french face ticklers? DAYUUMN..That's rough! +3 points to you for that one

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Hmm..double sided stone - Watch out Sam..you might be getting a little grit contamination with that. If you hone with oil, it might be picking up a few coarser particles and running onto the "fine" side with them. That's another factor that could interfear with your results.. ( Dontcha just LOVE dozens of variables?)

 

You might wanna try dry-honing.... Scrub the hell out of both sides with a rag and a dab of dish soap. after its dry, try honing with just a dab of water on the surface though you might need to clean the stone down if youre doing alot of sharpening on it. I used to be a disbeliever in the dry hone, but I've come to love the results after giving it a fair shot. There's no slurry full of suspended steel particles to worry about messing with your edge...It's something to try anyway

 

And vibrating french face ticklers? DAYUUMN..That's rough! +3 points to you for that one

 

 

 

Hmmm, interesting. I was honing with spit for awhile, but then tried using just water(after scrubbing the stone clean)and water wrked MUCH better. I will try the dry honing method after scrubbing it with soap and water, there does seem to be a bit of cross contamination with the double stone.

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I have been straight razor shaving now for about 2 months straight. I really love it. Go to www.straightrazorplace.com for better tips on how to sharpen a straight, and tips on what type of shaving techniques there are. There are several videos on google and youtube demonstrating how to properly sharpen and shave with one. I don't do the sharpening yet because I havn't gotten the proper stones yet, sharpening that is. You need a 4k/8k norton water stone to start. Finish with belgium couticule, or escher stone with rubbing stone to make a slurry. Then strop to perfection and it will give you the best shave of your life if you don't slit your throat. I send mine out for sharpening. You can buy everything you need from classicshaving.com except the stones and have them sharpened through them as well.

 

On a personal note I would love to make one. I moved to a city where the price of realestate is ridiculousy high and can no longer afford a place where I can even do stock removal. I'm hoping that will change soon and I can rent a place that has a garage and the first thing I will make is straight razor. I have seen one video from the thiers-issard factory showing the grinding of one. It's a dual wheel stone grinder. There is a bar that the spine of the blade rests on and it is pushed and pulled between the wheels grinding both sides at the same time. You adjust the bar up and down and wheel side to side to get the different hollow grinds needed for the different blades, 4/8, 5/8, 7/8, etc... I'm hoping to be able to design something around that and have a good mechanic help me build something that will work so I can grind my own like that.

 

Larry, you should post that picture of yours on the straight razor forums. I know they would love to see it.

 

 

 

I forgot go to the www.thewellshavedgentleman.com and you can also get a good starter kit, and buy some hand made strops that look awesome.

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Larry, you should post that picture of yours on the straight razor forums. I know they would love to see it.

I forgot go to the www.thewellshavedgentleman.com and you can also get a good starter kit, and buy some hand made strops that look awesome.

jim give me a link

where r these forums??

haRLEY

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ive studied some old ones and i think THIN is the most important thing about them

so that wootz razor was ground to 0.005 AFTER HEATTREATED

 

HARLEY

 

It's amazing the difference between a thin blade and a thicker one. I lay the skinner of my stockman on the hone, the last few strokes I lift the blade a tad. It pops hairs of no trouble at all, only good for a couple of things though. :)

 

So, did you keep your razors in the proportions Mike talked about?

 

matthew

 

Mathew,

Good thread.....I've always been intersted in making one of these....... (yours look real cool Harley).... I've been reluctant to actualy try one though...... you mentioned the big ones have a reputation of a better shave........ maybe cause they are easier to handle , or have more mass and the inertia keeps them from bouncing as much ? If the old ones are so good most if not all were probably staight carbon steel ( I'm just guessing) why wouldn't 1095 be OK.....

So have you made one yet?

give us a peek when you do

Dick

 

I think I recall the old guys saying the big razors shaved better because of the weight. I recently moved my forge back to a shed, so I lost my electric blower. :) I may make a gas forge....not sure yet, haven't had a lot of time for smithing. I got a lot of the bugs worked out of my heat treating I think. I can see the decalescence and all that.

 

I will post some pics if I do this. :)

 

matthew

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cut throat razors - I shave exclusivly with one, have spent some time studying them, and am in-process of making a few.

 

I actually might vote against ULTRA-HARD for the blade (above RC 60), however this might depend on how you hone the thing. A slightly softer (think 56-60) is more responsive to stroping than an ultra-hard temper.

 

Now, When I say stroping, I'm refering to the pre-shave strope, and NOTHING with cutting compoundsor rouge, just plain dry leather/canvas (I just use my pant leg and arm for this..it works great for Me).

 

anyway, Your referance to taps as ultra-hard cutters is kind of off-target here, in My opinion. A tap in its essence has thick- almost scraping edges to do the work (guys correct Me if i am wrong). A razor is about as thin and delicate as an edge gets, outside of a scalple. it needs a bit of "flex' at that level to not just break away and dull that way. This is just My two cents worth of food for thought

 

BTW... harley...That's about as tricked-out as a razor can get in that pic... DAMN good work..I'm jelous :)

 

Good info :)

 

I've dealt with soft stuff all my life, if I make it too hard I could always just temper it....that's my feelings at least. About the tap, know a guy who ground a skinner out of an m2 hacksaw blade, sharper edge than a straight razor. It's literally ground thinner, layed on a hone flat and lifted off the spine for the last few strokes of honing.

 

Anyway, it's for skinning cows and nothing else. I think it is a great example of tap hard steel in use, very specific use.

 

About the flexing, I think hardness doesn't matter. Either the edge will flex too much and break, or flex too much and bend. In the archives of the metalurgy forum this is a posting on something like this. I'm not sure how to explain it. I could be wrong all together.

 

matthew

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Matt- prehaps I am being a bit too paranoid about the blade's toughness. I do realize there is a world of diff between a razor's use, and oh say a big friggen camp knife. Though I like things to be pretty damn tough I can't argue with howard's attitude, either - "go for it and see how you like it" I still wouldnt want a RC 63 M2 camp-knife :)

 

Though if you plan to re-temper if its a lil too hard for you you'll probably need to knock off a bit of the edge if you use any kind of open-heat tempering method. Depending on the steel, you Could prolly pull it off safely in oil (low alloy steel) or salts (high alloy steel) if you dulled it a tad first. and watched your temps/safety (hot oil after all)

 

As for flexing/bending and taps referance... Why do you think you strope? any edge no matter how finely polished looks like a hack-saw under intense magnification.. You're re-alligning those "teeth" straight. Steeling accomplishes the same purpose for "wire-edge" or very coarsely honed blades (though steeling has no place on a razor, unless you're playing a very sick practical joke on someone..). My goal with most edges is to achieve a balance between too hard/too soft..

 

I just feel the edge has a better fighting-chance for those little "teeth" not to break off if there is some resiliancy in them, both in shaving but primarily in stroping and re-stroping (and again and again..) - I was stupid/wrong not to mention that right off the bat and leave the wrong impression, My bad dude.

 

Speaking of hacksaws... Your friends little project sounds like a hell of a scary skinner, Though I dunno much about hacksaw hardnesses (uh oh, research time..), I would like to say he should make sure it's solid M-2 unless he's very easy when honing and it has no belly.. Alot of hacksaws have just a thin (maybe 1/16'' wide) stripe of M2 welded onto the body of the blade, at least the ones I have/have seen.

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Matt- prehaps I am being a bit too paranoid about the blade's toughness. I do realize there is a world of diff between a razor's use, and oh say a big friggen camp knife. Though I like things to be pretty damn tough I can't argue with howard's attitude, either - "go for it and see how you like it" I still wouldnt want a RC 63 M2 camp-knife :)

 

No argument about hard camp knives. :)

 

 

Though if you plan to re-temper if its a lil too hard for you you'll probably need to knock off a bit of the edge if you use any kind of open-heat tempering method. Depending on the steel, you Could prolly pull it off safely in oil (low alloy steel) or salts (high alloy steel) if you dulled it a tad first. and watched your temps/safety (hot oil after all)

 

 

Good to know. :)

 

quote name='Brett Josef Schmidthuber' date='Apr 30 2007, 11:31 PM' post='68472']

 

As for flexing/bending and taps referance... Why do you think you strope? any edge no matter how finely polished looks like a hack-saw under intense magnification.. You're re-alligning those "teeth" straight. Steeling accomplishes the same purpose for "wire-edge" or very coarsely honed blades (though steeling has no place on a razor, unless you're playing a very sick practical joke on someone..). My goal with most edges is to achieve a balance between too hard/too soft..

 

I just feel the edge has a better fighting-chance for those little "teeth" not to break off if there is some resiliancy in them, both in shaving but primarily in stroping and re-stroping (and again and again..) - I was stupid/wrong not to mention that right off the bat and leave the wrong impression, My bad dude.

 

 

Thanks for clarifiing things, I wasn't at all miffed if I came acrossed that way. It's just something I'm going to have to find out for myself and see what I want. The thread has given me a lot to think about though.

 

quote name='Brett Josef Schmidthuber' date='Apr 30 2007, 11:31 PM' post='68472']

 

Speaking of hacksaws... Your friends little project sounds like a hell of a scary skinner, Though I dunno much about hacksaw hardnesses (uh oh, research time..), I would like to say he should make sure it's solid M-2 unless he's very easy when honing and it has no belly.. Alot of hacksaws have just a thin (maybe 1/16'' wide) stripe of M2 welded onto the body of the blade, at least the ones I have/have seen.

 

Yeah, he uses old all-hard power hacksaw blades. He's been doing this stuff for years.

 

Thanks for everything,

matthew

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Though if you plan to re-temper if its a lil too hard for you you'll probably need to knock off a bit of the edge if you use any kind of open-heat tempering method. Depending on the steel, you Could prolly pull it off safely in oil (low alloy steel) or salts (high alloy steel) if you dulled it a tad first. and watched your temps/safety (hot oil after all)

 

 

ive tried this stufff

and to get it thin enought to shave right its toooooo thin to heattreatunless u dont mind shaveing w snakey edges andf that brings up another .

u gotta grind them EASY after heattreat something that thin burns way before u think it should

harley

 

So, did you keep your razors in the proportions Mike talked about?

 

almost

i liked some of the wider ones

they were the thicker spines and thinerblades

p.s.

ive been know to stick carbon steel in a cold treatmernt

and ive read verhoves book:)

harley

nitrogen possum

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