I just can't stand to see a fine razor in a sad, neglected condition. It's tragic to see them like that, victims of neglect and time. It's peculiar, but these razors attract me most of all. When I look at them, I see through the corrosion and I can't help wanting to bring them back to being fine shaving tools once more.
Big industries worldwide are peddling plastic multi-blade pollution razors, (which rob you of the pleasure of real shaving), as if they really are the best a man can get. I don't agree. What's more, an increasing number of men and women around the world are finding out for themselves: a straight razor just cannot be surpassed.
What's more, an increasing number of men and women around the world are finding out for themselves: a straight razor just cannot be surpassed.
The straight razor is the pinnacle of razor design. Nothing else, in my opinion, has ever surpassed the wonderful effectiveness and simplicity of the concept.
I also think that a vintage or antique straight razor offers the best value shave in the world. There's something about the steel and dimensions of a vintage razor that never fails to satisfy. Plus, if you’ve bought one of my razors, you know that it’s been stripped and rebuilt to be surgically sharp, silky smooth and, importantly, hygienically clean.
I suppose that you've grasped by now that I love to restore razors. I also love to surprise people with a gift of a straight razor too. All I ask is that they do an act of kindness as payment or perhaps donate to charity. After all, the world was built on kindness, and kindness makes it go round.
You may also know, my main motivation is to raise money for charity through the sale of razors; moving some money around to where it's needed. The Hebrew word usually translated as charity is צדקה pronounced tzedakah. The meaning of tzedakah is different, though. It means justice. You're not just giving money, you’re taking an active step to make the world better. Tzedakah repairs the world.
I had been chatting to Justin Miles (@ExplorerJust) on Twitter about straight razors for a while. So, I decided to send him a restored razor. Justin, or Just, is an explorer with a great perspective on the importance of education worldwide. If you don’t know about him, check out his website. I knew that he’d been using a shavette for some time but felt that he could do with the real thing.
Choosing a razor for someone is a responsibility. It’s more difficult than choosing a bottle of wine for someone.
I tend to lay out about 10 razors on a workbench and see which one suggests itself as the suitable candidate. It’s got to be the right width, grind and the point has to be right for the recipient's experience and expectations.
After that, it’s just a matter of getting down to work. The razor I chose for Just was a Sheffield made razor, dating from the period 1930s-1950s. Fine steel, classic lines and beautifully ground. Just corroded.
It showed corrosion in all the expected places. The razor had been a fine razor but with a neglectful owner. Its scars were obviously the result of being stored damp.
As the pictures show, the razor was corroded all along the spine to the monkey’s tail. The pivot was corroded too. Red, spidery rust wipes off to show blue bruising, but the damage is done - red rust eats into the metal, leaving scars like furrows.
A lot of work was required to bring the 6/8” blade back to life. When I mean work, it usually involves the removal of corrosion and metal by friction and hot tea. Here are some pictures of the razor during various stages of its restoration.
Eventually the razor started to show signs of its former glory.
The lovely blade was re-pinned into its original scales and spacer using the traditional method of pinning a razor. All my razors are stripped down like this. It's the only way to ensure that the razor is hygienically clean and safe to use.
Here's a videoclip taken of the razor in my workshop. Excuse the dust, if I knew you were going to be watching, I would have tidied up. Also, please accept my apologies for the music on the video - it's marginally better than listen to me breathe.
If you would like a restored razor with character and history, visit my Store where I have razors for sale.