I find the process of razor restoration fascinating. In the hope that you do too, I thought about writing about some interesting aspects of some of the razors I work on.
A tale of nails
I was recently sent a razor to work on by a friend from Germany. He has a fine eye for razors, so when his razor arrived, I was not surprised that he had chosen a very refined and elegant Revisor razor. The curve of the blade and the fine grinding of the blade was fully apparent when the blade was out of the scales; the work of a craftsman.
A beautifully made Revisor razor blade.
I like Revisor, they're good people who sell lovely, well made razors; you can be assured of their quality. So just to be clear, the following comments are not about any brand in particular, they're just intended to highlight some common features of modern razors which I tend to view as faults.
The razor in question had received an accidental small chip to the blade. It was also apparent that the razor displayed a tendency to want to strike the scales on the left hand side too. The scales needed adjustment, because the razor wouldn't sit up on its scales without persuasion or encouragement.
The spacer was also, on closer inspection, slightly proud of the scales too. I like spacers to be a seamless part of the scales, indistinguishable, if possible, by feel or sight from the scales. Of course, where different materials are used for these elements of the razor, it can be difficult to achieve a flush finish. Different materials react differently to the friction of sanding and finishing.
Look closely at the above picture. See the 'pin' and 'washer'?
The razor's problems were, I surmised, a result of the modern tendency to pin with these contraptions. Most modern razors are held together by nails; yes, they're nailed together! The nails are stamped on their heads to make them resemble a traditional washer and pin.
Here's what they look like.
Some of the other contraptions designed recently by mankind in the race for speed and economy are the longer nails with wider collets (shown on the right).
The nail option is undoubtedly quick and, involves little skill to fix - just stick the nail through, pop on one of the domed washers and (probably) mechanically knock the end of the nail over the edge of the washer. Voila! A fixed razor.
Sadly, this does cause problems. For one thing, the type of pin shown on the right side in the picture above, requires a really wide hole to be made in the scales. When restoring, one tries to leave as little trace of restoration as possible, so drilling large holes in scales really does irk.
Also, steel nails are really to tough for the job of pinning scales together, particularly around the pivot of the blade itself. The reason is simple. Whereas a traditionally pinned razor can be adjusted by lightly striking the pin on one side or the other, the steel nail provides little scope for adjustment.
Have a look at the sad crack in the scales of a different razor, this time a Hayashi Diamond, sent to me (April 2018) for restoration. The crack was caused by someone trying to fix the spacer end of the scales using these nail-kits. The steel nail was too much for the fragile scales to stand.
Literally, hard as nails.
What happens when you strike a traditional made scales pin? It causes a beautiful reaction between the pin and the blade. It swells and moves the blade slightly in the scales. Striking the pin tightens it, causing friction, holding your lovely razor in place. Of course, when you're attempting to knock something that is as hard as the blade itself, you're going to have problems. Also, a nail can only be adjusted at one side, where the domed washer is.
Question: What happens if the blade really cries out for adjustment from the side which cannot be adjusted?
Answer: That's right; nothing. We've got a problem.
The maker had tried to compensate by adding an unequal number of internal pivot washer to try and cause a biased ark of movement when the razor opened and closed. Sometimes, this method works really well. It's a traditional trick, used by razor manufacturers in the good old days of yore.
However, in this case, the tendency of the razor to strike the scales had resulted in a small nick, which looked like developing into a split.
Fortunately, no real harm had been caused to the blade or the scales.
The damage to the blade was quickly repaired, the scales were repaired and, using traditional materials and skills, the razor and scales were reassembled.
No need for nails, pin your hopes on these.
Yes, the razor was reassembled using a rod and washers. This traditional method ensures that pressure can be applied from both sides, as required, meaning that the blade is held safely and equitably in the scales.
The Revisor, being made of excellent steel, honed wonderfully too. It was a joy to see it take a new bevel and respond to a natural whetstone.
Here's the razor, back together, honed, stropped and oiled up. Oh, yes, have a look at the traditional pins too. Traditional is sometimes best, for a reason too.