Clarification on wood scales

Discussion in 'Restoration & Razor Making How-To's.....' started by Freedom, Jan 8, 2010.

  1. Okay I'm looking at making some wood scales I've done some poking around, however I would really appreciate any clarification or extra advice on the topic.

    The Materials

    I have picked up some Dark Oak "8mmx44mm", it seems dry but not seasoned (I'm no chippy though). I've got enough to make 50 or so scales so trial an error is in my favor.

    I've got some 2mm Brass rod and Nickel/Steel Washers, I've also got a range of modelling Styrene which i'm hoping I can use for a wedge

    The Tools

    I have ranges of sandpaper, Chisels, Various wood working hand saws, Planes and a hand drill with a 2mm titanium drill bit.

    I don't think I can get access to a workbench drill, the closest I could get would be to let someone else do it.

    The questions

    I've heard a lot about wood needed some stabilization/backing, i.e metals fireglass. Is this required and how do you solve the glueing, expansion, contraction issues?
    In my mind I would look at simple carving out a section on the inside of the scales in between the two pin holes and putting a plate in that void so it would hopefully brace the middle of the scales where warping causes the biggest problem, how does this sound or would just extra varnish coats on the inside do the job?

    I've got no real experience with wood scales, is there any real issue with thickness? I am using oak which isn't know for its flexibility, but if anyone has any I would be interested to know how thick they are, and if that is with a backing or not?

    From the photos i have looked at I see wood scales tend to have thicker wedges, lots which appear as if the scale sits perfectly parallel with the razor I take it this is the general trend?

    Okay this is a two part question, one on material and another on technique. So what to use I've read somewhere about CA or Tung Oil, since a razor has to be handled and water resistant I am not so confident on using an ordinary wood varnish, any advice on product here or should I go down to my local joiners and ask there adivce as well?
    The second thing is technique, from my previous wood work I have always noticed if I brush apply a varnish it warps the wood a little, do you submerse the wood in the product and hang dry it, anything on technique would be wonderful?

    Thank you very much for any advice you can give I promise I will post some pictures when I start doing this, currently i am waiting for my barbers notch Mappin & Webb Royal to arrive to check the scale conditions before i choose which is going to be my test project blade.
  2. I can chime in only on finishes.
    You can finish the scales with any number of wood finishes.
    Polyurethane such as Minwax.
    tung oil
    CA and epoxy stabilize the wood so no need of pretreatment.
    Some woods will need to be stabilized prior to applying the finish.
    Soak in danish oil is one way, sending the wood out for professional stabilization another. I am sure there is other ways too.

    Afew useful links
  3. Thanks Stefan

    Candle Wax sounds brilliant for finishing I like the appeal of the natural feel, and the cost effective ready anywhere.

    As for CA I am right in presuming it refers to Cyanoacrylate "Super Glue"

    I think I will defiantly be trying both of those methods out, theres a few joiners in town so I will pay them a visit I think to see if they use anything similar.
  4. CA= super glue yes.
    People generally apply ~12 coats with light sanding between coats to get even finish. then buff with Maas, Mothers , flitz, turtle wax premium polishing (not buffing) compound. Any of them will work to bring out the high polish of the coat.
  5. If you do this, you might as well use fake wood, such as MDF board with a photograph of woodgrain on top of it. It would have the exact same results as using a hardwood and covering it in superglue/polyurethane. :thumbdown
  6. This is very common restoration technique.Are you saying that a bunch of renowned restorers that use CA do not know what they are doing, and wasting their time?
  7. Well thanks to Stefan I think most of those questions have been answered, I don't know how I missed those wiki pages (I picked up the ones about blade restoration and home made tools), but they have answered just about all those questions I needed.
  8. CA is certainly a very strong and high gloss finish. It isn't all that easy to do because obviously, you can not let the scale stick to your fingers. But the end result is special.

    I have used polyurathane varnish and the finish is OK but the coats have to be applied thinly to get a good finish. It's not in the same league as CA.

    With any of the clear finishes, you have to remember to cover the scales whilst they dry or dust will ruin your work.

    As for oils, I have used Tung oil and I've used beeswax. Really it depends on the wood. Some woods will absorb the oil which is a good thing. The harder woods like the wax finish. When you sand the wood, if you go to a very very fine grit say 2000 grit and above, the grease off your fingers will put a finish of sorts. Oak is pretty hard and it likes wax. I'd sand it very fine and try the wax first.

    As for stiffening the scales. Well guys usually do this either if they are using a very brittle or crumbly material such as shell or very hard burr wood or if they are renovating a broken scale. In my opinion, scales should be light and thin with a balancing weighted spacer. When you get your Mappin and Webb, I think you will see what I mean. Certainly oak and I'd say 99% of wood does not need any stiffening.

    Having said all of that, I have used carbon fibre and micarta and both of these materials are far more practical. But as with wood and even more so, with the man made materials, it is advisable to put on a mask and keep your skin covered when sanding as the dusts can be harmful to your long term health.

    Ofcourse its best to make them in pairs I found. You stick two pieces of material together before you start the cutting and sanding. Some guys use super glue, I use that double sided sticky tape they use for fixing golf grips onto the shafts. I would drill the pin holes before splitting the pair.

    The more complex issues are making sure the pin holes are in alignment. If not the scales will be distorted. Hand drilling is not so easy. Any misalignment and you will see the distortion when you tighten the pins. Similarly, the spacer needs a taper to splay the scale and the thickness is important as it defines the point at which the blade will stop as it fall between the scales. too wide and the blade falls straight through and too narrow and the blade will stand proud. You need to check this before pinning.

    I've only made the occasional set for fun and I 'm no expert just passing on the things aI learnt by trial and error. Anyway, it's good fun and and you can end up with some stunning scales. It can be a bit frustrating at times.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2010
  9. Okay thanks for the advice I have got everything together, sadly I didn't go with the oak I bought trying to cut it to 3.2mm was unbelievable difficult I built guides using a tool checking granit block but then the saw was just to flexible or clamps got in the way, so this oak will be used to make some form of display case.

    My next trip was to a joiners in town and I gave him the specification, 30x150x3.2-4.2 of some medium to dark colored hardwood blanks and £20; and well what he came up with was 24 pieces all perfectly sanded to 3.6mm "just over 1/8, so suffice to say I have a lot of room for mistakes ahead.

    The Mappin and Webb "Trustworthy" arrived and its a wedge which i didn't expect however the damage was a lot worse than I anticipated; I had to sand about 1.5mm off the heel of the blade to remove a chip and whats left of the pitting on the spine is very deep (theres a couple of small pits on the blade close to the spine), but it cleaned up okay.

    So here's a picture of what I'm going to town with (going for a danish oil finish to start with)

    Last edited: Jan 13, 2010
  10. Okay so the first one is done, overall I'm happy but I have learnt a lot which i can use for the 2nd one.

    Sanding the danish oil finish didn't work to well for me, but it left a matt finish which i think I like.

    The metals are brass and copper (I am concerned the washers I had might rust, and I would rather have the beautiful copper green rust), I had to make the copper washers using a handsaw (there 2mm), files and sandpaper, they aren't as circular as I'd hoped; and the washers overlap the edge of the scales near the wedge holes, but well it gives the scales a personal touch "yeah I know terrible excuse for poor craftsmanship".



    You can see how thick the washers are and how poorly finished they are, but hopefully rust will eventually change that (although copper takes a while to rust)



    I would just like to point out other than getting a joiner to cut the wood down to 3.5mm thickness no power tools were used.

    The tools i used were

    Junior handsaw
    Coping saw
    Metal File
    Small Metal file
    Granite tooling stone (a rectangle block of granite with a flat top and straight edges, it was good for alignment)
    Hand drill
    Ball pein hammer

    The internal spacer is made from several brass tubes slotted into each other and then filed/sanded to the edges bonded
  11. Probably my favorite looking scale I've ever seen. LOVE the wedge. And I agree, once the copper oxidizes those washers will look ace. (Though yeah, thinner washers would be better).

    On a side note, possibly interested in putting a scaling kit together to sell in classies? If the price was reasonable I'd definitely be interested.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2010
  12. Don't knock yourself. That's gorgeous. I really dig the washers. The finish on the wood is really great too.
  13. Thank you for the positive comments, as for the whole scale kit thing I really need a lot more experience and post count before I can do that.

    If your looking for the raw materials in the UK i can tell you where I have obtained the stuff.

    Sandpapers - "Car shops, anywhere that sells car paint should stock it"
    Wood - "Asked a joinery firm about doing a small project for ~3.5mm x 30mm x 150mm hard wood running with the grain" it cost me £20 for 24 pieces".
    Brass rod - Local Model shop
    Brass/Copper plate - Local Model shop
    Steel/Nickel washers - Building supply shop "this is the hard one since you need M1.6 (1/16 or 1.6mm) or M2 (2mm)size"

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