Restoration Work

Discussion in 'Restoration & Razor Making How-To's.....' started by Zenas, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. I have a fairly old straight razor that my dad gave me. He said that his grand-father (My great-grandfather) would shave his great-grandfather (my great-great-grandfather) with it every Sunday afternoon, every week. To say the least, it's pretty cool to have it.

    However, it has not been taken care of in probably 40 years or more. There's some rust and one of the (plastic) scales has chipped off pretty bad. If I remember correctly, the razor is made by American Steel out of St. Louis.

    My question is this: is a razor like that worth restoring?

    Second: How much does it usually cost someone to have the blade restored and then rescaled? I have looked around, and I like more traditional and conservative looks like solid black scales with a shiney finish or some simple wood scales.

    I will try to post some pictures of the blade as soon as I can, in order to get some better advice. I was just looking for some general information though. I'd like to shave with a razor that someone 4 generations back used.
  2. Yes, Not only yes, but Haich E Double Hockey sticks Yes, Just for the family connection alone. if it can be restored back to shave-worthiness is a tricky question without looking deeper into where the rust is, how bad it is affecting the edge, and suchlike, but scales and a polish + honing on a heirloom piece like that, it is more then worth having it restored.
    It does depends on how bad a condition the razor is and who you send it to be restored in regards to the cost. but I'm sure you've seen some of the absolute wonders people have achieved with razors in this very forum.
  3. I'll snag some pictures and see if I can get them posted tonight. I don't think the rust has affected the edge, so that's probably a plus.
  4. I would love to see this blade. I have no experience with restorations, but I would love to see a wonder get worked to restore a family connection.
  5. Here she is:


    Closer looks:




    I have no idea how old it is, but I confirmed it with my dad today. He watched my great-grandfather shave my great-great-grandfather with this razor. It appears to be a razor from U.S. Cutlery.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2010
  6. Luc

    Luc Moderator Emeritus

    Not so bad, I was expecting worse. You could try doing it yourself or have someone restoring it, hone it and then, you can use it!
  7. What would I need to invest in to restore it myself?

    Also: my dad has three or four honing stones that he uses for his pocket knives. Are these suitable for honing a straight razor, or are there "special" stones?
  8. Negative on the pocket knife stones. Razors require a much finer edge than tools, pocket knives, or kitchen knives and that means much finer grits (e.g. much less course) for putting a finished edge on a razor.

    As for cleaning it up yourself:
    • If you're just looking for the blade to be clean all you really need is sand paper in various grits to get the rust speckles and stains off by hand sanding...
    • If you want to remove any pits the rust has caused (e.g. make the surface completely smooth - which, by the way, isn't necessary for shaving), it will take much more hand sanding (rough estimate - anywhere from 15-40 hours)...
    • If you want it to have a brand new, mirror finish you'll have to follow up the sand paper with various grits of micro-mesh, possibly followed by some polishing compounds applied with felt wheels in a rotary (i.e. Dremel) tool.
    Keep in mind, this is to have the experience of trying to clean this blade yourself. Most experienced/professional restorers used shop size grinders and buffing wheels (3" - 6") to work through the process.

    If you do want to try cleaning this up by hand, here's a good article from the wiki on restoring blades. It will at least give you a very basic idea of what lies ahead even though it doesn't mention the need to use micro-mesh followed by a rotary tool with various polishing compounds to make the leap from 1500 grit handsanding to mirror finish without a professional buffing wheel.

    There are also other articles in the wiki on cleaning/restoring scales (the handles) and re-pinning them as well.

    That said, if you like working with your hands and are looking for a hobby... or REALLY want to say you cleaned up your heirloom yourself and are really sure you want to give it a shot, be sure to read all you can about it before you try. And be VERY gentle and patient. If the blade cracks then it's over...

    HOWEVER, if you REALLY feel an attachment to this razor... want it looking new again so you can pass it on for a few more generations (and to give straight shaving a shot with it), and that's more important to you than having a hand in the restoration, then save yourself the time and risk and send it to someone with the tools and experience behind them. As someone who has just begun to dabble at straight restoration (without professional tools), I can assure you its the safe and better bet - especially when dealing with an heirloom.
  9. Are you sure those are plastic or celluloid scales. They look more like horn scales to me.

  10. It would be cheaper to send it out. Trust me I have firsthand knowledge
  11. I am not sure at all. You very well may be right as I have an undiscerning eye for the difference right now.
  12. If you just want to clean up the blade it looks like it should polish up okay, am no expert but it took me about 6 hours of hand sanding starting at a 240 grit for a good 2-3 hours then 400/600/800/1000/1500 only needing about 10-30 mins on each of those papers, theres a link in the 1st post that shows you a close up on the original blade surface.

    However given that this blade has some sentimental value you do not want to rush this, If you plan on hand sanding it for cost I would find a junk razor to practice on because one slip and you can drop it on the floor and ruining it for good (I've been lucky so far and just from sanding one blade I've learnt to keep the thing as close to solid ground as possible).
  13. Send it out to one of the restoration wizards on the board here (Ambrose Gsssixgun, Max, et al EDIT: See here).

    The blade itself looks fine, and should clean up easy. The scales may not be able to be saved with that peice missing. No matter, saving, and shaving with that razor will be worth it!
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2010

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