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Gold Dollar 1996 razors plated and warped?

I recently bought three Gold Dollar 1996 razors and they sure seem to be plated. Looks like nickel to me but it may be chrome. The entire razor seems to be plated after all work, including the 'honing' has been finished. I expected some overall poor geometry but was quite surprised by the plating.

As to the warping, all three of them are pretty bad but at least one I believe is outside the realm of any type of conventional honing. That razor has quite a radius in the grind of the hollow such that it touches the hone at the heel and toe on one side and the heel to about the middle of the razor on the other side. Doing rolling strokes to reach all the way to the toe on the second side requires about a seven degree angle to get to the toe. Even then, the bevel does not make anything like a plane surface but rather a twisted angle that is tough to maintain going through the dilution of the slurry. At some point it must require either power tools such as a [hopefully slow] belt sander or just disposing of that razor.

The other two are not as curved at the bevel but are quite tapered from heel to toe; it seems the spines are both tapered and thinner toward the toe.

The spines on all three are pretty rough, almost as though the razors were cast. Add the plating and the razors really resist any appreciable amount of stock removal, even after covering the razor edge and really bearing down on the spine.

Do some of you Gold Dollar folks use something like a belt sander or Dremel to remove the first few ounces of steel when starting out? ( :) but only kind of....)
 
I have several Gold Dollar razors, but do not have the P81 /1996.

I have never heard of a straight razor being chrome plated. Chrome plating the edge would make it difficult or impossible to hone. The P81 is supposed to have harder steel than some of the original models such as the Model 66, but I doubt it is harder than razors such as the Thiers Issard with their C135 "carbonsong" steel. Those are a pain to hone.

Your comments on the craftsmanship of the P81 are not uncommon for Gold Dollar razors. The Gold Dollar razors sell for about 10% of the price of a well crafted razor. The grinding is not great. Few, if any razors are shave ready from the factory. The scales are lacking in refinement. In summary, you get what you pay for.

That being said, I have never owned a Gold Dollar razor that could not be brought to a shave ready edge with a little work. I purchased mine when I was first learning to hone and wanted inexpensive razors for experimentation. They lack craftsmanship, but they all give a decent shave.

What type of hones are you using to hone the razor? You will need a hone somewhere between 1-2K to set the bevel. Then you will need higher grit stones to refine the bevel to produce a shave ready edge. If you are just trying to hone the razor on a finishing hone, you are not likely to be successful unless you have a lot of patience.
 
Agreed, it would be a serious miss-step to plate a straight razor but that is exactly what I believe I have. The finish is not raw steel, and is too silver to be steel at least in my opinion and experience. Further, if they are electroplated, that drives hydrogen into the steel leading to hydrogen embrittlement- absolutely the last thing anyone would want in a razor.

For roughing, a piece of 600 W/D silicone carbide paper on a piece of glass. Then a Naniwa 1000. Then onto a Jnat but we are not there yet, have not yet set a bevel all the way down the edges of any of these three razors. Using a rolling stroke to reach the entire edge ends up applying too much pressure to the toe area of the bevel because the pressure is concentrated on a very small section of the bevel. So at the beginning of the stroke, perhaps roughly 1/2 of the entire razor edge is sharing whatever pressure is used. But once the heel end is lifted to drop the toe area onto the stone, that same pressure is not concentrated almost to a point. The side of the Naniwa stone could be used and that may help but I cannot follow that with the side of a Jnat and I do not own any other, thin finishers where the side could be used. I could use film in, say, 3/4" wide strips but that would defeat using Jnats which is the actual goal of all of this.

I have two older GD 66's which hone reasonably well but I had to remove a ton of steel from both of them before anything like a razor shape immerged. And neither blade was curved at the edge. These newer 1996's are really resisting even 600 grit paper which is leading me to think a bit of belt sanding might speed things up. Unfortunately my belt sander is pretty fast (read too fast IMO) and will probably overheat the edge and kill the temper. Perhaps a fairly large sanding drum on a Dremel, turned down in speed and not used all the way to the edge of the bevel?

Perhaps I just need to buy a much larger batch of GD's and toss the ones with awful geometry? Judging from these three though that may be a pretty impressive ratio of those tossed to those actually used. BTW, I would be happy to spend more money on either different GD's or a different brand to get a razor with decent geometry. Of course not a refined, 'nice' razor but at least something at least close to straight.
 
Everything can be copied, even something as cheap as a GD. While it wouldn't seem worth it to us, if something usually costs $2 to make, and they can knock out a forgery for $1, then someone probably will.
 

Slash McCoy

I freehand dog rockets
There are no chrome or nickel plated Gold Dollars. I have never had any GD even back in the bad old days, as bad as what you are reporting. Recently there was a thread started earlier in the year by a guy who bought a Gold Dollar on fleabay that was not a Gold Dollar at all. I wish I could remember the title of the thread. Anyway please post a pic of your P81. I have found almost all P81s to hone up nicely. I was even honing and selling them at one point and my customers loved them. I couldn't hone them and get them out the door fast enough, even after raising the prices. Lots of repeat buyers. Maybe you got a fake GD? Apparently it IS a thing!
 
I love my p81. I think it's probably the best GD model produced. It's definitely solid steel. Not plated.
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
.... I would be happy to spend more money on either different GD's or a different brand to get a razor with decent geometry. Of course not a refined, 'nice' razor but at least something at least close to straight.
Good geometry and better quality than GD is the Titan ACRM-2 T.H.60. Costs a bit more but has decent timber scales that don't flop around and the steel is a little harder than the regular Gold Dollar SR's. Of course it doesn't come truly shave-ready but that is to be expected for the price.

I put together a matching seven-day set of them but recently gave the set to my little sister for her grandson. I still have one of these SR's in my rotation, my first true SR, and I enjoy shaving with it.

IMG_20210909_095217.jpg
 
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There are a lot of different steels depending upon the trace metals that are added; chromium, nickel, molybdenum, manganese, vanadium, etc. Since much steel is made from recycled steel, it is hard to know what you are going to get in Chinese steel. It might even be a low-alloy steel, not quite stainless.

Back when razors were still being made in Sheffield England, they came up was a steel that they dubbed "silver steel". It did not contain any silver, but it did take a higher degree of polish than other steels. I have a couple of "silver steel" razors and like them very much. The Thiers Issard C135 Carbonsong steel takes a high polish. It almost looks like it is chrome plated and it is very hard, but it is a carbon steel.
 

Steve56

Ask me about shaving naked!
When I buy a dozen Gold Dollars, typically 2-4 end up in the ‘dud drawer’, 2-4 hone easily, and the rest require some honing gymnastics. Most all need to be ‘defanged’ as brother Slash puts it.

Normally to begin with, I tape the EDGE and hone the spine flat and straight on both sides. Then pull the edge tape and set the bevel. If they’ve not been defanged, you‘ll likely have to raise the toe to hone the edge to the stabilizer, and lift the heel to hone the edge to the end at the toe. It’s really easier to hone most of them in sections, toe, middle, heel, then smooth everything together with some rolling x strokes. At least to get the bevels cut.

Welcome to Gold Dollar!
 

steveclarkus

Goose Poop Connoisseur
There are a lot of different steels depending upon the trace metals that are added; chromium, nickel, molybdenum, manganese, vanadium, etc. Since much steel is made from recycled steel, it is hard to know what you are going to get in Chinese steel. It might even be a low-alloy steel, not quite stainless.

Back when razors were still being made in Sheffield England, they came up was a steel that they dubbed "silver steel". It did not contain any silver, but it did take a higher degree of polish than other steels. I have a couple of "silver steel" razors and like them very much. The Thiers Issard C135 Carbonsong steel takes a high polish. It almost looks like it is chrome plated and it is very hard, but it is a carbon steel.
Actually I believe the silver steel did have a component of silver in the steel. I read an article on it a few years ago but have no idea how to find it.
 

Slash McCoy

I freehand dog rockets
There are a lot of different steels depending upon the trace metals that are added; chromium, nickel, molybdenum, manganese, vanadium, etc. Since much steel is made from recycled steel, it is hard to know what you are going to get in Chinese steel. It might even be a low-alloy steel, not quite stainless.

Back when razors were still being made in Sheffield England, they came up was a steel that they dubbed "silver steel". It did not contain any silver, but it did take a higher degree of polish than other steels. I have a couple of "silver steel" razors and like them very much. The Thiers Issard C135 Carbonsong steel takes a high polish. It almost looks like it is chrome plated and it is very hard, but it is a carbon steel.
I actually have an assay of the Gold Dollar steel somewhere, done by one of our members here a few years ago. Out of privacy concerns I will not name him without him saying it is okay, or unless he speaks up himself. It's not junk steel. However, it is also not stainless. All of the carbon steel models are made from the same steel. All of the stainless models are made from the same stainless steel except the 900 which is made from a named alloy. 440C if memory serves. But I do not like that one. Probably their best razor is the 800 if you like stainless. The 100, 200, and 300 can be had in carbon or stainless and they are not marked which is which. Out of the models that do not end with "00", the P81 is the best, followed by the 208. But the steel is the same as the #66.
 
Yeah, I think I got 2-4 duds out of 3. :eek2::c9: But seriously I think 1 or even 2 of them might be salvageable but not the third.

One of the great things about a three dimensional world is that things can be 'out of whack' (technical term meaning not aligned in this context) in more ways than one. These razors do not share a plane between the spine and the edge in several ways, one is that the spine is tapered toward the toe. Another way is that the bevel and the spine are not aligned such that the bevel is at an angle, on both sides, to the spine. So if the razors are put down on a flat surface, three points will touch with the last one not toughing the surface. Rolling the razor during honing will address this to a point but it results in far too much force being put on a relatively tiny length of the edge during the part of the stroke when the other end, the heel in my cases, are lifted. All of this can be corrected but honestly I have not been successful even really leaning on the spine to try and set a new set of planes (with the edge completely taped).

As to the plating, I have used a lot of steel over the years and honestly a plated surface really does jump out, as it does on these razors. A rough finish but still with a pretty large amount of speckle- shine, coupled with the very silvery color makes it seem like these razors are indeed plated. Now if they are flashed rather than electroplated, it is not all that awful other than trying to hone away the nickel or chromium which is difficult with natural abrasives. Probably wise to move to a 400 to 600 grit diamond plate and do the stock removal to establish acceptable geometry.

I will take some comparison photos later and post them with regard to both the plating thoughts as well as the geometry. Thanks for the input guys, I do appreciate it.

When I buy a dozen Gold Dollars, typically 2-4 end up in the ‘dud drawer’, 2-4 hone easily, and the rest require some honing gymnastics. Most all need to be ‘defanged’ as brother Slash puts it.

Normally to begin with, I tape the EDGE and hone the spine flat and straight on both sides. Then pull the edge tape and set the bevel. If they’ve not been defanged, you‘ll likely have to raise the toe to hone the edge to the stabilizer, and lift the heel to hone the edge to the end at the toe. It’s really easier to hone most of them in sections, toe, middle, heel, then smooth everything together with some rolling x strokes. At least to get the bevels cut.

Welcome to Gold Dollar!
 

Slash McCoy

I freehand dog rockets
Yeah, I think I got 2-4 duds out of 3. :eek2::c9: But seriously I think 1 or even 2 of them might be salvageable but not the third.

One of the great things about a three dimensional world is that things can be 'out of whack' (technical term meaning not aligned in this context) in more ways than one. These razors do not share a plane between the spine and the edge in several ways, one is that the spine is tapered toward the toe. Another way is that the bevel and the spine are not aligned such that the bevel is at an angle, on both sides, to the spine. So if the razors are put down on a flat surface, three points will touch with the last one not toughing the surface. Rolling the razor during honing will address this to a point but it results in far too much force being put on a relatively tiny length of the edge during the part of the stroke when the other end, the heel in my cases, are lifted. All of this can be corrected but honestly I have not been successful even really leaning on the spine to try and set a new set of planes (with the edge completely taped).

As to the plating, I have used a lot of steel over the years and honestly a plated surface really does jump out, as it does on these razors. A rough finish but still with a pretty large amount of speckle- shine, coupled with the very silvery color makes it seem like these razors are indeed plated. Now if they are flashed rather than electroplated, it is not all that awful other than trying to hone away the nickel or chromium which is difficult with natural abrasives. Probably wise to move to a 400 to 600 grit diamond plate and do the stock removal to establish acceptable geometry.

I will take some comparison photos later and post them with regard to both the plating thoughts as well as the geometry. Thanks for the input guys, I do appreciate it.
They are not going to do anything extra on their razors. Believe me. I have corresponded with CiCi at the factory and argued with her that they need to stamp "Stainless" on their SS razors. She is like a broken record. She will be happy to mark the boxes "Stainless Steel" on request, but there is "no need" to stamp them SS and it will cost too much. They are not going to add ANY process to the product stream, even one that most of us would regard as necessary. The P81 razors wholesale for $2.50 each. Plating them with ANYTHING is going to add at least 25% to their manufacturing costs, and we are talking about China, after all.

I would really like to see a pic of that razor.
 
Photos coming, I promise. In the meantime, I finally upped the game and ran a GD across something it could not help but respect- a silicon carbide lapping plate I bought to lap the bottom of a Jnat. Spent some time on the 120 grit side, then over to the fine side, 320 grit (!!). That got the razor's attention! And surprisingly enough, it did not chip the edge either, at least not visibly to a mark 1 eyeball. I happened to grab the GD with the bow in the blade edge but no matter, there is now a bevel mostly set, along with a flat, planar surface on both the edge and the spine. It has been so long since I beat several GDs into submission I think I forgot how much metal has to be removed; not really a bevel set but rather establishing a plane out of warped, bent and tapered surfaces. Coarser grits really do help speed this up a bit. Normally I would never even consider dragging a straight razor, or probably even a knife I cared about, over such a coarse, nasty surface. But GDs have a way to making that attractive simply due to the minutes or hours ticking by while the razors chuckle at something so delicate as a 1,000 grit stone.
 
Just to get back to this thread: I actually went back and am working on those three GD's. Dropping down to much coarser grits to remove some steel, including a 600 Atoma. Still not aggressive enough though. Off to buy some 220 - 320 W/D silicon carbide paper to remove some steel.

All three are mangled but one in particular has a really odd behavior- the first 1/2 of the razor, from the heel, makes a plane, while the rest of the razor does not touch the hone. Fine and well. But when using a rocking or rolling stroke, the razor toe and spine ride along the hone after the heel is raised a bit. This seems to be because the spine toward the toe is on another plane from the heel of the razor while the edge has a bit of a hollow toward the toe. So when the razor is lifted at the heel as part of the stroke, the edge does not touch for about an inch or so until it contacts right at the toe. This particular blade may well be un- savable but I am getting a bit involved with it as well as tenacious. There is nothing to lose and now I really want to see just how far this forging has to be ground down to reveal a plane on each side. Will update.
 
Still no photos but that is because I continue to work on the razors. I have been studying videos of obnoxious razor honing and have come to the conclusion that it simply requires more pressure, more passes (circle, half- stoke, whatever) to beat these razors into submission, I have two Gold Dollar 66's from way back when and I suppose I simply forgot how much stock removal these things take to establish something that looks like a plane on both sides. After spending another while on a Naniwa 1000, it was clear that that stone was simply not removing material fast enough. Silicon carbide sandpaper (wet / dry) in lower grits dulls too quickly to provide a decent honing surface to straighten out a Gold Dollar's horrible geometry. So tonight I purchased a Shapton Glass 500 grit hone to <hopefully> remove some stock and leave behind something that has some semblance of a plane on each side. Honestly at this point I would be happy to slide these razors over a belt sander but I believe they are so fast that the process would heat the edge and remove the temper.

So patiently waiting on the Shapton to see if it will really be as aggressive as their reputation suggests. Again, I think the key here is to ignore the blade's initial geometry, as bad as that may be, and concentrate on establishing a pair of planes, one on each side, that result in something that at least looks like a bevel.

BTW- after spending some time on a Chosera 1000 stone, I have about 7/8 of the edge showing a decent bevel set, as shown by the thumbnail test.

This whole thing reminds me of Mt. Rushmore- while it took skilled artisans to carve the faces in that mountain, they did have to start with explosives to remove the tons of rock in the way of the final carvings. I suppose a Gold Dollar razors need a 'no mercy' stock removal method to get to something that can then be treated as a razor in the making. Sorta' like the explosives on Mt. Rushmore- in the early stages a chisel and hammer would be nothing short of ridiculous.

At the same time, I am also honing vintage, classic razors with good geometry that require merely honing and not an entire re- shape to be useful. The downside of this is that the learning curve of natural stone honing can and will remove a lot of vintage steel from these nice, old razors. Hence my desire to take out the learning curve on cheap but crude Gold Dollars.
 
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