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How to identify scale materials (horn)

I got two razors in my latest batch (pics coming in a couple of hours in another thread) where I am uncertain of the material of there scales.
The razors are both Swedish from Eskilstuna and manufactures by S. Gustafsson and CV Dahlgren.

The scales are black and a little browned, maybe from dirt and rust. At first i thought it was bakelite, but the surface is grainy, somewhat like wood but they feel too light to be made of wood and the surface does not look "right".

Is there any nondestructive way to identify horn material and what is the best way to treat it. I plan to make an attempt to save these scales.
 

mdunn

Moderator Emeritus
Sand with high grit on the inside of the scale. If it smells like camphor its celluloid, if the sanding is brown it's Bakelite, if it smells like wet dog it's horn
 
Someone might think that I am just sitting here waiting for suggesting when I answer this fast but that is only partly truer :)

Sanding resulted in..... Nothing... So either it is very dry wood (to account for the light feel) or my sense of smell is still damaged after the flight(s) from Sweden to Hong Kong yesterday. probably it is wood, jens mentioned that they sometimes baked wood with some tar-like substance. Maybe that it.

Thanks for this tip!

Sand with high grit on the inside of the scale. If it smells like camphor its celluloid, if the sanding is brown it's Bakelite, if it smells like wet dog it's horn
 
heat up the tip of a pin to bright red with a lighter, and touch it to the inside of the scales. If the pin melts into the scale, its celluloid or plastic, or bakelite.. if it doesnt, its horn :) minimal damage...
 
Tried that first - no melting and the tip sink in a little bit since the material is slightly soft.
heat up the tip of a pin to bright red with a lighter, and touch it to the inside of the scales. If the pin melts into the scale, its celluloid or plastic, or bakelite.. if it doesnt, its horn :) minimal damage...
 
There is no scent when you sand it? What color was the dust?

If you post a pic someone may be able to give you an educated guess.
 
I haven't seen a straight with bakelite scales yet, and I have 40 or so. The ones that came in looking like they had bakelite actually had some sort of hard rubber material, brittle and not nearly as strong as bakelite. If you sanded and there was no smell it might be hard rubber. Bakelite would give off a rank odor like formaldehyde, pretty unmistakeable.
 
Trying to remember, been some time now but definitely not rubber, bakelite, plastic or bone, I think it was as Jens (honed) suggested in a mail. Some kind of wood baked with tar.
 
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