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Making razor scales with no shop, no bench, no experience and no skills.

I bought this Bengal near wedge about 2 years ago give or take. It’s a nice blade, small and heavy but I’ve never been in love with the wooden scales that came with it and I could never get them to really tighten.
So I decided it would be a good razor to try my first re scaling project.
I had no tools except a ball pein hammer and a cheap junior hacksaw.
I like tortoiseshell so I bought a sheet of 2mm thick Acrylic in that colour and the rest of the stuff I’d need.
This was a kitchen table set up as I have no shop, no bench, no shed, no experience and no skills.
I bought the following small tools for the job:

Desktop vice for £7.50
M 1.4 washers £3.50
1.5 ml brass rod £1.50
Small Anvil £5.00
Tortoiseshell acrylic £9
Sand Paper 120-3000 grit £7,
A Pin vise hand drill £6
End cutter pliers £5
File £3.50

That’s £48 in total but I’ve got enough acrylic left to make another 2 pairs of scales if I like and if I feel like making more the cost will be minimal as I think I now have everything I need.
First i de-scaled the Bengal.
0EAF317A-DE72-4CFE-A062-169D8F5680BA.jpeg FC72D96F-4E53-447E-8ADB-7ED29F5156C5.jpeg This was harder than expected as the cutters I’d bought were about 1mm shy of flush. This made the job difficult and after making a gap I ended up sawing through the brass pin with the hacksaw. I managed not to damage the razor.
When I removed the brass pin I saw it was bent in the middle so I think the person I bought it from had been a bit heavy with the hammer and this was why I could never get the thing to tighten.
I traced around the blade and drew a rough scale shape around that. But the drawing was a little scruffy so I traced around the acrylic scales on my Shuredge razor which gave a better shape.
177687C6-64A2-4ACE-A287-ADC56BE0435B.jpeg

I glued two parts of the acrylic together using a few spots of pva glue, let it dry half an hour, then roughly sawed out the scales shape. But as I’d left the backing paper on the acrylic the next day the two halves had separated so I re stuck them with double sided tape.
Using the table vice I hacksawed the shape out roughly then zeroed in on it using the file.
As I got closer I swapped the file for some 120 grit sandpaper to bring it to the lines.
This hand sanding the shape was quite a bit of work and if I do it again I’ll buy some 60 grit paper for this.
I’d also remove the paper backing which the acrylic comes in as this started to fall away as I was finishing the sanding and filing.
I was just finished the shape when it fell off altogether leaving me to finish the shape by sight. As a result it’s far from perfect shape wise but it should still be usable. Losing the template also meant I’d have to guess where to drill the scales.
Just masking tape alone would’ve been better or maybe to score the scale shape into the acrylic with a pin.
Now the scales were shaped I filed off a 45 degree chamfer all the way around and started hand sanding the scales.
I went 120, 240, 400, 800, 1200, 1500, 2000 then 3000.
I could’ve probably done less but I surprisingly enjoyed this part of the process, seeing each grit bring the job more and more to life.
Eventually the sanding was done. Not a perfect shape but a decent finish and for a first try doing any of this I was happy with the result.
Next I used the pin vise hand drill to make the tang holes. I found it quite easy to use though I did borrow my girlfriend to hold the scales as I drilled.
With hindsight idve made the holes a little closer to the end of the scale.
Now I had to put it all together. First I had to make the wedge.
p 87CEF4DA-8E28-492A-8C25-5B21407C750A.jpeg
I’d been looking at the wedges on my other razors. They were all a little different to each other but I got a decent idea of the size and shape I’d need and a rough idea of how much bow I would need.
I lined up the razor in the scales and lightly scratched the shape of the wedge on the inside of the scale with a needle. Then I lined it up and drew it onto the paper which was attached to the acrylic.
I roughly sawed the shape out and then sanded the wedge shape using the 120grit.
I kept checking the separation at the far end of the scales until I was happy that the wedge was angled right.
4D88E84F-B20B-48E0-9D5F-7D3A07629133.jpeg
then I glued it to one of the scales and drilled it. But the holes didn’t line up perfectly so I had no option but to drill a second hole on one side.
Now it was time to try my hand at pinning.
I felt I should drill a hole into my anvil for pinning but I only had the hand vise drill and the anvil wasn’t impressed by it so I’d say it took the best part of 40mins 20 each over two sittings.
B0204C19-E13E-497E-97C4-5B35F0A69A85.jpeg
I put The 2inch brass rod through the scales and wedge then added one little washer. Holding it in the vise I gently flattened the end a little with the hammer just enough to keep the washer on. Then on the other side of the razor I added a washer and cut the rod just under a millimetre from the washer.
F2C7E519-792D-4BC9-9110-3CD7C7E7C760.jpeg
Holding the scales in the hard earned divot id made, I began to gently tap tap tap in little circles much to my 1 year olds amusement who made many clever and varied attempts at hijacking the hammer.
It took about 30 mins id say but I was being careful not to whack it too hard.
It was actually quite relaxing and just at the end, as the wedge finally began to tighten and both ends of the sharp brass rods were now flattened, domed and shiny and holding the wedge tightly in place, I started to feel strangely good.
I wrapped some 120 sandpaper around the anvil and sanded and brought the wedge flush with the scales then sanded it up to 3000 grit like the rest of the scales.
A8BB2AFF-97FD-4B72-B811-54AC1225411D.jpeg
Again, seeing the wedge finally fitted so snugly and polished like it was truly a a part of the scales was satisfying.
I brought the scales up a bit with brasso metal polish which just left pinning the actual razor end of the scales then honing it
Pinning this end was easier because I’d already done it once at the other end but I struggled to get the razor to centre. I wasn’t sure which side to hit to correct it and pretty soon it was not only not fully corrected but the scales are now very much on the stiff side. They open and close well but still open and close stiffly so I don’t want to hammer it more. I’ll try hammering them wedge end and see if this makes any difference. 65070676-AA1F-4F2A-ABDA-CC86FFD5CD20.jpeg

84F761AD-4B80-4937-9D5A-FE443FA87E84.jpeg Anyway, I just have to hone it now and strop it and it’s done.
This was a lot more fun than I expected and my new scales are far from perfect to say the least but I learned a great deal doing it and the Bengal looks better in his brand new suit.
 
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I can fully empathize with you as I made a set from old swimming pool decking with no tools, skill or experience. I too found it rewarding and although they aren't the best scales in my collection (by a long way) they are good enough. When passed onto my son, he will have something they I made, so they may be valuable to him.
 
Nice job! I have made a few scales - always paranoid about the 2 halves falling apart so I drill the holes early in the process, right after I have cut out the rough shape. You did a better job with the wedge than I have done so far.
 
Very nice for your first one! I hope my first one will turn out half as good!
I’m sure it will turnout just as well if not better, I made several mistakes which I’ve learned from and hope not to repeat on the next effort.
I’d glassed the razor before final pinning in case I slipped and cut myself with it.
So I’ve just honed it back to 4K film then 8k and finally 12-15k.
Then I wanted to give it the best edge possible so I took it through @Slash McCoy’s deadly balsa progression.
If I did a good job It’s now off the charts in terms of sharpness and the job is complete. let’s see how it shaves tomorrow.
 
This mornings shave 1F188E56-BE49-4ECE-9D0C-192844FAD113.jpeg
The old scales on the near wedge had always been loose and the shave was always awkward because of it.
This morning though the new scales were perfectly tight and stayed where I put them and as a result the shave was so much less fiddly. I got a great close enjoyable shave with no messing so performance wise I’m really happy with the new scales.
 
Very nice!

I like the material you used, looks great.

Way better than my first attempts. Shows you that with a bit of patience and persistence it's not difficult to make scales.
My issue is patience, once I start I just want to get it done. I have to learn to savour the experience.

The only positive criticism I can offer is depending on how well the razor centres, you may be able to make your wedge a lot thinner.
 
Very nice!

I like the material you used, looks great.

Way better than my first attempts. Shows you that with a bit of patience and persistence it's not difficult to make scales.
My issue is patience, once I start I just want to get it done. I have to learn to savour the experience.

The only positive criticism I can offer is depending on how well the razor centres, you may be able to make your wedge a lot thinner.
Ha yes my relatively good patience doing this came as quite a surprise to me but I did enjoy it all.
I think that’s a good point about the wedge, it may be a little wide as the razor isn’t well centred and I have to be careful opening and closing it. But my new found patience only goes so far, and while the answer seems definitely to be to dismantle it all, adjust the wedge and re-pin it, I think I’ll suffer through it for a while😶
 
Ha yes my relatively good patience doing this came as quite a surprise to me but I did enjoy it all.
I think that’s a good point about the wedge, it may be a little wide as the razor isn’t well centred and I have to be careful opening and closing it. But my new found patience only goes so far, and while the answer seems definitely to be to dismantle it all, adjust the wedge and re-pin it, I think I’ll suffer through it for a while😶
Looks great the way it is, don't risk dismantling it. You made it for yourself, just enjoy it.
 
Funny how things work out. I’d noticed that while making the scales I’d failed to sand out some marks from the file. E2AE26F0-BC47-4A7F-AA26-D1E8E91781AB.jpeg
Evidently during the hand sanding id missed the area with an earlier grit or two. This meant that The later grits had just been polishing these scratches which are now polished and permanent .
So I got to thinking about the edges on my razors.
Earlier heavier grits of stones/films etc leave deep scratches just like the file did and and unless they’re removed completely then I’d be just polishing the permanent scratches on the edge.
I’ve never been able to get any razors to reliably pass a HHT all along the edge despite getting great shaves. This always annoyed me a little and I tried to convince myself that my girlfriends hair must be unusually fine, but deep down I wasn’t buying it.
As an experiment I took my 5/8ths Thomas Turner & Co to the loup. it had a Method edge on it and was a very sharp shaver but only cut hanging hair in one or two places
There were definitely old deeper scratches here and there so I took it back to 4K film and gave it a good old session on that to get rid of any old deep scratches.
I’d also been honing with the block in hand but this time I had the block flat on my table and I held the razor in both hands with one hand steadying the toe and making sure it was flat at all times.
I finished it under running water lightening up until the razor stuck to the film.
Then I did the same on 8k film. I kept close attention on the water undercut. If the undercut was any different on a side, I’d hit that side with an extra 10 x’s then continue side to side.
I gave it a strop then tried the HHT with a hair from my 5 year old which is even finer than my girlfriends.
Well everywhere I touched the hair it cut it easily, All along the edge. In some parts it pinged in others it was silent but everywhere it touched the hair just parted. And this was only at 8k.
I started to smile, funny how making the scales has ended up improving my honing. Those scratches on the scales showed me what was likely happening on my razor.
Im going to finish this blade on a coticule tonight hopefully I’ll feel the improve my shave.
 
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