Poor Purchase?

I will start by saying I know nothing about using a straight razor. I've used a DE for nearly 10 years now.

But, I'm wondering about something. I bought this thing years ago just for giggles. I love the look of it, but I've never attempted anything other than having it sit on display.

Classic Straight Razor

Can this thing even take an edge? Or did I waste $13.00 on something that will simply gather dust being on display?

How would I go about getting it honed (if it's even possible)?
 
If its 400c stainless it can probably take a shaving edge, it just says 400 stainless so not sure, however I'm not so sure about the bevel angle on that thing either.
It looks very much like the $5 chinese razors you find on Ebay.
Will most definitely need a bevel set.
 
Afaik those are not good quality. It's a shame as 10-15 could have got you a nice old no name antique blade in better than ok shape in the current market.
 
Yeah, I think that's just meant to be a display piece. If you enjoy having it on display, I wouldn't even try to sharpen it.

But if you're looking to try straights, you can get started for pretty cheap. All you need is a shave ready razor and a strop to get started.
 
I had one of those. I had bought it to try to steal the wooden scales off it, with no expectations that the blade could actually shave.
I was actually surprised by how sharp it came out of the box, compared to other cheap alternative. At least it had a bevel and would shave hair of my arms. The metal did not feel like it would take an edge. I doubt it was a good quality 440c, so I did not attempt to hone it.
Now, dismantling the scales turned out to be very difficult. It seems the fastener were not meant to be unfastened and were made of a ridiculously hard metal that I could not drill through either.

If you have the equipment, you might as well try to hone it. If you need to send it out, even if you find someone that would do it for free, the round-trip shipping is more than you paid for the razor, so I doubt the experience is worthwhile.

One possible use to avoid it going to waste is to start baking your own sour-dough. Before putting them in the oven, it is customary to cut the dough superficially with a razor blade. Bread.JPG
 
Razors like that I would expect to be more of a novelty item, especially at that price. The reviews on the site were pretty negative.
For little more than the cost of getting a razor professionally honed (including shipping) you can buy one shave ready.

You can strop on denim and a clean piece of leather until you decide on investing more.
 
Have you read the reviews? While some were just complaining about it's lack of sharpness out of the box others who were more experienced at honing complained about it's ability to take and hold an edge.
It seems to be a poor quality steel at best.
 
Those who hone and use real straight razors call razors like these RSOs....Razor Shaped Object. Although they look like a razor, they are generally not capable of taking a shave-ready edge and delivering a close, comfortable shave. The may well be capable of taking an edge sharp enough to use as a knife. If you are lucky and your honing skills are good, then you might be able to produce a shaving edge. However, if your honing skills were good, you would not have purchased this razor.

On the other hand, there are some Chinese razors that cost no more than the razor you purchased that are made with good steel. In the hands of someone who can modify and hone these razors, they can deliver a great shave. These razors are sold under the names Gold Dollar and ZY. Although workmanship is not great, the steel is decent.
 
RSO.
Watch the B.S.T. thread and pick up a real shave ready vintage razor. For double your money you can get a fine razor that will last a life time.
 
Probably RSO. Do you want to shave in the manly way? Get a bona fide shave ready razor.

Nearly every razor you see sold on fleabay and by vendors who do not know razors will claim that their razor is shave ready. It is now only a buzz word, for most of the world. For actual straight shavers, shave ready means that the edge is sharp enough and refined enough to comfortably shave your face. You pocketknife should be sharp enough to shave hair off your forearm. Forearm shaving is not a test of shave readiness for a razor! To be considered shave ready, a razor should do well on one of the standard sharpness tests. It should give you HHT3 or it should treetop arm hair when passed 1/4" above the skin of the forearm. I will let you look that up, rather than write a book here. The final, ultimate test of course is the shave test. Shaving the face, not the forearm!!!

Another thing. Do not buy a razor from someone who does not regularly shave with a straight razor, and certainly do not expect a razor honed by someone who does not shave with a straight razor, to be capable of shaving well. This is not knife sharpening. This is razor honing.

A razor sold as shave ready by a member here will be shave ready. Reputations are on the line, after all. A seller vouched for by one or more member here will be selling shave ready razors, if that is his claim. New razors almost never are shave ready. Some sellers will hone a new razor for you before shipping it. Jarrod at www.thesuperiorshave.com, for instance. You might find a good deal on the BST forum here. There are three or four ebay sellers who are well regarded by the forum members here. I don't recall their names in entirety but one is april something something, one is life too short something, and there are a couple more. Hopefully someone will chime in on this.

The best cheap new razor I can think of is the Gold Dollar W60. The "W" line of Gold Dollar razors is far and above the rest of the GD models, IMHO, by virtue of it's more acute bevel angle. Fendrihan's has it for around $30, I think. At about half that price is the 1996, very popular, and available shave ready from some sellers, probably. Remember, just because the seller claims it is shave ready doesn't mean very much. Verify. And the classic GD models are dirt cheap, with the #66 going for under $4 shipped free from China. However it will NOT come from China shave ready. Forget about that. You might find a seller honing and reselling these for $25 to $35 or so.

A shave ready vintage razor will cost you around $40, maybe less, maybe more, maybe a lot more. But you will be getting a razor that definitely shaved a lot of faces and should shave a lot more before it is done. Of particular value for the price are vintage American razors from about 1900 to WWII. Shumate, Union, Genco, and a couple dozen other makers mass produced razors of good steel and good geometry for a good price, in huge numbers, and so many are still around today, supply holding up well against demand, keeping prices low. In the wild, not shave ready, you can find decent ones often for under $20. Typically you are looking at $20 or more to have it honed.

Good modern new razors are not cheap. The price reflects the hours of skilled labor required to produce them. My favorite new production razor is the Dovo Bismarck, or the identical form sold under other model names with different levels of fit, finish, and embellishment, sold by Dovo and by other makers. This is a highly ergonomic design, very easy to use and maintain. Probably the most user friendly design coming out of Solingen these days. A new Bismarck will set you back around $160 and www.thesuperiorshave.com usually has these, or sometimes slightly cheaper models using the same base blade. And like I said, this seller ships them shave ready. For around $80 or a bit more you can possibly find a vintage pre-Dovo Bismark of the same design. Bismarck was a separate brand until bought by Dovo, and they made several different models, not all of them of the iconic Bismarck style that Dovo sells, so be sure that the one you are looking at has the style I am talking about. The other Bismarck branded models are good razors, yes, but they are not the ones I am talking about. Steel? It is the same. Just 40 years older, different stamp and etch and scales and gold.

To begin shaving, you will also need a brush and a mug or bowl, and a puck of shave soap or a tube of cream. NOT the stuff you squirt out of a can. Proraso or C.O. Bigelow is good, and popular, for cream. My favorite is Godrej Rich Lather. They make several formulas but the Rich Lather, in the red tube, is the best. For soap I like Van Der Hagen (VDH in badger-speak) Deluxe, not the Luxury. Unfortunately it is no longer sold in drugstores and is getting hard to find online. La Toja is good. Cheapest decently performing soap is probably Arko, at a bit more than a buck a stick. Give Williams a miss. There are a hundred other brands but beware of paying for snob appeal. $30 soap or cream is no better than $5 soap or cream.

For brush, I strongly recommend a medium to large Badger brush. You can pay $300 for a snob appeal brush, or you can pay $30 for a nicely performing silvertip badger that works just as well. Your choice. I suggest having a look at www.whippeddog.com and picking up a silvertip in the 26mm to 28mm range. Go for the 30mm if you want to spoil yourself. Some will say just get a boar, it is just as good. I beg to differ. No boar can hold as much product or as much water as the same size and loft in a silvertip badger brush. Plus the boar will be rather prickly until it is broken in, and even then will not be as silky as a silvertip. A boar is particularly suited to working with hard soaps, though. And maybe you enjoy the scritchy feeling, I don't know. Boars are cheaper, yes. But I suggest you go with a good badger. There are also synthetic brushes and horse brushes but I don't find them overall to be as good as a nice badger.

You can learn to make a good lather and do a good face prep before you start straight shaving, and in fact that is what I recommend. Keep using what you have been shaving with all along, whatever it may be. Learn to prep and lather, and how to map your face and shave deliberately, and how to stretch your skin properly. Your shave will improve greatly. Then upgrade to a shave ready straight, and the battle is half won already.

Oh, but you need a strop. A member here, Tony Miller, is justifiably renowned for his strops. He makes a Plain Vanilla model that is well regarded as a newbie strop. I think it would make a good SECOND strop. Look for the 2.5" wide strop sold under the "The X Bay" brand, for your first strop. It is dirt cheap and you can make all your newbie mistakes on that, and shed no tears of regret for slicing it up while learning to strop. You need to strop before every shave. This burnishes and aligns the edge so you get the best shave possible from your edge.

Lastly, see How To Use a Pasted Balsa Strop to learn how to up your edgemanship and maintain your razor's edge.

Next, find some youtube videos and watch some shaves. Read some newbie how to shave posts. Then go for it. Keep your skin tight, pressure light, angle low. Don't worry about getting a close shave at first. Just try to survive the shave with your skin intact. Closeness will come with practice. For now concentrate on causing no damage.
 
I've got that Master & a couple of others on order ultra cheap from China. A couple of years back I got a razor - in a leather sleeve stamped "Ardent", I looked it up - cheap Pakistani stainless blade. With some quality hone & strop time invested, it gives an impressively smooth shave. A recent Gold Dollar "Classic Quality" with ebony blade is now hanging in the shop, waiting for an oil finish on the scales to set up. Did one pass after stropping & it actually came shave ready.

If you have the stones & the skill to hone-it-yourself, it's surprising the shave they can provide. Otherwise, to send out a cheap razor to be honed would exceed its' initial cost.

My current crop of cheap-o's now in transit are intended to use the blade to make patch-cutting knives for muzzleloading rifles. Any that actually hone up to a good edge [I'm picky] may stay on the shave counter.
 
Last edited:

Polarbeard

Contributor
Ambassador
Probably RSO. Do you want to shave in the manly way? Get a bona fide shave ready razor.

Nearly every razor you see sold on fleabay and by vendors who do not know razors will claim that their razor is shave ready. It is now only a buzz word, for most of the world. For actual straight shavers, shave ready means that the edge is sharp enough and refined enough to comfortably shave your face. You pocketknife should be sharp enough to shave hair off your forearm. Forearm shaving is not a test of shave readiness for a razor! To be considered shave ready, a razor should do well on one of the standard sharpness tests. It should give you HHT3 or it should treetop arm hair when passed 1/4" above the skin of the forearm. I will let you look that up, rather than write a book here. The final, ultimate test of course is the shave test. Shaving the face, not the forearm!!!

Another thing. Do not buy a razor from someone who does not regularly shave with a straight razor, and certainly do not expect a razor honed by someone who does not shave with a straight razor, to be capable of shaving well. This is not knife sharpening. This is razor honing.

A razor sold as shave ready by a member here will be shave ready. Reputations are on the line, after all. A seller vouched for by one or more member here will be selling shave ready razors, if that is his claim. New razors almost never are shave ready. Some sellers will hone a new razor for you before shipping it. Jarrod at www.thesuperiorshave.com, for instance. You might find a good deal on the BST forum here. There are three or four ebay sellers who are well regarded by the forum members here. I don't recall their names in entirety but one is april something something, one is life too short something, and there are a couple more. Hopefully someone will chime in on this.

The best cheap new razor I can think of is the Gold Dollar W60. The "W" line of Gold Dollar razors is far and above the rest of the GD models, IMHO, by virtue of it's more acute bevel angle. Fendrihan's has it for around $30, I think. At about half that price is the 1996, very popular, and available shave ready from some sellers, probably. Remember, just because the seller claims it is shave ready doesn't mean very much. Verify. And the classic GD models are dirt cheap, with the #66 going for under $4 shipped free from China. However it will NOT come from China shave ready. Forget about that. You might find a seller honing and reselling these for $25 to $35 or so.

A shave ready vintage razor will cost you around $40, maybe less, maybe more, maybe a lot more. But you will be getting a razor that definitely shaved a lot of faces and should shave a lot more before it is done. Of particular value for the price are vintage American razors from about 1900 to WWII. Shumate, Union, Genco, and a couple dozen other makers mass produced razors of good steel and good geometry for a good price, in huge numbers, and so many are still around today, supply holding up well against demand, keeping prices low. In the wild, not shave ready, you can find decent ones often for under $20. Typically you are looking at $20 or more to have it honed.

Good modern new razors are not cheap. The price reflects the hours of skilled labor required to produce them. My favorite new production razor is the Dovo Bismarck, or the identical form sold under other model names with different levels of fit, finish, and embellishment, sold by Dovo and by other makers. This is a highly ergonomic design, very easy to use and maintain. Probably the most user friendly design coming out of Solingen these days. A new Bismarck will set you back around $160 and www.thesuperiorshave.com usually has these, or sometimes slightly cheaper models using the same base blade. And like I said, this seller ships them shave ready. For around $80 or a bit more you can possibly find a vintage pre-Dovo Bismark of the same design. Bismarck was a separate brand until bought by Dovo, and they made several different models, not all of them of the iconic Bismarck style that Dovo sells, so be sure that the one you are looking at has the style I am talking about. The other Bismarck branded models are good razors, yes, but they are not the ones I am talking about. Steel? It is the same. Just 40 years older, different stamp and etch and scales and gold.

To begin shaving, you will also need a brush and a mug or bowl, and a puck of shave soap or a tube of cream. NOT the stuff you squirt out of a can. Proraso or C.O. Bigelow is good, and popular, for cream. My favorite is Godrej Rich Lather. They make several formulas but the Rich Lather, in the red tube, is the best. For soap I like Van Der Hagen (VDH in badger-speak) Deluxe, not the Luxury. Unfortunately it is no longer sold in drugstores and is getting hard to find online. La Toja is good. Cheapest decently performing soap is probably Arko, at a bit more than a buck a stick. Give Williams a miss. There are a hundred other brands but beware of paying for snob appeal. $30 soap or cream is no better than $5 soap or cream.

For brush, I strongly recommend a medium to large Badger brush. You can pay $300 for a snob appeal brush, or you can pay $30 for a nicely performing silvertip badger that works just as well. Your choice. I suggest having a look at www.whippeddog.com and picking up a silvertip in the 26mm to 28mm range. Go for the 30mm if you want to spoil yourself. Some will say just get a boar, it is just as good. I beg to differ. No boar can hold as much product or as much water as the same size and loft in a silvertip badger brush. Plus the boar will be rather prickly until it is broken in, and even then will not be as silky as a silvertip. A boar is particularly suited to working with hard soaps, though. And maybe you enjoy the scritchy feeling, I don't know. Boars are cheaper, yes. But I suggest you go with a good badger. There are also synthetic brushes and horse brushes but I don't find them overall to be as good as a nice badger.

You can learn to make a good lather and do a good face prep before you start straight shaving, and in fact that is what I recommend. Keep using what you have been shaving with all along, whatever it may be. Learn to prep and lather, and how to map your face and shave deliberately, and how to stretch your skin properly. Your shave will improve greatly. Then upgrade to a shave ready straight, and the battle is half won already.

Oh, but you need a strop. A member here, Tony Miller, is justifiably renowned for his strops. He makes a Plain Vanilla model that is well regarded as a newbie strop. I think it would make a good SECOND strop. Look for the 2.5" wide strop sold under the "The X Bay" brand, for your first strop. It is dirt cheap and you can make all your newbie mistakes on that, and shed no tears of regret for slicing it up while learning to strop. You need to strop before every shave. This burnishes and aligns the edge so you get the best shave possible from your edge.

Lastly, see How To Use a Pasted Balsa Strop to learn how to up your edgemanship and maintain your razor's edge.

Next, find some youtube videos and watch some shaves. Read some newbie how to shave posts. Then go for it. Keep your skin tight, pressure light, angle low. Don't worry about getting a close shave at first. Just try to survive the shave with your skin intact. Closeness will come with practice. For now concentrate on causing no damage.
The best not post but essay I've read in a very long time. In my opinion it ought to be a sticky in the straight razor shave clinic.
:001_smile
 
Did a typo I meant 440c and 440 not 400.
Just to clarify, sorry.

If the razor is actually 440c stainless steel AND the blade was properly heat treated, then it should be capable of taking a razor sharp edge, but it may take some effort. If properly heat treated, 440c is very hard, which is great for durability, but makes sharpening difficult. Buck Knives used to make their knives from 440c stainless, but so many customers complained of the difficulty of honing them that they now use 420HC steel which is easier to hone, but not quite as durable.

Of course, a blade made of 440c stainless that was not properly heat teated may well be junk. In order to provide a good shave, the grain of the steel must be very fine.
 
If the razor is actually 440c stainless steel AND the blade was properly heat treated, then it should be capable of taking a razor sharp edge, but it may take some effort. If properly heat treated, 440c is very hard, which is great for durability, but makes sharpening difficult. Buck Knives used to make their knives from 440c stainless, but so many customers complained of the difficulty of honing them that they now use 420HC steel which is easier to hone, but not quite as durable.

Of course, a blade made of 440c stainless that was not properly heat teated may well be junk. In order to provide a good shave, the grain of the steel must be very fine.
Very true.
What I meant to say is that the vendor didn't specify what kind of 440 steel is used 440a cant be tempered as hard as 440c for example.
I have a couple of 440c kitchen knives, hard steel but not really that difficult to sharpen. I have more problem with swedish steel to be honest.
 
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