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Razor Restoration / Modding #2

I went yesterday to antique/salvage type shop near me that had a load of pretty cheap old SRs a while back, but they'd been selling quite a few, so I wanted to pick up a couple of what was left. I came away with; a Bengall with some rust around the spine, and a 'Wilheim Weber' which I'd never heard of before, and there doesn't seem to be much info about out there. Meh... it looked alright, and was in pretty much untouched condition.

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I gave it a very light sand with some 2k WnD:

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And then decided to try honing; Naniwa Superstone 3k, BBW, Jnat Asagi.

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I tried for quite a while to set the bevel on the Naniwa, but didn't really get anywhere. Another member pointed out to me that it looked like the razor probably had effectively a 100+ year old factory edge on it, and I might need to go lower. So in the end I used; King 800, King 1200, a Willunga slate because I decided I wanted something wider than the BBW, and Shoubudani Tomae:

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This took longer to set the bevel properly than the previous time I'd done it, because I don't think the razor had been honed before, but it wasn't difficult. And after a while a got to a bevel and edge that seemed like it'd be pretty good to go onto my Asagi to finish:

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During all that I was reminded of how much I dislike honing a razor with a long, scaled, hinged, handle. So I decided to remove the not-very-nice plastic scales, and make another fixed one. Here's the first time I did that: A Razor Restoration Project (with a slight twist) - https://www.badgerandblade.com/forum/threads/a-razor-restoration-project-with-a-slight-twist.613813/

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TBC...
 
I quite liked my previous number (the shape is called a 'Stadium' oval) but I wanted to mix it up a bit for interest's sake, and to see how something else might work. I had a piece of grey-dyed stabilized cuurly maple that I'd shaped initially for a knife handle, and so thought I might see how a traditional octagonal handle might work. Here's my blank glued up, it has a Bocote spacer, and a ferrule at the end made from winemaking oak staves - the dark colour is the stain of red wine solids and tannins:

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Here it is re-sized and just off belts:

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Octagonal knife handles are very comfortable for one simple reason - that's kinda the shape of your fingers already:

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But you don't hold a razor in exactly the same way as a knife, so would it work...?

It's worth noting first that the way you hold a razor and the way you hold a kitchen knife are not as dissimilar as they appear. This is how you hold a knife:

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Other grips are available, but this is the traditional one, holding the knife mostly on the blade between thumb and forefinger, with your other three fingers on the handle. You can use your middle finger on the blade as well for taller knives. It's what's called a 'pinch grip'.

Here's how most people (I believe hold) a razor:

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Obviously you move your scaled handle about, but the majority of the grip of the razor is in a pinch between between thumb and either one or two fingers. You other fingers provide ballast around a pivot, and need somewhere comfortable and secure to sit. And seeing as the joints and shape of your fingers are the same whether you're holding a knife or a razor, I figured there's no reason an octagonal handle shouldn't work.

When I make a knife (or now razor) handle, I don't measure them, or use jigs. I shape them as I go, according to balance point, and what I think will work best for the particular blade. For this razor I had thought that I might try to build some taper into the handle, as I like it for knives, but found quite quickly that taper doesn't work well in razor handle. At least not tapering the width of it - you could taper the height almost as much as you want. It also needs to be relatively narrow, again in terms of width, the height is less of an issue. And it wants to have flat sides for your ring and little finger, because this (on the one I did previously) is my grip style:

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And lastly, in order to hold it like that, it needs a balance / pivot point around where your middle finger is, like this:

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All of those considerations meant that as I was working the final shape on hand sanding sheets last it became apparent that my new octagonal handle was going to work out very similar to the previous stadium handle. Just with angled sides rather than rounded ones. And aesthetically I think that's pretty swish:

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But does it work...? Yes, is the answer - it's pretty much exactly the same in use as the first one. The octagonal handle probably has tiny amount more flexibility, at the expense of stability. But really they're almost identical to use. It struck me also that a handle design like this probably requires ambidextrous shaving; without the hinge of a scaled handle you need to be able to hold and use it the same way on both sides of your face.

It also, somewhat surprisingly, was the best edge I've got off any razor to date, with an extraordinary HHT. Which is probably down to a few factors: I'm getting better at razor honing, and understanding it more. The profile is quite flat; my other two SRs have some degree of curve, or smile, and I think for a beginner that's probably a little more tricky. Also this was effectively new; the entire thing was being set according to the minutiae of my honing - I wasn't altering (or feckin up!) something someone had done previously. Anyway... it was rather good.

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And (I think) looks rather smart too:

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And here with the first one, which as you can see - was not in untouched-rust-free condition when I started. As I said before - it turned out that the two handles ended up with near-identical dimensions, just different shapes:

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I'd be interested to hear anybody else's thoughts / opinions / questions / doubts about fixed handles in this style.

Do you like them? Think they're weird? Would they require a significant change in the way you'd normally hold and use a razor? I can tell you pretty much categorically that they're better for honing. But how much do other people use the hinge flexibility of a normal scaled handle? Is that more important to you than ease of honing? I'm quite new to SR shaving, so I don't have a huge amount of muscle memory in my grip. I also have slightly peculiar double-jointed fingers, which might be able to work around a fixed handle slightly differently from others'...
 
Absolutely stunning! Hats off to your skills.

I'm a mess even with an Ikea hex wrench a 40 page manual. Thats why I stay with DE/SE's...

Ah cheers! It does look nice I think, and I personally quite like the shape and style.

I do have a DE razor, but weirdly I found it more tricky to use well than SRs... bizarrely I've not cut myself yet using a straight. Though I'm sure that time will come 😬
 
They do look very nice, and I imagine shaving with them would feel similar to a kamisori.

Not that it matters, but the traditional way of holding a western straight is less of a pinch grip, more, the pad of your thumb is on the bottom of the tang, and your other fingers are on the top. You wouldn’t normally grip the sides.

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They do look very nice, and I imagine shaving with them would feel similar to a kamisori.

Not that it matters, but the traditional way of holding a western straight is less of a pinch grip, more, the pad of your thumb is on the bottom of the tang, and your other fingers are on the top. You wouldn’t normally grip the sides.

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Ah interesting! I slightly misunderstood the grip then when I was starting out, as I was always holding it on the sides of the tang, rather than top and bottom. I will have to try it next time I'm using your one. It doesn't get a bit wobbly like that at all...?

My fixed handles wouldn't work at all I don't think if holding it like that, certainly not the rounded first one. I must have a read up about how people hold and use kamisori when I do the Bengall.
 
Nah, they don’t wobble. The idea is to keep the scales gripped and poking out of the fingers, like a counterweight.

Your razors look like they could work that way, since there is room for a thumb on the tang

I can’t remember if I sent you a link to that old manual “shaving made easy”. I will, if I didn’t. It has lots of pics on all this how to stuff.
 
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I would hold your razor with my thumb on the tang, in between the blade and the handle, and my other fingers spread along the top.

Ah yeah... something like this does work on the octagonal one, less well on the first rounded one though:

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Obviously holding it like that it's now the height (and it's taper) that becomes more important than the width.

It'd also want a bit more 'neck' of the tang exposed probably. Though that wouldn't be a problem, as the specific balance point would be less important I imagine in comparison to the way I've been holding them.
 
@cotedupy, I love the look of your handles and I bet I wouldn't mind shaving with them either. I only shave with my dominant hand so about half or more of my shave is done with the razor held kamisori style anyway. Although my south to north pass is not, but I could probably work it out.

My bigger issue would be storage.
 
@cotedupy, I love the look of your handles and I bet I wouldn't mind shaving with them either. I only shave with my dominant hand so about half or more of my shave is done with the razor held kamisori style anyway. Although my south to north pass is not, but I could probably work it out.

My bigger issue would be storage.

Ta!

Nice to know you reckon it'd work one-handed too. Which possibly chimes with a comment I made in the first thread - that a person's fingers, hands, and wrists, have far more flexibility, and hinges, than any kind of razor anyway. So there's probably actually quite a lot you could get away with in terms of handle design / shape.

You have definitely hit on the major drawback of this kind of thing though - storage, or travelling. I need to try to make myself some kind of pretty holder to keep them on, though I suspect my woodworking 'skills' might get slightly exposed there!
 
Ta!

Nice to know you reckon it'd work one-handed too. Which possibly chimes with a comment I made in the first thread - that a person's fingers, hands, and wrists, have far more flexibility, and hinges, than any kind of razor anyway. So there's probably actually quite a lot you could get away with in terms of handle design / shape.

You have definitely hit on the major drawback of this kind of thing though - storage, or travelling. I need to try to make myself some kind of pretty holder to keep them on, though I suspect my woodworking 'skills' might get slightly exposed there!
As I think about it, I think having the haft at a slight upward angle in relation to the blade edge would be perfect for my shaving style for all passes. Some kamisori are built this way, as well as the Feather SS, though I think I'd want it tipped up just a hair more. Maybe 20 degrees from parallel? Sorry, don't have a straight in front of me to illustrate. But imagine opening a SR to 200 degrees or so. I don't know if you could incorporate the monkey tail easily into the handle with such a design but it would be an interesting experiment.
 
As I think about it, I think having the haft at a slight upward angle in relation to the blade edge would be perfect for my shaving style for all passes. Some kamisori are built this way, as well as the Feather SS, though I think I'd want it tipped up just a hair more. Maybe 20 degrees from parallel? Sorry, don't have a straight in front of me to illustrate. But imagine opening a SR to 200 degrees or so. I don't know if you could incorporate the monkey tail easily into the handle with such a design but it would be an interesting experiment.

I did think about trying something like this originally, and it would certainly be trickier, for exactly the reason you say...

It seems that Herr Weber and his colleagues back in the day did not envisage silly fools like me buggering around putting wa knife handles on their razors, and so didn't design the tail/tang accordingly. It's very large in relation to the size of the handle, which makes the drilling very difficult. You could probably get away with 20 degrees, without increasing the size of the handle, especially if you fitted it with a little more 'neck' on the tang.

Drilling the handle is already the most annoying and tricksy part of this, and it would make it more difficult. However there's one aspect of my process designed to help: In the picture above that shows the glued together handle blank before I've shaped it on belts - I've already drilled the main part of the handle before sticking on the spacer and ferrule. And for that the drilling doesn't need to be desperately neat; you wouldn't for instance need to drill it at an angle, you could just drill a bigger hole. Any gaps then get flooded with epoxy / glue when you install it anyway.

I then drill the spacer and ferrule part after shaping the handle, because it's only a small bit to drill through it's much easier to make the fit neat and snug, and you could do at a bit of an angle.

Maybe I'll have to reconsider, and give something like this a go next time. Though I think I'd have to alter the design of the handle slightly, otherwise it might look a bit weird.
 
Decided to have a go on the Bengall this evening...

Here after a vinegar bath then sanded from 1k - 2k. Rust turned out to be quite superficial, though a couple of marks still on one side near the spine. Mostly shiny though:

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This handle will be slightly shorter than the others. Which has nothing at all to do with me sawing the wood too small by mistake.

No matter though; the razor is slightly shorter than the others I've done, the wood I'm using is quite dense, as is the ferrule. Even though I'm going to give this a little more neck too, I imagine I'll get the balance point where the last ones were. Stabilized Red Mallee burl, Syrah vine wood spacer, buffalo horn ferrule:

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You can't really tell from the above, but that handle is going to be very pretty. Here it is off belts:

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Trying to build some angle into the drilling proved to be predictably bothersome. The big problem is how little tolerance you've got around the tang. This handle will become smaller from here, so there's really not much to play with:

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Atm the angle is probably between 5-10 degs. When shaping the handle and filing the tang slot I'll get it slightly higher, but it's not going to get to 20:

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And my favourite bit of the whole process...

Before I start hand sanding I give it a rub of mineral oil, and it goes from looking like the above, to looking like this:

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...
 
I did think about trying something like this originally, and it would certainly be trickier, for exactly the reason you say...

It seems that Herr Weber and his colleagues back in the day did not envisage silly fools like me buggering around putting wa knife handles on their razors, and so didn't design the tail/tang accordingly. It's very large in relation to the size of the handle, which makes the drilling very difficult. You could probably get away with 20 degrees, without increasing the size of the handle, especially if you fitted it with a little more 'neck' on the tang.

Drilling the handle is already the most annoying and tricksy part of this, and it would make it more difficult. However there's one aspect of my process designed to help: In the picture above that shows the glued together handle blank before I've shaped it on belts - I've already drilled the main part of the handle before sticking on the spacer and ferrule. And for that the drilling doesn't need to be desperately neat; you wouldn't for instance need to drill it at an angle, you could just drill a bigger hole. Any gaps then get flooded with epoxy / glue when you install it anyway.

I then drill the spacer and ferrule part after shaping the handle, because it's only a small bit to drill through it's much easier to make the fit neat and snug, and you could do at a bit of an angle.

Maybe I'll have to reconsider, and give something like this a go next time. Though I think I'd have to alter the design of the handle slightly, otherwise it might look a bit weird.
Something I thought about while I was lying in bed trying to sleep, was that a bit of a curve, like a hockey stick, might be the ticket. So the tang would fit into the short leg of the "L." Would be a bit of a pain to set up but might work. I don't have the tools to make hafts efficiently, but I'm tempted to try this anyway. I guess I need another beater razor to experiment on, too. Oh, darn.
 
Something I thought about while I was lying in bed trying to sleep, was that a bit of a curve, like a hockey stick, might be the ticket. So the tang would fit into the short leg of the "L." Would be a bit of a pain to set up but might work. I don't have the tools to make hafts efficiently, but I'm tempted to try this anyway. I guess I need another beater razor to experiment on, too. Oh, darn.

You could certainly do it like that I imagine. Though you'd probably have to sacrifice the octagonal chamfering, cos it'd be far too difficult to make neat (for me at least!)

The big problem with trying to get an angle into this kind of thing is actually less the curly tail bit, and more this diagonal in red:

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In particular the humpback type bit at 'A', which pushes the curve at 'B' down. Though the problem is basically obviated if you extend the neck out so that the handle started beyond the hump, just at the end of 'Bengall'. Which would be an option, but you'd need to make the handle quite long otherwise it's going to be quite forward weighted.

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I actually did something along the lines of your hockey stick idea though while hand sanding... this is a differential taper top vs bottom. Reckon that would help? It's basically going to exaggerate the angle slightly. People sometimes do it on knife handles, but the other way round - the 'bottom' of the handle would be tapered for a knife rather than the top.

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Finished now. And even crappy, indoor, nighttime lighting can't disguise the fact that it's a bit pretty! :)

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You could certainly do it like that I imagine. Though you'd probably have to sacrifice the octagonal chamfering, cos it'd be far too difficult to make neat (for me at least!)

The big problem with trying to get an angle into this kind of thing is actually less the curly tail bit, and more this diagonal in red:

View attachment 1348423

In particular the humpback type bit at 'A', which pushes the curve at 'B' down. Though the problem is basically obviated if you extend the neck out so that the handle started beyond the hump, just at the end of 'Bengall'. Which would be an option, but you'd need to make the handle quite long otherwise it's going to be quite forward weighted.

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I actually did something along the lines of your hockey stick idea though while hand sanding... this is a differential taper top vs bottom. Reckon that would help? It's basically going to exaggerate the angle slightly. People sometimes do it on knife handles, but the other way round - the 'bottom' of the handle would be tapered for a knife rather than the top.

View attachment 1348433

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Finished now. And even crappy, indoor, nighttime lighting can't disguise the fact that it's a bit pretty! :)

View attachment 1348431
Nice!

Yes, that angle on the tang is the kicker. And it seems like it's accentuated with Bengalls.
 
Nice!

Yes, that angle on the tang is the kicker. And it seems like it's accentuated with Bengalls.

Funnily enough when I went to do the install I had a closer look at the Wilheim Weber from the beginning of this thread, and thought exactly the same... It doesn't have that exaggerated hump that the Bengall does, and I imagine would have been a lot easier to get an angle into.

This is what I went with in the end. Just from eyeballing I'd say the angle with the bottom of the handle is a bit under 10, the taper on the top makes it a bit under 15.

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I actually had some more space in the main part of the handle, so could have filed the ferrule further to get it a bit higher, but quite liked it here. For a razor with less 'hump' I think 20 degs would be do-able with this style handle.

Balance is pinpoint what I was going for too:

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I'll take some better pictures tomorrow once all cleaned up &c., but I can't currently think of anything I'd change about it tbh.

Even the quite small angle makes a subtle but noticeable difference, so thank you for that suggestion! I'd thought about it for the first razor handle I did, though went with a straight one in the end, because I'm lazy and it seemed difficult. But it really does work well :).
 
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