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Ugly maybe, but what a Shaver!

I had three razors to hone last night, all for customers:

Modern Thiers Issard
Modern Dovo Bismarck
Ugly old no-name German razor with huge rust marks and a blade worn towards the toe (from years of using a pasted strop I'd say). I restored the blade as much as possible, but I can't work miracles.

The TI took a while to get a decent edge
The Bismarck was quicker
The ugly just needed a look at the hone and the edge was perfect

Shaving experience was about the same - fantastic from the ugly, great from the Bismarck and OK from the TI

I'm still intrigued by the quality of those old Sheffield and Solingen razors, ugly or not.
I have one like that too... A french razor that looks like crap (very used up) but wow, what a shave it gives!
I remember a thread about people looking for blades with a lot of honewear. The theory being that they were well used because they were good blades. The other theories were that the wide bevels acted like a wedge, the angle changed, the stee; was softer...
I was told the Sheffield steel is a very good grain of steel. They sure hone up well and yield a very smooth feel...I have a Damascus livi that cost a fortune , my cheaper she fields and other vintage such as puma double duk golde edge shave and feel much nicer ...

Was all the steel used in all the razors made in Sheffield identical ?

I have a soft spot for beat up blades myself. I've yet to find one that wouldn't shave really well.
Well - one had a blown temper, thanks to an industrious and ignorant eBay seller - but other than that they've all come up very well.
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Put me in the beat-up blades category too. All of my "nice" razors are now put away for long term storage and I've been strictly using eBay beaters that I can restore in a couple of hours or less. When I don't care about hone wear I get a better edge - go figure.
One of my best Sheffield razors is one that has no maker's mark on it.
Their edges all feel identical, for the most part. You're talking 100 years and 100 or more SR makers, though, so its impossible to say.

One 'type' I know of, was English Bar Razor Steel.
Besides being used by Sheffield culters, it was also used extensively by Solingen makers, including Boker.

After that - blister steel, cast steel, silver steel, shear steel, crucible steel etc.
No doubt, there were many other types used also.
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Maybe one does not care to give more hone time to those that have no look to destroy. That said, there are some very seasoned honers commenting here that would not stop honing until the edge was ready.

So, there must be something to it. Maybe that is why Larry at Whipped dog has such a great following. Well that and he is a great guy to boot.

my next honing session, I will work in some of my ugly ducks.
Pretty don't shave. Sharp shaves. I got some pretty razors that shave meh. I got ugly old beaters that frighten whiskers right out of the follicles. There's just no explaining it, and no obvious correlation. If your razor shaves good, whether it is a showpiece or a mangy old dawg, love it.

I think that while the run of the mill Sheffield steel was very good, there is considerable variation, especially pre-war. 1880's razors were produced with more artisan type methods, more one of a kind, one at a time stuff. More hammer, less grind. Less precise heat control. Less stringent QC in the base steel. Postwar razors benefited from more tightly controlled manufacture, more standardized methodology and exacting parameters. This I think holds true for most razor producing countries. I think U.S. manufacturers probably put out a more standardized product earlier than most overseas competition, because our manufacturing in general was more rigidly controlled assembly line type operations, for the most part. Just my impression, and I can't really back this theory up with hard data, but look at the consistency of the Union Cutlery blades, the Geneva Cutlery blades, all the products of the big northeastern razor factories. Cookie cutter consistency, it the shape and grind, honing and shaving characteristics, all of it. It's the way we made guns. It's the way we made cars and trucks. When the Silver Ghost and the Model T were in production, which was more standardized? Which had drop-in replacement parts for the entire automobile? Which was more dependable, and which the better bang for the buck? Now, which had more one at a time attention from proud craftsmen, which enjoyed higher status, and which could command a higher price? The American product was consistent and identical. The British product was original, a unique and well fitted unit. But not precisely identical. So we see a lot of variations in razors that if they had been made in America, would have been absolutely identical. And heat treating and tempering, as well as forging into its general shape, were not as consistent as they could have been, maybe. Nobody will tell you that crap blades ever came out of Sheffield, but without a doubt some were better than others, even within the same brand, year, and specs.

More to the point, what about the steel itself? In the early days, wouldn't it be fair to say that quality tool and cutlery steel was crafted by artisans, by guess and eye and experience and feel, rather than made in a tightly controlled process in a factory? Obviously those guys really knew what they were doing and made good steel, but certainly the product wasn't dead consistent.

Just my dos centavos. YMMV
Well - Lummus seemed to think that at least one Sheffiled maker produced worthless blades.
So - there's that. But - otherwise - yes to all of the above.
I have one too, she's not ugly but nothing special either. An Iowa successful razor 5/8's full hollow with I believe Solingen steel. Whatever edge I throw at it it takes like a champ. First was a JNAT which was amazing, then touched up with a coti and its one of my best coti edges to date. Just out of curiosity I finished it again the other day on the same JNAT but stopped on Mejiro slurry instead of going full tomo, and the edge was still amazing. It fell short a little bit on the ATG pass but I have a thick beard and that happens with some razors especially my coti edges. When I take this thing to the tomo I know its gonna be something spectacular.
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