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Why 7-day sets?

Let me start by saying that I don't shave every day. I would like to (as strange as that sounds), but my facial hair just doesn't grow fast enough to warrant it. On top of that, I have some issues with dermatitis that I think I might have recently turned the corner on, so it's been a balancing act between letting it go long enough to let the skin heal vs. keeping it as shorn as I like.

I've got my first straight coming next week, but I know that there are a lot of gents who have a different straight for every day of the week. Could someone enlighten me as to why this is, if other than some variation on "because it's fun!" :). Is there some technical or mechanical reason that it is beneficial to switch between different razors that frequently?
 
Geordon, bet your looking forward to your first straight shave. It's a learning curve so don't expect your initial shaves to be brilliant. If you really enjoy it you'll come to appreciate the beauty of the razors.

For most of us it is a case of 'because it is fun'. I started with 1 razor & liked the idea of using it for the rest of my life. I quickly became hooked with the simplicity and beauty of the razors. After 1 year I bought my second razor, but with the onset of kids/mortgage/running a house I refrained from buying for a number of years. With time this all changed and I was able to indulge my weakness again. My son started shaving last year so I bought him a straight and with the lock down I have focused on the long standing passion.

Last year I bought 7 razors, 5 were identical. I made a 5 day set because I was shaving 5 days per week (skipped the weekends). I made a box for them and they look quite nice. I haven't bothered engraving them with the day names because they really aren't worth it; just a cheap set of Chinese razors. I also have a set of 5 non-matching razors that I also use daily. By having a set you reduce wear by the multiple of the number of razors if you cycle through them evenly, in my case my razors are used once every 10 days.

I understand the lure of the 7 day set, they look beautiful when done well but cost a bomb. Rbscebu has multiple sets of them and enjoys putting them together, seeing them aligned nice and straight, comparing the blade quality and generally being an Engineer (to the point of being a cliche :thumbup1:). My set is nothing much, I wanted to see how it goes, but for me I really like a different razor each day.

From an historic point of view, 7 day sets were a status symbol for the affluent. Made from top shelf material in exotic boxes, they would be attended to by a servant who would see to their honing and maintenance. By having 7 razors you could have them all refined in one hit, thereby reducing the number of trips to the honing block and possibly leaving you with one if it took too long to be completed.
 
Why own more than one of anything? because you can, because you want to. because you want/need to show off. Pick any reason.
 
Why own more than one of anything? because you can, because you want to. because you want/need to show off. Pick any reason.
That's why I specified in my question if there is any technical reason to have a 7-day set. I'm disgustingly want-y, but it was a real question as to whether there is a technical or mechanical reason that having multiple straights would be either useful or beneficial. On my desk, for example, I have a number of different types of writing implements.

Some of them are for specifically for fun, some are for for various function, and one is specifically for my own personal gratification. I have one silverpoint that my wife gave me a bunch of years ago, I have several rollerball pens on my desk (Retro 51 Tornado because I prefer the feel in hand), one mechanical pencil which is part of a set from Retro 51, and I have a couple of different Fisher Space Pens that are always hanging around, including always one or another in my pocket. Each of them all perform the same basic function, but there is a technical reason that is the main reason that I have them around. I also have a custom Edison Pen Co. pen from several years ago that I use mostly for my journaling (which has always been in fits and starts. It's part of my personal ritual).

But, it sounds like there is not really as much of that sort of technical reason for having a 7-day set of razors. Even just having a rotation of 2 straights sounds like it isn't even as must of a functional use as I mentioned about the pens that I have.
 
Geordon, bet your looking forward to your first straight shave. It's a learning curve so don't expect your initial shaves to be brilliant. If you really enjoy it you'll come to appreciate the beauty of the razors.
Oh, I already know that they are beautiful tools, and I appreciate the skill required and involved. I eagerly anticipate that exploration, just like I am with spoon carving.

For most of us it is a case of 'because it is fun'. I started with 1 razor & liked the idea of using it for the rest of my life. I quickly became hooked with the simplicity and beauty of the razors. After 1 year I bought my second razor, but with the onset of kids/mortgage/running a house I refrained from buying for a number of years. With time this all changed and I was able to indulge my weakness again. My son started shaving last year so I bought him a straight and with the lock down I have focused on the long standing passion.
Nothing wrong with "because it's fun!" especially when it comes to exploring the wide world of things available for shaving. And, let's be honest about it, some of the razors out there are works of art, but there is just as much of a collecting hobby as anything with razor gear. In my youth, I was into baseball cards. I'm happy for you that you were able to introduce your son to your passion. Mine never took to it, and he wears a beard these days.

From an historic point of view, 7 day sets were a status symbol for the affluent. Made from top shelf material in exotic boxes, they would be attended to by a servant who would see to their honing and maintenance. By having 7 razors you could have them all refined in one hit, thereby reducing the number of trips to the honing block and possibly leaving you with one if it took too long to be completed.
I'm a historical reenactor. I have done medieval and I have done American Civil War. The whole social status part makes complete sense, given the social climate involved in the time. However, on the same token, I REALLY want a 19-jewel 5-position accurate railroad pocket watch. It won't be anywhere as accurate or functional as my Apple Watch, but there is a certain satisfaction of having a useful piece of history in your possession, in my book.
 
I have several rollerball pens on my desk (Retro 51 Tornado because I prefer the feel in hand)
A classic reporter's pen! I have two: one I bought back in 2005 that is much beaten about but still works like a charm, and one in reserve after dropping my main one into the manure pile one winter and not finding it for a few weeks. That wasn't the worst place it's been over the years but generally we both come back from the bad ones.

Just had to give Retro 51 a shoutout -- I tried one of their earlier fountains too, but it was a real dog.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming...

O.H.
 
I think two straights is quite justifiable, you might use up an edge and need to shave before you have time to hone. And two identical ones is a good way to compare hones--same razor, different edge. I have a pair I use like that.

More? Well, you'll find there is quite a big difference in how a wedge shaves from how a hollow shaves. And there are many grinds in between. Plus there are framebacks! Some framebacks are thin like a hollow but don't quite have the same flex, others shave pretty much like a wedge. Or interestingly shaped tapered blades, lancets, monkey tails...

And maybe you have a 6/8 and wonder how an 4/8 or 8/8 width would be? They're certainly going to be different and it's very subjective which is better! But then maybe you like a wide hollow and a narrow wedge? The reverse? Only one way to tell...

Perhaps you wonder how English, French, Swedish, German and Japanese razors differ? I sure did...

Maybe you were curious what they were like in the 1920s vs. the 1960s. Or the 1800s. Or the 1700s.

Or you'd like scales made from bone or ivory or tortoise or mother-of-pearl? Or something cool etched on the blade? Or a modern custom from @bluesman 7 or Koraat or HG or Artrazor or Gipson or Ali's Blade or any of hundreds of worthy artisans keeping this craft going?

I've always been a minimalist. I've never felt the appeal of collecting anything. It started out as trying to find which one works best for me so I could get a really good one of those, but I kinda liked them all. I ...think I collect straight razors now? It just sorta happened 🤷‍♂️

Edit: I did not mean to dis American razors, Little Valley steel is excellent, Torrey had some great grinding, etc. 'twas inadvertent.
 
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Having just one straight will limit daily availability if you ding one up, or have to hone it. Like the divers say, “two is one, one is none”.

most of us who shave primarily with straights have well more than 2. You do you though.
 
The cool factor of having a 7 day set is probably the reason I'd give.

I'm not straight razor user yet, but I believe that having a 7 day set would initially save you from having to sharpen and hone razor as often. But with that said, you'd eventually have to sharpen them and end up with 7 times the work.

So a more interesting question would be to question me on my rationale of having a 7 day set made up of identical Gillette Aristocrat DE razors when I can simplify swap out a dull blade for a sharp one.
They're all user grade, so plate loss isn't a factor!
 
I think two straights is quite justifiable, you might use up an edge and need to shave before you have time to hone. And two identical ones is a good way to compare hones--same razor, different edge. I have a pair I use like that.

More? Well, you'll find there is quite a big difference in how a wedge shaves from how a hollow shaves. And there are many grinds in between. Plus there are framebacks! Some framebacks are thin like a hollow but don't quite have the same flex, others shave pretty much like a wedge. Or interestingly shaped tapered blades, lancets, monkey tails...
Someone mention a rabbit warren? :lol1: I mean, since we're talking about the many worlds theory... ;)

The cool factor of having a 7 day set is probably the reason I'd give.

I'm not straight razor user yet, but I believe that having a 7 day set would initially save you from having to sharpen and hone razor as often. But with that said, you'd eventually have to sharpen them and end up with 7 times the work.

So a more interesting question would be to question me on my rationale of having a 7 day set made up of identical Gillette Aristocrat DE razors when I can simplify swap out a dull blade for a sharp one.
They're all user grade, so plate loss isn't a factor!
Hah! I am pretty reasonably somewhat slightly sure that I can justify two straights, especially if I'm not in top form for honing them myself. After all, as has been mentioned, they do require upkeep and if there is only one and it's not up to snuff...

Just don't let my wife know that I'll be hiding my DE in my dopp kit once I get comfortable with a straight ;)
 
@Geordon, welcome to the gentlemanly are of SR shaving.

As some here may have noticed, I have a "small" collection of matching seven-day sets of SR's. Here is my two bobs worth.

To address the technical and/or mechanical reasons for having more than one of the same SR:
  • It allows you to group your SR's for maintenance. With a M7DS, I devote about 10 to 15 minutes each Sunday to maintain the edges of the set that I used during the preceding week.
  • They allow you to better compare edge quality. Having identical SR's where you shave with a different one each day allows you to better compare even just slight variations in your honing and/or stropping technique.
Once you get more than one SR, you will start to appreciate why we do what we do. It is a strong willed gentleman that can limit himself to just two SR's.
 
Heh, "small" he says. Thanks for the breakout, though! I'm fairly certain that I've got a ways to go until I get to the point where I'll be able to significantly appreciate fine differences in honing and stropping technique. Then again, I've also taken up wood carving these past few months, so I'm building some skills that might have some cross over.

We're looking at the great possibility of moving from Illinois to Oregon State sometime this year. I have been "gently reminded" that we will be moving into a smaller place and will have to move everything ourselves, so my level of things that I will be able to bring in before the move is... Limited. Also, since I'm no longer able to work (disabling migraines) my income is a self-limiting factor right now and for the foreseeable future. Luckily, I know that I have enough shaving software to last about 5 more years, though I might like a new brush sooner. ;)
 
Many gents to-day have multiple straights, but that's not the same thing as a seven-day set.
The answer to your question then, is an historical one.

The rise of seven-day sets parallels the rise of the middle-class in the 19th century.
So, the market for these sets was not really the very wealthy, who were shaved by servants or barbers, but primarily the nascent middle-class, who had jobs "in the city" requiring them to be clean-shaven every day. Jobs in finance, insurance, banking, chartered accountancy, counsellors at law, architects or draughtsmen, shop-keepers, &etc.

The sets contained seven of the exact same blade and often only one handle or scales. Many were utilitarian, but certainly some were ornate.
Their purpose derived from the commonly held belief or understanding that a blade benefited from a period of rest between shaves. A rest of at least one day was considered as a minimum, hence the production and sale of more affordable two-blade sets.

The science of it, such as it was, derived from the observation that a blade's keen edge is traumatised by a shave and microscopic mis-alignment of the tines comprising the edge occurs. If allowed to rest, the tines will somewhat re-align themselves through a process akin to magnetism or metal "memory" as it might be described to-day. Thus, a keen edge would be maintained far longer between hones if allowed a protracted rest, as opposed to being used every day.
Of course, the blades were still expected to be stropped before and after every use and otherwise properly maintained.

Thus, these sets were seen as long-term, if not life-long investments as the blades were both used and re-honed less frequently.
Unless a blade was dropped or damaged, the sets' blades would commonly be re-honed together by a smith.

The seven-day set, while never a common item, enjoyed a stable market niche well into the 20th century and was even replicated in early safety-razors that employed "wedge" blades.

There has been much discussion and argument over the truth or efficacy of the resting theory and I will not opine upon it personally. Suffice to say, that it wouldn't be the first ancient or even 19th century wisdom to be "lost" in the 20th century and then dismissed as rubbish.
 
Many gents to-day have multiple straights, but that's not the same thing as a seven-day set.
The answer to your question then, is an historical one.

The rise of seven-day sets parallels the rise of the middle-class in the 19th century.
So, the market for these sets was not really the very wealthy, who were shaved by servants or barbers, but primarily the nascent middle-class, who had jobs "in the city" requiring them to be clean-shaven every day. Jobs in finance, insurance, banking, chartered accountancy, counsellors at law, architects or draughtsmen, shop-keepers, &etc.

[...]

The seven-day set, while never a common item, enjoyed a stable market niche well into the 20th century and was even replicated in early safety-razors that employed "wedge" blades.

There has been much discussion and argument over the truth or efficacy of the resting theory and I will not opine upon it personally. Suffice to say, that it wouldn't be the first ancient or even 19th century wisdom to be "lost" in the 20th century and then dismissed as rubbish.
That's a fantastic explanation, thank you! As I've been mentioning elsewhere, I am something of a history buff, and I really appreciate deeper dives into the origin stories of things, particularly niche technologies that have grown and evolved through the decades and centuries. Book binding and print making is something that I have a particular love for, and I dream of the day that I can attend a workshop that revolves around a movable type press.
 
I just started enjoying a seven day set recently.

But it's a mixed set. Instead of buying an expensive seven day set, I just put seven of my favourite razors in a cigar box in the bathroom and move them from one side to the other as I go.

Rbsecbu describes the advantage. He's using a proper identical set, but we're still enjoying the same benefit.

And it's not the benefit from the old days. The old idea was about resting the razor. The current advantage, in my belief anyway, comes from the fact that many of us are using The Method. .1u pasted diamond on balsa. So fine that you have to hone after each shave.

I like the sharpness from pasted balsa, but I never liked having to do another fifty laps of honing after every shave.

What I like is just picking up a razor, stropping on leather, shaving and be done. On a weekend morning when I have plenty of time I go through the set and hone them.

It also allows for scientific comparisons. I have two razors I maintain on black ark and five on pasted balsa. Over time I get to compare how they are all doing.

I do it so I get the benefit of daily honing, without having to hone every morning.
 
@kohalajohn, I agree with on the comparison advantage however I find it more "scientific" if the SR's being compared are identical. That is still no excuse for me having five different matching seven-day sets plus a few other odd SR's.
 
Ha. rbscebu, you don't need any excuses. A traditional shaver can do what the heck he wants.

I must ask you though, I keep seeing these german dovo seven days sets from Solingen but strangely they say "souvenir of berlin" which phrase turns me off a bit.

Unused original Solingen straight razor 7 Day - 7 City Schulze Germany kit | eBay

Do you know much about those?








View attachment 1207854 View attachment 1207854
I have never physically sighted the German "souvenir" M7DS's. My understanding is that many sets were made in west Germany after WWII and sold to the then "rich" Americans stationed there. Since then, those sets have never comanded a high price. That tends to get me think that they were not of great quality.

Of course I could be wrong. Follow your heart and buy what you wish for. Personally I like to put me own M7DS's together using blades that I already know I like to shave with. Just a decent case and good engraving will set you back a few hundred dollars. Then add the cost of the SR's.

I am not overly impressed with current mass-produced Solingen or Thiers-Issard SR's however I have only tried a few of their models. Generally I have found them to be highly over-rated for the prices they are asking.
 
Probably true.

I think there's also a reason for preferring identical sets and preferring mixed sets. I'll probably get an identical set one day. But there is something interesting for me, about a mixed set.

The day before yesterday it was a cheap razor. Unsatisfactory. then the day after that a Bismark blade, which is I think some of the best to come out of Solingen, and which was very enjoyable. Both razors are getting the same treatment, same pasted balsa. You really start to notice the differences between razors.

I think I may have to take that cheap one down to bevel setting and work it all the way up again.

One other interesting thing is that when I examined the Bismark blade under a loupe, it had a very noticeable chip in the edge. Very concerning. But to my surprise, it shaved just fine. I think instead of rushing to fix it, I'm going to keep maintaining it no balsa and see if it slowly erodes away.
 
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