During 1740 in Sheffield, England, the straight razor was developed. It had a folding straight razor, a decorated handle and hollow ground blades of cast steel. The developer was Benjamin Huntsman and his design set the standard. The Sheffield steel was highly polished and this characteristic is still used as the basis for manufacturers in France, Germany and other countries to this day.
Parts Of The Razor
The straight razor is composed of several pieces. The narrow end of the blade rotates on a pin known as the pivot and is between two pieces called the scales or handle. At the end of the blade is a narrow curved metal part called the tang. It raises the blade from the handle and the tang is used to stabilize the blade when shaving. The narrow metal between the tang and the blade is called the shank. It can be decorated. The arched non-cutting side of the blade is known as the spine and the shaving side is known as the cutting edge. There are usually three pins in the handle.
Razor Manufacturing Process
During the manufacture of a straight razor from stainless steel, there are seven important steps that occur. They include forging the steel, hardening and tempering, grinding and finishing, blade decoration and sharpening. Each step is important but the one step requiring greatest skill is that of grinding. It can take up to six years to train a razor grinder. Because of the lack of trained grinders, an order delivery can take nearly eight months from the very best straight razor companies such as Dovo of Germany or Thiers-Issard of France. These razors can cost upwards of several hundred dollars.
The handle of the straight razor can be made out of many different materials which include mother-of-pearl, bone, wood, horn, tortoise shell, celluloid and plastic.
The blade of the straight razor will have one of three classifications. The first is the round point which has a semicircular shape. The next point type is the square, spike or sharp point. The point of this blade is very sharp and it is used for precise shaving. And the final point type is the French or oblique. It has a quarter circle point.
Because of the recent gain in popularity, the demand for these types of razors has increased. With lead times for new straight razors being long, many people have decided to buy vintage razors which were made so well that they are still in excellent working condition and they can be over 100 years old.
The straight razor must be kept very sharp and this is done by a process called stropping the blade on a leather blade.
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