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Ruined temper?

danjared

Well-Known Member
I have a problem I don't really know how to diagnose. I suspect that it could be a case of mild temper loss.

I noticed a stamped Wapienica razor for sale on one of the forums a couple weeks ago just before heading to bed. I decided to go for it since I'd been looking for one for a while, and the prices on eBay for these razors has gone truly crazy. This one looked fine in the pictures, so I thought why not.

It arrived a week ago. It had some scratches and a bit of a frown, with a chip in the middle of the frown. Okay, not that bad. I tried polishing the scratch out a bit with some diamond paste and #0000 steel wool. I was surprised that the steel wool scratched the razor. I can't remember if that usually happens when I use this polishing method, but I don't recall it happening.

I finally got a decent bevel after some testing and paper cutting (wanted to make sure I was at good steel). I went to hone it on my coticule this morning, stropped and got a HHT4 result. Okay, all's fine.

When I got out of the shower, I went to shave. The first couple strokes were fine. Then it started pulling. Despite the pulling, it still shaved, although, really, there was a lot of tugging, and I had to use some pressure. After the first WTF/XTG pass, I decided to switch to another razor for my second pass.

When I was done, I took out the pocket microscope to check the edge. It looked fine. There were no chips or other noticeable flaws. When I went to try the hanging hair test, I got about a HHT0. There wasn't a hint of violining, but it would shave arm hair.

I decided to give it a light stropping on linen, and the hanging hair test results jumped up to a HHT2.

What is up?
 

Bayamontate

Member
With the increased use of buffing wheels in straight razor restoration loss of temper is becoming a more common occurrence. I hope this is not the case in your situation.
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
The symptom you describe sounds quite like an edge that has lost its temper… the only other instance an edge behaves like that is when shaving at too high an angle such as near 90 degrees (I suspect you know better, but for the benefit of readers 100 years from now I thought I would mention it).

Here is how you check for a “soft” edge of razor steel that’s lost its temper.

Method 1:
Sharpen the razor on a fine hone so it easily cuts arm hair, wet the fingernail and do the TNT (it must cleanly pass the TNT), then try to cut arm hair again. If it cuts the hair with the same finesse as before then the edge is excellent, if it does NOT cut the arm hair, then the steel at the edge is suspect.
Note:
Instead of cutting arm hair, you may cut a hanging hair… but bear in mind the TNT may or may not lower the HHT point count… say form 3 down to 2 or1, but it should not decrease by much… use your judgment, every razor is different.

Method 2:
Sharpen the razor to pass your usual test, then examine a spot at the edge just to be sure you don’t have a wire, then bend a spot at the edge with your fingernail (see photo below taken from Dovo Manufacturing video) then examine the spot again. The edge should appear exactly as it was before… in other words” after bending the thin edge; it should spring back to its original shape nice and clean with no trace of the trauma… if it remains bent after bending then the edge is soft.
TheBend.jpg

I suggest you do both test to confirm your suspicions.

Final note:
If the edge develops chips after the TNT or the bending test, then the steel may be too hard… but that’s another can of worms :rolleyes: .
 

danjared

Well-Known Member
Thank you, Smythe. No, it does not cut hair well after the TNT. And I keep a low angle with a slight scything motion, just as you've taught me.

Sigh. I looked at my email, and I actually paid for it on August 28th. (The seller is in the UK.) Let's hope that this seller is a decent human being and refunds my money.
 

Toff

Well-Known Member
Thank you, Smythe! More tests to use for determinations of quality and one or another usually helps to solve a question.
edit: Bad day at black rock!! Thanks Ralfy!
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
danjared said:
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Hmmm... In that case, I am inclined to believe the edge has lost it's temper. Add insult to injury... though you may have a good case I suspect the seller may not accept returns as it's now "modified" by you.

Despite contrary opinions from "know-it-all's", these razors are indeed above average shavers... somewhat like a well made Sheffield (could be the 1/4 hollow grind).

Please forgive my query... but should you acquire one in good condition, Do you intend to ditch the scales?
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
All may not be lost.

I don't restore as many razors as like like to (time restraints), but I do use buffing wheels, and I find that the "first" edge after the restoration, is nearly ever any good.

Just dull the edge on a DMT 325 or 600, instead of on the usual beer bottle. Instead of dulling on glass, one stroke on a DMT does remove enough of steel to force a new edge in virgin steel. If you are lucky, only the thinest part of the edge suffered a loss of temper during the restoration process. Very thin steel can overheat ithe blink of an eye, but the steel a bit deeper down the blade is usually just fine, unless the restorer really had no idea what he was doing.

Good luck,
Bart.
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
I must agree, that I find the first edge after a restore usually pants too :)

I more often than not do a stroke or 3 on the side of my 400 grit before I start to create the bevel

However if I have simply given the blade a quick clean up I usually just hone it twice.

One last thing, if the steel is soft, it has not lost it's Temper, it's lost it's hardness, Temper is actually a controlled softening of the steel, if a blade was not tempered it would be too brittle to keep an edge without chipping, and may well even fracture from being accidentally dropped, it is a common mistake to say that previously hardened steel, has lost it's Temper when the truth is that it is probably over tempered, due to getting too hot during some mechanical process :)

Best regards
Ralfson (Dr)
 

danjared

Well-Known Member
Bart said:
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Before hitting the coticule this morning, I spent a rather substantial time (probably a bit over an hour?) over the course of a couple nights fixing the frown and the chip at the trough of the frown. Also, before fixing the frown, I now remember doing Cedrick's second suggestion (the one with picture), and it didn't bend back. Anyway, I removed quite a bit of steel while honing the razor with the spine raised (instead of breadknifing). Then, after having fixed the frown, I set the bevel with the spine taped. Then, after I did my testing with cutting paper, I untaped the spine, "dulled" it on glass and set the bevel again. This all started with a Shapton GS 220 followed by a 500 grit and then 1000 grit Shapton. I only used the Shapton 1000 and coticule without tape on the spine. So, I removed a fair bit of steel from the razor's edge, even at the trough of the frown because of the chip that was there. I would expect that, if there were good steel, I would have reached it already.
 

danjared

Well-Known Member
tat2Ralfy said:
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Well, tempering happens after quenching and is the last step in terms of affecting the non-geometric aspects of a blade. It's a controlled heating to strengthen the steel (i.e. make it not brittle). "Losing temper" comes from an uncontrolled heating, which undoes that last step, i.e. tempering. So, I'd say that the term is quite appropriate. Heating is involved, but the heating isn't the point of tempering, it's the means.
 

danjared

Well-Known Member
Smythe said:
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Well, it looks like he refunded me, although he didn't reply to my email yet. (The refund shows as "Pending until Friday, September 30, 2011". I'm guessing that's normal?) So, that's good news. I'm a bit disappointed, though, because I was really looking forward to having a stamped Wapienica in good condition. I had one before but sold it after having rescaled it in titanium (lighter, kept the same scale shape and wedge). I was planning on keeping this one in its original scales despite their weight. I've grown to like maintaining the historical nature of razors as much as possible.
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
Another symptom of blades that has lost it temper…
I am sure most of us are accustomed to hardened steel sliding across the surface of the hone with little resistance… soft steel will have a noticeable difference and may even feel “gummy” or the hone will seem to have more “bite”.

Bear in mind some folks may suddenly feel a little more resistance when a properly tempered blade is getting sharp at the edge, but a soft blade feels that way all the time (sharp or not).

Also, a blade may be soft at only one part, such as near point, in that case the blade will “slip” at the beginning of the stroke near the heel, and then “grab” when the stroke gets near the point (assuming “X” stroke), this is most noticeable when using a normal sized stone of around 40 mm wide, but even if the hone is very wide, you may feel the grabbing at the point and the unusual torque between your fingers at the beginning of the stroke.

Ralfy, you may be correct in that, “temper” is a “process” and not the “state” of the steel, however, so many of us ordinary folks understand the fraise to mean, steel that has become too soft for it’s intended use… It’s just my humble attempt to simply the explanation.

Dan, the refund date is perhaps normal. I suspect he has no money in his PayPal account (the smart thing to do) so the refund is automatically transferred from his linked bank account… that transfer takes about 5 business days.

I think I have an unused, stamped Wapi stashed in an old wooden chest (the one with the big padlock and the squeaking hinges). I acquired couple when the price was reasonable, with plans to sell a few centuries from now in NOS condition… when they would be worth a thousand times more (give or take for inflation). But if you are interested I could send one to you so long as you promise keep her in original condition (remember, she’s worth more in original scales) but of course… you pay for shipping.
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
Sir Smythe, you really are one of the most generous people I have the pleasure of knowing

About the whole Temper thing

I am happy to be wrong :) its just how I understand it

I did think I was wrong once, but I was mistaken :lol:

Kind regards
Me
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
Jared,

I scanned through your original post too hastily. You are correct of course. After all the work you'd done, this condition coulnd't possibly be limited to only the thinnest part of the outer edge. Sorry for mentioning it.

A good read about hardening, tempering and the general aspects of knife making:
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Bart.
 

danjared

Well-Known Member
Bart said:
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No need to apologize. It's good to know that sometimes they're savable. It's just a shame that the razor was ruined.

I don't have much experience with buffers. I'm rather afraid of them actually. Besides, I once badly mangled a razor on a rotary tool when I started out a couple years ago. Since then it's been hand tools or nothing for me.
 
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