Shall I correct artisans' crafts?

maro

Well-Known Member
To begin with, I'd like to underline that I'm not going to touch any of those razors with a hone before I'm sure I'm capable of honing them properly (meaning ~2-3 years from now?). :-/
Besides, I have plenty of other razors to practise.
Therefore it's rather a theorethical question for me nowadays, yet just to satisfy my curiosity...

All the razors depicted below are brand new and have never been touched with a hone (ok, except in the factory, but it doesn't count).

The first one is Polish Wapi. As you can see, the blade is slightly convex, rounded at the point and the heel and gets narrower towards the heel.
Wapi.jpg
I thought "Well, we Poles are not famous razor makers, are we?" ;)
So I inspected two TIs.
The first one seemed to be slightly smiley but when I looked at the line where the spine would be touching the hone, especially on the point... not so sure anymore.
TI1%.jpg
TI1%.jpg
TI1%.jpg
The other TI is clearly getting wider towards the top thus probably getting a wider bevel when honed.
TI2%.jpg
TI2%.jpg
So I thought "Hmmm, looks like Frenchmen are not top notch craftsmen either." :D
Then I had a look at the last razor. "This one has been made in Germany so it's geometry must be perfect." :w00t:
Well, not really... :blink:
Udahl%.jpg
Udahl%.jpg
The spine is slightly smiley while the edge is not and the blade gets wider towards the point.

Question: Is it normal that some brand new razors have to be shaped before they're taken into use (the Dovo ruined by me, restored by Bart and deteriorated by me again was perfectly straight right from the factory)? Or maybe those imperfections don't matter and I shoudn't bother at all?
EDIT: I've replaced the pictures of the blades to the ones taken with daylight plus I added the pictures of the spines.
 

jonnyangel

Active Member
I know that my Robert Willams Custom had some hone wear when I received it, but he always makes sure his straights are shave-ready. Either way; they are going to have some wear. You really cant get away from it if you are planning on using them. Unless you like tape.


Question: The first TI is a Limited Edition that I've been looking for. Where did you happen to get it and how much? If I may ask of course.
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
As far as I can tell from a picture, these are all perfectly honable. The first TI looks like a handforged one. I believe it's very normal and to be accepted that there's asymmetry in such a razor. It's part of the beauty. Actually, I have no problem with seeing evidence of the "human factor" in handcrafted tools at all (among them straight razors). It adds character to an otherwise dead piece of steel. Of course, the question is where artisanship ends and sloppiness begins. I think we all might have a different anwer to that.
But I'm glad no one ever invented a CNC machine for straight razor production. At least, I hope they didn't. I'm not waiting to see production of all perfect and identical razors. The best razors out of my small collection, are not per se the best looking.

Here's a picture of a wooden hand plane, by the late James Krenov. (if you don't know the name and have any affinity with woodwork, I suggest to google for him). No doubt this is a perfect plane, an exquisite piece of craftsmanship, and most likely extremely valuable. Isn't she a beauty?


Best regards,
Bart.
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
Ahhh… the innate beauty of hand crafted steel. One reason hand crafted objects are highly prized is the fact that each is unique. That’s what makes life so interesting… verity, the spice of life… without it human life would be extinct (we would die of boredom).

The Wapi: The point is French (oblique) it’s a cross between a round point and a square point, for safety and accuracy. Many razors are narrower towards the heel, lots of folks like the look of it (have a look at some old Sheffield razors). On the other hand some like a straight squared heel. But I believe a smiling edge is the best for shaving, and a smile will cause some narrowing at the point and heel (it's just the physics, no way around it if you pardon my pun).
Note” another reason the heel of some razors is so much narrower than the point end… so the blade will fit in the curved (banana shaped) scales without the heel sticking out the bottom when the razor is closed.

1st TI: Spines don’t have to be perfectly flat with respect to the hone… it would be nice, but not necessary for proper honing, even for someone new to honing. So long as you can rock the blade during the stroke to contact the entire edge within that stroke you have a good razor. Though I am not lucky enough to have one, but I am willing to bet that the width of the spine at the point, is much narrower than in the middle or heel… that is as it should be, to maintain the same angle, because the width of the blade is smaller at the point than middle and heel. And again you will notice the heel comes at a sharp curve to match the spine, this gives the blade a “sexy” curve (matches the curve of the spine near the point *Low Rider*), but will also match the shape of the scales so the heel won’t fall out the bottom when the razor is closed.

2nd TI: Beyond the slightly “skewed” etching, this example seems to be perfect as well. Remember this is a round point so the intersection between the point and the edge will be rounded too; no doubt the grinder did that and probably does it to every blade ground. A “spiked” round point doesn’t make scene to me. Of course every one is different but I think the point wider than the heel can be a good thing… consider this: the edge near the heel is the most used part of a straight razor, as a consequence that part get sharpened more than the middle or the heel, so as time passes it will wear and become narrow at a faster rate than the rest of the blade. A “thin” full hollow blade, wider at the point end will have a longer life.

High Class: Maybe I am looking at the blade in one dimension (a photo) but the edge appears to have a slight smile… so far so good. But it doesn’t matter if the spine is smiley or straight to have good form or function… it could well be straight, but because the spine is worked, and the middle has a cut (probably etched with the day of the week if from a 7 day set) that gives the illusion that the spine is arched more that it really is. Again, the heel is slightly narrower, this is normal for the many millions of vintage and modern razors. And again see above why it is good to have the point wider than the heel because of the difference in wear over the lifetime of the razor.

Though I do not have any of these razors in hand to give a proper assessment, from what is can see you have four excellent examples from the most respected open razor makers. So long as they are not warped of the tempering not done properly leaving the steel too hard or too soft or anything that would compromise efficient sharpening or shaving, they appear to be just fine… Be happy.
 

maro

Well-Known Member
jonnyangel said:
Question: The first TI is a Limited Edition that I've been looking for. Where did you happen to get it and how much? If I may ask of course.
Sure you can, but please don't get me wrong. I didn't start the thread to boast about the items in my possession but to clarify my doubts about the brand new razors. I got so impressed with the edge Bart has managed to restore on my Dovo (it was so perfectly straight) that I started to wonder if all edges should look like that. And if they're not, should I make them looking like that.
Answering your question, I don't know if it's a Limited Edition you have in mind. I've bought this item from the on-line reseller (knifecenter.com) in 2004 for $400 and can't recall the name it was sold under (I can check the invoice if you wish). They claimed this razor to be hand-forged by Pierre Thiers himself over 100 years earlier (remnants of it have been intentionally left on the spine) and grinded by the best (contemporary) grinder of TI. They also claimed that there was a limited number of those items created and it has an "item number" forged on the tang indeed.
Bart said:
As far as I can tell from a picture, these are all perfectly honable. The first TI looks like a handforged one. I believe it's very normal and to be accepted that there's asymmetry in such a razor. It's part of the beauty. Actually, I have no problem with seeing evidence of the "human factor" in handcrafted tools at all (among them straight razors). It adds character to an otherwise dead piece of steel.
<snip>
Here's a picture of a wooden hand plane, by the late James Krenov. (if you don't know the name and have any affinity with woodwork, I suggest to google for him). No doubt this is a perfect plane, an exquisite piece of craftsmanship, and most likely extremely valuable. Isn't she a beauty?
I have nothing against it either. As explained to jonnyangel, I was just curious if I should try do something with it or not. :)
Regarding the plane, yes she definitely is a beauty. Unfortunately my affinity to woodwork has been purely artificial so far as in the rented flat of 30m[sup]2[/sup] all you can do is to sharpen a toothpick with a pocket-knife. :( I hope to change it gradually after moving to my own (much bigger) flat.
Smythe said:
Though I do not have any of these razors in hand to give a proper assessment, from what is can see you have four excellent examples from the most respected open razor makers. So long as they are not warped of the tempering not done properly leaving the steel too hard or too soft or anything that would compromise efficient sharpening or shaving, they appear to be just fine… Be happy.
Thank you veru much for the exhaustive assessment. I can't voice about the tempering but the're not warped for sure. So... I am happy. :thumbup:
 

jonnyangel

Active Member
That's too bad! I had a chance to buy one before I started using a straight razor and said that I would never spend that much on a razor. Little did I know what I know now. Also, yes, that is the one I am thinking of. If you ever decide to sell it let me know.
 

maro

Well-Known Member
It was the third razor I bought (the first one was Dovo and the second was TI#2 depicted above) and I knew few about straight razors either. I bought it partly because of it's appeal and partly because of THE history carried along with it. One could say it's a stupidity to throw away such a bunch of money to buy things you're not sure you gonna use just because you got bewitched. But... that's what I am about. I love things in which you can spot the sweat and mastery put into the creation.
Some people say everything is for sale. This one is not. :rolleyes:

EDIT: And even if I decided to let it go, I think I'd rather give it than sell it. I hope I won't be ever forced to trade it to survive. :-/
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
Just a quick answer to your question:

Don't make the edges straight. They're not intended to be straight. Most new DOVOs carry perfectly straight edges (hence all the issues with warp that would just go unnoticed on a razor with a smiling edge - as I pointed out in one of the other threads). That's why I made your frowning stainless Dovo straight: because it was originally straight, and because straight is easiest to hone for someone that hasn't learned to hone smiling blades yet. (once learned, smiling edges pose no special problem).

Best regards,
Bart.
 

maro

Well-Known Member
I've replaced the pictures with the ones taken in a daylight and added pictures of the spines for Smythe. :)
The “skewed” etching of TI#2 doesn't look like an etching at all (you feel an even surface when trying to scratch it with a finger nail). It's more like a galvanic layer. But it's just a decoration so it's of no importance for me.
Bart said:
Don't make the edges straight. They're not intended to be straight. Most new DOVOs carry perfectly straight edges (hence all the issues with warp that would just go unnoticed on a razor with a smiling edge - as I pointed out in one of the other threads). That's why I made your frowning stainless Dovo straight: because it was originally straight, and because straight is easiest to hone for someone that hasn't learned to hone smiling blades yet. (once learned, smiling edges pose no special problem).
Don't worry, I will not. :)
As said, I'm not going to touch them with the hone untill 100% sure I'm up to it. Unless you want to play with them earlier. ;) Then I can bring them with me to Ardennes (I will not send them via Polish post service on no account). Then also Smythe would have an opportunity to have them in hand. :D
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
Man those things are gorgeous; they don’t have the mathematically straight lines like a carbon copy from a modern automated factory, but rather like a perfectly preserved ceremonial sword found in a stone-age temple… forged with ancient blood, sweat and tears. The skewed etch on that TI makes it unique, like the miss-stamped penny worth upwards a million times the value stamped on the face.

The polish razor is handsome in its own right, not at all highly decorated like the others, but possesses the same attributes of a hi-quality hand-made instrument designed for military use… truly a historic item.
 

maro

Well-Known Member
Bart said:
Here's a picture of a wooden hand plane, by the late James Krenov.
I googled his name as you advised. Wonderful stuff he did! The furniture aren't of the style I prefer but all the joints and his hand-made tools... oh my goodness. They're fabulous! :thumbup:
Smythe said:
The skewed etch on that TI makes it unique, like the miss-stamped penny worth upwards a million times the value stamped on the face.
The polish razor is handsome in its own right, not at all highly decorated like the others, but possesses the same attributes of a hi-quality hand-made instrument designed for military use… truly a historic item.
I didn't look at this skewed etching from that point of view. I was rather considering it a sloppy finish of the otherwise wonderful blade. I was even a bit angry with the anonymous guy who screwed it up. :blush: I hope its "value" will never raise that high. :D
Wapi photo I neither replaced nor added a view of the spine, as it wouldn't add anything to the picture. I was recently told they have been used in field hospitals to shave patients' bodies before surgeries but considering them primary tools for bullets' picking would be an exaggeration.
maro said:
Unless you want to play with them earlier. ;)
Just spotted the wrong emoticon. Should be: Unless you want to play with them earlier. :)
 
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