Buying straight razor. What to consider

Buying straight razor. What to consider

Postby dappershaves » Thu Sep 30, 2021 7:39 pm

As the title suggest. What to look for when buy 2nd hand razor, however some considerations will apply to new and unused razors too.

So how do I go about selecting razors for my rotation and collection. It’s a question I get from time to time and want to discuss my thought processes. Essentially there’s 2 types of considerations, collection and daily use. With that said I regularly use all razors, even those considered collectable and rare. After all they are tools to be used and not to be looked at, unless that’s your thing. It’s then no surprise that my evaluation method is fundamentally the same for both categories.

Let’s first explore what I look for when buying a razor for daily use. The first consideration is price and size, they typically go hand in hand. Smaller blades are cheaper than larger sizes and more abundant. You are more likely to find 4/8 and 5/8 sizes razors from manufacturers than the larger formats such as 7/8 or larger. The larger blades require more skill to manufacture and required a lot more steel. Blade sizes does not significantly impact shaves results compared to larger blades. If the edge is shave ready they all shave well. The other consideration is if the blade is already shave ready. If you don’t know the seller, shave ready razors could turn out to NOT being sharp enough. So either be prepare to hone yourself, or have contact with a reputable honemeister you can trust.

Next up is the hone wear and geometry of the blade. Hone wear should be uniform and even across the spine and edge. Wear also includes rust and pitting especially very close to the edge. Deep rust and pitting close to the edge can be disastrous and render a razor edge useless. Surface rust is generally not a problem but keep in mind that rust will leave patina stains on the metal that cant be removed easily if at all. I also tend to steer clear of highly polished and buffed examples that show traces of pitting as they are nearly always polished on buffing wheels or dremel’s that can destroy the steel temper and therefore edge quality. So buy for a trusted source will eliminate these risks.

Example of what you don't want at all.

Scales will influence price, even on smaller blades. Horn, ivory, bone and mother of pearl is significantly more expensive than plastic scales but also more valued in vintage examples. Scales can be chipped, cracked or have missing pins and will require restoration or replacement, further increase cost inputs.

These are essentially the basic evaluation considerations I follow when selecting razors in general. When it comes to collectibles I will expand further to consider feasibility. The first is availability and reputation of a razor type, manufacturer, county of origins, followed by size and style. Price on these IMO is dependent on what you are prepared pay. The style type of razor point such square, round, Spanish, American and French, county of origins but also blade grind and steel type will be strong considerations. Also those to be considered master such as Iwasaki San, Tosuki San or Their Majesties Cutlers Joseph Rodgers or individual that contributed the technology advancement such as Frieder Ern, CV Heljestrand and Fritz Bracht or icons labels such as Wade & Butcher, Bismarck or Filarmonica. Its therefore important to understand the history, development of razors throughout history and be able to accurately determine age and model evolution. The original box or coffin and condition for the razor is especially important from a collection perspective, at least to me. If none of these are really important to you then make sure it meets all your tick boxes such as looks, size, fit and finish and reliable support through honing and maintenance services or be prepared to do it yourself.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that if I don’t compromise on these considerations that 99% of vintage razors that pass these requirements will perform exceptional without fail once restored.

The final consideration is that you might still get things wrong on the odd occasion but that’s “par for course” on all things life. Hope this was useful.

For those interested in exploring topics discuss here, some useful links below.
Honing Straight Razors viewtopic.php?f=55&t=1708
Which Striaght Razor Grinds viewtopic.php?f=53&t=1710
Straighr Razor Anatomy, Sizes and Shapes viewtopic.php?f=53&t=1630
Straight Razor Maintenance viewtopic.php?f=55&t=1709
Learning how to Straight Shave viewtopic.php?f=53&t=1669
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