“I’ve been trying to come up with a term that helps describe what I typically do with a Straight Razor when working on it and have been tossing around ‘Functional Restoration’ as a way to describe how I find a razor that has potential and then restore it using as much of the original parts as possible but without going into the ‘custom restoration’ realm… Not that I have anything against Custom Restorations, I am just still learning how to make scales and use materials that I was previously unfamiliar with. The following is a great example of what I mean when I say ‘Functional Restoration’…”
These are the ‘Before’ Pics I saw on eBay… An “A. Weber & Co” from “Keokuk, Iowa” German Ground SR with “Imperial/Extra Hollow Ground Warranted” etched onto the front blade face.
This Ad just popped up during random eBay searching and didn’t have a lot of detail other than, “.. about 3/4″ blade..”, in the description so I knew I’d have the metal real-estate to work with. Upon casual inspection I believed the scales to be just some composite/plastic. The Crack and the weird looking Wedge were also things I noticed right away.
I received the straight razor and at first noticed that the scales were likely something other than plastic… They felt stiffer and ‘colder’ than plastic and so I kept that in the back of my head as I was looking at everything else. The chip was indeed large but the rear stabilizers did not stick out so much they were hitting the hone so I knew I’d have plenty of room to work that and it would be just a matter of what was left over afterward. The “Pinch”, as I call it, was something weird… To me, it looked like someone used one of those 70’s Style Handheld Sharpeners on it and then slipped/rotated causing lateral force applications in opposition as the mark on one side did not quite line up with the other side. ?? The metal was coming off anyway so I didn’t stress over it too much but still makes me wonder what happened. There was a split in one of the scales and a very-homemade wedge out of some type of cardboard-ish material. I think they replaced the Wedge with something thinner so as not to risk worsening the crack. Otherwise, the straight razor was in decent condition. The deciding factor was when mine was the only Bid… I now had myself a Project!!!
I typically pop ’em apart right away but I wanted to make sure I was going to be able to remove that metal effectively and still have a functional, nice-looking straight razor afterward. Out comes the DMT… And, I was on that thing for quite a while… I used alternating Circles, X-Strokes and BKT which works really well toward the end when the chip is getting down there as you can feel the ‘drop’ during the BKT which told me there was still work to be done. Eventually I got her there!
Now I knew the Project was a GO… So, next step was figuring out a Wedge… I save ‘everything’ from any Hobby as I’ve just found from experience that the minute you toss something out you need the dang thing not long after… So, I have a little Straight Razor Graveyard in a baggie and I had a few different types of broken Black Scales and a set of broken Red Scales… I thought long and hard about the Red but ultimately decided on Black so roughed it out and found that the scales on this razor were just a little off-set with one being thinner/shorter and the other longer/thicker… So, the Wedge was going to stick out a bit on one side and would need to have an appropriate taper to blend between the two lengths. That brought me to this stage:
I started to work on the Scales a bit and started to see little ‘pits’ in there that lead me to believe they were likely Bone… I’d never worked Bone before so wanted to get a second opinion and it was confirmed they were indeed Bone. That is the great thing about the Wet Shaving Community in general is that there is almost always help not too far way. Once I had the scales sanded just lightly using Micro-Mesh I cleaned them up again and stabilized the Crack with CA… Left it overnight then started sanding again focusing on removing the excess CA… I considered only afterward that I could have applied then wiped the excess CA off prior to drying overnight so had a LOT of sanding to do. BUT, the really cool part was that the textures and color variations within the Bone were coming out beautifully and luckily enough providing some serious camouflage for the Crack… It was getting harder and harder to see the more I worked. I ended the day with coating them in Castor Oil which is my go-to oil… Not that it is something special but simply because it was what was laying around a few years ago when I was looking for something the first time. Turns out Castor Oil works incredibly well to rehydrate scales and I’ve been using it exclusively since.
That left Hand-Buffing out the Scales, Razor Polishing, Re-Pinning, Wedge Finishing/Shaping/Tapering and then Honing. I had an Owner in mind for this one so we both decided that stainless steel would be the right hardware and so I used that and it really off-set the brightness of the blade as well as the black color on the wedge perfectly. No issues during fit/tightening but I did bring that Wedge down pretty flat so as to avoid stressing the Crack… It was quite stabile and really well blended in but I did not want to risk breaking it open again.
Honing went well and I started with 2 layers of tape on a Norton 1k then, once the bevel was set, dropped to 1 level of tape and continued on until it was set again. I finished the rest with one layer of tape. I was hoping that the varied angles during bevel set would help me remove more metal and allow me to sneak right down to the point where the Crack ended so I didn’t lose any more metal than I had to. After all was said and done she still measured in at 13/16’ths so just a really nice sized razor considering where she started!! I finished the rest of my series with one layer of tape… Norton 4/8, MST Thuri, Naniwa 12k then Llyn Idwal for the last dance. Stropped her- 20 Felt Pasted w/CrOx, 40 on Plain Felt, 60 on an SRD Premium I and then 40 on an SRD Roo and she was complete!
She shaves absolutely like a dream! The only down-side is I picked this one out for a Friend and, once I had the metal work done, sent him pics and talked to him about it ‘prior’ to shaving… Lesson learned… NEVER offer someone a razor until AFTER the Test Shave… I regretted telling him about it from the first stroke… It was just that buttery smooth and consistent.
I’ve still got soo much room to grow but this build, in particular, had me saying, “Hey! I did that!”, in a genuinely child-like and overwhelmingly impressed voice. It was easily my best shave ever from a Honing I did!
A few years ago I would have been one of those on eBay that passed this razor by thinking, “What would someone do with that broken thing?”, and now I’m on the other side looking at this finished razor shaking my head and saying, “I was the only bidder!!??”
“As the pictures show… This razor simply turned out beautiful and she shaves like a dream… A great example of something that was so initially unappealing no-one else would bid on her. I’m thinking I’d get a completely different response if I put her back up on eBay now! This was definitely a most successful Functional Restoration.”