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Well I am starting this blog to record my return to an older type of shaving . Like most of us I at present use the ubiquitous supermarket disposable razors , and have done so for , well I don't really know how long . When did these disposable and cartridge type of razors come about ? I guess I have been shaving regularly since I was around 16 which ,as I was born in 1953 , make it around 1969 when I started . I have a memory a very faint one I admit , to having a razor that twisted to open and receive a double edge blade of the kind that came in little rectangular boxes . I remember that the  blades came wrapped in paper and the used blades were posted into a slot in the back of the box . Now that is all I actually remember of these things and as soon as the more modern types , disposables came out I started using them. Well you would wouldn't you how many teenagers want to do things as their Fathers do most of us wanted to look modern I guess , well I did anyway .

So where is all this rambling leading to , I am glad you asked !  As I am getting somewhat better at sharpening knives My poor weak mind seems to be taken with the idea of buying a straight razor from an antiques centre ,something from the 1880's to around the demise of the Old Queen , in 1901 I think . I admit that I only knew the date of Queen Victoria's death from watching my favourite John Wayne film The Shootist . So the thought of going from a modern razor to an inexpertly sharpened cutthroat  is for me a daunting prospect and unusually good sense has prevailed and instead of leaping straight back to the end of the nineteenth century perhaps the 1950's may be a better place to start .

I have now checked out a few video's on YouTube and have found that the razors that I remember from my youth are indeed called DE or double edge . In fact this whole retro shaving lark is alive and kicking without me knowing anything about it . Youtube is awash with helpful young fellows scraping the whiskers off their finely honed chins with razors that they certainly don't remember from the first time round . Mind you I have learned an awful lot more about shaving than my Father ever taught me ,I guess it must have been him that showed me the ropes though I don't remember the lesson .

So I now have an Edwin Jagger DE89 razor and am waiting for those fine folks at Amazon to deliver the rest of the not inconsiderable amount of gear that it seems I must have . A styptic pencil ,what a word from the dawn of history , anyway I have forgotten to order one so in the short term things may get bloody !! The razor looks nice and I am thinking that it is probably of a lot higher quality than I would have had in the late sixties. I would likely have had an old one of my Dad's to start .

I hope to return to this blog in the future , blood loss allowing , and record my return journey to the shavings of my youth and hopefully back in time to the days of the Old Queen and a wonderful straight razor . Got to get through my lack of a styptic pencil first , can't imagine what a young girl in the chemist will think if I ask for one of those .

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Tags: ., DE, Ramblings, Razors, Shaving, Time, Travel

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Comment by John Bamford on August 20, 2016 at 4:06

Ah well I don't need to wait until next week to find out about the new razor , bought yesterday and delivered today amazing how things can work well one day and take forever the next  !

I have an unfeasibly romantic idea of France between the wars and I suspect but do not know that this razor comes from that period . It certainly is from France of that there is no doubt .

 It is a strange thing but I have little interest in old knives preferring to buy new ones , when it comes to razors however that is exactly the opposite . This one has a wonderful Gallic charm and was worth the £30/$40 I would think .

The box is in quite good condition , oh how I am a sucker for boxes !

Razor , strop in a case , stropping paste and instruction leaflet . 

The small strop has it's own little cover to stop getting strop paste on the inside of it's box .

I will have to learn to speak French now to understand the instructions !!

Comment by John Bamford on August 19, 2016 at 11:41

I have enough razors and do not need anymore , oh damn too late I thought I would have been outbid !!

It is a worry when no one else bids , it makes you think what did they all see that you didn't  ?    Ah well I will find out next week .

Comment by D ale on August 19, 2016 at 3:44


That is a very kind statement for you to make.

A statement that makes me smile .. makes me feel good.

... Which ...

Was the motivating reason for me making the initial offer.


It is genuinely a good feeling to know the razor will see active use.

..and , even better..

that it is performing a good job doing such.


A sincere "Thank You" for your last post !!!!


D ale

Comment by John Bamford on August 14, 2016 at 12:43

I have been using my newest working razor , I bought one this week but it needs a little work (new scales) before being usable , the Clauss a lot since I got it .  When I first sharpened it and used it I thought that it wasn't quite right so went back to the stones and tried again . It shaved fine then and I have used it pretty much all the time since then .As I am still very new to this business it may be that lack of experience causes these observations .

I have nine razors at the moment and have no intention of increasing that number , but then again you have heard that story before ! Of those nine two are without scales so that is seven usable razors and one I don't get on with so six razors all of which do a good job of shaving , at least by my standards .  

The razor that I was tending towards up until recently was my 4/8th's Osgar it seems to take a very good edge and shaves really well sharp enough for you to want to take care in using it . The Clauss has eclipsed that razor and I am reluctant to use any other now and the reason is very difficult for me to explain . The Osgar is sharp and feels sharp not only when I touch the edge with thumb , not a great habit but one that I find difficult to stop ,but also in use . It would have no hesitation in taking a piece of skin from you , though not in a malicious way just as a means to show who is the boss . The Clauss on the other hand seems not as sharp to the thumb , or is it that the edge is so very smooth , it glides over the skin with very little sensation  and appears to have not a trace of malice at all .

 I have tried comparing the grind of both razors and they are of course both hollow ground and look to my , weak , eyes to be around the same degree of hollowness .

They both leave the same smooth skin behind but one does it in a very friendly fashion with just no stress at all whereas the other , well it would bite you if you were careless . I don't know why this should be the case but I hope one day that I will .

Comment by allanm on August 10, 2016 at 12:02

You're right Jan, the belt did work fine. Even though I knew a few swipes over a leather strop/hone would help even without any rubbing compound, I was surprised just how much it helped with my old knife restoration. Just feeling the edge after the stone, and then feeling again after the belt, and it was still a wow what a difference moment.

Boots as an on the job alternate is a good idea too. I read once somebody wrote about using the top edge of a car window in "emergency" situations as well. I wouldn't like to do that too much, but maybe the glass can handle quite a bit of that.

Comment by Jan Carter on August 9, 2016 at 18:48


The belt may actually be working fine.   The idea is to remove any burrs left in the sharpening process.  I have seen Donnie use his leather work boots on a job site

Comment by John Bamford on August 9, 2016 at 12:27

I have made a few strops Allan . As I work for the local council , or at least I did before we were privatised , a lot of the rubbish that is picked up comes through our yard and I tend to pay attention when I see a leather sofa on the back of a truck . Course it has to be on it's way to the dump and if so my knife is out and a panel is removed pretty quick . I shape a piece of flat wood to a strop shape and glue the leather on with "no more nails" or some similar glue PVA works fine .  Have you heard of Rockstead knives they are a pretty expensive Japanese knife maker, 


They recommend making a strop from fixing a piece of denim fabric to a board and coating it in metal polish and their knives are known for their edge retention .

I guess anything that polishes the edge is good enough  .

Comment by allanm on August 9, 2016 at 12:00

Since you mentioned strops John - I'm sure most on this forum know the benefit of a good leather strop, but I would guess many people not into knives as we are have no clue. They don't even use a stone of any form, just one of the cheap carbide, or ceramic style draw through type "sharpeners".

I don't (yet) have a real strop, but what I have been doing for a while though it is not ideal, is using one of my leather belts. I simply put my foot on one end of it on the floor, hold the other end in one hand, and use the inside where any marks won't be seen as a strop. As I said, not ideal, but it does work and makes a surprising difference to a knife sharpened on my simple Smith's brand medium and fine grit Arkansas stones.

I read somewhere of using common packing cardboard as an alternative, in the absence of a real strop, or leather belt. While nowhere near as good, it actually did a pretty decent job when I tried it just for interest. I just used the corner of a brown cardboard box from shipping, or a flat piece of cardboard folded over would do as an emergency strop / honing system. Of course real leather is by far the best and I really do need to buy one and stop abusing my belts!

Comment by John Bamford on August 9, 2016 at 11:27

As we were talking about sharpening I thought that it might be an idea to discuss the tricky business of sharpening razors . There is an almost endless supply of information on the web , it is wonderful to have all this stuff available but at times it can feel like an avalanche of knowledge and is too much to cope with . I really like the amount of info that is out there but when you are new to this razor sharpening business it is hard to sort the wheat from the chaff as they say . 

It is not too long since I bought my first razor from eBay , as I didn't wish to waste a lot of cash on a razor when I wasn't sure if I had the bottle to use it . So looking for a way to get an edge on this thing I head of to one of the main straight razor sites .

It wasn't a great idea because the first piece of advice I find is don't buy from eBay . The second is don't try to learn to sharpen , sorry  "hone"  these guys tend to be sticklers for terminology , whilst you are trying to learn to shave with a straight razor . You should buy a new razor and get a "honemeister" to sharpen the thing whilst you get your pretty little head around using it . 

The don't buy from eBay , firstly if you buy a lesser known or "no name" razor from eBay it will be cheap and if it isn't don't buy it . Only buy a razor that has clear pics and buy one that looks like it has no or very little wear on the spine. As the razor is sharpened by laying the spine and the edge on the stone any sharpening leaves wear on the spine , unless tape has been used but that is unlikely for such a cheap razor . The blade can be a little warped , I have bought one like that and use it though it would be better if it wasn't . Having said that my average spend on an eBay razor is around £10 /$13 even if the thing is shaped like a banana it is hardly likely to break the bank .So I now have ten razors and feel I am getting addicted to looking for cheap eBay blades .

Well okay we have a bunch of razors probably made between the 30s/50s what next , that depends on how much you have to spend and which video's you watch on Youtube . The route with a dozen Japanese waterstones with increasingly fancy names is one I shan't be taking but then I have found it is possible to get by with a lot less . 

So with the vast knowledge gained from three or four months of doing this I reckon three stones and a fairly cheap leather strop will do the trick , that's all I use anyway and am thoroughly enjoying my straight shaving 

The first stone for "setting the bevel"as it is called could be anything between 1000/3000 I couldn't say exactly what grit mine is because I bought the stone so long ago and it is all written in Japanese on the side . Most people seem to recommend 1000 grit but Mastro Livi uses 3000 and to me he is somewhat like Tony Bose in the knife world , if he says it is right then I am not going to argue.

Second stone a 7000 or somewhere similar , I use a Belgian Blue and being a natural grit doesn't mean a lot but it does the job just fine  a Norton 4000/8000 combination would do the job pretty well and I would be tempted but the cost over here is rather high . 

Then a finishing stone before stropping at the moment I have an Imperial La Roccia and that seems good enough , it's not very expensive and some people don't give it top marks , I sometimes wonder if those two things are not connected .

This is my approach at the moment and it will not meet everyone's approval so to quote my sources two video's from Dr Matt , he does a very good video does Dr Matt !



So to finish if anyone is thinking of having a shot at this straight razor business it is possible to do it without breaking the bank just as long as you enjoy learning .  There are enough video's on Youtube to keep you amused for a long time and if my approach doesn't work for you there is the one stone Coticule business , but that's another story as they say !!

Comment by John Bamford on August 9, 2016 at 9:22

I think Dale that at first I was influenced by a lot of the things I saw online about "hair popping sharp" etc . 

Then it took a while to get over the fact that I could make a knife that sharp before I realised with Thomas' help that it wasn't really the best approach .  

Thanks for the kind words Allan but I am afraid a writers life would not be for me I am basically idle and wish to retire to sit and watch the world go by , as long as I have a shed to retreat to now and then .

White River Knives

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