Assorted Straight Razor Restorations

Discussion in 'Razor Restoration' started by HolyRollah, Mar 24, 2014.

  1. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    Moderator
    Since I recently came across a bunch of vintage straights (See here), some of them need some minor restoration, while other need new scales, etc. I will attempt some of the minor 'restores' myself (mainly clean-up, sanding and polishing; perhaps pinning new scales), but leave some of the 'heavy lifting' to the pros.

    So what follows is a series of images that will outline my own amateur attempts to bring back to usable and spiffy-looking life a number of straight razors I have come to own. I am, by far, no expert in this field and am always open to suggestions from those who actually know what they're doing when it comes to razor restoration. I hope others not-so-experienced will gain some knowledge from watching my struggles and successes.

    Starting easy: I begin with the razors in the best condition (those requiring the least 'fixing up.'). One of these is this nice old faux frameback by J. Rodgers & Sons.
    [​IMG]

    At least to my amateur eyes, the horn scales appear to be in good condition (no splits, cracks, chips) and the pins looks to be in good shape as well.
    [​IMG]

    Both sides of the blade have evidence of some water damage and extensive scratches.
    Side One is not as severe and that's where I started:

    I began by using wet/dry sandpaper (100 grit) on the 'better' side, using light horizontal strokes (left to right, right to left, parallel to the edge).
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    After extensive sanding, there still remains some pitting near the toe/point and this is where I could use some advice from those more experienced. Follow-up: Some sound advice I received was I could continue sanding if I really wish to remove most or all the visible pitting, or I simply could leave some pitting as it reveals the 'character 'or reflects the 'vintage' quality of this particular razor.
    [​IMG]

    Plenty more to do, but it's a start.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014
  2. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    Moderator
    More sanding with 100 grit has really minimized a good deal of the really obvious pitting near the toe. I may continue sanding with the low grit on this side until I'm happy with the overall appearance. I'll begin to 'soften' the sanding marks before moving up the grit scale. I've learned the hard way from my last restore job (my first!) that I should not rush through the initial rough sanding process—unless, of course, I wish having to re-sand multiple times after stepping up too fast to the finer grits. :angry017:

    100 grit:
    [​IMG]

    Compare this shot to the final one in the previous posting. Some slight pitting is still evident, but not as obvious. You can also see a very small 'nick' in the blade edge—which looks gi-normous under a lupe, but not as siginifcant to the naked eye. I'll have to deal with that at a later stage.
    [​IMG]
     
  3. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    Moderator
    On to Side Two: more sanding with 100 grit; The worse of the two sides as far as deep scratches and pitting.

    SIDE TWO BEFORE INITIAL HAND-SANDING with 100 grit:
    [​IMG]

    SIDE TWO POST HAND-SANDING with 100 grit. Still some slight evidence of pitting in a few spots, but overall, not bad.
    I'll continue to 'soften' the scratches before moving up the grit scale. From here, progress should be quicker.
    [​IMG]
     
  4. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    Moderator
    Whoops!
    One MUST be careful when handling old straight razors. I have painfully realized they are more fragile than they appear.

    While prepping to flip the Rodgers& Sons razor (shown above in photos), the razor slipped from my grasp and fell about 48" to the concrete floor.
    The razor hit the ground on the pivot end of the scales and broke off.
    One side of the scale (about an 1" long) at the pivot shattered into pieces.:sad024:
    So my 'pristine' original scales now need replacing.:angry019:

    I am discouraged because I was hoping to merely sand & polish this razor back to near-'new' condition with all the original parts.
    Oh well....the 'best laid plans of mice & men..."

    On the plus side (he says, trying to see a silver lining), I can now sand, clean & polish the tang more thoroughly.
    I'll post a pic of the result of the razor mishap when I get the chance.
     
  5. Dapper-in-a-can-man

    Dapper-in-a-can-man and Dad-on-hand

    :eek: you're doing great though man! Keep up the good work.
     
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  6. 2grubswrestle1

    2grubswrestle1 Active Member

    Sorry for the mishap.......this razor will look awesome when you are done! I am enjoying watching the journey.
     
  7. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    Moderator
    Thank you both for the words of encouragement. :)
    Sometimes it feels like I'm talking to myself here at times—which is okay—but I'm glad to see some members are interested in following my continuing travails. :angelic007:
     
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  8. Stroker

    Stroker Well-Known Member

    Some of us are not talkers but we are good Listeners. :D
     
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  9. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    Moderator
    Oh I know that, Bruce. And I truly do appreciate the shared wisdom of those listeners!

    I wish I was a better listener (my wife will vouch for that!)....
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2014
  10. TSimons

    TSimons not allowed near railroad tracks

    I'm still on the fence about restoring a straight razor myself, so I enjoy reading about your progress. Its disappointing to hear the scales need replacement, I do enjoy an original restore but now the razor becomes that much more a part of you.
     
    HolyRollah likes this.
  11. SDK

    SDK it's his fault

    I am officially watching this too, so your audience is growing. :eatdrink047:

    I am hoping to have my first straight within the next week or two, and also enjoy working with my hands. I think straights have more to offer the amateur craftsman than safety razors.

    Enjoying the show so far. Now you need to turn lemons into lemonade, and dig up an awesome set of replacement scales for that bad boy!
     
    HolyRollah likes this.
  12. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    Moderator
    Thanks.
    Here's a shot of the first 'lemon'…..:sad023:
    [​IMG]
    That's all the pieces I could find. There were countless tiny (!) bits so my hopes of re-glueing it back together didn't last long.
    I didn't realize how brittle these old scales can be. I had just received in the mail an 8oz container of NeatsFoot oil to soak these particular scales. Oh well….
    This is a work-in-progress, obviously, but it is educational. Not all lessons are fun, however, but I'm now a bit wiser in handling these razors and those delicate scales that hold them.
     
  13. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    Moderator
    I found an online source for black horn scales. The price is right, but I'm a bit concerned they may not be large enough to accommodate the overall length of this blade.
    Here are the 'new' potential scales with specs:
    [​IMG]

    Here is the blade, with overall dimensions (blade end to pinhole; old scales: pinhole to pinhole), plus the dimensions (pin to pin) of the proposed 'new' scales.
    Would I be cutting it too close with the pin placement of these new scales. Perhaps someone with infinitely more experience then me (Glen? @gssixgun ) can advise? :signs002: A .118"(3mm) difference (less) in pin location.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Dapper-in-a-can-man

    Dapper-in-a-can-man and Dad-on-hand

    I wouldn't chance it honestly. 3mm is a lot. If I were to make 3mm jumps in gauging my ears, you would be able to tell a HUGE difference in. That's the only comparison I have :p ask them if they can customize some for ya!
     
  15. nsomnac

    nsomnac Active Member

    Theoretically, pinholes on scales are like a machined part and should have pretty tight tolerances. As long as there is no play in the pins, 1mm clearance should be fine. If you have more than 1mm - 2mm slop in that pin, I'd think you would have bigger issues.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2014
  16. Jamie Mahoney

    Jamie Mahoney Well-Known Member

    It's a pretty quick fix, first unpin the new scales on the wedge end then you are obviously going to have to file back the wedge until it's nearly but not quite touching the pin hole in the wedge, then re-pin the wedge end if you don't do this the likelihood of the blade hitting the wedge is high, another thing the pins are 1/16 and some of those old Sheffield blades have a much larger pivot hole If this is the case then you are going to have to make a small bush then drill a 1/16 hole in it or otherwise your blade will move back and forth.
     
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  17. Jamie Mahoney

    Jamie Mahoney Well-Known Member

    Another much easier fix grind 3mm mill off the toe of that barbers notch.
     
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  18. battle.munky

    battle.munky Has the menthol.munky on his back!

    Great thread so far Kevin. Keep it coming and that sucks so bad about those original scales.
     
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  19. gssixgun

    gssixgun At this point in time...

    Supporting Vendor
    If I am reading your dimensions correctly BTW only one really counts :) your razor is 120mm from "Pivot hole to Point"

    The new scales are 124 mm from Pivot to Pivot that leaves 3mm of room to fit the wedge, which will need at least 1mm to stay on there so you have a 2mm push which is pretty darn tight :( you are also going to have a stropping issue, look at the pivot end of your old scales, see how they are thinned down to be the same size in height as the razor' tang when the razor was open to a straight stropping position ??? that makes flipping the razor a smooth operation, the new scales are much taller which means that the flip is going to be a bit awkward... Those old razor guys had this down to an art :D don't ever think all these facts come from me, I simply learned from close observation of what the Old Masters made...

    Read Jamie's post #17 it really isn't as radical as it sounds :p but I would pass on the design of the scales vs your tang, adjusting the fit is secondary


    ps; The steel restore is looking very nice and your way of starting with the easiest restores first is exactly the way I began too... SO it must be right hehehehehe
     
  20. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    Moderator
    Good point, Glen. I'm beginning to think that getting those 'new' scales to fit this blade may be more trouble than I am qualified to deal with.

    See the bottom of this post. Am I nuts for trying to build new scales to match the old?

    I see what you mean, Jamie. The pivot hole in this blade is a bit over 1/8" (3.175mm) in diameter. Hmmmm….
    [​IMG]

    My preference is to not alter the blade (reduce the barber's notch) if I can help it. But I see the appeal of going this route.

    Another possible solution: since I have the original scales as templates, I have considered making my own scales to the same dimensions as the originals. More work certainly, but THIS whole process is an educational one. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. ;)
    I have a pair of black buffalo horn blanks coming (6 x 1.5 x .375") so should I decide to go the homemade route, I have that option.
    In theory (and based upon the skills of the person cutting them down—me!), these two blanks can yield four sets of scales— which gives me plenty of scales to practice upon...:D

    [​IMG]
     
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