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I Forge Iron

straight razor

Steve Sells

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new blade I am now working on.  Koa scales just glued up, bolsters are Mokume Gane made of white brass, yellow brass and red copper, no where near finished yet, I started to use white pearl for the scales, but  they cracked so I had to change to this figured Koa.  The blade which has not been added yet is of nickel damascus


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The damascus pattern looks very nice, and the wood doesn't look too bad. I think it fits ok with the whole look.

As a straight razor user, the tail looks somewhat short short, and the tang is definitely too short for a comfortable grip. Your handle will always be in the way and not allow for a good grip or control unless you try to use it like a Kamisori. With no positive stop and no tang though, you would have very little means of keeping the blade from moving while you are holding the handle making for a rather dangerous shave.

What are the dimensions of the blade? Mainly wondering about the width to spine thickness ratio. There is a formula to them to keep the proper bevel angle when honing. I can't tell for certain from the angle of the photos, but the blade looks thin in relation to the width. Generally you are looking for the width to be 3.6 times the thickness at the point where the spine contacts the hone. They are designed this way to rest the spine on the hone to keep the same bevel angle throughout the honing process. (Although a full wedge grind usually requires one layer of tape on the spine to make the secondary bevel.)

It looks like there is a liner in the scales. Is that correct? If so, how do you intend to keep the blade from closing too far? A wedge may not work well with a liner. It would make the scales too thick to flex allowing the wedge to work properly. You can use a spacer in place of the wedge, but you will need to taper the tang near the pivot pin so the scale opening is thinner at the pin allowing the spine on the toe of the razor to catch and prevent the edge from coming through the bottom of the scales. You will need the taper with a spacer or a wedge.

But again, I do really like the pattern you have in the blade. It does look stunning. Out of curiosity, what is the grind on the blade? My personal preference for use is a quarter hollow to a full hollow grind, but from the few I've made, they are an absolute pain in the behind to grind evenly on a single wheel. I haven't managed a full hollow with my grinding setup, but a quarter hollow is tough enough to do.

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This is my first attempt at a straight razor.   It has a low layer count 1095 and pure nickel 4 3/8 inch blade from plunge to tip, 1 inch wide, and a little over 1/8 thick at spine and tang which is 1 1/8 inch long.  Slack belt for back profile, and 44 inch radius platen for the inside arch.

Will use an 11 gauge spacer between scales on end running about 1.5 inch along the bottom opposite pivot to prevent pass through and for keeping the scales spaced properly.  Liners are of 16 gauge steel sheet.  I am using a corby rivet of yellow brass for the pivot in the bolster, made of White brass (Nickel silver) Yellow brass and Red copper. to be etched after I finish grinding down the heads of the corby rivets.  The end pin is to be of white brass

Scales are less than 3/16 inch thick,  glued in place and are of fiddle back Koa wood, will be oiled because they arrived non-stabilized, even tho I thought they were stabilized when I bought them :(

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As I said, and not afraid to say it again, it is a great looking pattern weld. A few suggestions if you decide to do another one. Most, not all, but a general blade length is around 3 inches on a straight. Of course there is no hard fast rule on this, it's just more of an ease of use type of thing.

On a one inch wide blade, optimally you would want closer to 0.278 inches for your spine thickness. Remember though that is measured from the point of the spine that contacts the hone though. So say for example you put a hollow grind on the blade and stopped the hollow grind 1/16 from the back of the spine. Generally, the top of the grind is where you will contact the hone, so you would figure from that point. So a 1 inch overall width blade with 1/16 between where your hone contact is and the back would be 0.260 for thickness. If you left 1/8 inch on the same 1 inch oaw, your thickness should finish at 0.243.

The radius platen should give you a nice "near wedge" profile that is liked by many. My personal preference for use is the more flexible hollow grinds, but there is nothing wrong with the wedge/near wedge profiles. My biggest concern with the design you have is the lack of a tang for gripping the razor. Obviously not as big of a concern if this is more of a proof of concept type of thing, but for use it may prove to be a little difficult. Generally, (and again, no hard set rules for this, just common practice) you have room to pinch grip the razor tang with the thumb and two fingers between the blade and the handle scales using a third finger after the scales on the tail to hold the scales out of the way and increase control of the razor.  It also provides a needed place to grip and flip the razor while stropping that won't interfere. 

I usually use 1/16 brass pin stock for pinning razors, but that is just me. When peening the ends, I can actually adjust the centering slightly to ensure it closes on center. I have seen screws, corby screws, and different size pins for this also, so it's a bit of user/maker preference there. When I make wood scales, I try to finish them out at around 1/8 to 3/16 thickness. It keeps them light and in balance with the blade.

Your spacer on the end sounds fine, just be cautious if you extend it along the bottom. A properly honed straight razor has an edge fine enough that it will cut a hanging hair cleanly. A hollow grind razor is thin enough that you can flex it with a fingernail. So it doesn't take much at all to damage that edge. That's why a lot of razors you see have a wedge. As you close the razor, the taper on the tang at the pivot pin along with the wedge in the other end actually work to open the scales as you are closing the razor helping to keep them clear of the edge. A spacer will definitely work. I've seen many with them and have done it myself, you just need to use extra care ensuring you have the blade centered.

Have you ever used CA finish? I've seen great results using it and it makes a very durable waterproof finish. It is beyond my patience level though and I always make a mess trying to do it, but it is a great finish for applications like shave brush handles and razor scales.

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thanks for the input,  as I said its my first try at this. Partly oversized on standard for ease of photography for the book.   I hate doing CA finishes,  not so bad with the 60 second slow set gel I use but still annoying. I decided to do something different for the friction folder in my new book, so did the razor profile.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Love the pattern. Really interesting composition! I’m also in the wet shaving community - I share the hesitation on the monkey tail. That will likely be an issue for grip due to size and geometry, but you never know unless you experiment! That Koa has a lot going on - I quite like it.

Let us know how it shaves!

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