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Basics of Straight Razors

Spine - This is the back of the razor opposite of the cutting edge. 

Tang - This part of the razor helps to raise the blade from the scale and is also used to stabilize the blade while shaving. 

Pivot Pin - This joins the blade with the scale 

Scale (Handle) Material
  • Celluloid - These are the most inexpensive scales, but remain durable and light enough to handle while shaving. 
  • Horn or bone - These are the most exclusive scales available. Bone is an ideal material for scales and does not become warped or deformed with proper care. Horn requires extra maintenance as they are prone to cracking over time. Due to the nature of these materials, no two handles will be an exact match. 
  • Wood - Resin impregnated wood is a durable material that is waterproof and allows for a good balance between the weight of the handle and the blade. 
  • Exotic - Other scales include mother of pearl, bakelite, tortoise-shell and acrylic. The most important aspect of selecting a handle is to learn the most effective way of maintaining it. 
  • * It is possible to find other types of straight razor handles, but those listed above are the most practical due to their weight and durability. Some metal handles tend to be too heavy to maneuver and plastic handles are too flexible.
  • Round - This is the most common blade point for a straight razor. It doesn't have a sharp tip and tends to be more forgiving than the other blades. We recommend this blade for beginners. 
  • Square or Spike - As the name suggests, this blade has a completely square tip with 2 sharp points. With practice, this blade can be used to shave tight spots such as under the nose. 
  • Barber's Notch - The tip of this razor has a small notch that leaves the bottom point contoured to tight spots such as the nose or ears. 
  • Spanish - This blade has a concave tip that resembles the barber's notch. It has a wider notch than the barber's notch. 
  • French - The point takes the shape of a quarter circle with a single sharp point. This blade can also be maneuvered into tight spots.
Blade width - This is measured from the spine of the blade to the cutting edge
  • 3/8" - These are the smallest blades and are recommended for precision trimming and grooming. They are much more narrow and easier to maneuver. 
  • 5/8" - The 5/8" is by the far the most popular size straight razor. It is the most practical in terms of shaving strokes and blade rinse cycles. 
  • 6/8" – Slighter larger than the other blades, the 6/8" is harder to maneuver into tight spots such as under the nose. The advantage of having a larger blade is that it allows more lather to build on the blade between rinsing. Some also believe that the heavier blade adds pressure and gives a closer shave.

Grind - Describes the actual shape of the blade. Different grinds change how the blade sharpens and how sharp the blade will get
  • Straight or wedge - The blades are completely linear and have no concave to them. 
  • Half Hollow - These slightly concaved blades are the safe medium between the straight and full hollow grinds. They are a little stiffer and easier to handle than the full hollow blades 
  • Full Hollow - These blades are the thinnest blade possible. Their concave shape allows them to be the sharpest and most flexible. These ultra sharp blades are the hardest to use and require great caution and expertise.
Blade material 
  • Carbon Steel - These are the more economical blade and are far easier to sharpen. Disadvantages of a carbon steel blade is that it is more prone to rust. 
  • Stainless Steel - Stainless steel blades tend to cost more and are more rust resistant than carbon steel blades, but they are harder to hone.
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