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Going from knives to razors

Discussion in 'Razors, Scissors, & Personal Grooming' started by TigFur, Dec 25, 2016.

  1. TigFur


    Oct 25, 2016
    I need a little help, well lets start with a short story...

    Since i only shave once in a while, my hairs always get stuck in between the blades of usual razors, which is very annoying. Electric razors either dont cut longer beards at all or dont shave very smoothly. (talking about 2-10mm length mostly)

    I like knives a lot so i was thinking to learn to shave myself with a knife however, im poor so i didnt have too many knives to choose from. A big 30Cm D2 knife or Opinel nr.7 carbon were my choices.

    I decided for the opinel and mirror sharpened it with around 10° per side to get as much sharpness out of it as possible. i could split a hair by length after stropping and started shaving with my usual foam. Cleaning cut hairs was much easier, and the shave very comfortable, even though i had to pay a lot of attention especially around my ear with the curved tip.
    when i was done with half of my face the Opinel started to tug significantly, i tried to strop it but it didnt help too much. i didnt have anything else to use so i just dealt with it and shaved anyway (kinda hurts) in the end it was dull, just as i have expected.

    Even with all those complications i found it much better and so i decided to buy 1) a proper knife 2 ) an actual traditional razor

    If there is a knife i could use to shave regulary while also EDCing, ill do that. But i would still probably buy a razor to learn it with a proper tool first.

    Of course being me i was searching for a good steel and everything to make a good quality purchase for a knife leaving me with M390 since i really dont want to deal with rust and like mirror edges.
    "If i can shave with a knife with a 35° angle made from high end steel, then a razor from the same steel must be even more comfortable and i might not even have to strop it" Or so i thought.

    Then i decided to search in my favorite online shop for a razor starting in the lower prices and SURPRISE! There were no informations about steel whatsoever. "well thats with cheap knives the same" i was thinking and so i went to a higher price range.. higher.. and higher..
    Yet the only information there was "high quality stainless/carbon steel" even in thousand dollar price ranges.

    Does the steel of razors not matter at all or whats the deal? This question is the main reason why im here asking it.

    And finally, could you recommend me a good quality cheap razor? what should i look out for/pay attention to, if not steel?
    Anything else i should buy with it?
    (definately stainless, im from europe, budget is around 40$ but i dont mind being talked into something if its worth it, afterall a razor should only be bought once)

    Thank you everyone for your help (i cant believe this is the second thread in this topic) im aware of razor forums existing but i decided to first used the forum im familiar with.
  2. ursamajor


    Oct 27, 2010
    I would get an old Double Edge Gillette Razor. You can get 100 Astra or 100 Personna Blades for around 10 bucks. I use an Old Gillette Black Beauty Twist to open, which is also adjustable.

    If you get an old Twist to open, or even a new one, they will need to be cleaned out somewhat regularly. For that, hit the easy button. I spray my down with Safariland CLP, inside and out. Twist em open and shut a few dozen times, then rinse it out thoroughly with hot water, then drop it in a glass of distilled water for a few minutes.

    Easy peasy.

    And I would recommend shave soaps and a decent Plisson or Plissoft brush, and mug over canned shaving creams or gels. You can get a razor similar to mine, a nice vintage shave mug (I use an old Hazel Atlas Milkglass Shaving Mug...but a Porcelain Cappuccino Mug will work very well also) an awesome Razorock Plissoft Brush, and a puck of shave soap for $40ish all told, if you know where to look.

    I paid $20 for my Gillette, $10 for my mug, and $12 for the brush I'm currently using.

    For soap, I use and love Williams Shaving Soap. Many hate it, because they don't know how to lather it properly. Mind you, I have other creams and butters. But when you learn how to use Williams right, that heavy, tallow based lather is unbeatable. It is heavy, long lasting, and SLICK! The scent is very faint as well.

    If you want a straight razor in addition to that, there are some good shavettes out there, that can hold the same double edged razors that your safety razor uses. They are great for detail work. And again, for around $10 you can get enough quality blades to last you for more than a year. There are some great shavette razors out there than can be had for less than $20.

    I'm not knocking straight razors, but a quality straight razor is going to cost more than $40, and they require a LOT of maintenance.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  3. TigFur


    Oct 25, 2016
    Cool thank you for your tips!
    Yeah straigh razors are more expensive but i wouldnt mind spending more if it was worth it. Maintenance is fine as far as stropping sharpening goes, i do that with my knives as well. I wouldnt want a carbon steel razor that has to be oiled after each use, that would be bothersome
  4. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    Apart from a few custom makers, its very uncommon to find the actual alloy of the steel. Its either stainless or not. The reality is that it doesn't matter, as long as the manufacturer has done their job, and spending more to know what the alloy is, is just a waste of money. Also, unless you plan on storing your razor in a very high humidity environment, carbon or stainless doesn't much matter.

    shaving and knives have very little in common, a comfortable razor will be a terrible EDC and vice-versa. If you do want to go with a straight, then a whipped-dog is likely your best bet on a budget. Good vintage razor at a decent price. If you want to spend a couple hundred, then a Dovo, or similar would be good, but there are many razors on the market that are more for fashion than use, although this has dropped off some as the fad of straight shaving had died down some.

    As for an actual cost breakdown, you should expect to spend around 100usd for the razor, 75USD for a good strop, then either will have to buy stones (several hundred) or pay for honing (there are several good razor honemeisters in Europe, they can be found at straighrazorplace) A used Double edge and 100 blades will run you 50-75USD, and be much less trouble. Don't get me wrong, straight shaving is pretty awesome, but when it comes down to it, you won't save time or money. DE is the cheap way to go.

    As for traffic to this corner of the forum, it just gets less traffic, feel free to ask questions as there are a few of us who will drop in to answer them, there just isn't much to talk about otherwise.
  5. TigFur


    Oct 25, 2016
    Thats very surprising. Its always said "this knife is as sharp as a razor" and i lived with the idea that razor guys know much more about sharpening and steel types than us knife guys, after all razors are some of the sharpest blades in the world. To even go as far as saying that carbon or stainless doesnt matter really surprises me. Is it just the grind that matters then? I mean in knives the difference between k390 and 1095 is very big as far as stropping and edge maintenence. I imaged on a very keen razor edge this would have a much larger impact.

    Anyway thank you for the price breakdown it seems very realistic. Ill have to let it go through my head some more.
  6. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    Carbon vs stainless matters for honing, and a bit for longevity, but use, not so much. temper and geometry make a bigger difference overall. Its not that razor collectors and users don't care, but more that companies like DOVO have been using the same steel for so long its not worth their time to call it something special, kinda like how mora and vic used to be. And since the large bulk of straight razor users are using blades made between 1870 and 1970, there are other things to consider. The shape of the abrasive used to hone can make a difference to the feel, we are talking tolerances on a microscopic level, where final edge really matters, where as which an EDC your overall edge geometry and other factors are going to play a big part in how "sharp" an edge preforms. Its more complex than that to a degree, but in different ways to EDC knives there things like carbide size and stability can be factors one looks for, and to the best of my understanding razors want as little and as small of carbide as possible. Its also very subjective.
  7. TigFur


    Oct 25, 2016
    Yes that all makes sence. So it seems that the modern steels havent got into the world of razors, there is probably very little demand too. Carbide size etc. is what i was looking for in a good steel for a razor. With todays tech like a microclean stainless steel, could need very little maintenence while delivering a good shave i think. I guess what you said for honing explains why razor strops are so expensive while knife strops can be anything. Very interesting
  8. JacksonKnives


    Sep 26, 2006
    It's not just demand, there's also a big difference in the production process. Think about how hard it can be to sharpen a modern high-carbide steel; now imagine how much harder it would be to deep-hollow-grind that same steel after heat treat, how much harder it would be to polish, etc.
    Something like AEBL is super-stable, easy to grind, easy to harden, easy to finish, and still takes an edge like nothing else.

    Is there room for steel that will keep that edge longer? Sure. Custom makers are doing cool stuff with high-end steel (as one might expect.) Even then, though, there's a higher risk of problems like carbide tear-out when you're dealing with razor-thin edges. Still, custom makers work with steels they like and are comfortable finishing; S30V or ATS-34 will show up because it's steel the maker is comfortable with, not because it's ideally suited. (Maybe Phil Wilson is the guy to talk to about high-carbide in a razor...)
  9. LX_Emergency

    LX_Emergency KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 28, 2007
    The problem with high carbide in a razor is that carbides are bigger (this is all "in general"). And on an extremely fine very HARD edge like that of a razor you don't want a coarse structure on the edge even on the micro level. Because that'll make for an uncomfortable shave.

    So what you aim for is a very fine grained, very high hardness steel. M390 might work that is true. But in general you'll be looking for fine grain first and high carbide second.

    For that purpose S30V wouldn't work in a razor because the carbides are too big and would cause tear out at the edge at the extreme angles used on a razor. Make no misstake. Straight razors are sharpened by grinding with the spine on the stone. If I were to make an estimate that would make it around a <5 dps per side edge on an extremely thinly ground blade.

    So the steels that tend to be used for this are things like Silver Steel (a simple carbon steel),1095, 1084, 5160, 52100 The stainless steels used are things like RWL35 and S35Vn (both of which are known to be powder tech steels and very clean and very fine grained.) And 440C etc.

    Fine grain and high hardness are first priorities. Edge retention comes from the high hardness. You have to remember, hair, although tough, isn't very abrasive. So the edge retention on a razor can come primarily from the high hardness and slight flexibility.

    Hope this answers some of your questions.
    bigsurbob likes this.
  10. GotSteel


    Mar 1, 2016
    I would not recommend (if you're going to use a knife as a razor) to carry it for other use unless you do a good job of sterilizing it before shaving (wash with soap & water and then spraying with a hospital grade disinfectant & let it dry (like lysol, it will say on the label), but you might do better with a straight razor, I'm a barber in NY and by law we have to use what are called shavettes, it's basically a replaceable blade straight razor, a holder for a razor blade (the same blades used in double edge razors snapped in 2 or they sell them already halved), reason I recommend this over a double edge is because hairs easily get stuck under the blades of those where with the straight edge it won't, then you just have to find the blades you like best, I use Merkurs almost all the time and Feathers once in a while, Feather's the sharpest but it flexes and is easy to cut yourself with Merkur's the sharpest I've found that has good edge retention and stiffness (for the handle I use this one http://www.mdbarber.com/MD-barber-sicilian-straight-razor-p/md0055.htm (no affiliation) because it's the one I've found that has a good amount of the blade exposed).
  11. Old Traf

    Old Traf Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 1, 2013
    Hobby and small custom makers largely use 1095, O1 in the states and O2 in Europe. 52100 is harder to final grand and hone.
  12. David Martin

    David Martin

    Apr 7, 2008
    TigFur, consider the double edge razor suggestion. As you like stropping. I have used one double edge blade for shaving for 2 years. All I did was strop it every
    4th or 5th shave. You can really get a lot of shaves out of one blade. DM

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