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Author Topic: 52100 straight razor?  (Read 2080 times)
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Will
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« on: December 05, 2016, 12:53:58 AM »

Since I started shaving with a straight razor I've been itching to make a few.  It turns out they are more complex than I initially considered, but have managed to get a prototype forged and ground.  It's heat treating now.

I'm doing my normal 3x quench/24 hours and temper at 375.  I'm wondering if I should do anything different being it's a razor and not a knife?  Anyway, I figured that this would be a good test as I've got a very coarse beard and normally have to strop my Gold Dollar razor, admittedly a fairly cheap razor, in the middle of shaving and re hone it every other time or three between shaves.  Of all the steels I've played with, 52100 takes the finest edge and sharpens the easiest while holding said edge I've seen, I'm hoping it will translate well to a super thin edge on a razor.

Any razor makers out there I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on this and the steel choice.    

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mreich
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2016, 08:27:16 AM »

Have you ever seen a Japanese straight?

They are very simple, and very effective! Ground like a mini yanagi-ba, super practical.

The handle is not just a stick growing out of the blade, as it appears. I can not describe it, but I can attest to the virtues of their centuries old design.

Incredibly subtle. They certainly don't look ambidextrous, but somehow feel right in either hand.
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Will
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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2016, 10:18:15 AM »

I've looked at them, but never handled one so I'm not sure exactly how the handle is made to fit the hand.  Also, don't like the idea of not being able to fold the blade into the protective handle, or in other words how do you protect the edge?  Most I've looked at have an asymmetrical grind as well.
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Joe Calton
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« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2016, 08:57:07 AM »

I have not made a straight razor. but there are a couple things I can think of that id look out for in making one from making very thin kitchen knives....

do your grinding after heat treat. once you start going thin, heat treat can give you some new things to look for. if the edge is too thin going into the heat for the quench, the edge can cool off enough just in the trip from your heat source to the quench tank that it wont harden as well as if it were thicker. or if you can get it there fast enough, you may have to overheat it to do so, and that can make the edge ripple. id shoot for 1/16" at the edge.

set your grinder up to run with water to keep the blade cool. when you start getting below .010" at the edge, you can damage the steel in a heartbeat, and without seeing a color change. and go very light on the pressure. sharp belts and a really light touch is mandatory when you start getting crazy thin like a razor should be when you are talking about a finished edge in the .002" range at the shoulder of the edge.

warm up on a scrap blade before you grind it. when edges start getting real thin like that, if your presentation of the blade to the belt is a little off, you can grind part of the profile away before the blade settles into the belt.
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Will
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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2016, 10:24:47 AM »

I recently started using a Kool Mist sprayer for grinding post heat treat and it'll keep a blade ice cold during grinding.  I grind a few blades in the hard state, especially folders, and the Kool Mist is a nice addition.

I finished one, it has a 3 1/2" blade, that's about an inch too long, and the 8" wheel for grinding makes about a 1/4 hollow, I'll need to get a 4" or 6" wheel to get the 1/2 or better hollow I'm after.  I didn't have the right stuff for pins or washers so I made do and made a few mistakes while doing the handle, but was in a hurry to try it out.  It shaves well, but needs a thicker and wider blade and deeper hollow to get the flexibility at the edge I want, and the long blade makes it somewhat cumbersome as well.

I tried to post a photo, but message said file was full.
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mreich
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« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2016, 07:18:09 AM »

I've re-handled several straights. I find it much easier and more durable to ream the blade pivot with a 3/32" carbide bit, and not fool with the silly little pins and washers.

I like to use 1/4" canvas micarta for handle material. Alll you have to do is cut out the profile, drill two 3/32" holes, then split it down the middle on the bandsaw. I leave 1/2" or so on the non-pivoting end, and pin it too for looks and added strength.

I always use a taper reamer for the pin holes on all handle material. I like to reuse the thin washers that normally come between the tang and handle material, but if I only have a blade, I don't use washers.

I've never run into any problems with blade alignment that weren't easily solved with careful peening.

This all takes little time and about $1 in material, so if it doesn't come out right just try again.

If I can figure out how to resize a picture I'll post it.
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Will
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« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2016, 11:45:38 AM »

Good suggestions, I did mine with 1/8 mycarta and a tapered mycarta wedge.  The only real issue I had was the pining.  I had one piece of 1/16" stock that I bought years ago from who know's where.  It was butter soft.  I've found a source for the washers and pin stock that's reasonable, so I may do the next one with that.  Or, I've been thinking about using 3/32" like you suggested.  Anyway, the first thing I have to do before starting another is to get a 4" wheel, the difference in edge flexibility between a full hollow and a 1/4 hollow makes for a more pleasant shave.
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