SAFETY RAZORS, STRAIGHT RAZORS & BLADES
There are a lot of razors out there, so let’s clear up the mystery. A straight razor is the oldest and most notorious razor out there. Sometimes referred to as a straight edge or knife, the straight razor has been given a bad rap thanks to horror movies like Sweeney Todd. This type of razor consists of a single, permanent blade that folds down into its scales, or handle. A straight razor is sharpened using stones once every 60 or so shaves and is then stropped on a piece of leather, or strop, each time it is used. The younger brother of the straight razor is referred to as the Safety Razor, deemed such since it is in fact safer than a straight razor. The 2 main types of Safety razors are double edged and single edged (DE’s and SE’s). Both types take single replaceable blades and are shaped more like the razors common today, like a T. Single edged razors have one cutting edge on the side of the head while double edged razors have 2 cutting edges, one on each side of the razor head. SE and DE safety razors are fairly similar in operation, but DE’s are more common. There are more divisions and varieties of razors, but these are the basic classifications.
At The Copper Hat we have collected and tested razors in every category, and we are always happy to answer any questions you may have. Below is a detailed description of each type of razor. Please note that we carry a mix of vintage and brand new razors; we do so to keep our prices reasonable and because we know that our vintage razors have stood the test of time for decades and still perform like the day they were originally purchased. Because they do have history on their side, however, some of our vintage razors are not looking as shiny as they used to. For that reason we offer re-plating services to return them to their original sheen.
Double Edged Razors
Double edged razors (DEs) differ from razors available at the drug store because their precision comes from the weight and angle of the razor, rather than the number of blades. While newer cartridge razors may boast multiple blades, they often contribute to sloppy technique that can leave you with razor burn and ingrown hairs. When the first of multiple blades drags the shaving cream in front of it, the remaining blades actually dry shave the skin; not something you are looking for in a good shave. Our razors are a perfect example of quality over quantity.
The 2 sided double edged blades allow double the shaving time before rinsing and generally last for 4 to 7 shaves. Our razors range in age from brand new to almost 100 years old and were built to stand the test of time. They make excellent daily shavers and are very inexpensive to maintain (see Blades to purchase), not to mention beautiful additions to your shave den. DEs typically come in 2 styles: 3 piece and twist-to-open. It is very simple to put a new blade into either style of DE. With a twist-to-open you simply twist the lower portion of the handle and the head of the razor (silo door style) opens up. To open a 3 piece you just twist the head of the razor until it comes off of the handle and place the blade between the 2 head plates.
DEs are fantastic for any experience level shaver and are one of the styles that we most often recommend for new wet shavers. Most DEs place the blade at an angle that is very easy to shave with, and those that have more extreme angles are listed as such in our descriptions.
All of our double edged razors take standard double edged blades. We stock a number of different brands of blades and recommend trying a variety of them. Every shaver reacts differently to particular blades and it is a good idea to try a few to pin point your best combination. For example, double edged “Feather” blades are extremely sharp (yes, all blades are very sharp, but these guys reach a new level), so we recommend getting some experience with other blades first. On the other hand, some people prefer an extremely sharp blade, so they may want to start right off with Feather. To make this easier, we also offer sample packs so you can try a bit of this and a bit of that before you choose a favourite.
Please remember that the blades we sell are individually wrapped, but are still very dangerous if not unwrapped
carefully. Make sure you never touch the sharp edge of the blade (remember, DE blades have 2 sharp edges) and always dispose of used blades in a sealed container marked “sharps”, or better yet, in a handsome blade bank (see ACCESSORIES).
The single edged razor (SE) is another option for shavers who prefer not to use a straight razor. SEs in our store come in 2 major categories that are really quite different: regular and injector. Both use a blade with one edge that lasts 4 to 7 shaves and tend to be slightly more aggressive than our double edged razors. Regular SEs are very straightforward to reload; you simply open the hinged head plate, pop a blade in, and close it. The angle of the head can present a challenge for new wet shavers; while those with some experience boast the regular SE shave as being superb.
The other SE style is the Injector razor. This type of razor requires a blade injector (available in the BLADES section) to push an old blade out while simultaneously inserting the new one. We love the injector razor because it is very easy to use and light weight. This style of razor is excellent for women because its ease of use provides excellent control on hard to reach/see areas and long straight aways.
Like double edged razors, our SEs make excellent daily razors and are very inexpensive to maintain. They differ from razors available at the drug store because their precision comes from the weight and angle of the razor, rather than the number of blades. Remember, multiblades act like little snowploughs, dragging the shave soap off of your skin. Say no to dry shaving, say no to multiblade cartridges.
These razors may conjure up images of horror movies, but in reality, a straight razor is an important skin care tool. If you ask a straight razor shaver why they do it, they will most likely tell you it is because they could never go back to anything else: the straight razor shave is an extremely close shave. Unlike most razors, straights do not use replaceable blades. The blade of a straight razor is generally sharpened using sharpening stones and pastes every 60 shaves (this varies person to person depending on coarseness of hair, type of razor, etc), like a knife. To keep a straight razor blade in optimal condition, it should be cared for by stropping it before (and for some people) after each shave. Your straight razor shaving and care techniques may be different than other peoples’, but we highly recommend that you do your research before using a straight razor if you are inexperienced. Better yet, find a barber in your area who specializes in straight shaving and treat yourself; once you learn and practice the techniques yourself you will never go back!
Some straight razor terms: A strop is the piece of leather used in the process of stropping a razor, or realigning the fine burrs on its shaving edge. The width of the razor is measured in inches (ex: 3/8″). Very wide (7/8″) and very narrow (3/8″) blades can be a bit of a challenge to wield, so we generally recommend 5/8″ or 6/8″ for first time straight shavers. The scales of a straight razor are what some would call the handle; the material that protects the blade when the razor is closed. Some of our straight razors have been restored by talented craftsmen while others are listed as-is with the option of a custom restoration. If you have any questions about straight razors or restorations, please let us know.
A Quick How To
Remember, your Copper Hat razor is probably a lot heavier than the one you bought at the drug store. Because of its weight, your razor will easily do the work for you; be sure not to push your razor down onto your skin or hold it too tightly. The best way to hold a double/singled edged or injector razor is to grasp it at the very end of the handle with your thumb and a few fingers. For men, it is best to start by shaving the entire face with the grain. Usually one pass will achieve optimal smoothness, but if another pass is needed, we recommend re-lathering the entire face and shaving once more across the grain. For many women, however, shaving against the grain on the first (and usually only) pass works just fine. Straight razors are a bit of a different story; please contact us for straight razor how-to information.