If your straight razor goes bad or gets broken, you can always repair it. The most popular kind of damages you will see on a razor blade are dings or simple chips or when it gets blunt. But there are also severe damages to razor blades like; a broken point or bent blade, all of which can be fixed.
We will be looking at tips and advice on how to repair damaged blades as well as advanced techniques for repairing and improving your blade in this article.
Straight Razor Chips and Dings
There a couple of simple things you can do in order to avoid certain damages to your straight razor like;
- Avoid touching the edges.
- Testing sharpness should be done by shaving hair and not by touching, strumming, or finger nailing the edges.
- Prepare your hair before you use the razor to shave. Shaving dry hair is hard, but shaving wet hair is soft and easy.
- Your razor should be properly stropped. You can click here to see tutorials.
- After using the razor, endeavour to rinse or sanitise it.
Since most of the steel used in making razor blades is stainless, rust isn’t really something to worry about when you rinse or sanitise it. However, modern blades made out of carbon and vintage razors must be kept dry and oiled to avoid rust.
How to Repair Razor Chips and Dings
Using a chipped razor to shave can be very annoying and painful, but this shouldn’t get you worked up. Because every quality straight razor is made such that maintenance can be done on it, restoring the edge isn’t difficult.
In many cases, chips that are caused by dropping can also result in dents. Since these cannot be put be back, you will need to take out the dented area.
To remove a ding or chip from the edge of your razor, you will need to hone it out on a stone. Although it looks like sharpening a knife but honing is a subtle skill that requires special tools and techniques.
How to Sharpen a Blunt Razor Blade
Sometimes after honing with all of the fine stones you know, you still won’t get the result you want, and the razor still can’t cut anything. Then it is time to get a 1,000 or 2,000 grit whetstone. These types of stones can fix just about any issue, and you will hardly ever need a rougher stone than these.
While applying little and equal pressure along the razor's spine, try not to press close to the edge to avoid bending the steel.
Make 20 passes on the stone, then strop your blade and check the edges. If it cuts, then move to the next stone, but if it doesn’t, then repeat the process till it does.
Quality razors can get really smooth edges after using these stones, but rough burrs can make it feel as blunt as a butter knife. It is important to strop the razor’s edges frequently when using rough stones and also check for burrs by feeling the rough patches on the edge with the pad of your finger.
If you can try honing your razor with the technique used for knife sharpening after making hundreds of gentle passes and still get no results. You should be very careful when using this technique because it can damage the edge.
Run the blade back and forth 20 times before flipping to the other side of the razor and repeating the same process. Now check for a burr; it should feel rough and pop all through the edge of the razor. If it doesn’t pop up on the entire edge of the razor, you will have to redo the process until both sides of the razor get a consistent burr all through its edges.
With the basic honing technique, make 20 passes using the same stone to clear out the burr and get a consistent polish on the bevel. Then strop the razor properly before moving to your finer stones.
Be very careful with your stones throughout this process, so you don’t end up bending the razor's edge beyond repairs.
How to Repair Razor Chip Damage
It is the same technique as described above that is used to repair chip damages. No matter how long it takes, ensures that you carefully remove all the chips. With a fine stone, the smallest chip can take days to remove, so we advise you to use a 1,000 or 2,000 grit stone for the job.
If the chip is severe, use a 220 or 400 grit stone for the repair. Do not use softer stones because they will quickly dish. High-end hard stones are the best and most efficient for this purpose.
Many people think that removing large chips is tough, but the fact is it isn’t that difficult. Some would rather use hones to remove these chips, but I prefer to use a grinding wheel, iced water, and a lot of patience.
I would rather use a grinding wheel because I can make changes to some of the blade’s features while fixing the chip. I will take carefully take measurements and calculate the width of the spine to be immediate. I am done grinding down the width of the blade. I will now carefully take out the steel from the spine of the blade so that once I am through with the width of the blade, I can hone the razor freely.
Others may have a different procedure in which they use, but this is the one that works for me all the time. Take note, an ice bath is needed for you to keep plunging the razor into; this is very important because it prevents the loss of steel temper, and this can cause more issues
The eye is needed when doing most of the grinding what this means is, you have to get the blade to a level where you can see with your eyes.
And make sure the blade's cutting edge isn’t pointed in the direction against the wheel; else, the blade will break or get torn from your hand, causing an injury. Let the grinding wheel handle the work; this way, the heat buildup will reduce and give you enough time to do the right thing.
Once the grinding is done, you have to “bread-knife” the blade to get a perfect and straight cutting edge. The whole process is made faster when you grind. Bread-knifing doesn’t spoil any blade; if you can hone perfectly, then you follow up with bread-knifing after you hone the razor. Bread-knifing is used to remove the steel; it doesn’t affect the edges of the razor.
How to Repair Crooked Edge Damage
This is usually fun; if the edge of your razor is not flat, then you ought to, first of all, flatten it before you reset the edges. Place the blade with the edge perpendicular (90-degrees) to the stone’s surface. Scrape it back and forth until you have a perfectly flat edge, then use the same process to hone a blunt razor.
Have it in mind that some razors will go crooked again as soon as you reset the edges. This can be due to imperfections in the blade that can’t be fixed, especially on some older razors.
How to Fix Unusual Bevel Edges
As you go about your daily routine, you may come across a blade that the angle is honed higher than the default spine setting and can make it difficult to hone. The best way to handle it is by using an electric tape and put on the spine to raise the angle and the hone.
Trying to reset it to its default angle will be difficult. This can be done using the same process as you would when honing a blunt blade and you will want to hone on a rougher stone until you get a burr along both sides.
Another thing you should take note of is when working on the bevel, it will look as if it’s rough and scratchy and when you are removing it, it might appear shiny. Watch out for how much is remaining as you grind, as this is a good sign of the amount of steel that is left to be removed.
How to Fix Bent Razor Blades
As a result of poor sharpening, it can cause the entire razor to be bent instead of the edges alone. Try to avoid this from happening.
This isn’t fun at all, and most family heirlooms are simply old razors that have bent with time. You need to consider the amount of steel you want to remove when working with a blade.
You also need to check, which offers more value if it is a functional or beautiful ornament. If you must use it for shaving, you will need to do so with a bend in the blade.
To know if you have a bent blade, lay it flat on either a glass shelf or a stone. The edge will touch some areas of the stone or glass shelf and wouldn’t touch in some other areas. It will bow in one direction. So when you are honing the side the bows outwardly in the middle, a rocking or scooping motion is how you will sharpen the entire edge.
Use a complex version of the diagonal stroke, starting from the edge of the stone, draw all the way down to the toe as you move through the length of the stone. This will enable each part of the entire razor to contact the stone, and the other side can be honed normally.
You should know that the razor can grind more in the areas that have bends, leading to an edge that isn’t straight at all. Always take your time and be very careful.
Should Tape Be Used to Protect the Razor Blade?
When it comes to honing, one of the most debated topics is whether the spine of a razor should be protected or not with electrical tape. The fact is this decision entirely depends on you.
The spine of a razor is designed in such a way that the angle is already set. And as a result of this design, the angle remains consistent regardless of how many years you spent sharpening it.
If you tape it, the angle will slowly increase in thickness as time goes, but the difference isn’t much, and so the decision is entirely up to you. We only hone razors with tapes at our shop if requested by a customer or when polishing beautiful Damascus blades, which is on rare occasions.
How to Avoid Chips in Your Straight Razor Blade
Here are a few tips for adopting to avoid some damages;
- Do not touch the edges.
- After use, rinse, or sanitise the razor.
- Learn how to strop your razor correctly.
- When testing for sharpness, do not touch, strum, or fingernail the edge.
- Prepare your hair for shaving; when the hair is dry is hard, and when wet, it is soft.
Our cascade steel is stainless, and so you don’t have to worry about rust whenever you rinse or sanitise the blade.
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