08-18-2014, 07:41 AM
#1
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I've read some posts concerning taping a spine that are a bit misleading. Some that are more than a "bit" and just flat out wrong.
Math will dispel what is happening when a spine is taped. It's quite easy to calculate bevel angles and know what has happened.
Here is an example which I'll use as a base model. Measurements of the spine width is .20. The width of the blade from the hone line to the edge is .70. I am not measuring the overall width of the blade. Just from the hone line as this is what calculates the angle formed at the edge.
.20 spine, .70 width gives a bevel angle of 16.4 degrees.

Now lets say this very blade had chips etc. along the edge and to clean it up I remove 1/8th inch from the edge.
To reestablish the proper angle some suggested taping the spine.
This is completely wrong!
Here is why.
If I did nothing to this blade but maintain the same width spine at .20 and the effective width of the blade is now .57 then my angle,, nothing else being done is now up to 20.2 degrees.
Taking off width INCREASES THE BEVEL ANGLE.
Now the worst thing I could do would be to add tape.
Here is why.
Adding tape increases the spine width to .215. Using .57 as the new narrower width gives me a bevel angle of 21.55 !
That's unacceptable.

What should be done to a blade where width has been narrowed is to take material OFF the spine on both sides to reestablish the proper bevel angle. In this case the spine would have to be THINNED to approx. .16 in width if the width of the blade is now .57. This gives me an angle now of 16.1 degrees.

Adding tape increases bevel angles.
If I were to add tape to the now narrowed blade wrongly thinking it would reestablish 'Proper Geometry" I'd be going in the WRONG direction.
Adding tape as I showed gives a new angle of 21.5 degrees instead of the original 16.4
Most razors shave best with an angle around this measurement. The closer you get to 19-20 the worse it gets.
Now as to the topic of a Wedge type blade and the quest for a nice thin bevel by adding layers of tape to achieve this.
It's silly.
Why?
Well think about it. On a full hollow you'll naturally get a thin bevel. You have to since the metal is so thin. On a wedge there is much thicker metal and you'll NATURALLY have a wide bevel. It has NOTHING to do with shave quality since the angles will be the same.
If I had two razors. One being a full hollow and the other a wedge and the overall measurements were the same , meaning spine thickness and width. The full hollow would have a very thin bevel and the wedge a large bevel.
It has nothing to do with removing metal that doesn't need to be removed.
To achieve the same bevels the width has to vary depending on the type of blade being honed.
Adding tape to get a thin bevel only increases the bevel angle and all this does is make the razor appear to have a nice thin bevel. Who cares? The angle is all wrong.

Think about it. If you put a 16 degree angle on a chef knife and you put that same angle on a thick axe,,, the axe will have a bevel that is extremely wide. But it's the same angle.

If you tape up that thick axe so you can get a nice thin edge you'll have a blunt tool just for the sake of a thin edge bevel.
If that's your quest,, you're going the wrong direction.

To summarize. Not taping on a given blade will , as some pointed out, give a sharper edge. Sure. It has to. The bevel angle is less.
Add tape and you increase the bevel angle.
Take away width on a blade such as will happen when removing chips and you INCREASE the bevel angle. Taping makes it worse.
If you remove width of a blade,,,, you need to thin the spine. NOT increase it by adding tape.

One other thing that hasn't been addressed is the appearance of variations along the edge where the width of the bevel can increase.
This may not always be the result of warped blades, improper honing etc.
Many times it's simply variations of blade thickness along the length of the razor. Using a vernier or micrometer will tell you this very quickly. It's not uncommon for these old blades to not be ground to precise thicknesses along their length." Hey, It's Friday and I want to get out of here so I'll just make quick passes on these blades to call it a day"
The result? Uneven thicknesses which will show up as bevel widths that vary from toe to heel, or show up in the middle of the blade etc.
It happens more than you think.

Oh and by the way. All parameters being equal and adding say 3 layers of tape to my hypothetical wedge increases the bevel angle to well over 22 degrees. That's just bad for the sake of having a bevel that looks nice and thin.

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 08-18-2014, 08:01 AM
#2
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Personally I think you are over thinking it I tape the spine purely because I do not wish to take any metal off the spine and preserve the razor I hone many razors weekly from full hollows to quarter hollows and wedges and all I know I prefer the way the edge and bevel size is with tape than without it. PS show me a NOS razor with a big wide bevel I've owned NOS Wade & Butches and they had small bevels so why should they all of a sudden have larger bevels when someone else hones them? I myself have had wedges in for restoration with large uneven bevels they are from years of honing the razor without any tape on the spine and year on year the bevel gradually starts to creep up the blade, and the only way to correct this is by taping the spine with at least 2 layers of tape bringing the spine back somewhere to it's original thickness.

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 08-18-2014, 08:16 AM
#3
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Overthinking?
In reality not taping a spine , if the angle is correct, over time the razor will maintain the correct geometry.
This happens because material is being taken off from both the spine AND edge at the same time.
Taping will prevent spine wear and only allow the edge to gradually recede thereby effectively increasing the edge angle.

But over thinking? I'd rather give a little thought to what I'm changing on a razor when taping than just willy nilly adding it for no valid reason. I don't so much care how an edge LOOKs as much as how it shaves.
And the way to determine that is very simple.

But adding tape to a narrower blade is simply the wrong thing to do if you think about it. And that's what I did. I thought about it .
And it's not valid .
So much for thinking 'eh?

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 08-18-2014, 08:24 AM
#4
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(08-18-2014, 07:41 AM)mycarver Wrote: I've read some posts concerning taping a spine that are a bit misleading. Some that are more than a "bit" and just flat out wrong.
Math will dispel what is happening when a spine is taped. It's quite easy to calculate bevel angles and know what has happened.
Here is an example which I'll use as a base model. Measurements of the spine width is .20. The width of the blade from the hone line to the edge is .70. I am not measuring the overall width of the blade. Just from the hone line as this is what calculates the angle formed at the edge.
.20 spine, .70 width gives a bevel angle of 16.4 degrees.

Now lets say this very blade had chips etc. along the edge and to clean it up I remove 1/8th inch from the edge.
To reestablish the proper angle some suggested taping the spine.
This is completely wrong!
Here is why.
If I did nothing to this blade but maintain the same width spine at .20 and the effective width of the blade is now .57 then my angle,, nothing else being done is now up to 20.2 degrees.
Taking off width INCREASES THE BEVEL ANGLE.
Now the worst thing I could do would be to add tape.
Here is why.
Adding tape increases the spine width to .215. Using .57 as the new narrower width gives me a bevel angle of 21.55 !
That's unacceptable.

What should be done to a blade where width has been narrowed is to take material OFF the spine on both sides to reestablish the proper bevel angle. In this case the spine would have to be THINNED to approx. .16 in width if the width of the blade is now .57. This gives me an angle now of 16.1 degrees.

Adding tape increases bevel angles.
If I were to add tape to the now narrowed blade wrongly thinking it would reestablish 'Proper Geometry" I'd be going in the WRONG direction.
Adding tape as I showed gives a new angle of 21.5 degrees instead of the original 16.4
Most razors shave best with an angle around this measurement. The closer you get to 19-20 the worse it gets.
Now as to the topic of a Wedge type blade and the quest for a nice thin bevel by adding layers of tape to achieve this.
It's silly.
Why?
Well think about it. On a full hollow you'll naturally get a thin bevel. You have to since the metal is so thin. On a wedge there is much thicker metal and you'll NATURALLY have a wide bevel. It has NOTHING to do with shave quality since the angles will be the same.
If I had two razors. One being a full hollow and the other a wedge and the overall measurements were the same , meaning spine thickness and width. The full hollow would have a very thin bevel and the wedge a large bevel.
It has nothing to do with removing metal that doesn't need to be removed.
To achieve the same bevels the width has to vary depending on the type of blade being honed.
Adding tape to get a thin bevel only increases the bevel angle and all this does is make the razor appear to have a nice thin bevel. Who cares? The angle is all wrong.

Think about it. If you put a 16 degree angle on a chef knife and you put that same angle on a thick axe,,, the axe will have a bevel that is extremely wide. But it's the same angle.

If you tape up that thick axe so you can get a nice thin edge you'll have a blunt tool just for the sake of a thin edge bevel.
If that's your quest,, you're going the wrong direction.

To summarize. Not taping on a given blade will , as some pointed out, give a sharper edge. Sure. It has to. The bevel angle is less.
Add tape and you increase the bevel angle.
Take away width on a blade such as will happen when removing chips and you INCREASE the bevel angle. Taping makes it worse.
If you remove width of a blade,,,, you need to thin the spine. NOT increase it by adding tape.

One other thing that hasn't been addressed is the appearance of variations along the edge where the width of the bevel can increase.
This may not always be the result of warped blades, improper honing etc.
Many times it's simply variations of blade thickness along the length of the razor. Using a vernier or micrometer will tell you this very quickly. It's not uncommon for these old blades to not be ground to precise thicknesses along their length." Hey, It's Friday and I want to get out of here so I'll just make quick passes on these blades to call it a day"
The result? Uneven thicknesses which will show up as bevel widths that vary from toe to heel, or show up in the middle of the blade etc.
It happens more than you think.

Oh and by the way. All parameters being equal and adding say 3 layers of tape to my hypothetical wedge increases the bevel angle to well over 22 degrees. That's just bad for the sake of having a bevel that looks nice and thin.

You are of course correct . I thought that went without saying.

Taping a spine is usually a cosmetic thing. Rarely needed unless the blade has been honed improperly.

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 08-18-2014, 08:30 AM
#5
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Oh I do tape spines. And for the simple reason you stated. I restore a razor and I'll ship it without scratches etc.
Cosmetic.
Once the client has it it's up to them how they hone it when needed. And any degree of difference at that point is easily overcome if no tape is used or they continue on with the practice .

(08-18-2014, 08:01 AM)Jamie Mahoney Wrote: Personally I think you are over thinking it I tape the spine purely because I do not wish to take any metal off the spine and preserve the razor I hone many razors weekly from full hollows to quarter hollows and wedges and all I know I prefer the way the edge and bevel size is with tape than without it. PS show me a NOS razor with a big wide bevel I've owned NOS Wade & Butches and they had small bevels so why should they all of a sudden have larger bevels when someone else hones them? I myself have had wedges in for restoration with large uneven bevels they are from years of honing the razor without any tape on the spine and year on year the bevel gradually starts to creep up the blade, and the only way to correct this is by taping the spine with at least 2 layers of tape bringing the spine back somewhere to it's original thickness.

You are not "correcting" anything . Because nothing is wrong or needs correcting. What you are seeing is the natural progression of honing where the same angle is being maintained.
On a near wedge type blade the spine is thinning thereby making the bevel wider which it would have to do .
Adding tape doesn't "correct" it but merely serves to increase the bevel angle by thickening the spine, tilting the blade a bit more so the abrasive action of the stones occurs loser to the edge.
That's what you're doing if you think about it .
No correction is happening.

And if you would consider a full wedge blade for a moment you'd realize te entire width of the blade is effectively the bevel. It's a giant wedge!
A quarter hollow naturally will have a very wide bevel as there is only a shallow depression as opposed to a full hollow where only a very thin sliver of metal is being removed .

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 08-18-2014, 08:42 AM
#6
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Of course you are correct Mark. But as you do agree the question of cosmetics does come into play. If a spine is decorative I will tape. I also have a couple gunmetal finished blades (as you know) and not using tape on the spine of those will remove the finish at the spine point as well.

If the edge is chipped, you basically are forced to not use tape to keep the angle correct. If there is a way without using tape to keep particular finishes on a blade I am all ears.

You are 100% correct, not taping the spine is the only way to keep the blade angle near the original although even this will change for the negative over time. I am just not certain how else to maintain certain finishes or decorations without tape.

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 08-18-2014, 09:11 AM
#7
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(08-18-2014, 08:42 AM)wingdo Wrote: Of course you are correct Mark. But as you do agree the question of cosmetics does come into play. If a spine is decorative I will tape. I also have a couple gunmetal finished blades (as you know) and not using tape on the spine of those will remove the finish at the spine point as well.

If the edge is chipped, you basically are forced to not use tape to keep the angle correct. If there is a way without using tape to keep particular finishes on a blade I am all ears.

You are 100% correct, not taping the spine is the only way to keep the blade angle near the original although even this will change for the negative over time. I am just not certain how else to maintain certain finishes or decorations without tape.

Yes. As I said in my post I DO tape spines for purely cosmetic reasons. Gold washes, file worked, blackened blades etc. as well as blades I just restored to keep them
looking pristine when they reach a clients hands.
But I will never add layers of tape to achieve a narrower bevel which is useless or do it with the notion that I'm correcting something. That's not a correction if you think about it.

These two blades ,one a full hollow DD Goldedge and the other a near wedge Greaves have nearly the exact same bevel angle at 15.5. Sort of the sweet spot.
What's the difference in bevel width?
Metal thickness because of the grind of the blade.
Now if I were to tape up the spine on the near wedge to have it have a thin bevel it would have an angle well over 20 degrees if not closer to 25.
Let's just call that a hatchet. But it would have a thin bevel .
Tape would be a massive mistake to make.



[Image: hmazZxF.jpg]

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 08-18-2014, 10:15 AM
#8
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And here is an example of a situation I described earlier of uneven metal thickness.

Some might say uneven stone wear. Bad honing technique . Rocking the blade or whatever.
But none of them are true.
My micrometer told me the metal is just thicker where the bevel gets wider in spots.
As you can see the bevel is even on the other side. So if I wanted to fix this to get an even bevel I'd have to sand the blade on just the one side TTO make the thickness even from tie to heel.
Even so. The angle is exactly the same over the length regardless of the width of the bevel varying at spots.
By the way. That's not pitting but beads if oil you see along the spine and upper blade.

[Image: ApRtu1m.jpg]

[Image: U2pCCct.jpg]

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 08-18-2014, 10:19 AM
#9
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Excellent visuals Mark!!!

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 08-18-2014, 12:43 PM
#10
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
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I think if you are honing a new razor, NOS razor or even a used razor with normal hone the geometry should be normal. Then using tape on the spine means literally nothing and is a personal choice.

OTH as you say if you decrease the size of the blade as in fixing chips W/O thinning the spine you wind up with bad geometry.

I have run into razors, one wedge in particular, that had worse than normal hone wear and that put the geometry off as the spine was narrower that it should have been for the size blade that building up the spine with tape helped get it back to a proper bevel angle.

So, I do agree that you have to watch when you use tape but if your razor has normal geometry it is a moot point whether it makes any great difference with or without tape.

If the blade is iffy then doing the measurements and calculation is a must to see where you are before starting. I am guessing that there is a + or = of 2 dgrees from an ideal bevel angle where you are in the acceptable range for shaving. For a razor in decent condition that should be more than enough lee way for using tape or not if you prefer.

Bob

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 08-18-2014, 01:00 PM
#11
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Of course . New razors aren't an issue.
Right now on my bench I have a W&B American Eagle wedge that is showing tons of hone wear and a very wide bevel.
But a quick measurement shows a great angle right around 16.

Excessive hone wear isn't necessarily a bad thing. If it calculates out within reason there is no reason to think the razor is shot or that it needs tape.

Like I said. If they wear properly all is OK and it will still be a fine shaving razor. Might look a bit worse for wear but it'll work just fine.

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 08-18-2014, 08:35 PM
#12
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OK why wasn't the large bevel there when the razor was produced? because the spine was thicker now due to hone ware the bevel is now much wider and totally not in keeping with the original angle and bevel that was put on there when the razor was first produced.

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 08-19-2014, 12:04 AM
#13
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(08-18-2014, 08:35 PM)Jamie Mahoney Wrote: OK why wasn't the large bevel there when the razor was produced? because the spine was thicker now due to hone ware the bevel is now much wider and totally not in keeping with the original angle and bevel that was put on there when the razor was first produced.

Well If you think about it you'd realize that as the spine and the edge wear the natural result would be for the bevel width to increase.
It has to.
And it's especially more obvious on blades that aren't full hollows but ones that are say half or quarter hollows and especially wedge type blades.

And if you'd think about it you'd realize that a razor is two right triangles stuck back to back.
Once you decrease the height of a right triangle you also need to decrease the hypotenuse to maintain the same angle.
Hence hone wear!
Along with a corresponding decrease in blade width.

This is basic grade school geometry.

And you can't ignore the basic laws of geometry just to suit your tastes.

And if you think about it , adding tape to a blade that is wearing will only serve to increase the bevel angle.

So anyone who is concerned with how wide a bevel is hasn't taken any of this into consideration .
And as a blade that is thicker and heavier than a full hollow will by the inherent design of the piece show wider and wider bevels as they near a full wedge.

There too as an extreme example , if you'd think about it , the entire width of the blade is the actual bevel!

So that is why thinking that taping a razor with hone wear is reestablishing the original angles is NOT true if all other factors remain the same.

Again, basic geometry. You reduce the height of a right triangle you need to reduce the length of the hypotenuse to maintain the same angle. You can't ignore that fact . That would just be foolish .

If you've reduced the hypotenuse ( take metal off an edge to remove chips for example)
The worst advice you could give would be to add tape with the misguided thought you're correcting the angle. You're not . You're making it worse.

And the other thing you're not considering with new vs. old blades is that as any razor wears and the blade width is decreased the natural occurrence will be for the bevel width to INCREASE.
It has to.

You can't ignore geometry and blade design and what will happen naturally as a razor wears just to suit an idea of how wide a bevel should be or look like.

Anyone who is concerned with that or considers a blade well honed because it has a thin bevel is just missing the point.
The better question to ask is " what's the angle?"
Bevel width has nothing to do with that.

And if you can't answer that question ....... Well.

So much for overthinking an elementary question.

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 08-19-2014, 02:01 AM
#14
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
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I always thought this was a good explanation of how to hone a wedge http://www.coticule.be/wedges.html . It also has a handy downloadable angle calculator which is a blessing for lazy Grade 9 educated types like me self. It also shows the differences between full hollow and wedge blades.

Pretty handy for checking out old used blades to see if the bevel angle is within spec. For old used blades and new ones that are in spec for bevel angle using or not using tape matters a tinkers damn and that usually is the majority of the time from what I can see.

If you do the calculation and the razor is out of spec for bevel angle it will give you a good idea of what is wrong and possibly how to correct it.

Bob

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 08-19-2014, 02:23 AM
#15
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Very good link Bob and I like this part in particular.

To Tape Or Not To Tape?

The reason to plea for the use of tape when honing wedge style razors, is because tape adds more clearance between the blade and the hone. This allows for a narrower bevel with cleaner boundaries. It not only looks better, but is also easier to sharpen and to maintain. Let's look at the second illustration in the left column. We see an exaggerated representation of irregularities in the grind of a razor. Honed without tape, there is only a very shallow angle between the hone and the body of the razor. As a result the slightest imperfections show up as an amplified curve in the boundary of the produced bevel. With a slightly raised "taped" honing angle, we can see a clear improvement in straightness of the boundary and a narrower bevel.
A word of caution: while tape - as long as we stay below the 20 degrees threshold - adds the benefit of cleaner and narrower bevels, we must pay careful attention to the attachment of the tape. (see the third illustration) On hollow ground razors, tape folds around the spine, beefing it up without much demand for symmetry of application. With wedges we have to pay closer attention: the razor often rests on the rim of the tape and that calls for very symmetric application. Results may very well vary depending on the width of the chosen tape.
The easiest way to apply tape in a balanced manner, is to put the piece of tape, glue-side up, on the table and aim the blade, edge up, precisely in the middle of the tape. Lift the razor with the tape up and fold both sides around the spine. Repeat for every additional

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 08-19-2014, 02:38 AM
#16
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
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I duuno, personally the to tape or not tape a spine controversies are for the most part a tempest in a tea pot. I'd also bet that the times when taping a spine will bite you in the butt are a rare thing but they do exist. The exception does not prove the rule.

Bob

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 08-19-2014, 07:27 AM
#17
  • geezer
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  • Menomonie, Western WI
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Thank you all for posting information...Always a good thing to help validate our experience and /or improve our performance.
~Richard

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 08-19-2014, 07:38 AM
#18
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Oh, you're right Bob.
It doesn't matter to me one way or the other. But when advice is given where a blade width is reduced , taping will not restore the proper geometry. That was my first point.

Or where over time when a razor is showing some hone wear and the bevel is getting wider taping will not restore the geometry either.
That was my second point. Taping in this case will not ever restore the angle even if the goal is to have what once was a narrow bevel .
It can't , it won't and will never happen.

But a comparison is constantly made to a new razor. That's apples and oranges. You can't compare a new razor to the ones generally restored that are showing wear.

Using a new razor though as an example , say a 8/8 half hollow ( because the results are easier to see) here is my question that keeps getting evaded.

If it is taped because you want to avoid spine wear on your new pride and joy what will happen to the width of the bevel and what will happen to the angle?

Using that same razor as an example and it isn't taped what will happen to the spine, bevel width as well as the angle?

If "anyone" thinks the appearance of a wider bevel appearing on a vintage , used razor is a sign that the original geometry is lost is sadly mistaken. That was my third point.

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 08-19-2014, 09:48 AM
#19
  • BobH
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  • Thunder Bay Canada
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(08-19-2014, 07:38 AM)mycarver Wrote: Oh, you're right Bob.
It doesn't matter to me one way or the other. But when advice is given where a blade width is reduced , taping will not restore the proper geometry. That was my first point.

Or where over time when a razor is showing some hone wear and the bevel is getting wider taping will not restore the geometry either.
That was my second point. Taping in this case will not ever restore the angle even if the goal is to have what once was a narrow bevel .
It can't , it won't and will never happen.

But a comparison is constantly made to a new razor. That's apples and oranges. You can't compare a new razor to the ones generally restored that are showing wear.

Using a new razor though as an example , say a 8/8 half hollow ( because the results are easier to see) here is my question that keeps getting evaded.

If it is taped because you want to avoid spine wear on your new pride and joy what will happen to the width of the bevel and what will happen to the angle?

Using that same razor as an example and it isn't taped what will happen to the spine, bevel width as well as the angle?

If "anyone" thinks the appearance of a wider bevel appearing on a vintage , used razor is a sign that the original geometry is lost is sadly mistaken. That was my third point.

To your first point, yes, but you will not know to what extent until you do the calculation. That would be prudent after chip removal is done.

To your second point, moot, as you have + or = 2 degrees on either side of the perfect angle to still be with in spec for bevel angle. If the blade, new or used has the correct geometry/18 degree bevel angle to begin with adding a layer of tape to the spine will not put you out of spec. Again you do the calculation to see where you are at for a stating point.

As you say if a used blade has been honed properly and the wear on the spine and bevel are the same then geometry has not changed and is comparable to a factory new razor with correct geometry. Again adding a layer of tape should not put you out of spec for bevel angle.

To your third point, yes, a wide bevel on a used vintage razor may not necessarily indicate the geometry has been lost. Again, just do the calculation to find out for sure and see where your start point bevel angle is.

Through all these examples it is easy to do the calculation to see what bevel angle you actually have as a starting point. Then you can determine if by adding a layer of tape to the spine whether or not you will be in spec. By in spec I mean in the 16 to 20 degree angle range for a bevel angle. You just might find out that you can add a layer or two of tape to narrow down the bevel width and still be in spec or possibly not. Yes adding tape to a spine for honing definitely does change the bevel angle but not to a huge degree.

Bob

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 08-19-2014, 10:26 AM
#20
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It will also depend on just how wide the blade is as well. The narrower the blade the more dramatic the difference .

I just posted a razor which shows heavy spine wear and wide bevels. But adding 3 layers of tape as was suggested on another post to "correct" blade geometry , get a fine bevel pushed it to nearly 25 degrees .

Is that an acceptable solution in the quest for a factory looking bevel?

But as you say , which is my issue, you need to calculate before just arbitrarily adding layers of tape to get a thin looking bevel that one might think it had when it left the factory when new .

I've read enough posts where " I've added tape and now I have a thin bevel but the shave isn't comfortable "
Honing, stropping, technique all come out as answers when the real culprit may just be a crazy angle.
A layer,,,? No big deal I agree. But piling it on to have the bevel LOOK thin? Don't think so.

But what got this started?

A comment where 1/8 inch was taken off the width of a razor and the solution to reestablishing proper geometry and a thin bevel was to add multiple layers of tape.

Is that really what is needed in that case and will it solve the problem Bob? You understand the geometry . Is it going in the right direction?

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