07-04-2012, 10:41 AM
#1
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I've been using the Rolls Razor for years, and felt that it would be nice to put down some information I have gleaned/read so that other people who are considering buying a Rolls could have a point of reference. I have about eight of these sets, mostly complete, but some incomplete - used for parts.

CAVEAT: A lot of what I'm saying here is based on my own experience, and it may not be exactly what other users think or experience.

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So, What is the Rolls Razor?

It is a safety razor that is based on a segment of a wedge straight razor, that's fitted with a safety bar and is held by a handle. There were several of these adaptations of straight razors to safeties that came into the market in response to Gillette's invention of the safety razor. They all had reusable blades that were honed/stropped like straights.

The Rolls Razor differed from the others in that it came in a case designed to allow a user to touch-up and strop the blade within the case itself. More on that later.

A brief history of the Rolls Razor (taken from Wikipedia)

The Rolls Razor was made by a British company that also sold washing machines. The razors were made from the early to mid 1900's, and there were several models made. I'll be describing the models I have.

[Image: IMG_20120630_145337.jpg]

[Image: IMG_20120630_145359.jpg]

In the above pics: Top left: Imperial #2, right: Imperial #1, bottom left: Imperial #2, right: Viscount

Imperial No. 1

This is the oldest Rolls Razor model - it carries a 1927 patent date, though it may have been made a little earlier than that. The cases in this model were made of brass, and were usually silver-plated and sometimes (rarely) gold plated. I have as silver plated one. They came in several boxes, depending on the price.

[Image: IMG_20120704_140217.jpg]

My Imperial #1 has a nice short handle that can only be stored on the stropping handle (shown above).

Opened, you can see the different parts of the razor itself. The grey thing on the right is the hone. You can see that it's cracked. It is attached to the cover that's been removed. The other cover is seen on the bottom of the case and it shows the brown strop. These covers are not interchangeable.

In the middle, you can see the blade, held in the stropping mechanism with the stropping handle. The knurled rod is the razor handle itself.

The mechanism is really cool. When you remove the honing cover, and the handle, you can use the stropping handle to strop the blade by quickly moving it back and forth in the case. The blade flips automatically at the end of each stroke and is moved in a stropping motion (edge trailing).

If you place the honing cover back on an flip the case, you can remove the stropping cover, and then the same back and forth motion moves the blade over the hone in a homing motion - edge leading. Very ingenious.

The above pic also shows the proper way to store the handle in the Imperial #1 model. Note how short the handle is.

Imperial No. 2

This is essentially the same as the Imperial #1, but it was made later and the case and parts were nickel plated. The handle was also longer.

The handle storage should be done as in the case of the Viscount (below), not like the Imperial #1.

Viscount

The Viscount differs from the Imperial models in that it has an Aluminium case. Very shiny.

Because of that it is lighter, and generally survives well. However, it comes at the expense of having a very loud stropping mechanism.

Here's the Viscount opened:

[Image: IMG_20120630_145427.jpg]

You can see that the hone is not broken here. I have replaced the original strop with a new bit of leather. You can clearly see the blade and stropping handle, but the razor handle is not obvious here.

The pic below shows the razor handle stored in the proper place for these razors. It is tucked away in a notch over on the right side. Importantly, it will not move once the stropping handle is in place.

[Image: IMG_20120630_145434.jpg]

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Next up: Instructions on the usage of, and information on buying a Rolls Razor.

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 07-04-2012, 11:04 AM
#2
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Excellent thread on the Rolls. I am interested in the next installment!

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 03-14-2014, 09:14 AM
#3
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I would be afraid to shave with one of these, do you teach beginners?

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 03-14-2014, 12:59 PM
#4
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(03-14-2014, 09:14 AM)Duvid Wrote: I would be afraid to shave with one of these, do you teach beginners?

Duvid,

I, too, am a beginner.
I have learned all I know about the RR from the internet.
Just look at johannrjm's excellent essay just above your letter.

I will say that there is nothing to fear from the Rolls Razor.
I have very rarely cut myself and those were only minor nicks that I did not know about until I had finished shaving.
I have had much worse from double edge and cartridge razors and paper cuts.
My two attempts at using a straight razor were bloody episodes. But I am going to keep trying because I can be curious and stubborn.

Read everything you can find in the various internet sites about shaving and there are many. There are numerous comprhensive articles on
Use, care and maintenance. Short of finding a private tutor you can't do much better,

I have four suggestions though.
1. Have the blade professionally sharpened at least for the first time. Then in, perhaps, one or two years do it again or you may have found you can do it yourself by then. I am still learning that.
2. Try to keep the blade as close, that is to say as flat to your face as possible. It does make a difference and takes a little self discipline to accustom oneself to do it.
3. Ask questions. The members of these site are very knowledgeable and happy to help.
4. Get yourself a piggy bank and every week put the money you have saved by not having to buy disposable blades into it. In no time you may save enough to buy a car - maybe even a Rolls Royce.

Mickey

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 03-16-2014, 02:57 AM
#5
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I bought a mint set last year but never got around to using it. I doubt the set was used more than once.
After reading this thread I was finally motivated to take the plunge.
The set did have an extra new blade but the other blade seemed fine, so i used that. I hone my own straight razors on lapping film, so I was curious how good of an edge this setup can produce.

It is basically a blade on a stick, the safety bar is decorative as far as shaving is concerned. I made sure my prep was good and treated it as a straight razor shave.
The shave was great, very smooth and issues free. I think these were popular with old schoolers that used a straight razor. For people coming from a DE on a mild Gillette TTO can get seriously hurt.

Some folks suggest sending the blade out for honing. I think it really depends on the condition of the blade, the hone and the strop.

The blade has the safety bar connected to a holeon the spine, which can collect water. So drying it completely can be tricky.

All and all, an intriguing razor.
When i bought it, i sent photo to my brother. His reply was ''I don't understand what i'm looking at...''

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 03-16-2014, 03:20 AM
#6
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Yep, honing the Rolls blade on lapping film works very well. After that, the blade is stroppable in the stropping mechanism.

I like using the Rolls as an alternative to a safety. It is more maneuverable than a straight and is also a cool bit of equipment.

It's very noisy, though. Wife doesn't like it. Angel

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Edit: I see I didn't really finish off this series of posts properly. I may have to go back and finish it off.

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 03-16-2014, 06:05 AM
#7
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My wife actually didn't mind the click-kee-tee-clack.
I got a little nick in my thumb when I reached for the blade, that hone alone did put a pretty sharp edge on tthat blade.

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 03-17-2014, 05:10 AM
#8
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......

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 03-17-2014, 08:02 AM
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(03-16-2014, 03:20 AM)yohannrjm Wrote: Yep, honing the Rolls blade on lapping film works very well. After that, the blade is stroppable in the stropping mechanism.

I like using the Rolls as an alternative to a safety. It is more maneuverable than a straight and is also a cool bit of equipment.

It's very noisy, though. Wife doesn't like it. Angel

Try stropping in time to your wife's favourite tune.
and Heart
If you can find a waltz that she likes it is a great speed for honing.

Mickey

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 03-17-2014, 10:05 AM
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I doubt it would work for a waltz being a 3-beat tune.... polka maybe? The blade slap on the strop sounds like a knee slap... though if i told this to my wife she'd kick me out with my slapping contraption....

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 03-17-2014, 11:19 AM
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(03-17-2014, 10:05 AM)Galhatz Wrote: I doubt it would work for a waltz being a 3-beat tune.... polka maybe? The blade slap on the strop sounds like a knee slap... though if i told this to my wife she'd kick me out with my slapping contraption....

Galhatz,

I fear a Polka might be too fast and energetic. ExclamationExclamation
A waltz is just perfect to prevent going too fast and chipping the blade.
One stroke to every three beats. One two three Cool. One two threeDodgy. etc.
Almost anything by the Strausses would be good.
Just go easy on the down beat.
I like Vienna Woods. The french horns are soothing.

Mickey

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 03-24-2014, 03:26 PM
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(03-16-2014, 02:57 AM)Galhatz Wrote: I hone my own straight razors on lapping film, so I was curious how good of an edge this setup can produce.

How does one use lapping film?
What is lapping film?

Some folks suggest sending the blade out for honing. I think it really depends on the condition of the blade, the hone and the strop.

The blade has the safety bar connected to a holeon the spine, which can collect water. So drying it completely can be tricky.

One or two puffs of breath will usually blow the water out of the hole.
Then a quick spritz of WD-40 or a little dab of Vaseline every once in a while will keep it rust free.


All and all, an intriguing razor.
When i bought it, i sent photo to my brother. His reply was ''I don't understand what i'm looking at...''

Mickey

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 03-25-2014, 12:25 AM
#13
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Lapping film is similar to sanding paper.
It is used mainly for polishing optical cables end points.
A 1micron sheet is equivalent to a 12k grit stone.

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