11-14-2012, 11:51 AM
#1
  • Kavik79
  • Active Member
  • Albany, NY - USA
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Someone had expressed interest in seeing some restorations, so I'll write up a little something here. I always forget to take pictures during, but I'll give a couple before and after pics and some tips that hopefully some will find helpful.

I don't claim to be an expert or anything, I don't have a shop to work in, or a fancy buffer or anything special. Just a pile of sandpaper, a small glass bottle*, nail polish*, metal polish and a bunch of microfiber rags.
*Keep reading, it'll make sense eventually
It's just something I find I enjoy doing, and want others to see that you can do a pretty decent job without much cost or work space. Everything I do is either from the comfort of my couch, or standing at a sink. So while I may not get quite to the mirror finish that a professional with a buffer could, I can get it pretty darn close, with the advantage of not rounding off all the edges on the buffer...and the cost of 1 professional restore buys enough supplies to do probably 20 blades myself, so Tongue


Before starting any work, dull your edge by whatever means you prefer. Run it along a glass bottle a couple times, or the edge of a hone. It can and will still cut you at this point, but working on something as sharp as a knife if safer than something shave ready.


Sanding a blade:
To remove rust, stains, mild pitting.
I usually start at around 400 grit paper if it needs quite a bit of work, but always try higher grits first and work back only if you're not getting the results you need. No need to remove more metal than we have to here.

For sanding the face of the blade I give it 4 passes with each grit. I sand vertically first, from spine to edge, with medium pressure, until there is a nice even scratch pattern over the entire surface and all rust/stains are removed. Then horizontally, from toe to heel, with medium pressure, until all the vertical scratches are removed. Watch your fingers on the edge of the blade at all times, but especially while moving parallel to the edge!
Then repeat both with light pressure.

Move on to the next higher grit. For the first vertical pass of the next grit, sand until all the horizontal scratches from the lower grit are removed before proceeding to the horizontal sanding. This is the most important part, if you leave 400 grit scratches after using 600 grit, figuring they'll sand out later on, that's not going to happen. (okay, it will eventually, but it will take you three times as long)

I generally use the following grits: 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1500, 2000.
Sanding can be done wet or dry, assuming you buy the right kind of paper. I find that wet gives a little smoother of a finish and uses up less paper.
If you're having trouble finding higher grit papers, check the paint department at an auto supply store.


Sanding the spine and tang
All the same stuff above applies here, but this is where the little glass bottle comes in. If you've spent a lot of time browsing straight razor pics, you can tell the ones that have had extensive restorations....you know the ones; edges that used to be crisp are now all rounded, surfaces that used to be flat now look a bit wavy.....they look kind of like a wax sculpture that's started to melt at all the edges LOL

For example:
The nice, clean, sharp angled edge on the tang of this one
[Image: orig_back.jpg]
The angle itself isn't very steep, so if I just grab a piece of paper and go at it, that crisp edge will be gone. Rounded off and blended in, removing a nice detail of the original design of the blade.

Instead, wrap your paper around a hard, perfectly smooth, cylindrical object. Whatever works and is the right size to get at the area you're working on (Wrapping around a pen works well for getting inside a barbers notch. Wrapping around the end of matchstick works well for going along the edges of the tang if the scales are staying on).
Sand the angled section first, then the flat section. Make sure you keep your paper tight and keep the object completely flat to the surface you're on. Being backed by a hard surface also means not needing as much pressure, so start off easier than you'd go with your fingers


Working with etchings
In some cases, wrapping your paper around a bottle can help here too.
For example, this particular razor has an etching on the blade that's about as deep as an average tang stamp, with good clean edges
[Image: JosephRodgers1.jpg]
So I kept the paper tightly wrapped around a small glass bottle and just sanded right over it without any problems (still a work in progress, so no after pic yet, I'll try to remember to update this when I get around to finishing that one)

But on ones that aren't so deep, or don't have such crisp edges, I've found another trick to save the etchings....nail polish!
I bought this Wade & Butcher because I'd never seen one with this etching on the blade and I loved it. But, as you can see, it wasn't in terrible shape, but pretty tarnished.
[Image: EtchingCloseUp.jpg]

So, I picked up some clear nail polish, the kind that's meant to harden your nails. Not sure if that made a difference, I just figured it might stand up to the sanding better.
I used a tiny model paint brush, cut down to about half the bristles, to get at all the small detailed areas. But I also found that surface tension was the most helpful. In most areas I could start in the middle and dab it on thick enough to let it flow around in its own, it would catch and stop at the edge of the etching. I gave it 3 or 4 thick layers with plenty of time to dry in between, and it ended up looking like this:
[Image: EtchingWithNailPolish.jpg]

Once the last layer was on I let it sit over night, just to be sure, then I sanded as usual. Just have to keep an eye on the edges to make sure you're not sanding through the nail polish.
When the sanding is done move on to polishing with some metal polish (I like Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish) on a rag, then just clean it off with acetone/nail polish remover.

The Results:
[Image: FinalTip.jpg]
[Image: FinalReflection.jpg]
[Image: FinalOverall.jpg]
[Image: FinalEtching.jpg]
(There is a little 'feathering' around the edges, but that was done intentionally, you can get right to the edge of your etching if you choose to)


Working with horn scales
I picked up this early 1800's Joseph Elliot with the assumption that the scales would need replacing. After sharing a few pics on another forum someone talked me into trying to repair them instead.

Before:
[Image: orig_scales2.jpg]
[Image: orig_scales1.jpg]
Dull, dried out, de-laminating

Based on the suggestions I received I soaked the whole thing for a couple days in a ziplock bag with some neatsfoot oil to re-hydrate the horn. Afterwards I lightly sanded the whole thing, using 1000 grit, followed by 1500 grit (I don't remember if I used any 2000 on it or not), then finished off by polishing with the same stuff I use on my blades.

[Image: HalfWayPreview3.jpg]
[Image: DSC_0038.jpg]
[Image: DSC_0041.jpg]
[Image: DSC_0043.jpg]
I should have put a little more effort into getting in around the pins, but there's mo more flaking/peeling, they're shiny enough to read reflections off the surface, and what surprised me the most was how polishing up the outside made light pass through them better, allowing the color in the horn to really pop out.
One day I'll fix the pin areas and try to sand out the nick on the inside of the scales that shows up as a light spot in the pic where the razor is propped up by a pen.
Overall though, I was thrilled with how well these came out, considering I was this close to tossing them completely!




Well, that's all I can think of for now. If you made it through all that, I hope it helps you decide to give this a try, instead of worrying about not having the right equipment or enough skills Thumbup
And if anyone else has any tips to add feel free to post them up!

Mods: I put this in the Straight Razor sub-forum because I don't exactly have step by step pics, but I leave it to your discretion if you feel it should be in the How-To Tutorials sub-forum instead

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 11-14-2012, 11:55 AM
#2
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Wow, Daryl. This is very impressive how you made do with the tools you did have and your results speak for themselves.

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 11-14-2012, 11:57 AM
#3
  • Dave
  • Moderator Emeritus
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Wonderful guide and wonderful job

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 11-14-2012, 12:07 PM
#4
  • Kavik79
  • Active Member
  • Albany, NY - USA
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Thanks Kent Biggrin
Just gotta remember, there's always more than one way to do a job!

Hell, people were polishing metal into mirrors thousands of years before electric buffers were around....no reason we shouldn't be able to still do it today Wink

The other nice thing about doing it yourself.....that Joseph Elliot for example, I paid about $30 for it in the condition it was in. Putting 5-10 hours into restoring something myself and having a little fun in the process? I'd rather do that then spend $200 on a razor like this that someone else restored

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 11-14-2012, 12:20 PM
#5
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The only thing a buffer can do that you can't do with your own hands and elbow grease is save you five hours of time. Cool

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 11-14-2012, 12:53 PM
#6
  • Kavik79
  • Active Member
  • Albany, NY - USA
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well......yeah, there's that. Or they can also overheat a blade (especially for those who like to use their dremel because they don't own a proper buffing wheel), or rip a razor out of your hand and send it across a room at 70 miles an hour LOL

They're great tools if you have them, and know how to use them, I'd never argue that. It's just that the average person doesn't.


Still though, it's almost impossible to not lose those sharp lines when using a buffer. So even if I had one here, I'd only use it for the final polishing stages.....saving myself all of about half an hour

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 11-14-2012, 01:53 PM
#7
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
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Hi Daryl

A very nice overview of the process you go through Thumbsup

And I believe the end results show it's time well spent...

Take care, Mike

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 11-14-2012, 05:56 PM
#8
  • Kavik79
  • Active Member
  • Albany, NY - USA
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thanks Mike Biggrin

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 11-14-2012, 10:24 PM
#9
  • gijames
  • Mile High Soldier
  • TN, USA
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Thank you for sharing your restoration process Cool

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 11-14-2012, 10:52 PM
#10
  • Kavik79
  • Active Member
  • Albany, NY - USA
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my pleasure. would love to hear/see some feedback/results if anyone else gives it a try Biggrin

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 11-15-2012, 09:04 AM
#11
  • geezer
  • Senior Member
  • Menomonie, Western WI
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(11-14-2012, 11:51 AM)Kavik79 Wrote: Someone had expressed interest in seeing some restorations, so I'll write up a little something here. ...snip...
Mods: I put this in the Straight Razor sub-forum because I don't exactly have step by step pics, but I leave it to your discretion if you feel it should be in the How-To Tutorials sub-forum instead
Thank you for the best tutorial on working a restore by hand tools that i am aware of. Good explanations and the photos filled in the details! Hand tool working is relaxing to me so I do a lot more with hand tools than power tools. Just as fast most times also!
~Richard

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 11-15-2012, 10:19 AM
#12
  • Kavik79
  • Active Member
  • Albany, NY - USA
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well, shucks, thanks Richard!

yeah, it doesn't always have to take forever doing it by hand. I do have some that I've lost track of how long I've spent on them....but others are started and finished in the same hour

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 11-15-2012, 02:38 PM
#13
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What a great tutorial. Outstanding work!

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 11-15-2012, 03:51 PM
#14
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Fantastic information and wonderful work!

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 11-15-2012, 08:01 PM
#15
  • Kavik79
  • Active Member
  • Albany, NY - USA
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Thanks guys Blush
While I appreciate all the compliments, I really am aiming more towards getting others to give it a try, rather than just showing off the ones in the pics LOL So....someone grab a junky blade and let's see what you can do with it! Cool

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 11-16-2012, 05:16 AM
#16
  • oscar11
  • Senior Member
  • North Dakota
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Very nice, thanks.

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