12-17-2012, 03:49 PM
#1
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[Image: 16bk0mu.png]

For those who do not know Bob Quinn (Eskimo at TSN) or his site Elite Razors, he is one of our Artisan Vendors. I recently had Bob turn some custom handles for my short handled Merkurs and we got to talking and I found Bob an amazing fount of information. The handles can be seen in a thread in the DE razors section, but suffice to say they turned out better than I could have hoped for. Below is the interview that stemmed from our talking.

Before we get down to the nitty gritty, could you please tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in Southern California (Coronado) and promptly began traveling the world as a military child. I’ve been in the Atlanta area since 1989 with my wife and 5 children.

How did you get into the custom making of razor handles and brushes? How long have you been doing this? Do you have a second job to pay for this hobby?

I’ve been woodworking for about 45 years, initially focusing on big pieces. 10 years ago, when my twin boys came along, I realized that I could no longer take on projects that were measured in months and took up the whole garage. I built a workshop and began woodturning and have never looked back. Initially, I made custom pens, but then got into other projects, one of which was shaving brushes.

The custom razors came about by accident. I sold a brush to a gentleman who contacted me requesting a matching razor. I had never done one, but how could I say no? After a few false starts, I built my first custom Merkur 34C and the rest is history.

The other side of my life is as a Senior Business Analyst for a financial software company focusing on stock and bond processing, which has certainly helped to subsidize my exotic sawdust addiction.

You have stone, woods, resins and now wildlife skins. What is your favorite material to work with?

The last one I used….. Biggrin

They are all different. The stone has a beautiful look and feel. The woods are always a pleasure and the results have a wonderful feel to them. Resins allow you to go so many places with color and the skins are just something different.

When you start with the raw material, can you “see” what lies beneath or is every piece a surprise?

Pretty much each piece reveals something different as the layers are turned away, particularly the woods. Some of my best pieces came from block of wood that didn’t look like anything special when I mounted it on my lathe. Shaving brush handles especially show off the material because they display so many different planes as the handle flows in and out, plus the base will show off the end grain. The same holds true for acrylics and stone as the patterns on these materials also shift as the piece is turned.

I noticed with the pieces you did for me that although all were done in Blue Dyed Box Elder Burl, no two pieces look the same. Totally different wood patterns, even different levels of dye (deepness of color). Is every piece unique?

Each piece of wood and stone are different from one another. Even the acrylics can appear dramatically different from one section of the same casting to another. I turn each piece by eye, individually. I use calipers to gauge size, but do not use any duplicating equipment, so each piece is truly one of a kind.

With the wood work you mentioned lathe turning. What is your process with the Stone and Resin handles? Do they come to you ready to attach or do you have to work with them as well?

Both the stone and resin come to me in square block or blanks that need to be drilled, mounted on the lathe, turned to shape, sanded from 150 to 12,000 grit and then buffed.

I have a couple other wood handled razors and I fear the wood decaying / aging over time. You guaranteed me this would not be an issue with your process. I also notice even when both the handle and my hands are wet, the handle is still tacky to the touch and there is no fear of slippage. Can you tell us about the process used?

I spent quite a bit of time researching and testing different finishing techniques and products when I began building these pieces. The environmental stresses are fairly profound for shaving equipment. Changing temperature and moisture are tough on most materials, but particularly on wood.

I quickly found that finishes that sit on top of the wood, such as CyanoAcrylate (CA) or Polyurethane can be breached and allow moisture to seep under the finish and affect the wood. They look great out of the box, but did not have the longevity that I was after. I have been using a marine sealant that was originally designed for sailboat decks as a finish on all my pieces. The product is absorbed by the raw wood, creating the perfect finishing product for this application. Unfortunately, it’s a time consuming (5-8 coats, depending on the wood) and expensive process, but the results are worth it. Unlike topical finishes, you can feel the grain of the wood and, like a sailboat deck, it retains a great grip when wet.

Do you use locally sourced stone? Tell us more about the materials.

While I have worked with natural stone in the past, the stone material I use for my shaving pieces is a product called TruStone. It is manufactured by taking 85% pulverized natural stone and combining it with a 15% resin compound. The result has the look, feel and heft of natural stone, but not the natural fissures that can compromise the integrity of the razor or brush handle when exposed to temperature and humidity changes. Also, it allows me to offer these pieces for a fraction of the cost of using natural semi-precious stones. A wonderful side benefit of the resin component is that it gives the handles a very good grip when they are wet.

The knots available for your brushes come from a variety of sources, tell us about that.

I generally use knots from The Golden Nib (TGN), Wet Shaving Products and Shavemac to provide differing levels of options to complete each handle. I generally stay in the 22 – 24mm range, but have built brushes with knots as small as 16mm up to 30mm, on request.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your sawdust making work?

I’m very pleased to be able to now provide just the handle for a 3-piece razor with fittings of solid Stainless Steel that are made in the U.S. and can be retrofitted to any of my handles.

Thank you very much for your time today.

Thank you and I just want to thank everyone who has asked questions about my work, offered opinions and challenged me to make something “different”.

[Image: dp7imu.jpg]

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 12-17-2012, 03:50 PM
#2
  • Dave
  • Moderator Emeritus
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Great Interview Doug and Bob. Thanks to both of you!!

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 12-17-2012, 03:55 PM
#3
  • MickToley
  • Hi, I'm Mike and I'm a shave soap addict
  • Brooklyn, NY
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That was a great little read. Bob is great to deal with.

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 12-17-2012, 03:58 PM
#4
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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Doug, nice interview. Bob, thanks for taking the time to do this. It is always interesting to find out what our artisans do in the real world and how they got started. You truly do some fantastic work.

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 12-17-2012, 03:59 PM
#5
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Excellent interview by both of you. Great job, Doug and Bob!

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 12-17-2012, 04:01 PM
#6
  • freddy
  • Senior Member
  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
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Thanks to both of you for a most interesting interview. It was very enlightening. Smile

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 12-17-2012, 04:11 PM
#7
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I enjoyed reading this! Smile

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 12-17-2012, 04:12 PM
#8
  • Harvey
  • Senior Member
  • North Hills CA
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Great interview of a real artist...has made me several one of a kind razors and brushes...a modest man and has great communication and business skills as well....even posted pictures for me beacause I am unable to do so..Can,t wait till I get the new White/Black Zebra stripe shaving brush for my custom shelf in the CaveCoolSmileThumbup

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 12-17-2012, 04:13 PM
#9
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Here is the link to the thread about Doug's handles that Bob did. This thread needs this link to showcase his talent after such a great article.

Wingdo's Short Handled Merkurs

I also recently worked with Bob and here's my thread on his amazing work...
Custom E7

Bob welcomed me into his home to pick up my brush as I was traveling near him from a recent visit to my parents. I would have been thrilled to spend an entire day perusing his work space, but I don't think my wife and 2 kids strapped in their car seats would have been pleased. I greatly appreciated the information on how Bob finishes his work with the marine sealant. I was curious about this and was going to be messaging him about it. I can completely agree that it gives a very nice feel to the work.

Thanks to both Doug & Bob for a great interview.

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 12-17-2012, 04:35 PM
#10
  • beartrap
  • Resident Цирюльник
  • Southern California
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Thanks for the interesting read gentlemen, I really enjoyed it.

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 12-17-2012, 05:17 PM
#11
  • ben74
  • Administrator
  • Perth, Australia
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Thank-you both Doug and Bob!

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 12-17-2012, 06:06 PM
#12
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Well done, gentlemen. What a great read.

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 12-17-2012, 06:32 PM
#13
  • Agravic
  • Emeritus
  • Pennsylvania, USA
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An informative and interesting interview ... thank you Bob and Doug!

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 12-17-2012, 06:36 PM
#14
  • OldDog23
  • Senior Member
  • BeanTown MetroWest
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Thanks, Doug and Bob...your blue box elder handles from a couple of threads ago are stunning.

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 12-17-2012, 09:05 PM
#15
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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Great Interview. Thank you Bob and Doug!

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 12-17-2012, 11:21 PM
#16
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When I first started e-mailing Bob trying to figure out what to do with my Merkurs, he sent me his phone number. While I am not a phone person (perhaps 45 minutes a month on the phone) I decided to call Bob since it seemed easier than a series of e-mails regarding my razors.

Bob was so laid back and so helpful that we ended up talking for amost an hour. I came away from that conversation with a new found appreciation for his craft and work. I e-mailed him asking him if he would consider doing an interview and that is how this came about. Bob and I have had one more phone call of over 30 minutes just talking about "things" and it was great.

From our conversations, from looking at the work on his website and his artisan page here I have learned two things.

First, Bob is a true artisan. He knows his craft very well, the materials are as good as they get; seriously my "new" Merkurs are every bit as stable in wet soapy hands as they were with the original industrial milled handle. I already have my next project lined up for Bob after the holidays.

Second, my GF has a brother in the Atlanta area. When we eventually go down to visit I hope to visit Bob and just spend a lot of time talking with him in his workshop.

Bob may be from SoCal originally but he is every bit the southern gentleman, hell he even has the proper accent.

Thanks Bob for making my first TSN interview a success. I cannot recommend you enough to people.

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 12-18-2012, 05:17 AM
#17
  • skeptik
  • Active Member
  • The Piedmont, VA
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Thanks for an excellent interview with Bob Quinn. I have 4 of his brushes including 1 with a handle from Russian Bog Oak, remarkable material and performer. You won't find a craftsman so easy to work with, I can recommend Bob (and Elite Razor) without any reservation.

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 12-18-2012, 07:26 AM
#18
  • Eskimo
  • Artisan & Custom Shaving Equipment
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(12-17-2012, 11:21 PM)wingdo Wrote: When I first started e-mailing Bob trying to figure out what to do with my Merkurs, he sent me his phone number. While I am not a phone person (perhaps 45 minutes a month on the phone) I decided to call Bob since it seemed easier than a series of e-mails regarding my razors.

Bob was so laid back and so helpful that we ended up talking for amost an hour. I came away from that conversation with a new found appreciation for his craft and work. I e-mailed him asking him if he would consider doing an interview and that is how this came about. Bob and I have had one more phone call of over 30 minutes just talking about "things" and it was great.

From our conversations, from looking at the work on his website and his artisan page here I have learned two things.

First, Bob is a true artisan. He knows his craft very well, the materials are as good as they get; seriously my "new" Merkurs are every bit as stable in wet soapy hands as they were with the original industrial milled handle. I already have my next project lined up for Bob after the holidays.

Second, my GF has a brother in the Atlanta area. When we eventually go down to visit I hope to visit Bob and just spend a lot of time talking with him in his workshop.

Bob may be from SoCal originally but he is every bit the southern gentleman, hell he even has the proper accent.

Thanks Bob for making my first TSN interview a success. I cannot recommend you enough to people.

Thanks, Doug. I'd be disappointed if I heard you were in town and didn't stop by. You're welcome anytime.

Bob

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 12-18-2012, 08:40 AM
#19
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
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Thank you Doug for conducting such an enjoyable interview, and thank you Bob for taking the time to give us a glimpse into your artisan working methods Thumbsup

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 12-18-2012, 09:20 AM
#20
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Very good. Thanks to both of you for this interesting read.

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