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Thread: Why tape the spine?

  1. #1
    Member DaveMartell's Avatar
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    Default Why tape the spine?

    I've been reading a lot on honing on all of the razor forums and keep seeing references to taping the spine. It seems that people are either looking to preserve appearance (say on a new damascus razor or vintage decorated spine), or trying to reduce spine wear, and/or trying to reduce the amount of honing required to bring up a shave ready edge on troublesome razors like near wedges.

    The thing that bothers me about taping is that it would seem that if you tape the spine (during honing) then the angle will change (become more obtuse) at the edge.

    Then you go to the strop with no tape on the spine which then makes the angle more acute because the spine is now lying lower than it was when it was covered in tape which I would then assume brings the edge up off of the leather.

    So in my way of thinking if you were to pull the strop tight and use little to no pressure then your newly honed (taped spine) edge won't even be getting stropped since the leather won't be touching it.

    Am I misunderstanding what is happening here?

    And then what about correcting uneven wear on a used razor? If the spine is taped then only the edge will be honed back into form while the spine will be left messed up which then brings me back to what happens when you strop since the edge and spine don't match?

    Aren't the edge and spine supposed to wear together? I always thought of the razor's spine thickness as being directly proportional to the width of the blade.

    Anyone want to help clear this up for me?

    Thanks,
    Dave

  2. #2
    Shaves like a pirate jockeys's Avatar
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    some people, like myself, create the angle change on purpose.

    it's known as the double bevel honing technique. some people like it, some don't. for a thorough explanation click the second link in my sig and watch the vids.

    i hone on a progression of stones, THEN tape the spine with a few layers (depending on blade geometry, 1-3 layers) and do 10 very light laps on a 3line swaty. this makes a VERY small second bevel, which makes an edge that i like the feel of. when i do pasted stropping, i do it with the tape still on. normal stropping is effective without the tape because the strop is never quite 100% taught, and the difference in angle is incredibly minute.
    Last edited by jockeys; 04-24-2009 at 06:59 PM.
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    Senior Member singlewedge's Avatar
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    To put it simply the strop deflects enough to not muss the edge.

    Actually you can set a compound bevel by taping the spine at higher levels. People often do this with knives or other cutlery.

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    Large Member ben.mid's Avatar
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    I tape to protect the razor, or make the angle more obtuse to provide a more durable edge. The difference when stropping is negligible.

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    Never a dull moment hoglahoo's Avatar
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    Default Archives

    There was a fun discussion here regarding this very issue:
    http://www.straightrazorplace.com/fo...ed-taping.html

    complete with charts, graphs, calculations, misinformation, the usual

    At any rate it has been shown time and again in practice that taping the spine does not by itself seem to have any general negative effect on the resulting shave
    Find me on SRP's official chat in ##srp on Freenode. Link is at top of SRP's homepage

  7. #6
    At this point in time... gssixgun's Avatar
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    You need to clarify on this, one layer of tape.... Does not effect the angle enough to worry about...

    Double bevels multiple layers etc:etc: do change things somewhat...

    Here are some things that 1 layer of tape does accomplish....
    the positives:

    No spine wear
    1/2 or less of the wear to your hone
    1/2 or less swarf on the hone so more longevity from your hone since you have to lap it less...
    Automatically increasing what RandyDance likes to call "torque" to the edge..
    Easier action on the hone since the tape slides much easier then the steel spine does....
    Smaller more even bevel since the tape will negate a lot of spine problems...


    Now the negatives:

    You don't get the natural spine wear (keep in mind when you first start honing it is quite a bit)
    You can feel the difference.... (I seriously doubt this in a blind test)

    Heck I don't know other than the spine wear they are pretty much opinions...


    This is of course all, JMHO.... take it for what it is worth
    Last edited by gssixgun; 04-24-2009 at 09:59 PM.

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    Senior Moderator JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    When I first got into this I wanted to learn to hone. Not just maintain a razor sharpened by a honmiester but learn to be a competent honer myself. I knew from learning other crafts that this would take a lot of practice. I tend to have acquisition disorders anyhow and the rational of needing a lot of razors to practice my honing contributed to my tendency to RAD.

    So here I was with a growing collection of over 100 razors and wanting to hone most if not all. If I were to tape some and not others it would be chore to keep track of which were taped and which were honed without it.

    From reading many threads on it and talking with other more experienced honers I determined that there is no harm done in taping a spine with one layer of electrical tape. For a neophyte honer who may do more strokes then needed and possibly with more pressure it will help protect the spine somewhat while he learns how to hone.

    It Tim Zowada can tape the spine on a razor that costs from seven hundred to a thousand dollars without a problem I don't see my one layer creating a problem with mine. Tim ends with three layers of tape to create a double bevel. I don't do that with my razors as I prefer one bevel.

    I will put my one layer of tape on and set a new bevel corresponding with the taped geometry and end up with a single bevel. Stropping on a hanging strop, a Hand American flatbed hone or a loom strop without tape is effective and as mentioned by a previous poster there is enough flex in those materials to contact the bevel without the tape being in place.

    Keep in mind that most of these razors in my collection are used ebay acquisitions and may need considerable edge correction due to neglect and or misuse. The amount of time on the coarser hones is another consideration. I have been doing this for more then a year and if it didn't work well I wouldn't have continued with it. Just my two bits.
    Be careful how you treat people on your way up, you may meet them again on your way back down.

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    Senior Member JCitron's Avatar
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    My only negative as to taping the spine comes out of my laziness.

    I decided to keep a swaty in my shaving cabinet for touch ups and didn't want to worry about putting a piece of tape on the spine just to touch up the edge. That is when I re-honed my blades without the tape. The one exception is a razor that I couldn't seem to get quite right without the tape.

    If you're not lazy like me then go for the tape.

    Also, when I did tape the spines I never noticed any problems when stropping without the tape.

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    Senior Member Vashaver's Avatar
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    One layer dont bother me but anymore and I dont like the way they strop. Take a marker (I like black) and color all of the edge and then strop it. It will tell you how much less/more or if any tension the strop needs. For me 2+ layers requires a looser strop wich I hate but I have a couple that I wanted to keep purdy so......
    Last edited by Vashaver; 04-24-2009 at 10:05 PM.

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    Member DaveMartell's Avatar
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    Wow, just read that linked to thread, big time emotions on this subject, huh?

    Well I don't want to stir the pot or anything but I still have questions....

    My interest in the history of straight razors has me wondering if anyone knows if razors were (or are) made with a ratio (or guideline) for the grinder to follow regarding spine width and blade height? Is there evidence of this anywhere? I'd love to hear anything on this subject.

    Also, isn't it safe to say that razors have never been spine taped through the centuries? I can't picture a 1890 barber slapping electrical tape on the spine between customers. If this is the case then when did this practice start or is this a modern (recent?) practice? Is there historical precedence that I'm missing?

    I guess the point that I'm trying to get to is that I can see a modern reason (like protecting appearance) but I don't really get the "multi-angle creation" or even the "get it done faster/easier" method as I'm a believer in doing things the right way (even if it's the hard way) or not doing it at all. If not taping spines has worked for 200 yrs. then why do it now?

    Again, I'm not trying to fuel any fires, I just have a desire to understand the history of how things happen(ed), why they happen, and if they're correct or not.

    Thanks again to everyone who have offered opinions and help.

    Dave

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