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Thread: 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica - Razors.

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    Default 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica - Razors.

    Not sure if this has been posted before, but here is how it was described 100 years ago:

    he following outline of the stages in the manufacture of a razor will serve to indicate the sequence of operations in making an article which, though simple in form, demands the highest care and skill.

    The first essential of a good razor is that it be made of the finest quality of cast steel. The steel for razors is obtained in bars the thickness of the back of the instrument. Taking such a bar, the forger heats one end of it to the proper forging temperature, and then dexterously fashions it upon his anvil, giving it roughly the required form, edge and concavity. It is then separated from the remainder of the bar, leaving only sufficient metal to form the tang, if that is to be made of steel. The tang of the "mould," as the blade in this condition is termed, is next drawn out, and the whole "smithed" or beaten on the anvil to compact the metal and improve the form and edge of the razor. At this stage the razor is said to be "forged in the rough," and so neatly can some workmen finish off this operation that a shaving edge may be given to the blade by simple whetting.

    The forged blade is next "shaped" by grinding on the dry stone; this operation considerably reduces its weight, and removes the oxidized scale, thereby allowing the hardening and tempering to be done with certainty and proper effect. The shaped razor is now returned to the forge, where the tang is file-cut and pierced with the joint-hole, and into the blade is stamped either the name and corporate mark of the maker, or any mark and name ordered by the tradesman for whom the goods are being manufactured. The hardening is accomplished by heating the blade to a cherry red heat and suddenly quenching it in cold water, which leaves the metal excessively hard and brittle. To bring it to the proper temper for a razor, it is again heated till the metallic surface assumes a straw colour, and after being plunged into water, it is ready for the process of wet grinding. The wet grinding is done on stones which vary in diameter from i 2 to 1 2 in. according to the concavity of surface desired ("hollow-ground," "half hollow-ground," &c.).

    "Lapping," which is the first stage in polishing, is performed on a wheel of the same diameter as the wetgrinding stone. The lap is built up of segments of wood having the fibres towards the periphery, and covered with a metallic alloy of tin and lead. The lap is fed with a mixture of emery powder and oil. "Glazing" and "polishing," which follow, are for perfecting the polish on the surface of the razor, leather-covered wheels with fine emery being used; and the work is finished off with crocus. The finished blade is then riveted into the scales or handle, which may be of ivory, bone, horn or other material; and when thereafter the razor is set on a hone it is ready for use.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth ace's Avatar
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    Interesting read, thanks!

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    Hmmm...tempered to a straw color then plunged into water. Interesting stuff.
    Forged to shape on an anvil, that takes some skill! ...I wonder when the technique of using a drop forge onto a set of dies began?
    Small grinding wheels
    Wooden wheels covered with tin & lead then embedded with emery & oil
    Wooden leather covered wheels loaded with crocus ( fine emery I think).
    Interesting stuff...thanks a bunch!
    Randolph Tuttle, a SRP Mentor for residents of Minnesota & western Wisconsin

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    Link to the original article:
    Cutlery - LoveToKnow 1911

    For me: At this stage the razor is said to be "forged in the rough," and so neatly can some workmen finish off this operation that a shaving edge may be given to the blade by simple whetting.

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    That is a valuable article, for which we should be grateful. But i think a typo has crept in. Do you know if that would be wheels from 2 to 12 inches in diameter?

    Quenching when straw-colour is reached plays no part in the heat-treatment process, and if the heating were perfectly even, it could be omitted, and the razor allowed to cool in air. It is simply in case a higher temperature in the part most directly heated causes the temperature in the vital area, the edge, to rise higher.

    Drop-forging in dies requires expensive die-making, and a drop-hammer, even for freehand forging, is a large and expensive piece of equipment. For something as small and simple as a razor, which would have to be trued up by the grinding and polishing process anyway, hand forging made more sense. I would guess that they had a sort of dolly with a cylincrically curved top, to plug into the hardy hole of the anvil, and perhaps a hammer to match, to reduce the amount of grinding done.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Caledonian View Post
    That is a valuable article, for which we should be grateful. But i think a typo has crept in. Do you know if that would be wheels from 2 to 12 inches in diameter?

    Quenching when straw-colour is reached plays no part in the heat-treatment process, and if the heating were perfectly even, it could be omitted, and the razor allowed to cool in air. It is simply in case a higher temperature in the part most directly heated causes the temperature in the vital area, the edge, to rise higher.

    Drop-forging in dies requires expensive die-making, and a drop-hammer, even for freehand forging, is a large and expensive piece of equipment. For something as small and simple as a razor, which would have to be trued up by the grinding and polishing process anyway, hand forging made more sense. I would guess that they had a sort of dolly with a cylincrically curved top, to plug into the hardy hole of the anvil, and perhaps a hammer to match, to reduce the amount of grinding done.
    It has been common for blacksmiths to use a shaped "flatter" or even perhaps a spring fuller for a very many years. I would bet that this was very common and it would make quick work of forging the general shape of the blade. Most likely it was made onto a square piece of stock to fit into the hardy hole so that one man could place the steel between the round fuller of between the two pieces of the flatter and hit the top of the tool to form the blade.
    Last edited by WillN; 07-20-2011 at 01:22 PM.

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