How to Sharpen a Wedge Blade

Let's talk about single and double edged razors and the blades that they use.
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D.Irving79
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How to Sharpen a Wedge Blade

Post by D.Irving79 » Sat Aug 30, 2008 1:27 pm

so........for a long time i asked around, i searched high and low on the internet, i asked for the assistance from so called "honemeisters"....and nothing. i could get no help to sharpen a 2 inch piece of metal resembling a piece of a straight razor called a wedge blade. for the curious, a wedge blade was the first safety razor "blade". it was NOT disposable and had to be resharpened for continuous use. i recieved mine when i won an auction for an 1888 kampfe bros. star razor, and ever since then ive wanted to use it, but i really didnt know where to start as far as sharpening it went, and i didnt feel like spending $$ on a good strop, x7623945623 stone, etc.

the other day i recieved a full gem junior outfit i had purchased that included an automatic stropping machine. i knew this was something i would have needed if i wanted to attempt to sharpen a wedge blade myself, but people selling automatic stroppers were either REALLY overcharging for them or had ones in very poor condition.

anyways, yesterday i was bored, threw together some basic items that could accomplish the setup. as far as the end result, i would know if i tried. but it worked; today i shaved with it in the 1888 Kampfe and the shave wasn't GREAT, but it was good. the blade was sharp, shave ready. it needed a bit more, but my methods had worked; i had found a formula. so here it is, step by step:

first, the tools of the trade:



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at the top we have a stropping attachment. under that we have a stropping handle; mine happens to be the handle of a GEM razor. to the left we have the hone section of a rolls razor. in the center, the wedge blade itself. to the right, the stropping machine. in this case, a GEM. and lastly, a strop. i used a valet.

after you insert the stropping attachment into the stropping handle, you will want to insert the blade:

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youll notice that its hanging out slightly. that is to cope with the metal edges of the lid of the rolls hone. next, the actual honing itself. up one way on one side, then back the other way on the other side (duh). keep it FLAT btw:

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i neglected to keep count, but i kept it up for at least 1-2 hours. ymmv: one blade might be duller or sharper than the other.

after youve done the honing, youll want to do some stropping. prepare the stropper:

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youll notice the empty slot in the middle. on the right, theres a pin with a spring that pulls out for blade insertion. pull it back, insert the blade, snap it into place:

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now youll need to run your strop through the stropper. hook the strop to a secure place facing you, pull it under the first roller, then under the turn pin, then under the second roller. youre basically doing this in steps towards you:

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you run the stropper up and down the strop. the turn pin flips the blade back and forth exactly like it would a valet auto strop razor. repeat as needed. i tested the blade on my face. even a dull blade can cut arm hair. the finger test can work as well, or that folded hair test they do with straight razors (i think thats how they do it).

....id like to thank the 2 people that are interested in this :lol:

Sando
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Post by Sando » Sat Aug 30, 2008 2:18 pm

Next up - Dave tackles Clear Picture Photography.... :wink: Seriously, that's some dedication to your craft? hobby? I'll bet it's been 70+ years since that gear has seen some work.

You said you tested it on your face. Done a full shave yet?

...Ray

george
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Post by george » Sat Aug 30, 2008 2:21 pm

2 words for you Dave:

youtube video.

I'd like to see it in action :)
-Michael

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D.Irving79
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Post by D.Irving79 » Sat Aug 30, 2008 2:36 pm

Sando wrote:Next up - Dave tackles Clear Picture Photography.... :wink: Seriously, that's some dedication to your craft? hobby? I'll bet it's been 70+ years since that gear has seen some work.

You said you tested it on your face. Done a full shave yet?

...Ray
hey give me a break. im still learning how to use my camera :lol:

im a big fan of the first safety razors, so if i can use them, i will.

that stropping machine is patent 1898 actually, so its the first model that gem cutlery introduced with its razor outfits.

did a full 3 pass shave today. gonna do it again tomorrow. did some more honing and stropping today to try and fine tune the edge on the blade.


michael: if i can, i will. you wont see me though. just the machine in action. my myth will grow in the meantime :lol:

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Pauldog
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Post by Pauldog » Sat Aug 30, 2008 4:56 pm

Very clever there, using a Rolls hone. Not too hard to find an old Rolls razor online with a working hone - and something else not working or missing - to keep the price very low.
Last edited by Pauldog on Tue Sep 02, 2008 7:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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D.Irving79
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Post by D.Irving79 » Sat Aug 30, 2008 5:21 pm

i just used the one from the rolls i use for spare parts, so i guess it served its purpose :D

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razorcat
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Post by razorcat » Sat Aug 30, 2008 5:34 pm

I always wondered how that was done. Thanks Dave for the info.

Eddie

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Pauldog
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Post by Pauldog » Tue Sep 02, 2008 7:48 pm

I'd be surprised if you couldn't also strop it on a conventional strop, using that handle Dave used to hold it for honing.

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D.Irving79
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Post by D.Irving79 » Tue Sep 02, 2008 9:50 pm

you most likely can i think.

tom myers
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Post by tom myers » Sun Dec 07, 2008 9:07 pm

Dave, when you hone a straight razor blade, you have the spine of the blade as well as the edge down against the hone. When you put the safety razor wedge blade in the stropping handle, you are actually holding the spine up off the hone. Is there a reason you feel that these wedge blades should be honed at a different angle than a straight?

You may well be right, but I guess I would have expected that they would have been honed the same as a straight razor blade.

Regards,
Tom

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D.Irving79
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Post by D.Irving79 » Mon Dec 08, 2008 10:59 am

tom, its basically honed the same as a straight. the apparatus w/ the wedge blade insterted is completely FLAT against the stone. id be doing the "X" pattern, but the edges of the rolls hone stone prevent me from doing so.

alcx77
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Post by alcx77 » Sat Oct 10, 2009 4:03 pm

Would this sharpening princeple work on a Gem hi carbon blade?

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D.Irving79
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Post by D.Irving79 » Sat Oct 10, 2009 5:09 pm

possibly, but you definitely cant use all the items i have shown. if it worked for you, im thinking the most youd get is about 2-4 shaves extra.

alcx77
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Post by alcx77 » Sun Nov 08, 2009 1:38 pm

Interesting that a Gem blade cannot be continually maintained.

fishgutmartyr
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Post by fishgutmartyr » Tue Feb 09, 2010 10:48 pm

These things fascinate me--how does it shave?
John.

I'll think of something clever eventually.

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D.Irving79
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Post by D.Irving79 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 2:46 pm

the shave is very passable (if that makes sense). certainly not BBS, but very close.

johnmrson
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Post by johnmrson » Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:43 pm

Good post. I've got a Wilkinson Sword with the wedge blades and I haven't gotten around to shaving with it yet so it'll give me some good tips for getting the wedges sharp.

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SmallTank
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Post by SmallTank » Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:19 pm

any clear images?

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SRD
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Post by SRD » Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:58 pm

I just bought a Kampfe Star Lathercatcher and just today figured out how to load a modern SE blade into it. Works like a charm. Looking forward to my first shave with it. Mine was the one that came in a tin box with 1 blade which has a chipped edge. I don't even know if it could be properly sharpened. I think I am going to get in touch with Glenn and send it to him to see what he thinks.
Dave

gugi
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Post by gugi » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:16 pm

I have only honed the rolls blades and they seem thicker than the ones on these pictures.
I didn't use a handle, just my hand to push the blade across the hone the same way (x-pattern) as regular straights. I also use the exact same tests and visuals as with straight throughout the honing progression.
Of course, the most important part, just as with regular straight, is cleaning the damage and setting the bevel (the paperwork with rolls says this part is a service to be done back at the factory).
The blade acted exactly the same as old sheffield wedges, which they essentially are, just shorter and wider shape.

I didn't like much the rolls hone and the rolls strop - way too rough of an edge. Any other hone that I'd shave off with a straight razor (coticules, thuringians, nakayama, naniwa 8k/12k) produced the expected much better results. For the stropping part, the best edge was, also as expected, on my regular leather strops (laid on a flat surface and again holding the blade free hand), but an easy improvement with the provided rolls mechanism was to slide a piece of newspaper and strop on it (I suppose replacing the stropping surface with leather would work very nicely, but I haven't done it).

So at the end of the day when I did everything right I got it to shave like a nice sheffield wedge.

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