There is an entire vocabulary surrounding the straight razor, and sometimes when the pros talk using these jargons, you are like, 'what is he talking about?' So, you need to learn the parts of a straight razor.
No worries, we got your back here at Naked Armor.
Realizing the purpose of each part of a straight razor will have you using this grooming tool like a professional before you know it.
So, let’s break down a straight razor, shall we?
- Basic Parts of a Straight Razor
- Specific Straight Razor Parts
- Razor Grinds
- Finding the Perfect Straight Razor
Parts of a Straight Razor
Basic Parts of a Straight Razor
One of the unique characteristics that separate a straight razor from other shaving tools is its straightforwardness. It is a simple and easy-to-use tool. And even if it requires absolute craftsmanship to make, you can narrow down its section into two parts: the tang and jimps.
No, the tang is not an orange powder you put in water. It is nothing like the artificial fruit juice you are familiar with.
The tang is the straight razor’s metal section that lets you hold the tool correctly while grooming your face. It allows your index, middle, ring, and pinky fingers to get a good grip.
The jimps are ridges on the tang that help you hold the razor. They are like small speed bumps for your fingers.
Note that not every straight razor has jimps. That is because some guys like the smooth feel of the steel, and others like a bit of resistance.
The Invisible Edge says that jimps first appeared on the large, wedge-bladed razors, a popular barber’s tool in the 1800s. The design makes sense since barbers may need to have a firm grip on the blade before he wields it on your face.
Now that you have the basics down, let’s learn the specific parts that make up the straight razor.
The pivot pin is the bolt allowing the straight razor to open and close so you can use it. It is an essential aspect of a straight razor and requires an ideal amount of tension to keep the blade steady while you shave.
The tail is connected to the tang and often projects out beyond the pivot pin. It acts as a counterbalance to the blade. It should not be too heavy or extend too far past the pivot pin to achieve a perfect balance for precision.
The scales are the materials of the straight razor handle. They can be plastic, steel, brass, or wood. Why anyone would buy a plastic straight razor is beyond reason—you might as well use a disposable razor.
The primary function of a straight razor’s scale is to be the point of balance on the opened pivot pin. It is vital in creating that ideal amount of tension that makes a pivot pin work. That is why using a material like wood that could offset the weight of the blade is preferable over using plastic and resin for the handle or scales.
Here at Naked Armor, we like to use fine woods that last, look great, and help add weight to the blade. You are buying something that has the potential to last decades, so invest a little money to get something nice.
Naked Armor’s selection of straight razors comes with handles from a Biblical wood, algum, which traces its lineage back to the Temple of Solomon. It elevates your shaving experience to an entirely new level of luxury.
The shoulder of the blade is the thicker section near the tang. It is where the blade starts to take form and separate from the thick steel of the tang. Simply put, the shoulder is the transition point to the shaving thickness of the blade.
The heel is the blade section at the bottom of the shoulder and is nearest to the tang. Think of it as a safeguard for your thumb.
The edge is the part of the straight razor that cuts your facial hair, usually made of stainless steel. However, not all straight razor edges are ready for shaving. Some companies produce razors that you need to hone and strop yourself before use.
If your straight razor is not shave-ready, it is best to learn how to use a strop to sharpen it up and maintain its edge. But, be careful not to roll your edge, thus removing the cut-ability of the blade. If you roll it, you will have to hone it.
The face describes that section parallel to your facial skin when you are using the razor. It is usually where you will see the razor logo. Some even use photo-etching on the straight razor’s face to add more character and aesthetic appeal to the tool.
The spine is the section of the blade that is opposite the cutting edge. Pros often call it the top.
Cheaper razors tend to have thin spines, which substantially decreases the weight and might not allow enough blade to scale balance for great shaving.
The toe is the part of a straight razor furthest from the tang and is the point when the edge moves toward the point.
Point or Tip
Pros often refer to the end of the straight razor as the tip or point. It can come in many shapes to help you maneuver around your mustache. It is generally round or square and is a stylistic aesthetic.
However, Beard Mag suggests sticking to rounded tips for beginners as it is easier to manage, lessening accidental nicks and cuts.
Straight razors are more than just their blade and handle. It requires a harmonious synergy of all the razor parts to function correctly and give you an excellent shave. That is why when looking for a straight razor, you need to consider how well each part was made.
Straight razors do not have cookie-cutter designs. After all, they have a long history, and a lot of brands are making them.
Aside from the essential parts of a straight razor, you also need to know about razor grinds. Doing so will ensure that you will only find the best quality razor suitable for your grooming needs.
Razor grind is the difference in the thickness of the razor blade and the shape of the straight razor’s face. You will notice that some razors have a flat face with a thick blade. Meanwhile, some razors have thin blades with hollow faces.
Creating a straight razor begins in forging a piece of steel into a blank. Then, later on in the process, the blank goes through grinding, determining its thickness and shape.
A straight razor’s grind can either be hollow or a wedge.
Straight razors with a hollow grind have a concave face. The blade is thinner as the grinding process removes more materials from the steel.
Blades that are hollowed and thin are more flexible and more delicate to the skin. It does not add much pressure on your face as you shave. What is fun is that its thinness somehow allows you to sense whenever the blade cuts through your hair.
The entire opposite of a hollow grind is the wedge grind. This kind of finish creates a flat and thick face of a straight razor. Vintage straight razors often wear this grind, meaning it is rare to find in today’s designs.
Unlike the hollow grind, a wedge grind has a heavier weight. It can be challenging to glide smoothly over your face, especially if you are not a pro. However, blades with a wedge grind are better for cutting thicker hair.
Modern straight razor designs steer more towards the hollow grind. Not only is it easier to use, but it is also less challenging to manage since the wedge grind’s thickness can be hard to hone.
Finding the Perfect Straight Razor
There is an increasing need for straight razors. And you might be worried that the ones currently available in the market today compromise the quality of their razors to meet the consumer’s needs.
Here at Naked Armor, we do not compromise quality for the demand.
We understand the value and importance that every part of a straight razor provides. Hence, we make sure that all of it—from the pivot to the tip—is carefully crafted. We only use the best kind of wood for our handles and even go beyond quality for our blades by using Japanese steel, which the Japanese use to create their samurai swords.
Each part of a straight razor is the key to its optimum functionality. Hence, when looking for the perfect razor, look for one that provides balance—quality blade, quality handle, and just the right weight—like our own straight razors.
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