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The most important article of the shaving outfit is of course the razor, and

Shaving Made Easy, 1905 - Razor.png


upon its selection your success or failure in self-shaving will largely depend. Never purchase a razor because it happens to be cheap; a poor razor is dear at any price. You want not the cheapest, but the best.

A good razor if rightly used, will last for years, and will be a source of continual pleasure when used, whereas a poor razor will do inferior work, irritate the skin and make the face sore, and be a continual source of trouble and annoyance. If you have such a razor, the sooner you throw it aside and substitute a good one, the better.

The principal point to be considered in selecting a razor is the quality of the steel. By "quality" is meant its temper or degree of solidity, and its consequent capability of receiving, even after a series of years, a firm and fine edge. This is undoubtedly the first point to which the purchaser should give attention. By what means though, can he judge of the temper of a razor without using it? The unassisted eye is not sufficient. Its power extends no further than to the discovery of defects the most striking and injurious. The irregularities in a razor's edge, which arise from improper tempering and lack of skill in working, are usually so minute, that they may remain undistinguished until the razor is used. They will nevertheless very sensibly add to the friction the razor produces on the skin and particularly if it happens to be thin and tender. There are two ways of judging of the temper of a razor; one of these is practically infallible—viz:—the examination of the blade and its edge by means of a microscope.

It will be readily admitted that the real excellence of a razor is in direct proportion to the firmness and unbroken regularity of its edge. When a razor is too brittle, in consequence of having been either to much heated in the process of hardening, or not sufficiently cooled in that of tempering, it cannot possibly take a good cutting edge, no matter how much skill may be employed in honing and stropping it. Such defects are quickly detected by the use of a microscope in the hands of an experienced and attentive observer.

The other method of testing the temper, while not infallible, will nevertheless be of assistance even to the most inexperienced. It consists of catching the point of the blade under the thumb nail, and then letting the nail slip off quickly. If the blade gives a good clear ring, you may conclude that it is well tempered, but if it does not ring full and clear it is an indication that the blade is tempered unevenly.

The Concave Blade.

The thinnest edge is always the sharpest. A blade ought therefore to be as thin as the strength of the metal composing it will permit. Nearly all razors are now made "hollow-ground" or "concave"— a great improvement over the old style of thick blade. The edge of the hollow-ground razor is thinner and therefore cuts better, and is much easier to keep sharp.

Almost any desired make of razor may be had in either half, three-quarters, or full concave. The full concave blade is of course the thinnest. In view of the fact that the thinner the edge the sharper the instrument, most purchasers of a razor quite naturally conclude that the full concave blade is the best. Our impression is that this is a mistake; that the full concave blade is not so good for shaving most beards as the three-quarters concave. In a very deeply hollow ground razor, the blade is ground extremely thin, back to a line some distance from the edge. When such an edge—almost as thin as paper—comes in contact with a stiff beard, unless the the blade is held very flat upon the face, it is quite likely to bend and spring, and a cut will be the result.

Width of the Blade.
The width of the blade is another point that should receive attention. As a rule we believe the beginner selects too wide a blade. A comparatively narrow one, in the size known as the 4-8 is the
Shaving Made Easy, 1905 - Blade-widths.png


best for most purposes, as it does not spring on the face so readily as the wide blade, yet it follows the contours of the face more closely, and in general is managed more easily.
Point of the Blade.

The point of the razor ought to be slightly rounded as shown in the illustration

Shaving Made Easy, 1905 - Round-nose razor.png


Shaving Made Easy, 1905 - Square-nose razor.png


While this is seemingly a small matter, yet a sharp point has probably occasioned more cuts than almost any other cause. If you have a razor with a sharp point, you can round it off, on the edge of the hone. You should not use the top surface of the hone for this purpose, for if you do you are quite likely to scratch the hone and spoil it. Use water freely otherwise the blade will become heated and that would quickly spoil its temper.