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This site and all contents copyright© 2012 The Invisible Edge ltd. . All rights reserved. No deconstruction, copying or reproduction of contents, including images or text and/or processes used allowed except by written permissiion. Registered as a limited Company in England & Wales no. 7903928

When you multiply the above degrees of grind by the point shape and depth of blade, it adds up to the fact that Henckels - just one (albeit major) razor maker was in that year offering some 480 different razor models in their production schedule - and that’s just counting the three main blade point shapes mentioned above!


I do hope that this page has answered most of your questions regarding the jargon and specifications that relate to straight razors. As always, there are exceptions - (‘Bismarck’ style shoulderless blades for example!) but this page should cover the main points. I don’t pretend that everyone will agree with my terminology but I use it as my standard and keep to it wherever possible. Again, if you have any questions do drop me a line.


Thanks!

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Blade point shapes - identification.


Another knotty problem as blade points have different names in different countries. However, the three most common are -



ROUND






SQUARE





DREADNOUGHT

‘Sheffield notch’

cutout area

The ‘size’ of a blade is usually measured in multiples of 1/8 of an inch and is the distance from the SPINE to the EDGE (see above). Sizes range commonly from 4/8 (four eighths of an inch) to 8/8 (one full inch) though extremely narrow blades of 2/8 and very large examples up to 12/8 (one and a half inches) and beyond may be found. Just to confuse the issue, sizes of  9/16 and 11/16 do crop up regularly!We currently stock razors from 2/8 to 7/8 in size.

Round points are also called French points and are favoured in Europe generally over other point types.


Square points are also called spike points (especially in the USA) and are less favoured in Europe.


Dreadnought points are also called notch points although strictly speaking this is not true - a Dreadnought point may be seen as above (it resembles the prow of a WW1 ‘dreadnought’ battleship) and also with a semicircular ‘Sheffield notch’ (see above) cut out of the blade POINT. This was largely a cosmetic effect.


Several other point styles are made, including oblique and Spanish. However, the three above are most common, with the dreadnought generally being found on older razors (say pre-1900), though we do stock 6/8 and 7/8 new ‘dreadnought’ blades from Thiers-Issard.



Straight and swept blades


Another thing to remember about blades is their OVERALL shape. The basic shapes are -


Straight ( or parallel) - the most common shape in hollow ground razors. This means that the spine and edge are straight and run parallel to each other, as in the square point blade shown above.


Swept spine - sometimes seen in larger wedge razors, this means that the edge is straight but the spine is curved concavely, as in the dreadnought blade above.


Swept edge - sometimes known as a ‘smiling’ edge, especially in the USA, this is the reverse of the swept spine. In this layout the spine is straight and the edge curved convexly, as in the dreadnought blade above.


Fully swept - as can be guessed, this blade shape means that both spine and edge are curved along the same radius. This is more common in wedge razors of the later 19th. Century. The dreadnought blade above is in fact a fully swept blade. The amount of sweep can vary from a gentle sweep to a scimitar-like curve as in the ‘parabola’ style blades.

This section has been added to the site in response to questions from prospective buyers who aren’t sure of the standards or specifications used. I’ve tried to be as thorough in explanation as possible but if there’s anything you aren’t sure about don’t hesitate to drop me a line. Thanks!

NOSE - the part of the blade where SPINE meets POINT.

POINT - generally, the whole end of the blade, which can be of various shapes (see below).

TIP - the part of the blade where EDGE meets POINT.

SPINE - the blunt ‘back’ of the blade from NOSE to TANG.

EDGE - the sharp section of the blade between TIP and HEEL.

HEEL - the section of blade that sweeps up to meet the TANG.

TANG - the section of the razor that is held during shaving. Generally marked with the maker’s name or trademarks. May have JIMPS cut into the upper and lower surfaces.

JIMPS - also know as ‘fluttings’, these are serrated sections above and below the TANG that aid grip during shaving. They may be above, below, above and below, or not present at all depending on the razor’s make and age.

TRIGGER - also known as the ‘little tang’ or ‘monkey tail’. This aids opening the razor and also provides a positive location for the third finger whilst shaving.

PIVOT PIN - Of brass or steel, this is the pivot point for the blade.

HEEL PIN - this is the pin that hold the SCALES fixed together at their bottom end. There may also be a CENTRAL PIN midway between the two, sometimes called a ‘tang pin’.

SCALES - also known as ‘handles’. These are the two pieces of plastic, bone, bakelite, ivory or other material that guard the blade when closed and can vary from plain black to highly worked and decorated. All perform the same function, however.

BLADE STABILISERS - give torsional rigidity to hollow ground blades.

BLADE DEPTH - measured in 1/8’s of an inch - the razor above is a 7/8. One with a blade 1/2” deep would be described as a 4/8 and so on (see below).

HONE WEAR LINE - the ‘flat’ on the the spine shoulder caused by the abrasion of the hone when the blade has been re-honed. I generally define hone wear thus:

Minimal - the hone wear line is under 1/16” wide.

Evident - the hone wear line is between 1/16” and 1/8” wide

Pronounced - the hone wear line is over 1/8” wide

Full-wedge blades do not always fall under this system due to their very flat sides - hone wear often seems far worse than it actually is - individual descriptions will then apply.

Terms defining condition and quality.


MINT - an overused and generally incorrectly applied term. I only call a razor mint when it has never been used, and has only been honed BY MYSELF prior to sale. Anything else is NOT mint, a term originally used for ‘proof’ uncirculated coins.


EXTREMELY FINE - in almost-as-new condition, no blemishes, spots or marks to the blade. No marks, cracks or splits to the scales. The blade should be highly-polished and retain any decoration originally applied.


EXCELLENT - in very good condition, no major blemishes to the blade although may have dark marks and ‘patina’. No pitting to blade. Blade well polished and retaining any decorations. Scales to be complete without chips or cracks, though small marks acceptable.


GOOD - Blade to have no pitting except as specified individually, though it may have ‘patina’ and more extensive dark marks. Blade should be well-polished. Scales to be complete though chips or marks may be evident.


Individual razors may have, for instance, ‘excellent’ scales and a ‘good’ blade. My shave-ready razors always have a first-class edge. I always attempt to present as fair and correct a description as possible.

Nose

Spine

Tip

Point

Edge

Blade stabilisers

Scales

Tang

Trigger

Pivot pin

Heel pin

This view is known as the ‘front’ side. The other side is known as the ‘pile’ side.

Heel

Jimps

PART-NAMES OF A RAZOR

Site of central pin (when fitted).

Hone wear line

Blade

Depth

Degrees of grind and the Henckels scale.

The above statement is the definitive answer to a question I have been asked many times - “what’s the difference between a wedge blade and a hollow-ground one?” The reality of the matter is that the majority of blades are (nowadays) hollow-ground. Full wedge blades are usually only found on razors made before about 1880. A ¼ or ½ hollow grind will generally have one BLADE STABILISER, full hollow ground blades usually have two.


Added to this are the many varying degrees of grind, from full wedge to extreme hollow-ground. The Henckel scale (below) shows the 16 different grades of grind available in their 1914 catalogue, 1 being full-wedge and 16 extreme hollow.

Hi there! Thanks for visiting us. Here’s a brief run down of who we are and what we do -


Who we are: we’re straight razor specialists - that’s all we do, along with directly-related accessories

and our NEW range of own-brand fine kitchen knives.

What we do: We stock a wide range of straight razors that are - from the ‘edge of extinction’ -  now staging a big comeback. On this site we have vintage straight razors plus a full range of shaving accessories - shaving brushes, strops (including our own top-quality custom strops), hones, starter kits and more - just see the menu above left!

Our other sites Dovo Razors UK and Thiers-Issard UK offer a range of razors and accessories from these World-famous makers whilst Razor Sharpening UK offers a variety of services including cleaning, polishing, honing and refurbishment of straight razors.

"The tongues of mocking wenches are as keen/As is the razor's edge invisible,/

Cutting a smaller hair than may be seen/"

Part of this quote was changed slightly and used on the blade of Butler's 'Keen' razor (featured here, top of page). It refers to the fact that the edge of a straight razor is so fine and sharp that it is actually very difficult to see -

hence ' The Invisible Edge'. We’re nothing if not well-read!

Oh, yes. The name. The Invisible Edge?  Well, that comes from Shakespeare's 'Loves Labours Lost', Act 5, Scene 2, where Boyet says-

About Us...

We operate from our base in Malvern, UK and deliver world-wide. We have now been a Limited Company for two years andwe would like to say a big ‘thank you’ for to all our customers stretching back to 2006, when we started out. We remain a small, individualistic firm and like to think we give our customers the best all-round deal we can. 2014 should see the introduction of more of our ‘own-label’ products (all tested and used by us before being OK’d) and also a greater range of razors. Thanks again!

Jargon Buster


Confused by all the different descriptions and such? Then this section is for you!