Straight Razor FAQs

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    Why shave with a straight razor?

    Until the invention of disposable safety razors by King Gillette in 1901, all shaving was done with straight blades. When safety razors came onto the market, they were a cash cow to razor blade manufacturers due to the continual need for customers to purchase replacement blades. The disposable razor became popular with men who had never learned to use a straight razor and did not want to pay a professional barber for shaves several times a week.

    However, those who knew how to use a straight razor continued to prefer them because they provide a much closer and more comfortable shave than any safety razor can achieve. Straight razor shaving reduces "razor burn", ingrown hairs, and irritation that can be caused from safety razor blades designed to last only a few weeks.

    Save money. Straight razors eliminate the need to continually buy replacement blades. Modern multi-blade disposable cartridges cost $2 - $3 each and last only around two weeks for most users. That cost will add-up! By contrast, with minimal care your straight razor will last you a lifetime.

    It's good for the environment. Last year, 2 billion disposable cartridges were added to landfills in the United States! Why not invest instead in a straight razor which, built to last, can be handed down to your son and grandson.

    It's just plain fun. Many men simply like tools. They like to take pride in learning a skill to achieve a superior result. Such men get a lot of satisfaction from straight razor shaving.

    What is a razor strop?

    A straight razor strop is a strip of leather or canvas used to straighten the edge of the blade after each use. Stropping is different than honing or sharpening in which metal is removed from the blade; stropping simply straightens the blade to re-acquire an even edge.

    Because the hollow-ground edge of a straight razor is extremely sharp and thin, usage creates minor distortions along the blade; stropping restores your razorís straight edge so that the imperfections donít multiply over time. A strop dressing or paste occasionally applied to the strop will keep the leather supple.

    Many strops, like the ones Excalibur Cutlery's, feature a secondary strip of linen which is used when a rougher surface is needed. Find stropping instructions in our Straight Razor Use and Care page.

    Do I need to sharpen my razor?

    All well-used straight razors will need occasional sharpening (also called "honing") with a sharpening stone. Depending on your beard's coarseness and frequency of use, your straight razor will need honing every 2 months to a year. Find honing instructions in our Straight Razor Use and Care section.

    We hone and strop all of our straight razors before they ship out, so you can use it right out of the box.

    Where are Excalibur's straight razors manufactured?

    All of our straight razors are imported from Germany. Although there are several American companies who manufacture good straight razors, in our experience the quality of German Steel and the expertise of the Solingen craftsmen is unbeatable. Solingen has been a center of expert blade-making since the Middle Ages, and is home to such carbon-steel cutlery giants as Dreiturm, Dovo, Wusthof, J.A. Henckels and Boker.

    You can find many cheap straight razors from other foreign countries, but we do not carry these brands as they do not meet our standards. We want to be sure that the razor you receive from Excalibur Cutlery will last a lifetime.

    What does "hot forged" mean?

    Forging, as opposed to casting, involves forming the hot metal into shape under force, so that it develops an internal "grain" and increased strength. Excalibur Cutlery's straight razor blades are hot forged to give you a very sturdy razor at low weight.

    What is the difference between the straight razors in Excalibur's selection?

    All of our razors feature a quality high-carbon Solingen steel hollow-ground blade. Our deluxe models also have an attractive gold etching on one side of the blade. We have a wide range of exotic-handled razors, such as ebony, wood-grain ivory, olivewood, mother of pearl, and buffalo horn. Our Giardo Solingen black plastic handled straight razor is a great introductory razor, but those wishing to upgrade might enjoy one of our razors with premium handles.

    What is a "hollow ground blade"?

    Hollow ground refers to the razor's cross-section having a concave shape. This makes the razor come to a much sharper edge than if the sides tapered straight down like a wedge.

    Hollow-ground blades are much lighter, sharper and take less time to hone. The fine edge makes it important to strop your blade after each use to straighten the edge. All of Excalibur Cutlery's straight razors feature hollow ground blades for the best shave available on the planet.

    What is "high-carbon steel"?

    Steel is an alloy of mostly carbon and iron; the higher the carbon content, the more expensive and strong the steel is. Stainless steel has higher corrosion-resistance, but high-carbon steel is stronger and better able to maintain a sharp blade.

    Unless the straight razor is marked "Stainless Steel", all of Excalibur Cutlery's razors are made with high-carbon steel blades to achieve the very finest, sharp edge. As long as you dry your straight razor thoroughly after each use, it will last many years with no corrosion. A fine coating of oil is recommended if you are not going to use your razor for some time, or in high-humidity climates.

    How can the razor be personalized?

    Excalibur Cutlery can personalize your razor with a personalized monogram or inscription. The razor will be engraved directly onto the blade.

    Most of Excalibur's wide inventory of shaving implements, manicure sets, flasks, lighters and gifts are engraveable. Inscriptions and monograms are performed by our engraving team here at the warehouse, and then ship directly to you. Please allow one extra day for engraving. If you have any custom engraving requests, just call! 1-800-366-7405

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