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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Today's Question: Can You Bring An Old Scratched, Corroded Razor Back To life?

I received an email yesterday and I thought the question might be of enough general interest to post the question and answer in my blog.  Here it is:

"I know nothing about re-conditioning razors. I thought there might be a way to buff the blades and make then shiny and new again. It sounds like that is not the case. I am guessing that if a razor has a faint etching nothing can be done. I pulled out a razor tonight that has an etched lion on the blade but the etching is faint. My thought was maybe you could bring it back to life. Should I assume it is not possible?   Thanks for your thoughts and time."

Dear Writer,

Etches are particularly tough - especially if they are photochemical and not mechanical.  Mechanical etches (those made by an etching tool) tend to be deeper than their photochemical cousins, which are much shallower and more delicate and can be worn off simply by normal use.  Obviously, any sort of harsh abrasive would destroy them, and if that abrasive is applied under power, the delicate design can be destroyed in seconds.

Keep in mind that even the lightest scratch is actually a depression that has been made in the metal.  In the case of a light scratch, that depression is very small, but in the case of corrosion, that depression is much, much larger.  As I have mentioned in articles I have written on the topic, the only way to "remove" a scratch or corrosion spot is to remove enough metal around that spot to reach the bottom of the depression made by the defect.  As you can imagine, that isn't so hard when the scratch is light, but when it's deep, it can be a huge project.  And that assumes that there is enough metal there to do it. This usually isn't a problem with a wedge, since they are so "meaty," but it is often a major issue in dealing with more modern, hollow-ground razors - German ones in particular. These problems increase when your defect is near the edge, where the metal can be paper thin.

Personally, it is my practice never to remove metal below the original base layer of the razor's surface.  So in that respect, I don't really "restore" razors.  But I do find ways to make them look better within my rather strict parameters.  One of the most significant things you can do is to remove surface rust.  You can remove very light rust with 0000 steel wool and a light oil like WD-40.  This will not do anything for real corrosion or severe rust, but you will find it helps a lot on very light coatings of bright orange rust. To keep the razor rust free, it is important to keep a light coating of oil or a protectant such as Tuf-Glide on the blade at all times when not shaving with it.

I hope this is somewhat useful to you.

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