Towards the 1850s, a razor became a thing of luxury. Blades were etched with intricate designs while handles were inlaid with silver and ivory and in some cases, even precious stones.
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Next to a blade, the handle should also come into consideration when buying your very own straight razor.
That’s because the quality of the handle can affect the overall result of your shave.
With a blade that’s very sharp, you need a well-crafted and durable handle to make sure that your grip remains firm and steady.
After all, you wouldn’t want to have an accident that would make your wife scream bloody murder when she sees your face full of cuts.
Handles Throughout History
Did you know that today’s razor handles were a far cry from what it used to be in the 1700s?
Back then, razors were crudely made - by today’s standards. The blade and handle were wedge-shaped. Horn, wood, and bone were the usual materials used for the handles, and the surface was almost always flat. Handles were made more for their practical value, although as the Invisible Edge noted, some had beveled surfaces, no doubt because it allowed users to have a firm grasp on the blade.
It was only during the 1800s that the handles - or to be technical about it, scales - began to show a slight curve. It was also around this period that the razors with decorative handles, usually made of pressed horn, began to appear.
Towards the 1850s, razor craftmanship skyrocketed. A razor became a thing of luxury. Blades were etched with intricate designs while handles were inlaid with silver and ivory and in some cases, even precious stones. Surviving razors from this period are now very valuable heirloom pieces. Today, razor collectors would go into a frenzy if they happen to find an heirloom piece for sale.
The most prized handles are those made of ivory, buffalo horn, and mother-of-pearl. Please be warned though, that the use of ivory for anything is outlawed in most countries, so do be careful in acquiring an ivory scale straight razor.
Modern Day Scales
These days, plastic and resin are commonly used for as scales for straight razors. For the more discerning man, there are also razors which come equipped with quality wooden scales. Similarly, there are also metal scale straight razors, but there is not much demand for those because according to the Bespoke Unit, it is difficult to achieve the proper tension need for the pivot pin (the rivet that holds the scales together over the blade) to work properly.
Qualities Of A Handle
Beyond the type of material, there are three important qualities that one should consider in a handle. These are:
The choice of whether to pick a straight razor with heavy or a lightweight handle will largely depend on your personal preferences. Metal handles tend to be heavier and is best suited for those with sensitive skins. You only need to grip the handle lightly, and the weight of the handle will manage the pressure of the blade for you, resulting to a clean and smooth shave. Lighter handles made of wood or plastic, however, will allow you to control the pressure. This comes in handy especially when one is trimming the edges of a beard or sideburns.
A curved handle allows a much more comfortable grip on the razor. The user does not need to bend the wrist any more than necessary when passing the blade to the skin. In contrast, kamisori razors with their straight handles require more skill in order to get a similar and smooth shave. That’s because the user needs to adjust the angle constantly to reach every corner of the face.
When opened, a quality straight razor’s balance should be at the center of the pivot pin. A good handle balances the razor so that it is more comfortable to hold while helping cut precisely at all the right angles.
Sandalwood is more valuable than ever. Which makes the Naked Armor Straight Razor a very select item, worthy for the man of distinction.
— D'Rock, Naked Armor Founder
Handle With Care
Different kinds of handles also require different levels of maintenance. The least intensive would probably be plastic handles. In general, Uniclectica recommends avoiding soap and detergents when cleaning handles. Wipe with a damp cloth moistened with distilled water and dry immediately, using clean absorbent cotton.
Wooden and metal handles are a different matter. While generally compatible, under adverse conditions, corrosion can occur and will not be good for the razor.
Handles made from oak, sweet chestnut, red cedar are usually associated with corrosion of metals when in contact with them in damp environment. Similarly, iron and steel are usually susceptible to corrosion when in contact with wood and water.
A razor with wooden handles must always be pat dry with cloth after every use and stored away in an airtight dry container. Don’t place it in a bathroom since the constant moisture might corrode the handle. Store it instead in your bedroom drawers.
So Does Picking The Right Handle For A Straight Razor Matter?
Yes, it does.
When buying a razor, most people think more about the blade than the handle but choosing the right handle is also important because the right one can add more value and make the straight razor more durable enough to last a long time.
Both razors come equipped with finely crafted Japanese steel blades which fold neatly into a high-quality sandalwood scales.
Now sandalwood is one of the most valuable wood in the world and holds a religious significance among most of the world’s religions. This is because sandalwood is supposedly the legendary algum wood which was used to build King Solomon’s Temple in Biblical times.
Now if that doesn’t give you a heightened level of coolness when you shave, then maybe this next bit of info will.
Sandalwood is actually good for your health.
Yup, for centuries, people used sandalwood as a herbal remedy for chest and urinary infections. The wood produces an essential oil that has anti-viral properties which makes it a promising treatment for genital tract infections.
The oil is also a mild astringent which is why it is a popular ingredient in aftershaves and facial toners to soothe and tone the skin.
It also contains powerful anti-oxidants which prevent the formation of wrinkle-causing free radicals. When used as a face mask, it can help restore skin tone through an anti-inflammatory component that helps improve blood circulation to your face, making it an excellent anti-aging fix.
But more than your physical health, sandalwood is also good for your mental wellness.
Sandalwood is a favorite component in aromatherapy preparations. Unlike other aromatic woods, they retain their fragrance for a long time. When inhaled, the fragrance triggers a calming effect and promotes mental clarity. So you can just imagine how shaving regularly with a Naked Armor Straight Razor can make you more healthy and ready to face your day.
Unfortunately, because of the many benefits of sandalwood, it has been often harvested without any regard for its species survival. This is why sandalwood is now a protected species and in places like India and Indonesia, it is illegal to cut down sandalwood trees to allow the local population to recover.
But since sandalwood is used for many important applications in traditional medicine, trade and even religion, countries like Australia and some Southeast Asian nations have set aside sandalwood plantations for limited harvesting.
Naturally, because there is limited supply, sandalwood is more valuable than ever. Which makes the Naked Armor Straight Razor a very select item, worthy for the man of distinction.
So why settle for a straight razor with an ordinary wooden handle when you can have more? Click this to add Naked Armor to your cart now.