Hand Tools Archive
So, I don't know all of tanifuji's different steels. I've had three of his razors (still have two - one good one (that's all one needs), but all three of those have been marked silver steel or swedish. I can't tell the difference between them. The steel is just a bit harder than most german razors, but it's the little things about the two good ones I've had, including the one I still have - it's a little harder, it's a little more finely finished (as well finished as anything I've seen), it seems to respond just a little bit better, the quality of the grins is perfect (outside of japan, this went downhill pretty quickly with german razors and the grind quality in the 60s and later is pretty bad, coarse, quickly done...plenty of older american and german razors that aren't as straight as they should be ,too. Dovo company in germany says it's hard to convince people who are career oriented to spend the years that it takes to get good at grinding on a production basis)
I went on a binge two or three years ago buying stuff off of yahoo auctions in japan and keeping what I like. There are pickers over there who seem to constantly pull stuff out of retiring or retired barber shops (inexpensive really wonderful razor finishing stones, old unused german razors, old yasuki steel razors, and a gaggle of kamisoris, which someone in japan advised me are "sold mostly to foriegners).
I still have some yasuki razors, and I probably have some kamisori marked tamahagane that were $15 or so each in lots of 10 mostly because they just need to be reground (guess what CBN wheels are good at - not overheating kamisori and doing a neat job regrinding the hollow).
I have only shaved with maybe 5 yasuki razors that aren't kamisori, and they tend to be a little harder but still good quality. Guessing on really hard steel (like some european razors have done with boutique super high carbon steels) doesn't always turn out well.
All that said, the only razor that I'm aware of that's really sand iron steel is iwasaki, and they were always more than I'd want to pay (in western style - I had an iwasaki branded newer kamisori and nothing about it really stood out - I've had inexpensive older castoffs needing a regrind that turned out to be better shavers).
Needless to say, I still have a bunch of razors to unload - folks who are using linen and a strop will often probably prefer something a lot more like tanifuji's silver and swedish (or any good straight german or japanese razor) than they will some of the more really hard tempered razors that don't respond that well to stropping. There's a point (and I don't know what it is) where steel no longer responds the same to a bare leather strop, and it doesn't matter for tools, but it's problematic with traditional razor care and maintenance. plainness of steel is generally 10 times more important than tools, too, as even 01 makes a bum razor compared to silver steel drill rod (which is only slightly alloyed).