Hand Tools

Subject:
yes, but...

David Weaver
that's been going on longer than this sharpening fascination. I had some kind of curiosity about why people seemed to be more satisfied when everything was a bit more difficult. Turns out, the only thing really hard about good razors is making them (they are not nearly as easy to make well as other tools, so I haven't ventured into it and I'm going to not try to jinx myself by saying this, I'm not going to venture into trying to make them - even George said he wouldn't try it unless he was going to commit to making enough of them to do it well).

At any rate, just like everything else, I went through all of the oddballs and found that the best razors are just simple carbon steel. I had some in cryo stainless (Friodur), some in super high temper or high temper with added tungsten, no good. The only "Exotic" steel that makes a good razor is yasuki, which is similar to the spicy white discussed below.

All of the fascination with fine edge holding isn't really necessary for good woodwork, there's a good enough level, but the margin for error in a good razor is really small. And led me to ask this same question about disposables - why aren't they harder. I think the answer is that they don't need to be because of coatings. Not sure if they could be differentially hardened, but the steel that I've mentioned (AEB-L) that's sort of like a carbon-ish feeling stainless, that's a strip steel for razor blades. It can be made hard with care.

The fact that most of the exotic razors don't hold the fine edge very well does have a lot to do with my thoughts about plain steel for chisels - razoring and chiseling is a lot the same - one of the two is just at a tiny angle so the hairs become the "contaminants" that damage the edge.

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