This is a guest post from Russ, founder of Australian start up Cut Throat Club.
Picking out your first straight razor can be a difficult process.
There are hundreds of razors available in all different sizes, styles, and prices. Deciding what is important for you and narrowing down the options is crucial.
This article shows the 7 main criteria you need to consider when choosing your very best straight razor.
1. Origin of manufacture
The country in which the razor was manufactured can give a good indication of its quality – and by this I mean the quality of the steel, the tempering (hardening) process, how sharp it is directly from the factory, and the balance between the handle (also known as scales) and the blade.
Generally speaking the highest quality razors are produced in Germany or France, although there is a growing supply coming from the United States.
There are also a wide range of razors being produced in China and Pakistan, however these are ones to avoid – even if the price range make it tempting.
A poor quality razor can ruin your entire shaving experience.
2. Style and design
If you want to purchase a razor that you will continue to enjoy using for years to come then you need to appreciate its style and beauty.
There are many different variations in this from the colouring, ornamentations on the blade and tang, and the overall shape.
Find a razor that appeals to your sense of style – because I am certain that you will want to show it off to all of your friends as well!
3. Blade width
The width of the blade is an important measurement and it is usually described in terms of 1/8ths of an inch. The most common blade width is 5/8th with larger razors going up to 7/8ths and beyond.
The reason this is a good criteria to look out for is the weight of the razor.
The wider the blade the more steel is in it and the heavier it becomes. A very wide razor can also be more difficult to manoeuvre around your nose and those difficult to reach locations.
4. Handle material
This is generally an ascetic choice, but it is important to consider.
Would you be happy with a plastic handle, or do you want something more like wood?
Straight razors come in all different styles, so you will want to check this before committing to a purchase. There are even some extremely rare razor handles made from Ivory – so just check first.
5. Steel type
The type of steel the razor blade is made from is very important, but it can be very difficult to find out.
Equally as important is the heat treatment and hardening processes that go into the blade, but this is almost impossible to discover. These changes to the steel change how long a razor will hold its edge and how difficult it is to sharpen.
I would recommend going with a high quality manufacturer (so you don’t need to worry about these issues), but if not then try to get carbon steel.
Some razors are also made from cheap stainless steel which is very easy to sharpen but even easier to blunt – you will find yourself constantly honing your razor to keep it sharp.
Having said that there are also high quality stainless steel razors available, but they have undergone the appropriate hardening processes.
6. Blade point
The shape of the blade point is interesting to consider for two reasons – first is the style.
There are a few different points that are most common – round, square, French, Spanish, and Barber’s notch. Some razors simply look better depending on the shape of their tip.
The second is practicality – for a beginner a square nose razor has a higher possibility of cuts as the tip has a 90 degree angle. A round point is much more forgiving to sudden changes in angle or direction.
7. Price range
Straight razors can be found anywhere from $5 to thousands of dollars.
I would avoid the low end razors at all costs. I have purchased many myself just to see and you would be better off shaving with a blunt butter knife.
The higher end razors are expensive because of their handle materials and styling.
They may have a more expensive wooden handle and gold trim in the blade or tang. For a beginner I would suggest aiming for the $100 mark or the entry level razor from a quality manufacturer.
There is a huge amount of information available online on straight razors, but in some cases it can be information overload.
As long as you have a razor that appeals to you aesthetically, and continually gives you a close shave day after day then it is absolutely perfect for you.
We have also put together a thorough guide to straight razors for beginners to try and sift through this to focus on the really key points.
About the Author: Russ Egan is the founder of Australian start up Cut Throat Club. They specialize in building straight razor kits for beginners by sifting through the wide range of options and sourcing razor equipment that is both of a high quality and affordable.
Main image courtesy: isn5000/BigStock.com