“Sometimes what looks like Trash may actually be salvageable Treasure. With the right tools, focus and patience you can sometimes come out ahead when you would have thought it was a total loss.”
This is what I started with. A straight razor acquired in a bundle deal that was so corroded and rusty I didn’t know what would be left after restoration. By wiping things down a bit with a damp cloth I could see it was a Wade & Butcher so why not give it a chance?
I try to do as much work by hand as possible to avoid damage from power tools but this one was going to be a challenge. However, seeing the horn scales and the faux frameback on top of being a Wedge as well as the Wade & Butcher stamp I could ‘mostly’ make out with magnification, I knew this one was worth a try.
For the blade itself I started out with 600 grit sandpaper but quickly realized I was too high so dropped back to 400 grit and could tell I was getting somewhere. By switching hands a LOT I was able to start seeing some progress.
At about this point I knew I was not going to be able to restore it to a ‘beautiful’ state so starting to skew toward ‘function’. I ultimately ended up using a Dremel with a buffing wheel loaded with Flitz to make better progress… The deciding point on “More Power!” was when the razor twice demanded a blood sacrifice during hand-sanding with the second cut making a perfect “X” right through the first one. I actually glanced at my vice with evil thoughts when that happened but decided to hang in there after the Dremel showed some promise.
The horn scales had some delamination as well as some writing so for them I used Micro-Mesh on both the inside and outside. I knew my goal was a functional “survivor” look so did not want to take it to high-gloss perfect so ended up going deep enough to remove the writing but left some scratching and I took most of the delamination away but did leave some as it just seemed right. After they were shined up I coated them in Castor Oil to rehydrate. Why Castor Oil? It was what I had laying around and it worked perfectly!
Note in the picture above/right that you can read the stamp much more easily than before and I actually stopped working this area earlier on as I noticed I was starting to remove the stamp and I wanted to avoid that.
Once I had the steel as polished out as I could I took out my micro-fasteners and did a test/temporary pinning… Turns out with just one quick flick the blade was seating center without an issue so I knew this was going to turn out well. Sometimes razors just ‘speak’ to you in certain ways and I’m getting better at letting that intuition guide me. I used brass washers and pins and had trouble with the pivot so had to re-pin. During that process one of the washers got a little bent and as I was looking at it I noticed that matched the overall ‘look’ of the razor so played around with beating up the washers a bit and I scratched the pins up to get them to match as well and I think the result is quite appealing to the overall appearance of the razor.
Honing is always the big question mark with this much corrosion on steel but, having come this far, I was committed to go all the way. I spent a lot of time at the 1k level setting the bevel then looking under magnification for any large fissures from the corrosion and luckily enough it went fine. I went through my standard progression from there… 4k/8k, Thuringian (MST), Naniwa Super Stone 12k and finished on a new stone I picked up that was described as a “Black Escher”. I’m not sure what it is but it improves the edge following 12k so works great for my progression. Frequently I would check under magnification and stay on areas if there were a fissure near the edge and, with diligence, it paid off. I took it through 25 laps on CrOx pasted felt then to a SRD Premium I Strop and finished on an SRD Roo Strop.
This razor project turned out great, shaves really well and is a perfect example of what can be done with a razor that initially looked to be in too poor shape to even attempt. It may not be to everyone’s taste but turning a rusty clunker sitting in a junk pile into a really nice shaving razor with this overall look at completion… I’d think most would call that a WIN!