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How Do You Know If Your Straight Razor Is Sharp Enough?-West Coast Shaving

How Do You Know If Your Straight Razor Is Sharp Enough?

For straight razor aficionados, a sharp blade is like an addiction. Grinding, honing, stropping, all in hopes of achieving that beautiful, pristine edge. So, whether you want to do-it-yourself or just know what one looks like, let’s check out some sharp blade tips. 


How do you recognize a dull blade?

Before you go after a straight razor blade with hone or strop, visually inspect it.

  1. Look for blunting. Blunting is where the blade has been damaged either by misuse or heavy use. Use a bright light and look straight down at the edge. Flat spots will show up as light reflecting on the blade. If you see white spots along the edge of the blade, you have blunting.
  2. Check for a wire edge. First, shine the light along the flat of the blade and twist until the light hits the bevel (on the edge). If you see streaks of white along the edge then you have a “wire” edge and the blade needs sharpening. Second, check for a wire edge by using a pin. Gently run the pin along the flat of the blade up to the bevel of the edge, if it catches at all, you have a wire edge that needs fixing. (Be careful not to scratch the blade - since you are using metal on metal, it is a risk.)

How do you test for a sharp straight razor blade?

  1. Shave test. First and most simple is the shave test. Yep, one of the best (if not the best) ways to check the sharpness of your straight razor blade is to shave with it. You will quickly learn whether your blade is up to snuff. Touching your blade with anything - even a hair - begins the process of micro-nicking and dulling so be careful with too many “tests” outside of just shaving.
  2. Hanging Hair Test. A quick, easy way to test the sharpness of your blade is to take a strand of hair and test it on the blade. Either hold the hair hanging down and simply tap the hair with the blade or hold the blade up right and drop the hair onto the blade. If the hair “pops” from a simple touch on the edge then your blade is sharp. 
  3. Treetopping Test. Similar to the hanging hair test, you could use the hairs on your arms to test. If you can run the blade between ⅛” and ¼” above your arm and find the hairs “popping” or sliced right off, then you have a sharp blade. If the blade is able to cut the hair a little further out from the skin, it ensures that you have a sharp one.

How do you test your straight razor blade for sharpness? Do you have other methods? Let us know in the comments below.
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