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WCS Black Straight Razor Review-West Coast Shaving

WCS Black Straight Razor Review

If you love the nostalgia of classic shaving, then check out this lovely razor from West Coast Shaving. WCS Black Straight Razor, 5/8 Carbon Steel is a razor from the past modernized for today. The beautiful blade is crafted in Solingen, Germany by age-old methods and then set into a modern, black handle made to last for generations. Get ready to go “cut throat” with this lovely grooming tool.


WCS Black Straight Razor Specifications

  • Size: ⅝”
  • Material: Carbon steel
  • Grind: Full hollow
  • Scales: Black plastic
  • Markings: West Coast Shaving/Handmade in Solingen on either side of the tang

About West Coast Shaving

West Coast Shaving has been in the wet shaving industry for a minute. Their humble origins were creating, selling, and shipping razor blade sample packs to new shavers (like themselves) who were just getting started in the wet shaving game. Over the past decade they have grown and expanded. Now, they are bringing you their own West Coast Shaving branded shaving products: high quality, reasonably priced, and efficient. 


Anatomy of a Straight Razor

Diagram of straight razor with labeled parts


WCS Black Straight Razor Blade

  • Material
  • The blade of the WCS Black Straight Razor is made with carbon steel. Carbon steel is a popular choice for straight razors because the mix of iron and carbon creates a very hard steel that holds an extremely sharp edge. (Arguably sharper than its cousin, stainless steel, that is also used for razor blades.) However, both steels take and hold an edge well. Carbon steel is usually easier to hone which makes it appealing to wet shavers. 


    However, (pro or con, it’s up to you), carbon steel is likely to accumulate discoloration and stains after years of use. Some shavers like this patina that develops over time. For those who don’t, stainless steel might be the way to go.


  • Size
  • The size of this WCS Black Straight Razor is ⅝ inch (referring to the width of the face of the blade). This is a great size for a beginner straight razor as it does a great job on general hair growth removal. It is big enough to get the right angle, but small enough to maneuver into tight spaces. 


    The width is also large enough that it maintains its shape instead of flexing so much that it doesn’t hold the angle to cut the hair. Smaller widths (like ⅜ inch) can be too flexible. Wider blades (like ⅞ ) typically require more dexterity, training, and experience. 


    WCS Black Straight Razor is at the “just right” size. Big enough to hold its shape/rigidity, but small enough to maneuver and maintain the angle.


  • Grind
  •  

    Cross section of straight razor blade showing grind types

    Grind refers to the shape/thickness of a straight razor blade (or knife). When looking at a cross section of the blade, it will appear more or less curved (aka hollow) depending on the grind. The more hollow the blade, the thinner the metal. In general the thinner blade can be honed to a sharper edge for a very close shave. 

    Full hollow blades are widely available, give a close shave, and hold a sharp edge. However, the blade becomes quite flexible and might not work as well for heavy, coarse hair. They also may need expert honing and sharpening as there is little room for error.  

    Wedge (and near wedge) blades are the thickest blades. They hold a sharp edge and the stiffness makes them good for those with very tough beards and hair. 

    Half and quarter hollow blades split the difference between full and wedge blades. They are easier to maintain and still hold a great, sharp edge. They are good for almost all types of hair.

    This WCS Black Straight Razor has a full hollow grind. This means you can get a very sharp edge for an extremely close shave. It should be approached with respect, but not fear. A little bit of practice and this blade will easily mow down hair for a BBS shave.


  • Head/Point & Toe

  • Another aspect of the blade is the shape of the end of the razor, called the head or point, as well as the tip called the toe. Sometimes the point is squared off or shaped with a spiked toe or even notched. While some of this is aesthetic it can also provide a practical purpose (of getting in to small areas.) However, these types of points can often cause nicks as they aren’t a forgiving of mishaps. A Dutch (or round) point is a very common point for beginners.

    WCS Black Straight Razor has a dutch point which makes it great for those just starting out with “cut throat” shaving. The rounded end helps to prevent any accidental nicks or cuts. It is also simple to hone/strop.


    WCS Black Straight Razor Scales

    Scales refer to the “handle” (or what appears to be the handle) of the straight razor. In fact, when you are shaving, the razor is held mostly by the tang and tail. The scales are actually used for balance and to house the blade when not in use. 

    Historically, scales were made from many natural materials like horn, ivory, bone, tortoiseshell, and wood. Today, you can find scales of metal and plastic as well. Sometimes scales can be excessively ornamental with lavish inlay and embossing or engraving. This can often increase the price of the razor. 

    WCS Black Straight Razor has simple, black scales. The clean, well-balanced lines of this razor need no ornamentation. It is simple and modest. 


    WCS Black Straight Razor Markings/Details

    Another area that is sometimes etched with ornamentation is the blade. WCS Black Straight Razor has no marking on the blade; however, there is one nod to embellishment on this otherwise simple, sleek straight razor. The tang is embossed with “West Coast Shaving” on one side and “Handmade in Solingen” on the other.  

    Solingen, Germany has long been known as a blade-making region. It was first chartered in 1374 and has been known for its fine steel-work since the Middle Ages. Today, their name is synonymous with excellence in straight blade manufacturing. 

    The Solingen blade on the WCS Black Straight Razor has a special oxidization on the spine and blade for a unique finish to this razor. There are also jimps (rough area on the underside of the tang) that help to provide grip during your shave.  Jimps are not always present on every straight razor, but they are a nice addition to provide grip. 


    Maintenance 

    The second biggest learning curve with a straight razor (after learning the technique of wielding it correctly) is proper care and maintenance. In order for your WCS Black Straight Razor to be in tip-top shape, you need to take a few steps.

    1. Keep it dry. As much as possible do not let your straight razor sit wet. Pat it dry with a towel, use a stand, and don’t leave it in humid environments. The carbon steel can rust/corrode/stain over time. Do your best to reduce that by keeping it dry.
    2. Strop. Before each shave, you should strop your blade. (This doesn’t exactly sharpen your blade as it doesn’t remove any metal. But it does warm the thin edge of your blade and allow you to bring it back into alignment/straighten any microscopic nicks.) This will remove any impurities on the blade and realign it for a fresh shave.
    3. Periodically, your blade will need to be honed. You can learn to do this yourself or you can send it off to be professionally done. This process sharpens the blade and can last for months if you take care of your razor.  

    Affordability

    West Coast Shaving worked long and hard to find a source for straight razors that was high quality, consistent, and reasonably priced. These tools take skill, energy, and time to create. If you have shopped around for straight razors, you know that those come with a price tag. WCS Black Straight Razor has been priced to bring cut throat shaving to as many as possible. At just over $100, you are getting a fabulous razor at a great price. Comparable razors from Dovo and Boker (also of Solingen fame) run closer to $200. 

    Pros: Cons:
    -affordable -learning curve/new skill set
    -attractive -requires stropping/honing
    -low waste/environmentally friendly -carbon steel prone to corrosion, if not maintained properly
    -efficient  


    Bottom Line:

     

     

    WCS Black Straight Razor is a solid shaving tool for traditional, cut-throat shaving with lovely, simple accents. Great for beginners and pros alike. 

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