Razors and Stands

Christmas Gifts Needed

With Christmas coming up, I was looking for something that would make a good gift for the men in my family. I decided to make razors with matching stands for all six of the men in question. I figured that many, if no longer most given the popularity of facial hair of all types, men shave at least some of the time, so razors would make a nice and useful gift for all. I had made two similar razors and stands in the past for my Dad, but he uses a brush and shaving soap, so his sets included the brush. I don’t know that any of the guys I was making razors for use brushes, so I went with the simpler design for all of them.

Kit Options

The stands and the razors are sold separately so when making six of them you run into some fairly significant costs quite quickly. But they are meant as gifts so no matter. They kits come in both chrome and 24 karat gold plate and for reasons I no longer remember I chose the gold finish. It certainly looks nice although I don’t think that many, if any, of the men in question have bathrooms with gold-plated fixtures. I guess the stands and razors will have to just make it on their own merits even if they don’t exactly match the rest of the décor.

Razors and Stands

Razors and Stands

Design and Turning Procedures

The razors and the stands are designed and manufactured in such a way that turning them is essentially the same as turning two matching pens. The diameter of the wooden component of the stand is slightly larger than that of the razor, but they are fairly close. Both the stand and the razor are built around a 7mm brass tube.

The first step is to cut the blanks and that is predictably easy. I chose different blank materials for different men though. I used two Spectraply blanks, one Thuya Burl, one segmented Bamboo, one White Oak that was salvaged from a used Maker’s Mark whiskey aging barrel, and finally one blank that is a composite material containing real powdered metal, called a Metal Pen Blank. All of these various blanks cut easily on the bandsaw.

Drilling Issues

Next, I had to drill the 7mm hole through three inches of blank. I didn’t expect this to be difficult as I have done it before. Therefore, imagine my surprise and frustration when every time I tried this using my Pen Blank Drilling Jaws for use on a Teknatool Nova Chuck the drill bit would emerge from the side of the blank! I lost a few nice blanks to this issue until I started to investigate while using cheap pine blanks. Eventually I actually read and followed the directions which recommended running the drill speed up to 2,500 to 3,000 RPM. I have never in my life run my drill press, or lathe, at such a speed, but with nothing to lose, I tried it. The drill ran true. I also stopped setting the drill bit on the blank before allowing the lathe to come to full speed. A higher speed and not resting the drill bit on the blank until at full drilling speed seems to have made all the difference. With that problem solved, the drilling of the blanks was a simple process.

Back to the Normal Process

Nest, I glued the scuffed brass tubes in place using a combination of thin and medium consistency cyanoacrylate glue. I left the blanks to cure overnight.

The next day, I mounted and turned each blank with no incident or difficulty. To my surprise, the Bamboo proved to be the hardest material, the slowest to cut, and the most prone to fracture. The Metal Pen Blank was a bit tough, as most composite materials are, but I encountered no major problems with it either.

Assembly Is the Charm

I always say it is never over until the assembly is done and one of the razors proved to be a bit difficult to fit together. Each razor and stand has a threaded rod in the center onto which the razor head, decorative end, and ends of the stand screw. The idea is that the razor and stand can be unscrewed and the blank easily removed for refinishing in the event of water damage over time. However, I had a difficult time getting the components to fit into the ends of the Metal Pen Blanks. I can only surmise that the pressure on the blanks required to keep them from rotating on the mandrel during turning, given the dense nature of the composite, must have deformed the soft brass just enough to make the fit difficult. But with the assistance of my husband, whose hands do not have issues with neuropathy and radiculopathy as mine do, successful assemble all the components was achieved.

Final Thoughts and Hopes

The finished and assembled razors and stands make a very nice group display. I think that each one will be impressive on its own when presented as a gift in an appropriately wrapped gift box. Ideally, each recipient will have a long life of use and enjoyment from both the razor and the stand, and I will offer to repair and refinish any and all razors and stands for a lifetime as an additional courtesy! I hope that these gifts are well received and that they prove useful as well as attractive.

Razors and stands make a nice useful gift for most any man on your shopping or turning list. Even men who have a beard often shave at least some of their face so even the bearded can find these useful. And, if you can make a pen, you can make a razor and stand as well, so these kits might provide an opportunity for those with smaller lathes, or those who have not branched out beyond pen turning, to expand their turning horizons with new products and ideas beyond pens. I recommend giving these kits a try!

As always, I wish all my readers a great experience in whatever their wood working interests happen to be and to those who like working with lathes especially, do a good turn today!