We prefer to work on hollow ground or near-wedge straight razors, in good condition, that aren’t likely to require hours of breadknifing, specialized bevel setting, much correction or repairs. If you have a late model razor from Dovo, Thiers Issard, Böker, Wacker or Ralf Aust, unless it’s been damaged, it should take a fantastic edge. Send it on in. The same goes for high quality vintage blades from Solingen, Sweden, Sheffield, Spain and Japan. We currently offer 24 hour turnaround on these razors (not including the shipping time both ways of course).
We do not offer a hone-while-you-wait service or brick and mortar shop, for drop-off and pickup. We only accept honing orders by mail or courier. No exceptions.
If you are not sure if your razor is a good candidate for shave ready honing, please include a description of your razor and attach photos of both sides of the blade and the end (toe) above.
Please expand each of the accordion panels below. (Click the “+” buttons)
Delivering a comfortable shave ready edge is the most important thing to us. Therefore, we prefer not to accept a razor that may not take a good edge, or retain it.
• Junk steel: If your razor appears on the Straight Razor Place “Brands of Straight Razors to Avoid” list, it is not a good candidate for honing. Razors from China or Pakistan generally won’t hold an edge long, and you should be aware of that. Besides blade tempering issues, these budget razors will often have horrendous geometry challenges. We will hone Chinese Gold Dollars, Gold Monkeys and ZY razors, etc. but the edges aren’t likely to hold up as they would on a premium steel blade. Enjoying 20 shaves from a Chinese razor, before it must be honed again, is rare. We have never come across a single razor made in Pakistan that would take a proper edge.
• Geometry issues: If the width of the spine or blade taper from heel to toe (a honed out toe), or the edge has a frown (dip in the middle), putting an edge on the blade can be very labor intensive. Correcting for blades with serious geometry issues or defects, “rockers” (rock across opposing corners), or warpage, will be more than our standard honing fee. (In other words, we can’t put in 3 to 6 hours for only thirty bucks. We will contact you before proceeding, if there are issues with your razor, involving more hours, and a higher labor cost.) If you suspect your razor may be have geometry issues, please attach photos before sending it in for honing.
• Outrageous ‘bad ass’ customs: Some of the custom straight razor artisans produce stunning razors, but the blade geometry (spine-to-width dimension) is completely ‘whacked’, the spines have often been sculpted and won’t ‘sit on the stones’ properly, or the blade has a “wicked” exaggerated smile. It can take hours to ‘free hone’ some of these funky blades so the edge is consistently sharp from heel to toe. It’s usually best to send the ‘wild creations’ back to the artist for re-honing.
That being said, there are definitely some outstanding custom and limited production straight razor bladesmiths, like Mastro Livi and Max Sprecher, and we are pleased to hone their razors. If you do have an artisan razor, please attach photos before shipping.
• Damage: If your razor has quite a lot of corrosion, or has ever been sanitized in an Autoclave, the blade may be structurally compromised and unsuitable for shave ready honing. Many eBay sellers will grind off serious chips and sell the razor in a “needs honing” condition. The blade’s geometry may have been seriously altered, with a spine that is now far too thick for what’s left of the blade width, making honing to a fine shave ready edge nearly impossible. Again, send photos before shipping it.
Home honing has inherent risks, often resulting in very damaging hone wear. (We always recommend starting the honing learning curve with cheap Chinese razors, but some men immediately try honing their grandpa’s priceless and irreplaceable heirloom razor.) We are often sent razors with very uneven hone wear, the result of a home honing job gone horribly wrong. Sadly, we’re not magicians, and once metal has been ground away, it’s gone forever. If, against our better judgement, we decide to hone a razor that already has some hone wear issues, our liability will be limited only to refunding the cost of honing.
Important! If we determine that your razor is a poor candidate for honing, based upon your attached photos, we’ll immediately cancel the order and refund your money. If you’ve already sent a poor razor in, and we choose not to hone it, we’ll refund the honing portion, but apply the shipping paid towards return shipping.
During the honing process, we use the thumb pad test, and examine the edge using an AM4515T5 Dino-Lite Edge digital microscope.
All razors will receive a hanging hair test (HHT). In addition, we believe that the only true test of how well a razor shaves is to actually shave with it, on a portion of the face. Your straight razor will be sanitized with alcohol after we shave test it.
To retain the manufacturer’s spine-to-blade-width geometry, honing a razor removes a small amount of metal from both the spine and the edge. Unless you specify that you want the spine taped, we will generally not do so. Multiple honings with tape can gradually alter the blade’s geometry and we don’t recommend that.
For very small chips, we will usually leave them. They shouldn’t interfere with a good shave. Most razors will pick up a few chips during their lifetime. (Simply stropping can sometimes put a tiny chip in the delicate tempered edges.) If enough material is removed to fully grind out these small chips every time, the blade probably won’t survive very many honing sessions. We have vintage straight razors decades and even centuries old today because the barbers and honing professionals resisted the urge to aggressively grind the blades every time there was a small chip. Low grit grind-downs or breadknifing should be last resort measures; not a regular procedure every time a blade picks up a small ding.
Besides “burning through the blade” quickly, there’s another issue with aggressive chip removal. Straight razors are designed so that the correct ratio of metal is removed from the spine and edge during honing; thereby maintaining the proper geometry. Grinding from the edge, by breadknifing, to remove chips only removes metal from one dimension, forever altering the blade’s geometry. As the blade depth decreases, it makes the bevel “steeper,” or “less keen.” A few aggressive chip removals and the blade will never take quite as fine an edge, unless the spine is appropriately machined to restore the blade’s geometry.
Low grit grind-downs – where the blade is essentially “sharpened” on both spine and edge, until the chip has disappeared, usually removes a considerable amount of metal. Alternately, changing the geometry with a smile or deliberate taper, just to remove a tiny chip is also not an acceptable fix, in our opinion. Here’s the thing; if the razor shaves well, does it really matter if you know there’s a tiny chip?
Does that mean we won’t remove the chips? We will accept razors with chips up to 1/2 the width of the existing bevel, when our workload permits, but there’s an added fee to cover grinding metal equally from the spine and edge. If we grind out chips, we use a vernier caliper to make sure that the blade edge remains parallel with the spine. We do not currently have the time to accept razors with chips that require substantial grinding and repairs.
A snug hinge pin improves both the control and safety of a straight razor. We therefore will tighten the hinge pin on request. (For collectibles, that are not used for shaving, where the pins still have the factory peening, leaving a loose blade may be preferable to tweaking the pin ends slightly.)
Many straight-edge razors have begun to turn up at the heel and the toe over the years; sometimes from improper honing technique, or in some cases, as a deliberate modification made to reduce the chance of nicks and cuts. They are considered to have a ‘faint smile’ at the outer edge(s), and we consider them to be a ‘standard’ razor.
A true smiling blade, like the old Sheffield barber notch wedges, has an arced edge from heel to toe. Framebacks typically fall under the same category, with a smile that grows wider towards the toe. Smiling razors can be temperamental, and sometimes take considerably longer to get just right, so 24 hour turnaround is not guaranteed, and we only accept them when our workload permits. We will hone them, but there’s a special rate for smiling blades. You’ll see it listed in the drop-down options.
We do hone quality Japanese kamisori straight razors (ie: Iwasaki, Tosuka or Nakayama), when our workload permits. The process is a bit more involved with an asymmetrical bevel: a deeper hollow grind on the Ura side, and very slight hollow on the Omote side. It takes a bit longer, and you’ll see a ‘kamisori’ honing price listed in the drop-down options.
We offer an online service; there’s no store front or place to drop your razor off.
Sending your razor to us: You will pay the shipping to have your razor(s) sent to us. Please send us the tracking number as soon as it’s on the way.
How we prepare your razor: Your blade will be coated with a thin film of Dovo straight razor oil. We will then wrap it in Daubert Cromwell VCI anti-corrosion paper and close the paper with your honing professional’s wax seal.
Returning shipping: For shopping cart orders below $75.00 a small flat shipping rate applies, and it covers return shipping after honing. When you add this item to the cart, you will be able to see the shipping for your area under Checkout. For shopping cart orders over $75.00, we’ll pay all shipping on your purchases and honing, so you may want to add a few items to your order.
We ship with Canada Post Expedited service. We cannot of course assume responsibility for the service Canada Post provides. If they damage or lose your razor in shipping it’s beyond our control. That being said, to date Canada Post has never lost a single razor in transit. You will receive a Canada Post tracking number when we ship your package.
Before you send your razor: If your blade is of questionable quality, please send the details first. Please don’t send a payment or razor that’s in questionable or poor condition until we have responded, giving you the go-ahead.
Also, do not send the razor before you’ve ordered our honing service on this page. This is an e-commerce business, and all orders must go through the website’s shopping cart. We are unable to send an invoice after the honing service is completed. Do not send cash or cheque.
If you’re not in Canada: If you are sending a razor from outside Canada, it is very important that the parcel’s customs declaration clearly states that it is a used razor, being sent for sharpening service. The declared value would be the honing service value. Enclosing a printout of the Gentleman’s Blade invoice is also a good idea, in case it’s opened at the border. If the straight razor is simply listed, with a declared value of say $250.00, Canada Customs will logically conclude that you sold the razor to us for that amount, and charge applicable import duties and taxes… well in excess of our modest honing fee. Presented with a sizeable invoice amount, we would of course have to decline delivery, and the postal service would return your razor to you.