I like the Gold Dollar #66 not as a razor, but as a half-finished blank that can be made into a pretty good razor. The steel is pretty good, but the grinding is awful. The shoulders and spine in particular have issues that interfere with honing. The scales are crap, as you would expect for a razor that costs $4.58 delivered. The grind marks in the blade are half-assed polished over, but not removed. Lately, I have seen a lot of GDs that have been "fixed" at the factory, crudely and inadequately. But if you don't mind a little work with dremel and sandpaper, and either rescaling or just learning to live with the crappy scales, they can be made to take a pretty darn good edge and give a great shave. These are not your typical "looks-like-a-razor" box cutters or letter openers. With a makeover, they actually shave and shave quite well.
I have been thinking for a while about making a 7 day set of these things, eventually making a nice case for them and everything. Well, here we go.
A typical Gold Dollar #66
I begin by cutting into the heel to remove the bulk of the shoulder and set a new heel where there are no intrusions into the bevel plane. I like to use the sanding drum attachment. It cuts faster than the grinding stones and leaves a smoother finish. I don't push the sandpaper drum all the way down on the arbor because then the tension screw protrudes up past the edge of the sandpaper, and dings up the jimps on this cut.
Here I have removed most of the shoulder and I am fairing the spine into the shank.
The #66 at top has had the shoulder removed. The #84 at bottom has also had the fairing roughly done.
Ten GDs: 7 #66, a #84, and a couple of #200s. The #200 has stabilizers in addition to shoulders, for more dremel fun.
Removing the back 1/8" of the edge, including the shoulder part, cures the biggest woe of this much maligned razor. Care must be taken not to overheat the blade. Working with at least a half dozen at a time is actually easier, because you can grind for 10 seconds on one, then the next, then the next, and so on. By the time you get back to number one, it has cooled enough for another shot of grinding. Remember that very thin metal heats up quicker than thick. Initially as you grind into the heel of the blade, you are grinding into thick metal. But as the shoulder is reduced, you begin to get into very thin steel. At this point it is better to turn the sanding drum parallel to the blade and begin fairing. Also reduce grinding time to about 5 seconds, even 3 seconds.
I like the sanding drum attachment for this kind of work. It cuts a lot quicker and smoother than the grinding stones. I don't push the sanding drum all the way down on the arbor for the undercut, because the head of the tension screw protrudes up and dings up the jimps. I leave the sandpaper overhanging a little.
Be aware of the direction of rotation, because this determines when and where the dremel will grab and "kick" the edge of a surface.
Did I mention eye protection? I have had a lot of these things disintegrate on me and bounce off my safety glasses. I guess that means wearing safety glasses was pretty darn smart, huh?
I usually grind a barber's notch in the blade tip, and I did this time, as well. BUT... one blade developed a small crack when I did that. Okay... maybe that isn't a good idea with a razor that has already been heat treated. I also am trying another little innovation... sort of a reverse shoulder. At the point of the spine where the edge of the hone will be, I made a grind so that the very edge of the hone never butts up against anything. Leaving the shank as-is could allow the heel of the blade to be lifted up off the hone, and more pressure brought to bear on the toe of the blade. Now I like a nice, straight edge. Issues like intrusions into the plane of the bevel are exactly why I remove the shoulders from these razors in the first place. So I figure why not reduce the thickness of the shank where it transitions into the blade proper? Yes, that creates a weak spot. Yes, if I drop the razor, it will likely break right there. Okay, I guess that means, "don't drop the razor". I don't think I have ever dropped a straight razor anyhow, so no biggie.
The scales being utter crap, I cheerfully dispensed with them. Not decided yet on what I will make 10 pairs of scales out of. I am thinking lexan or plexiglass. I will take a look at hone depot and see what they got. I might even mold them out of polyester resin. Nice thing about living on a fiberglass boat... got plenty of resin and hardener on hand.
Anyway, the next stage is gonna consist of a lot of sanding. So I won't bother with a progress report until I have sanded and polished these razors.