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Thread: Sharpening a Rolls Razor

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    Default Sharpening a Rolls Razor

    I have a new (old) Rolls razor and am hesitant to start honing and stropping for fear of damaging the blade, leather or hone. There has been a lot of advice here and other places, but some of it is confusing or even contradictory. Does anyone have a simple procedure to offer?

    Should I lubricate the strop? Should I use a paste, and if so what are some options?

    Should I lubricate the hone, and if so with what?

    I have a large hard Arkansas stone. Would it be worthwhile to try to use it, and with what lubricant?

    Thanks in advance for any help. -- Dave

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoadKing99 View Post
    I have a new (old) Rolls razor and am hesitant to start honing and stropping for fear of damaging the blade, leather or hone. There has been a lot of advice here and other places, but some of it is confusing or even contradictory. Does anyone have a simple procedure to offer?

    Should I lubricate the strop? Should I use a paste, and if so what are some options?

    Should I lubricate the hone, and if so with what?

    I have a large hard Arkansas stone. Would it be worthwhile to try to use it, and with what lubricant?

    Thanks in advance for any help. -- Dave
    I saw a few of these when antiquing, prices ranging all over the board. I couldn't figure out how to work 'em, so I didn't buy any. However, I'm interested in learning it.

    So that's a long way of saying...

    +1
    Timb ------ To Obtain: Fat Boy, Blue Tip, injector, SCS's latest EDTs, MB's Earl Grey, Pipe Tobacco, and Ginger Lime soaps, French green clay masque, a shave stick of some sort, an injector, HBS, TGQ, Em's Place, Mark at Superlather, more EOs To Try (since I have them): Ogallala Bay Rum shave soaps, Van der Hagen Glycerin soap, Men Zone shave cream To Learn: To get good lather from SCS creams, to enjoy a shave from a GEM.

  3. #3

    Default Here's the manual

    I've bought a couple of rolls cause I think they're cool... I haven't shaved with one yet, but I've actually managed to get the blade sharp enough so it passed the HHT-test.
    I've scanned the manual. So if you don't have it yet here it is. Sorry for the big pictures...

  4. #4

    Default

    Thanks for posting the instructions. My brother just gave me a Rolls in pretty good condition and I'm looking forward to trying it. I told him if it rips my face up I can still use it as a nifty cheese slicer.
    Rich

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    Thread Starter

    Default Here's the manual

    Thanks for the beautifully scanned manual. The large size is easy to read!

    Now,I must run down to the hardware store and get some of that Rolls Razor Strop Dressing.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Gloucester, England
    Posts
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    Default

    I use a Rolls quite frequently. They give a very good shave. The angles are a bit different to a normal DE but you soon get the hang of it.

    I bought mine a while back on fleabay and it was almost unused. A bargain. The strop leather was a bit dry when it arrived so I rubbed in a little horsey type leather treatment (didn't have any proper strop treatment) and it's fine.

    It took me a few attempts on the hone to get it up to snuff but it's a great shaver now. It looks a bit dangerous but it isn't really. There again, I rotate it with a Feather Artist Club so I'm not afraid of a sharp blade!

    Don't be afraid of the Rolls! Go for it but be prepared for a few less than perfect shaves while you get it really sharp.

    Gareth
    Try everything in life except incest & morris dancing - Guy Warrack (1900-86).

  7. #7

    Default

    Glad I could help. Looking forward to try one myself... When I get the nerve

    Brian

  8. #8

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    RoadKing

    You'll like the Rolls; it gives a good shave. I've always used the hone dry, and then cleaned it with chamois and a bit of oil - i don't know whether that's "right" or not, but it seems to work. If the strop is dry, try olive oil or Dubbin, or any non abrasive strop paste. I emphasize non abrasive here - once you put abrasive paste on a strop you're stuck with it.

    Graham

  9. #9
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    Nov 2007
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Wann View Post
    Sorry for the big pictures
    Wow, thanks for posting these. Anyone noticed the "fully sterilized and guaranteed free from anthrax" on the "Rolls Razor Shaving Brush" ? ;)

  10. #10

    Default

    I asked the same question and Joe Lerch, who is the guru on sharpening them, told me his method of honing a Rolls.

    It is his assertation that most ROLLS razors found on E-bay have blades too dull to sharpen with the onboard hone. His method starts with a piece of flat glass and 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper. You work on that, moving forwards, to start the blade on its way. Also use a microscope to see how ragged the blade is and try to get it smooth. When you have done that for a while, move to a medium hone and do the same. Then on to the Rolls hone and strop. If not sharp enough, go through the steps again.

    I substituted 1500 grip sandpaper for the medium hone, as I did not have one. Soak the sandpaper and lay it flat on the glass. It should stick. Do not use a lot of pressure on the blade, let the paper do the cutting. Kinda like shaving your face.

    I am getting there, though not sharp enough for my likes yet.

  11. #11
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by galopede View Post
    The strop leather was a bit dry when it arrived so I rubbed in a little horsey type leather treatment (didn't have any proper strop treatment) and it's fine.

    Gareth
    Would that horsey stuff be Lexol Leather Conditioner?

  12. #12
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    Default Strop Paste

    Quote Originally Posted by kestrel View Post
    I've always used the hone dry, and then cleaned it with chamois and a bit of oil - i don't know whether that's "right" or not, but it seems to work. If the strop is dry, try olive oil or Dubbin, or any non abrasive strop paste. I emphasize non abrasive here - once you put abrasive paste on a strop you're stuck with it.

    Graham
    Graham: I get your warning about once the abrasive is in the strop it can't be removed. I read somewhere that automobile paint polishes use exceedingly fine abrasives and can serve as strop paste--would that violate your no abrasive policy? --Dave

  13. #13
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by cvixx View Post
    It is his assertation that most ROLLS razors found on E-bay have blades too dull to sharpen with the onboard hone. His method starts with a piece of flat glass and 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper. You work on that, moving forwards, to start the blade on its way. Also use a microscope to see how ragged the blade is and try to get it smooth. When you have done that for a while, move to a medium hone and do the same. Then on to the Rolls hone and strop. If not sharp enough, go through the steps again.

    I substituted 1500 grip sandpaper for the medium hone, as I did not have one. Soak the sandpaper and lay it flat on the glass. It should stick. Do not use a lot of pressure on the blade, let the paper do the cutting. Kinda like shaving your face.
    These techniques sound quite promising. Thanks. But working the blade outside the Rolls razor raises a crucial question: What method is there for keeping the blade angle constant as is done by the Rolls built-in honing/stropping mechanism? -- Dave

  14. #14
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    Oct 2007
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    Manchester, England
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    Got my Imperial today from ebay turns out its never been used blade is razor sharp and good to go got a spare nos strop as well anyone any ideas for strop paste etc brand new to the rolls. Also got a viscount thats a bit battered but looks good for spares hones cracked tho
    Its all in front of you like a wheelbarrow

  15. #15

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    RoadKing

    I'd be inclined to keep all abrasives off the Rolls strop. A separate bench strop of smooth wood or leather treated with .5 micron green paste will do the heavy polishing.

    I'm thinking that you could set this up so that the Rolls case fit over it, allowing you to use the built in mechanism to handle the blade.

    I think I'll try putting something like that together this weekend,

    I'll tell you how it goes.

    Graham

  16. #16
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    Northbrook, Illinois
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    Default

    Tilly, redtrader99.com. has spare hones for the Rolls. She also has stropping leather that can be cut to size.

    another Joel

  17. #17

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    The blade, when sharpened off the razor, should be held flat, with the rear of the blade on the stone, as well as the edge. This keeps the angle constant. Least what I was told!

  18. #18
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    Default Rolls Razor Blade Angle

    Quote Originally Posted by cvixx View Post
    The blade, when sharpened off the razor, should be held flat, with the rear of the blade on the stone, as well as the edge. This keeps the angle constant. Least what I was told!
    CVIXX: Thanks.

    A constant angle, yes, but is it the correct angle to maintain factory sharpness setting? I really don't know what the correct angle is, nor how to set and maintain this angle.

    Another way I can think of (other than your suggestion) is to use the Rolls jig itself held on a stone with sharpening strokes as in the normal manner. But I think this would not reproduce the same angle as that with the Rolls hone in its normal position. Maybe close, but close enough?

    --Dave

  19. #19

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    That could work but I have no idea how to remove the roller mechanism...would be nice to know, though. I have a couple of parts Rlls which I could turn into a working machine if I could remove the rollers and transpose them...

  20. #20
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    If you observe the way that the mechanism work when stropping or honing, the blade is flat on the hone/strop just as when honing a straight. The Rolls is, I believe, hollow ground,

    Joel K

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