Damascus Razors

desert.snake

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A friend of mine started making Japanese-style razors from Damascus, the main steel is D2. I'm wondering if there are any razor lovers here who could give their opinion on this?
 

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iacchus

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Lovely work! You're friend has a real talent.

I shave w/ a straight, have for years. A reground 8/8 W&B. Once you get the hang of them, they offer an unparalleled shave.

I tried a Kamisori, but could never get the hang of using it on my off-side. Since they were chisel ground, I just couldn't get used to the contortion necessary to pull it off correctly.
 
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A friend of mine started making Japanese-style razors from Damascus, the main steel is D2. I'm wondering if there are any razor lovers here who could give their opinion on this?
While I'm definitely not a razor lover in a practical sense, (i.e. If I had to run a straight edge over my throat to shave, I'd opt for a permanent beard!), I am a lover of impressive metalwork. My opinion is that your friend is a true artisan and craftsman, and his work makes me wish I had more than a 10x20 foot garage to squash my woodworking, metalworking, gunsmithing, and general "rip-it-apart-and-see-how-it-works" hobbies into so I could pursue these hobbies (and some new ones like coatings, metal treatments, anodizing, 3D printing, and CNC) in greater depth just as your friend has. I am also a fan of D2 tool steel for its strength and toughness though I have no knowledge (pro or con) of its ability to take or keep an edge.
 

Monocrom

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A friend of mine started making Japanese-style razors from Damascus, the main steel is D2. I'm wondering if there are any razor lovers here who could give their opinion on this?
Your friend made a huge mistake using D2. It's going to have a very limited shelf life as no one will be able to hone it properly once it does get dull. It'll take a long time before that happens. But on a tool designed for shaving, it'll be useless in less time.
 

Monocrom

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Properly heat treated D2 will be fine, and take a keen edge.
The world being flooded with poor grade Chinese D2 has given it a bad name, but it was a staple in the custom world for many, many years due to how well it performed.
I know, I still have my two custom-made Bob Dozier hunting knives from the 1990s. Fantastic bladesmith who only works with quality D2. But in case of razors meant to be used, the issue isn't a proper heat-treat or not. The issue is resharpening D2 back to a razor's edge. Good luck to anyone without a massive amount of resharpening skill, knowledge, and equipment. Only individual I've known who could pull it off was a dentist with access to an actual laser sharpener. Last thing I'd want going across my cheek is a slightly sharp D2 blade.
 

iacchus

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I know, I still have my two custom-made Bob Dozier hunting knives from the 1990s. Fantastic bladesmith who only works with quality D2. But in case of razors meant to be used, the issue isn't a proper heat-treat or not. The issue is resharpening D2 back to a razor's edge. Good luck to anyone without a massive amount of resharpening skill, knowledge, and equipment. Only individual I've known who could pull it off was a dentist with access to an actual laser sharpener. Last thing I'd want going across my cheek is a slightly sharp D2 blade.
Ahhh, I getcha.
Yeah, that goes for any straight, really. I'm pretty good on the stones, but sharpening a straight correctly is still a challenge and I don't put anywhere near as nice an edge on it as it has when I comes back after sending it out to have it done professionally. Which is what I do every couple of years.

A diamond pasted paddle strop can keep that edge for a real long time though. Better part of a year if kept up with.
But sharpening a razor is a whole different muscle memory skill than a knife, or mostly anyway.

I generally send mine off every other time to be done properly, that way it doesn't drift too far from where it should be, and I still get to have a go at it. When I'm as satisfied with mine as the guy who does it for money, I'll stop sending it out.
It's good to have goals.
 

desert.snake

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For now this is just a test sample, to study demand. Usually comrade makes something larger like this, 12 inch blade, but there is a problem with postal delivery of large blades. There are no problems with small razor blades
1718998157159.png
 
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iacchus

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Magnacut or Vanax superclean would make fine razors, but you would want to run MC up to 65 or so. Less worry about lateral stress or impact damage on a razor, but would retain the edge-holding and corrosion resistance. AEB-L and RWL34 would likely be easier to source, and cheaper.

A simple tool steel like Rex 45 or Cruwear would do well too, but would have to be looked after more closely, since it isnt stainless (although Cruwear would fair about as well as D2 in that particular dept).
 

RA40

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Looks good!
Articles I've come across D2 shares some similarities in the kitchen environment too. Those discuss that the thinness necessary is not a characteristic for the D2 properties. A production straight razor profile of the thin blade.

straight-razor-blade-January 31, 2019-8097.JPG


Some of this is out there but rare. I have not tried to get a super thin blade from it:
d2-steel-February 29, 2024- - Copy.jpg

Straight razors are fun to make because they are simple like a kiridashi:
straight-razors-February 16, 2021-9162 - Copy.jpg
straight-razors-December 05, 2023-2717 - Copy.jpg
straight-razor-blade-February 17, 2021-9169 - Copy.jpg
 

desert.snake

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Looks good!
Articles I've come across D2 shares some similarities in the kitchen environment too. Those discuss that the thinness necessary is not a characteristic for the D2 properties. A production straight razor profile of the thin blade.

View attachment 63901

Some of this is out there but rare. I have not tried to get a super thin blade from it:
View attachment 63895
Straight razors are fun to make because they are simple like a kiridashi:
View attachment 63896View attachment 63897View attachment 63898
Wow, did you do this yourself? Looks very nice :love:
 

RA40

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Thank-you. Been into making knives on-off beginning in '96.
6-4 Ti with a nitrogen cryo'd 440-C blade at RC 59.
cf-straight-razor-IMG_3605-June 25, 2024-June 25, 2024 - Copy (2).jpg
 

SYZYGY

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Your friend made a huge mistake using D2. It's going to have a very limited shelf life as no one will be able to hone it properly once it does get dull. It'll take a long time before that happens. But on a tool designed for shaving, it'll be useless in less time.
Good luck to anyone without a massive amount of resharpening skill, knowledge, and equipment. Only individual I've known who could pull it off was a dentist with access to an actual laser sharpener.

respectfully... what are you talking about?

i don't use straight razors, so i'm not speaking from experience. please correct me if i'm wrong.
but i have knives in D2, and it sharpens and strops very easily with conventional abrasives.

i would theorize that the actual problem (if there even is one at all) with D2 in this application is its volume of large carbides. i imagine that for a razor, you want a very keen edge, and maybe a simpler alloy treated to have a very fine grain structure or PM formula would be better.

i guess i also slightly hesitate on damascus for this. i'd probably want a homogeneous edge, but, again, this is just me theorizing.

the real way to settle all this is to simply ask the person using this razor how it shaves. if it shaves well, then that's that. the maker was able to get it into good shaving condition, and because D2's not hard to sharpen, the end user should be able to maintain it – likely for quite a while with just stropping, no?

Magnacut or Vanax superclean would make fine razors, but you would want to run MC up to 65 or so. Less worry about lateral stress or impact damage on a razor, but would retain the edge-holding and corrosion resistance. AEB-L and RWL34 would likely be easier to source, and cheaper.

A simple tool steel like Rex 45 or Cruwear would do well too, but would have to be looked after more closely, since it isnt stainless (although Cruwear would fair about as well as D2 in that particular dept).

idk, homie. i've had some magnacut knives and have been part of passarounds involving them, and participants had a hell of a time sharpening them. i found that i was not skilled enough to do a good job freehand even on vitrified diamond stones, but that's not a problem for a competent sharpener. i personally had to resort to a jig system + vitrified diamond which worked fine, but others in the passarounds didn't have that.
 

Monocrom

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Are you sure we're both talking about D2?
Classic premium D2 is a Tool steel.
It's not even about using right techniques with conventional abrasives.

That's like saying you can win a Nascar race in a 1990s Economy sedan with a 4-cylinder engine barely pumping out 100hp, if you just know the right driving technique. Never going to happen. Stropping an already mostly sharp D2 blade is one thing. I'm talking taking a completely dull D2 blade and getting it back to hair-popping sharpness. That is simply not happening with conventional abrasives. Not with D2.
 

Fuzzywuzzies

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Are you sure we're both talking about D2?
Classic premium D2 is a Tool steel.
It's not even about using right techniques with conventional abrasives.

That's like saying you can win a Nascar race in a 1990s Economy sedan with a 4-cylinder engine barely pumping out 100hp, if you just know the right driving technique. Never going to happen. Stropping an already mostly sharp D2 blade is one thing. I'm talking taking a completely dull D2 blade and getting it back to hair-popping sharpness. That is simply not happening with conventional abrasives. Not with D2.
Not sure that there's not some confusion here. I don't make knives, (maybe one day!) but I do a lot of sharpening, especially with so-called 'super steels'. I like D2 very much, and think it is a very underrated knife steel these days. It sharpens excellently, and I have had little trouble with it even on full rebevels and reworks on knives whose spine was sharper than their edge…
I do this regularly on a Tormek T8 with the standard stone, as well as on a Wicked Edge with diamond. I've done it once on Arkansas in a Lansky (not my favourite sharpening system) All to a hair-popping, long-lasting edge. Not a razor perhaps, but then as @SYZYGY has pointed out, D2 might not be the finest choice for that use case.
I did once use a very fine Japanese wetstone to take a friends D2 knife to a ridiculous edge, but that was far more work than it was worth!

By the way, I do some Magnacut as well, and trialled a Ritter-Hogue in Magnacut against my ZT 0562 - I'd rate it as one of the best all-round steels I've touched. Perhaps easier to sharpen than CPM 20CV, takes an absolutely screaming edge with a little care, and holds it noticeably better than 20CV.

Are we missing something here? Maybe talking about two different specifications of D2?
 

iacchus

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Whats the old saw about D2?
"It takes a terrible edge and keeps it forever"

I really think it's just finicky. I've never had any that sharpened as easy as 5160 or 420 or anything, but its no S90v or Maxamet. Though I would rather sharpen 15V than D2, if that says anything.
I've seen plenty that just never wanted to debur right and wouldn't take better than a working edge, but have had a couple through my hands that would take a lovely fine edge. Mostly custom slippies. Maybe because they were such thin blades?
I always chalked it up to whoever was working with it, some offered better D2 than others.

It certainly isn't my favorite steel, but isn't by any means my least favorite.
 

Pellidon

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First off, that Damascus looks fantastic.
I recall many years ago D2 had a bad reputation. I think they have learned the proper heat treatment for it because even the recent AliExpress D2 pocket knives I have sharpen easy and keep an edge very well.
 

desert.snake

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Vacuum furnaces, liquid nitrogen, modern PID temperature controllers and pyrometers are becoming more accessible, a little additional attention and good hardening is provided. My friend has a very good thermist. Damascus shaves well, sharpening is also not difficult, he shaves with it and is happy with it. I can't say it myself, I shave with a T-shaped razor, with a classic razor I'll only cut my throat, lol
 
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