Introducing the Professional Line

We are excited to introduce the Portland Razor Co. Professional Line Straight Razors! The Professional Line Straight Razors can be fully sanitized due to their unique blade and scales materials, improvements which make them the ultimate shaving tool for professional barbers and stylists. We believe that conventional straight razors not only out-perform disposable razors in many categories, they also offer a waste-free solution to practitioners in search of green alternatives.

The Problem

" --In reality, conventional straight razors can be used in most states with proper sanitary technique."

For decades, disposable razors have been commonplace in shops across the United States. Used properly, disposable blades are perfectly safe and sanitary. That said, blade changes take time, pose an added risk to the professional handling them, often barbers will have to throw out unused blades because they are simply not sharp, and they end up in our landfills as hazardous waste. Students are often told in barber school that there is no alternative, that conventional straight razor use is illegal or unsafe. In reality, conventional straight razors can be used in most states with proper sanitary technique. (We have checked rules & regs in many states including OR, CA, WA, PA, FL, TN, NY, NJ… In fact, the only state we have confirmed prohibits Conventional Straight Razor Use is Rhode Island!)

Even knowing the proper sanitary technique is not enough, unfortunately. Existing razor manufacturers never changed their design or materials to keep up with evolving requirements. For example, all sharp implements which may come in contact with the skin must be fully immersible in a high-level disinfectant. This means the whole razor, scales and all, must be fully immersed to be sanitized. Products like Barbicide do a very good job of destroying organic matter, which makes them great for killing contagions (yay!) and bad for plastics, wood, horn… everything traditionally used to make razor scales. It’s also brutal on most blade steels, causing rust or deformation of the edge.

With these problems in mind, we were ready to get into the shop and find the solution.

professional line straight razors-7411.JPG

Design Process

Our first and most obvious task was to find materials that are easily sanitized. Our Cascade Steel has the perfect chemistry and edge-retention characteristics to survive prolonged exposure to Barbicide with little to no change in sharpness or surface finish. It’s also easier to clean and maintain than carbon steel blades(such as our O1 razors from our Classic and Artisan lines) without sacrificing cutting performance.

With the blade accounted for, the scales posed our next challenge. We wanted something durable, non-reactive with Barbicide, and easy to work with. This meant metal was out of the question, being either too flimsy or too heavy for our purposes. We settled on resin-based materials, being widely available, lightweight, and easier to work with. After exhaustive testing, we went with a high-impact, chemical-resistant fiberglass and resin composite.

In thinking of how professionals tend to put more mileage on their tools than hobbyists, we decided to upgrade the rest of the hardware while we were at it. Stainless pins and washers replaced the usual brass, making the razor more durable overall.

Once we found all the appropriate materials, we began vigorously testing them in a real-world environment: Portland Shave Shop. Each of our barbers was equipped with a prototype razor, instructed on its care and use, and given license to test them however they saw fit.

It makes sense that a razor designed for use on one’s own face might not be ideal for shaving others. The barbers would work with the razors for a few weeks and come back to us with their feedback, and we would take the razors into the shop for modifications. We started from scratch more than a few times, deciding that we needed two different razors to tackle most jobs in the barbershop. The resulting designs were worth the effort. They come with some obvious changes, a few less-so: we extended the jimps and made them barely deeper to improve grip, and the overall length of the razors was shortened so they would fit in sanitation jars from common manufacturers. The taper of the tang and balance point of the blade were altered to make the razor more comfortable in pinch grips and when held back-handed, grips more common in the barbershop than in the bathroom at home.

Performance

The barbers testing our razors had great feedback. The first thing usually had to do with tactile feedback, or how they could feel the hair and skin by holding the razor. Picture a disposable-blade razor for a moment; a thin piece of metal (the blade) is inserted into a metal or plastic housing with several moving parts, and is fastened together with pins, springs, or magnets. This creates several degrees of separation between the hair being cut and the hand of the barber. All that plastic and hardware absorbs the force of the hair against the blade and it never makes it to the barber’s hand! By contrast, conventional razors are a single piece of steel with only one degree of separation between the client's hair and the barber's hand. This results in an immediate difference in how much the barber can feel on the skin through the razor, allowing them to make adjustments on the fly more naturally than with a disposable blade. This has resulted in fewer nicks, closer shaves, and greater overall comfort for the client.

Second, conventional razors tend to be less aggressive. While some may see this as a drawback, most find that it allows them to give a closer shave that is less irritating to the client’s skin. Our theory is this: you want a razor that is sharp enough to cut the hair with no resistance, but not so sharp that it removes more than the topmost layer of dead skin. The blade should pass effortlessly through hair but glide over the surface of the skin without irritating it.

Third was ease of maintenance. Cleanup is a cinch thanks to the stainless blade, as the whole razor can be rinsed under running water without fear of rust. Sanitation is also simple as with any other sharp in a barber’s toolkit. Because the blade steel and scales materials are non-reactive, they can be fully immersed in Barbicide Plus--or other high-level disinfectants--without the material deteriorating or harming performance. One drawback of course is the need to strop, but this is far outweighed by the benefits of a non-disposable blade. Once the technique is mastered, stropping can be done at the chair while the client is enjoying a hot towel or while your next razor is resting in disinfectant, allowing you to multitask.

On the topic of stropping: we find the edge is durable enough to forego stropping between every client if the blade is only used for neck shaves. Basic lineups don’t seem to put as much wear on the blade, so barbers in busy shops need not take the few extra minutes between clients to strop; only sanitizing is necessary.

Finally, there’s nothing to throw away. We care about our planet and our impact on it, so finding ways to reduce waste is important to us. Switching to conventional straight razors at Portland Shave Shop has allowed us to do away with disposable razors entirely, meaning we both generate less waste and help our barbers save time and money.

1-½” Professional Straight Razor // Line Up

With a shorter blade and a familiar profile, this razor is ideal for line ups and detailed razor work around the ear, or in creative cuts. The blade still has enough weight behind it for a full face shave, but if you are a specialist and are shaving faces every day, we recommend the 2-½” model.

2-½” Professional Straight Razor // Barber Special

This razor most strongly resembles the vintage blades used in barbershops for over 100 years, and brings traditional barbering hurdling into the 21st century. Longer than the Line Up razor, this blade is for barbers whose practice is built around the traditional straight shave. The added surface area allows you to make more strokes before wiping the blade, and the added weight carries the blade through whiskers with less effort.

specs

  • Handmade in Portland, OR
  • 5/8 Round Point Straight Razor
  • 2-1/2" cutting edge
  • Can be fully submerged in high-level disinfectant
  • Durable scales
  • Stainless pins and washers
  • Lower and Upper Jimps for Added Grip and Control
  • Quarter-Hollow Ground Stainless Cascade Steel
  • Hardened to 62 HRC
  • Shave-Ready: Hand-Honed to 12K grit and Stropped Before Shipping
  • Pinned by Hand

Shear and Clipper Sharpening Services

The day-to-day reality of tool maintenance is not glamorous, but we believe it is necessary and something to take pride in. At Portland Razor Co. we work hard to keep grinders lubricated, laser lenses clean, and saw blades sharp! By lapping our hones between sharpenings, we guarantee that each blade will be as sharp as the one before it. Our work would be impossible without these tools, and we honor them and the work they perform by committing time to caring for them.

Just as our tools are essential to crafting a quality razor, so are a barber’s in crafting a quality haircut, shave, or beard trim. Sharp tools work effortlessly, allowing you to focus on the important things: creating a work of art and building relationships with the person in the chair before you.

In an effort to better support our professional clients, we now offer scissor (aka beauty shear) and clipper sharpening services in addition to our very popular straight razor honing service. You can bring your tools to Portland Shave Shop to be sharpened while you wait, or you can mail them in to us, similar to our razor honing service. Barbershops and Salons in the Portland, OR area may also schedule mobile sharpening services to be performed by a Portland Razor Co. bladesmith at your shop!

shear sharpening at portland razor co-5814.JPG

Tools We Hone

Straight razors
Japanese-style convex edge scissors
German-style beveled scissors
Texturizing scissors
Clipper blades

All tools in good condition and made by a reputable manufacturer can be sharpened. If it cannot be sharpened for any reason, we will not charge for the service.

How We Hone

All honing services are performed by hand on traditional Japanese waterstones. This process results in the finest possible edge with the least amount of wear and tear on your blades, meaning your tools are safer to use, more functional, and longer-lasting than if they were sharpened with mechanized sharpeners.

We do our best to research and match the honing practices of the original manufacturer. Please be familiar with your manufacturer's warranty and repairs policy before honing with us.

House Calls

We know barbers and stylists carry full schedules. If you are a barber or stylist in the Portland Area who would like to avoid the hassle associated with mailing or dropping off your tools for sharpening, we’ll come to you! To schedule a House Call at your barber shop or salon, call us or email us with your location and availability. We are usually available Wed-Fri afternoons for House Calls. There is no minimum to schedule a House Call and no added fee. We look forward to helping you soon!

Portland Razor Pro : Bronze Certification

We are proud to introduce this educational series for professionals interested in using Portland Razor Co. straight razors! This series will help you get the most out of your conventional straight razor, improve the quality of your services, and help you stand out.

portland razor co bronze certification-6382.JPG

"Straight Razor", "Cutthroat Razor", "Open Razor", "Conventional Straight Razor", "Folding Razor", whatever you call it, you have probably heard that these razors are illegal to use in barbershops in the United States. In most cases, this is not true. Just like clippers and shears, there are rules for HOW to use them to keep you and your clients safe. If you are a licensed barber or stylist looking to take the leap, our free course is here to help! Read on for full details.

Our Bronze Certification is completely free and packed with useful information for new and veteran barbers alike. We believe straight razor shaving to be at the heart of traditional barbering, so we are very excited for the opportunity to contribute to its resurgence in the American barbershop.

portland razor co bronze certification-6429.JPG

Unfortunately, we have heard from many hair professionals that instruction on the use of traditional straight razors is not widely available. We want our customers to have a great experience with their razors, so we developed our own series of courses to help barbers further their understanding of these traditional tools. Topics discussed in the Bronze Certification include, but are not limited to:

  • Straight Razor Anatomy
  • Strop Anatomy
  • Safe Handling of the Razor
  • Special Care Considerations
  • Stropping
  • Honing // When to hone, who can hone
  • Sanitation

Licensed professionals are expected to perform due diligence and check with their local health authority for specific guidelines and regulations controlling the use of straight razors before using them in a licensed facility.

To become Bronze Certified, read through the information document and take the online exam. After you submit the exam, we will review and contact you within 5-7 business days with your results.
Again, the Bronze Certification is completely FREE. Even if you do not intend to take the test, the free info document contains a wealth of knowledge that will help you get the most out of your razor.

We know that you expect a lot from your tools. Good tools are an investment in yourself, your best work, and your clients’ satisfaction. We believe that conventional straight razors are superior to disposables in every way, and want you and your clients to have the best possible experience with our product. Whatever your experience level--novice or expert--we strongly recommend you read the free intro document and take the test if you want to get the most out of your straight razor. Take care of your tools, and they will take care of you!

December & January Impact | Outside In

For the months of December & January, we are donating proceeds from Honing Services to Outside In, a Portland-based non-profit helping homeless youth and other marginalized people move towards improved health and self sufficiency.

There are an estimated 1,500-2,000 homeless youth in Oregon. These young people experience homelessness for a  variety of reasons including family poverty, violence, mental and physical illness in their families, sexual minority issues, unemployment, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. Without a home or medical care, these young people are forced into difficult lives and on average must be independent a full decade before their peers. Outside In, with its team of trained medical professionals and volunteer network, works tirelessly to step in and change the life path of these at-risk youth for the better. They offer a wide array of services including: housing, education, employment, counseling, medical care, healthy meals, and safety off the streets.

From Outside In:
For 49 years, Outside In has been a grassroots social justice organization supporting disenfranchised members of the Portland community.  Our mission is to help homeless youth and other marginalized people move towards improved health and self-sufficiency.

We are...

  • Service providers and advocates.
  • Experts in understanding adolescents.
  • A Federally Qualified Health Center.
  • A licensed Mental Health Agency.
  • Leaders in serving LGBTQ youth.

How It Works

Portland Razor Co. will donateº $10 from each Straight Razor Honing Service sold during the month of December 2017 and January 2018, in support of OutsideIn. These donations will continue through the end of January. We hope to aid those in need as much as we can and thank you for your support.

If you would like to make a donation on your own accord, you can donate directly to Outside In here.

 

ºIncludes sales to Portland Razor Co. retail and web customers, and authorized retailers. No portion of the purchase price is tax deductible.

Ouside-in_r1.jpg

Introducing the 5/8 Cascade Steel Straight Razor

We are proud to introduce our newest product, the 5/8 Cascade Steel Straight Razor! It is handmade in our Portland, OR facility (just like the rest of our straight razors) and it features a vintage profile. It is also our first production razor to ever be made of stainless steel! The 5/8 Cascade Steel Straight Razor is available in both square and round points and launched last week with 4 scales options.

cascade steel razors.jpg

CONSTANT IMPROVEMENT AND UNCOMPROMISING QUALITY

With the Cascade Steel Straight Razors, we set our sights on making our best production straight razor yet: a razor with classic style and the quality of old American craftsmanship, with the best modern materials available to us. Since our founding we have worked to make modern straight razors worthy of handing down to future generations. To us this means making an heirloom quality product that honors the tradition of the straight razor and utilizes modern advancements in materials and technology to make something that is truly at the forefront. For this straight razor we wanted to make something that would step up our game and be our most useable grooming tool yet. The 5/8 Cascade Steel Straight Razor fits in the hand, has excellent balance between the blade and the scales, and is our first stain-resistant razor model.

Stainless steel razors are somewhat disreputable in the straight razor community. Many stainless razors seem brittle, difficult to maintain, and just don’t shave quite as smoothly as their high-carbon steel counterparts. On one hand, high carbon steel straight razors work very well. On the other hand, high carbon steel is hard to take care of and is unlike other blades most of us have in our lives - pocket knives, kitchen knives, scissors, garden shears - the majority of these cutting tools are stain-resistant and in 2017 we expect that our metals don’t rust. It would be a shame not to try and make a stainless razor ourselves that we found to be comparable if not higher-performing than high-carbon steel razors. Stainless straight razors get a bad rap and we attribute these negative characteristics to unwanted chromium carbide formation, a common tradeoff in stainless blade steels. So, if we could find the right stainless steel and heat treat it optimally to minimize chromium carbide formation, we suspected we could make a superior razor steel.

It took some time, but we believe our persistence paid off!

Fueled by our obsession with performance and finding the right tool for the job, we experimented with a number of new blade steels and heat treatment processes to find the ultimate razor steel. Not only did these experiments result in a new product, they lead to marked improvements to our heat treatment protocol across all of our straight razors. Our Classic Line and Artisan Line blades also leveled up as a result of our experimentation with heat treating the Cascade Steel blades. All of our blades now in production are harder, thinner, and sharper than earlier production models and we aren’t afraid to say that these are our best production razors yet.

Cascade Steel Straight Razor-4797.JPG

As for the look of the razor - you all are very vocal in your requests for a more vintage-looking razor from us -- we hope this razor shows that we take your comments to heart! With this in mind, we turned to our favorite vintage straight razors for inspiration. Familiar lines, a lick of our signature style, and cutting edge materials have made this a fast favorite around the shop; we are all very excited to finally have it in production!

WHAT SETS THE CASCADE STEEL STRAIGHT RAZOR APART?

In short, it shaves effortlessly and it’s easier to maintain. Here’s why:
Smaller Carbides = Improved Sharpness.
We used a modern steel engineered specifically for use in delicate cutting instruments which, with optimal heat treatment, results in the finest cutting edge available. The edge is more aggressive and shaves with less effort and more audible feedback, improving the overall shaving experience by reducing resistance.
Increased Wear-Resistance = Improved Edge Retention
Nobody likes having to strop mid-shave. Harder, more wear-resistant steels result in longer-lasting edges that glide through coarse beard growth with ease.
Increased Chromium Content = Improved Stain-Resistance.
A slightly higher percentage of chromium balanced with the right amount of carbon makes this steel more stain-resistant without creating unwanted chromium carbides. One usually has to compromise carbide size for stain-resistance, but not in this case; the Cascade Steel edge shaves at least as well as O1, if not better!

Cascade Steel Straight Razor-5530.JPG

Specs

  • Handmade in Portland, OR
  • 5/8 Round or Square Point Straight Razor
  • Lower and Upper Jimps for Added Grip and Control
  • Choice of Back Acrylic, Ivory Acrylic, Arizona Desert Ironwood, Ebony
  • Quarter-Hollow Ground
  • Cryo-Treated Cascade Steel Hardened to 62 HRC
  • Shave-Ready: Hand-Honed to 12K Grit and Stropped Before Shipping
  • Brass Pinned by Hand