A Veritable Plethora of Rolls Razor Related Links

A list of Rolls Razor related links on the web.

Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolls_Razor

Badger and Blade Links:

Straight Razor Place article on restoring a broken hone: http://straightrazorplace.com/workshop/88386-rolls-razor-hone-restore-picture-heavy.html (This is high on your author’s to-try list!)

The Shave Den’s Rolls Thread:  http://theshaveden.com/forums/threads/the-what-is-and-how-to-thread-for-the-rolls-razor.22371/

yohannrjm’s 2012 three part write up on The Shave Nook. I think that there was supposed to be a part 4, but I haven’t seen it. This series includes a lot of very good resources including scans of the actual instruction sheets. These were some of the first articles I read when I learned of the Rolls.

Shave World’s Rolls Information Page: http://www.shaveworld.org/home/images/RollsPage3.html

Man Emporium’s Article with a good scan of the instructions:  http://www.manemporium.com/blogs/news/14113015-razor-time-rolls-razor

PDF: Do’s and Don’ts… Rust Ruins Razors!: http://rollsrazor.altervista.org/docs/RollsCare.pdf

“A magnificent thread over on TOST where Brian Kampfert dedicates himself to honing and shaving with the Rolls,” (Thanks, Marcus…): http://theoriginalsafetytoo.proboards.com/thread/1452/

Echo4Golf clear!

Stalking a Rolls Razor in the Wild

One of the web forums upon which I am an active participant is Badger and Blade (badgerandblade.com). Recently we started a Rolls Razer users group there and it has occurred to me that folks might be a little curious about this little gem. It’s actually one of my favorite shaves if for no other reason that it’s just plain cool!

The Rolls is often referred to as a “straight on a stick.” In cross-section, the blade looks like a short straight razor. It is also treated as such in that it requires regular stropping, and occasional honing. What I find really neat about the unit, though, is that the hone and strop are built into the case, and that the actual honing and stropping are more or less idiot-proof. This is especially useful in my case…

Additionally, Rolls units are not hard to find today. They are regularly on eBay and can be found “in the wild” at antique shows and stores.




What to Look for in a Rolls

If you’re interested in purchasing one of these razors, there are a couple of things that you might want to know. First of all, you probably won’t find a shave-ready unit on the used market. That’s not to say you won’t  be able to easily make one usable! I’ll get into that in a moment. Note that it’s possible to find “new old stock” units, especially on eBay, but they tend to be expensive.

When you see a Rolls that interests you the first thing to look at is the handle.  If the razor doesn’t have a handle it’s useless except for parts.  Do not let someone convince you that the honing / stropping handle is the same as the razor handle. It ain’t so, and the razor is useless without its handle!

The Blade

Next, look at the blade. Don’t worry too much about discoloration but pitting, especially when it extends close to or to the edge is a problem. You want to be able to hone the blade and put a good edge to it.  Pitting will make that a real challenge. Also, the blade should have a guard installed. Although some folks use their Rolls without the guard, most prefer it.  It doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker, er  If you’re hunting in the wild rather than online, check that the guard physically clicks from one side of the edge to the other. There is a small ball-bearing that may not be readily apparent if you don’t know what to look for, but if it’s missing, the guard will not latch into position . Note that this is not a deal-breaker, as the razor will work without. It’s certainly a bargaining point though!

As a side note: blades are interchangeable across the different Rolls models. If you see one in the wild and it’s in good shape, go for it! Especially if it’s in one of the little Bakelite blade holders in which Rolls sold extra blades.  The container fits nicely into the case with the blade folded down, and there is at least one theory that blades last longer if you don’t use them every day. (Just today, I saw a blade in decent shape with a handle (no case, that was it!) on eBay. The starting bid was $2…  If I wasn’t on a buying sabbatical, I would have scarfed it up!)

The Case

Next, look at the case.  Remove both the strop and the hone.  If you intend to hone your blade “outside the case,” a missing or cracked hone need not be a deal-breaker either. This is probably the most common issue with used Rolls Razors. Event if you want to hone in the case, you can replace a broken hone Again, consider it as a bargaining point.  The strop should be in decent shape. If it’s a bit dry or discolored, don’t worry too much about it.  Pay attention to where the blade lands when stropping.  You may see what appears to be excessive wear there, but it’s probably from the impact of the blade.  It’s the area between those strike points that actually strops the blade.  That should be smooth, or cleanable.  The majority of strops that I’ve  acquired have been easy to restore, so don’t sweat it too much.

Check the action. If it’s stiff, look to see if there’s excessive grease or old soap built up.  It’s easy to clean out and as long as the gearing isn’t wonky or stripped out (unlikely) it’s probably usable.  Make sure that the butterfly spring is intact. DO NOT attempt to adjust the spring by bending the leaves. It will snap and this will make you sad! It’s also hard to find a replacement unless you have a parts-razor.

There’s actually not a whole lot that can go wrong with a Rolls. Even when they’re well used, there’s generally life left in them. If you’ve found a Rolls that looks like it’s usable the next step is to get is cleaned up and ready to use. That will be the subject of another post.

Until next time,

Echo4Golf clear!

I likes me the Pi!

A couple of years ago I purchased a little Raspberry Pi computer with the intention of setting up some simple network based storage for our household network.  I got it running, added Samba, and then kind of forgot about it.  It wound up unplugged in a drawer when I needed to reclaim my external drive for another project.  As some of you know, I managed to hurt myself in early November and spent some time recently sitting on my recliner as the back healed.

Enter the Pi.  I had acquired another external drive and wanted to put our music up on the network again along with the eBooks.  It went downhill from there.  Right now the Pi is running my domain (and this blog), VSFTPD, Apache, Samba, Calibre (eBook) Server, and heaven knows what else.  That’s not bad for a $40 computer that’s not much bigger than an Altoids case.

I also found out that it will run CUPs and act as a server for our HP CP-1215 which for those of you who don’t know, is a cheap HP Color Laserjet.  The problem with this model was that, while it worked nicely on the attached computer,  you couldn’t effectively share it on a windows network. It just wouldn’t work. Well now it does.

That’s my next project. I’m going to get another Pi, set it up for wireless access and as a dedicated print-server.  No more leash for the LaserJet!

I’ll share details and costs when I get the project off the ground.


Echo4Golf Clear!

2014 Shave Log

It’s been a bit over a year since I shaved my beard off in its entirety for the first time in about twenty years. Tonight, I want to share some numbers related to razor use from the year. They’re not complete as I didn’t really start keeping track until early May, when I came across the Shaving Buddy app for my Android based tablet. Now, I’m a sucker for that sort of thing anyway, but I didn’t realize just how much I would use it. I wound up buying the full version within a week, and recording over 260 shaves in 238 days!

The down side of the app is that the reporting is very limited. I poked around a bit last week and found that the app works as a front-end for a SQLite3 database. (I warned you: I’m a computer geek and I know just enough to be dangerous…)

Once I figured that out, it was a fairly simple operation to dump the data for the year to an Excel workbook. From that spreadsheet I came up with the following numbers.
Total Shaves Recorded: 266

95 DE
75 Weck Shavette
45 Rolls
32 SE
12 Other Shavette
6 Other SE
1 Injector

The DE Razors included, in no particular order: Gillette New Standard, Gillette Gold Tech (Heavy), Gilette Old Style, Gilette Thin Adjustable, Gillette Bar-Handled New, FaTip Piccolo, FaTip Piccolo, Gilette Fat Boy, Gillette Tech (Gold), Gillette Travel Tech, (The) Unknown Slant, Gillette Tech (Triangle), Gillette Milord, Merkur 37c Slant (1 shave only.)

Weck Shavettes included a shaper, a standard Sextoblade, and a “Nurses” razor (i.e. a stainless steel Sextoblade without the caduceus.) The vast majority of these shaves saw me using the standard Sexto. It is pretty much my daily driver for right now, although I think I’m going to start changing things up again. (So many razors, so few shaves!) In a future post I’ll detail my experiences with different blades.

My Rolls is a single set with two blades, both of which I honed myself. It took a few tries, but this is actually my favorite razor. I get consistent results with it now that it’s sharp enough and I’ve got the maintenance figured out. (Thanks MJClark!) This set is going to see regular use this year!

The Single Edge Razors, again in no particular order included a Gem Junior (1912), AutoStrop Valet VC1, Gem MicroMatic Open Comb, Gem G-Bar, Gem Flying Wing, and a Gem Micromatic. I like them all, but the Valet is my favorite in this catagory. I have a bunch of OEM blades and a couple of different models to try this year. These will be the subject of a future post as well.

The “Other Shavettes” include a Parker SR-1, Vanta RA-111 and an RA-112. I purchased the Parker off of the BST and passed it on. I like the Vantas better, especially the 111, which uses a full DE blade.

The “Other SE” is seven day Wilkinson Sword Empire set that I used with a cut down shaper blade in lieu of cleaning up the wedge blades—a project for this year. The injector is a Schick-Eversharp.