Shaving with a Rolls Razor

Note: The author is posting this one early. It still needs edited (and most likely proof-read) but there seem to be some first Rolls shaves coming up and the author hopes this will help!

In past articles we have hunted for a Rolls, refurbished it, sharpened the blade until it’s perfect, and now you’re ready to give it a test run.  In this article, the author will detail his shaving routine as modified for the Rolls.  In truth there aren’t a lot of modifications to your routine or technique required and a Rolls shave takes little more time than any other. Further, shaving with the Rolls is a rewarding experience, if you’re into that sort of thing. The author certainly is and has found that the Rolls Razor yields a marvelously close, irritation free, near baby’s butt smooth shave every time. The author’s shaves are part of his morning routine which includes the Marine Corps’ traditional three S’s.  The entire routine takes about thirty minutes, maybe forty-five on a slow or especially luxurious day. As a general rule, the author finds the time well spent as it helps get on track and stay focused on the day.

The thing to remember with the Rolls is that while it’s referred to as a “straight on a stick” and the shaving angle should be chosen with that in mind, and while it looks somewhat intimidating when mounted up and ready to go, it’s actually a great shaver in its own right.


The author begins each shave with either a hot shower or hot water on a face cloth. Truth to tell, there’s not a lot of difference in shave quality between the two but, of course, your mileage may vary. Either way, hot water and soap are applied and rinsed and the author does not dry his face after either.  The hot water is followed by pre-shave oil (PSO) on wet hands, applied to a wet face.  The amount varies based upon viscosity, but generally the oil is completely absorbed by the time the cream or soap is applied.

While the PSO is working, the author gives the blade a good stropping, generally about a minute at the rate of about two complete passes per second.  Once the blade is stropped, remove it from the case and mount it on the handle. It’s ready to go.  Some sources recommend heating in your shaving water but the author has not found significant advantage from this action. Feel free though! You’re not going to hurt anything.

With the blade ready to go, mix up the lather of your choice and lather up!

Your First Rolls Pass

Once you’re lathered up begin your shave.  The angle is the most crucial part.  Start with the blade almost flat on your face and then increase the shave angle until you feel the razor start to cut your beard.  Hold your angle there and at that point make a complete pass with the grain of your beard. No pressure should be necessary. Let the razor do the work. At the conclusion of the pass check WTG for how close the razor is shaving. If you’re close to where you want to be, continue to march with that angle.  If there’s a significant amount of stubble, consider increasing the angle.  If you’re feeling irritation, reduce the angle.

Make one more WTG pass to confirm your angle. The author’s ideal angle with the Rolls seems to be with the flat of the blade raised just slightly more than the width of the spine of the blade off of his face.

Shaving Passes

The author’s current shave regime generally involves four passes plus cleanup under his neck and on the jaw line.  Rather than worry about “with the grain” or “against the grain,” the author makes a pass from the top down (north to south) which is mostly WTG, a mostly XTG pass from “east to west” (i.e. from the left side to the right), a mostly ATG pass from west to east, and another XTG from south to north.  If necessary (or time permitting, or just because he wants to) the author will add some ATG work in the “trouble spots” that contain stubble after the requisite passes.  Note that there is little or no irritation even after all of these passes.  Ensure that you’re using adequate lather and water, and no more than minimal pressure on the razor.

If you find the razor jumping around on the ATG passes, it may not be quite sharp enough. Try another shave before you go back to the drawing board though.

Post Shave

The author concludes his shave with a hot water rinse followed by a cold water rinse and the application of alum.  While the alum is sitting on his face, the razor is cleaned and dried and brush and mug are rinsed and put away.

The blade is removed from the handle and the handle set aside.  The author dries the blade with a tissue or towel and then blows in the hole on the back of blade to remove any water built up.  The blade is then installed in the case and stropped for about 15 seconds at the rate of about 2 complete strokes per second, to dry the edge. Once that has been accomplished the author dries the handle and stows it along with the extra blade within the case.  The hone may then be replaced and the outside of the razor wiped down.

It takes longer to write or read these steps than it does to perform them.  They are important. As the Rolls Razor company said: “Rust Ruins Razors.”

Once the razor and other gear are secured, the author removes the alum from his face with cold water, dries his face and applies the after-shave product of the day.  All in all, start to finish, including a shower, the author expends about 30 minutes in this routine.

The Blade’s Starting to Pull

If your shave is not where you’d like it to be, and you’ve worked with the angle, or if you’ve got your technique down but the blade is starting to pull, it’s most likely time to hone the blade.  You can do this inside the case on the original hone, on your straight honing gear, or on a home-made case hone.

There are a couple of differences between stropping and honing your blade.  When stropping, it seems to work best at about two complete passes per second.  Additionally, the blade is pulled across the strop with its edge trailing.  Honing is almost entirely opposite.  The blade is pulled across the hone edge first. The honing passes are rather gentle and quiet compared to the mechanical “thwapping” of stropping. In fact, running the razor full-speed on the hone may cause damage to either the stone or your blade.

When you’re ready to hone, make about seven complete passes and then use the four-way stropping precedure discussed elsewhere in this series or on the Badger and Blade WIKI. Then, before your shave for the first time, follow your normal stropping regime.

Best of luck with your Rolls Razor!


Echo4Golf Clear

Rolls Renovation Part II — Blade, Hone, and Reassembly

Most, of not all of the reviews of the Rolls from non-Rolls users, indicate that the shave is less than optimal; this generally along with some confusion as to why the razor sold so well for so long. The problem is that the blade has been dulled by years of use and abuse as it sat around in the humidity, banged around in boxes and drawers, and generally lay forgotten. The trick is to prepare the blade outside of the case, treating it something like a straight razor. You can do this yourself, or if you hit Badger and Blade and ask around, you might find someone to do it for a reasonable fee.

It needn’t cost a lot of money to prepare your blade either. The author, a woodworker, has in the shop a three way sharpening set with a silicon carbide (course) and two Arkansas stones (medium and fine). (Similar to this, although Rockler tends to be pricey.) The only purchases required for this project were a flat honing surface, (a home depot marble tile for less than $10, and some fiber-optic lapping media (, less than $2 per sheet. Watch the shipping). The author uses 5µ (micron), 3µ, 1µ, and recently purchased a couple of sheets of .3µ for experimental purposes.

Preparing and Honing the Blade

Choosing a blade to hone

The author is fortunate to have a small “parts bin” with a number of blades in it, so the first step was to choose a couple of good examples to work with. The Rolls blade is not quite a simple as it looks.  There are actually three pieces, the guard, a small ball bearing, and the blade proper.

blade selection

Blade selection. A couple don’t have the ball bearings and the one top left one has quite a smile from where the author learned not to go to far on the silicon carbide stone. The one top center has a chip out of the center. Both appear to be candidates for “butter knifing” but are beyond the scope of this project.



The author forgot about this one at first. It’s a decent candidate despite the discoloration on the edge. The stones will take that right off.

Setting the Bevel

The first step is setting the bevel, that is getting an even cutting edge can be successfully refined to a razor’s edge. For this process, the author chose a course Silicon Carbide stone.


  • Carefully disassemble the blade. Pry the guard from one side or the other. Note the location of the ball bearing and either remove it or tape it in. The ball bearing keeps the guard on one side or other of the blade edge. The razor will still function without it, but the author prefers having it installed.
  • Clean the blade with soap, water, and steel wool if necessary.  It’s best to clean it before you hone it.
  • Tape out the spine of the blade ensuring that the tape is the same thickness on both sides. The author found one thickness of tape sufficient.
Setting the bevel.

Make sure that your stones are a flat as you can get them.  This probably won’t be an issue with your Arkansas stones, unless they’ve seen a lot of action. Your SiC stone is fairly soft though, and may need some lapping. You can lap it on sandpaper on your tile.  There are many articles about this process, and they take longer to read than to do. Just make sure you’re working on a flat surface!)

  • Make 40 or so passes (back and forth equals one complete pass) on the course SiC stone using a fairly firm pressure to set the bevel. Rotate the blade 180 degrees after each pass.  The author works the blade both ways, as opposed to only against the edge at this point.
  • Make an additional 20 or so passes gradually decreasing the pressure. It’s time to move on when the scratching from the SiC stone is even on both sides and the edge is straight and even.  Don’t worry too much if the edge looks rough as the next steps refine it. Note that a loupe can be handy here, but a magnifying glass may suffice. The author uses a the 7x and 10x from a cheap Harbor Freight set. (
  • Repeat the process on the Arkansas medium and the fine. Keep the stones oiled and wipe the scarf periodically. Work each stone until the scratching from the last stone has been removed, and the scratching from the current stone is even.
  • Moving on to the lapping film, the author used 5µ, 3µ, 1µ on the marble tile. Again, work each sheet until there are even scratches and then about 20 complete stokes with gradually decreasing force.
  • You’re not done with a step in the progression if some of the scratches are larger and deeper than others. Uniformity is the key here! Take your time and get a consistent edge before moving on.
Lapping media on a marble tile.

Water on the tile holds the lapping media and water on the medium to add a bit of lubrication.

Lapping media on a marble tile.

Lapping media on a marble tile.

Ready for the strop

This pic needs replaces, but here is the blade ready to strop. Note that the edge is even and clean. It’s got close to a mirror edge at this point, and will easily cut arm hair.

  • Once the blade is through the lapping media, it will be wonderfully sharp and ready to be refined on the strop. The author uses a Rolls Razor strop painted with Chromium Oxide green paint to start that process.
  • At this point go ahead and put the guard back on the blade. It’s better to do it now rather than stropping without the guard as the little ball bearing in the side of the blade will likely fall out otherwise.
  • Do not work with the edge facing your hand! Set the 2-pin side of the guard into the side of the blade opposite the bearing and then clip the other side. Be careful. It’s better to push from the back of the blade with the guard sitting on something. It will click right in.

The author uses a spare strop that is painted in Chromium Oxide. Although the CrOX tends to create a rather harsh shave if used alone, it really polishes up the edge noticeably.   I then take the actual strop for the razor and add a bit of Ferric Oxide power. Be warned: a little bit goes a long way and too much gets all over the place very quickly! I work it into the leather addiing a little bit of Fromm’s if necessary. Once it’s worked in and the excess is removed, using the 4-way technique, I strop the blade again, this time on the FeOx, and only for about 30-45 seconds a side.


  • Mount the CrOx strop in your razor. Make sure the strop is not mounted in the hone side.  Stropping should drag the blade across the strop with the edge trailing.
  • Mount the blade.
  • At this point the author uses the “4-way” stropping system described in the Badger and Blade ShaveWIKI. Run the blade for one minute, making about 2 complete back and forth passes per second.  Turn the razor case 180 degrees (reverse it in your hand) and run the blade for another minute at the same rate.  This time flip the blade and repeat. The revers the razor again and repeat a fourth time.  That means that you’ll be on the Crox for about 4 minutes. The procedure might be a touch of overkill but it compensates for any odd angles put on the razor while you’re stropping. It also polishes the edge beautifully.  You shouldn’t see much in the way of scratching at this point.
  • The edge created by the CoOx is shavable and, in fact, preferred by many straight razor users. But on the advice of MJClark on B&B the author discovered that he prefers a blade stropped on Iron Oxide (FeOx). The general consensus is that it is much less harsh. It also appears that the original Rolls stropping compound was FeOx based.
FeOx Strop

Here is the FeOx powder ready to work into the leather. Very little is needed. FeOx is used as a pigment and will stain you, your counter top, or just about anything it contacts. Work the powder into the leather while wearing a glove (or even a baggie) on your hand.

  • Mount your reconditioned strop in the case. Apply FeOx powder. See photo, you don’t need much at all. Remember, FeOX ground this fine is a pigment and will stain any porous surface that it contacts. Wear gloves or a baggie over your hand and don’t overdo the application. Too much will impede your stropping process.
  • Ensure that you’ve mounted the strop so that the blade is stropping (edge trailing).
  • Repeat the 4 way stropping process.

At this point your blade should be shave ready. It’s just about time to reassemble the unit and try it out. If you want to do that, skip the next section as it can be done any time.

Reconditioning Your Hone

Restoring a whole stock hone is a fairly simple task, consisting of light scraping, cleaning, and perhaps lapping. They are pretty fragile things and it’s difficult to remove them from the holder without snapping them in two. Rolls Razor did at one point provide replacements, but they seem to be few and far between these days.  The author has found that it’s best to limit work on an existing hone to the cleaning that can be done without removal. This can be done pretty efficiently with soap, water, and a simple Nylon toothbrush or weapon cleaning brush.

Replacing a Broken Hone

One of the most common issues with a Rolls in the wild or on eBay is a missing or broken hone.  Apparently they can be repaired, and this is on your author’s to-do list at some point (see this Straight Razor Place article on restoring a broken hone:

As a stop gap or, if you prefer, to create MJClark’s “21st Century Rolls Razor,” try this: create you’re own lapping film holder.


  • Take a piece of 1/8″ luan or similar soft material.  It should be about the same thickness as the holder.
  • Use the holder to trace a pattern on your material.
  • Cut just inside your line.
  • Sand as necessary to fit your holder into the lid.
  • You need it to sit flat, so make sure the lid is complete clean before installing, and make sure the holder sits fairly tightly into the lid piece.
  • Cut a piece of lapping media to fit the holder and attach.
  • The author has cut the lapping media a bit long so that it can be installed by clamping it under one edge of the razor, against the luan holder and then closing and latching the razor on the other end.  It works well enough but it’s a bit of a pain to change out. (see below).  In the next iteration, the author intends to make two or three holders and attach a piece of lapping media from each of the final steps in the progression. Rubber cement may be the answer as it can be kept even with minimal effort and is removable.
fake hone 3

The luan is cut to size and inserted in the lid.


fake hone 4

A piece of lapping media is being placed on the luan and secured under the edge of the lid.


Friction clip assembly re-installed

The lid is closed with the lapping film secured under both ends.


 Honing Your Razor

While stropping is done with the edge trailing at about two complete back and forth strokes per second, hone is different. In fact, honing at the same speed as stropping will damage your hone and blade. Hone at that speed on the lapping media will destroy it as well. The entire process takes about 15 minutes, maybe a couple of more if you’re using multiple steps of lapping media.


  • Remove the stropping lid, any extra blade, and the blade handle.
  • Make about 7 gentle and complete back and forth passes on the hone.
  • The friction clip assembly will take care of keeping the proper tension on the blade. Concentrate on keeping your strokes even.
  • If you’re working through a couple of steps of lapping media, repeat as necessary.
  • Strop the blade using the four way technique.  If you use the CrOx strop, don’t forget to use the FeOx.
  • Done.  Strop as normal before your first shave.

Reassemble the Razor

  • Re-assemble the friction clip assembly if you haven’t already done so.  Ensure that the blade holder post is rotated 90 degrees after assembly so that it will ride in the groove on the brass shaft.
  • Install the friction clip assembly by snapping it back over the brass shaft. Start at either end of the clip and then line up the razor holder post properly. Once it’s aligned, snap the clip all the way on.  It will go right in if the post is properly aligned.
Ready to re-assemble the case.

Wipe the case down and ensure it’s dry prior to re-assembly.


Friction clip assembly re-installed

Here’s a case with the post and butterfly spring clipped back on. The post rides in the groove in the middle. You can just see it up in there. There’s still some cleaning to do on top of the running gears and where the lid clips in.



  • Wipe the case and lids down.
  • Ensure they are completely dry.
  • Verify that you’ve got the hone installed in the correct holder. (It’s the one with the Whetter.)
  • Verify that you’ve got the strop installed in the correct holder. (You guessed it: it’s the one without the Whetter!)
  • Install the reassembles blade on the post
  • Place the handle with the blade holder end either over the end of the stropping handle or in the recess in the side on top of the running gear.  If you have a spare blade in a box or holder, it fits inside the stropping handle and the blade holder in the latter position.

Done! Now you’re ready to give it a test run!  If the blade is not right you can try stropping it some more or you back up a bit in your progression. Remember, you’re not done with a step in the progression if some of the scratches are larger and deeper than others. Uniformity is the key!

Next: Shaving with your Rolls Razor

Echo4Golf Clear


Rolls Renovation Part I — Disassembly, Case and Strop


The author’s Rolls Razor showing the assembled razor sitting on top of the detached hone as well as a spare blade in its bakelite case.


The author’s first Rolls Razor article dealt with what to look for when searching for a Rolls Razor in the wilds of your local antique store or on eBay. Well, now that you’ve successful stalked and trapped your Rolls it’s time to get it ready for your first shave. If you’ve managed to acquire a “new old stock” model you may be ready to go out of the box, but as with a brand new straight, you may still need to do some work on the blade. A dull blade will ruin your shaving experience. In fact, this is the complaint about the Rolls that I see most often. A sharp blade in a Rolls will give you a very nice, close, comfortable shave, every time. If you are at that point, you may want to skip to the next in this series as it deals with the blade.

In this article, the author shares restoration methodologies for the case, internal mechanism, and strop. The pictures are from the Rolls units that the author prepared for a “PIF” on Badger and blade. Reports from one owner indicate some good shaving experiences with the new addition to his stable. Reports from the other indicate that the blade needed more work but that’s another subject.

The restoration process is pretty simple. You’ll need some fairly common supplies in addition to your razor. Both of the sets in this example were simple nickle-plated or stainless Imperial models with the “key” pattern on the lids.  If your razor has black tarnish on it, you might want to see if it’s silver.  If that’s the case you’ll want to use silver-specific cleaning methods on the case.  Likewise if it’s gold-plated, or has a pebble pattern on the lids.

Materials / Tool List

Cleaning Supplies

  • Ultrasonic Cleaner (optional, but nice)
  • Dish soap
  • Steel wool pad
  • Toothbrush
  • Degreaser (I actually used Hoppes bore cleaner this time as it’s what I had.  You’re going to scrub and rinse what-ever you use off with soap and hot water, so make sure it’s not too resistant to that treatment!
  • Q-tips
  • Rags and / or paper towels

For the strop

  • Strop Treatment (I use Fromms, but Phil Scott-Smith’s Shave-WIKI article on the Rolls suggests that lubriderm lotion will work just as well.)
    FeOx for the strop
    The Author’s “life-time” (1 ounce) supply of Red Iron Oxide (FeOx). This was purchased from an eBay vendor for $1.25 in 2014. You want to look for a fine particle size. This was was sold as 325 mesh.
  • Spare strop painted with Chromium Oxide (“CrOx”)
  • You can also use a piece of luan and put CrOx on one side and FeOx on the other.
  • Iron oxide paste or powder (A little goes a long way. I got a lifetime supply from an eBay vendor.  You could also try this, but I have no experience with it)
  • 320-400 grit sandpaper
  • For the Case
  • Vasoline

For the Blade

  • Honing gear.
  • Lapping media
  • Granite or marble block or tile (for the lapping media)

On the right is the author’s “parts bin.” You can sometimes find incomplete Rolls units for very little money. For this project, the author created two working Rolls Razors out of the parts bin.  The limiting factor in creating more than two razors were the number of handles and hones in the bin. Hones can actually be restored and the author intends to give the instructions in this article a try.

Case, Stropping / Honing Gear, and Blade Retainer

The process starts with the dis-assembly of the case. Remove the blade, handle, and both lids.  Set those parts aside for now and start with the case. Next is the removal of the friction clip unit, including the blade holder (post) and butterfly spring from the brass shaft. This is not difficult, but be careful as it’s possible to break the butterfly spring if you don’t pay attention.


  • Do not try to unscrew the post that holds the blade (blade holder).
  • DO NOT PRY on the WINGS of the BUTTERFLY SPRING!!! THEY WILL BREAK! This will cause you to curse.
Ready case

Start with the case and stropping handle with blade retainer (post and butterfly spring) attached.



Friction sleeve removal


  • Start the friction sleeve off with a small screw-driver.  Note that the butterfly spring would normally still be attached at this point. It’s removed to show the orientation of the blade holder, which rides in the groove on the brass shaft when properly assembled.


Friction clip assembly

Here, the friction clip unit has been removed and is ready for further dis-assembly.In this case the blade holder post has been rotated 90 degrees and is ready for removal from behind. The broken butterfly spring was most likely caused by attempting to pry the one side up to better engage the blade.



Friction clip unit disassembled.

The friction clip unit has been disassembled and ready to clean.


  • Remove the soap scum, rust, grease, or other corrosion with the appropriate cleaner.
  • The author started with soap and water, and then the ultrasonic cleaners.
  • Steel wool takes care of any rust or challenging corrosion.

Inside the friction clip

  • Inside the friction clip is a piece of leather that regulates the friction while stropping and honing. Remove any excess grease.



Stropping handle with the post and butterfly spring removed. When the blade post is properly installed in the friction clip and mounted, it rides in the groove on the brass shaft.


  • Clean the shaft with degreaser if necessary.  It should not show excessive lubricant when the razor is in use as this will reduce the friction created by the friction clip.
  • Once you’ve got the friction clip assembly cleaned up, reassemble it by reversing the dis-assembly procedure and set it aside.  Don’t put it back on the case yet.
  • Clean the outside of the case with the appropriate cleaner. Once again, a bit of steel wool will do wonders. The whole case wouldn’t fit the author’s ultrasonic unit, so it was done half at a time.


  • Clean the inside of the case, with degreaser and Q-tips. Apply a slight bit of petroleum jelly to the gears with a clean Q-tip.
  • Dry the case thoroughly prior to proceeding. Rolls Razor notes time and time again that “Rust Ruins Razors.”
  • That’s no reason to be shy of water during this process. Just make sure it’s dry before you reassemble the razor.
  • The author set the cleaned case on a heat while working on the other parts.

Reconditioning the Strop

This applies to the leather strops only. On later razors, the strop was cork (?) with an Iron Oxide stropping compound.  If this is the case with the razor you’re working on, it’s probably worth picking up a parts razor just for the strop.

Strop Selection

Both of these strops, shown already scraped and sanded, were easily restored. The top was easier as it was in better good condition to start. The bottom one looks to be in worse condition that it is. The blade is only stropped between the dark black lines, about an inch from the ends, so that’s that part of the strop that has to be usable.


  • Remove the strop from its lid.
  • The lid can go into the ultrsonic cleaner while you’re working on the strop and then be cleaned up prior to reassembly.
  • Scrape the strop with a piece of wood, butter knife (carefully!) or the like. Try to remove any solid detritus but be careful of slashes or nicks.  Don’t make them any worse.
  • Run a piece of 300-400 grit sandpaper lightly over the strop. Even out the top and gently open up the grain on the leather.
  • Apply a coat of strop conditioner. The author uses Fromms, but reports indicate that lubriderm skin lotion works as well.
Strops ready for the Fromm's

Here are the two strops scraped, sanded, and with the first application of Fromm’s ready to work into the leather.


Strops with conditioning cream applied.

Here is the first coat of Fromm’s worked into the leather. The author put another coat after a half hour or so and then worked some FeOx powder into the strop when the blade was ready.


Next time: Part II, Blade preparation and Reassembly

Echo4Golf Clear!



Evil Black Rifle: Sweetheart, I’m afraid it might be a Marine thing.

Mary (SWMBO): “why on earth do you need a bayonet?”

Me: Ummmm.

This coversation, which started with: “guess what I bought?” happened this weekend.  It’s a long story but the short version is that I’m excited! I took some birthday money and bought one of these:



OK, it’s a cheap imported look-alike, but I don’t really envision having to use it. At least I hope not.  In any case I picked it up today and it’s pretty hefty.  In fact, it’s huge! I’ll have to give it a closer look but I’m not unhappy.

So, I’ve got an Palmetto State M-4gery with a 16 inch barrel.  For those of you who don’t speak black rifle, it’s a civilian version of the M-4 carbine version of the AR-15 / M-16 platform. The M-4 actually has a 14″ barrel, I believe, but to make this one legal for sale, it’s got a 16″ one.  Mine also has the m-4 style telescoping stock.  I’m not sure whether I like the stock or not and the barrel is OK, I guess. I would have preferred a full sized AR-15 with the20″ barrel and regular stock but this one was considerably less expensive.  An issue with the civilian M-4gery is that despite the bayonet lug, you can’t actually mount a bayonet correctly on one. The m-9 bayonet has a hole on one side of the guard that’s supposed to slide over the flash supressor of an AR and stabilize the knife.  On the civilian version of the rifle the guard winds up on the barrel rather than the suppressor and this leaves maybe 1/16″ of an inch for the bayonet to wobble.  A couple of companies have come up with solutions including bolt-on bayonet lugs, and barrel sleeves that slide on just behind the flash supressor but I like neither of those solutions.

Enter “Triple-R” products and their AR15 BAYONET ADAPTER. I’ll have to see whether I like it on the rifle, but it puts the whole knife where it belongs, and might even resolve the stability issues. I’ll post a review once I try it out.



Echo4Golf clear.

Marine Corps Base Camp LeJuene Water Issues 1957 – 1987

The following is from an email that I shared with Marine Corps League and DAV members in August, 2013.  I’ll update the information and provide a SITREP at some point soon. If you’re not aware of this issue and you were stationed at CLNC for thirty days or more between 1948 and 1987, you should look into it.
–Echo4Golf clear

In 1982, the Marine Corps discovered major problems with the water supply at Camp Lejuene. In fact, of the eight water treatment facilities located aboard the base since its construction, investigation revealed contaminants in two. The contamination was from multiple sources including, ABC One-Hour Cleaners outside the gate, leaking underground storage tanks, various waste disposal sites, and industrial sites.
The contaminated wells were at the Hadnot Point plant, which served Mainside barracks, Hospital Point family housing, Family housing at Midway Park, Paradise Point, and Berkeley Manor until June, 1972; and the Tarawa Terrace facility which served the Tarawa Terrace family housing and Knox trailer park until 1987. The Holcomb Boulevard facility (opened 1972) showed no sign of contamination, and the facilities at Courthouse Bay, the Rifle Range, Onslow Beach, Montford Point/Camp Johnson, and New River have not been reported upon that I could find.

The known contaminants include:Trichloroethylene (TCE), Tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene)(PCE), Dichloroethene (dichloroethylene)(DCE), Benzene, and vinyl chloride.

(see: and, specifically:

The Current Situation
In 2012, Congress passed the “Janey Ensminger Act,” named after the daughter of a retired Marine Gunny. Per the VA, eligibility is now limited to “Veterans and family members who served on active duty or resided at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between Jan. 1, 1957 and Dec. 31, 1987.” There are only 14 eligible conditions (detailed at:,

The Future
As to the water issues, a recent letter to the CDC from a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives, questioned the intent of that agency in releasing a less detailed report than their original. This issue stems from the original report issued by the CDC in 1997 which was withdrawn in 2011 because, “additional information has emerged,” that residents “were exposed to contaminated water for a longer period than we used in the 1997 evaluation,” and that “The full extent of the exposure is still being determined. Thus, the 1997 Assessment may be misleading because the information upon which it was based was incomplete,” (Marine Corps Times, 8/16/2013, cited MCT).
Additionally, there is evidence that suggests that the window should be extended on both ends, and that contaminants in the air should be examined as well. There is evidence of water issues going back as far as 1953. (I need the citation for this, but it’s there!)
  • April 1999, occupants of Building 1101 (Information Management Division, base communications, and Marine Corps Community Service warehouse began complaining of a strong petroleum odor. By December headaches, nausea, and eye and respiratory irritation were being reported. This led to the eventual evacuation and demolition of several buildings. (MCT)
  • In a March, 1982 report Building 71, used as a day care center was revealed to have been originally a storage and mixing facility for DDT and other dangerous insecticides. As a result, “air and soil samples in the area ‘under the guise of a normal health survey,’ and …analyzed in Norfolk.” This led to the collection of additional samples and a 1988 recommendation “that Lejeune monitor ambient air for buildings located near contamination ‘hot spots’.” (MCT)
  • In June 1997, a report on leaking underground storage tanks at the Hadnot Point Fuel Farm revealed that occupied buildings were in the affected area. (MCT)
  • In either 2004 or 2007 a 1981 document was found that described a radioactive dump site near “a rifle range,” and was used to dipose of waste containing strontium-90, among other things. (Wikipedia. There’s a CBS report as well, but I couldn’t find it yet.)
Other Sources

There’s an advocacy group specifically dealing with the situation. The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten maintains their website at:

VA site with information regarding claims at:

Additional information on the specific eligible conditions at:

The Recent Marine Corps Times article concerning

MCB Camp Lejuene “Historic Drinking Water” site

A Veritable Plethora of Rolls Razor Related Links

A list of Rolls Razor related links on the web.

Wikipedia article:

Badger and Blade Links:

Straight Razor Place article on restoring a broken hone: (This is high on your author’s to-try list!)

The Shave Den’s Rolls Thread:

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:

Man Emporium’s Article with a good scan of the instructions:

PDF: Do’s and Don’ts… Rust Ruins Razors!:

“A magnificent thread over on TOST where Brian Kampfert dedicates himself to honing and shaving with the Rolls,” (Thanks, Marcus…):

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 ( 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.