What are viable alternatives for leather

08/24/2010, 3:30 p.m.
registered member

Hello friends of the well-groomed shave,

After the discussion about alternatives for leather straps popped up in the forum, I was somehow interested in this topic. Certainly this topic can also be interesting for e.g. vegans. But here I would like to consciously avoid the moral background, for me it is simply about whether an alternative method of peeling works. A second reason for me was whether I could avoid crowning.

Out of sheer joke, I made an experiment with a piece of balsa wood. I bought a piece of balsa wood of approx. 20 x 5 cm and embedded one side with iron oxide paste (yes, somehow I prefer it to chrome oxide paste), and the other side left natural. Of course, I ground both sides flat on a glass plate with fine sandpaper and then polished them to the highest degree. In this way, this piece of balsa wood can replace the paste and untreated leather straps.

I carried out my experiments between April 10, 2010 and August 23, 2010.

There were 5 of my razors that could use a fresh cut one way or another. That's why I decided to try this razor.

With this razor I carried out the experiment:

1. Twin 5/8 normal steel
2. Needle 5/8 normal steel
3. Dovo 5/8 normal steel
4. Kiku Hiro 6/8 mild steel (Japanese)
5. Heartring 5/8 normal steel

After grinding the fine stones (GBB, Thuringian or BM slate), I removed the respective knife from the balsa wood on the side that had been rubbed with iron oxide paste. As usual with the leather strap, I pulled it off until the hair test was passed. The knife was pulled back first (as with the leather strap). Finally, I also removed the untreated side of the respective knife, approx. 50 double pulls. The edge and back looked extremely polished and shiny.

Possible advantages of the balsa wood method:

1. The balsa wood is flat and does not give way. This is why there is no crowning at the cutting edge. The grinding angle is specified by the manufacturer and is determined by the ratio between the width of the back and the width of the blade. Since the balsa wood does not or hardly gives way, the peel angle is the same as the cut angle.
2. It is (from responsible cultivation, e.g. FSC) largely free from moral negative backgrounds
3. It is relatively inexpensive compared to the push, lashing, or hanging strap.
4. It is easy to work with
5. It polishes the cutting edge very finely, as does the leather strap.

Possible disadvantages of the balsa wood method:
1. The balsa wood is flat and does not give way. Therefore it can happen that the cutting edge is not polished up to the point. In some cases, the angle can become too flat and the razor is not as durable.
2. The relatively flat angle also results in longer micro-teeth, which may lead to a rougher shave.
3. It may not look as classy as a beautiful strap. But I think that this disadvantage is manageable.

• Preheat the bowl in the sink
• Wash your face with warm water and soap
• Lather up soap or cream in a bowl with warm water
• Apply cream to face with circular movements
• Remove the razor on the untreated balsa wood side (approx. 30 double pulls)
• Have toilet paper ready to wipe the knife
• Brush in again with straight lines
• Shave with the grain
• Brush the face with circular movements
• Have toilet paper ready
• Pull the razor off again on the untreated balsa wood side, approx. 30 double pulls
• Brush the face with straight lines
• Shave against the grain
• Wash your face with warm and cold water
• Clean the bowl, knife and brush
• Apply aftershave to the face
• (after a short exposure time) apply Nivea from the blue can
• Pull off the razor on the untreated balsa wood side (5 double pulls)

The aim was to find out whether the balsa wood method is a viable alternative for the leather strap. I will determine whether the shaves are thorough and gentle and whether the sharpness lasts for a long time.

So far (as of May 21, 2010) these 5 razors shave gently and thoroughly and pass the hair test even after shaving.

Since I still pull my other razors off on the tension belt, I have a good comparison option. The razors on the balsa wood are a little "harder". But you still shave gently and thoroughly.

Today, 08/08/2010, the razors stripped on balsa wood are still sharp and shave comfortably and thoroughly.

Today, August 24th, 2010, I notice clear differences between the knives. The Zwilling and Heartring knives are still sharp, but I noticed that the other knives are becoming less sharp. The hair test confirms my feeling.

Therefore I can conclude by saying: yes, it works with peeling on balsa wood. But a few disadvantages have to be taken into account:
1. The knife sets a little more rough (is manageable)
2. 3 of my 5 knives blunted faster. I have to say, however, that I have thick and firm whiskers. However, if it is important to avoid leather, it is manageable.

Warm greetings from the Emsland
This message was edited on August 26th, 2010 at 10:12 am by Paysbas.