Today the market is dominated by electric shavers and simple wet shavers. Whether as part of an archaic or a modern lifestyle, using an open razor to remove the beard growth has been a component of shaving culture for centuries. Lathering up the soap and wielding a brush - a wet shave is always a special experience.

The basic material preferred for open razors is normal steel with a minimum carbon content of 0,6%, in order to achieve the highest degree of hardness, elasticity and resistance to wear. The blank consists of a cropped piece between 20-25 mm wide and 5-6 mm thick. the cropped pieces are heated and hot-forged under immense pressure from a drop hammer in the forging die.
The heat-treatment, the so-called "hardening", is extremely important for the blank. Depending on the quality of the steel, the blank is heated up to 1.300°C and subsequently chilled in a special oil. The temperature limits are often crucial. The subsequent tempering at 200 to 400°C, depending on the type of steel, gives the blade its elasticity and toughness.

Handles and blades
The handles of the open razors are made of celluloid (imitation tortoiseshell, ivory or mother-of-pearl), real buffalo horn or mother-of-pearl, ebony, pakkawood, micarta, bone or non-corrosive steel.


We distinguish between the following handles:

3/8" flat or 1/2 hollow ground for salon and clinic use, eyebrows
4/8" flat or 1/2 hollow ground for salon and clinic use, light beard growth 5/8" 1/2 or 1/1 hollow ground for general removal of beard growth
6/8" square or sharp point for the experienced shaver
7/8" 1/1 hollow ground with for very strong beard growth double- stabilising piece

Cross-section of razors -degree of hollowness-

A: flat ground
B: full hollow ground
C: 1/4 hollow

Care of the razor
Correct care is essential for the maintenance and long life of this traditional gentlemens accessory. Each time it is used, the entire razor must be rinsed in clear water and dried thoroughly. If the razor is not used for a longer period, it is advisable to coat it lightly with oil. Never store the razor in a damp, unventilated place.

Razor strops and honing
While flat razors are sharpened using strops with wooden handles where the razor can be "pushed" along the strop, ½ or full hollow-ground razors are sharpened using hanging strops, in some cases with a knob made of fine cow-hide or smooth Russian-type leather with which the strop can be hung up. Some of these strops have a hemp tube on the reverse side which serves to position the sharp edge in the direction indicated by the razor. If necessary, the leather side can be coated with a thin layer of fine grinding paste (red paste), and with polishing paste (black paste) for polishing on a separate strop, and subsequently worked in with the palm of the hand. Sharpening is effected at a plane angle with the back of the razor on the razor strop; it should be first be drawn away from the body. When changing direction, the razor should be turned with its back to the strop and then drawn towards the body. If the cutting edge of the razor faces the strop while the razor is being turned, it will become round and lose its cut. In this case, only regrinding by a specialist will help.


1. How do I look after the straight razor?
The straight razor must be properly looked after in order to ensure the maintenance and long life of this traditional men's accessory. While straight razors made of stainless steel are less demanding, other razors have to be rinsed with clear water and thoroughly dried after each use. When not in use for longer periods, it is recommended that the razor be rubbed with light oil. Likewise, the razor should not be stored in a damp and unaired state. There is no generally valid rule for the whetting (stropping) of straight razors; in many cases, it is sufficient to draw the razor lightly over the ball of the thumb, especially when it has been left unused for several days between shaves. Wet shavers of the old school know that the facet (blade) "grows", i.e. the microscopically discernible and extremely fine "fin" on the cutting edge changes during the shave but returns to its old position afterwards; it stretches and again becomes extremely fine. Nevertheless, this fine "fin" will still wear away at some stage and a suitable strop should then be bought.
There is no common rule for sharpening of razors; sometimes it is sufficient to sharpen it at the ball of the thumb, especially if the razor is not used for several days. People, who often use razors, know: the cutting edge is growing, meaning that the very fine burr on the cutting edge (which can be seen under the microscope) changes whenever the razor is used, but it finally goes back to its old position and will become very fine again. Nevertheless the burr will wear out after a certain period of time, and then the suitable razor strop should be bought.

2. How do I whet the razor with the strop?
While flat blades are whetted on a suspended strop (velvet knives), 1/2 or 1/1 concave blades require a hanging strop made of fine cowhide leather or extremely supple Russia leather either with a turning device for hanging up or with hemp hose on the back, which serves to align the "fin" in the direction pointing away from the razor. If required, the leather side can be rubbed with an extremely thin layer of fine abrasive paste (red paste) and - for a final polishing on a separate strop - with polishing paste (black paste), which is worked in with the ball of the thumb. Stropping is performed at a flat angle with the back of the razor laid on the strop; the razor is drawn in the direction away from the body. The razor is then turned over on its back and drawn in towards the body. Changing directions without turning the razor over makes the blade become round (crowned) so that the cutting properties are lost. In this case, only resharpening can help.

3. How do I shave with the razor?
The beginner starts first with the smooth and unproblematic areas of the face. To do this, the opened razor is held with thumb and three fingers so that the opened holder points away from the face. Lathered with good shaving soap and thus made supple, the skin must be tightened; the razor is moved at an angle of approx. 30° firstly in the direction of growth of the beard and then against the direction of growth. If held too flat, the razor rips the stubble; if held too upright, it cuts the skin. Always move it in the direction of the cutting edge and never horizontally (danger of injury); always draw it through evenly and hold it a little more upright at corners, dimples and at the upper lip. If the razor gets damaged by being dropped or when being put into its holder, it should not be used further. Stropping does not help here; the razor must be resharpened and whetted by a specialist.

4. What sort of steel is most suitable for straight razors?
The basic materials for good straight razors are standard steels with a carbon content of 0.6% and greater and which attain a maximum of hardness, elasticity and resistance to wear in a careful process of tempering and treatment. The advantage of stainless grades of steel is that these require less looking after.

5. The straight razor I bought a short time ago no longer shaves properly. Do I have to whet it, and how often is this necessary?
DOVO straight razors are whetted in the factory for use (whetting on leather by hand). If you own a suitable strop, you should nevertheless take into account that the razor must first "rest" after use. After the razor has been carefully rinsed and dried, it should not be used again for at least 24 - 48 hours because the fine "fin" on the cutting edge straightens up again extremely slowly. If the razor is stropped too soon (or stropped incorrectly by moving it backwards and forwards without turning it over), the "fin" which is necessary for a close shave breaks off. Between six and fifteen shaves are possible without stropping in between.

6. Apart from the modern blade systems, MERKUR also offers classic double-edged blades. Do these still have advantages?
The wet shaver who attaches importance to convenience in his morning shaving will appreciate the latest blade systems of the leading suppliers, for which MERKUR offers suitable adapter systems to choose from. On the other hand, the double-edged MERKUR super platinum blades or products from other manufacturers comparable to the MERKUR classics or to the current design models FUTUR and VISION are
a) more economical (lower in price through longer use), and
b) environmentally compatible (as steel is not combined with plastic).
After a short time getting used to them, you will see the advantages.