Shaving Kit | Canadian Woodworking

Shaving Kit

by Gordon Langer

Shaving Kit

Depending on what you want to make you will need several components.  


Shown here are stands that will hold a razor and a brush in both gold and a chrome finish. Shown are the different razors we will make, including a safety razor, Fusion and Mach 3 razors. You can find shaving kit accessories at William Wood-Write Ltd.
The thrust of this article describes a CA Glue finish and the many steps that I follow as a production turner.  Please take them with a grain of salt and modify to the equipment you have on hand.  I am very lucky to have a wife who actually believes that I could not operate with less than three cordless drills plus a spare for those "just in case" situations.  You won't necessarily need all the equipment shown and discussed below, but feel free to use this article as a good argument should you need to convince your home banker as to the need for new equipment.
Let's start with the shave brush handle.  While the turning is relatively easy, the application of the CA glue on a larger diameter piece is, for me, a bit challenging so I like to start with the brush and get that job out of the way early.  I used a block of cocobolo that was about 2.5"  square and cut in 3" lengths.  The form you choose may allow you to use a different size block but this works great for the form I like and proved to be very popular with my customers.

Once the blocks were cut I marked the centers on both ends and used a punch to dimple the blocks on both ends.  This allows for an easy mounting between centers.


When mounting between centers it's a great time to use a 2" Elio Safe Drive.  One of the main features is when using expensive wood like cocobolo you can reduce the depth of the pins on the Elio Safe Drive.  Here you see the block mounted between a 2" Elio Safe Drive and a live centre with the center pin installed.


Once mounted between centers I round the blank using a roughing gouge and then using a parting tool, added a small dovetail tenon to one end. 


There are many types and qualities of shaving brushes.  The best ones are genuine badger hair.  Here you see the normal standard badger hair brush on the left and a premium quality "Silver Tip" brush on the right (shown here with a protective sleeve).  The badger hair brushes are available from William Wood-Write.  I measure the diameter of the base.  In this case, the silver tip brush is  24mm and the standard badger 20mm. Typically the higher the quality of the brush, the larger diameter of the base.


I use a 20mm Forstner bit as I don't have a 24mm bit.  You will also need a 11/32" drill bit. Both are shown here mounted in a Jacobs chuck.


I install a small chuck and mount the dovetailed blank.  Next drill the blank to the appropriate depth using the Forstner bit.  This depth will vary depending on the brush you have.  I measure carefully to ensure it was drilled deep enough.


Use a square nosed scraper sharpened on both the tip and the left side to widen the opening. After checking several times I use one of the brushes to test the fit.


Next use an 11/32" twist drill to drill the hole that will be tapped.


To remount the blank I use a bottle stopper mandrel purchased from Craftsupplies USAGiven I use a CA finish this seems to be the best way for remounting the blank. First mount a 3/8" - 16 TPI Tap in the drill and slowly with low torque drill down to the bottom of the hole. Then screw the bottle stopper mandrel into the blank. 


Next install a keyless chuck into the headstock and mount the blank between centers.  Then with a roughing gouge true the blank.  Measure 1-5/8" from the bottom of what would be the shave brush handle and mark that location.

I take a rough measure of the brush side of the stand with a set of calipers.


Using a parting tool and the calipers I make a groove on my pencil line so the calipers will pass through the blank.


Turn the blank to the approximate shape you like, using a gouge.  As mentioned you may like a different shape but this one has worked well for me. 


I take the brush holder and test and tweak the fit so it will easily slide over the handle but still have a good base of wood to rest on the holder.


Using my skew I refine the shape.  Once happy with the form I use a parting tool to part off the end of the handle.  I do this as the chuck is only in the headstock with a #2MT and has a tendency to come out of the headstock.  Carefully use a gouge to trim of the top of the handle.


Sand the blank starting at 220, then 320, 400 and finally 600 grit.  Apply two liberal coats of thin CA glue while smoothing with a shop towel to ensure there are no ridges. You need to work quickly here so that the glue does not dry, which will result in your paper towel sticking to the blank - not a good option.


Wait until the thin CA dries; this usually only takes a few minutes.  Then spray the accelerator onto the blank and wipe dry.  Turn the lathe speed down substantially (a good rule of thumb is to set the speed to about 1/4 of your normal turning speed).  Apply two generous coats of medium CA Glue and let dry.  Again this only takes a few minutes but be sure it's dry before moving on.
Once the first two coats of medium CA are dry, repeat the process by spraying accelerator, wiping dry and then again applying two generous coats of CA and allow to dry.  Again this only takes a few minutes but be sure it's dry before moving on.


Turn the lathe speed up to about 1/2 your normal turning speed.  With a water filled spray bottle wet sand the blank with two coats of thin CA and four coats of medium CA.  Wet sand with liberal amounts of water and 600 grit wet and dry sandpaper.  Once you have removed the shine you are ready to move on.  
A good time to check the blank while the lathe is spinning and you are continuing to sand, is when you have a slurry built up on your sandpaper with the consistency of 2% milk.  Be sure you don't have any colour on your sandpaper as this will mean you have sanded through the CA glue and you will need to start the CA process again, so be careful here.


You may think that you have removed all the CA glue by the look of your blank but have faith it's now time to polish the CA Glue.  For the handles I use the Beall Buffing System consisting of three buffing wheels.  I loaded each one with a different buffing compound; the first wheel is with Tripoli compound, the middle wheel is with Diamond Compound and the last is loaded with Carnauba wax.  
If you don't have the Beall buffing system just about any buffing wheel will do, and you can easily get a similar result using either the Tripoli compound or the Diamond compound alone. Should you not own a buffing wheel a soft cloth could also be used to "buff" the barrels as described below. 

In the middle picture only the bottom of the blank has been buffed, just using the Tripoli wheel.  The shine really starts to "pop".  The picture on the right is the shows the entire blank buffed and looking great!

I use a high quality marine epoxy to glue in the badger hair knots.  I use the West System but sure that any epoxy would do fine.

With the brushes done, I move on to on the stand and the razor handles.  This is just like turning a pen.  I start by cutting the blank to the appropriate length then drill a 7mm hole.  Glue in the brass tube with thick CA glue.  Once the tubes are dry I use a barrel trimmer to square the ends. Mount the blanks on mandrels with the appropriately sized bushings for each part. Follow the instructions provided with each kit as to the bushing size for each part.


Turn to the shape you like.  Here I use a gouge and then a skew chisel.  I sand to 600 grit and apply two generous coats of thin CA Glue.


Turning the speed down on the lathe to about 1/4 the normal turning speed again spray accelorator onto the blank and wipe dry.  Apply two liberal coats of Medium CA Glue to the blank, wipe smooth with a shop towel and let dry. Once dry repeat the process; spray accelerator onto the blank wipe dry and apply another two coats of Medium CA Glue.  Let dry again.


After the glue has a few minutes to dry, turn the speed of the lathe up to about 1/2 your normal turning speed.  Using the water filled spray bottle wet sand the blank using lots of water and 600 wet and dry sand paper until the shine is gone.  Remember don't sand too long - you don't want to see any colour other than white on your sandpaper.

Now it's time to polish the blanks. Because these blanks are between centres I use a slightly different method of polishing. I have extra buffing wheels and have mounted them on my drills.  However either system will work just fine for the polishing process.  As mentioned earlier just about any buffing wheel will do and the use of either the Tripoli or Diamond compound alone will produce satisfactory results.  Should you not own a buffing wheel a soft cloth could also be used to "buff" the barrels as described below. 

Here I apply the Tripoli compound directly onto the blank.  Turning the lathe to full speed and in reverse I use the buffing wheel on my drill to polish the blank.


Next I repeat the process using the Diamond compound.


And finally the Carnauba wax.


Here you see the blank with a brilliant shine.  Sometimes need to use my barrel trimmer to remove any remnants of CA Glue from the edge once it is off the mandrel.  .  Here you see the blanks completed.

Now assemble the parts using a pen press and as per the instructions given with each kit.


A few final notes.  Before using the mandrels and bushings I give them a rub with bees wax.  Once I am done with the bushings I soak them in Acetone in a sealed container over night to get rid of any CA glue that may be left on the bushing.

Because I use lots of water when wet sanding I  apply a good coat of WD40 to the lathe bed as extra protection before I start a CA Glue finishing session and again once I am finished. 
As an additional comment, creating a CA finish is somewhat complicated. It took me  several attempts and practice sessions to produce results that I was happy with. I'd suggest that you try it first on a practice project or two, perhaps on pens, to see how it works. As I do production turning, I have a multitude of tools to reduce production time. While I described the Beall tool and multiple buffing wheels, clean soft cloths and patience will also produce great results. 
I hope you will give these shave sets a try.  They make great gifts and are excellent sellers.
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by Gordon Langer