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Fixing up some ivory (not a euphemism).

This is where I began:

Ivory Joseph Rodgers Open

Ivory Joseph Rodgers 2

Ivory Joseph Rodgers 1

The poor thing was in really, really bad shape. That crack you see (appearing at what's called the toe of the razor) is because the lead spacer got flattened slightly either when it was originally created or in a later repair. It put just enough stress on the ivory that it cracked at the first dry spell. I've seen a lot of antique razors with ivory scales like this that all have a crack in more or less the exact same spot.

You might wonder why lead. The answer is because when using the razor you want it to balance at the point where you hold the blade. That's just beneath the blade. Ivory is very light, so the razor needs a counter-balance to the blade (this blade is quite heavy for its size).

I had to do a lot of work to get this fixed up.

Pinning Tools

The tools of my hobby. In this case, the large hammer will be playing the role of anvil.

Note the lead spacer. I've glued copper shims onto it and filed them down flat so the pressure is evenly distributed.

Beveled Pin

The pins that hold it together need to be polished and beveled or they'll look ugly (and possibly even work poorly) when I assemble the razor.

Taped Washers

I've taped stacks of washers into place. Each side uses a brass washer with a stainless steel on top. It's not period accurate or anything, but I like the way it looks.

Cutting the Pin

I cut the pins to length...

After the Cut

(note ugly cut)

Then I polish and bevel them...

Post Cut Bevel

My special 'multi-tool' hammer:
(that divot is on purpose, so I can use it as an anvil for pins)

Pin Anvil

There's not very much spare pin sticking up!

Pin Length

But that was all I needed to fit them perfectly in.


(They got cleaned up later with a Dremel for various reasons.)

Hinge Hero


Joseph Rodgers Ivory Restore 01

Joseph Rodgers Ivory Restore 03

I cleaned the ivory with toothpaste and toothbrush, but it left some staining down in the crack. Later I learned I could have cleaned that with an ultrasonic jewlery cleaner. Oh well.  After toothbrushing the hell out it I poured on some superglue -- which bonds to ivory more enthusiastically than it bonds to fingers -- sanded it down flat and then polished it with some Mother's Aluminum and Mag polish. That stuff seems to work on everything.

And there you have it. Way more than you ever wanted to know about an old razor.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 30th, 2011 10:45 pm (UTC)
That's wonderful. Thank you.

I didn't know about toothpaste for old ivory. Does any toothpaste work?

I'd love to read more entries like this.
Jul. 30th, 2011 10:53 pm (UTC)
From what I've read, you're best off using the simplest toothpaste. Though brightening agents might well be desirable here. Ivory, after all, is a big tooth (more or less).

A warning though, for ivory of any thickness at all it can be dangerous to buff the surface with anything more than a soft cloth. Thicker ivory pieces are sealed so the interior doesn't dry out. Dry ivory = cracked ivory.

Alas, I don't really know any solid details. The resources I was looking at were geared toward large items but mentioned that thinner pieces -- such as piano keys -- don't have the same need for sealing.

I don't, at the moment, have any with horn scales or I'd do up a photo essay on restoring horn. It is wonderful to work with. Extremely forgiving, and capable of taking a polish that makes it look outright artificial.
Jul. 31st, 2011 01:06 am (UTC)
That is SO AWESOME! You're amazing, Zak.
Jul. 31st, 2011 02:35 am (UTC)
I'm as surprised as anyone how much I love doing this! But fixing up old razors really makes me happy.
Jul. 31st, 2011 04:57 am (UTC)
Very cool indeed. But you should be writing! You're turning into the narrator from Someone Comes To Town, Someone Leaves Town.
Jul. 31st, 2011 05:15 am (UTC)
Believe it or not, I've been writing too!

A tiny bit:

It’s at this point when Carolyn Sere arrives. Let’s take the opportunity to describe her.

At the moment she’s a very tall woman wearing bizarrely fashionable clothes to a ritual murder. She has hair that looks like the result of the sort of expensive industrial process that creates four ounces of Veblen goods and half a ton of poisoned village. At other times she’s been linked to notorious rock stars, scandalized politicians and everyone who ever cut out a sheet of cloth for someone else to wear. Carolyn is famously variable in appearance, infamously fickle in love and well known to be an unreliable idiot with a tasteless yen for the occult.

For an idiot socialite she doesn't look particularly concerned about the pile of human skin or the blood splattered on pretty much everything.

“It’s such an honor to finally meet you,” Carolyn says to the skinned man with the knife.

(Bear in mind, it's from an outline, not regular narrative)
Jul. 31st, 2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
Okay, that's acceptable.
Aug. 2nd, 2011 01:00 am (UTC)
She has hair that looks like the result of the sort of expensive industrial process that creates four ounces of Veblen goods and half a ton of poisoned village.

Bwaha! Lovely!
Aug. 2nd, 2011 01:02 am (UTC)
What beautiful work on that razor!
Aug. 2nd, 2011 01:08 am (UTC)
Thank you!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )