Early in 1909 Mr O A Clark filed a patent for a razor that looks remarkable modern. A little too modern for the time perhaps… it used a slotted blade, something that didn’t catch on until the 30’s. But Mr Clark didn’t stop by patenting a razor. He also patented the blade by itself, which had some neat features. He patented a way to pack and dispense the blades neatly. And he patented the way to manufacture his special blades. In short, Osroe A Clark dreamt up and patented a whole shaving system. Which seems to have sunk without much of a trace… shame, really.
As I wrote verbosely about a few weeks ago, everyone has a Holy Grail razor. A razor you want. A razor you idolize. A razor which, as I said at the time, most of us would be willing to kill for. For me, that razor would be the Schick Magazine Repeating Razor. And while any Magazine Repeater would do, I’ve always had my eyes on a Schick B2. I had, in fact, just purchased a Schick B2 when I wrote about Holy Grail razor. And it arrived a little while later, looking every bit as nice as I had hoped.
Now; there is a danger to lusting after a Holy Grail razor, and then finding it.
There is the danger of it not being as nice as you though.
Not having as smoothly as you had hoped for.
Not being as, how to put, mechanically interesting as you had hoped for.
In short, does the razor you been wanting for so long deliver or is it in fact a let down.
So now that I’ve used the Schick B2 for two weeks, it is time to ask those questions you may wish you never have to ask about something you have lusted after for a long while. Is the Schick B2 as nice as I though it would be? Is it shaving as smoothly as I had reasons to think? Is it as mechanically interesting as the patent would imply?
A razor blade is – to no one’s surprise – razor sharp. But in some causes, like when you shave someone else, you want a blade less likely to cut. Cut skin, that is. A safety blade, if you like. There have been many such blades patented over the years, like R E Thompson’s 1924 toothed blade and A W Ferrara’s 1966 safety blade. And this one, Donald S Daniel, Jr.’s 1978 patent for a surgical razor blade.
Like before, the idea was to make the blade less likely to cut skin by giving it an integral guard. Donald did it by wrapping a thin, flexible wire around a rectangular blade. Or in the words of the patent:
A surgical razor blade with an integral guard for its cutting edge in the form of a plurality of spiral windings of thread being of flexible material capable of being pressed against the blade cutting edge under pressure in shaving contact with the normally unshaven areas of the skin without severance of the thread…
From US patent 4,094,066
In short, a blade protected by a wire the blade can’t cut. The patent do go into a bit of details on the thickness of the wire (0.2mm to 1.0mm) and the distance between the windings (1.0mm to 4.0mm). This would, according to the patent, allow the shaver to select the best blade for the hair and area to be shaved.
For extra safety, the corners of the blade were rounded so you couldn’t nick the shavee with a sharp point.
The razor shown in the patent, aptly described in the patent as a “suitable holder” is fairly conventional. A handle, a bottom plate with a guard, and a top plate. It would differ form a regular three piece though, since the blade did not have a slot. Instead the blade would have to index of two notches cut at each end of the blade. How the top plate would connect to the bottom plate isn’t explained in the patent. However, judging by the drawing, there seem to have been a bayonet locked pin operated by a tiny lever on either side. A little fiddly, but probably okay for surgical use.
I see no reason why Donald’s surgical razor blade shouldn’t work as intended. At least one conceptually similar blade is for sale today, in the form of the Feather Artist Club ProBlade. The major hurdle I can see with the blade is that it won’t work in a regular razor – unlike Thompson’s and Ferrara’s blades.
What is a razor safety rack, you may ask? Well.. a razor safety rack is basically a rack for your safety razors. Or as the patent abstract puts it:
A holder for a plurality of safety razors and other bathroom articles is detachably secured to a bathroom wall.
Catch mechanisms disposed in all of the recesses press against the heads of both double and single edge razors to hold same detachably in these recesses to prevent the razors from being accidentally dislodged therefrom.
From US patent 4,008,808
So a razor safety rack is a rack that safely holds your safety razors. It isn’t the firstwall mountedrazor kitor holder I’ve shown here. It is the first, as far as I recall, that has catch mechanisms though.