Electric safety razor

There have been no lack of patents for shocking, vibrating, oscillating, buzzing, and bulky safety razors over the years. Some were meant to be plugged into the electrical grid, and some were powered externally. But this patent for an electric safety razor, filed in 1937, were powered by an replaceable battery.

It was filed by Alexander Schaaf and Rudolf Schunermann, from Berlin-Charlottenburg and Nowawes1 respectively. The US patent office granted the patent in 1942, which is interesting since this was after Germany declared war on the US.

There is little that is revolutionary in the razor proper. It is a double edged razor, set up to take a standard2 double edged blade – either three hole or slotted – and with a clip on top cap.

The oscillation motion was intended to improve the cutting ability of the razor. This idea comes up ever so often, even if the razor is not a saw.

While the idea of an electric safety razor powered by electromagnets were not new, Schaaf and Schunermann were hoping to make a razor that was quieter and required less energy. To qoute:

Electric safety razors driven by electromagnets are well known. These razors, as a rule, contain interrupting device by means of which the operating current is alternately switched on and off. In the known apparatus of this type, the armature-of the magnet strikes against the magnet poles. This produces an objectionable noise and also leads to a waste of energy.
An object of the invention is to provide an improved electric razor, having a vibratory armature for reciprocating the blade, which is noiseless in operation. Another object is to improve the efficiency of such an apparatus by reducing the input energy or by increasing the power out put with a given energy consumption.
An object also is to increase the amplitude of the reciprocatory cutting movements of the blade. Still another object is to prevent in razors of the above-mentioned type any jamming between the operating elements. An object also is to prevent disturbances which may be caused by a departure of the vibratory armature from its proper direction of movement. This is particularly important when the armature bar cooperates with a diaphragm, since in this case it may easily happen that the outwardly projecting portion of the armature may be diverted from its direction of motion when manipulating the safety razor

From US patent 1,301,147

This was achieved – in theory – by maintaining a distance between the electromagnet and the swinging arm. The swinging arm also worked on the interrupter by means of a spring.

And unlike most of the early electric safety razors I’ve seen, this one used a replaceable battery.

Using one or two electromagnets, the direct current from the battery would pull a swinging arm (2) to one side, before the interrupter (13) cut the power. The swinging arm would then swing back. The other end of the arm had a small ball end, which engaged the plate that carried the blade. In this way, the motion would transfer to the blade.

Patent drawing for US patent 2,301,147, for an electric safety razor using a replaceable battery.
Patent drawing for US patent 2,301,147

The patent image shows multiple ways of arranging the armature, swinging arm, and electromagnets. All of them looks chunky and downright impractical in hindsight. Even so, this is one of the earliest vibrating razors I’ve come across that uses replaceable batteries.

To the best of my knowledge, this razor never entered production. I can think of several reasons for this. The two big ones are were the word war going on, and the fact that a razor isn’t a lawnmower. Oscillating the blade is, in my not at all humble opinion, pointless.

The full patent for this electric safety razor can be read at Google Patents.


  1. A small village in the German state of Brandenburg, today inside the city limits of Potsdam (if my google-fu is any good)
  2. The patent drawing shows a modified three hole blade design. I do however believe that if the razor had been manufactured, it would be modified to take standard blades.

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