An overly complicated razor

Does a razor need five cogwheels, two axles, two pinion gears, a roller, quite a few pins, a guard, and a blade? I would say no. Frank X George Jr1 on the other hand… he would probably say yes. But then he was the one who filed a patent for an overly complicated razor in 1906.

And why did he do it? To make the blade rattle from side to side…

Or as the patent text puts it:

This invention … has for its principal object the production of a safety-razor or shaving device in which the blade may have a motion simulating that of the razor-blade in an ordinary hand-razor – that is, a motion oblique to the general direction. of the razor.
Another object of the invention is the automatic production of this oblique movement oi the blade as the razor is moved over the face.

From US patent 850,529
Patent drawing for Frank X Jr's overly complicated razor
Patent drawing for US patent 850,529

There are simpler ways to make a blade shake and rattle. Some even resulted in reasonable successful razors. Others are just gimmicky. But Frank X didn’t make things simple. He seems to intentionally have set out to make a overly complicated razor.

There is a big roller. On the end of the roller is a cog wheel. That cogwheel drives an idle wheel. The idle wheel drives another cogwheel. That cogwheel drives an axle. Attached to said axle is not one, but two crown wheels. These in turn turns two pinion wheels. The pinion wheels are connected to a crank disk with two stud shafts. On the crank disk is a blade clamp. In the blade clamp is a wedge blade – although I can see a GEM-style blade being used as well.

So when the roller is rolled over the skin, the motion is transmitted through the whole gear train and makes the blade move back and forth. Which, as I have pointed out before, is kind of pointless if the blade is sharp. After all, a razor is not a saw.

But pointless or not, Frank X got his patent for his overly complicated razor. I am unsure if it ever got manufactured though. I kind of hope not, as several simpler and less complex razors were already for sale.

You can read the full patent at Google Patents, and also at


  1. I don’t know what the X stands for. I therefore choose to believe it is the same middle name as Sir Terence David John Pratchett (OBE)2 mentions in the book Maskerade. As he explains it, the X stands for “someone who has a cool and exciting middle initial”.
  2. Better known to his fans as Pterry or Sir Terry.3
  3. GNU Sir Terry…

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