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Using Scale thickness to your advantage
For a while now, I have been using scale thickness as a way to correct uneven grinds in vintage razors. Having come across a ton of old sheffield blades that had been giving me centering problems, and having to work with horn, a natural material that has tons of variables, I've devised this method of using scale thickness to my advantage. As many know, the perfect razor has a perfectly even grind, a straight tang, and perfectly molded scales that are identical to one another. In the world of hand made scales and old, vintage blades, sometimes not all of these things come together. Some of those blades were either 1) ground by 11 year old apprentices, 2) ground on a Monday, or a Friday, or 3) ground while possibly drunk. And then, there is my scales, which, could also have been made on a Monday or Friday, or possibly while drunk. haha. I'm sure all you scale makers can relate to that. Now, if you're using a 1/8 stock, then, many times, you need not worry about thickness, because you're cutting them out, and just rounding corners. But, what happens when you rip your own wood..with a hand saw? or what happens if you start with horn blanks that are 3/16" + thick? We have to thin these out by hand on a belt sander. Sure, you can use a caliper every few minutes, and test at 15 points around the scale to make sure everything is perfect. But, how many of us really do that? I know I don't. So, every once in a while, I end up with scales that are just slightly off, one thicker than the other. Typically, I would correct my error when I noticed it during test fitting. However,...this got me thinking.. Why not intentionally create two thicknesses of scales in order to correct an improper blade or tang grind??? After all, this is what a set of uneven scales looks like, when you use a nice, wedgie wedge. On the left, you see a perfectly symmetrical set. On the right, you see an exaggerated example of how using one thicker scale than the other, and the resistant force that it generates will cause the thinner scale to bow out farther, and thereby create a mis-aligned set of scales. Normally, this is a tragedy, and many times is the cause of a headache for guys learning to make scales. Now... this image is exaggerated. I wanted to really illustrate the idea I'm trying to convey. The actual difference in the scales are minimal, and almost completely unnoticable. We're talking 1/64 differences in thickness. So, what I have found is that when I have a problem razor with the aforementioned problems, I have been able to make an adjustment to scale thickness in order to correct it. I just pull the scale off the mockup and thin it out on the inside on a 180grit belt as necessary, and then re-test fit. When I get it to the point where its centering, I finish off the inside of that scale from 220grit-800 and a quick buff. So, I have found that using this method, I have been able to not only correct errors in my own scale making (originally not even thickness), but, also to make adjustments to make old problem-razors fit well. Hopefull this makes sense! G'luck!