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Thread: John Barber in Sheffield any good?

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    Default John Barber in Sheffield any good?

    Greetings everyone. I'm new to the forum, and this will be my first post.

    I understand that John Barber is a very old name, and I'm wondering how it shaves. Does anyone have experience with it? Is a JB good in wedge or hollower grinds?

    Thanks for any insights!

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    Senior Member blabbermouth markbignosekelly's Avatar
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    Hi and welcome to SRP!

    Hard question to answer so I'll try: yes, no, maybe.

    There are so many variables to your question you will get many answers...

    First off, do you shave regularly with a straight razor?
    If the answer is no then a perfectly honed razor will probably give you a poor shave. It can take many attempts to get your technique right.
    Secondly, how much wear and tear does the razor have? Years of abuse may render the razor inusable. We would need to have a look at the wear, a photo will help.
    Lastly, who's doing the honing? Many perfectly good razors have been ruined by poor honers.

    Hope this helps, it probably doesn't but with a bit more info we can guide you down the right path.

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    Thanks a lot for the reply.

    To give a bit of context:
    I'm a fairly proficient shaver and I can hone pretty well. I'm quite confident in simple restauration and I can take any razor without too much geometry problem and give it a nice edge.

    My question is mainly about the steel quality and the general geometry of the razor. Can they hold a nice edge? Is there a high prevalence of geometry problem?

    Thanks again and I would appreciate further insight.

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    The Great & Powerful Oz onimaru55's Avatar
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    Generally speaking, John Barber razors have good steel , good geometry & hold a nice edge.

    The more important question is, can you identify the faults a 200 year old razor may have before buying it ?
    “The white gleam of swords, not the black ink of books, clears doubts and uncertainties and bleak outlooks.”

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    Razor Vulture sharptonn's Avatar
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    To me, those oldies have good steel but were pretty crude instruments from the get-go. By modern standards, of course!
    One which has been pasted stropped to death seems common. Geometry will have to be re-established and a regrind would be in order.
    Not for the newbies I think. You can shave with any hardened steel item, eventually! Just not nessessarily a quality shave, however.

    Finding a re-grind long ago accomplished is my go-to.
    Lessee a picture.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth PaulFLUS's Avatar
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    Hi and welcome.

    Yes, John Barber razors can be good, very good if they are authentic. As with all old Sheffield razors, there are a number of potential issues this far down the road: there can be excessive hone wear or rust pits; there can be chips or cracks; as with all old Sheffield razors, geometry problems are common (i.e. Warped spine, uneven grinding, twisted tang or tail).

    However, if you are, as you say, proficient at honing and are acquainted with honing blades with irregular geometry, then it is certainly worth a go If the thing has not been honed out. That is also another common issue with those old Sheffields. I personally am always skeptical of articles with very little hone wear. That often means that it had irreparable geometry problems to begin with and so it wound up in a drawer never used.

    I have a couple and the good examples can be very, very good. When it's good that old early 19th century Sheffield steel is some of my favorite for cutlery. As has been already stated, some pictures would help. Here is a link that will tell you more about the company and it's continuing saga.

    https://www.hawleysheffieldknives.co...?val=b&kel=553
    Last edited by PaulFLUS; 09-19-2023 at 11:41 PM.
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    Hello,

    I do not post a lot, but I do collect John barbers. I believe I have eight of them now. Original condition , some completely restored by people right here on the forum . Which did a very good job thanks gssixgun, Alex Jacques . Back to the question some are wedges and some hollow ground . I think a lot of that is personal preference although there is a difference in how they shave. That is just wedge vs. hollow. All the John barbers I have shave well except one , it is not shave ready yet. Sorry for the rambling, that is why I don’t post much. Hope this helps, if it does not work out there is always room for one more John barber at my house. Something about a 200 year old razor.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth PaulFLUS's Avatar
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    We all love what we love and there is no need for explanation.
    Iron by iron is sharpened, And a man sharpens the face of his friend. PR 27:17

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    Razor Vulture sharptonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cycklon500 View Post
    Hello,

    I do not post a lot, but I do collect John barbers. I believe I have eight of them now. Original condition , some completely restored by people right here on the forum . Which did a very good job thanks gssixgun, Alex Jacques . Back to the question some are wedges and some hollow ground . I think a lot of that is personal preference although there is a difference in how they shave. That is just wedge vs. hollow. All the John barbers I have shave well except one , it is not shave ready yet. Sorry for the rambling, that is why I don’t post much. Hope this helps, if it does not work out there is always room for one more John barber at my house. Something about a 200 year old razor.
    You can bet any hollow-grind John Barber razors have been reground at some point. Back then, all were near wedges.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth PaulFLUS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sharptonn View Post
    You can bet any hollow-grind John Barber razors have been reground at some point. Back then, all were near wedges.
    That may also be at least one reason for some of the geometry problems you run into with those old razors. It doesn't account for all but maybe more than you might expect. Like any other business, some regrinders were good at what they did and some not so much. It may also depend on what the regrind was meant to accomplish.

    Maybe this is just my perception but I think we believe that restoring old blade is a relatively new practice. In reality people have likely been trying to restore old tattered blades for a long time, not so much as a hobby but out of necessity. Especially since the industrial revolution we live a better standard of life than mankind has ever lived and particularly in the last hundred years. Before that "reduce/reuse/recycle," was not a feel good "save the planet," idea, it was for survival. For a poor man needing a shave who couldn't afford to go to the barber for it repurposing his late granddad's old razor may have been the best option. Since a single razor can last for centuries it may have seen restoration attempts several times over the course of its life. I have often thought about the stories and old razor could tell if it could.
    Last edited by PaulFLUS; 09-21-2023 at 08:01 AM.
    Iron by iron is sharpened, And a man sharpens the face of his friend. PR 27:17

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