How To Modify A Modern DE Blade For A Vintage SEGAL Razor

How To Modify A Modern DE Blade For A Vintage SEGAL Razor

[Video Tutorial HERE!] [More Photos From My Collection]

“My new/old favorite razor!”

I had always loved the design of the SEGAL Razor; the handle, the top cap loading mechanism, the weight and balance. It was a shame that no one was producing blades that fit such a thing of beauty any longer. With this in mind I resisted buying one for years, until finally one day I did. The price was right and I wanted it for my collection, so why not?

How To Modify A Modern DE Blade For A Vintage SEGAL RazorThe day it arrived I was already online learning all I could about the late 30’s razor I now had in my possession. The razor was captivating, mysterious, and functioned with the precision more reminiscent of the inner workings of a clock than any other razor in my collection. For those unfamiliar with the SEGAL Unitary DE Razor, when one turns the TTO knob at the base of the handle, the lid lifts up and pivots to the side allowing you to effortlessly slip a new blade over and into the razor. It weighs just under 2.5 ounces and feels very well balanced in the hand with a fulcrum point just under the tapered neck. This was a well thought out design that could have only been designed by a lock maker…which it was.

How To Modify A Modern DE Blade For A Vintage SEGAL RazorI was dying to give it a go, and knowing I would beforehand I ordered a vintage SEGAL Blade on the same day I ordered the razor. The blade actually arrived first which I interpreted as the universe mocking my impatience, but soon realized it was a good chance to familiarize myself with the design. I peeled the ancient paper carefully off the blade and looked at it closely. It was in very good condition for being about 75 years old. The blade, much like all vintage blades, was quite a bit thicker than a modern DE. I loaded it into my Gillette Gold Tone knowing that it would fit, and it’s for that reason that SEGAL eventually was forced by Gillette to stop selling their blades. It was rather a sly move for Mr Segal, create a unique blade that fits both your own razor and your competitor’s, yet the competition’s blade shan’t fit your razor…that rascal! [Note: The SEGAL Blade did not fit in the Gillette TTO razors due to the silo doors. This may have been intentional on Gillette’s part.]

How To Modify A Modern DE Blade For A Vintage SEGAL RazorI was going to try and change that though using the SEGAL Blade as a pattern. I took the 3-piece Gold Tone apart and removed the SEGAL Blade. I then reloaded it with a modern blade after which I placed the SEGAL on top of it. Well there it is, I just needed to trace the pattern onto a fresh blade and I was on my way!

How To Modify A Modern DE Blade For A Vintage SEGAL RazorMy first attempt at cutting the pattern out was rather sloppy. This had everything to do with the straight scissors I was using. I went back online and did some research on curved scissors. I ordered 3 pairs that day; 8″ Surgical Scissors, 4.5″ Medium Surgical Scissors, and a small pair of Revlon Cuticle Scissors. When they arrived I began experimenting.

I liked the degree of the curve on the 8″ scissors in the photos but in reality these babies were just too big. The medium scissors were ok but still too long and clumsy for any detailed work. The Revlon Cuticle Scissors proved the perfect tool for the job once I removed the red rubber guards. The curve is bent to almost the exact degree of the pattern and their size makes them very maneuverable.

The first time I traced the pattern I used a Sharpie which worked but not very well. The tip of the marker was much too fat to really get up to the edge of the “stencil,” so my cuts were always smaller than what they were supposed to be. This caused buckling when trying to press the blade down into the razor. So I went out to my local office supply store and found a Sharpie with a fine point tip, which proved to work like a charm.

Finally, I had everything I needed. I decided to try out a Feather blade as my guinea pig, the whole operation was smooth and the cut out was very clean, not jagged like my last attempt with the surgical scissors. It fit in the SEGAL perfectly. My eyes grew wide and I just ogled at the razor. After a few minutes of disbelief I ran to the bathroom to give it a whirl. Amazing, this was the closest shave I had ever achieved outside of my local barbershop. Again, I stood staring in disbelief as I held the razor in one hand and stroked my neck with the other. My neck is always a trouble spot, as with most men. But it was as smooth as nobodies business…ridiculous. My girlfriend walked by the bathroom and overheard me talking to myself. She stopped and peered in with a quizzical “is everything all right” look on her face. I just proudly held up the SEGAL like a torch and mumbled something nonsensical while encouraging her to feel my neck. She immediately understood, shook her head and left. She can get quite jealous over the amount of attention I am known to give to my razors. At least this is what I tell myself. Other people might interpret it as pity. 

how to modify razor blade for segalI couldn’t help but wonder, had this little gem from history always offered a shave so clean and close? Or maybe it was due to the fact that I was using a thinner, modern Feather blade. I am still in the process of trying to get a Vintage SEGAL Blade sharpened proper to do a comparison. However, I suspect the modern blade will win.

So if you have a SEGAL in your collection or find one cheap online or at an antique store, scoop it up. I suspect once this secret comes out the prices will double. For those of you thinking this might be too much work I implore you to give it a try, for it’s well worth it and the whole act of modification takes about a minute. I believe when you do, the SEGAL will make it into your SOTD weekly if not daily.

SEGAL Razor Blade Template

Click Image to Download PDF

 

BONUS: DOWNLOAD Our PDF Pattern Of The SEGAL Razor Blade. Not  as precise as using an actual Vintage Blade but pretty close! Simply Click on the image and be taken to the PDF, right click and SAVE AS. Print on Card Stock, cut out and tape to a modern blade…the rest you already know. We recommend using an Exacto knife or sharp cuticle scissors to cut out the individual patterns. Enjoy!

 

Feature Interview with The Razor Emporium by Michael Ham & Douglas SmytheABOUT DOUGLAS SMYTHE

Founding member and contributing writer & editor for “How to Grow a Moustache”, an innovative cutting edge blog dedicated to all things facial fur,travel & style. His mission: Create facial awareness and use his super powers [read:moustache] for good. Contact Douglas: whiskers@howtogrowamoustache.com

How To Modify A Modern DE Blade For A Vintage SEGAL Razor

For close-up instruction on the whole process please view my video below. Enjoy, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section! 


 

 

 

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About Douglas Smythe

Comments

  1. Great article. I’ve seen people online talking about possibly making like a paper hole punch that would punch out regular blades to use on Segal razors. Unfortunately it’s not been done yet.

    • Yes, I have even looked into it myself! But really at the end of the day it takes no time. You can do it while you are watching tv…granted, pay attention to the blade. Do you own one? I just watched one sell (after I published this article…hmmm) on ebay for $146.00!!!!! I was shocked.
      Cheers Rick,
      D

  2. I just picked one up on eBay for about $18 including shipping. I just hope it’s shave worthy when it arrives.

  3. Douglas Smythe I have 2 packs of segal blades I came across would you like for me to send them to you ?

  4. Beautiful piece of work, “but” until there’s a way for it to take standard blades, then it’ll have to stay on the back burner (

Trackbacks

  1. […] Today I was fortunate enough to use a Unitary SEGAL razor. A pretty unknown razor in the world of DE razors; at least in modern times with the big players of course being Gillette, GEM, Ever-Ready and Schick. The SEGAL razor was made a gentleman named Samuel Segal in the late 1930′s, and ironically was not a razor man at all, but a lock maker and dabbler in watches and clocks. He designed the SEGAL razor unlike anything that had been seen before a Double edge open comb razor that like a TTO had a turn knob but instead of swing doors; the entire head lifted vertically in the body and stood at full attention ! Like a fine soldier in row. Now Samuel being a smart man-made his razor to accommodate a proprietary blade that fit over his custom base plate configuration as well as Gillette razors !! also manufactured by SEGAL who owned the Universal razor blade company . These razors were contracted to be sold by United cigar stores as early as 1931 exclusively as an alternative to Gillette. These razors were quality made and simple in design and so well thought out in my opinion as it unlike Gillette or Schick had a proprietary blade, that is just smart repeat business for them and to use in any Gillette as well. I have three of these razors and rarely use them and it is a shame as the razor itself is a fine shaver, but you need to custom make your own blade from a standard DE blade, so there is a bit of leg work involved with using a SEGAL in modern times. I will include a great article from How to Grow a moustache.com on how to make these blades fairly easily. To finish the story of SEGAL they sued Gillette in the Clayton anti-trust act in 1931 and the courts ruled in favor of Segal though they were forced to discontinue universal blades that would also fit Gillette; they did continue to manufacture their own blades though. Time has shown the victor, and Gillette remained and this small fairly unknown was left to the memory of time. Here is a link to make the blades yourself and use the SEGAL razor toady.  http://howtogrowamoustache.com/how-to-modify-a-modern-de-blade-for-a-vintage-segal-razor/ […]

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