La Pogonotomia I


It is astonishing that among the millions of books there is not a single brochure that teaches the art of shaving oneself. This is necessary, because it is virtually impossible for a barber to shave more customers without risking infections, and those who shave themselves have healthier skins. This is why I [Perret] invented the 'rasoir a rabot' for novices so they can learn to shave without accidents [Note: rabot is a sort of skin-protective cover on the blade, to be removed when experience increases, not available anymore; it should also serve those who had difficulties in using the non-dominant hand].

Very few persons know how to care for their razor and attributes. Most barbers have excellent tools which they use wrong. There is a critical minimum and maximum for the number of strokes on the hone or strop. The burr resulting from grinding where two planes reach each other, is necessary for wood treating tools, but is the enemy of fine edges. The original term 'affiler' means removing the burr.

Razor hones and their different qualities

Not all hones are suitable for honing razors. The Levant, the green hones from Spain, and those from Lorraine and the black ones from England, are too soft and have too large pores that create large, weak teeth on the edge that bend or break when touching the face. Also, large teeth cut hairs at the top and tear at the base alternatively, causing pain.

The only type suitable for razors are the 'Pierres a Rasoirs', found in the caves around Liege, Belgium. They are milk-coloured or yellowish. The former are called Pierres de la Venette. The latter is the Old Rock. Marbled ones or those with veins are sometimes bad. Also, small hard grains may be felt on bad stones, which destroy the edge. Hones should not be too hard with small, dense pores, nor too soft, but better too hard. Too soft makes rough, weak teeth; too hard only takes a few minutes more to hone. If a needle or your nail strikes the stone regular and without much resistance, it is hard enough.

Olive or nut-oil should be used, or water. When a hone is too hard, water can enlarge the pores and make it softer. Therefore, water should not be used on softer stones, it may cause rough edges which must be corrected by stropping more times and with a little more pressure. Olive oil will clog the hone after seven to eight days causing the edge to slip. The hone must then be cleaned by rubbing with a small piece of a flat pumace stone under water, using the complete length of the hone, for about 10-20 times. The same procedure should be followed when the hone is used and irregular (hard and soft spots) appear. If the hone is too soft, not pumace but another hone of the same type should be used to prevent damage. The surfaces of the rubbing stones should be completely flat and regular.