Thursday, August 31, 2017

Blade tumbler

I asked my mom about the 1950 scare-buying frenzy, which rang no bell for her. But when I mentioned that people were stocking up on razors and razor blades, she remembered that in the WWII years, her father lengthened the life of his razor blades by sharpening them on the inside of a drinking glass.

That practice must have been common: it’s mentioned in a 1933 Everyday Science and Mechanics article by J.G. Pratt, “Delusions About Shaving.” Think of this article as an exercise in Depression-era mythbusting: “Many men,“ Pratt writes, ”fool themselves into believing that a razor blade can be sharpened on the inside of a tumbler, either with or without water.” Pratt acknowledges that a tumbler can sometimes sharpen a blade “to a very mild degree.” But he suspects that “the vast majority who are resorting to this practice are receiving no benefit from it at all.” Humph.

Pratt was Scientific Photographer for Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Entomology. Accompanying his article: a photograph of a blade held in a tumbler of water and photographs of blade edges under magnification. Because science.

[One hundred posts this month. That’s all until September.]

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