How to Buy a Straight Razor Part: Dovo v.s. Boker v.s. Thiers Issard
February 21, 20233 min read
With the overwhelming popularity of straight razors in the modern day, so many new and old manufacturers are popping up, and it can be difficult to make a decision on which one to buy your blade from.
At Kent of Inglewood we only sell straight razor brands that we truly believe in. We have tested each line that we carry by shaving our own faces, and whether it be a 180-year-old brand from Germany or a brand-new maker, we know that all of our partners offer a fantastic product. We sell no mystery steels, no movie replicas, no soft imitations of straight razors that will dull quickly. We only sell the genuine article so you can’t make a bad choice.
With that said, let’s help you narrow it down a little better.
The Germans have long been known for their excellent steel. The mark “Solingen” taken from the name of the German steel town has been a recognizable mark for decades, if not centuries. In the modern day, very little steel is made in Germany, but the old German makers continue their craftsmanship with high-quality Swedish steel.
Swedish steel is a great starting point for straight razors. It is workable, easy to sharpen and repair, but it keeps an edge better than softer steels and will therefore shave you for months without needing to see a whetstone. We carry two lines of German razors made with Swedish steel, Dovo and Boker, and while Swedish steel may not keep its edge as long as steel from Japan, it offers a very competitive price point. German razors also tend to be very consistent in their construction and finish.
After the invention of the current straight razor design several centuries ago in Sheffield, England, French manufacturers picked up on the trend and began their own workshops emulating what the English were doing. In 1884, Pierre Thiers started his own company known as Thiers Issard in the french steel town of Thiers. Pierre was fanatical about making straight razors and passed the company on to his descendants. To this day Thiers Issard is one of the best razor manufacturers on earth and quite possibly the only one left in France.
While French steel was originally used, Thiers Issard now buys an incredible proprietary steel blend from Japan known as Carbonsong 135 or C135. They choose this steel for its extreme 64 HRC hardness, which should be capable of holding an edge twice as long as most Swedish steels but is a little more stubborn when honing and stropping. Thiers Issard president Gilles Reynwaeter proudly boasts that Thiers Issard takes extra steps in the grinding, polishing and finishing of their razors, creating a more “artisan-made” product than other brands.
Hopefully, now that you are armed with this information, your choice on which razor is right for you will be easier. Ultimately, I would sum it up like so: German razors tend to be more consistent in their construction and a bit lighter weight, whereas French razors usually stay sharp longer and have a bit more heft .It can be tough to choose with so many inspiring options, so just remember - it’s okay to have a collection. I have several straights at home, and I’m always searching for my next straight razor!