When wielding a straight razor, one should be intimately aware of its leading point as it slides over one’s skin. I know I am, and that has led me to ponder the shape of my razors and ask the questions: Why is there such a variety of points on straight razors? Is it purely cosmetic or is there a purpose? These are also questions we get asked at the shops on a regular basis.
Before diving in to this discussion, a cursory lesson in razor anatomy will be helpful. Note that when we say point, we mean the corner adjacent to the edge, and the head is the corner away from the edge. Those are the areas that we’re focusing on here.
Round -The friendliest of points, curved at the head and point to allow a buffer between the edge and the end of the razor. Most Bokers & Dovos are made with round points.
Square -Nicely suited to sculpting clean lines. While technically no harder to wield than a rounded tip, it can feel more intimidating due to the lack of an edge buffer. Some Portland Razor Co. razors are made with square points.
French -A marriage of the round and square points with flowing lines and a precise tip, these are my personal preference, not for any practical reason but just as a matter of style. Most common on Japanese-style straight razors called kamisori and the Chevalier from Wacker.
Barber’s notch - In modern times a purely stylistic feature, the barber’s notch was used in days of old to allow single-handed opening of the razor by hooking the notch on the shirt pocket.
Whether your first razor or your tenth, the primary consideration when selecting a straight razor is that it fits as well in your hand as it does with your own personal style. Regardless of which point it sports, a razor used with due care will provide hours of enjoyment and decades of fine shaves.