How to make a Guitarist’s razor blade use-tracker
First question: How do you store your razors and blades between use?
Razors and blades will last longer if kept clean and dry. Thus, storing your blade in your razor and your razor and blade in a closed medicine cabinet or the drawer of your bathroom vanity is a bad idea unless you’ve rinsed and dried them first. Your shaving tools won’t dry well in an enclosed space. You can loosen the top of your razor so air can circulate, leaving it on the counter or sink until dried before you store it in a cabinet or drawer.
I’ve begun following the advice of some long-time wet shavers who remove the blade between shaves. I first rinse and dry them as best I can. I keep the razors in stands where they are held upright and can air dry.
I’ve also begun exploring different razor blades. There must be hundreds of brands, although many are part of the same corporate owner.
This brings me to my second question.
How do you keep track of how many times you have used a razor blade?
This wasn’t difficult when I started, and I only had one brand of razor blade that went in one razor. Now things are different. I could keep track in a log (which, in fact, I do). This will be somewhat unnatural for most people. Even I don’t like keeping a log, and I am a retired scientist who was used to keeping a lab book of my experimental results. (Actually, I log many things in my life because of my training.)
One of the most interesting solutions I’ve found was a maker on Etsy.com who sells razor and blade stands that track blade use by positioning dice in front of the blades. One to six uses are indicated by the number on the dice.
I loved this as a concept, but the specifics did not resonate with me. My children are grown, and my grandchildren are too young to play board games that use dice. I’m not into Vegas-style gambling. I’m not a D&D or other gamer. I spent several days thinking about how to do something similar that had more meaning to me. And then, I came up with the answer. I am a hobbyist guitarist. You can see my other blog, danlovesguitars.com, for my guitar and music interests. Instead of using dice, I built a blade tracker that used tone/volume control knobs from electric guitars. These are numbered from 0 to 10 and can thus track up to 11 uses of a razor blade. Way more than enough since most of the time, I don’t go beyond 5 or 6 shaves on a single razor blade.
How I made a Guitarist’s razor blade’s use tracker.
My first version of a blade-use tracker was made from scrap pine I had at home. The second version used two 1.5-inch cube blocks glued together. Both are free-standing blade holders, each for a single blade. My third iteration used 3/8-inch plywood sawn to 1.5 x 3-inch pieces. The other materials are:
- Neodymium magnets. Circular magnets of about 0.8-inch diameter (20mm) were perfect, but I used smaller and larger sizes for the different versions I made.
- Electric guitar tone or volume knobs with numbers.
- Glue for attaching magnets. I used both a super glue product and Gorilla clear glue. The original Gorilla glue would work too, but it expands when used, which could be a problem.
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Holding the blade
My concept is to use a magnet to hold the used razor blade flat against a piece of wood. I want to keep the sharp edges inside the wood’s perimeter to avoid accidental cuts. The blade can be removed by sliding it upwards, exposing the non-sharp edge, which can be safely grabbed. The first two stand-alone versions used small 3mm diameter magnets embedded in the wood. I drilled a shallow hole, about the same size or slightly smaller than the magnet’s diameter for version 1. The magnet was forced into the space and stayed without glue.
I drilled 1/8th-inch holes through the 1-1/2-inch cube block of my version two blade holder. I then used glue and 1/8th-inch dowels to position the magnets at the front surface of the block.
I was satisfied with both the 1 and 2 versions of the stand until I remembered my medicine cabinet is made from stainless steel and thus magnetic. Maybe I could just place a magnet against the back of the cabinet and be done. No! I tried it and decided it was too likely I would someday be cut while grabbing a razor blade off of a magnet. Thus, my third version glues a magnet to the back of a thin piece of wood which both holds the blade tracker to the back wall of the medicine cabinet and the steel razor blade to the holder.
If your medicine cabinet is non-magnetic, you could use removable tape designed for the non-permanent attachment of items to walls.
Mounting the tracking knob
I initially tried to find a way to mount the guitar volume knob as if it were attached to a potentiometer shaft. However, I quickly came up with a better way for this use. The knob is just an indicator. Step one is to glue a 20mm (approx. 0.8 inch) diameter magnet on the inside back of the knob. A matching magnet is glued to the wood of the tracker. Be sure to keep track of polarity, so the knob is not repelled from the magnet glued to the wood.
The first device used stick-on ferrite magnetic circles instead of the stronger rare earth magnets. This did not work that well which is why neodymium magnets were used on all other versions.
Version 1 and 2 devices have the magnet glued to the front. Version 3, which goes inside the medicine cabinet, has the magnet glued to the back. I found I had to glue one magnet at a time on my version 3 trackers. Otherwise, the magnets would jump together. In fact, On most of the version 3 trackers, I only glued the top magnet, which holds the blade. The magnet that holds the indicator knob is stuck to the back of the steel medicine cabinet before covering it with the wooden holder.
I used super glue on one magnet and knob, but on most, I used Gorilla Glue Clear. The Gorilla glue can attach wood to wood without any extra treatment. But on non-porous surfaces such as the magnet and knob, you must moisten the pieces first.
A volume or tone knob from an electric guitar suits my interests as a guitarist, but you may have other preferences. Brainstorming what else could be used as an indicator, I’ve come up with a clock or watch face where the hour hand points to the number of uses. Another idea is counting beads that are slid from one side to the other or small magnetic pieces that can be moved to an area reserved for the use count. What are your ideas?