Expert’s tips for a DIY classic wet shave, and where in Hong Kong to buy the tools
Hong Kong’s best kept secrets: specialist store has been selling straight razors, Swiss army knives, scissors and other quality blades for 66 years
SCW Cutlery & Hardware has been at the same location in Wan Chai since 1949, when founder Chan Fat-yuen came with his family from Shanghai, where he had a business distributing hair clippers.
They offer products unavailable elsewhere in Hong Kong, such as specialised pineapple knives, folding straight razors, high-quality fabric scissors, Chinese knives, Japanese knives, cufflinks and Swiss army knives. There are also various rare Damascus steel blades, which are made by forging together layers of steel and iron, the resulting blades being extremely hard-wearing and sharp.
The family takes pride in having been in the same location for 66 years, and over the decades has accumulated an in-depth knowledge of cutting implements.
A mixed clientele of locals and expatriates are attracted to the store, especially for the razor blades, which are popular among Western customers.
“Using a straight razor gives you a deeper shave,” says Rocky Sin, director at SCW Cutlery & Hardware and husband to Chan’s granddaughter. “It’s more hygienic than using disposable blades. And if you have a very thick or long board, due to the length and depth of the blade it is far more efficient.”
Prices range from HK$158 for a basic replaceable Japanese foldable blade to HK$3,000-HK$4,000 for those with more exotic metals and handles.
The shop also offers a professional sharpening service, performed by an expert sharpener, for all cutting instruments and blades - even ceramic blades, which are notoriously difficult to re-edge due to their hardness.
SCW Cutlery & Hardware 1949, 361 Hennessy Road, Wanchai. Tel: 2572 3926
For more info: facebook.com/scw1949
Getting started with a straight razor
There’s something satisfying about giving yourself a wet shave - not to mention the fact that it’s better for the environment and your pocket than buying disposable razors or going to a barber. And in terms of results, a wet shave beats an electric shaver hands down. SCW Cutlery & Hardware director Rocky Sin shares his tips on getting started with a straight razor.
A quality blade; stainless steel will be far more resistant to rust.
A leather strop, used with the blade being drawn backwards, to straighten the edge.
A fine grit sharpening stone ((#4000 and finer) to occasionally resharpen the razor. The stone is soaked in water for 30 minutes; the razor, with its spine resting on the stone, is pushed very gently, blade first, the length of the stone multiple times on each side of the blade.
A shaving cream that gives a good lather.
How to wet shave:
1. Rub a little wax into the strop before using.
2. Strop the blade on each side 10 times, with the spine of the blade and the blade itself in contact with the leather, drawn spine first, never blade first. One strop per week once is enough. The strop maintains sharpness, it does not sharpen the blade. If the blade still isn’t sharp enough, it needs to be resharpened carefully on a fine grit stone.
3. Use warm or hot water via a bath, shower or steaming hot towel to soften the bristles. If using a towel, keep it on your face for up to 5 minutes: the warmer the hair, the easier the shave.
4. Apply a thick layer of chafing cream via a brush or fingers.
5. Hold the blade at about a 30 degrees angle to the skin, start at the side burns and work your way slowly down the cheek.
6. Swap hands and shave the opposite side of the face.
7. Using your free hand, stretch the skin and continue under the neck, chin, and the rest of the face.
8. Re-lather and repeat once to clean up any missed spots
NEVER move the blade horizontally on the face as it will cut the skin.
After washing up, make sure to dry the razor to prevent rust.
With shaving, practice makes perfect, so take your time. The first attempts will take a little time, but with practice you should be able to get it done in about 10 minutes.