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A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Safety Razor Handle

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A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Safety Razor Handle

A razor’s blade edge(s) inside the head or cartridge is the business end of a safety razor, doing the actual cutting of hair. But by selecting the right handle for your safety razor, you can enhance your shaving experience and help achieve the smooth and comfortable shave you desire. It’s worth taking the time to find the right handle that suits your needs.

A Proposed Safety Razor Handle Selection Guide

There are a lot of variations in razor handle design and much of the process of selecting a handle for a razor is personal preference.  But let me propose a general guide to selecting a razor handle if you are still completely confused after reading this whole article.

hand measurement
  1. Hold your hand extended so your four fingers are touching (exclude the thumb) then measure the distance between your forefinger and your small (“pinky”) finger.
  2. Add .5 inch (~12mm) to that figure.  Consider this your minimum handle length measurement.
  3. If you are shaving areas in addition to your face (legs, torso), or if you are relatively inexperienced with shaving with a safety razor, add 25-33% more to the minimum length measurement.
  4. Consider a weight of about 2.5 ounces (about 71 grams) to be the baseline weight for a razor handle.  Go heavier if you require more stability in your razor (to reduce nicks/cuts); go lighter if you need more control around the shaving terrain. 
  5. Unless you are an experienced shaver who is confident in your abilities, select a razor handle that is textured along the entire length of the handle.

Related Post: What Is The Best Safety Razor For Beginners?

Key Takeaways

When selecting a safety razor–any safety razor, even a cartridge razor–the handle can be an important consideration. The handle affects the overall grip, maneuverability, and comfort during shaving. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a handle that suits your preferences and shaving style:

Length, weight, diameter, and balance: The length, diameter, and weight of the handle can impact the balance and control of the razor. Some individuals prefer heavier handles for better control, while others prefer lighter handles for maneuverability.

Material: Safety razor handles are typically made of stainless steel, brass, or other metals. Each material offers a different feel and durability. Consider the aesthetics and the grip provided by the material.

Texture and grip: Look for a handle that provides a secure grip, even when wet. Handles may have different textures or patterns to enhance grip and prevent slippage.

Compatibility With Razor Head/Cartridge: The handle must be compatible with the razor head or cartridge style.

Shaving technique: Different safety razor handles may be better suited for different shaving techniques.

Now let’s take a closer look at each one of these factors.

Length, Weight, Diameter, And Balance

different safety razors

Length: For individuals with larger hands or those who prefer a more relaxed grip, a longer handle may be ideal. This extra length provides enhanced maneuverability and control, allowing for a smoother and closer shave. A shorter handle can ensure a more secure grip and can help prevent accidental slips or cuts, especially if you use shorter shaving strokes.

Weight: The weight of a safety razor handle can greatly impact your shaving experience. A heavier handle can provide better stability and allow the razor to glide smoothly over your skin. However, some individuals prefer a lighter handle for a more nimble and maneuverable shave. 

Diameter (Or Width): First and foremost, comfort should be your priority. The handle diameter should feel ergonomic and comfortable in your hand, allowing for a secure grip and easy maneuverability during your shaving routine.  Some people prefer a thinner handle for better control and precision, while others may find a thicker handle more comfortable to hold. Another consideration is the size of your hands. It’s worth noting that choosing the right diameter also depends on the weight distribution of the safety razor itself. A handle with a larger diameter might be balanced differently than a thinner one.

Flared handles have a wider base that tapers towards the top, resulting in a more ergonomic and comfortable grip. This unique shape may allow for better control and maneuverability during the shaving process. 

Balance: The balance of a safety razor handle is crucial for a comfortable and efficient shave. A well-balanced handle ensures that the weight of the razor is evenly distributed, reducing the risk of nicks and cuts. Look for a handle that feels comfortable and balanced in your hand.


safety razor in hand

Razor handles can be made out of many different materials.  Here are the most popular ones.

Zinc Alloy: Often (and sometimes incorrectly) referred to as Zamak, zinc alloys (a zinc base with aluminum, copper, and magnesium added) under chrome plating is a metal often used in razor handles.  

  • Pros: Easy/inexpensive to cast, can be finished with a variety of surface treatments, including plating, painting, and anodizing. 
  • Cons: A less stable platform for the plating process (easier to crack and corrode).

Brass: Brass handles are known for their balance of construction and cost (brass and zinc alloys are similar but there are distinctions). They offer good grip and can be plated with different finishes (typically chrome) for an elegant look.

  • Pros: High-quality construction, good grip, can be plated for an elegant look
  • Cons: Can be heavier than other materials, susceptible to corrosion when not plated or coated.

Stainless Steel: Stainless steel handles are durable, corrosion-resistant, and have a sleek and polished appearance.

  • Pros: Durable, corrosion-resistant, provides a good grip, balanced weight
  • Cons: Can be more expensive than other materials

Related Post: What Is The Best Stainless Steel Single Blade Safety Razor?

Aluminum: Aluminum handles are lightweight and offer a comfortable shaving experience. They can come in different colors and finishes, adding a touch of style to your shaving routine.

  • Pros: Lightweight, comfortable to hold, customizable colors and finishes
  • Cons: May not be as durable as other materials

Titanium: Titanium has a very high strength-to-weight ratio and is quite resistant to corrosion. Titanium is also biocompatible.

  • Pros: Like stainless steel, titanium is durable and corrosion resistant.  Won’t react with sensitive skin.
  • Expensive.

Related Post: Is Titanium The New Stainless Steel For Premium Razors?

Resin (plastic): Resin handles are lightweight and offer a variety of colors and patterns. They are comfortable to hold and provide a good balance during shaving.

  • Pros: Lightweight, variety of colors and patterns, comfortable to hold
  • Cons: May not be as durable as other materials

Texture, Grip, And Knurling

Knurling is a manufacturing process that involves cutting or rolling a pattern of ridges or grooves into a surface. This practice provides better grip and traction, enhancing the overall functionality and usability of various products, including safety razor handles. The knurling pattern can vary, with different designs offering unique benefits in terms of grip and comfort during use.  Some handles combine several types of knurling.  Here are some of the most popular designs.

Fluted Or Straight Knurling

Fluted or straight knurling is a common and straightforward design used on safety razor handles. This design features linear ridges or grooves that run parallel to each other along the length of the handle to provide grip. The straight knurling design offers a classic and timeless look to the razor handle, making it a favorite among traditional shaving enthusiasts.

ej de89lbl

The Edwin Jagger DE89LBL (Amazon affiliate link) is probably the most recognized safety razor with straight knurling.

Ribbed Texturing

Ribbed texturing is a variant of straight knurling most commonly found on resin/plastic mass-market razors.  Rather than parallel ridges that run the length of the handle, ribbed texturing is set across the handle at strategic points where the shaver’s finger tips are most likely to be placed.

Crosshatch/Diamond/Grid Knurling

merkur 34c

Crosshatch, diamond, or grid knurling is a common design pattern found on safety razor handles. It is characterized by intersecting lines that create a crisscross pattern, providing enhanced grip and control during shaving. Some key features of this type of knurling include:

  • Enhanced grip: The diamond-shaped grooves provide a secure grip, minimizing the chances of the razor slipping out of your hand.
  • Better Control: The crisscross lines provide tactile feedback, allowing the user to have precise control over the razor’s movements. This is particularly beneficial when shaving tricky areas such as under the nose or along the jawline.
  • Aesthetically pleasing: The symmetrical and geometric pattern adds a touch of elegance to the razor handle.
  • Durable: The deep-cut grooves make the diamond knurling design durable, ensuring that the grip remains effective even after prolonged use.

Examples of safety razors that incorporate the diamond knurling design include the G.B.S Flex ball Handle Razor (Amazon affiliate link), Merkur 34C (affiliate link), and Edwin Jagger 3ONE6 (affiliate link). These razors not only offer excellent grip but also provide a stylish and classic look that many shaving enthusiasts appreciate.

“Barber Pole” Knurling

merkur 38c

Barber Pole knurling refers to a design that “swirls” around the handle from top to bottom, reminiscent of, well, a barber pole!

The Merkur 38C and the Parker 99R (Amazon affiliate links) are the classic “barber pole” razors.

Knurling Depth

Here are a few reasons why knurling depth is important for a safety razor handle:

  1. Improved Grip: A deeper knurling pattern on the handle provides a better grip, allowing for precise control and maneuverability while shaving. This is especially important when dealing with slippery hands or wet conditions.
  2. Reduced Slippage: Knurling creates friction between the user’s hand and the handle, minimizing the risk of the razor slipping and causing accidental cuts or nicks.
  3. Comfortable Handling: The depth of the knurling can also impact the overall comfort of holding the razor. A deeper knurling pattern provides a tactile feel that can reduce hand fatigue during longer shaving sessions.  However some shavers say that a handle design that is too deeply knurled feels rougher and less comfortable.
  4. Personal Preference: Different individuals may have different preferences when it comes to knurling depth. Some might find a shallower pattern more suitable for their grip, while others might prefer a deeper knurling for added security.

Some handles might offer different knurling options, allowing you to customize your grip based on your personal comfort.

No Knurling

There are some popular handle designs that don’t rely on knurling.

Bar handles have a straight and simple design, offering a classic and timeless look. Bar handles are often seen in traditional and minimalist settings; their clean lines and unassuming design make them versatile and adaptable. The Edwin Jagger DE87 safety razor (Amazon affiliate link) is a popular example of a bar handle.

Bamboo handles are shaped like a stalk of bamboo and are smooth but with diameters that increase and shrink regularly along the length of the handle.  Yes, some razor handles are actually made out of bamboo, though the shape may take on other characteristics. Here is one example of a bamboo-shaped razor handle.

However these un-knurled designs often have the disadvantage of offering a poorer quality grip than knurled handles.

Compatibility With Razor Head/Cartridge

One limiting factor in determining the best safety razor handle is the type of head or cartridge it is to mate with.  For example many–but not all–three piece double edge safety razor heads use the same screw thread type.  On the other hand other types of safety razor heads (two piece, twist-to-open, adjustable) may only fit a small number of handles.

Related Post: What Is The Best Double Edge Safety Razor?

Similarly, cartridge razors are dependent on the cartridge type: Atra, Mach3, Fusion, etc. may have different handle mating schemes.

Related Post: The Best Cartridge Razor For Your Needs

Shaving Technique

Shaving techniques: Different safety razor handles may be better suited for different shaving techniques. For example, if you prefer a more aggressive shaving style, a handle with a heavier weight and longer length may be preferable. Conversely, if you have sensitive skin and prefer a gentler shave, a lighter handle with a shorter length may be more suitable.

Where To Buy Razor Handles

Where to buy your preferred razor handle is going to be dependent on a couple of variables:

  • Retrofitting a razor you already have, or
  • “Building” a new razor.


Retrofitting a razor head you already have (whimsically referred to as “creating a Frankenrazor”) is probably the most challenging option.  Finding another razor handle will be dependent on the razor head you’re using. 

In the case of common three piece double edge safety razors the odds are you will probably have a “standard” head thread.  In that case you will have the choice of a number of artisanal and small business sources including:

There are also handle sources on multi-vendor sites like Etsy (Stando Polska for example), AliExpress (such as Yaqi); and some suppliers of custom pen parts such as The Golden Nib.

Retrofitting a cartridge razor head might be possible depending on how the original head was mated to the handle.  Mass-market, plastic razor cartridge heads from the “megamart” (i.e. Mach3, Fusion) are probably permanently attached to the handle.

But since the cartridge itself is standardized you could opt for an alternate handle from the manufacturer.  For example there are a number of different handles from Gillette that mate to any Gillette Fusion-compatible cartridge

Take care to verify the specifications of the razor’s head before purchasing a handle.

Building New

“Building” a new safety razor with the attributes you want can make the handle selection process a little easier since you may be able to get all the parts from a single source.  For example, the Edwin Jagger DE89 series of double edge safety razors have no fewer than 15 different handles (but all use the same razor head design).

Handle Maintenance

Proper maintenance and care of your safety razor handle will ensure its longevity and optimal performance. Here are some tips for cleaning and sterilizing your safety razor handle:

  1. After each use, rinse the handle thoroughly with warm water to remove any shaving cream, hair, and debris.
  2. Use a gentle brush, such as a toothbrush, to clean hard-to-reach areas and remove any buildup.
  3. For a more thorough cleaning, you can soak the handle in a bowl of warm water with a mild soap or shaving cream for a few minutes. This will help to remove any residue or bacteria.
  4. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they can damage the finish of the handle.
  5. Once the handle is clean, rinse it thoroughly with warm water and pat dry with a clean towel.
  6. To sterilize the handle, you can use rubbing alcohol or an antiseptic solution. Apply a small amount to a cotton ball or pad and wipe down the handle. This will help to kill any bacteria or germs that may be present.

Storing and protecting the handle

Proper storage and protection of your safety razor handle is essential to prevent damage and maintain its condition. Here are some tips for storing and protecting your handle:

  1. After cleaning and drying the handle, store it in a dry place to prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to rust or corrosion.
  2. Consider using a razor stand or holder to keep the handle upright and prevent it from accidentally falling or getting damaged.
  3. If you travel frequently, invest in a protective case or cover for your safety razor handle to prevent it from getting scratched or damaged in transit.
  4. Avoid storing the handle in extreme temperatures or humid environments, as this can cause the metal to expand or contract, leading to damage.
  5. If you have a collection of safety razor handles, store them separately to prevent them from scratching each other.

By following these maintenance and care tips, you can ensure that your safety razor handle remains in excellent condition and provides you with a smooth and comfortable shaving experience for years to come.


Choosing the perfect safety razor handle can greatly enhance your shaving experience. Ultimately, choosing the perfect handle comes down to personal preference. Consider factors such as aesthetics, brand reputation, and user reviews to find a handle that suits your individual needs.  Consider trying out different patterns to find the one that suits your needs and enhances your shaving experience.


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

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