It all started with a cheap drugstore comb. Pittsburgh metalsmith Michael Studebaker was using one to tame his unruly beard when the handle broke. “I decided to make something that would never break or bend in your pocket,” he recalls. “That you could keep forever and even pass down to your progeny—if they had beards, of course.”
Studebaker, 29, and his wife, Alyssa, were already hand-forging jewelry on a pair of antique anvils in their Studebaker Metals studio, and that fateful comb snap five years ago inspired them to craft gorgeous and damn-near indestructible grooming gear like the Hand-forged Mustache Comb, Silver & Brass Handmade Safety Razor, and Brass & Badger Shave Brush above. Since 2013, Studebaker has been banging out grooming tools that are at once old-timey showpieces and everyday staples fit for the manliest of modern medicine cabinets.
Evoking the aged patina of blacksmith-forged heirloom tools, the rough finish on Studebaker’s gear is achieved in the most authentic way possible: by being pounded into shape on an anvil. A single safety razor takes about 16 hours to make; all three components, including the delicate threaded closure, are hand-cut and hammered into a thing of beauty. The mustache comb (yes, it’s also great for the wildest of beards) is similarly handcrafted, with each tooth finely sawed down and polished, giving it exceptional glide.
The diabolical-looking instrument, inspired by the silhouette of an upturned ’stache, is Studebaker’s most popular grooming item. “I know guys who are carrying them in their pockets and using them daily,” Michael says. He’s similarly proud of his safety razor (“I based the design on an old German razor I found in a thrift store”) and shave brush (“There’s really no chance that those badger hairs are ever gonna fall out”). With such rigorous attention to detail, it’s no surprise that Studebaker stamps every piece with his name and city of origin, a shout-out to working-class Pittsburgh. The Iron City.
Photos by Zachary Zavislak