In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Let's talk about single and double edged razors and the blades that they use.
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TRBeck
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In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by TRBeck » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:47 pm

As far as I can tell, I got my Edwin Jagger Barley Chrome razor in November 2011. Given missed shaves here and there, a dozen or so efforts with a straight, and a few dalliances with single-edge razors, I would estimate I've got about 1800 shaves on it. At the time, I paid south of $40 for this simple variant of the very basic "89" double-edge razor. I get a very clean, close cut with Personna Medical Prep blades, Polsliver Iridiums, and Gillette Silver Blues using this razor, even as some coarser hairs creep into my beard with age.

I have not been a big forum participant in recent years, and I guess while I was preoccupied with other things, boutique DEs (and, to a slightly lesser extent, SEs) sort of blew up. I see stainless this and titanium that everywhere I look, with prices well into the three-digit range. I don't want to criticize anyone's choices there, and I have tried a couple of them to see what the fuss was about. But for me, the general conclusion I came to after several shaves was, "Huh." Not bad, not great. Functional, felt good in the hand, worked fine, but...

I think it's easy when you're new to this hobby to get caught up in the bling of high-end brushes and fancy soaps and Penhaligon's. I know I did, and sometimes I still do. But man, the one thing I was told by dozens of guys here was to just get a good Superspeed or Merkur or Gilette Tech, learn some technique, and enjoy the shaves. And I did. I experimented with Red Tips (!) and Black Beauties (!!) and the Progess (!!!), and they are all excellent tools. None of them were any better as instruments than the EJ 89 or that first flare-tip Superspeed I had a decade ago. Oh, sure, I preferred the balance of this one or the look of that one or the weight of this head, but in the end, I got good shaves because I learned how to use the razor I had in my hand, not because I bought a different one.

Sometimes you read about these "pot metal" razors having QC issues, heads breaking off when one goes to rinse the razor or whatever. Maybe that happens. But I've used this thing with no particularly special care and have yet to get more than a couple of light scratches on it. It is simply an excellent tool for the job. Some expensive brushes feel better on the face, some look better, some build lather more readily. When it comes to DEs, other than a nicer handle, none of these seem to be improvements so much as they are variants.

Again, I don’t want to criticize anyone’s choices. Buy what you want and use what you like. Just to say, though, I think new guys in particular chase their tails enough trying every product out there instead of settling down. And now they can drop $300 on a DE “system” of interchangeable heads and handles only to find that they still have to shave themselves, and no razor can do it for them.

I may buy a backup of this Barley Chrome razor at some point, but I doubt it. I imagine it will last indefinitely. At some point I may replace it with my late grandfather’s Gillette slim adjustable, which was given to me when he died earlier this year. If I do, though, I’ll be replacing one quotidian razor with another, an ordinary piece of shave equipment made for everyman, and made to endure for a lifetime or longer. And I’ll keep getting great shaves.
Regards,
Tim

Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our bad dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? - Henry David Thoreau

pausted
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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by pausted » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:58 pm

Well said, Tim. I agree with everything you said.
Best regards,

Basil

brothers
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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by brothers » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:11 pm

I agree with you also Tim. It's one of the best everyday razors, and a lot of guys are using those. I added a bit of weight to the handle and it's a beautiful razor and handle. I was able to obtain one of the new generation of SE razors called the General by Colonial razors. It cost $35 and it gives me better shaves than any other safety/straight razor in terms of closeness and smoothness without nary a cut or nick. Surprisingly it was engineered to use the Feather AC blades and others, Cobra, etc. It made all of my other razors and their blades obsolete. I have a backup to my General, and also a brass version that I traded for. I didn't have any reason to buy the stainless version because I simply don't need it. It is the only razor I have used in the past 1 1/2 years since I got it, and I have ended my search for the perfect razor.
Gary

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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by CMur12 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 6:37 pm

Nice treatise, as usual, Tim. :)

I've bought and used a lot of razors over the years, trying to find what works best with my sensitive skin. Though I have three Edwin Jaggers, including the Barley Corn, I ultimately decided that they were a little too aggressive for my own regular use.

The best razors I have found for my personal needs are the Mergress (customized Merkur Progress) on its lowest setting and the Rockwell 6C with setting 2 (6 settings on 3 plates). I especially like the three-piece Rockwell, as I can easily disassemble it for cleaning after each shave. This is especially important when I use Treet Dura Sharp blades, made of carbon steel with PTFE coating.

- Murray
Give me Soap or give me death!

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TRBeck
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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by TRBeck » Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:00 pm

I must say that the Mergress is a beautiful razor and a joy to use. I would gladly use it every day if I still had it. I guess I have grown a bit attached to my Barley over the years, and so I jettisoned the Mergress.

Rockwell is one I haven't looked at, and I guess now I'm off to Google. :lol:
Regards,
Tim

Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our bad dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? - Henry David Thoreau

CMur12
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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by CMur12 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:57 pm

Tim, I found both versions of the Rockwell at www.swissknifeshop.com .

I haven't found them among most of our better-known vendors.

- Murray
Give me Soap or give me death!

Gene
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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by Gene » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:57 am

Tim - like you I picked up the EJ DE89L a few years ago and I really do like how it performs. If I had to choose just one razor for the rest of my life I could easily see it being this one. It handles any blade I feed into it - and the shaves I get from it using what I consider my least performing blade (German Wilks) right up to my favorite all-time blade (Swede's) varies from very good to excellent.

I don't think I have ever had a bad shave from it.

I still have a drawer with all my other razors - Superspeed's, adjustables, a Red Tip, a Schick Krona, a couple of injectors (one of these is my go-to travel razor) - and I use them all every now and then - but I really like the EJ.

I also watch as the new razors are created - and wonder if they are better. I, too, have no problem with anybody buying and using whatever they want to shave with. But, they are more expensive than I am willing to spend my extra cash on. I spend my extra cash on guns and camera gear. To each his own.

However - with all that said - I did pick up one of the General razor's that Gary mentioned. I waited until the black aluminum models were back in stock and got one of those. Then off to the Try-a-Blade website for a few samples. I have mentioned this before - it is a great shaver. I still marvel that a razor that is so physically large can handle so well. It is light and responsive. I marvel that a smooth handle can rest in my hand and not be slippery while wet. I marvel that even when the blade dulls a bit I have yet to draw even a single drop of blood with it.

But I don't use it every day. I still find myself reaching for the EJ when I am home. Perhaps it's because I like the DE blades I use with it more than I do the SE blades for the General? Maybe I need a few other samples to try - I only got the Feather and one other that seemed popular with some of the folks who use the General.

Anyway - I DO like the fact that we have a lot more choices today than we did 10 years ago - whether we are talking about razors, blades, soaps or creams. Groups like ours kept DE shaving alive and I see it moving back into the mainstream more every day.

And that's a good thing.
Gene

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TRBeck
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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by TRBeck » Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:15 am

Well said, Gene.

Oh, and YGPM.
Regards,
Tim

Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our bad dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? - Henry David Thoreau

brothers
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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by brothers » Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:12 am

Gene, it's been my experience that the AC blades last about 4 or even 5 times as long as my DE blades.
Gary

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