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

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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

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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.
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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
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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

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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
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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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Mark Twain

"People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people."
Alan Moore

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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

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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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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by TRBeck » Wed May 16, 2018 9:58 am

So now I'm on the hunt. Oh, SMF, what a great place!

I am looking at a General, a Rockwell 6S, and a Mergress.

The price of any of these in steel is $100+, and I have already sold a Mergress, so it's lowest on the potential list, but I'm really intrigued.

To reset things, of late I have become more conscious of the quality of my shaves than I had been in some time. I have been sailing along for 5 years or so with homemade soaps and Med Preps and the Barley Chrome, and it's been fine. On the other hand, I have realized as I have had some more free time and head space to spend on this hobby that it maybe isn't as great as I thought. It's perfunctory, and moreover, it's not always satisfactory. My 7-day blades, the Med Preps, are honestly only great for 4-5 days and then passable. The razor-blade combo shaves closely but not quite as efficiently as my Red Tip nor the Mergress on a moderate setting. I get a bit of stubble earlier in the day than I'd like. Maybe my beard has become coarser of late or something, but I want to change it up and see what's what.

As an aside, I realize it's possibly also just boredom and the pull of hobby consumption, but I can say that the slight dissatisfaction preceded picking up forum participation again, and at any rate, I don't have a problem with enjoying a hobby. I've got a couple of English soaps in the den again, I dug some colognes out of a box in the closet, I put my two badgers back into use (and discovered that they aren't that great), and I've made some soap for the first time in a couple of years. The lather is phenomenal, the scents are nice, but the result...could use some adjustment.

Murray, the Rockwell looks very nice and gets rave reviews everywhere. The General might be fine in a non-steel version whenever it's available again, but the steel is available now, and if the blade longevity is for real, it's still...um...a steal. And the Mergress is a known entity, a razor I had a couple of years back and really liked, but decided - I think prematurely - was not a superior tool. In retrospect, the shaves were more efficient. I am doing more touchup now than I have since the early years of wetshaving. So the options are on the table, and I imagine I'll buy one of the three soon and try it out. I'm leaning Rockwell because it's different and because it's made in the USA. Colonial in aluminum has appeal as a lightweight alternative, and I'm intrigued by the steel option, too, despite its being made elsewhere. I dunno.

Murray, you've used two of these three. I prefer a more aggressive shaver than you but not a wide-open razor necessarily. Gene and Gary, I know you've used the 89 and the Colonial and have a variety of experience. Chris Moss, you've used everything I suspect and certainly I have read the threads here on the General and seen your positive comments particuarly regarding blade longevity. I'm open to a nudge in any given direction here, guys.
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

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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by Shave4Fun » Wed May 16, 2018 12:02 pm

Well said. Nothing I can add except for two things: 1) I really like my 1946 Super-Speed and it's my go-to razor. (So, ditto on settling on one that you really like.) 2) The EJ89 is tempting to try now. How does it compare to the Merkur 34C?
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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by CMur12 » Wed May 16, 2018 1:33 pm

Roger, if the 34C is a Merkur with a fixed head, I believe the Edwin Jagger is a tiny bit milder.

I'm intrigued by the General, but I'm wary of the blades. I require a mild razor (Mergress on lowest setting; Rockwell on 2) and a sharp blade (but not Feather-sharp). I see people here saying that the Feather blades complement the mild General razor, but I heard similar things about Feather DE blades in mild razors. I tried a Feather blade in a Gillette Tech (actually a milder razor than I like to use now), and I still experienced the infamous "skin-thinning" attributed to Feather blades. For this reason, I have held off on the purchase of a General.

- Murray
Give me Soap or give me death!

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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by Nitrox » Wed May 16, 2018 1:39 pm

Tim,

I bought my first Rockwell 6s and love it so much I bought another one.
I do also have the 6c but the quality is not the same as the 6s. It's very close but
not quite the same. One example is the handle screwing into the head. On the 6s it's buttery
smooth but the 6c is a little more rough.
I own lots (and I mean lots) of razors and for me the 6s is the best of the whole bunch.
For the money, you can't go wrong and it's adjustable to your liking.
Bruno

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shave every day and you'll always look keen."

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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by Gene » Wed May 16, 2018 2:15 pm

CMur12 wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 1:33 pm
I still experienced the infamous "skin-thinning" attributed to Feather blades. For this reason, I have held off on the purchase of a General.

- Murray
Murray- I am with you on this.

I have Feather DE blades that I doubt will every get used up - Sharp but way too harsh.

That said, I do not experience the same thing with the Feather blades for my General. It's not the smoothest blade I have ever used, but it is pretty close.
Gene

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Mark Twain

"People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people."
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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by brothers » Wed May 16, 2018 2:30 pm

Regarding the DE razors, right before the General happened to come along, I was pretty much satisfied that my best shaves ever were coming from a late-to-mid 1970s short handle Gillette black beauty adjustable. If the General had not come onto the scene, I was going to be happy using the Gillette every day.
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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by TRBeck » Wed May 16, 2018 2:44 pm

Okay, well, the 6S is looking like a winner. But I may pick up an aluminum General when those become available; it's hard for me to pay $100 for a razor at all, let alone have two at that price point in my den at once.

I will probably pull the trigger today, but I'm going for a run to clear my head. I'll check back in later; please leave as much feedback as you can on these razors, guys. I appreciate all the opinions offered so far.
Regards,
Tim

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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by CMur12 » Wed May 16, 2018 4:08 pm

Gene wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 2:15 pm
CMur12 wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 1:33 pm
I still experienced the infamous "skin-thinning" attributed to Feather blades. For this reason, I have held off on the purchase of a General.

- Murray
Murray- I am with you on this.

I have Feather DE blades that I doubt will every get used up - Sharp but way too harsh.

That said, I do not experience the same thing with the Feather blades for my General. It's not the smoothest blade I have ever used, but it is pretty close.
That is valuable feedback, Gene. Thank you.

- Murray
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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by TRBeck » Wed May 16, 2018 4:38 pm

Well, Gene, something to think about. I suppose I will get the aluminum version of the General to try when it is available again. $100 for a total unknown is hard to do for me. I will check out the site and get samples of the various blades. So many cool things available to try and ways to try them a decade into this wetshaving journey. It's a great time for traditional shaving.
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

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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by Pauldog » Wed May 16, 2018 4:42 pm

The Feather Portable 3-piece DE razor I bought for a few bucks several years back from the old stock of a barber supply store is now going for close to $30 used on eBay. It's tempting to try selling mine and go with an even more ordinary razor.

I also just ordered a Dorco PL602 to have one more heavier-duty plastic model to go with my Wilkinson Classic. I'm donating my super-cheap current Asian Gillette plastic DE models to a charity store.

My go-to razors are pretty ordinary and old - a Gem Contour or Micromatic, a Super Speed, a Schick injector.

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Re: In Praise of the Ordinary Razor

Post by CMur12 » Wed May 16, 2018 4:50 pm

Tim, if you are considering the aluminum version of the General, you might also consider the chrome version of the Rockwell (6C). It is half the price and the functional equal of the stainless steel version (6S) and I would judge the finish to be on par with the Edwin Jagger. I'm sometimes tempted to get the 6S as well, but I'm actually very happy with the 6C. (I'm also giving some serious thought to the General, thanks to Gene's feedback.)

- Murray
Give me Soap or give me death!

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