THE STATE OF DE SHAVING

Let's talk about single and double edged razors and the blades that they use.
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Squire
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Post by Squire » Wed Jun 17, 2009 3:21 pm

Good choices Glenn and I agree that Tiger logo is way cool.
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Post by NewYorkBuck » Thu Jun 18, 2009 12:11 pm

This thread strikes a chord with me. I have been DE shaving for about two years now, and in that short time I have seen my two favorite blades go out of production (Swede, Polsilver) and the threat of reformulation of my favorite soap (Tabac.)

That said, I find that compared to most other gentlemens hobbies, DE shaving is a relatively inexpensive one, and MUCH cheaper than my former/current hobbies of mens bespoke clothing, cigars, and Porsches.

With the above in mind, it seems to be a smart hedge to stock up now on some of my favorites - especially given the case there is a very long shelf life on these products. Ergo - I just added 100 of each Iridiums, Astra Keramic, and 7AM Yellows. I think that brings me to about 1600 or so blades. Given I use on the average one blade per week, I have enough of my favorites to last me for another 30+ years when I'll be in my 70s....

Edit - Egad - I just realized that I have my GF now hooked on DEs for her legs! Thats another blade per week. Time to buy some more..... :P
A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.

- George Bernard Shaw

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Post by vtmax » Thu Jun 18, 2009 7:10 pm

I was, and kind of still am, on occasion, a DE user but I have personally put all of my resources in those EJ heavy duty Sensor razors and the original Sensor blades. With a light touch I think this blade serves me very well. I will hang on to those Gillette DE black long handles and the others to show the kids but the original Sensor is the perfect balance for me at the moment.

Max

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Post by 2clfrwrds » Fri Jun 19, 2009 7:06 pm

Squire wrote:Good choices Glenn...
Well, sure! You're one of the guys who helped me pick 'em out.

--Glenn

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Joe Lerch
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Post by Joe Lerch » Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:22 am

bernards66 wrote:Gil, Well, that's right. The major makers of blades for shaving have plainly cheapened their DE blades for at least two decades now, putting all their emphasis on selling multi-blade cartridges ( and the more expensive the better ). The large bulk of the manufacturing of DE blades that they still do is directed at lower income areas of the world. The last actual marked improvements in DE blades happened in the late '60s and '70s. Where all this will lead in future, I don't know. There are some indications that there might be a modest increase of use in some developed countries, possibly partially because of the depressed economic situation. But it is something I wonder about. Most of the DE blades now being made are not acceptable to me so I am concerned that I, personally, might be eased out of DE shaving even if it's still technically possible to continue with it.
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Gordon
Hi Gordon, how goes it? It's been awhile.

I just couldn't let this one go.

I remember those great blades back then. I remember the great blue blades too. But I think you skipped over what I consider THE major blade development in the 50 years I've been DE shaving: the Feather blade. None of the blades I've ever experienced can compare. I do notice Squires review of a new Russion (7 O'clock) blade which seems similar.

The microscope shot is interesting. After I switched all my razors to Feather I took one of a Feather blade, and it a coated edge that looked like a microscopic version of a carbide saw blade. No other blades had it, and no staright razors had it. Now the Russians seem to have it and get similar results.

Whatever this technology is, it is and was major, although it slipped in silently. It certainly changed shaving for forever.
Joe

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Squire
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Post by Squire » Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:00 pm

Hey Joe, welcome back. Drop in more often.
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Squire

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Re: THE STATE OF DE SHAVING

Post by Joe Lerch » Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:59 pm

gil3591 wrote:i've been reading the recent posts about a positive find with a possibly new run of merkur blades. the thread has members making comments about the blades of the past and how they were better. this has made me wonder about the world of current de shaving. i started de shaving this past winter and am hoping this form of shaving will continue into the future. i am concerned that maybe we are at the tail end of de shaving. with the vast majority of men using cartridges it seems that most de blades are manufactured in parts of the world where the vast majority of the populace need a cheap form of shaving. if this is true then i see no reason why blade manufacturers would put any money into new and improved de blades.
shaving soaps and creams, brushes and aftershaves should continue but i wonder if the cartridge razor will eventually eliminate the de razor.
i would be interested in seeing sales info or trends. i wonder if gillette, derby, treet for example are seeing growth in the market or if it's a stagnant industry
I just realized I never responded to your original message.

I don't think you need to worry about the DE. The big companies have been trying to kill it for years in an effort to keep us on the razor merry-go-round, but it hasn't happened. It'll never be a mass market, but it's a market and Dovo/Merkur is not a small or fly-by-night company. Merkur has never stopped making DEs, and they were around in the hayday.

If you saw my response to Gordon on the blades, you know that I believe the greatest achievement was made in the last few years (10?) by Feather. I have never been a big fan of Gillette, although I did like their DEs, and I'm quite fond of my Toggle. As far as their shaving quality goes, I don't believe they can hold a candle to some of the Merkurs, like the slant, Progress, Futur and Vision. As far as I'm concerned, the Gillettes are just too tame, but you put a Feather blade in a slant or Futur and you can match the shave of a Feather straight. I shave mostly with straights and none of them can beat the Feather straight.

So the Futur was a major accomplishment in DEs. I have some question about it, but they say it came out in the mid 80s.

I love the Vision. It gives the most comfortable shave, even when you shave really close. It was a technical achievement, and it must have been in the late 90s. Also, Weishi is recent entry in the DE market with a high quality product.

All of this was way after the 1960s heyday of the DE.

In short, I don't think you need to worry. I've had DEs available for my entire shaving life, the last 50 years. They're not the mass market anymore, but they're a market, mostly a foreign one.
Joe

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Squire
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Post by Squire » Wed Jun 24, 2009 1:14 pm

A market that is competitive. There are some excellent blades out there and some very good ones as well. A Futur or other modern razor will last a lifetime and the equivalent of one month's average car payment will buy a 15 year supply of blades.
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Post by bernards66 » Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:47 pm

Egad! Joe Lerch! Good to hear from you. Well, we've been around this block before and you already know my views on the Feather. I certainly agree that it's unique, but not in a good way....at least not for me. We used to speculate that their grind and hone pattern was markedly different from the norm, and Squire's photos tended to confirm that. You know, sometimes I suspect that that pattern was originally not developed for face razors, but that they adopted it from some other cutting instruments that they also produce. Whatever the truth, I do know that I ( and a fair number of other shavers ) can't use them....not comfortably at least. Since we have both been at this forever, and since we both have sensitive skin, I believe our different experiances with the Feather DE blade is a result of different shaving styles. I think that we mulled this over at dinner that time in NJ. So, since we got word of the termination of the 'Swedes' I've had to scramble around and see if there is anything currently made that will do for me. I didn't care for the yellow pack 7 O'clocks either, and perhaps that's telling. In any case, unfortunately, I know that the Feathers are not a viable option for me.
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Gordon

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Post by Joe Lerch » Thu Jun 25, 2009 8:18 am

Yes, it's me! Good to "speak" again. When are you coming to NJ again?

I don't think we disagree here. Clearly, the Feather was a recent advance in DE shaving. Just because not everyone likes it doesn't change that. For me, and quite a few other guys it was a major one. TO use it, I adapted my techniques, and it was the most dramatic change in my shaving. I'm still hooked on them, and nothing in recent years has changed that, although I haven't tried the 7 O'clocks.

The same can be said of the Futur and Vision (when they first came out) and the fine quality DE razors from Weishi. I didn't even mention some of the other quality DE razors that have come since the hayday. Clearly, it's been an ongoing process way after the hayday.

With guys like you and me it's not a question of wether we can use a new tool, but whether we're willing to adapt to it. That requires some motivation. Since you have been so happy with what you have, there was no reason for you to do anything else, just as there's no reason for me to change fron Feathers unless the 7s are comparable.

Since you might be looking for a replacement for the Swedes, I just want to point out a thread by Pauldog. He is selling Feathers, but they're not the platinums. Reports are that these Feathers are more tame. That may make them just right for you. He sells them individually at a great price, so it's an easy thing to try.

Those who have had a problem with the sharpness of the platinums should keep this in mind.

I have tried those non-platinum Feathers, and I found that the were not at all the same for me. Maybe that's a good sign for you.

I did a microscope analysis on the Feather platinums, like Squire's, a few years ago. The grind didn't look particularly unusual, but the coating looked like the edge of a carbide saw blade. Even microscopically, it was a very smooth edge, so there was some "magic" in being able to coat without losing sharpness. As far as I know, the coating is only supposed to extend the life of the edge.

Squire, please check you PMs.
Joe

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Post by Squire » Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:07 pm

Will do.
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Post by bernards66 » Thu Jun 25, 2009 7:45 pm

Joe, Yes, "willingness to adapt" is certainly part of the equation with some of this stuff. That was clearly the case both times I had a go around with traditional straights. I 'could' use them; no real problems, per se, but I just couldn't stand all the pulling and tugging. No doubt it would diminish a tad, and largely I'd just get used to it eventually, but I wasn't motivated to go through all that for exactly the reasons you mentioned. I did try the 'other' Feather blades back when the brand first became available. I liked them less than the platinum version. I have, however, found those recently reintroduced Iridium blades ( apparently made in the same plant as the yellow pack 7s ) to be doable for me. Not quite as good as the Swedes I don't think, but not that dissimiliar. When I'm finally forced to actually order more blades, I'll probably go that route. NJ? Well, we had to cancel out last year, but hopefully we'll make it this Thanksgiving. Are you up for another Greek salad? BTW, did you ever find out anymore about that old Hoffritz Futur-like razor that you have?
Regards,
Gordon

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Post by Joe Lerch » Fri Jun 26, 2009 7:53 am

I understand completly about the straights. An accomplished DE shaver will be very frustrated. It sems that your razor may have been a little dull, but even with a well sharpened one, the experience is not pleasant, and you just have to wonder why you're doing it. I usually discourage accomplished DE shavers from going to a str8.

I was fortunate in that I came to str8s throught the back door. I had the Feather str8 first, and using it was a natural, very DE-like. So, I concentrated on learning str8 technique. I got my first str8 pre-sharpened from a skilled guy, so I just started using it. It was not a smooth as the Feather and the shave was not as good, but it was OK. I kept that one going a while with just stropping, and when it started pulling I just touched it up a few strokes on a finishing hone, and it was back. I still use it, and I have never had to do a full hone.

Good luck with finding a new blade. Are you still using injectors?

I would love to meet up again. Just give me some advance warning when you're coming. A PM here is good, because I get notification.

I gave up with that Hoffritz in frustration. I just used the razor yesterday. It's not a Futur-like razor. It's a Futur that says Hoffritz. I've compared it in person with a Futur, and I can't find a difference. I contacted everyone I could think of, even collectors, and I kept hitting blind alleys. I tried patent searches, but there are just too many and the German designs can turn up in local jurisdictions.

Just so readers know what we're talking about, Hoffritz used to sell that razor in its stores as their top safety razor, and it's identical to the Futur. They told me they stopped selling it in about '92. Merkur says it was introduced in '80 or '82, and they have a design patent around that time, but they are evasive in providing any information. One of our members even tried in Germany. I got mine as a gift, and I can trace it to '65 or '66 through major events that were going on in my life. The person who gave it to me bought it in person in NYC. He is long deceased, and by '70 was unable to leave his home. There is a very long thread here and pictures.

I am not losing my mind, although sometimes it seems that way.
Joe

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Post by bernards66 » Fri Jun 26, 2009 2:11 pm

Joe, Yeah, I think you're wise to kind of discourage experianced DE shavers from going over board on buying open razor equipment before they give it a try because it's definately not an easy transition for several reasons. I know a couple who have done it, but most just can't be bothered. You came in a back door, and most I know who transitioned came to straights direct from multi-blade cartridges. So, they were already used to more of a pulling sensation and usually they were dissatisfied with their shaves, and thus, were more motivated to stick it out. The straights I've tried were honed by three separate gents, Lynn Abrams and two others who I believe know what they're doing. Today I believe that all of them ( six in all ) were as sharp as those that most straight shavers use. I have reason to believe that Chris Moss and maybe a couple of others can get them a tad sharper still ( Jeez!...I hope so, considering the ornate routine he uses ), but that would be a moot point since I wouldn't be willing, or able to afford ( chuckle ) the whole process that he uses anyway.

Injectors? Well, I largely retired mine when the old US made Schick blades dwindled away. The German made Schicks and the ASR numbers didn't do it for me. However, some Chinese made Schick Injector blades are beginning to hit the market that are better. Not quite as good as the old US ones, but good enough for me to use. So, that is a somewhat hopeful developement.

With DE blades, the Iridiums seem decent, and there are one or two more that work in some razors for me. And, if push came to shove I can get by with the IPs even if I'd grumble about it. And, I suppose if I got motivated enough I could create a PayPal account and join the hunt for top notch vintage blades. But I'm certainly going to miss the Swedes being readily available.

Excellent! Oh, I'll give you plenty of notice regarding any trip to NJ. Around Thanksgiving looks by far the most likely. My older son is at Temple University and the younger will be stating at Fairleigh Dickinson this Fall, so we can all meet easily in NJ for the Thanksgiving holiday. I'll keep you informed of the plans.

Well, I didn't think so, but I thought I'd ask. That leaves us with our former conclusion; i.e. that that design must have been created by another firm which Merkur acquired the rights to in the early '80s. No other explanation seems to fit the facts as we have them. Have you ever located anyone else who has/had a Futur that pre-dates 1980? There must still be a few of them around somewhere.
Regards,
Gordon

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Joe Lerch
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Post by Joe Lerch » Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:27 pm

bernards66 wrote:Have you ever located anyone else who has/had a Futur that pre-dates 1980? There must still be a few of them around somewhere.
I've tried, and I continue to look.

I'm surprised that these Hoffritz razors were not a lot more popular. Everybody accepts that Hoffritz sold the "Futur" for about a decade. Yet, it seems a lot more popular now than it was then. In the 80s it certainly would have been a lot more unique, not just the appearance, but there was virtually no other adjustable DE out there.
Joe

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Post by 2clfrwrds » Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:49 pm

A discouraging note about Tiger blades on the Shoebox Shave Shop site:
"Gillette sold the plant in Czechoslovakia and these have been discontinued. When they are Gone, they are Gone."

I didn't even have time to try my sample blades yet!

--Glenn

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