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Open comb vs. "Standard" DE razor question

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Open comb vs. "Standard" DE razor question

Postby hoffo » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:54 am

Hi all,
I've been wetshaving for a few years but have always had a "Standard" closed-comb razor.
How different is the shave quality with an open-comb razor?
I want to find a French-made DE razor and they all seem to be of the open comb sort.

Thanks for your time,
Scott
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Postby SRD » Fri Jan 07, 2011 1:34 pm

Open combs are my favorite DE's. All of mine are Gillette News with a couple of Old styles thrown in. The only modern open that I have in my rotation is the Muehle R41. I enjoy that razor very much as well. In general I think the consensus is that the open comb is more aggressive than the closed. A few of my Gillette News are somewhat aggressive but I have been using them for so long that I guess I have just adjusted with technique. I do know that I use a LITTLE more pressure when I use the Fatboy, SS's, Merkur HD and British 66. Of course YMMV.
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Postby druphus » Fri Jan 07, 2011 1:48 pm

SRD wrote:Open combs are my favorite DE's. All of mine are Gillette News with a couple of Old styles thrown in. The only modern open that I have in my rotation is the Muehle R41. I enjoy that razor very much as well. In general I think the consensus is that the open comb is more aggressive than the closed. A few of my Gillette News are somewhat aggressive but I have been using them for so long that I guess I have just adjusted with technique. I do know that I use a LITTLE more pressure when I use the Fatboy, SS's, Merkur HD and British 66. Of course YMMV.


+1 to everything expressed; however, in addition to the Muhle R41 I also use a Merkur 1906 open-comb and both the original open-comb iKon and the 2010 iKon open-comb Bulldog
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Postby hoffo » Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:49 pm

Thanks for the help!

I'll give one a shot - plenty to choose from! :)
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Postby brothers » Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:50 pm

I'm using a NEW, an Old Type, and a Merkur 12c Barberpole. I really like the way all of these shave. I had an extra Merkur 11c head and gave it to someone who is using it with a Georgian handle (now discontinued, I think?) and he loves it.
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Postby hoffo » Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:51 pm

I just won a Leresche open-comb DE on eBay along with some NOS Leresche blades - hope it arrives soon to report my findings! Getting excited! :)

Thanks for the help!
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Postby notthesharpest » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:40 pm

IMO discussing closed-comb vs open-comb as a shaving question is a mistake. It is mainly a razor-manufacturing question.

The quality of your shave is going to be based on geometry: the angle at which the blade is bent inside the razor head, the angle & curve of the upper cap, the length, position, and angle of the comb area, among others.

Whether the comb area is solid or toothed does contribute a little to a different feel on your face, but all those geometry issues are the same regardless.

The Gillette NEW is not a good design because of the open comb; it's a good design because they got the head geometry right. If you made a closed-comb version but with the same contours, it would shave essentially the same.

Some closed-comb razors can be ridiculously aggressive (Vision, Futur, others); some closed-comb razors can be ridiculously mild (late-model Techs) - the same applies to open comb, though there are fewer models to compare because they're not as easy to make.
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Postby brothers » Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:27 pm

Another example of a ridiculously aggressive closed comb Gillette Tech is the earliest version that is distinguished by the triangular shaped holes in the bottom plate of the head. It's not the holes that make the razor so aggressive, as Dave says, it's all in the geometry. Gillette fixed the problem with the geometry and as an indicator of the gentler head, the triangular shaped holes were replaced with rectangular holes.
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Postby function » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:24 pm

brothers wrote:Another example of a ridiculously aggressive closed comb Gillette Tech is the earliest version that is distinguished by the triangular shaped holes in the bottom plate of the head.


I don't know if I'd go as far as to say it is ridiculously aggressive, in fact I think it is just right. To me the aggression is somewhere between my NEW and my Feather Portable, both of which I love. If you examine, you may notice this appears to be manufactured the same way as the NEW, and in fact the "cap" is interchangeable. If you have one chewing your face up I'd love to relieve you of it so I can have a backup.
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Postby brothers » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:49 pm

function wrote:
brothers wrote:Another example of a ridiculously aggressive closed comb Gillette Tech is the earliest version that is distinguished by the triangular shaped holes in the bottom plate of the head.


I don't know if I'd go as far as to say it is ridiculously aggressive, in fact I think it is just right. To me the aggression is somewhere between my NEW and my Feather Portable, both of which I love. If you examine, you may notice this appears to be manufactured the same way as the NEW, and in fact the "cap" is interchangeable. If you have one chewing your face up I'd love to relieve you of it so I can have a backup.


Mine was my father's only razor. He got it new, and never had another one. I remember him with bits of tissue paper on his face from time to time, and it was the first razor I ever used, when he taught me how to shave as a teenager. In high school I bought my own, a Slim adjustable.

Then I bought a new Krona around 1969 or thereabouts and used it until two years ago. Two years ago I retrieved his razor with triangular holes from the medicine chest where it had always resided at my mom's house. It was part of my SMF-generated kit that included the obligatory COBigelow SC, Tabac, etc., but it cut me relentlessly, about half the time. I decided it was defective, until I read on the forums that it has a reputation as being aggressive. So yes, it's far too aggressive.
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Postby Gene » Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:32 pm

I have a Tech with the triangle-shaped slots -- it's from Canada, and has 1932 stamped on it. I also have a "traditional" Tech.

To me they shave fairly closely. Maybe the razor fromn Canada is a bit more aggressive....but certainly it's not overtly so.

I have been using an OC lately - an OLD or a NEW, I don't know. Gold, with a bar across the cap that the slot on the blade fits in for support. It's a better shave than I thought it would be...I don't really like OC razors because I can actually feel the teeth on my skin, where the bar just slides.

I also have a Merkur OC and really old German OC...but they've been out of the rotation for a while. I guess I should try them again soon. The German one is actually a travel razor that I mate with a Tech handle.
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Postby brothers » Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:41 pm

I should add that my Tech is the only triangle hole one I've ever tried, so it should be noted that maybe this one razor is a bit more aggresive than others, and of course, it could be me! Operator error? :lol:
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Postby Gene » Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:53 pm

brothers wrote:I should add that my Tech is the only triangle hole one I've ever tried, so it should be noted that maybe this one razor is a bit more aggresive than others, and of course, it could be me! Operator error? :lol:


Gary, it occurs to me that unless you bought that razor new you might have some type of FrankenTech?

Head geometry and all that...could it be affected if you have a triangle base plate, but the head from a different model Tech? Is that possible?
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Postby brothers » Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:14 pm

Gene that would have been a possibility, but this razor was my dad's original razor from when he was a teenager, he used it all his life and it stayed in my mother's medicine cabinet where he had kept it until I brought it to my house 2 years ago.
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Postby Gene » Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:00 pm

Gonna go beat my head on the bathroom cabinet...you said that earlier, I realize that now.

Any thoughts on whether you dad "adjusted" it?

Good friend of mine has two old injectors that had been milled to increase blade exposure.
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Postby hoffo » Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:57 pm

notthesharpest wrote:IMO discussing closed-comb vs open-comb as a shaving question is a mistake. It is mainly a razor-manufacturing question.

The quality of your shave is going to be based on geometry: the angle at which the blade is bent inside the razor head, the angle & curve of the upper cap, the length, position, and angle of the comb area, among others.

Whether the comb area is solid or toothed does contribute a little to a different feel on your face, but all those geometry issues are the same regardless.

The Gillette NEW is not a good design because of the open comb; it's a good design because they got the head geometry right. If you made a closed-comb version but with the same contours, it would shave essentially the same.

Some closed-comb razors can be ridiculously aggressive (Vision, Futur, others); some closed-comb razors can be ridiculously mild (late-model Techs) - the same applies to open comb, though there are fewer models to compare because they're not as easy to make.


Ya know, I was thinking about that... And was thinking along those lines, but wasn't sure.
Thanks for breaking it down for me! Makes sense now how different razors and blades can be combined to provide so many different results.
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Postby CMur12 » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:58 pm

I think there are two basic groups of open-comb razors, and within each group is tremendous variation.

1. The original open-comb razors were of the blade-on-comb variety, in which the blade was laid directly onto the comb, with no gap or space between them. The comb essentially allowed access to the blade. There are blade-on-comb razors in production today, such as those by Merkur and Goodfella.

2. In the 1930s, Gillette introduced open-comb razors with blade gap - with the blade raised above the comb. One of these models was the NEW. As far as I'm concerned, these open-comb razors perform identically to safety-bar razors. The blade gap allows access to the blade, so the open comb was no longer necessary and production shifted to the more easily manufactured safety bars.

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Postby brothers » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:30 pm

Murray, this is an excellent point. Thanks for pointing out these facts about the OC heads.
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Postby hoffo » Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:31 am

CMur12 wrote:I think there are two basic groups of open-comb razors, and within each group is tremendous variation.

1. The original open-comb razors were of the blade-on-comb variety, in which the blade was laid directly onto the comb, with no gap or space between them. The comb essentially allowed access to the blade. There are blade-on-comb razors in production today, such as those by Merkur and Goodfella.

2. In the 1930s, Gillette introduced open-comb razors with blade gap - with the blade raised above the comb. One of these models was the NEW. As far as I'm concerned, these open-comb razors perform identically to safety-bar razors. The blade gap allows access to the blade, so the open comb was no longer necessary and production shifted to the more easily manufactured safety bars.

- Murray


Thanks for the scoop - I'll check out this Leresche once it arrives to see which one it is. I'm pretty sure it's the latter, but will have to check.
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Postby Kirasdad » Fri Jan 14, 2011 2:49 pm

I agree that the primary factor that determines aggressiveness is the blade geometry of the razor head (i.e., blade gap, angle, curve, etc.). Lately, my favorite razor has been my '37 Gillette Sheraton, one of the earliest TTO open comb offerings by Gillette; it features a "blade on the comb" design. I've been using it, almost exclusively, for the last 2-3 months, and I've never gotten better, more comfortable shaves. I've been using Iridiums, Lord Platinums, and 7 O'Clock SharpEdges in it and the shaves have been outstanding. I've noticed that the Sheraton seems to work best with very sharp blades and a light touch. The other open comb I really like is the latest Ikon, not to be confused with the original Ikon open comb, which is very aggressive.
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