Back on the Livis

Use a straight. You know it makes sense.
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drmoss_ca
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Back on the Livis

Post by drmoss_ca » Tue May 19, 2020 11:07 am

I don't know if Il Mastro is still making razors - the website seems to have disappeared. I seem to bounce between Zowadas and Livis, with a few odds and ends in between. I can see that there is an enormous difference in the maker's effort when one collects and smelts his own iron ore, makes steel from it by a process akin to traditional Japanese tamahagane, and then makes a razor, versus the guy who buys blanks of pattern-welded Swedish stainless steel. And yet, both are worth shaving with. A Zowada razor will get sharper, and in terms of absolute Rockwell hardness, will be hard to get to that point. But then you have to worry about rust, and some early examples have inclusions that give a bit of a crumbly edge (not a problem any more, I must add). Stainless faux-damascus means no concerns about rust, but a more rubbery steel that will stubbornly push into place, but is reluctant to get sharp. I'll admit, I'm no magician when it comes to honing, and I cannot get a Livi the way I like it on stones and hones alone. I can make them shave very nicely with pastes, and brutal, coarse, metal-eating pastes like Flexcut Gold have a place with these razors. They don't get quite like a freshly-honed Zowada, but on the other hand, once they are there, they will stay there for months. I've shaved happily with one for six months, and didn't really notice as it slowly became less sharp. Not being capable of ultimate sharpness, their shaves are always going to involve a tiny bit more tugging, but they won't irritate the way a super-sharp razor will do, and as I said, they will keep on shaving that way for months while you fail to maintain them with anything other than a strop.
The other strange thing about Livi steel is how light it is. A 7/8 blade feels lighter than I would expect. I've just weight a 5/8 full hollow carbon steel Solingen razor with celluloid scales - 51g. A 7/8 half-hollow Livi with briar scales is 69g. That's a lot lighter than I would have expected, and I do like that. Fancier scales can weigh a lot more, with mammoth ivory coming in about 85g and mother of pearl or abalone even heavier. But lightness in the hand is an unexpected bonus for a big razor, and I say that as someone who likes quarter hollow 8/8 choppers.
So here I am, going back and forth between Zowadas and Livis, and not really able to say one is always better than the other. I'll just say they are different, and I like both!
"Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse."
Pierre-Simon de Laplace

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Re: Back on the Livis

Post by brothers » Wed Jun 03, 2020 5:09 pm

I've always coveted a Zowada, but it seems to be something that is practically unobtainable. I do enjoy reading of your experiences with Tim and using his razors. I am of the opinion he must be one of the best in the business based on how well his razors perform. And of course, they're all beautiful.
Gary

SOTD 99%: soaps & creams, synthetic & badger brushes, General V2 by Colonial, Kai & Schick blades, Superior 70 aftershave splash + menthol + 444

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