Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

First shave with the slant razor

with 27 comments

Merkur slant bar

The Daily Adventure was extremely nice this morning: new things to use. To begin with, a potential new lathering bowl: a heavy hemispherical bowl from a French line. Problem: too large, inside too smooth (somehow). I switched back to the large soup cup for now.

I used my Savile Row brush, but I’m becoming more and more attached to my Simpson Emperor 3 Super badger (scroll down at the link). Not too large, not too small, but just right—and not too floppy, not too stiff: just right. And holds water and lathers wonderfully well. A great shaving brush.

The shaving cream was Tabac, a complimentary tube from QED (on the “Other Toiletries” page—see their menu at the left). Before putting that on, though, I washed my beard and rubbed a small amount of the Proraso pre/post-cream over the wet beard.

I used the Merkur Slant Bar (shown in photo) with a new Feather blade. The slant bar requires a sure hand and a light touch, so it’s not the first razor a novice should use. OTOH, it gives a terrific shave—this is the smoothest shave I’ve had in a while. The secret, as always (besides the razor and the blade) is to use light pressure—just the weight of the razor, really—and the right angle and use the 4-pass method: more passes = smoother shave.

Also, use short strokes, which encourage light pressure, correct local blade angle, and focused attention.

Using more pressure, OTOH, is highly productive of cuts, nicks, and razor burn. To get the light pressure, one guy holds the razor at the very tip of the handle with a two- or three-finger grip (photo at link). Try it just to feel how light the pressure can be and still have the razor work well.

Don’t be deceived by feeling some stubble after the first pass—the Slant Bar is doing its job, and you will make at least two more passes (across the grain and against the grain). Continue with the light pressure: the final result will amaze you.

I should add that the combination of a thick, wiry beard and sensitive skin just cries out for using a Slant Bar and Feather. First, perfect your technique and learn proper prep and light pressure and correct blade angle. Then get yourself a Slant Bar and a packet of Feathers.

The Slant Bar is handled just as a regular safety razor. The difference in performance is due to the slant of the blade: rather than chopping directly through each whisker, the slanted blade slices through the whisker. As you perhaps know, when you are, say, chopping carrots, you don’t push the knife directly down through the carrot to the chopping block. Instead, you push it down while simultaneously pushing or pulling it slightly: not chopping the carrot, but rather slicing it. Both methods work, but slicing requires a lot less effort.

The Slant Bar’s way of holding the blade automatically slices each whisker. Again, you don’t wield it any differently than you would, say, the HD: you shave with light touch and proper angle and don’t even think about the fact that it’s a Slant Bar (or HD). The way the razor is constructed will take care of the cutting.

Em’s Place has the Merkur Slant Bar in both chrome (which I have, as above) and gold (what I wish I had gotten).

UPDATE: I did get the Slant Bar in gold, and discovered that the one I received had the top for the Merkur HD (Heavy Classic): the top did not slant, so that at one end, on both sides, there was a gap. That top would grasp the blade firmly at one end and leave the other end hovering in space: not good at all.

I immediately emailed Em, who provides superb customer service, so it will all work out well. But: if you have or later get a Slant Bar, make sure that the top, when tightened, is tight across the whole width. Em emailed me that the other Slant Bars in stock were all okay, so mine is an anomaly—but if it can happen once, it could happen again. If this has happened before, it could account for some of the Slant Bar’s “Satan’s Razor” reputation. [/update].

Then, for the first time, I finished up with the alum block, which some love—and I now number among them. It’s extraordinarily refreshing, but the sort of thing (like coffee) that appeals to adult tastes: in the case of the alum block, a little tingling. You use it like this: after shaving, rinse your face with hot water, then with cold. Then, leaving your face wet, rub the alum block lightly over everywhere you shaved.

I let it sit a while, then rinsed and dried and applied my aftershave: Pinaud’s Bay Rum, whose 12.5 oz (plastic) bottle is going to make a perfect receptacle for disposing of blades. (Top too small for blades to escape—I’ll cut a slit in the shoulder of the bottle, and once the bottle’s full and I’m ready to discard it, I’ll glue the slit shut.)

Man! this is a smooth shave. And not a single nick or cut. A very fine adventure, with new experiences.

Written by Leisureguy

28 July 2006 at 9:11 am

Posted in Shaving, Toys

27 Responses

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  1. I love “the devil’s razor”, it does such a fine job. I just tried it for the first time as well the first time with a Feather blade. I’ve been shaving with DE’s for the last 6 months and wanted to bump it up a notch and try this slant and Feather that have been so touted on the forums.
    Well, it definitely lived up to my expectations. I can’t wait to try it out tomorrow and see how things go again. I can only expect the best. I’m also curious to see how the Feather will work in my Long Handle Merkur Classic which has been such a work horse the past several months.


    Josh O'Bryan

    18 August 2006 at 10:24 pm

  2. The slant-bar was actually the first (and currently, only) razor that I bought when I swtiched over to DEs. Yes, it’s tricky, but it took only a week of practice to get the hang of it, and maybe a month to really cut down on the nicks (whomever invented the styptic pencil is a god in my book). I would imagine that any first-time user of any DE razor would experience issues when switching from their multi-blade face-ripper.

    BTW – I just switched from Merkur blades to Israeli Personnas, combined with a switch from Pre de Provence soap to Col Conk Lime, and the shaves are now absolutely AMAZING!!!



    28 September 2006 at 4:09 pm

  3. I’ve been using the slant bar (37c) for some weeks now and love it. After trying a couple of DE razors (hefty classic (34c), Futur, Gillette adjustable), and at the moment this is my absolute favourite. Haven’t dared to use a Feather blade in this one yet but I’ll get to it eventually. Of course, DE addiction is far too strong for this to be my last razor. I’m already dying to try a Progress adjustable, despite the ugly plastic (if only it could be bone or antler) knob.



    12 December 2006 at 4:45 am

  4. I have a question about the Merkur Slant. I’ve wet shave with Mach 3s and I feel like making the leap to a proper DE razor. I have very sensitive skin and somewhat curly hair. I get a few ingrowns every shave. I’ve been wanting to try the Slant/Feather combo but it kinda intimidates me. Many say it the best for sensitive skin but not for a beginner. I was wondering, is the slant a DE razor, is one side slanted and the other normal? I was thinking of the Gilette FatBoy to start, if you don’t recommend the Slant razor for a newbie, what would you recommend?
    PS I love your blog. Its very informative on many lots of stuff.



    5 February 2007 at 7:14 am

  5. You can see my specific recommendations for the beginning shaver here (razor, blade sampler, shaving cream, etc.; — the whole she-bang):

    As you see, I recommend the Merkur Hefty Classic (HD) or the Vision as a first safety razor. That said, the Gillette Fatboy is not a bad choice. If you get one, I suggest that you set it at “3” and then forget that it’s adjustable during the period in which you are mastering blade angle, razor pressure, and blade selection. (See this post for sources of common beginner problems.)

    The Slant Bar slants on both sides. The blade is twisted as you tighten the cap, so that the slant is the same on both sides: upper left to lower right. I got a fine shave with one just this morning, using a new Swedish Gillette blade.

    Since your beard is curly, begin with shaving only with the grain and across the grain. For a closer shave, go across the grain in two passes: one direction, then the other direction.

    For sensitive skin, investigate the unscented soaps and creams: Mama Bear, Honeybee Sue, QED, Saint Charles Shave, and Em’s Place all provide unscented soaps for those whose skin reacts to the fragrances. For a shaving cream, look at Truefitt & Hill Ultimate Comfort. You can, of course, try different scented soaps, but I suggest you start with the unscented to remove one variable.



    5 February 2007 at 9:17 am

  6. This looks EXACTLY like the Hoffritz razor I have been using for 40 years. The Hoffritz was astounding the first time I used it with Wilkinson Sword blades that I bought a second one. Then the first one broke after I dropped it and I bought another backup just in case. So far, the current backup is new and unused. My original came in a stainless case, which I still have. In fact, one version of the razor was made in stainless; the other (the one that broke) in silver plate. Does anyone know if this slant razor is a duplicate of the Hoffritz? A great razor!!


    Ken Rosenbaum

    11 April 2007 at 3:48 pm

  7. Hi, Ken. I believe that the Hoffritz slant-bar was probably made by Merkur, but it’s not quite the same as the Merkur Slant Bar. The differences are small: finer chequering on the handle, and the Merkur has some scalloping along both sides of the head whereas the Hoffritz head is plain. I have both—I got the Hoffritz on eBay along with its stainless case. FWIW, I get a smoother shave with the Merkur and no nicks. The Hoffritz is, for me, a little nicky.



    11 April 2007 at 3:57 pm

  8. I finally have succumbed to the Slant Blade since reading about it in your book. Boy, oh boy, it is a great shave. Col Conk Amber + our Faux Badger brush, with Derby blade. Finished with Alum rinse and splash of Clubman.





    25 January 2009 at 10:56 am

  9. Very pleased that you like it. It’s my razor of choice whenever I have more than a day’s growth. Nothing matches the ease of the shave, though a minority say that they can’t tell any difference between the slant bar and regular razor, and some are rather belligerent about it.



    25 January 2009 at 11:03 am

  10. I just got my first Merkur today, and it is the 37C (slant). I’ve been using a DE since summer of 2007, and have tested about everything Gillette ever made, but not tried the slant yet. I appreciate all the tips here!



    7 March 2011 at 8:14 pm

  11. I’ll be interested to know what you think of the slant. BTW, once I really cleaned up the Hoffritz slant in my ultrasonic cleaner (about a year after I had it), I never had any more problems with it at all. So far as I can tell now, the Merkur and the Hoffritz shave exactly the same.



    7 March 2011 at 8:35 pm

  12. I’ve just used a Merkur slant bar 37c for the first time last night. I tested it against my electric shaver that I occasionally use during the week for convenience. I used the merkur at 6pm last night and the electric at 7am this morning, and now at 1pm the wet shaved side is alot smoother than the electric shaved side, despite the shaves being 13 hours apart.

    No more wasting my money on mach3 cartridges.



    8 March 2011 at 5:05 am

  13. So, this is more than a year later, but….I have used the slant a lot since, and I like it. It IS an aggressive razor and must be used with care. But after getting used to it I am getting very good shaves and will hold on to this razor and keep it in my rotation. I give it a 10 out of 10.


    Roger Leonard

    16 May 2012 at 11:51 am

  14. Very good, and I appreciate your closing the loop on that. I continue to hope that one (or more) of the small razor makers (iKon, Tradere, Weber) will come out with a Slant Bar.



    16 May 2012 at 11:59 am

  15. Just shaved with the slant blade, and it was the first time using a DE. Shave was amazing. I did have one little Nick by my lip but nothing bad. Smoothest shave I have ever had!!



    26 May 2012 at 3:07 am

  16. Amazing razor, isn’t it? Take a look at this history of the Slant. And be sure to vote here on the Slant.



    26 May 2012 at 5:14 am

  17. Buongiorno, vorrei provare il rasoio Merkur 37/C, anche se mi fa’ un po’ di impressione la barra storta, ma
    visto che non sono un novizio ed uso il rasoio Fatip, vorrei sapere la differente aggresivita’ dei due rasoi



    28 May 2012 at 5:41 am

  18. The Merkur 37C will remove stubble quickly and comfortably. It is “aggressive” in a sense: it removes stubble quickly and easily. But it is not hard on your skin. However, about 5% of men who try it do not like it. Nothing in shaving seems to work for everyone.

    I hope that this helps.



    28 May 2012 at 5:52 am

  19. Good Morning, its more aggressive blades wilkinson white or black for wet shaving ?? Tks…



    31 May 2012 at 3:17 am

  20. See this post for a thorough answer. Brief answer: it depends on the individual shaver.



    31 May 2012 at 5:59 am

  21. LiesureGuy just read your superb book on gourmet shaving. I purchased the merkur slant bar and it is has been very comfortable on my sensitive skin which houses course hair especially when used with the TOB’s pre shave gel and personna med blades. However in your book you note a tendency for the slant bar to twist and this indeed happened to me (have the 39c barber pole version) when I relaxed somewhat leaving a cut that felt nasty but I attended to quickly – do you know is there a way to replace the handles on the merkur slant? Any other alternatives? I notice Ikon are in the process of releasing a slant but that may still be some time away.

    James from Oz


    James Syngen-Smyth

    19 February 2013 at 9:22 pm

  22. @James: Thanks for getting the book. I don’t know a way to replace the handle on the Merkur Slant. Your best bet is to sell the 39C you have and get a 37C. Quite a few guys insist on the 39C, so it should be easy to sell. The best slant I’ve found is the bakelite slant now being sold, a few a day until the stock is gone, by He announces via his Twitter feed each day when he puts them up for sale, and they are gone within minutes, but it’s definitely worth the effort to get one. If you can’t, the fallback is the 37C or to await one of the new slants expected this year from iKon, Italian Barber, and Tradere. iKon’s and Tradere’s are apt to be pricey. Don’t know about IB—I do know that he’s looking at a 3-D printer, but for production or prototype I don’t know.



    20 February 2013 at 9:20 am

  23. Thanks! I shaved with the 39C last night and did a second pass with my De89bl. The 39C I personally find awkward in comparison although it gives a fantastic shave. Do you find the 37c to have better ergonomics than the 39c? Do you find the bakelite more comfortable than the 37c? Judging from pictures the grip on the 37c appears to be like a diamond pattern while the 39c is more a spiral.


    James Syngen-Smyth

    20 February 2013 at 5:42 pm

  24. As I say, the 37C is my strong preference to the 39C, and the bakelite slant is better than the 37C. And yes, the difference you note is real: 37C has usual diamond chequering, while the 39C has a deep, engraved spiral that tends to twist. You can review the write-up in the book for more detail, though the bakelite slant is new and not in the book.



    20 February 2013 at 6:51 pm

  25. Do you hold the slant razor like a normal DE, at a 30-35 degree angle?



    29 May 2014 at 3:09 pm

  26. The angle is about the same as a regular razor. Keep the bathroom silent and use the sound of cutting as a guide, though slants make less noise than straight bar razors because of the different action. If you use a light touch and do some blade exploration, you’ll soon find your groove. The slant seems more comfortable than most straight-bar razors, probably because of the light touch and easy cutting.



    29 May 2014 at 3:38 pm

  27. I used the Merkur Slant Bar (shown in photo) with a new Feather blade. The slant bar …



    24 August 2015 at 11:46 am

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