Later On

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

The GEM Heavy-Duty Flat-Top

with 30 comments

Single-edge blades—those with the thick back, beloved of model-airplane builders—are thicker than double-edged blades and, some say, give a shave much more like that obtained with a straight razor. I have tried the GEM Micromatic, which is a twist-to-open razor: turn the knob at the end of the handle and the flap at the top, which holds the blade, raises; turn the other way, it closes.

Not a terrific shave, but recently a kind reader sent me a GEM Heavy-Duty Flat-Top. This razor uses a spring to hold the flap down, securing the blade, and the flap is opened with the thumb. The handle is metal, with a sort of slanting knob at the end, which somehow works exactly right for the grip—I particularly noticed it in the against-the-grain pass.

Above are three views of the razor. You’ll note the razor blade is still wet from the morning shave. And an exceptionally smooth shave it was: four passes (some razors give a smooth shave with three passes, some require four): down, diagonal, diagonal the other way, and up. No nicks at all. Lovely razor.

The blades I get from Ted Pella, GEM stainless PTFE-coated single-edge in bulk ($33 for 200). Razor and Brush has single-edged blades (scroll down toward the bottom of the page) that are specifically designed for shaving rather than for laboratory dissection, and these seem to work better for me.

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Written by Leisureguy

23 September 2006 at 11:28 am

Posted in Shaving, Toys

30 Responses

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  1. Wow, if you can shave with one of these you can probably shave with about anything!

    I won two of these in a mixed lot of razors a couple years ago on ebay. One had a gray handle rather like the one in your picture. The other one had an ivory handle and was shorter. I bought a pack of Gem blades to go into it.

    I shaved with it (the gray handle) ONE time! The darn thing cut me to pieces! I quit before I totally disfigured myself!

    I’ve been a wet shaver for 30+ years mind you. (OK, I did use electrics for 2-3 years, had a beard a couple years in the ’80’s).

    And you call this a “lovely” razor? Everyone has their own unique aesthetic I suppose. Even if they shaved perfect for me, they are (IMO) rather ugly.

    I’m not trying to be provocative; but if these are so great, why do you never mention them in the wetshavers group?

    In fact, I don’t think I’ve read over a couple of comments about GEM razors in any of the shaving forums. So, they’re not very popular amongst wetshavers and they can be purchased much cheaper than DEs on ebay.

    But I suppose if it works for you, that’s what matters! Maybe I’ll get up the nerve to try it one more time.

    Dean

    PS: Appreciate your fine website!

    Like

    Dean

    5 November 2006 at 8:07 am

  2. Well, the guys I talk to on the Wetshavers Group are just starting out, and the one who did mention a GEM (a 1912 model, not a G-Bar), I suggested that he get a double-edged safety razor instead. I myself didn’t have much luck with a GEM Micromatic, but the G-Bar was rather good, though it did take 4 passes.

    I rather like the looks of the G-Bar, and they are good sturdy razors that clean up well. I’m fascinated by how well the little slant knob at the end of the handle works. And I did use a Ted Pella blade (stainless PTFE-coated) rather than a GEM blade.

    My appreciation for the GEM line, though, is limited to the G-Bar. And I do tend to reach first for a double-edged razor.

    The most important caveat in wet-shaving: YMMV. 🙂

    Like

    LeisureGuy

    5 November 2006 at 8:16 am

  3. Hi there,

    I recently found 2 Gem razors and 2 Gillette DE razors in my basement (left over from my grandfather). I got on this website one morning, and by the end of the day my bathroom looks like a research and development site for Schick! I’m trying different razors, gels, etc.

    I tried the Gem, wow….horrible! Not close at all, and the redness on my neck was incredible! The DE was a little better. It seemed to clean shave my cheeks, but couldn’t take the stubble of my neck at all.

    I was issued a Mach 3 in the Marines, and stuck with it for 5 years. I just recently acquired a Sensor XL (the same day I bought DE razors and everything else), and can say it is the fastest and closest. No irritation, no cuts. It takes a extra diagonal downward stroke for the neckhair, but its much smoother than the DE.

    Thanks for all the info, great site!

    Like

    Robert

    16 November 2006 at 7:46 am

  4. The double-edged razor does have a learning curve, no doubt about it. And there’s a certain amount of experimentation required to find the right blade, razor, pressure, angle, and so on. Good prep is probably more important when using a double-edged razor, though of course it helps for cartridge razors as well. Check in with ShaveMyFace.com and you can get lots of helpful advice if you want to explore further..

    Like

    LeisureGuy

    16 November 2006 at 7:56 am

  5. Back in ’91 I was in the Navy (US) and boy did I hate shaving……right up untill I found a Gillette double edge safety in the barber kit, ahhh love at last, ( I still have it 15 years later). Anyways, started collecting and eventually stumbled across a Gem micromatic #22-#23 and quite frankly I would rather try to shave with an electric carving knife than the Gem. Nice to look at but bad to shave with!!!!! There is a reason those type blades are used in window scrapers!

    Like

    Dale Edge

    23 November 2006 at 6:04 pm

  6. Like you, I did not have a good experience with the Micromatic, but the G-Bar is another story—especially, as noted, with Ted Pella blades.

    Like

    LeisureGuy

    23 November 2006 at 6:16 pm

  7. I have been using a G-bar for a few weeks now. My first few shaves were similar to others here. Poor to average shaves and 2-3 nicks per shave. By the end of the first week things started to improve. Now I get great, fast shaves with three passes.

    The key for me was getting the angle right — the head should be almost flat on your face. At least that works for me. The G-bar is becoming my go-to razor.

    Dan

    Like

    Dan

    19 April 2007 at 8:20 pm

  8. Yep, the flat part of the head is practically flat against the face. Just out of curiosity, what blades are you using in your G-Bar?

    Like

    LeisureGuy

    19 April 2007 at 8:22 pm

  9. Like you, I use Ted Pella blades. They last a week or so for me.

    Dan

    Like

    Dan

    27 April 2007 at 7:14 am

  10. Hi LeisureGuy…..
    Here’s my current kit…..Gem with gray plastic handle, $1.00 direct from
    ASR (not sure if the offer still stands), Gem-Personna s/s blades, a nice
    low-priced brush from Vermont Country Store, and a lovely blue-green
    salt-glazed mug from the church flea market. Still looking for a good a/s
    that i can go steady with; currently using store-brand witch hazel!

    Loved the “gourmet” pages…lots of nice info!

    Like

    Rob Gulnick

    16 May 2007 at 6:37 am

  11. Well, all your Gem G-Bar posts finally prodded me into sniping one off eBay for $10.50…

    I couldn’t wait for a “good blade” and immediately ran to the grocery store last night and bought generic ASR Gem blades. The shave was fantastic! Mind you, I’ve had nothing but problems with several types of injector razors and didn’t think I could enjoy a thick bladed shave.

    I got a near BBS shave in three passes (on par with my trusty HD). Even cooler, I had about four days of beard growth and it mowed right through it. The thick edge is a truly interesting feeling and very different from a feather blade. I was enjoying it so much I ignored my HeadBlade and shaved my head with it too – the angled handle and “heel” proving perfect for headshaving. I did end up with some redness, and a very strong burn after applying the alum block, both both subsided quickly..

    Question: The scientific sites selling blades extol the virtues of carbon steel blades as being able to be sharpened better than stainless. If you are buying a gross of 200 blades anyway, why not get the carbon steels, shave once and toss the blade? They go so far as saying the companies add substances (like PTFE) to the blade to help the feeling of glide on stainless blades, as true glide comes from sharpness, and the stainless can’t compete.. See this url: http://www.2spi.com/catalog/tools/smtol14.shtml

    Like

    Steven

    17 May 2007 at 9:44 am

  12. I avoided the carbon-steel blades because of the “moist environment” restriction, my bathroom being a moist environment. But reading the post at the link, together with your observation that one can use a blade for only one shave before dropping it into the blade safe, made me think it’s worthwhile giving the carbon steel a try. The link requires a minimum $50 order, so I’ll look elsewhere, but it’s definitely worth a try.

    Thanks. Good comment.

    UPDATE: My 100-pack box of carbon-steel GEM single-edge blades ($16.00) is on its way from Ted Pella.

    Like

    LeisureGuy

    17 May 2007 at 9:54 am

  13. I’m not sure how big of a difference it is, but the ones that the 2spi website talks about (GEM, yellow case) are these on the Ted Pella website: http://www.tedpella.com/dissect_html/dissect.htm#anchor1603040

    Seems to be a difference in blade thickness between them, along with price. The Pelco’s are 16.00USD for 200, the GEM (ASR?) is 18.80USD for 120.

    Pelco’s are described as “Best quality industrial blade”, whereas the GEM’s are described as “Top Quality” on Ted Pella..

    Like

    Steven

    17 May 2007 at 5:04 pm

  14. LeisureGuy….
    here’s a page from the headshaver’s log…try Headslick shaving cream
    whipped up in the shaving mug for a wonderful face shave , even with a torture
    device like the Gem! Just kidding; Gem is my favorite, although I’m not
    sure I’d use it on my head…..

    Like

    Rob G.

    18 May 2007 at 10:08 am

  15. Found a Gem Micromatic in my dad’s basement and couldn’t wait to try it. Only blades I could find at the drugstore were Treet SE. Kinda bled a little, but really got a close shave. How does Treet compare to the other blades?

    Like

    Steve

    25 March 2009 at 4:54 pm

  16. I haven’t tried the Treet Single-Edged blades, but perhaps someone else can answer. FWIW, I found that the G-Bar worked *much* better for me than the Micromatic. YMMV, of course.

    Like

    LeisureGuy

    25 March 2009 at 5:01 pm

  17. I’ve used the Treet SE blades in several different GEMs including a G-Bar, and they worked great in all of them. I have read that the GEM-brand stainless PTFE-coated blades are superior to the Treets, and intend to try them soon. The Treets are carbon steel, so they will rust or discolor, but I dry them immediately after use. I also live in a desert, so that helps mitigate the rusting.

    Michael, thank you for the Guide to Gourmet Shaving, which I purchased recently. Great book!

    Like

    Royce

    2 April 2009 at 9:00 am

  18. Many thanks for your kind comment about the book. You’ll read in there that, when I use carbon-steel blades, I swish them in 90% or higher rubbing alcohol after I finish. The alcohol displaces the water and then immediately evaporates, leaving the blade dry.

    Like

    LeisureGuy

    2 April 2009 at 9:30 am

  19. I found a bundled bunch of the Gem razors with the plastic ivory handle at the bottom of an auction box lot. I can’t find out how old they are. They look to be shiny brand new never used with the little cardboard insert where the blade goes. Any info?

    Thanks,
    Max

    Like

    Max

    2 December 2009 at 4:50 pm

  20. I know little about the GEM line, but ask on the forums—ShaveMyFace.com, for example—and you’re likely to find expertise.

    Like

    LeisureGuy

    2 December 2009 at 5:44 pm

  21. I recently got my hands on a GEM G-bar put an old razor from a used razor blade in it and shaved using it. No cuts no bleeding, and this is the first (Non Gillette disposable) wet shaving device Ive used. Cant wait to see how good it is when there is a good razor in it. It also cleans much easier then the blasted disposable.
    Sorry for the resurrection of an old topic

    Like

    Emperos

    27 January 2011 at 3:04 pm

  22. alright, I’ve read down through and I’m weighing in on the side of the Gem SE over any DE safety razor I own. my very first safety razor was a 1963 Gillette Slim DE and I rather liked it. my father used one for years and years as I grew up. I was in a forum and heard legend of the Micromatic and went to an antique dealer in town and found the SE cutting machine for $7.00. I’m so glad I purchased the thing because after one complete nightmare of a shave (due to operator error/bad angles). I was talked back into the shaving den to have another go and . . . WOW! – the Gem Micromatic beats the Gillette Slim DE all day, everyday, and twice on Sundays! I now own the 1912 model, the G-Bar model, and a host of other in all manner of brands, models, and function(s). Gem is in my humble opinion the absolute brand to beat in a side-by-side shave off! please don’t get me wrong . . . I love the romance of my Gillette(s) very much but the Gem(s) just flat out beat out their competition shave after shave.

    Like

    Gene Stanley

    4 October 2013 at 1:12 pm

  23. The fact that blades are still made for GEM razors is proof of their performance. I have heard that head shavers in particular appreciate getting the “automatic correct angle” by keeping the top of the razor’s head flat against the skin. Hmmm. I wonder where my G-Bar is now.

    Like

    LeisureGuy

    4 October 2013 at 2:01 pm

  24. I completely forgot about this WordPress, glad I opted for email notification.

    Follow Up: I purchased some gem brand razors for wall-greens… that used razor blade was a much better choice, I had allot more razor burn when I was done “shaving”. than I lost the link sending me to tedpella thanks to the above comment I have that link again.

    Thank you!

    Like

    Emperos

    15 October 2013 at 2:00 pm

  25. Glad to hear it. And of course the link is in my Guide to Gourmet Shaving (along with much else).

    Like

    LeisureGuy

    15 October 2013 at 4:08 pm

  26. Need to buy a GEM Heavy – Duty Flat Top Single Edge razor. I had one for years and years and lost it somehow during a move in the military. It is the only razor that you can use to do a close cut around mustaches and beards.

    Like

    Dick Gregaitis , SMSGT, (USAF-Ret)

    5 August 2016 at 6:26 am

  27. Hi, last week a friend give me as a present the same GEM razor. I’m from Bulgaria and the shipping of personna gem blades is brutal. In the local hardware store i found cheap se blades from Pulex – scraper blades made in USA. Are they good for shaving? Can I shave with such blade?

    Like

    Emil Angelov

    21 October 2017 at 6:55 am

  28. Scraper blades are not sharp enough and will give a rough shave. I would recommend ordering single-edge blades, perhaps from Connaught Shaving in the UK.

    Like

    LeisureGuy

    21 October 2017 at 9:07 am

  29. Thank you for the fast answer!

    Like

    Emil Angelov

    21 October 2017 at 9:45 am

  30. Thank you for reading the blog. 🙂

    Like

    LeisureGuy

    21 October 2017 at 10:21 am


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