Archive for the ‘Shaving’ Category
We’ve had some discussion in comments about the use of what I’ve called “half-empty” containers of shaving soap and a commenter more tactfully refers to as containers that provide “head room.” I prefer full containers, but he suggests that some, after loading the brush with soap (which can be neatly done, with a little practice, even in full containers (aka containers without head room)), use the soap container as a lathering bowl.
Using the soap container as a lathering bowl seems to me to be a very bad idea. Once the brush is loaded, it seems best to work up the lather elsewhere rather than continue adding soap to the brush. One can work up the lather on the beard (as I do), or in an (empty) bowl, or on the palm of the hand. (You’ll note, for example, that those who do use a separate lathering bowl never feel compelled to put a puck of soap in the bottom.)
The commenter mentioned the 5″ pucks from How to Grow a Moustache (now Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements) as an example of a full (or no-head-room) container. I recalled those containers as not quite full, but in using the soap this morning I see that the rim extends only slightly above the soap. The amount is so small that I suspect that it’s due to the soap’s shrinking as it cooled. Still, that little bit of headroom might help someone whose loading skills are still under development if the loading moved to the edge—but given the large working surface of the 5″ puck one can avoid the edges if he wants.
I loaded my Copper Hat shaving brush easily and quickly—I do like the HTGAM/Phoenix soaps—with Gondolier shaving soap, and worked up a very nice lather indeed on my beard (not on the puck). In loading I found I had shaken the brush out a little too much, but it’s easy to add a driblet of water as you load, something I generally must do with soaps containing clay, which seem to load a bit more reluctantly.
The razor shown is from the new Rockwell stainless steel razor system. Rockwell uses the same approach as Above the Tie by making a series of baseplates, from very mild to very aggressive, so that you can pick the one that works best for you (and your current beard level). Rockwell takes that approach one step further: each baseplate can be used on both sides, so that 3 physical baseplates provides a choice of 6 different “settings,” as it were. Above the Tie, like every other vendor I know, uses single sided baseplates.
There are some notable differences, however. Rockwell ships the razor with all 3 of its baseplates (thus allowing 6 “settings”) for $80. Above the Tie offers 3 “settings” (M, R, and H—presumably “mild,” “regular,” and “heavy”). If you get the full set of three, together with cap and baseplate, the cost is $299, almost four times as much as for the Rockwell six-setting system.
Above the Tie does offer the M, R, and H baseplates with a bar guard (the “1” series: M1, R1, and H1) and a comb guard (the “2” series: M2, R2, and H2), so you could order a set all six, which would cost $299 + $219 (baseplates sell for $73 each—almost the price of the entire Rockwell system). That totals to $518. The Rockwell system is 15% of that price, which seems a great bargain. I should note that the Above the Tie razors are machined and the Rockwell razors are not—but still.
The only stainless steel razor I recall selling in the $70-$80 price range was the Weber, no longer made. It was $70, and it came with the usual single baseplate. Fendrihan.com does make $40 stainless razors, but I’ve not tried them, and they of course come with one (single-sided) baseplate.
Of course, $80 for the Rockwell system is a bargain only if the razor delivers a good shave. I used the R3 baseplate “setting”—that baseplate is R1 on one side and R3 on the other. I figured the 3 (of the 6 possible) would be a safe choice: on the mild side of the middle. The baseplate number for the setting is shown on the bottom so you can easily see it when the razor’s assembled in case you want to check. I loaded the razor with a new Rapira blade and set to work.
I’m impressed. I had done my part—a good prep, to set up the shave—and the razor totally did its part: it gave a very smooth, very comfortable, and very close shave. The heft of the razor and head is excellent, which doubtless helped with the smooth and easy cutting. I had a totally trouble-free BBS result.
I’m not sure how many of the settings I’ll actually use. On my Gillette adjustables, for example, I use a setting of “5” day in and day out. However—and this is an important point in evaluating the Rockwell system—I did not always use that setting: When I first began using my Fat Boy, I used a setting of “3” and stayed with that setting for several months before I advanced to “4.” And I stuck with the “4” setting for several months before I moved to “5.” Apparently, as my skill improved, I found that higher settings became more comfortable. So novices, whose shaving skill is still in the “improving” stage, may well find that over time they move up through the baseplate “settings”: R1 for the first several weeks, then R2 for a few months, then R3, and so on, until they hit the one they . And, of course, some will find that the R5 and R6 are right for them. And doubtless those who shave at irregular intervals instead of daily (as I do) will pick the baseplate that their experience has shown does the best job for the depth of beard they have.
But even if I were to use only one baseplate, I have an excellent stainless steel razor for $80, and that’s quite good in itself.
The razor comes in a box with storage for the baseplates not in use, and I also got a coffee mug:
I’m very happy with the razor and readily recommend it to anyone in the market for a stainless razor. Rockwell went through a rocky patch in working out manufacturing problems, but they persevered, did right by their customers, and ended up with a superb system that is likely to be popular as people report on their experience with it.
I have no connection at all to the company—I wasn’t even part of their Kickstarter campaign. I’m just a customer who waited until they seem to have resolved the start-up problems before placing my order.
I finished the shave with a splash of Phoenix Artisan’s Cavendish aftershave and enjoyed the fragrance, the feel of the aftershave, and the smoothness of my face. A great shave all round, and a great discovery in how good the Rockwell system is. Right now I think it’s the best possible choice of a razor for an utter DE novice because of its quality, likely longevity, and its range of choices because of the six “settings” from the three double-sided baseplates.
Klar Seifen is quite a nice soap and, as you see, they fill the tub to the brim. With a little practice, it’s quite easy to load the bush neatly from such soaps—requiring that the soap container be partially empty in order to avoid messy loading simply shows some lack of practice and skill in brush loading. It does require using a dampish-wet brush rather than one that’s dripping wet, but as it turns out the dampish-wet brush will likely have the proper amount of water for loading the brush and the dripping-wet brush will have way too much water.
The brush this morning is the Kent Infinity, a very nice synthetic with a good feel and excellent performance. The knot is somewhat more resilient or closely packed than, say, the Fine Classic, and thus the brush does not feel quite so soft on the face, but it is by no means stiff or in any way unpleasant—and it does a great job. Because synthetics harbor more water than one might expect, I did give it a good shake, then brushed the soap briskly and with a certain firmness, loading the brush easily (it’s a good soap), quickly, and with no mess (despite the container’s being full). There’s a certain amount of satisfaction in doing a good job on the task at hand, whatever it is, and so the lathering began with already some psychic payoff from the shave.
It was really an excellent lather—Klar Seifen really is a good soap—and I set to work with the two razors: the #102 on the right side of my face, the X3 on the left.
Both razors are superb. Both razors are extremely comfortable and totally non-threatening. Perhaps the X3 is a smidge more comfortable, but it’s difficult to say, so that is within the margin of YMMV. And despite feeling so mild on the face, both razors are wonderfully aggressive on the stubble, efficiently wiping away every trace so that after three passes (WTG, XTG, and ATG), I have a BBS result. No nicks, no burn, just a perfectly smooth face.
For me, both razors are absolutely top-notch. They look different, but they shave much alike. They are both part of iKon’s Shavecraft line, with a hard aluminum alloy head, and although the X3 is not yet available, both will sell for $70. I’m told the X3 will be available sometime around March 6-21—say, St. Patrick’s Day.
I do understand that some cannot believe that the small degree of slant can account for the wonderful performance of these and other good slants, that it must be something else—superb head design, perhaps. Whatever the reason, both these razors have a first-rate feel combined with a first-rate performance, and I recommend either one highly.
UPDATE: It occurred to me that I should include the side-by-side close-up of the two heads. The #102 is on the left, the X3 on the right:
Another razor, listed here, from the shrinking collection:
A very smooth and easy shave today. The RazoRock synthetic brush shown worked up a fine lather from Wickham’s English Lavender. One oddity: the soap stuck to the cap on about half the puck, so I pulled off a layer of soap in removing the cap. Not a real problem: I can scrape it back into the (shallow) tub when I want.
Synthetics hold a lot of water, and I didn’t shake the brush enough before I began, so I got a lot of large-bubbled lather. I shook it off, shook the brush some more, and then resumed. The resulting lather was quite satisfactory, and the English Lavender fragrance was present and pleasant.
I used the two razors (the iKon Stainless slant is on the left and the iKon X3 with an aluminum alloy head on the right) alternately. I didn’t detect that much difference between them (and thus the X3 will be a bargain, at about half the price of the stainless), though perhaps the X3 felt a tiny bit more comfortable in the sense of having a bit less blade feel—but of course some like a certain amount of blade feel. They both cut quite easily—and I sure do experience a slant as cutting more easily than a straight razor, for whatever reason. Both were comfortable as well as efficient, and the final result was BBS with no sign of a nick.
A good splash of Creed’s Green Irish Tweed, and I’m ready for the week.
Here’s a close-up of the two heads:
The iKon Stainless is on the left, the X3 on the right, the iKon on an iKon Bulldog handle, the X3 on a UFO handle. The Stainless looks as though it has a somewhat greater slant, but the two razors performed much alike.
I continue to like the Omega “synthetic boar” brushes, particularly the brush shown: the brushes (in the regular size, not the pro size) perform extremely well, feel good on my face, and cost very little. The brush easily brought forth an excellent lather from the Martin de Candre.
Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements revisited a vintage design, made some tweaks, and brought out their double-open-comb razor. I find it both comfortable and extremely efficient—no trouble at all in getting a BBS result this morning. The open-comb cap does seem to add a bit more glide.
Three passes, no nicks, a rinse, and a good splash of Phoenix Artisan’s Sandalwood aftershave. A great start way to start the weekend.
A very nice shave indeed Brushguy.com makes a very nice brush, and I do love I Coloniali shaving cream. I got a fine lather easily, and the fragrance appeals to me.
The Dorco PL-602, $5 including shipping from eBay or Amazon, is quite a good razor. It’s all plastic, and thus lightweight, but the head design is excellent, allowing a very comfortable BBS result.
A splash of Hâttric, and we are poised on the threshold of the weekend.
Another wonderful shave. My Wolf Whiskers brush with synthetic knot immediately worked up a fine lather from Meißner Tremonia’s Exotic Elemi, a soap and fragrance that I turn out to like a lot.
Three passes with the X3 (on a UFO handle) produced the same flawless BBS result as yesterday: no nicks and not even a threat of a nick. It was a totally comfortable shave.
A good splash of Tabac, and the day is launched.
I want to point out, for those considering Valentine’s Day gifts (either as the one buying the gift or the one making the hints), my Craftsmanship article “Real Shaving: A Gift Guide,” now updated.