Later On

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

Archive for the ‘Shaving’ Category

Some razor innovations I’d like to see

with 4 comments

In a discussion on Wicked_Edge, Western Razors was asking about possible innovations for a new DE razor—and the obvious thing is to make innovations for a three-piece razor, since those are most common because they easier and cheaper to manufacture than (say) adjustable razors. So I offered a couple of ideas.

First, make a sturdier cap. Most mid-range razors nowadays are made of a plated zinc alloy, typically Zamak, usually plated with chrome (rather than nickel or gold like the brass razors of yesteryear). Chrome-plated Zamak razors fall short of plated brass razors in three ways. First, if the chrome plating is breached, Zamak corrodes rapidly in the presence of water, whereas in the old Gillette nickel- or gold-plated brass razors, wearing through the plating (“brassing”) was more a cosmetic issue than destructive of the razor.Indeed, I assume that chrome is used for Zamak razors because it doesn’t wear so easily as nickel or gold: Zamak must not be exposed or the razor dies.

Zamak has a second flaw: it is much more brittle than brass. Thus a dropped Zamak razor is much more apt to break (usually the cap’s threaded stud breaking off in the handle) than a brass razor, which would bend rather than break—and probably could be bent back into shape.

And Zamak even has a third problem: if you slightly overtighten the handle on a Zamak razor when you put in a new blade, the threaded stud’s attachment to the cap is weakened, and eventually the stud  simply parts from the cap when you tighten the handle. When that happens it feels as though no real stress is put on the stud, but the continued overtightening has weakened the joint so that when it eventually fails it simply comes apart easily. Zamak is not only more brittle than brass but also lacks the tensile strength of brass.

One change that would solve all three problems would be to make the razor’s cap of plated brass or even stainless steel instead of Zamak. Baseplates are subject to much stress or wear (the wear is on the threads) and so they could still be made of plated Zamak. The breakage problems all seem to be the cap and in particular the breaking off of the cap’s threaded stud.

A second idea is to build some resonance into the razor’s head—some sort of mini-soundbox that will amplify the cutting sound. I think that would have a lot of appeal—and it’s something a cartridge razor cannot offer, so it would be exclusive to the DE razor (as, indeed, are things like adjustable razors and slants).

The Merkur Futur, Vision, and Progress have some degree of amplification of the cutting sound, but it seems to be by accident rather than design. With some thought and CAD work (perhaps with the help of a luthier) it might be possible to design a razor head so that you can easily hear the cutting sound, a sound a shaver listens for in any case since it helps him find the right blade angle and is also pleasant in a contemplative way. So it would have both a practical use (making the angle easier to find) and also would be intriguing. And it requires no moving parts, just some clever design.

I know: it’s odd. But no odder than designing buildings to remove the shadows between them, like this . And it might be patentable.​

You might be able to use 3-D printing to create test prototypes, in which case you can readily and easily iterate design ideas: rapid prototyping. While 3-D printed razors are not be sturdy enough for real use,  you could shave enough with one to see how well it does at amplifying the cutting sound. Then, after you get the design worked out, you could  try machining one (maybe there’s a conversion program to take 3-D printing files and convert them to CNC files), or make a mold, though I think making a mold is expensive.

Nowadays you can buy 3-D printers at relatively low cost, and razors are relatively small are thus a suitable size for inexpensive 3-D printers.

Just a couple of ideas. Ideas are easy; implementation is difficult.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 March 2015 at 3:55 am

Col. Conk and Plisson: The movie

with 6 comments

SOTD 28 Mar 2015

This morning I responded to a request from IllegalMonk on Wicked Edge, to show how I make lather from Col. Conk Shaving soap using the Plisson synthetic brush.

My tap water is pretty soft, so it’s really no problem. And though Col. Conk is not a favorite shaving soap, it’s not because its lather is especially bad, it’s just that it’s not a very interesting soap. The brush loaded quickly, and I shaved using the Parker 24C head on a Stealth handle. Unfortunately, the Parker’s threading is nonstandard, and I had difficulty tightening the handle. The result was that the head went from being very comfortable to being uncomfortable—even somewhat harsh. After the shave (two small nicks on upper lip from the XTG pass), I reverted back to the regular handle, which makes the razor again very comfortable. Too bad.

A splash of Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet finished the shave, and here’s the lathering process. I did no timing, but you’ll notice that the loading once again took 10 seconds—maybe 11.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 March 2015 at 12:40 pm

Posted in Shaving

The last of the Nancy Boy shaving cream

with 9 comments

SOTD 27 Mar 2015

A superb shave today, and somewhat of a test shave: testing whether very old Nancy Boy shaving cream works well. My finding: It works great. When I say “very old,” here’s my SOTD from 2 Feb 2011 using the same tub, which is now close to depleted (see below).

I easily loaded the dampish brush, and applied the lather, enjoying its fragrance again—it really is wonderful stuff. Three passes with the Above the Tie S1 slant on their Kronos handle, and a BBS result with no nicks or burn.

A few sprays of l’Occitane Cade to the palm of my hand, rub hands together, rub the face, and feel great.

Here’s view inside the tub. It’s difficult to see—white cream in white tub—but the bottom of the tub is showing clearly. (One guy on Wicked Edge commented that he was too insecure to start each day using a product named “Nancy Boy,” which suggests a good marketing idea: do a parallel line of the same products under the brand “Macho Badass.” Marketing can solve many problems—but not all. See next post.)

End of the Nancy Boy

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2015 at 10:16 am

Posted in Shaving

A lemon shave

with 3 comments

SOTD 26 Mar 2015

Perhaps influenced by the recipe I’m making today, I latched onto a lemon theme.

The brush is by Brent’s Brushes, and I like it a lot. It has a soft fluffy knot, and the handle is nice to hold. I easily worked up an excellent lather from Shaver Heaven Sweet Meyer Lemon shaving soap, then set to with the Above the Tie R1 on an Atlas handle. This time the 3″ length didn’t bother me so much, so perhaps I’m getting accustomed to it—or, in other words, learning how to use it effectively. A lot of shaving is learning how to get the best from the tools (the brush, soap, razor, and blade) that you have.

Three passes, the BBS finish that the R1 usually provides, and a splash of Thayers Lemon witch hazel with aloe vera. This one is an astringent, so 10% alcohol. (The toners are alcohol free.)

Good way to start the day.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 March 2015 at 10:45 am

Posted in Shaving

Banned again: Shave Nook this time

with 39 comments

[Update below. -LG]

I really don’t get it, but so it goes:

Your forum account is currently banned.
Ban Reason: unauthorized promotional activity
Ban will be lifted: Never

What I did: I had decided to disengage somewhat from Wicked Edge, and join in the conversation at Shave Nook. I wanted more discussion, less drama. Also, now that Wicked Edge has well over 70,000 subscribers, new posts just plummet out of sight, pushed down by even newer posts, which makes it difficult to have an on-going discussion of a topic. As we like to say, it’s not like it was in the old days. :)

I posted a couple of things—a post on using the two dimensions of comfort and efficiency to describe razor feel and performance, and yesterday a post about Ginger’s Garden aftershave, since it was new to me and impressive.

I found a post about how, with the weak Euro, the Plisson Synthetic with an acetate handle could be ordered directly from Plisson for €33, a bargain, and the post included a link. So I ordered one, now on the way. (Their web site has an English-language option right up to check out, then it’s French all the way.)

To return the favor, I thought I would tell about Shaver Heaven, my own recent discovery. I described the soap and the lather quality, quoted the ingredients and noted it was vegan, and provided links to sources: first Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements, where I had discovered it, and then also to Shave Revolution (US) and Italian Barber (Canada), both of which also carry it. (I figured that since some don’t want to buy from PAA, I would provide a US alternative.)

The post was immediately pulled because it was deemed by the mods to be “advertising,” and the mod sending it thanked me for understanding—a thanks that was premature, since I didn’t understand at all.

I asked why my post was “advertising.” Since I linked to multiple vendors, I clearly wasn’t advertising a vendor, and I made the post in the first place to point out an excellent soap, and I thought part of the idea of the forum was to discuss new product discoveries: describe them, say where they could be found, etc.

I got a reply that emphasized that the decision of the mods is final, and that the rule I violated is that a post can have only one link to a vendor. I did read the rules for posting, and that rule is definitely not included—and it seems an odd rule. If I am talking about some great product, providing three links (US, Canada, and UK) seems totally reasonable to me, but that would violate this secret rule.

Also I broke another rule: you cannot link to a banned vendor—but since there is no list of banned vendors, I have no idea how you’re to follow that rule even if you know the rule exists. I did not know that PAA was a banned vendor, and I did not know that one could not link to banned vendors sincethat rule also is not in the published list of rules. So I violated a second secret rule.

This made no sense to me, so I sent a private message to a mod who had welcomed me back, asking for some guidance. I was uneasy about sudden new (and unpublished) rules springing out of the woodwork, and feared that I was violating some other secret rule simply in trying to understand what the rules are.

Apparently I did. A lifetime ban for one post in which I expressed my enthusiasm for a new soap I discovered, and unfortunately provided the reader with links to a choice of vendors.

I truly do not get it, and I am surprised that secret (unpublished and unmentioned) rules can be used so drastically.

So it goes. And, of course, I never received a response to my private message sent in an effort to understand what was required. I did mention a couple of other vendors I might link to and ask whether they were banned (and how was I to know whether a vendor was banned or not?), and I also asked whether it is okay to name several vendors of a product, providing that I linked to only one (because of the US/Canada/UK situation). And whether a banned vendor could be named or whether that, too, was not allowed.

Now I see (in the ban message quoted above) that I could have somehow secured authorization to mention products (I assume that’s what is meant by “promotional activity”), but how I would know that such authorization is needed, much less how to secure it, is completely unclear to me.

I was a little shocked to see the ban message when I went to check my private messages for a response from Johnny, and I will never know whether I got one.

On the whole, a board that is so hair-trigger to impose lifetime bans (after welcoming my new participation), particularly for breaking rules that they keep a secret, is probably better avoided in any event. But I am saddened a bit. I had thought Shave Nook would be a place for drama-free discussion. Obviously not.

I thought I would document this since when I mentioned I am banned for life from B&B people want to know why. Well, I’m now banned for life from Shave Nook for one post that violated rules that were never published (and thus secret) and that, to my mind, don’t make much sense.


UPDATE: I heard from Phil Huntsinger of Bullgoose Shaving, and Shave Nook is essentially the forum supported Bullgoose Shaving, though Phil is not involved in the day-to-day operations—and understandably so: he has a business to run. So he does not know any details of my being banned—or even, I gather, that I had been banned. However, he doesn’t believe that I could be banned for links in a post. He speculated that it might have been for arguing with moderators or administrators, which can get you banned, and wondered whether I was cooperative when I was sent PMs.

A few thoughts: First, the reason giving for banning was not “Arguing with a moderator” but rather “Unauthorized promotional activity.” So arguing with a moderator is not a reason for the ban.

Second, I did not argue with a moderator (as I understand “argument”). I did ask questions and point out that the site rules did not include the rules I was told I had violated. I was asking a question—not arguing.

Third, the rules do not include a rule against arguing with (or asking questions of) moderators. If asking questions of a moderator is a banning offense (with no warning or appeal), then it seems to me that rule should be prominently displayed: the punishment is severe, so the warning should be clear.

Finally, because the moderators do not share their reasons or their reasoning, one is left in the dark. The messages I got were about having links to three vendors in one post, with the notification that the moderators considered that quite clearly as “advertising.” The stated reason for the banning was “Unauthorized promotional activity”, and the only thing that was communicated to me was the notification that my post was being deleted for violating (unpublished) rules. So that’s why I can only assume that the three-links-in-one-post offense was the reason for the lifetime ban.

Judges issue opinions to show their reasoning and how their decisions are consistent with and based upon precedents. Moderators simply act—without warning in this case—and use rules that are not communicated to members. (Interesting reading in this connection.) But I am happy to offer the moderators a chance to explain their reasons and clarify their decision, and if I receive a response, I’ll add it to this post here:

Response from moderators: [to be posted when received]

UPDATE again: After ruminating on this for a while, I can see how moderators might move in this direction if they want to make decisions and not have to explain their reasons and reasoning: remove a post and if the person posting says anything, ban him for life. Then you don’t have to deal with it. Indeed, any time someone raises an issue that you don’t want to deal with, ban him for life. (I’m reminded of the Red Queen in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and her hair-trigger, “Off with his head!”).

We know of that power tends to corrupt, and that power without any accountability, with no need to explain actions—that is, absolute power—is probably corrupting. Lacking accountability and with absolute power, the temptation to issue a lifetime ban to squelch any dissent—especially since anyone who objects can also be banned for life—is irresistible and (it seems) becomes a habit, an accepted way of dealing with the members. On the whole, I don’t think that’s a good direction, but it does make for a very docile and orderly forum.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2015 at 9:54 am

Posted in Shaving

Another Ginger’s Garden aftershave, another Shaver Heaven, and the RazoRock Baby Smooth

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SOTD 25 Mar 2015

A very nice shave indeed: BBS from a very comfortable razor.

Again Shaver Heaven made a fine lather, this time with the l’Occitane Plisson synthetic. Synthetics seem to harbor more water than natural bristles, or they release more readily the water they contain, and I have found that a good shake or two before loading is helpful. I didn’t use a hard enough shake today, and the water rushed into the tub as soon as I started to load, so I gave it a good shake again, drained the water from the tub, and finished loading. The resulting lather was quite pleasant. The fragrance was good but not spectacular.

Three passes using the RR Baby Smooth and all stubble fell away. Michael Freedberg called this razor “mild,” referring to his comfort, but it’s also highly efficient, and thus in that sense “aggressive.” The blade was a Personna Lab Blue, the shave was enjoyable, the result total smoothness with no nicks or burn.

A rinse, dry, and good splash of Ginger’s Garden Havana Cognac, and the day is launched.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2015 at 9:23 am

Posted in Shaving

A great new aftershave! And Shave Heaven’s Vanilla Oak

with 5 comments

SOTD 24 Mar 2015

Man! I do like how the great demand for traditional wetshaving products continues to coax out new products.

First, the lather was magnificent. It’s quite clear that, though tallow can make very good shaving soaps, vegan soaps (like Shave Heaven) can also be top-notch. That Vie-Long brush came off the shelf yesterday when someone on Wicked Edge asked which horsehair brush was my favorite, and I think this one is it. And given that the euro and the dollar are at parity, it’s a great bargain: time to order stuff from Europe.

I put the long-toothed NEW on a UFO handle, and it’s a very nice combination indeed. Like the Parker 24C, the NEW is one of the very comfortable and very efficient razors, here with a Personna Lab Blue blade. Three passes, perfect BBS.

And then a remarkable new aftershave I ordered from Shave Revolution to fill out the order of Shave Heaven soaps: Ginger’s Garden Suede. It looks good, it smells good, and it feels very good. Check out the ingredients:

Aloe Vera Juice, Witch Hazel, FDA approved alcohol, Water, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Essential Oil blend or Fragrance, Benzophenone -2.

I’m not sure about the Benzophenone-2. It’s a sunscreen agent (blocks UVA and UVB), which is good, but there are some concerns. I doubt I’d wash a baby in it, but as a last ingredient in an aftershave (less than the essential oils)? I’m willing to take the chance. Heck, there are even concerns about Propylene Glycol. But I do like the aftershave. (I’m risk tolerant and also past the ages of child-bearing and -rearing.)

Written by LeisureGuy

24 March 2015 at 12:23 pm

Posted in Shaving


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