Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Razor Review: Weishi 2003m All-Aluminum TTO

Weishi 2300m TTO Razor (China)
Slight finish blemishes are visible on the near door due
to my use of jewelry pliers to correct blade-alignment defect.
  • Weight: 21 g
  • 3-inch handle length
  • Twist-to-open (TTO) configuration
  • Copy (in aluminum) of Gillette Super Speed razor
Summary: Attractive appearance, very light weight (21g), 3-inch-handle length (shorter, classic length), but manufacturing-quality issues with blade-edge positioning such that cutting edges of blade may not be straight - resulting in harsh shave at best. If you get a good one out of the box, or if you can correct the defects as I did, this light little gem (with the right blade, as always) allows a fine shave. Comes in a nice, triangular plastic travel case with mirror and space for a few blades.

This ultra-light razor causes one to challenge the mythology that it takes a heavy razor to get a good, easy shave.  The knurling on the handle provides a secure grip, and the razor gives a good tactile and auditory feedback as one shaves.

More detail:
The 2003m and the pliers used to correct the manufacturing
defects that caused blade-edge curvature.

I have received two of these razors. The first had serious functional defects in that it repeatedly curved one edge of the double-edge (DE) blade in a slight U shape (high on the ends, low in the middle). The other edge was the opposite - a hump shape (low on the ends, high in the middle). This is a formula for an extremely harsh shave with many nicks and minor cuts.  Also in this razor, the blade did not fit snugly and had to be manually adjusted as the TTO was closed to get even blade exposure on both sides. 

The doors, when open as shown, required careful blade
insertion to avoid damage to blade edges.
I notified the seller in China, Wonderlife (via about the curved blade exposure, and their customer service was very good. They promptly apologized for the defective razor and without question or delay shipped out a second razor at my request. Unfortunately, the second razor, was only better (not fully correct), seating the blade with one edge straight (as appropriate), but the other blade edge was slightly humped. Despite its ultra low weight and counter to much DE mythology, this razor still gave a pleasant, acceptable shave with the edge that was straight; but, predictably, a harsh shave from the curved edge.
2003m in foreground, comparing handle length to Gillette
Slim Adjustable (middle), and Merkur Classic 33C (rear).
The 2003m and the Merkur have the same handle length.
The Gillette is slightly longer.

This razor has potential as a super-light travel razor if Weishi can get their process under control and consistently make 2003m razors that hold the blade edges dead straight.

UPDATE: This view shows the modest blade exposure and
the blade-bar gap, which gives this razor its moderate
shaving character.
The TTO mechanism works smoothly, although doesn't have quite the heavy duty feel of an old Gillette TTO or even some of heavier new brass Chinese razors.  Yet handled carefully, not over tightened, lubricated occasionally with a light oil (like 3-in-One [UPDATE: better is mineral oil]) it may operate a long time.  The butterfly doors don't open quite as wide as they might, so getting a blade into the razor should be done carefully so as to not damage the cutting edges on the razor doors. For the second razor -- the better one, I was able to eventually borrow some jewelry pliers: small, flat, wide jaws with no teeth. Carefully using these I was able to correct the blade-holding flaws by bending the butterfly doors near the cutting edges as needed (subtly and gently!). Despite the toothless pliers, this adjustment did leave some small marks on the butterfly doors in a few places, but this doesn't affect the quality of the shave. Now with straight blade edges, the razor is working fine. (The first razor, because it didn't hold the blade snugly, I put in the recycle bin to potentially re-use the aluminum.)
UPDATE: You can see the modest blade reveal of the
upper edge, and the marks near the lower edge are scratches
in the butterfly door from the jeweler's pliers used to correct
the manufacturing defect.

The aggressiveness of the blade exposure and angle is moderate.  It is more aggressive than my Merkur Classic or Lord L6, which are both mild and smooth, but the 2003m is not so aggressive that it would be a serious hazard to inexperienced users.  (When I get my on-order Weishi 9306-f, I will update this post and compare the aggressiveness of the two models.)
**UPDATE: As suspected, while the 2003m is moderate in the aggressiveness of its blade orientation, the Weishi 9306-f provides a very mild-cutting blade position -- very difficult to cut or nick yourself, even with a very sharp blade. I'll post a complete review of the 9306-f in the near future after I've had more time to become well acquainted.**

I am still doing business with the seller, Wonderlife, and have obviously not written Weishi off either, having received that chromed-brass model on order (the 9306-f)  -- but certainly be prepared for potential quality issues with this particular 2003m model. Therefore, only because of the quality-control issues, I cannot whole-heartily recommend this 2003m at this time. Since the most basic and safe function of a DE safety razor is to hold the blade edges dead straight and uniformly within the protective perimeter of the safety bar, I give this razor only three stars (at best) out of five. If you order it and get one that is 100% right (I'm 0 for 2), you'll get an attractive razor made from an uncommon material, ultra light, with a nice case, and which gives a good shave. If it is not right, either exchange it, get a refund, or tune it up yourself (if you can), and things may still work out well.

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