Sunday, May 18, 2014

Razor Review: Wilkinson Sword Classic - A Two-Piece Razor

The Wilkinson Sword Classic is a two-piece design, having a separate top
cap and a unified baseplate and handle. Made of plastic, it is a surprisingly
high-quality instrument, and an excellent value.
Wilkinson Sword Classic DE Razor:
  • Manufacturer: Wilkinson Sword
  • Razor design: Two piece, non adjustable
  • Materials: Various plastics, metal (aluminum?)
  • Weight:  43 grams
  • Handle length: approx. 3-3/4"
  • Purchase price:  about $10 (US) including shipping from Great Britain
  • Order-to-delivery time from Britain to Michigan, USA: 2-3 weeks
  • Typically comes with a package of five Wilkinson Sword Blades
The blade is well positioned in the top cap by the center post and centering
tab. Unlike most DE razors, the end tabs of the blade are covered in this razor,
thus preventing accidental nicks that DE newbies occasionally get. To insert
blades in any 2- or 3-piece razor, position top cap as shown above. Then lay blade
over center post as shown. Finally, put baseplate & handle down over the center
post, and, holding top cap and blade by the short sides, tighten the handle.
Don't be fooled by the plastic composition of this razor; it is surprisingly well made and offers a forgiving, albeit very mild, shave when in the hand of an experienced DE user.

When eyeballed and compared to a Merkur 33C (which is itself not a very aggressive razor), the Wilkinson appears to have a less aggressive blade angle, about the same gap between blade edge and safety bar, and less blade exposure (that is, the blade is more shielded by the safety bar). These three design factors offer a safe shave for the new DE user, allowing one to learn best angle, stroking technique, and probably allowing more pressure of razor against face without producing nicks. This razor, therefore, is about as forgiving and easy to use as any DE available.

The handle has a plastic exterior enclosing a central metal bar, which adds
mass to the razor. The handle holes, which reveal the central bar, provide
excellent grip, and the handle is a generous length that some will appreciate.
At about $10 (US) including the cost of shipping from across the Atlantic as well as a package of five blades, it offers what may be the best value in DE razors.

Some users may be put off by the plastic, which to many minds is an indication of low quality. It's not. By choosing appropriate plastics, this razor combines a good design and cost efficiency.

This view shows not only the generous handle length of the Wilkinson Sword
Classic razor as compared to the classic, vintage length of the Merkur 33C, but
also notice the contour of the top caps. Both razors offer a non-aggressive
shave, but the Wilkinson Classic is milder still and has a unique, more-pointed
cap, which may make it easier to find the best shaving angle to maximize the
efficiency of this very forgiving (that is unaggressive) design. Recommended
for DE newbies, light beards, and for use by all as a final-pass and
buffing-and-polishing razor.
Because of the mild characteristics of its shave, this isn't the razor to hack down a week's worth of stubble. However if you are a daily shaver, as I am, this is likely to be adequate to the task. Of course, a daily DE shave with such a mild razor will consist of two or, more commonly, three passes (that is, lather, shave, re-lather, shave, re-lather shave). Given that regimen, this razor will be sufficient for most.

I should mention, however, that the Wilkinson Sword blades may not be a great choice for some. I haven't tried them at this point, having the pack of Wilkinson Sword blades that came with this razor still stashed in my to-be-tried blade cache. Some others have found them harsh and uncomfortable in other razors. As is the case with nearly every razor, it is the right combination of razor and blade that will give the best shave for a given face.

UPDATE: This photo shows the well-protected edge
exposure, which provides a very mild shave. But also, notice what appears
to be a curvature in the blade edge. but this is just camera-lens-induced
distortion from the extreme close up view.
I, personally, have on occasion used this Wilkinson Sword Classic as a final-pass razor. For example, the morning that I wrote the first draft of this article, I made my first, with-the-grain pass with a very efficient razor, the Merkur 37C slant-bar model. 

Second pass was cross grain, with the Merkur 33C Classic. Then the final clean-up pass was made against the grain with this black beauty, the Wilkinson Sword Classic.  [UPDATE: I now happily use it as a travel razor. [[LATER UPDATE: Upon further review, the Wilkinson is banished to the shoe box, and my Lord LP1822L is my travel razor.]]  However, I no longer take the time or trouble to use multiple razors on a given day.]

UPDATE: This photo shows the moderate blade
reveal, which contributes to the mild shave.

Whether you are new to DE shaving or an experienced old hand, the Wilkinson Sword Classic razor may find a welcome home in your medicine cabinet.

Happy shaving!

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