In those days, I never achieved a good lather from my gear, but that was my fault; I just didn't know how. Today, with the miracle of the Internet, there are high-quality videos on shaving (not to mention a few blogs as well) that can help the beginner have better results. I still have a puck of Williams on hand in addition to other shaving soaps including my own slick-'n-creamy custom recipe, and now -- unlike those many years ago -- I am able to make a fine lather using Williams as well as the other shaving soaps.
|Three thrifty shaving-bowl options: 4-1/2"-dia. stainless pet-food bowl (lower center), 5"-dia. Target cereal bowl (upper left), and 5-1/2"-dia dollar-store cereal bowl (upper right). All these bowls are about 2" deep.|
I could still use a mug -- though I don't -- but if I did, I'd use it only as a container in which to load my brush with soap, not a place to make lather. (And I'd use an inexpensive coffee mug, not a high-priced specialty-shaving mug.) Better places to make lather include one's hand (which I don't do either), a lathering bowl, and one's face. My routine includes making lather in a bowl, then finishing that process with some face lathering. Oh, and I also use cool, not hot, water to shave because I am convinced that unheated water from the tap helps to reduce shaving-related skin irritation -- and I still get a consistently fine, comfortable shave.
[UPDATE x2: 1) If you really desire a cheap lathering bowl, try a re-purposed Greek-yogurt container. 2) With my latest shave soap formulation for sensitive skin, SS#10A, I no longer lather in a bowl at all. Load the brush from the puck and face lather to a flat, slick, creamy layer that does a superior job.]
A happy side benefit of using unheated water is that it closes the door on the idea of purchasing a scuttle, which are very pricey.
Plain shaving bowls and mugs can be quite expensive as well. Being thrifty, I balk at paying inflated prices for unnecessary items. Instead, I have had terrific luck with inexpensive shaving-bowl substitutes.
For lathering only, such as those cases when one stores the used puck of soap in a mug or when using shaving cream from a tube, I found a stainless-steel bowl at the local pet store for less than three dollars. It makes a fine lathering bowl: clean, durable, effective.
For bowls that will both hold the soap puck and be used to make lather, I prefer plastic. The center of the plastic bowl bottom, when first purchased, can easily be roughed up with a bit of sand paper, which gives the bowl bottom some texture, which the wet puck can grip and dry in place overnight; and thereby not dance around as you attempt to make lather in the morning.
I went to a local dollar store and bought a set of three plastic cereal bowls for a buck. I also found a set of two plastic cereal bowls at my local Targets store for 99 cents. They all work very well, and are highly recommended if, like me, you are more into function than image.