Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Slant Bar Banished! And Then There Were Three....

Today I put my Merkur 37C slant-bar razor in the shoe box in my closet. It is no longer in my bathroom cabinet, leaving behind its three former companions: the Merkurs 15C and 37C and the Maggard MR3B.

The 37C slant, in the foreground on the left, has lost its place in my
bathroom cabinet, and is now banished to the closet shoe box.
On Saturday, I had a blade on its last legs and so I pulled out the 37C, correctly knowing that the slant of its edge would make the blade virtually sharper, thus perhaps giving me a better shave than if I had used one of my other non-slanted razors.

I was wrong. This was partly due to cockpit-judgement error; I only used the slant for the first pass (which wasn't an error), but I made that pass against the grain of my beard, which irritated a patch of skin on my cheek. I finished the shave by transferring the blade from the slant into my 33C Classic, which is very face friendly. But the truth was, I wasn't shaving a multi-day beard; I usually shave every day. So I didn't need the capacity for that first pass that the slant razor offers -- I almost never do! Yes, the blade was ready for the recycle bank, but I didn't need a slant razor to improve the effective blade sharpness; I could have done that just by using oblique strokes. D'oh! (Slaps forehead.)

And I certainly didn't need the variable blade angle of the slant, which is more face friendly where the blade gap is wider, but more harsh and scraping in the areas where the blade gap narrows. (The varying blade angle is due to the twist of the blade, not the blade gap; but it's easier to identify where the angle varies in face friendliness by referring to the the gap size.)

With huge capacity, a slight multiplier effect on blade sharpness, and, due to
the twist of the blade, a varying blade angle, which has more of a slicing effect
toward the right of the edge (where the blade gap is wider), and more scraping
toward the left of the edge (where the blade gap is narrower).
Bottom line, there's no reason for me to continue to struggle to get a comfortable shave with this razor; I just don't have any need for its high capacity. If I have a two-day beard, I'll just use the Maggard straight bar razor, which has adequate capacity for that task. I'm also going to experiment with the face-friendly Merkur 15C open comb on a two-day (and more) beard because it should be up to the task with it's open-comb, (therefore no-limits) baseplate.

The Merkur 15C razor is shown in a shaving orientation. The open comb allows
most hair to be cut by the blade edge without being bent as it might be by the
typical safety bar. This suggests that even though the Merkur 15C can provide a
very face-friendly shave, it should also be able to handle multi-day growths
with no problem.
But in any case, for most daily shaves, as long as I put the right blade for my beard and skin (sharp and coated for smoothness) into either the Merkur 33C or 15C, I'm absolutely assured of a comfortable shave that can be as close as I desire.

I bought the slant razor at a time when I didn't fully understand the factors affect razor capacity, harshness, and how those two aspects are both related and separate. But now, for my needs,  I understand that the slant's capacity is overkill, the blade exposure is more aggressive than I need, and the scraping quality of the blade angle on one end of the edge is unnecessarily harsh. Therefore I will see if I can find a better home for this instrument. It has no place in my bathroom.

And then there were three (but maybe not for long)....

Happy shaving!

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