Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Trash or Treasure Razor? Part 3: The Adjustment Process

The adjustment process is iterative, That is, you must repeat the same steps, the same adjustment-inspect cycle repeatedly until you get a configuration that you think, by inspection, would be appropriate for your skin and hair. Then you must give it a test shave. Depending on how that goes, you might then have to do another adjust-inspect series of cycles until you are ready for another test shave.

The baseplate of this razor has four oval holes on each side that separate the
safety bars from the baseplate's central portion that sits under the top cap. 

Properly done and with a stamped baseplate that is not seriously deformed, the only adjusting tool you should need is the flat-blade screwdriver. Pliers are probably not needed, but if so, would be for bending the metal baseplate in a way that can't take advantage of any holes that would allow use of the screwdriver as a lever.
This is the orientation of the screwdriver in the oval baseplate holes that one
uses to adjust the safety bar up, thus making the blade exposure smaller, and
the shave character of the razor more mild. To do this, one holds the baseplate
in one hand and the screwdriver in the other, and GENTLY lifts upward on the
screwdriver. (It takes very little force to bend this soft steel.) One starts with an
end hole and makes the same adjustment in all four holes sequentially along the
length of each safety bar. Frequently re-assemble the razor and blade to assess if
your adjustment has been adequate, excessive, or just right. You must assess the
safety bar for straightness, being parallel to the blade edge, and for desired
degree of edge exposure.

Step 1: Assemble & Inspect
This is the orientation of the baseplate and screwdriver that one uses to make
the blade exposure larger. This is necessary if one uses excessive force in
making the blade exposure smaller. Remember, do this GENTLY; not much
force is necessary to bend the safety bar.
Before you begin adjusting, assemble the razor including a blade. Then go through the inspection steps as described in my safety-redux article (click here to read). Then note what adjustments are required to the safety bars of the baseplate to make them 1) straight, 2) parallel to the top cap and blade edges, and 3) of the appropriate blade-bar gap to give the razor the shaving character that you desire.

Step 2: Adjust
The photo above shows the general method for GENTLY prying the safety bar upward to give the razor more milder shaving characteristics. Experiment with how much force you use, erring on the side of caution. You can move the steel even though it feels like you are not.

This is the slightly-more aggressive edge of the
razor for my initial shave test.
Of course, you would begin the adjustment process in the place that needs the most change (or at one end of the safety bar if it needs the same degree of adjustment along its length). Then use the screwdriver in the oval holes as shown to make SMALL adjustments at each location. It is better to have to make several very small adjustments in the same direction than it is to make overly large adjustments going back and forth. Large repeated adjustments could strain harden the steel, making it stiffer, more difficult to adjust (in the same way that one can break a paper clip by repeatedly bending it back and forth (that is, larger gap, then smaller gap, then larger, and so on), which strain hardens the metal until it becomes brittle.)

Step 3: Inspect
This is the milder edge of the razor for my initial shave test.
The shave test will determine which way I make final
After you have made your initial round of adjustments, reassemble the razor including the blade. Then run through the inspection sequence of step 1 again, and see if you think another cycle of adjustment is appropriate.

Step 4: The Test Shave
After you have arrived at a point where you are reluctant to make further adjustment without a test shave, it's time to give the razor a go.

By the way, the test shave isn't just for after the final adjustment. On my own razor, I adjusted the two safety bars to slightly different gaps. This would, in concept, allow me to test each side during the same shave to determine which side offered the best set up for me. Then using that test information, I would go back and do another series of adjust-inspect iterations until ready for another test shave.

This adjust-inspect-test cycle is then repeated until the razor performs as desired, or it's declared a hopeless case and abandoned.

Happy shaving!


  1. Ah, my pet peeve: the crap version Rimei. This is why I became a flea marketer, purchasing model RM2003 directly from the factory. When I took a crack at this, I just laid the guard on the edge of my bathroom countertop and bent it up by pressing the center of the baseplate down with my thumbs. The top cap required honing also, and the result was an aggressive razor with practically no gap. I call it the poor man's R41.

  2. BUT -- the baseplate on mine was bent nowhere near as much as yours originally. The softly bent angles cumulatively made it simply polygonal or concave... like an open-comb baseplate.

  3. This adjustment is exactly what I tried to do to a razor they sell here in South Africa - a Lion which costs less than $2. It also has a ridiculous blade exposure making it very aggressive. I put it in a vice and only managed to bend one side. I'll try with a screwdriver and see if I can get better results.

    1. I appreciate your participation (and Thad's). Good luck with your adjustments on the Lion razor. When they work, it's fun to get a usable razor for next to nothing.