Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Trash or Treasure Razor? Part 4: Final Adjustments, Final Conclusions

I was ready to shave with the trash/treasure razor this morning, when I decided a few more adjustments may be appropriate.
Checking the upper plane of the baseplate for twirst against a
flat surface. Rocking indicates twist. In this orientation, it did
not rock at all.

It occurred to me to check for twist in the baseplate -- both in the upper flat that contacts the underside of the top cap as well as the plane of the safety bars. I chose to do a rough check by putting the baseplate on a known flat surface and checking to see if it rocks like a chair with a short leg.

Checking the upper plane indicated it was fairly flat, not twisted. (Photo at right.)

Checking the plane of the safety bars, the lower edge of the baseplate, indicated that plane was twisted. When oriented against a flat counter as shown below, the baseplate rocked -- indicating that two diagonally-opposed corners were lower than the other two. This was not good.
Checking the plane of the safety bars as shown revealed that
the baseplate rocked like a chair with a short leg -- indicating
a twist in that lower plane.

Yet every time that I re-assembled the razor with a blade, the gaps between safety bar and blade edge (as well as top-cap edge) were even. Repeatedly I rotated the baseplate 180 degrees when reassembling to see if the safety-bar-and-blade-edge orientation changes when the baseplate was assembled with either safety bar under a given blade edge. There were differences, but the bottom line is that when I took the twist out of the baseplate, the blade-bar orientation was always worse; the safety bars were no longer parallel to the blade edges.

This indicates that the top cap itself is not properly symmetrical; it has a twist. So this razor was never going to be ideally set up. I could adjust the baseplate to correspond to the top cap so the razor was marginally shave worthy, but it would never be truly right, and would always require care to ensure that the baseplate was assembled in the best orientation to match the top cap.
As it turns out, not only does the baseplate need adjustment,
but also the top cap is not appropriately symmetrical, and
needs adjustment as well.... but there's no simple way to do that.

After this realization, I adjusted the baseplate so that it would likely give a rather mild shave relative to the overall unchangeable characteristics of this razor. Then I resolved to shave with it the following morning.

Then I reflected, asking myself if I am going to draw a razor blade across my sensitive skin when mounted in a marginal razor such as this one. To what end? Further adding to my reluctance to shave with such a marginal instrument is the large blade reveal of this particular razor. (Blade reveal is the amount of blade that is exposed to view when the razor is viewed from above the top cap. The larger the blade reveal, the more the blade edge can micro-flex, micro-vibrate -- leading to potentially a more harsh shave.)

In the course of the day prior to the shave test, I vacillated, taking the razor in and out of the bathroom as I first resolved to do the shave test, then decided it wasn't worth the risk of, at minimum, excessive irritation. I went back and forth several times.

Ultimately I decided against the test shave. If I were very cash strapped and needed an absolutely-least-expensive razor with which to shave, I would have done it. And it might have worked adequately -- even well, possibly. But the facts are that I'm not that poor, and I have shaving instruments in my possession that are pretty much ideal to meet my shaving needs: my Merkur 33C and 15C razors. I didn't want to risk even the chance of nicks, weepers and razor burn that could spoil my shaves for the rest of the week.

So, is this razor trash or treasure? In my opinion it certainly isn't treasure. No matter how much I adjusted it, it would never match the standards of the original, vintage, stamped-baseplate, three-piece razors as I hoped it might. Is it trash? Probably not to the financially desperate, but it's alarmingly close. The only value to me was as an extra handle in my shaving shoe box and as a learning device: helping me to understand the limitations of such an inexpensive razor, and how to perhaps extract the best of it in spite of those limitations.

That's how I see it. Happy shaving!

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