Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Razor Technician: Ri,Mei Redux

I pulled out the trash-or-treasure razor again -- you know, the cheap Chinese razor with the stamped-steel baseplate, about which I wrote a series of articles in October of 2014.

At that time, I wrote it off as only for the desperate.

Well, I must be desperate because I pulled it out of the closet shoe box again -- this time to get some measurements of its unchangable design characteristics and current set up. My initial motivation was related to the article I published a few days ago on checking a razor's top cap. As one of the test razors, I used the Ri,Mei.

To my surprise, the top cap wasn't actually twisted as I may have thought. Its edges lie in the same plane, but are not quite parallel; when measuring the edge-to-edge distance of the top cap, one end is slightly smaller than the other, which would affect blade reveal among other characteristics. Still, I was encouraged that the top cap wasn't as poorly made as I had thought, so I decided to again try to tune it up and at the same time, document its relevant measurements.

As it currently sits, the blade edges are pretty much parallel to the safety bars. However, one edge of the razor would shave a little differently than the other due to the asymmetry of the instrument. For example, the blade angle on one side is about 26 degrees and less than 20 degrees on the other. The bad news is that the angles are disparate; the good news is that those are mild-shaving angles. The blade reveal is very large at about 1.8 mm. The blade gap is also fairly large, averaging about the same, roughly 1.8 to 1.9 mm. (Because of the lack of precision of construction and the resulting tuned variables, both the blade gap and the blade angle vary.) The blade exposure is slightly positive.

Putting this all together, trying to infer the shaving character of this razor based on its three primary measurables, I arrive at the following:

  • The small blade angle will contribute to a mild, not-harsh shaving character.
  • However, the large blade gap combined with the slightly positive blade exposure will increase the capacity and the aggressiveness -- and therefore the shave risk -- of the instrument.
  • THEREFORE.... I would expect this razor in its current condition to give a close shave that might not be unacceptably harsh, but must be handled with care to avoid weepers, nicks, and cuts.
Based on this and contrary to my earlier conclusion, I am going to give this razor some test shaves. I won't do it the week I've written this article because I'm testing a Merkur blade, which, in my mild-shaving Merkur 33 razor, gave me some weepers during the maiden shave. So I don't want to put that blade in a higher-risk razor. 

So sometime in the near future I'll give the Ri,Mei razor a go with a familiar blade. I'll let you know how that works out. Until then....

Happy shaving!

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