Monday, December 1, 2014

Why I Rarely Discuss Razor Weight and Balance

We begin with a bit of review:
After much thought and study, I've concluded that there are three primary design characteristics of a straight-bar, closed-comb DE razor that determine how it shaves. These design aspects are the following:
Unlike sumo wrestlers, who are greatly aided by a weight
advantage and where balance is very important, in DE
razors... not so much. The "little" guy on the left
looks like he's in trouble.

  • Blade-edge exposure (or, simply, blade exposure) -- This is how well the edge is enclosed within the protective cove formed by the top cap and safety bar. The shave plane is the plane determined by top cap and safety bar, and if the blade edge is within the protective cove -- that is, under the shave plane -- the blade exposure would be said to be negative. Conversely, if the blade edge is above the shave plane, the edge exposure would be positive. The more positive the exposure, the more aggressive is the shave character of the razor.
  • Blade-bar gap (or, simply, blade gap) -- This is the distance, measured along the shave plane, between the blade edge and the safety bar. Like blade exposure, the larger the blade gap, the more aggressive is the shave character of the razor.
  • Blade angle -- This is the acute angle formed by the razor blade and the shave plane of the razor head. The larger this acute angle is, the more potentially harsh is the shave character of the razor.
Another design characteristic is blade reveal, which is how much of the blade is exposed from under the top cap. A large blade reveal might enhance auditory feedback of the blade as well as the harshness of the shave by allowing more micro vibrations. Yet another relevant design characteristic is the design of the razor's safety-bar. This can help determine the capacity of the razor, the risk of nicks, and, to a degree by controlling the amount of lather the safety bar leaves on the skin, the harshness of the shave.

Less-significant aspects of razor design include weight, balance, and handle length. I rarely discuss these aspects of razor design in my articles because I think they are of little importance. Handle length is inconsequential -- pretty much no matter how large your hands -- if you hold the razor with an appropriate finger-tip grip. As for weight and balance of the razor, I've shaved with many different instruments from a plastic multi-blade disposable to various three-piece DE razor heads paired with lightweight handles as well as with the heavy, large-diameter Maggard MR3B handle, and, frankly, their varying weights and balance points haven't made a whit of difference in my shave process or outcome.

I believe that others find matters of razor weight and balance worth mentioning because they have insufficient knowledge of the design characteristics that actually determine how a given razor shaves. So instead these others focus on design characteristics that they can envision and understand such as weight and balance, and correlate those with the shaving character of the razor even though that correlation is imaginary.

That's why I don't often discuss issues of razor weight and balance.

Happy shaving!

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