Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Where My Trash-or-Treasure Experiment Went Awry

I have bought three of the silver-toned Chinese-special razors. The first was a real lemon, from which I tried to make lemonade by reshaping the unplated, stamped-steel baseplate of the razor. (The second and third were not prize winning instruments by any stretch either, but at least I more or less knew what I was likely getting.)

My first silver-toned lemon of a razor, from which I tried to make lemonade.

My correction on the first razor (and, in fact, all that followed) was intended to reduce the ridiculously-large blade exposure and at the same time, reduce the blade angle and blade-bar span. I tried this with two additional razors of the same ilk, to try to achieve different blade gaps (and more to the point, blade spans) and angles with each. (I used three different razors because once a given razor is tuned up to a specific setting, it is too much trouble to reshape the baseplate for a different blade span and angle.)

The fly in the ointment of this approach is that as I modified the baseplate to adjust the safety-bar position in each razor, the basic adjustment is to change the blade-bar span. As this span is reduced, it also reduces the blade angle and the blade exposure.

For making a face friendly shave, I thought that a smaller blade angle would be helpful; and I still believe that to be true. With these baseplate adjustments (as I just said in the previous paragraph), this also reduces the blade-bar span -- which, happily, is also a face-friendly adjustment.

But as the angle and span are reduced via these adjustments, the blade exposure also become less and less positive until at some point it becomes increasingly negative. Because, when simply bending the safety bar up or down, there is only one independent variable (pick any one of the three), which simultaneously determines the other two, there is no guarantee that one can tune the razor to have the optimal combination for a close yet face-friendly shave.

With the first razor, I created a low blade angle that I thought would shave well, but at that setting, the span and blade exposure were too small and negative, respectively, to give an easy, close shave. With subsequent razors, larger blade angles produced spans and exposures that shaved more closely, but with a bit too much irritation; it wasn't any better than any of my other razors.

The reason why the Rimei RM2003 is a bit better than my previously-favorite razor is that its razor head has a smaller blade angle and blade span, paired with a slightly positive blade exposure. The result, a close shave but from a blade that is making a less-scraping pass against the skin. Thereby the shave is relatively close, yet also comfortable.

Happy shaving!

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