Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Gillette Slim Adjustable -- Yet Another Look

My vintage 1963 Gillette Slim Adjustable was just about to go on the auction block. Then I decided to give it another go -- perhaps just one last time for sentimental reasons since it originally belonged to my father.

I put my current Astra blade in the Slim, which was set to one -- it's mildest setting. I lathered up and took a patch shave -- that is, one and only one lathering; shaving in small patches using slower, longer buffing strokes; and each patch being shaved in at least two directions.

I found the experience and outcome to be similar to using my venerable Merkur 33C Classic razor.

In fact, this shave was so satisfactory that I'm keeping the Slim and have re-thought my selection of razors on hand in my bathroom drawer.

The razors that I'm keeping at hand are the following:

  • Gillette Slim Adjustable
  • Gillette Tech (c. 1948)
  • Merkur 33C Classic
  • Merkur 15C Open Comb
The preceding list are those instruments that give me a consistently acceptable shave with a good chance of minimal skin insult. The Slim (set to one) and the 33C are good daily shavers for me and give me the option of variety to keep total boredom at bay. The Slim (on a more aggressive setting) and the Tech are good for those quick standard shaves (one pass, with grain) on those rare days when I'm really in a hurry or am seeking to give my skin a respite. The 15C is also an acceptable daily shaver for me, but I really keep it around for its open-comb design, which is ideal for shaving longer hair -- such as when I'm giving the back of my neck that occasional clean-up shave.

The razors I'm banishing to the razor shoebox in my bedroom closet are the following:
  • Rimei RM2003 (slightly too aggressive to be perfect for my face)
  • Lord LP1822L (blade-bar span just a bit too wide to be face friendly for my contours)
  • Weishi 9306-F (just too mild, without the corresponding uber gentleness on my sensitive skin)
That's it for today. Happy shaving!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Continual Satisfaction Can Be Boring

I confess: I have been a little bored with my shaving. The source of this ennui is the rather quick, no-fuss, high-quality shave that I've been getting day after day.

This daily satisfying shave is the result of a number of simple things. For one, I stopped seeking the perfect shave -- you know, smooth as glass; not a nick, cut or weeper; not even any irritation. I snapped back to reality and realized that that wasn't going to happen on my face. Instead I set my new goal to be getting a really good, consistent shave: as reasonably close as possible while still minimizing insult to my sensitive skin.

The next step after that was to realize that the best razor in my assortment that could best get me to my new goal was my Merkur 33C Classic three-piece razor. I have found that if I just use that every day with whatever relatively-sharp blade I happen to pick, I'll get a darn good shave.


Even my own save soap, which is specially formulated for sensitive skin, and therefore doesn't have any added bouquet, I believe to be very good, but is still a little boring because of its non-fragrance. So on some days to spice things up, I'll add a drop or two of after-shave lotion to my brush -- just to add a little olfactory stimulation. On other days I'll use my Palmolive Classic or Arko sticks, which have their own unique bouquets.


On one day last week, just to change things up, I put my not-yet-used-up blade in my gold-toned Gillette Tech three-piece razor and had a shave with that. It wasn't a bad shave, and it was fun to use a different instrument, but the shave was just a bit harder on my skin than the Merkur would have been. And on this very morning (that is, today), I changed instruments again, this time using my Weishi 9306-F razor: a truly face friendly one-piece, twist-to-open design. Yet again, it wasn't an improvement on the Merkur Classic.


Well, my fling is over. I've had my fun, my walk on the wild side. Tomorrow it's back to the trusty 33, the old reliable.

Sigh. Continual satisfaction can be such a bore.  ;-)

Happy shaving!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Grandad-Primo Redux: How to Best Insert a Blade into a UTO* DE Razor

*UTO stands for unscrew to open; this includes all two- and three-piece razors, and does not include TTO (twist-to-open), butterfly-door style razors.
Two two-piece razors: Merkur 37C slant (left) and
Wilkinson Sword Classic (right). Both top caps are shown
in the proper orientation for blade insertion, although
a cloth on the counter between it and the top
cap will prevent marring a chrome finish.

Many shavers use UTO-design razors, but never learned to properly insert a blade. First, a bit about the razor design:

Above: An inexpensive three-piece razor shown with
baseplate clearly a separate piece from the handle.
A two-piece DE razor has a top cap and a separate handle-baseplate assembly. The key characteristic of this design is that the baseplate, with its safety bars, is attached to the handle. Some examples of razors of this design are the Merkur 34C HD, Wilkinson Sword Classic and Merkur 37C slant bar. The Wilkinson razor does not further disassemble, while the Merkur's handle-baseplate assembly can be further disassembled into the handle-baseplate piece, a threaded knob (that engages the threaded rod on the top cap), and a small spring ring, which retains the threaded knob in the barrel of the handle-baseplate piece.

A three-piece DE razor has a top cap, a separate baseplate, and a separate handle. When assembled, the threaded rod on the top cap screws into the threaded handle, and these two sandwich the baseplate in between.

 Press the baseplate firmly down against the top cap while
tightening the handle. Do put a cushioning cloth (not shown)
between the counter and the top cap to prevent damaging
the finish on the metal.
When inserting a blade, all UTO razors are best assembled upside down; that is, handle up, on a padded surface. The steps are as follows:
  1. Put a towel or wash cloth on a counter. This is to prevent marring the finish of the metal top cap over time.
  2. Put the razor's top cap on the cloth, with threaded rod pointing up.
  3. Put the blade over the threaded rod and allow it to settle into the top cap. This is a key step, which allows the blade to initially self center as much as possible into the underside (which is now up) of the top cap.
  4. Put the baseplate and handle over the threaded rod of the top cap, but don't screw it tight yet.
  5. With the razor still upside down (handle up) on the counter, with your fingers press the baseplate down onto the blade and top cap. This is also a key step, which tends to maintain the blade in its self-centered position and not allow it to shift.
  6. Tighten the handle to lock the blade in position within the razor head.
  7. Verify even blade reveal by looking straight
    down at the top cap of the assembled razor.
  8. Verify even blade reveal by looking straight down on the top cap.
Now you're ready to shave with your UTO razor. Make it a good one.

Happy shaving!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Sharp + Mild = Great Shave!

Today's post is just a brief reminder that a mild razor paired with a sharp blade can give a great shave.

You don't have to buy exotic or expensive either.

Today I shaved with my vernerable Merkur three-piece razor, the model 33C Classic. In it I put a new Personna Super blade.


With those instruments, I took a ten-minute, one-lather, patch shave. The outcome? Quick, close, clean, comfortable.

Truly a winning combination: the 33C and the lab-blue blade. A great pair -- and uber affordable, too!

Happy shaving!