Friday, April 7, 2017

Parker PTB Barber Straight: First Impressions, First Shave

USPS Delivers On Time

I've mentioned when the US Postal Service doesn't deliver on time, and they deserve fair treatment, so I should mention that my last few deliveries -- both sending and receiving -- have been on time as they predicted. The delivery of this PTB barber straight was no exception. Nice job, USPS.

The Parker PTB Barber Straight: Initial Observations

This razor's blade, shank and tang are, all tolled, about an inch (~2 cm) longer than it's all-stainless cousin, the SRX. This means that those guys, who feel that their large hands and fingers are an impediment to gripping a straight razor, have more room to take whatever grip is comfortable and appropriate.

The razor is much lighter than the SRX both due to the PTB's plastic scales and the stamped stainless shank and sliding blade holder. I've read that some guys like the heavy weight of a classic straight, and for them, the SRX may be a more comfortable option. However, I've talked to some professional barbers who prefer the lighter weight of a plastic-scales and stamped-stainless sliding-blade-insertion razor.

The finish on the metal of the PTB is a non-glossy type. Although this might not look as fancy as a display piece, it doesn't show finger prints either, as does the high-gloss finish of the Parker SRX.

Blade Insertion

To my knowledge, there are three types of blade insertion mechanisms for barber-style razors. There is the pivot style with clasp, which is what the Parker SRX and many other brands use. Then there are the two flavors of sliding style, which has either a plastic or metal insertion piece. The Parker PTB is of this latter design, with all primary metal parts made of stainless steel.

Just from a random survey of how-to videos on YouTube, professional barbers seem to use all three designs. I don't have any reliable statistics, but it just seemed to me that the sliding-style barber razors were more popular with the pros although many used the pivoting style as well.

I may need some time to become familiar and comfortable with the insertion process on the PTB; my initial attempts were clumsy, awkward, and it took a bit of time to both figure it out and become more adept.

I found that it's best to remove the sliding blade carrier entirely when inserting a blade, though I've seen barbers in videos not remove the slide completely. Maybe when I get more accustomed to loading a blade in this PTB razor, I'll only do a partial slide out; time will tell for that, but for now, I remove the slide completely.

The blade carrier has a non-moving flap, under which the blade is inserted. There are two tabs in the primary blade-backing surface that limit the depth to which the blade can be pushed under the non-moving flap. In the same blade-backing surface, there are also two small bumps (too small to be called pins), that serve to retain the blade in its proper position once it's fully and properly inserted in the carrier.

The blade is inserted in the carrier by sliding its long, dull side (the opposite side of the sharp edge) under the afore-mentioned retaining flap. The long side of the blade should be centered under the flap. This would be simple except that the gap between the flap and the main surface of the carrier is rather narrow. During insertion the blade has to initially pass over the two bumps but under the two tabs and the flap. 

My experience is that, initially, I needed a bit of patience to accomplish this maneuver safely and without harming the blade edge.

The Shave 

Of course opinions will vary, but I really liked my maiden shave with this razor. I prepped my shave slightly differently than I've previously documented. This shave-prep variation had nothing to do with the razor, but rather it was a change that I thought might be generally beneficial. 

I splashed and rubbed some warm water into my beard. Then instead of applying shave oil, I applied a warm, wet towel for 30 seconds or so. Then I rubbed in some shave oil, followed by rubbing my soap stick on my whiskers, and then face lathering with a warm, wet brush.

I had a new half-Dorco-ST301 blade in the PTB and began my shave in the usual manner: first pass with all strokes made in the easiest and safest directions for me and my current state of straight-razor skill. (I don't describe this because your skills and most-comfortable-stroke directions are likely to vary from mine.) I did gently stretch my skin as I shaved for better safety and to better optimize the closeness of the pass.

After that first pass, I did a partial second pass on my neck, under-jawline and chin areas.

My First-Shave Impressions, Comparisons

It's difficult to compare first shaves with the SRX to the PTB because I'm more experienced, more proficient performing the first Parker PTB shave than I was with the SRX, which was my first use of any straight razor. That said, I really liked using the PTB. Its lightness, its lack of mass gave me much feedback on the behavior of the edge against my beard. I could actually feel the whiskers being cut. The audible feedback was also excellent; you can very much hear the whiskers being shaved. In all, I felt like I had very good feedback and control with this razor.


I got a pretty good shave for only taking 1-1/2 passes. There was no skin irritation at all, and only two pin-point weepers, which may have been residual from yesterday's very-close shave with my Parker Variant DE.

This razor certainly has not diminished my confidence, and I'll be using it again tomorrow, putting a second shave on the same blade.

Razor Garage Sale Continues w/ New Additions -- Make Me an Offer

Keep in mind that there is about $4 of packaging and mailing costs embedded in the prices of my garage-sale razors, and there really isn't a lemon in the bunch.

But if you think my prices are out of line, send me an email, make me an offer! Let's see if we can find a point of win-win.

Happy shaving!

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