Sunday, March 30, 2014

Razor Reveiw: Lord LP1822L (formerly model L6)

The head on this razor is very similar to that on a German-made Merkur. I own a Merkur Classic (model 33C), and can attest that the Lord LP1822L (aka L6) shaves like my Merkur, no doubt, BUT IN FACT, THE L6 IS SLIGHTLY MORE AGGRESSIVE IN CHARACTER. The L6 provides a mild shave that is not overly aggressive but is also not difficult to find the proper angle to cut whiskers well. Since my Merkur 33C cost more than twice this L6, the L6 is obviously a good value. There are important differences, however, that might explain the lower cost of the L6. The Merkur can clearly be an heirloom razor that might provide more than a lifetime of service, while the L6, properly treated (more on that below) may well last years and be passed along, but, again, special treatment may be necessary.
UPDATE: Side view of the LP1822L (above), when compared
to the Merkur 33C (below), shows the LP1822L has a larger
blade-bar gap, smaller blade reveal, but less blade exposure.
The sum of these factors gives a similar shave to the 33C.
UPDATE: Side view of the Merkur 33C.

Razor-blade fit: The L6 holds the blade firmly and edge exposure is uniform. This is a good thing.

Lord L6 (left) next to the Merkur Classic (33C)
Handle length and grip: The L6 handle is generously long -- a full one inch longer than the Merkur 33c. Since some complain about the short handle on classic razors, this should make many double-edge (DE) users happy. Since I'm comfortable with the short handle, this longer style has no impact; I find it fine and notice no performance difference whether long or shorter. The criss-crossed diagonal cuts in the L6 handle make a diamond pattern that, though different than classic knurling, makes for a fine grip wet or dry.

Finish: The L6 handle is clearly aluminum and appears unplated, uncoated (it may have some clear coating/anodizing -- I just don't know), while the Merkur is chromed. The head of the L6 appears chromed, and in comparing it to the 33C, the only difference in finish quality that I can see is that on the ends (the narrower sides) of the base and top plates, they don't have a smooth, mirror finish. But if this bothers you a lot, you may have larger issues than getting a good shave at a value price. I, personally, find this minor finish flaw to be inconsequential.

But some other, more important concerns have been raised by others that deserve attention:

1. Insufficient thread interlocking between head and handle: This appears to have been a manufacturing issue that may have been resolved or at least improved. Certainly there is adequate but not generous thread engagement in the razor that I received: about four turns of the handle snugs it to the razor head (not four full revolutions, but four twists of the hand). This is fewer turns to secure than is required on my Merkur 33C -- and the 33C has a steel handle, which will be more durable than the aluminum of the Lord L6. I would suggest buying the razor from a seller with good customer-satisfaction ratings, and if this short-thread issue arises at or near time of delivery to you, you can get a replacement as has been done in the past.

2. Aluminum handle instead of steel: Here is where user care may make the difference. Yep, aluminum doesn't have the strength or toughness of steel. If you cross thread or over tighten, the handle will be toast. Also, the threads may not feel as silky smooth as you turn handle on and off the razor head. To address these issues, I suggest the following:
a) When you first get the razor and periodically thereafter, apply petroleum jelly with a toothpick to the threads of the handle. I do this when I change blades, which is about once per week of continuous use. (I also do this on more expensive razors that have all-steel components.)
While tightening or loosening the handle,
compress the razor head into the counter to take any
unnecessary strain off the handle threading.
b) Tighten carefully. Compress the top and base plates together with your fingers as you tighten and loosen the handle. This takes any strain off the aluminum threads. Then stop tightening as soon as the handle engages the base plate; NO ADDITIONAL FORCE IS NECESSARY!
If you do these things, you will likely get more extended use from this razor.

3. Weight and balance of the razor is respectively less and different than other similar designs because of the aluminum handle. Yes, it's true; my Merkur 33c weighs 57 grams, while the Lord L6 comes in at 44 grams -- roughly 20% lighter. While DE aficionados insist that heavy razors shave better because "the weight does the work," not only do I find this to be untrue in my experience, but also in terms of physics it makes little sense. You shave in all directions: up, down, sideways; and in any case, it isn't gravity that holds the razor against your face -- it's the pressure (hopefully very light) that you apply! (It may be true that the mass of a heavier razor helps keep the blade from bumping over stubble when using extremely light pressure against the face, but I don't believe this comes into play for most shavers with most reasonable-quality razors including this one.)

Find the right blade for you in this razor and you should be a happy shaver. This razor gets four out of five stars because of its shaving performance and its value. The aluminum handle, though generous in length and with adequate grip, may have its threads stripped over time from over tightening or simply constant use. This razor is an excellent purchase as a travel razor over the long haul, or as an every-day razor if you are willing to accept it as something less than a lifetime razor. I feel this purchase was money well spent, and heartily recommend this as a first DE or another option to add to your collection.

Happy shaving!

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