Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Razor-Review Journal: Merkur Slant 37C, Day 1

I received my Merkur 37C slant DE razor last night (the 37 indicates it is a short-handled, heavy-weight, slant razor; the C indicates a chrome finish). The uneven, toothed, gaping jaws of the safety bars and top cap were a bit intimidating as I examined my newest razor (and determinedly my last -- unless one of the favorites breaks).
The two main pieces of the Merkur 37C plus the blade. The handle-baseplate assembly (right) can be
further broken down by pulling out the twist knob (far upper right), which is held in place by a snap ring.

I tried to remove the top cap, but the screw threads were very tight. I applied more torque and the knob turned, but the entire threaded assembly had a large amount of friction. Once the top cap was removed, I put some mineral oil on the threads and tightened and loosened the cap-handle assembly several times to work in the oil. The friction diminished slightly, but not enough to satisfy me.

The business end of the 37C. Don't be intimidated by the yawning, tooth-rimmed exposure,
but do give it appropriate respect.
I disassembled it again and, with a toothpick, applied petroleum jelly to the threads and once again tightened and loosed the razor to try to "break in" the threads.

UPDATE: Blade reveal in the 37C is generous, which
normally might lead to micro-vibrations of the edge, but
in the slant design is likely offset by the twist in the blade,
which probably stiffens it, and is clearly visible in this view.
Satisfied that the improvement was adequate for the present, I considered what blade to use for my first shave in the morning. I selected a Dorco 301 for its moderate sharpness, avoiding Feather, Polsilver Iridium, Personna Blue, Astra SP, and the like, sensing that this razor may be more than capable even without the sharpest blade. I inserted the blade, checked and toyed with the alignment a bit to become familiar with how this implement buttons up, and then put the razor on the cabinet shelf until shave time.

This morning, blade choice already handled, I still had to choose shave prep. I decided on my customary cold water to minimize dryness and perhaps irritation as well. Instead of shave soap, I chose the Old Woodward brand of shave oil and shave butter, which always provides me with confidence for a smooth shave.
The 37C has a stout, short handle at 2-15/16", but which is easy to hold and maneuver.
The total weight of the instrument is a hefty 76 grams.

I washed with soap and cold water, then massaged more cold water into my stubble. I applied the shave oil and then spread a thin layer of the shave butter on my beard.

UPDATE: This is the blade exposure and angle at the right
side of the blade; small angle shears and neutral exposure
are fairly face friendly, but the blade-bar gap (not visible) is
large at this end, which make the capability
large and aggressive.
The first pass with the grain was smooth and uneventful. I was careful to use very light pressure. No nicks, cuts, or weepers. Encouraged and more confident, I rinsed, spread more shave butter, and went right away for an against-the-grain (ATG) pass thinking to minimize irritation from too many strokes on my uber-sensitive skin, and trusting that the efficiency of the slant design was up to the challenge.

Started the second pass with my lower neck, always a challenge there. No pulling, pain, or apparent harshness, so I went on to my face. Continued with the ATG, but as I progressed, I noticed emerging weepers on my neck. Redoubling my efforts to maintain a light touch, I finished the shave with cross-the-grain strokes on my upper lip and below the corners of my mouth, where I always avoid ATG strokes.
UPDATE: Blade angle at this end of the blade is larger, more
harsh, but is offset to some degree by the smaller blade-bar gap
(not visible). The blade exposure is neutral at this end as well.

I rinsed, checking for any areas not smooth. I applied more shave butter and did some touch up strokes.

Then a rinse with cold water, and some witch hazel. Then a quick swipe or two on the weepers with a wet styptic pencil. The face air dries as I clean up the tools and sink area, then apply a little after-shave balm with added drops of vitamin-e oil.

The net result, you wonder? A very smooth, close shave. Initially very comfortable as well. Then for about two hours after the shave, I did experience some razor burn and minor visible irritation on my neck.

So the slant isn't a face eater and shouldn't be feared, despite its menacing, toothed, maniacal grin. However, it does require a very light touch if one has sensitive skin. Tomorrow I will focus on even lighter pressure, shorter strokes, and will not shave ATG in the second pass. I can tell that this beast will be tamed when we get better acquainted.

So there's more to come... Until then, happy shaving!

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