Thursday, May 15, 2014

Razor-Review Journal: Merkur Slant 37C, Day 2

This is the second day of a new-razor trial using the Merkur Slant-Bar Razor, model 37C. To see the first day's post click here.

Today I decided to put a second shave on the Dorco 301 blade I used yesterday, still mounted in the 37C. (However, due to a life-long habit of taking care of my tools, I do disassemble, clean, and dry the razor each day.) I didn't emphasize yesterday that a slant-bar razor (or just a slant for short), is designed to mount a standard DE blade in its head such that the blade is twisted, giving the cutting edges a slight diagonal slant, similar in concept to the radically-slanted blade of a guillotine. In theory and in practice, a slanted blade cuts more efficiently. I proved that much yesterday, when I got a close shave in two passes (the second going against the grain of my beard) and minor touch ups.

The price I paid for that close, smooth shave was a bit of temporary razor burn and some minor weepers on my lower neck.

The question going forward is how long will it take me to refine my shaving technique to the point where I continue to get close, efficient shaves but without any resulting irritation? (Or will I be able to do it at all?)

I'm giving the learning curve a week, and this is day two.
It doesn't growl, but it can bite. This is the toothy, maniacal grin of the 37C slant-bar razor, sans blade. However, the idea is that with appropriate care, one can get a smooth, efficient, comfortable shave. Notice how both the top cap and safety bar slant, and, yes, the safety bar actually slants more that the top cap. This is intentional and compensates for the varying cut aggressiveness of the blade due to the razor's designed intentional twist of the blade -- unlike most straight-bar DEs, in which the blade is uniformly curved along its length.
Yesterday's maiden shave with this bad boy, the 37C, gave me some confidence that I'm not taking my life in my hands by using it. So today, day two of my personal slant challenge, I used an old stand-by product, Williams shave soap, and a shaving brush to make and apply the lather. Williams is much maligned in the oft-snobbish wet-shaving community, and I don't quite get it. Some don't like its fragrance. Others say it doesn't lather well. On both counts, I disagree. I'm not saying it's the best shave soap in the world, but it's inexpensive (down right cheap!), readily available at many drug stores in the U.S.A. (some priced better than others), it easily makes lots of creamy, long-lasting lather even in our area's hard water, and doesn't give a bad shave. I do find it drying of the skin when paired with hot water -- especially in the winter. The smell of a new puck is unpleasantly strong to my sniffer, but even so, the lather made from a new puck smells fine. And with use, the puck itself becomes mild smelling and pleasant. So with a new puck, I don't stick my nose in the shaving bowl, and merely enjoy the scent of the lather.

As I did yesterday, I chose to use cold, rather than hot, water for today's shave because I'm convinced that cold water is less drying on my skin, and may help to reduce post-shave irritation. Also like yesterday, I've used a shave oil as part of my pre-shave preparation, and also re-applied the oil prior to re-lathering between passes.

Same view as above but with blade mounted. The slant is more obvious with the blade present. This guy can easily mow down several day's growth without even breathing hard. But can I consistently get that great, efficient, baby-bottom-smooth shave without this big dog nipping at my neck? We'll see....
First pass WTG was uneventful other than the unusually close shave that this slant razor provides. I used a  very light touch and tried to keep my shaving strokes to about an inch long. Second pass was XTG (cross the grain), unlike yesterday, and was, for the most part, very close. I got three small weepers in this pass. Third pass was mostly ATG (against the grain), except for my most sensitive patches, which are upper lip and under the mouth, where I shave XTG from the opposite direction to the second pass.

No sensation of irritation or discomfort while shaving.

Cold water splash several times, then witch hazel. No styptic or alum applied; none needed -- the weepers were very minor. I let my face and neck air dry while I cleaned up my razor, the sink, and the counter area. Then I rubbed on a different (than yesterday's) after-shave balm mixed with a couple of drops of vitamin-E oil.

No razor burn today. There was slight visible irritation in a couple of spots on my neck, but after an hour or two, were largely gone. The resulting shave was very smooth -- pretty much baby-bottom smooth nearly everywhere, and without any additional touch-up strokes after the third pass.

So the Merkur slant and I are starting to develop a friendship. We're still getting acquainted, but my technique is quickly adapting to the requirements of the tool. Still some learning and technique adjusting to do.

That said, I'm starting to really like this razor for the following reasons:

  • The slant of the blade makes for an efficient cut without being harsh. (The reason for this is that by slanting any cutting blade and cutting on the diagonal, the angle of the point is effectively reduced, making the cutting edge effectively sharper.)
  • The twist of the blade makes the blade edge more rigid, making it less prone to micro vibrations, which probably offers a more comfortable shave.
Even though the 37C looks a bit intimidating, when used with a very light touch offers a premium shave. Because of the touch required, the 37C is probably a poor transition razor if one is going from a multi-bladed cartridge razor. However, if one uses a Merkur 33C, it's inexpensive knock off, the Lord LP1822L, or, better, the Merkur 34C (the heavy, fat-handled version of the 33C), these would be excellent transition razors to use before stepping up the big dog, the 37C.

Let's see if tomorrow I can put all the pieces together and get the paramount shave. Tune in then.

Happy shaving!

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