Monday, October 27, 2014

The Most Important Photo of a DE Razor

One picture is said to be worth a thousand words. No where is this more true than regarding photos of razors. The key issue is which photo. This is a follow-on series to an article to I wrote a couple of weeks ago. We begin with a bit of review....

When razors are sold or otherwise discussed, many photos are provided. Yet there is one view that, pretty much, tells the whole story of how a razor will shave. That view is the side-view close up with blade installed.

This view, in a single well-shot picture, can reveal a straight-bar DE razor's key design characteristics which can allow anyone to understand the nature of a given razor-head design, and, most importantly, how it will behave with his skin, beard, and shaving habits.

A good side-view close-up shot reveals much:
  • The cross-section shape of the safety bar
  • The blade-bar gap
  • The blade reveal (how much of the blade is protruding beyond the top cap)
  • The blade exposure (how the blade edge is positioned in relation to the protective cove of the top cap and safety bar)
  • The blade angle in relation to the shave plane (formed by the top cap and safety bar)
When these design aspects are considered together, one can know how a razor head will shave without relying on subjective, incomplete, often conflicting, and too-often useless reviews and opinions posted on the Internet.

To maximize the utility of a side-view close up, a line drawn in to indicate the shave plane is most helpful so that one can more easily see the blade angle and exposure.
Merkur 33C razor head

Lord LP1822L (L6) razor head
Comparing the two photos above, one can see similarities:
  • Blade exposure
  • Blade angle in relation to the shave plane
  • Blade reveal
There are also differences:
  • Blade gap -- both size and orientation
  • Safety bar cross-section shape
For today, I am once again suggesting that anyone selling a DE razor or discussing its shaving characteristics would be well advised to provide such a side-view close-up photo with the shave plane drawn in for clarity. If that were a standard procedure, there would be much less mystery about how a given razor will behave with anyone's beard and skin. More importantly, there would be much less trial and error necessary to find a best-fit razor for anyone. I am convinced that not only would this simplify the process of choosing one's best-suited shaving instruments, it would also, in many cases, reduce the likelihood of razor acquisition disease.

Tomorrow's article will take this discussion to its logical conclusion by comparing and contrasting the practical implications of these design aspects for these Merkur and Lord razors. It will cover the features that combine to give similar shave impressions despite specific design differences. Also it will look at subtle shaving-behavior differences that might be predicted just by analyzing these solitary images of each razor. Then, with these concepts in mind, I'll be shaving again with both razor heads, and will report how this objective information has influenced my ability to be more discerning during test shaves. (Those are the plans, anyway. We'll see how they work out, starting tomorrow.)

Happy shaving!

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