Sunday, August 9, 2015

Best of Grandad: Lord L.6 Vs. Merkur 33

[Originally published on October 28, 2014. This article has been updated to correct the terminology, using the term span instead of gap to name the distance between the blade edge and the line on the safety bar that determines the shave plane.]

The Lord LP1822L DE razors, also known as the L.6 or just the L6, shaved much like my Merkur 33C Classic razor in informal comparison shaves. This impression was so strong that I assumed that the Lord razor head was a copy of the Merkur 33.

Yet last week in studying some comparison photos of both razor heads, this assumption was clearly wrong. So today I'm using new close-up photos to try to better understand the design differences between the two razors, and perhaps pinpoint where each might really excel as well as why they leave such similar initial shaving impressions.

[UPDATE: After a subsequent week of alternating between these two razor heads, I was able to distinguish between the two; they don't give exactly the same shave. As was predicted below merely from the following analysis in this article, careful shave trials also show that, all other things pretty much equal, the Lord gives a slightly closer shave, but also slightly higher risk.]
Merkur 33C razor head

Lord LP1822L (L6) razor head

Using the photos and general inspection, three similarities become evident:

Blade reveal:

For this design aspect, I not only used the photos included here, but I also simply looked at both razors from the top-cap view -- looking straight at the top cap (with blade installed, of course), and with the handle of the razor pointing away from my eyes and hidden from view. The respective blade reveals are about the same.

Blade angle:

I discovered that eyeballing the differences in the photos isn't always reliable. This was certainly true regarding blade angle. From just looking at the photos on my computer screen, I would have estimated the blade angle on the Lord razor to be smaller. Ah, but then I printed the photos on letter-size paper:
When printed on letter-size paper and the shave-plane and blade lines extended and measured with a protractor -- despite looking different when eyeballed, they measure the same: 30 degrees.
I took my ancient drafting kit -- you know, pencils, ruler, triangles, protractors, compasses, et cetera -- and extended the lines of the shave planes and the blades. Then using the protractor, I measured the blade angles. Despite initial appearances, the blade angles of both razors are the same, 30 degrees.

Blade exposure:

This is a tough call. Looking at both the on-line photos as well as the enlarged hard copies, finding the exact edge of the blade is somewhat difficult. What is not debatable is that both exposures are negative, that is, below the shave plane and within the protective cove formed by the top cap and baseplate. The Lord may protect the edge slightly more with a more negative exposure, but that's a difficult call to make with certainty. It's probably best to leave the call as they are similar.

Based on those three design factors, the razors should shave pretty much the same. But now it's time to consider the design differences and their potential impact:

Blade-bar span, safety-bar cross-section, and respective orientation:

These two design aspects should probably be considered together because, in combination, they influence how the edge meets hair and (ideally) avoids skin.

If one measures the blade-bar gap -- the shortest distance between blade edge and any point on the baseplate -- the gap on the Lord head is smaller, which would lead some to incorrectly  believe a less-aggressive shaving character. But the contour of its baseplate compensates, making the gap irrelevant. In fact, because of the ramp-in contour of the Lord's baseplate cross section, the span -- the distance between the blade edge and the point of the baseplate that determines the shave plane -- is actually much larger than the shortest-distance measurement -- and much larger than the Merkur's span as well. And it is the span, not the gap, that contributes in determining shave character of a razor head.

Therefore I would expect the Lord razor to be slightly more aggressive in its shaving character. I suggest that it would still give a mild and face-friendly shave -- in particular due to its blade exposure and angle. However, it might be a bit more inclined to nip loose skin, and it might more easily tackle a multi-day growth of beard. On the other hand, the ramp-in contour of the Lord baseplate may simply offset the effect of the smaller minimum-measurement blade-bar gap, thus giving them nearly identical shaving characteristics.

Obviously these differences between the razor heads are slight. This would explain the similarity in their respective shaving characters. I will be alternating razor heads this week, and will report my impressions in my end-of-week shave summary.

Happy shaving!


  1. My oldest son loves the L6 and for less than $10 on Amazon with shipping how can you go wrong. I bought a 2nd one for him to use at home when he's home from college during the semester. He pairs it with a boar brush and either Arko or Pre de Provence depending upon his mood.

    I used the L6 briefly but would definitely like a heavier handle vs. the stock one.

    Can't be beat, one of the better purchases I've made for DE shaving.

    1. He'd probably like Stirling; it's salted, like PdP. I don't know if you're in the same boat, but my skin can't handle a typical glycerine load. On the cheap side, Williams is about the same as Arko... I hope we can at least keep that in distribution, leave UPS out of one transaction.

    2. I'm not sure what you mean about PdP, salted? I actually started using PdP when I started DE shaving several years. I tried MWF on a whim and liked it but Arko has now seemed to win my heart over. I like the stick style and the twist up container makes it easy to use.

    3. @Thad, I took a look at your blog and found some of it tough to understand but I tried the diagonal strokes vs. straight down and wow I think you're on to something. :)