Thursday, November 24, 2016

Simulating the WWII-Era Simplex Military Razor

The Simplex Military Razor that I discussed in an earlier article had a shaving head reminiscent of a pre-WWII Gillette Tech razor -- the one with the triangular lather slots. The metal top cap and baseplate had a black finish, and the Bakelite handle was black, too, but it also had (I believe) a brass threaded insert.

Because the pre-war Tech was a bit more aggressive than the post-war Techs, I decided to simulate a Simplex-military-razor shave by combining my Rimei RM2003 razor head with my Merkur 030 faux-Bakelite handle. I have found the Rimei razor head to be just a bit more aggressive in shave character than the post-war Techs, similar to how the pre-war Techs were also a bit more aggressive than their later incarnations. I used that Rimei-"Bakelite" combination for a shave earlier this week -- before I removed these razors and others from my bathroom razor drawer.

Although looking significantly different than the all-black military razor, I imagine the Simplex's shave would have been similar to my modern mock-up version.

My simulated "military" razor. Not black, but arguably similar
to the Simplex in shave character, weight, and balance.
I used a Lord Platinum Class blade that was near the end of its useful life, and that may have been a mistake. Though I shaved with grain initially, the lightness of the razor (more specifically its low mass), with its faux-Bakelite handle, caused it to bump a bit as it reluctantly cut whiskers on my first couple of strokes. I adjusted by using just a bit more pressure, which worked well enough -- except that a one-pass, with-grain shave doesn't cut closely enough to be satisfying. So against my better judgement I just had to shave from multiple directions, and a final few of those got me into a bit of trouble by opening a few weepers.

Ultimately it was a shave nearly as close as my daily shave with my Merkur 33C razor head, but with a couple of weepers that accepted a touch of styptic. In all, not a memorable shave -- at least not in a good way.

Though this head-handle combination required perhaps a bit more pressure than if I had paired a heavier handle, still, when the dust settled, the shave wasn't really much different than shaving with a stock Rimei RM2003 or with a pre-war Tech. Neither of these razors are ideal for my beard. But it was fun to imagine lathering up in my olive drab underwear and peering into the barracks mirror for my morning shave, with maybe the Andrews Sisters singing on some distant radio: "...He's the boogie-woogie bugle boy from company B..."

Semper Fi (for you jar heads), and happy shaving!

And happy Thanksgiving, too.

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