Monday, January 2, 2017

Fresh Perspective on My Gillette Slim Adjustable

My vintage 1963 Gillette Slim Adjustable razor is an interesting instrument. I have recently come to fully appreciate it, and have given it a place in my regular stable of daily-use razors.

The Slim set to it's mildest adjustment. Note the positive blade
exposure at A. The blade-bar gap is the distance from A to B.

It is interesting because no matter what the setting from 1 (extremely mild) to 9 (pretty damned aggressive), the blade exposure is always positive. (For those who haven't read most of my articles, a positive blade exposure means that the blade edge is above the shave plane, which is formed by the top cap and safety bar.) At a setting of one, the positive blade exposure is small -- as is the blade-bar span. The the opposite extreme, the positive blade exposure is greater, and the blade-bar span is much greater as well.

On its max-aggressive setting, the blade exposure is more positive
and the blade-bar span is much greater. Handle with care!

As I've come to understand this razor, I now use it at settings of 1 or 2. This allows me to take advantage of the more aggressive aspect of its milder settings, which is the slightly positive blade exposure, which helps to get a close shave with little risk -- as long as I maintain very light pressure of razor against face.

The aggressiveness of the positive blade exposure at these mild settings is mitigated by the small blade-bar span.

The result is that I can get a low-risk shave, but one that is reasonably close without doing too many extra razor strokes. I got a very nice shave this morning with the Slim and a SuperMax Titanium blade.

Happy shaving!


  1. I just recently got my 1975 Super-109 reconditioned and am really using it for the first time. So far so good, starting with 3 & 2 and two passes. It might not be as aggressive as I'm used to but it seems to do a good job. I'll work on technique and a journal for a month or more to see how the settings shape up.

    1. I looked up the 109: nice looking instrument. Did you buy this at auction or was it a good find somewhere else?

  2. Razor shown is "overclocked." Your 1 looks like my 9.

    JR's slim looks like mine, but his fatboy looks like your adjustable:
    "Both provide an excellent shave."

    Lol, maybe, if you treat it like a straight razor. I prefer the lower register, where on setting 1, the risers are flush with the baseplate, and the blade just sits on the safety bar. To get there, depress the spring with a pointed object when it's on "1." Then it should turn freely to "9" again, without having to force anything (which might break the spring, so be careful there).

    1. Actually not over clocked. Checked and rechecked. Confirmed original factory adjustment.

    2. I do appreciate the suggestion though. Regarding not being over clocked, further evidence lies in the razor's provenance. Unlike an anonymous one purchased used, this one was my dad's. Fiddling with the mechanism beyond normal adjustments was definitely not his style. But seriously, thanks again for the info.

    3. By the way, it's understandable to think the razor is overclocked based on the close-up photos, which can be misleading. However, if one compares this article's photo of the Slim on 1 to the photo of my ultra-mild Weishi 9306-F a few articles back, one can see the blade-bar spans are very similar. The only salient difference is that the Slim's blade exposure is slightly positive and the 9306's is negative.

    4. One more thought, Thad. It's possible that your Slim might be underclocked. Without a blade and set to 1, the top cap of the Slim should NOT be touching the safety bar platform. If they touch, that isn't a factory-original setting. Just a thought. Best regards.

    5. Yes, I do believe the same people who defined "overclocked" (which is some kind of computer reference) would call mine "underclocked." There's only two fully functional registers, I think, but even the factory may not have had a clear idea of which was more desirable. I've seen illustrations in Mr. Razor's instruction manuals showing both. I'm also looking at the elevation of the riser's "eyes" between the doors and the baseplate.

      Not that advertisements or bulletin boards are the ultimate authority, but I think I based my frame of reference primarily on these videos

      There's some mighty fine stroke slanting down here, man. Come on, you don't know what you're missing!

    6. Sorry, the "eyes" are the baseplate, between the end caps and the bomber-bay doors.

    7. I guess I can see under the blade, after all -- but it ain't easy. Like the guy in the vid said: one blade thickness.