Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Phoenix Double-Open-Comb Razor and Other Options

My Latest Razor Acquisition -- Initial Impressions

Yesterday I received the Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements' (PAA)* double-open-comb razor (DOC), their original double-open-comb design, now nickel plated.

Although the lighting in this photo is misleading, the PAA DOC has an overall  nickel plating, which has a slight golden hue. The coloring of the handle in this photo is representative of the color of the razor head as well. It is the lighting in the photo that makes the razor head look more silvery than it really is.

My initial visual impression was that this is a very cool design. The nickel finish appears rich and flawless. Whenever I get a new double-edge razor, I ALWAYS do a complete visual inspection as I've outlined in a couple of previous articles. This inspection will reveal any significant misalignments as well as give an indication of the shave character of the instrument.

For example, when examining blade exposure (and alignment) as shown in Pic. 5 of the above-referenced inspection article, I saw that the blade exposure of this PAA DOC razor is pretty neutral; that is, the blade edge lies pretty much in or near the shave plane formed by the top cap and the safety guard. This tells me that this razor is not a threatening tiger of a razor, but isn't a lap cat either.

The feel of the razor is substantial, with most of the weight in the handle obviously due to the combed top cap, which has less material than a standard top cap in a common three-piece razor. The handle knurling is crisp and grippy.

For my first (and only so far) shave, I simply put into the DOC the used SuperMax Titanium blade from my previously-on-deck razor.

My visual inspection was telling. The neutral-ish blade exposure combined with the open-comb design allowed me to clearly feel the blade on skin. Being cautious with the first shave using an unfamiliar razor, I did a common three-pass shave -- which as you may know, is not something I usually do. After some final touch-up strokes, I ended up with a very close shave and, I have to say, very low irritation for such a close and deliberate shave.

Reasons Why the PAA DOC Makes a Favorable Impression

I will be using this razor again. After only one shave, it has worked its way into my at-hand stable of razors. The reasons for this are several as follows:
  • Open-comb designs are useful because, like straight razors and unlike safety-bar double-edge razors, they have the capability to easily shave longer hair. This makes them handy for removing beards, several days' growth, or cleaning up the back of one's neck between haircuts.
  • The DOC design actually is well suited to buffing strokes as well as an anti-raking shaving pattern -- both of which I commonly use in my daily shaves.
  • This razor is a low-irritation shaver despite the fact that it can provide very close shaves.
  • The crisp knurling, the unique double-comb design and the rich golden hue of the nickel plating make it a visually-impressive instrument.

Expanded Razor Options

I guess it's a good thing to have options. However, I'm a bit frustrated because on any given day I have impulses to shave with several razors. I continue to be drawn to the use of my two straight razors, the vintage five-eights hollow ground and the replaceable-blade barber razor (the Parker PTB). They always present an appealing technical challenge. I also like to regularly use my modern adjustables, the Parker Variant and the Ming Shi 2000S because of the closeness and safety of their shaves.

Now I've got another daily temptation in the PAA DOC, which for the moment I classify between the straights and the adjustables. It offers the opportunity for a very close shave while allowing me to mind my technique because of its close blade feel against my sensitive skin. And it is a low-irritation shaver, when properly used.

Happy shaving!

*affiliate organization

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