Open comb v Safety bar

Discussion in 'Double Edged Razors' started by ghause, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. I'm not sure I even have these terms right, but I am a month past the introduction post and I have questions.

    I have a Merkur 38C and I wish I went with a shorter handle. It took me about a month to get DE shaving down and I now find myself holding the thing by the end with the fulcrum far to far from the blade.

    I'm thinking about just picking up an HD, but I've been watching the FS forum and like the idea of going old school. Open comb seems like a good concept, lather right up to the blade. This raises the question, why do they call it a safety bar? Why aren't all razors open comb?

    Also, I have a rather wacky neck and there are bits where the head of the 38C do not really fit, are there razors with smaller heads? The Merkur seems a little bigger than it needs to be.

    Thank you.
  2. For old school open-comb, your best bet is a NEW Gillette. These were made during the 30s, and are very nice shavers with low-profile heads.
  3. Good to know.

    What is the difference between open comb and safety bar?
  4. Well, this is a NEW Gillette of the type I referred to. The little teeth comprise the open comb. The solid bar on your 38C is sometimes called a safety bar, but actually, both designs do the same thing: keep the razor from digging into your face. The open comb does allow for a closer shave, though.
  5. So, given my relatively light beard, it does not really matter if I choose open comb vs. safety bar. Given my perceived need for a small head, a NOS Gillette (fat boy?) from the 30s is the way to go?

    (Funny I thought vacuum tubes are the only things I ever thought I would refer to as NOS)
  6. ghause - I think you may have some of the lingo confused.

    The razor model to which norman refers is the Gillette NEW (that's the name of the model - NEW). This doesn't mean NOS, although a NOS NEW would be quite the find. These were made in the 30's

    A Fat Boy refers to the Gillette adjustable razor made in the late 50's - early 60's. This was replaced by another model, the longer and thinner Slim Adjustable.

    I also had a 38 - the blue handled version - and, while it's looks are stunning, I found it to be too big and heavy for my needs. I've settled into a happy rotation of the other fixed head Merkurs - Classic, HD and 1904.
    Good luck with your search. Feel free to ask questions and keep us posted on your progress.
  7. If the head on the Merkur's too big you definitely don't want the Fat Boy. I do love mine, though. And my open comb New.
  8. Hi ghause.... here's a link to a recent thread on open comb razors. On page 2 of this thread there's a post by Jim that discusses the differences between the Old and the New type of comb.

    As mentioned earlier in this thread, "New" refers to a particular style of Gillette razor. And, so does "Old." If you go to the Badger & Blade wiki, you'll find a listing of the various types of razors, along with pictures. The Tech style of razor, in which the handle screws into the head, rather than the whole razor being one-piece, is a safety bar type of razor with a relatively small head.

    Here's a direct link to the wiki's Safety Razor History page.

    Hope this helps...
  9. In what way does an open comb razor allow for a closer shave than a safety bar razor?
  10. tsv


    I have a thick beard, and the safety bar will ride on top of the whiskers. My open comb NEW does not have this issue. To compensate for this riding effect, I can crank up my Fat Boy, but the shave becomes more uncomfortable.
  11. You don't have to hold it by the end of the handle you know. I don't hold my 39C by the end of the handle (same handle, just a slant head) and it does wonderfully. That suggestion is mostly to prevent excess pressure while you're learning, once you've got your technique down you may find (as I did) that the balance point is usually a better place to hold.
  12. Thanks ateace. Got my grammar mixed up. New from the 30s did not really seem realistic, but I am rather new to this particular mania so what do I know.

    I hold the handle with my pinky on the butt, it is just where my hand wants to be, that is why I would like a shorter handle.

    I'll keep my eyes peeled for a NEW.

    Thanks guys.
  13. It's magic. . . :smile:
    I like my straight razors when I have time, but use a DE when I'm rushed, which is usually. I have three safety razors that are "go-to."

    Gillette NEW (like the pic, late 30s)- for days I want a really close shave.
    Gillette Tech (Fat-handle, 51) for days I want a quick, comfortable shave.
    Merkur HD (34G)- for "in-between" days.

    Dunno why this works, but it does. YMMV.

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