Proper Gillette Adjustable Settings

Discussion in 'Double Edged Razors' started by rhett121, Jan 27, 2007.

  1. Greetings all, I found this site a couple of weeks ago and have read through it obsessively. There's a bunch of really great info on here but there is one recurring theme that I can't help notice.

    I don't know if anyone knows the "proper" way to adjust a Gillette Adjustable.

    Maybe it's just my perception, or maybe it's just my razor (1966 Gillette Slim Adjustable -formerly my dads) but it seems that everyone turns the adjustment dial while the "silo doors" are closed tight. This WILL NOT give consistent results. The "silo doors" should be opened slightly for best results (it does make a big difference) and I'll tell you why.

    Let's say you open the doors and drop in a new blade with the dial set at 1. Now close the doors firmly and try to turn the adjustment knob all the way to 9. It gets stiff doesn't it? If you were to really pay attention and analyze what was going on you would notice that the blade is being "bent" more than it is being raised. It CAN NOT raise properly because the doors are holding it down. What happens now is that, the next time you open and close the doors, your blade acquires a completely different setting because it is NOT fighting the doors for space. It will also happen in the opposite manner if you start off high and turn lower settings (or anywhere in-between), and this leads to inconsistent shaves from one day to the next. I very closely analyzed this using a loupe and I could certainly see an obvious difference in blade positions. If you adjust the settings before closing the doors tight, you will get perfectly consistent shaves every time.

    Besides the blade (which is difficult to see unassisted at such a small level) you can also see the difference in the bottom of the handle. Watch the difference in travel of the inner rod between the two different methods. This is very important for beginners especially! I've noticed a lot of people recommending fixed blades to newbies for this reason and I completely disagree. My first razor 20 years ago was a 1950's SS Red Tip and it hurt my face and formed the way I've shaved my entire life... up until a few weeks ago, but I'll put that in a different post (I've had the 66GSA for about 8 years now). My point is, a properly adjusted "Adjustable Razor" CAN be turned down to let the new user become accustomed to it and grow with it (I currently shave on "3"). You just need to teach newbies the proper way TO adjust it.
    I think it's also harder on the razor to adjust it while tight, and last I checked, they weren't making these any more so I'm going to take care of this one.

    I hope this sheds a little more light on the subject because these razors are wonderful when used properly.
  2. Thanks for pointing this out. My 1962 adjustable is my daily shaver and I make adjustments between passes. I will relax the doors slightly tonight when making adjustments and see if I notice a difference.
  3. I'm going to give it a try. Nice post. Welcome to B&B!
  4. Some good observations here.

    The adjustable gillettes have a travel of .025" from #1 to #9
    Therefor one click is .0027" in travel.The average hair from your head is less than .004".Gilette made it this way to give you the fine tuning required to get a perfect shave. Adjusting when the doors are closed will not allow the precise travel required to fine tune. In many cases all that is happening is the tension spring in the handle is becoming more compressed.Test the spring by pushing up inside the handle to feel spring tension.

    "Bin there done that"

  5. Hmm...makes sense. I'll give it a whirl. I usually leave mine on one setting during a shave anyway (though there are occasions I will dial down for a last pass), so I could "set it and forget it".
  6. INteresting post, I appreciate the info as I am getting ready to start shaving with a 1959 Fat Boy and definitely don't want to make this learning process any harder then necessary by adding variables.
  7. This is very helpful info. Thanks for sharing it with us. I use 3 Gillette adjustables - Fat Boy, slim and super adjustable, so this is very pertinent to the quality of my shaves. Unfortunately I just finished shaving with the Fat Boy and now have to wait for my next shave to try it out. Anyone put this into practice and have results to report?

  8. Rhett --

    Welcome aboard and thanks for the tip. Sounds like a practice I'll adopt. BTW, the red-tip superspeeds are an excellent razor. I have two in excellent shape that I use on a regular basis. Regarded as an agressive razor, I find that they're like an adjustable set to '5' or so. It would be worth your revisiting the red-tip. They provide a great shave.

    -- John Gehman
  9. Any have a set of instructions from an adjustable that addresses how to change the setting? My hunch is that this is not an issue.
  10. Great info.

    I have to admit I was skeptical at first, but you are right on! I checked this out with my '69 super adjustable this morning. It makes a huge difference. I set my razor at 9 and then loosened to 1 and it's pretty scary what that makes 1 look like. (Not that I have any reason to do a pass on 9 and then on 1)

    I will certainly be opening the silo doors before changing settings from now on.
  11. Instructions aside, this makes good mechanical sense. I played with this this morning and can't say that there was a noticable difference in the shave but there is a very noticable difference in making the adjustment. It's a mechanical device, anything that reduces stress on the adjustment will increase the longevity and overall usefullness of this great tool.
  12. I never gave that a thought when using my Fatboy. I will definately try this.

  13. This proves nothing of course, but my dad taught me to shave with a DE around 1980 and he instructed me to open the doors slightly before adjusting.
  14. I noticed the same thing a couple if months ago when I first got my Slim Adjustable. If I closed the silo doors with the razor set to a 9 then tried to close it up to a 2 or 3, it wouldn't work. It took me a few minutes to figure out why.

    Great post.

  15. Welcome to B&B!!! I have always wondered whether to adjust tightened or not but didn't take the time to experiment. Thanks for doing the research for me! Great post!

  16. I'm wondering if the same wouldn't be true of my Vision. If I change tension with the bomb bay doors cracked open a bit, and then closed tight after the adjustment can I expect the same amount of "play"?
  17. johnniegold

    johnniegold Moderator Emeritus

    Came across this observation happenstance last week adjusting '61 Fatboy. Noticed that it was definitely easier to make adjustment with silo doors opened, at least slightly.
  18. I don't know "how" the Vision works (never used one). The Gillette has a sub-frame that raises up as you turn the dial and this moves the blade UP (as a matter of fact, with the doors open you can easily move it up and down with your finger from the underside of the razor head). If the doors are closed tight, this sub-frame hits the underside of the doors (watch as the doors "open", they actually raise "up" a little first to allow for this range of motion in the sub-frame.

    Look carefully at the Vision and see how it works. I know the Merkur Progress uses a different method (spring loaded) so it isn't quite the same as the Gillette. I think the Vision might be similar but it would only be speculation on my part.
  19. Great tip, thanks.
  20. Great post. I tried this on my Fat Boy. Works like a charm. Thanks for the heads-up!!:biggrin:

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