Before I get into the swing of things and begin reviewing this razor, let me first begin with a bit of background information. RW stands for Robert Williams, who is the gentleman who hand hammer, forged this, and many other fully “custom” straight razors. Who really is Robert – and where did he come from? Well – basically he’s a fella on this, and other shaving forums, who really enjoys shaving with, and collecting straight razors, and as a result became so passionate about his hobby, he began actually hand hammer forging his own straight razors in order to experience a better shave, and design a razor with traditional grinds (not made by Dovo/TI) to allow others the opportunity and experience to shave with, and own these types of razors… and at a reasonable price. In his shop in the basement of his home, he painstakingly hand hammer forges these creations from scratch. When I say this – I mean it… he isn’t buying a blade blank and grinding it down – he has a forge, anvil, and hammer – and goes to work… he even does his own heat treating. For this, I commend the gentleman and if for NO other reason than to support this gentleman, his craft, and his incredible efforts I have purchased and own 3 of his razors… and will likely purchase more. Something about a handmade in America, custom product, at a reasonable price (compared to a zowda or livi) from a “good ole boy” in his basement… nothing screams the American Spirit like Robert Williams!
Alright – enough B/S – down to business…
“The Good” – This is really a gorgeous razor. The scales are gorgeous, and the blade shines beautifully and the hammered spine is a nice touch. It is totally original, and unlike any razor I have seen/used before. The shape of the scales, the thickness, the heft – it’s all such a new, and exciting experience. This huge honkin’ 10/8ths of a wedge is just a complete monster of a razor, and it’s really a blast to use. Once honed (more on that in the “The Bad” section) it’s a remarkably good razor, and holds and edge like few other razors – in fact, it’ll take and keep a better edge than a Maestro Livi razor, which are quite a bit more expensive. I don’t care if you shaved yesterday… or haven’t shaved in 3 weeks – you’ll barely feel the difference when shaving with this razor as it is just such a fat hunk of steel, it just mows through any/everything in its path by merely using the weight of the razor.
The Spanish Tip makes this monster a little easier to use around the tighter areas of the face, such as around the nose – which really makes what would normally be a quite impractical razor – somewhat practical…
I really like the pins Robert uses, which allow you to adjust the tension of the hinge based on your preferred preference. Why ALL custom straight razor makers do not do this, I’ll never know, but it is a very cool/nifty feature…..
The weighting/balance on this razor is superb for being such a beast. Robert weighs out, and affixes the PERFECT weighted spacer in order to provide the optimal balance…
“The Bad” – The razors tang is far too small for a razor of this size, and as a result, it is a bit unwieldy on ones face, and it isn’t particularly easy to strop and hone because of the small tang. These razors also do not come shaving sharp, and because the steel is SO damn hard, it is really a miserable, miserable several week long experience to hone/test – hone/test – hone/test these razors to a point where by they’ll shave on par with a factory straight razor, and another week or two of playing around in order to get it to shave better than a Maestro... suffice to say – newbies need not apply. Since Robert is making these razors out of his home, and does not have the VERY extensive and VERY costly equipment of a full-blown shop, he is limited by his equipment and the attention to detail – or rather the detailed work just simply is not there – and while other custom makers are able to create very intricate tangs, spines, stipplings/grips and so on and so forth – the ones on these razors (and the branding/markings) are rather crude. The “grip” sawed into the tang of the razor is NOT evenly spaced and looks crude (and is not smooth around the cut notches) When looking at the razor closely, it just plumb doesn’t have the detailed work of the other – more expensive custom razors and there are small imperfections on the razors.
Kind of crude details – “R” is stamped crooked; the spine/tang of the razor is somewhat crude…
“Monkey Tail” isn’t smooth – is crudely shaped (see other pics above as well) and the “slashed” pattern on top of the monkey tail is crooked, crude and has sharp/unpolished edges….
Overall – I would say I am quite fond of this razor – and as far as custom razors go that I have PERSONALLY tried/experienced so far, I feel you get the best bang for the buck with a RW razor. While the finishing/detailed work is a bit crude, the fit and finish (as far as placement of the blade in the scales, clearance of the tang from the scales, fitting/shaping of the spacer, quality of the scales, etc) is simply first rate – and for everything that matters functionally – it has all necessary attributes. If you want something super fancy, and to be mostly show… a RW probably isn’t for you (EX: the scales on my MOP/Ivory RW razor are REALLY crudely assembled/mounted on a titanium slab) however, if you want a custom razor that shaves really – really damn good and for a reasonable price – the RW is your ticket for sure. Remember though – this is a one man operation and you get what you pay for, so if he invested in the equipment necessary, and put the time in necessary for finite “fancy” details, it would be reflected in the price, and a fully custom – hand hammer forged razor from Robert would quickly become out of many fellas grasp. For me – I’d rather have this razor, and an extra $600 or so in my pocket, than the “pretty” Maestro Livi razor I have – that has a few “quality” issues with it and does not shave as well.
Robert Williams razors… a must have for fellas who yearn for a fully custom, hand-hammer forged razor that can shave like a dream, and can be had for $300 (sometimes less) or so, depending on options.
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