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A Few Good Men, Redux. $1.25 razor challenge…

Inspiration for the head design is pretty clear. 1979 Gillette Aluminum English Tech (Z3) top, AFM middle, 1971 Gillette Aluminum English Tech (R1) bottom.
 

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Shave's 6 and 7 in the books! Glad to have started and finished this challenge. For the most part I made it through unscathed. Couple of weepers and some irritation when trying to get a closer shave. Lots of tugging with every shave but post shave was ok. Would I recommend this blade razor combo to people I like? No. People I don't like? Maybe.
If on a low budget or looking for a travel razor I would recommend stepping up into the $5-$10 range and getting a Gillette Super Blue with blades, Lord L5 or L6 with blades or the Baili BT131also with blades. All shave way better then the AFM!
Thanks to GlazedBoker for this unique challenge!
 
DAY SEVEN, and the task is complete, first blade lasted seven shaves with no blood letting, nicks, and really have zero more to report that I have not said before.

Would recommend this little light weight, thin handed Razor for Travel, or if your hand have good grip.

Like Think I said before the Razors Head is TECH-esk, or Tech inspired.
 
Evening Shave - 06/15/24
Razor:
Muhle R41
Blade: Assured For Men Blade (1)
Soap: BSS #1
Brush: RazoRock Plissoft RR400
Aftershave: Clubman Whiskey Woods
Shave Comfort: 10/10 (Smooth)
Shave Quality: 9/10 (DFS+)
Shave Rating: 9.5/10
Comfortable last shave with the AFM blade. However, even though the blade is fresh it is not that sharp and does not yield a super close shave. Still it was a close enough shave for what I needed.

This Saturday I had my last shave with the AFM blades. The blades are usable, but not the sharpest tool in the shed. They do not have as long longevity as any "regular" blade. If I was a pinch sure these blades will work, but nothing I would prefer on a regular basis.

I did not try the AFM razor with another blade. I will try that at some point, but that will have to wait. This has been a great challenge and it taught me how to shave with quite the challenging setup.
 
Now that this thread is well and truly done, I'll have it to myself for 7 Assured shaves. After I scoured both Dollar Trees that lie within my radius of operations and found zilch...

The USPS delivered!! Four days coast to coast, eleven days ping ponging around this city, and a day for delivery. I'm shaving tonight - top drawer all the way, Grooming Dept pre-shave, SV 70th Anniversary, Simpson badger, and Pinaud Citrus Musk in a nod to a dear friend.

A hard traveling razor deserves a big welcome!
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I think a postal person of the highest wisdom and character defaced the machine-readable label content and forced the package into human-directed routing.
 
Assured for MEN - Blade 1, shave 1

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Just checking - per my Craftsman gap gauge, blade gap measures .89<gap<1.0

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Good prep, wet high lube lather, fear and loathing respect. I'm ready. At last.

I'm throwing this razor in at the deep end. Four day stubble. Some difficult edging between sideburns and my newly established circle/goatee.

Blade loading - no problem. The threads work, not smoothly, but they do their job.

Handle - too long, too light

Head - this is a Tech clone the way the Tin Man is an Iron Man clone

Finish - shiny! Suspiciously shiny for 'stainless steel'.

Blade (pulled from the center of the tuck) - no obvious flaws

The shave - No blood, but I chickened out of trying for a close shave on my neck. Yeah, it tugs. The blade does not feel well clamped. Riding the bar feels safe. Riding the cap feels dangerous. No angle in between meets any definition of 'dialed in'. When in doubt, I am a newly converted bar rider for the duration of this trial by steel. WTG, ATG, XTG, nothing is great. Tolerable is the goal.

Post-shave - no dramatic burn from alum or Pinaud. Still, it feels a bit hot and a lot irritated 30 minutes after.

These blades will eventually face judgement after they meet a real Tech.

I'm off to listen to Anita O'Day sing 'The Party's Over'.
 
I did a $5 all Dollar Tree kit shave today.

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The AFM brush has already been described accurately here. It had some mold flash on the bottom and wouldn't stand up stright, but I trimmed it with a knife and got it reasonably flat.

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The Luxury Men Shave Gel for Men is really water, and the stiff brush can't possibly do anything useful to it. The gel functioned acceptably. It definitely doesn't need any water. The Power Stick Soothing Balm After Shave feels like hand cream, but it gets absorbed into the skin quickly and doesn't leave a residue. My razor came in a bag, but it otherwise seems the same as what you guys describe in this thread.

This is an interesting blade. Microscopic images show a relatively smooth edge, and they figured out how to coat only the distal part of the bevel. I would assume, to save coating material. I wonder if they curved the stacks of blades bringing the apexes together for spraying, then curved them the other way to spray the other edges. At 58g cutting force, the new blade was sharper than Astra SP Russia or India, or Flydear SP, all fairly sharp blades. But what is really interesting about this blade is how quickly it dulls. Cutting Force increased by 10% with one shave, and doubled after chopping 9 strips of office paper. This is not the blade for the excalibur crowd. Even the one and done crowd will probably be happier with something that holds up better during one shave. I have been using blades ten times to see how they measure, but in this case, I am a little anxious that I may need to cut bait before we get there. I would like to have the data, so we shall see.

Date6/18/246/18/246/18/246/18/246/18/246/18/24
BladeAssured FM DTAssured FM DTAssured FM DTAssured FM DTAssured FM DTAssured FM DT
Shaves01P3P6P9P12
LocationCenterCenterCenterCenterCenterCenter
MediumStren 8Stren 8Stren 8Stren 8Stren 8Stren 8
Dulling SubstrateNewShaving FaceStpl Ppr Rubr PushStpl Ppr Rubr PushStpl Ppr Rubr PushStpl Ppr Rubr Push
Measurements303030303030
Std. Dev.4610134892
Median F (g)5766769798126.5
Mean F (g)58647897117159

In any case, this 1970s Tech clone did a fine job shaving my face with the sharp new blade. 8/10. DFS with no irritation and nice clean fresh feeling skin.
 
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I'm impressed by @helicopter .
1) He was able to source a full set of shave products at his Dollar Tree. My two Dollar Trees were limited to disposable razors with various branding and small cans of aerosol soap (Luxury and, at the 'upscale' DT they had Barbasol). The 'down market' DT (many empty shelves and bins, trash and dirt of the floors) did have one bottle of orange Assured for Men AS.
2) He has an instrumented protocol for examining blade sharpness. All I have are my impressions of shave results.

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Assured for MEN - Blade 1, shave 2, after dinner shave of ~24 hour stubble.

Soap - De Vergulde Hand stick (Sodium and potassium stearate and cocoate, basic soap built into a wet lather)

Brush - custom black walnut stubby, Omega boar knot

AS - alum, Pinaud Clubman

The blade felt smoother (duller). Cap riding no longer felt threatening. The downside - three passes could not yield a close shave. The beard and sideburn lines were particularly rough. On one day stubble, the blade did not tug. OK, it flunked.

No blood. Plenty of post-shave sting from the alum and Clubman. Lingering irritation after two hours.

Before the third pass on my neck I gave the blade a short touch up on my Aloxite No. 45 DE hone. There was no perceptible improvement. This hone has successfully honed Gillette three hole carbon steel blades. Truthfully, I did not expect it to improve the edge on a thin stainless blade.

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I am storing this blade in a pre-war Tech for later testing. I will launch another fresh AFM blade for my next shave.

The AFM razor is still shiny without any trace of discoloration or corrosion on any surface. The blade is also pristine in appearance. The threads are working, though careful alignment of head and handle is necessary before engaging. Exceeds expectations. (So far.)

Unsurprisingly, I have more interest in breaking up the AFM set and testing the razor and blade separately, than I do in attempting to achieve mediocrity in the next 5 full AFM shaves.

Fives times more into the breach, dear friends...
 
I did a $5 all Dollar Tree kit shave today.

View attachment 1864754

View attachment 1864755

The AFM brush has already been described accurately here. It had some mold flash on the bottom and wouldn't stand up stright, but I trimmed it with a knife and got it reasonably flat.

View attachment 1864756

The Luxury Men Shave Gel for Men is really water, and the stiff brush can't possibly do anything useful to it. The gel functioned acceptably. It definitely doesn't need any water. The Power Stick Soothing Balm After Shave feels like hand cream, but it gets absorbed into the skin quickly and doesn't leave a residue. My razor came in a bag, but it otherwise seems the same as what you guys describe in this thread.

This is an interesting blade. Microscopic images show a relatively smooth edge, and they figured out how to coat only the distal part of the bevel. I would assume, to save coating material. I wonder if they curved the stacks of blades bringing the apexes together for spraying, then curved them the other way to spray the other edges. At 58g cutting force, the new blade was sharper than Astra SP Russia or India, or Flydear SP, all fairly sharp blades. But what is really interesting about this blade is how quickly it dulls. Cutting Force increased by 10% with one shave, and doubled after chopping 9 strips of office paper. This is not the blade for the excalibur crowd. Even the one and done crowd will probably be happier with something that holds up better during one shave. I have been using blades ten times to see how they measure, but in this case, I am a little anxious that I may need to cut bait before we get there. I would like to have the data, so we shall see.

Date6/18/246/18/246/18/246/18/246/18/246/18/24
BladeAssured FM DTAssured FM DTAssured FM DTAssured FM DTAssured FM DTAssured FM DT
Shaves01P3P6P9P12
LocationCenterCenterCenterCenterCenterCenter
MediumStren 8Stren 8Stren 8Stren 8Stren 8Stren 8
Dulling SubstrateNewShaving FaceStpl Ppr Rubr PushStpl Ppr Rubr PushStpl Ppr Rubr PushStpl Ppr Rubr Push
Measurements303030303030
Std. Dev.4610134892
Median F (g)5766769798126.5
Mean F (g)58647897117159

In any case, this 1970s Tech clone did a fine job shaving my face with the sharp new blade. 8/10. DFS with no irritation and nice clean fresh feeling skin.
Yep you confirmed that it is a short lived blade. I think most of us experienced that as well. 👍 thank you for the accurate measurements.
 
Yep you confirmed that it is a short lived blade. I think most of us experienced that as well. 👍 thank you for the accurate measurements.
Did shave 2 on blade 1 today. This blade is so soft and terrible. Measurements indicate cutting force increased by 14% with today's shave. It is now duller than my Astra SPs were after ten shaves. I should have taken it easy on the second round. My face is razor-burned, and I didn't even get it smooth.

This blade has the same 0.10mm thickness as an Astra or Flydear with my calipers, but it feels thinner because it is so soft and flexible. I wonder what kind of steel they used to make it.
 
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I also needed my alum block because this is the worst blade I have ever used.
Worth quoting you in this thread. I hope the Jovan Musk put a good spin on a typically terrible Dollar Tree/AFM outing.

Giving up, not trying, judicious retreat from the line of battle - these are the essential skills for AFM shaving.

I was going to say "cut and run", but I've been running before the cut. "Redo it and weep" might be an inaccurate twist of a trite catchphrase, but it's accurate bad advice for AFM. "Let it be", "quit while you're ahead" are my watchwords.

Today's shave awaits. Charge of the light (razor) brigade...
 
Did shave 2 on blade 1 today. This blade is so soft and terrible. Measurements indicate cutting force increased by 14% with today's shave. It is now duller than my Astra SPs were after ten shaves. I should have taken it easy on the second round. My face is razor-burned, and I didn't even get it smooth.

This blade has the same 0.10mm thickness as an Astra or Flydear with my calipers, but it feels thinner because it is so soft and flexible. I wonder what kind of steel they used to make it.
I'm really not looking forward to my remaining shaves with the AFM combo, especially the second and third blade uses. I've been having a hectic work week so I treated myself to Game Changer .84 and Lupo .58 shaves instead 😬
 
I goaded myself into an extra bit of buffing on the cheeks and extra buffing using a pre-war fat handle Tech on the neck.

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Blade 2 (top of the tuck), shave 1, third AFM shave, about 16 hour stubble

AFM razor with a late assist from one of my pre-war Techs

Fresh AFM blade, light palm strop on one edge, very light corking on the other

Small scrubby boar re-knot brush

Prep was 3 lather/washes with Col. Conk old style glycerin lime, mentholated

Shave with very vintage high tallowate Williams Mug

Recovery with alum and decanted Pinaud Lime Sec. I'm saving up some money for post-AFM counseling. GoFundMe?

No discernible difference between palm stropped and corked edges. This was a less terrifying shave. I'm getting used to AFM, but not quite Stockholm Syndrome yet. No blood, no close, no comfortable, but I'm socially acceptable if no nuzzling is involved.

After a full three pass AFM shave I forged on. Both blade 1 (use 3) and blade 2 (use 1) were transferred sequentially to the pre-war Tech. This attempt to get a closer result was fruitless. At least it felt safe, unlike the AFM razor. The extra work makes irritation comparisons of little value. For what it's worth, this is the AFM irritation high mark so far.

After three shaves and no blood (knock wood), "dread" is too strong a word. Let's class my forward-looking attitude as "fretful annoyance". Blade 1 and 2 each have their own pre-war Tech to call home for now, but I'll be surprised if I shave again with either of them.

Per @helicopter "worst blade I have ever used" - words to live by.
 
Shave #4

Mid Day Shave - 06/21/24
Razor:
Assured For Men Razor 3-Piece
Blade: Assured For Men Blade (2)
Soap: TOBS Grapefruit
Brush: RazoRock 400
Aftershave: Nivea Men Deep Comfort After Shave - Vanilla & Bourbon

Switching to TOBS Grapefruit for the shaving cream instead of RazoRock XXX shave soap was the only change to my set up for today. The TOBS yielded a better and more hydrating lather than the XXX shave soap, but I’m not sure if it notably impacted the shave. That said, it’s probably my favorite scent and it was nice not needing to relather throughout the shave as much.

The shave itself was more of the same, the razor/blade combo was effective and left me with little to no irritation, but it just was not pleasant. End results were a close and respectable shave, but getting there wasn’t fun, consistent scraping feeling throughout the shave. This blade was on its second use but didn’t feel noticeably worst than day one in opinion. My familiarity with the razor and blade at this point probably helped to offset the fact that the blade was even duller.


Overall, I kinda like the razor but I kinda wish the blades never existed.
 

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The shave itself was more of the same, the razor/blade combo was effective and left me with little to no irritation, but it just was not pleasant. End results were a close and respectable shave, but getting there wasn’t fun, consistent scraping feeling throughout the shave.

This is the great mystery surrounding this version of the AFM razor and blade combination. The results are comparable with any other razor and blade combination - close with little to no cleanup. It costs US$1.25!! And it produces DFS+/BBS- results!!

Granted, in order to get the price down, there had to be compromises.

Still...US$1.25!!
 
And it produces DFS+/BBS- results!!

Not happening for me.

But on to the saga of another AFM shave, after a respite day with a Schick F. (I wanted a decent shave for a chicken and waffles fest with an old work friend I hadn't seen since pre-pandemic. Not taking any bloody chances Thursday.)

Friday evening, blade 3, shave 1, fourth AFM shave, about 32 hour stubble. The scene was set by an unfavorable review of the reduction of my ski beard to summer remnants.

A man can't please everyone, so best to please myself. The formerly luxuriant sideburns now are much reduced. The circle beard/goatee is a bit tighter. My SRs will have room to roam. And AFM did the job!
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The razor still looks pristine, unstained.

Angles came naturally. A super light touch has eased most of my fears.



Mama Bear's Grapefruit Ice and a scrubby boar knot in a vintage brass handle were a cool combo on a hot summer night.

The removal of several more square inches of 7 month old whiskers went surprisingly easily, with the familiar AFM tugging of course.

It was a basic N-S, S-N two pass shave after that. I skipped XTG and buffing. That reduced both skin irritation and my psychological irritation at the impossibility of a close shave with these blades. No try, no fail, no problem.

I gave it the post-shave test with alum and full strength Osage Rub. Minor alum sting and just the normal frontal assault from the Rub, no surprises.

Well, perhaps a little surprise to the LOTH who thought the beard might be invited back. Nope. The cheeks and jawline are clean, the sideburn lines are simple and straight, the circle is tight. I'm a happy chappy.

And, no, the AFM is not going into rotation. I can get results, but not enjoyment. Three more shaves. This blade is still loaded and will do the next one.
 
Saturday evening, a full day's stubble. AFM shave 5, blade 3 second use.

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Stirling Sheep - I haven't given this PIF from @flask28 enough slots in my rotation. It truly is a superior soap.

The fox is in among the sheep. The boar knot I set in this ceramic handle is not scrubby enough for my taste, but no worries. The Sheep didn't care, its lather was slick, wet, and precisely placed.

Shaving the newly cleared wide open spaces on my physiognomy was a simple pleasure. (Maybe Stockholm Syndrome has arrived?) Not a close shave, generally two passes, but I threw in XTG where I thought it might help.

No, the AFM blade was not sharp, XTG contributed little, the shave was not close. But the blade seemed only slightly duller than yesterday, more mellowed than decisively dulled. Not that I plan to give it a third outing.

Alum and Floïd the Genuine revealed significantly greater irritation than yesterday. I can still feel it as I write. I plan two shaves with blade 4, complete the challenge. Blade 5 will go fresh into a razor to be named later for at least one further test of this questionable flavor of steel wafer.

No blood yet, knock on wood.
 
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