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Adjustable Razors

Does anyone know EXACTLY how adjustable razors make it so you can adjust the shave you want? What mechanism does it use? Also, is the Ming Shi adjustable worth a damn? I may be looking to get back into DE, but only if its $25 or below for the razor and its adjustable. The ming shi fits both these categories. Also, what's the experience among you gents who use adjustable razors vs fixed?
 
No one needs adjustable razors!
I used a safety razor, a Parker 99r, for about three years back around 2015. Lets just say that razor turned me off to DEs, until I realized there were affordable adjustables that are not just luxury shave handles. I want to try again, but with something that won't cause me weepers, and adjustables seem to be that ticket.
 
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Does anyone know EXACTLY how adjustable razors make it so you can adjust the shave you want? What mechanism does it use? Also, is the Ming Shi adjustable worth a damn? I may be looking to get back into DE, but only if its $25 or below for the razor and its adjustable. The ming shi fits both these categories. Also, what's the experience among you gents who use adjustable razors vs fixed?
I’ll try to answer, though I’m no expert.

- Adjustables (at least the vintage Gillette variety) usually work by moving the guard up or down based on setting, increasing/decreasing the blade gap. The actual blade does not change in bend or move.

- Some folks get great shaves with the Ming-shi. It’s a mixed bag though. Quality control is not the best. It’s also a very potentially aggressive razor.

- You should be able to find a good vintage Gillette adjustable for your price range.

- Adjustables are fun to experience and experiment with, but more often than not, I find a comfortable setting and leave it there. I like my Fatboy and my Slim very much though.
 
I’ll try to answer, though I’m no expert.

- Adjustables (at least the vintage Gillette variety) usually work by moving the guard up or down based on setting, increasing/decreasing the blade gap. The actual blade does not change in bend or move.

- Some folks get great shaves with the Ming-shi. It’s a mixed bag though. Quality control is not the best. It’s also a very potentially aggressive razor.

- You should be able to find a good vintage Gillette adjustable for your price range.

- Adjustables are fun to experience and experiment with, but more often than not, I find a comfortable setting and leave it there. I like my Fatboy and my Slim very much though.
Thanks. I wanted to know how these razors worked. The Ming Shi is aggressive, you say, thanks for the tip. I'll look into any Gillette vintage razors, I didn't think any of them would be around $25.
 
That was perhaps a bit of an aggressive response to a legitimate answer. There are many things that make a shave different and a razor does not need to be adjustable in order to alter the most significant of those things e.g. pressure and angle. That being said I love adjustable razors, modern and vintage razors mostly alter efficiency by increasing or decreasing blade gap. A larger blade gap allows more blade exposure to the skin because your skin can more easily flex between the guard and cap. I have used one ming shi, it was fine although even on its lowest settings it could be considered too aggressive for some. As far as vintage goes, I picked up my fatboy for 23$ after shipping and it was in fine shape. I really enjoy altering my adjustable razors between and amidst my passes, they can easily get some of the closest shaves by increasing the settings to pick up the last few stubborn hairs.
 
Skip the ming shi. It's utter crap. I have the qshave version. It's just stupidly aggressive, blade fussy and hard to use.

Get a vintage Gillette instead. I'm loving my black beauty and slim adjustable.

One nice thing about adjustable is the aggressiveness can be tweaked according to the blade you use or how much hair you have. Other than that, it all comes down to ergonomics.
 
That was perhaps a bit of an aggressive response to a legitimate answer. There are many things that make a shave different and a razor does not need to be adjustable in order to alter the most significant of those things e.g. pressure and angle. That being said I love adjustable razors, modern and vintage razors mostly alter efficiency by increasing or decreasing blade gap. A larger blade gap allows more blade exposure to the skin because your skin can more easily flex between the guard and cap. I have used one ming shi, it was fine although even on its lowest settings it could be considered too aggressive for some. As far as vintage goes, I picked up my fatboy for 23$ after shipping and it was in fine shape. I really enjoy altering my adjustable razors between and amidst my passes, they can easily get some of the closest shaves by increasing the settings to pick up the last few stubborn hairs.
Skip the ming shi. It's utter crap. I have the qshave version. It's just stupidly aggressive, blade fussy and hard to use.

Get a vintage Gillette instead. I'm loving my black beauty and slim adjustable.

One nice thing about adjustable is the aggressiveness can be tweaked according to the blade you use or how much hair you have. Other than that, it all comes down to ergonomics.
A Complete Reference: Vintage Gillette Adjustable Safety Razors - has a lot on Gillette adjustables, including pix of dismantled razors.

This Gillette instruction sheet shows which part of the head moves, and its effect on blade exposure.

Thanks guys. I appreciate the feedback. Also, to the person who put up the diagram, that was EXACTLY what I wanted to see!
 
Can't speak to the clones but I've loved my Futur. Used it for years. A bit tired of it now, but it taught me how to shave. And it taught me not to fear aggression. Don't know how long it would have taken to get there if I had to buy a new razor each time I was ready to try a step more.

The Futur has a heavy spring that pushes the head up while threads hold it down. Thus, a twist allows one to open or close the blade gap. Changing blade gap is just one of several ways to change a razor's aggressiveness but it's the way that can most easily be designed to change on the fly. However, another innovation is to sell razors with multiple base plates, each of which may alter several variables including blade exposure, gap and angle of attack.

Were I learning to shave now, as opposed to circa 2012, I'd probably go with one of the multiple base plate razors. Perhaps a Rockwell 6C.
 
I suggest scraping together a few more bucks to get a vintage Gillette adjustable. Don't even consider that futur clone.

According to my research, most users of vintage Gillette find it agreeable with their skin. I hardly ever see any complaint unless they get a broken one.

The futur clone is split 50/50. The odds of you liking or hating it is 50%. And there are tons of complaints.
 
I used to think that the Merkur Futur worked by flexing the blade to bring the edges closer to or farther from the guard bar, but apparently that is utter nonsense.
I guess the cap moves up and down, and the blade goes with it.
 
If you've not tried a vintage Gillette adjustable, it's not a bad place to begin. I tried the Slim, Black Beauty and Fatboy first, discovered that I preferred the heft of the FB and then invested in a Futur. One can't go wrong with any of those vintage Gillettes (other than overpaying, which is likely if you buy on the auction sites). Pick one up on BST or hunt one down in an antique store or estate sale.
 
I used to think that the Merkur Futur worked by flexing the blade to bring the edges closer to or farther from the guard bar, but apparently that is utter nonsense.
I guess the cap moves up and down, and the blade goes with it.
in my clone there's a spring inside to move the gap up and down.

anything higher than 3.5 looks really scary.
 
in my clone there's a spring inside to move the gap up and down.

anything higher than 3.5 looks really scary.
I've run my Futur at 18 (6 third time around after the guard stopped working). Didn't find it shaved appreciably different than at 6. Just had to be careful to not allow a fold of skin to get swallowed by the gap because THAT would be bad!
 
Increase your budget a few more dollars and a Gillette Slim Adjustable will be in your reach. All brass materials and a robust mechanism that lasts well with a little maintenance.
 
Maybe a used Merkur Progress might be in your price range.
A Rockwell 2c or 6c could be worth to have a look at.

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