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Badger Bill's Journey of Rediscovery

Friends,

It has been far too long since I’ve posted here. I used to be a pretty active forum member… in fact, there was a good stretch of time where I read literally every thread posted in the DE razor section of B&B. But as the story commonly goes, life got in the way, and I stepped away from B&B. I got very busy with a new job and I didn’t have as much time to browse B&B with regularity. I also found myself in a job that no longer required regular shaving. I started using an electric trimmer to maintain a fairly consistent level of scruff, and (I’m embarrassed to say) I only found myself shaving properly a couple of times per year for special occasions. For this I’d use a vintage Slim, not because it’s the right razor for me (it’s totally not), but because it was convenient to have an adjustable while travelling. Sure, on a regular basis I’d still use a DE to trim my cheeks and neck, but it’s not the same, and honestly, I’d do it just with water... no cream or post products. This has worked very well for me. And as time has passed, my shave den has gathered more and more dust.

Every now and then, I’ve wondered… should I just sell my razors? Even though I’ve hardly used them in recent memory, I always have decided that the answer is solidly no. Despite not using them, I still love having them. And many of them were very hard for me to get (I have a “thing” for stainless steel razors, so I had to work pretty hard to acquire many of them, whether it be due to their cost which represented a lot of money for me, their difficulty to source, or both). And honestly, I still get a lot of enjoyment out of simply handling them from time to time and seeing them on my shelf.

So what’s happened now? Well, I find myself in pretty much full self-isolation, trying to practice good social distancing, because I want to do my part to help prevent the virus that’s taken over so many parts of our daily lives from gaining even more momentum. And in this time, I’ve found myself suddenly wanting to get back into wet shaving. I have plenty of time on my hands. And lucky for me, I have a fully stocked shave den too. :thumbup:

Am I going to return to being a prolific B&B poster? Almost certainly not. I just don’t have the time or energy for it. But I have found myself reading the forums more over the past couple of weeks, and I have been getting enjoyment out of reading some fun threads that have caught my eye.

I’ve also decided to reacquaint myself with some of my favorite razors in my den. Hence the creation of this thread. I figure that if I post my experiences here it will help me keep track of what I’m thinking about the various razors that I will rotate through as I learn what I like again most, what I like less, and what’s in between. I’m interested to see if my preferences today still line up with what I liked years ago or if my face/skin/beard has changed in any ways that make me shift in different directions. So I’m thinking that I’ll post my experiences here to this thread and see how it goes. When will I stop? I don’t know… probably when I’ve gotten a good feeling for the favorites in my rotation, whenever that is. I don’t expect this thread to go on forever. Or, maybe I’ll stop when you guys tell me that I’ve lost my mind and that this is the most boring thread in B&B history. :lol::lol: But maybe there’s a small chance that some of you out there will find this interesting or enjoyable to read so maybe there’s a point in me writing this up after all.

We will see! Anyhow, feel free to add any thoughts that you have to this thread… can be related to what I’m posting, or can be related to your own journeys of rediscovery. I’ll be interested to see what you guys think.

Ok – before you all have the admins ban me for writing a ridiculously lengthy post that rambles on for far too long about nothing, let me get to the first shave.

For my first proper shave in FAR too long, I decided to use an old favorite. The Above the Tie H2 open comb. I bought this from Stan a long time back before he retired. Some background on why I chose this razor for my first shave. I have a very thick, tough beard paired with extremely sensitive skin. It’s a strange combination that makes things difficult for me. Over the years I’ve found that, unless I’ve shaved recently… i.e. within the past several days, I typically prefer very aggressive razors with ultra sharp blades in a two pass shave (With and then Across). Going against is usually not a wise move for me as it just gives me more problems than it’s worth (unless I’m using a much milder razor). So the H2 seemed like a great place to start.

As for a handle, I decided to pair it with one of my favorites… the UFO Kaiser from Rafael. Specifically, the “long” version. This is the handle that was named after his beloved dog. Now I know that plenty has been written about UFO so I’m not going to repeat it all here. Some newer members might not even know what UFO is. Others might express frustration about how hard it is to source a UFO. I’m not going to get into this too much here right now, but what I’ll say is this: most people who have actually used one will agree that UFOs are some of the finest razor handles out there. In my personal opinion, after having worked hard to acquire several UFO pieces (some from Rafael directly, others second hand from the original owners), there is nothing else out there quite like them. They are pieces of art. Masterpieces, plain and simple. I actually like my UFOs more than many of my razor heads, if that tells you anything.

Anyhow, enough about that… but maybe now you understand why I chose to use a UFO for my first shave at least. And I chose the Kaiser specifically because its long length and relatively heavy weight tend to pair well with an aggressive razor for me. Too light a handle on a heavy, aggressive stainless head tends to be a bit unbalanced for me and often leads to more nicks and irritation. With a heavy handle, I can let the weight of the razor do the work. This cuts down on the small changes in head angle that can lead to disaster for me if I’m using an aggressive razor.

To round it out, I chose a feather blade (always my favorite), a nice old 2-band badger brush, and a La Toja stick. This is one of the best soaps out there IMO… no judgment, but if you can’t get a good lather with the La Toja stick, I’m sorry but you have problems :lol:. So I figured it would be a good place to start.

So how was the shave? All in all, it was the best my face has felt in years. Why have I been waiting so long to do this?!

The H2 never was my favorite razor, and I still don’t think it will be. But it does a nice job plowing through thick stubble on a first pass and then smooths everything out very well on the second pass. Now of course, the first pass was still a bit bumpy… but there are only a few razors in my den that can truly glide through thick stubble perfectly, and this isn’t one of them. That said, it still did a fine job and left me with a lovely result. And it makes up for it with how close the end result is after the second pass.

This experience reminded me just how much you feel the blade with the H2. It really jumps out at you. I’m not suggesting that my face felt raw… quite the opposite, but you definitely feel the blade in the H2 in a way that you don’t with many less aggressive razors. The H2 with a feather is a razor that can easily get out of control if you aren’t careful with your technique. Another thing I rediscovered… I love how the geometry of the H2 causes water to shoot across the head and out both ends in a steady stream when held under running water. This clears out the shavings from the head very nicely. All ATT open combs do this in my experience, but it’s most pronounced on the H2 so that’s always fun to see.

At the end of the shave, I was left with a very smooth, close result. Was it perfectly smooth? Nope. But my shaves never have been… and that’s by choice. I always have some mild roughness left in a couple of spots on my chin, and it’s just not worth it to chase them. I’ve learned that the hard way over the years. All and all I was very satisfied with the final result. There was a bit of irritation on my neck, but this was cleared up very easily with a few splashes of North from the Captain (I see that he has discontinued this scent… oh no!! ). The Captain’s splashes are the best in my experience… they always make me feel just right after a shave.

So there you have it! That’s shave #1. I’d rate it as follows:

Closeness of shave: 9/10

Comfort: 8/10

The experience, generally: 8.5/10

Note: the math on these ratings may not always add up… it’s totally subjective. And the rating I give a shave may not be the same rating I would give it using the same razor another day… it has just as much to do with my face as anything else. If I shaved with this same razor tomorrow I guarantee I’d give it a lower rating because the shave would be far less comfortable (my skin doesn’t tolerate shaves multiple days in a row very well, let alone with an aggressive razor). What I’ll tell you is this: I will do my best here to always choose a razor that is optimal for the way that my face is feeling on any given day. So I’d say that these ratings will probably be the “best” I’d ever rate each of these razors. But I could rate them far worse if I didn’t pay attention and carefully choose the one that makes sense for me at a given time. I also reserve the right to go back and change these ratings as I run through additional razors and refine my opinions. I can do what I want because it’s my thread, remember? :thumbup: Can’t wait for the next one. Cheers!

Oh and here’s one bad picture of the razor because nobody should write a thread this long and include not even one picture.
And I promise my future posts to this thread will be MUCH shorter.
 

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Nice write-up, enjoyed reading it.

I too took time off from wetshaving and recently got back in. For me it was about a decade away and I only shaved twice a week during that time due to irritation from cartridges. Now I have full blown soap aquisition disorder and I'm only three months back in!
 
Thanks guys! Glad you enjoyed the write up. Was glad to get back into it.

I too took time off from wetshaving and recently got back in. For me it was about a decade away and I only shaved twice a week during that time due to irritation from cartridges. Now I have full blown soap aquisition disorder and I'm only three months back in!

Oh no - is this what I'm in for?? :lol: :thumbup:

I'm getting reacquainted with some razors and blades I haven't used in a while, too.

Cool! Which ones? Any new favorites?

OK - time for a report on shave #2! I didn't actually shave two days in a row... I think I mentioned in my original post that I typically prefer to take a few days of rest between shaves (my face always thanks me!), but the first shave took a couple of days for me to write up and summarize for all of you so I was able to shave again this morning.

For shave #2, I selected the Above the Tie S2 - the slant open comb. I was so excited when this razor was announced because I love slants and I also love open combs. So I pretty much knew I had to place an order for this razor the moment I first heard about it. I paired it today with the Kronos handle. I've always loved this one from ATT... it doesn't look particularly beautiful (my opinion), but the knurling is incredibly grippy while still being soft and gentle on the fingers. Some hashed knurling is sharp and pointy. The knurling on the kronos is the opposite, yet it still manages to be one of the grippiest handles I own. And the length is great. So I really enjoy it.

I used a synthetic brush from Whipped Dog for this shave (they are really a great value!!, or, they were at least when I bought mine years ago). And for a soap, I decided to go with an old favorite - the RazoRock P160. I've noticed some variation in RR soaps - some work better for me than others. P160 is not the very best, but the smell is so good that I love using it anyways. And the lather is perfectly good (although I wouldn't personally use it with my most aggressive razors). Blade selected was a feather (as it will be 100% of the time for me).

I ended up doing my standard two pass shave (with and then across) with some selective touch up afterward. The first pass was really gentle and pleasant. However, I will say that the ATT S2 cuts surprisingly inefficiently compared to other slants that I've used. The first pass was a bit bumpy and the razor didn't glide totally smoothly as it got hung up on a stubble here and there. But the comfort was fantastic and it got reasonably close so then the second pass across the grain took everything down to a very nice and close level. I finished up with some Sandalwood splash from the Captain which left everything feeling lovely.

So what did I think about this experience overall? It was really nice. The S2 didn't give me nearly as close of a shave as the H2, however that's fine... the comfort level was high and the shave was still more than adequately smooth. It was striking how much less I felt the blade throughout the shave on the S2 vs. the H2. I also found myself moving more quickly through the shave as I didn't have to pay as close attention with the less aggressive razor (vs. the H2).

Ratings:

Closeness of shave: 8/10

Comfort: 9/10

The experience, generally: 8.5/10

Interestingly, the overall rating is the same as the H2, but the experiences were pretty different. The S2 was less close but more comfortable. The H2 was closer and smoother but I had to be much more careful which makes it a little bit less fun for me. I can't really say that one of these razors is better than the other... it more depends on what you are looking for on any given day. I will say this though... I think the H2 has much more personality than the S2. The S2 doesn't really stand out in any way... but I don't mean that in the bad way. It gives a great shave. But I just mean that if I were using it blindfolded (which sounds like a terrible idea by the way! :lol: :lol:), I probably wouldn't be able to say with certainty that I was using the S2 vs some other razors. The H2 would stand out to me much more, for whatever that's worth.

Looking forward to the next one!
 
Alright gents. Time for an update. I'm sorry it took me so long to post another shave but the past week at work has been very difficult for me. Given the situation my company had to do a pretty large round of layoffs. Thankfully I was spared and still have a job but the same can't be said for a lot of my colleagues so last week I had to spend a lot of time dealing with all of that which left me little/no time for other things (shaving included). All I can say for now is that I'm thankful to still have employment myself and my thoughts go out to everyone impacted everywhere in so many different ways from this situation.

On to the next shave. This shave was very exciting for me because it was with a razor that had always been one of my favorites and so I was very curious to see how I felt about it after so much time away. I know much has been written and said about the brand that makes this razor (those of you who have been around for a while will know what I mean)... but I'm not interested in getting into that here. Think what you will of the brand, but separate from that, I can say that without a doubt this razor has always been one of my very most favorites.

Which razor is it? Well, the ikon slant, of course. This is the original version (as I know there were several). I don't know if the later versions are any different but for anyone who knows/cares about the nuances, I'm writing here about the original v1.

I paired the slant head with one of my absolute favorite handles. A very rare prototype from UFO called the U2. It's a spectacular handle with a threaded, wider base knob that can be swapped out for others (I have one in brass too for a cool two-tone look). The handle length is perfect, the weight and balance are perfect, and the design is beyond beautiful so you can see why it's one of my favorites I hope. To round out the shave I decided to use a nice 2-band badger brush that I had made for me a while back and some Chicago soap from Razorock. I don't care for the smell too much to be honest... it's very floral. Some of you will like it I'm sure, but for me it's a bit heavy on the flowers. But the performance is really nice and the richness of the lather more than makes up for the smell. The smell isn't that bad honestly... it's just not my favorite. And of course I used a fresh feather blade.

So how was the shave. In short, it was lovely. The ikon slant is such a unique razor. It's one of the most efficient heads I own... it slices through stubble like hardly any other, and it never gets hung up even one bit. It's most unique feature is the shockingly loud sound that it produces while cutting. If any razor sings, it's this one. It almost sounds to me like using a file on a piece of wood. You can hear it soooo clearly. Which is very important because since the shape of the head is nearly a perfect curve, it would probably be nearly impossible to find the correct blade angle without the wonderful feedback provided by the sound. The Ikon slant gives me one of the most perfect balances between closeness and comfort. The shave ended up being incredibly close but also incredibly comfortable. You do still need to be careful with this razor, but it won't bite you the way something like the ATT H2 would that I reviewed previously in this thread. The only negative I can think of with the Ikon slant is that it's a bit hard to align the blade properly because the tabs don't stick out beyond the head, but that's minor and after using it for a bit you'll figure out how to make the blade sit properly. And I'll stop talking about how amazing the UFO U2 handle is because otherwise this post will double in length, but simply let me say that it lived up to how much I love it. T

To finish up, I used some Lime splash from the Captain. Always a great choice for me.

Ratings:

Closeness of shave: 8.75/10

Comfort: 8.5/10

The experience, generally: 9/10

How in the world can I get 9 out of 10 when neither of the closeness/comfort ratings were 9? I don't know, as I said in my first post, the math is up to me, remember? :lol: But seriously. It's because the high closeness combined WITH the high comfort result in an experience and outcome that's very enjoyable for me.

And here are some pictures to show you how beautiful this razor is. Cheers!
 

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Ok everyone. I have another update to share. This last shave was with a really fun little razor. The Weber polished head on an original Weber bamboo style handle. Back in the day these seemed to be everywhere but it seems like now the Webers are very hard to find. Glad I got mine when I could, I guess! The bamboo handles are also my favorite type... I just love the waviness of the design. Obviously lots has been written about the wavy blade problems in the Webers but I was very careful when I bought mine and made sure to get one with no wavy blade. Well... I actually bet that ALL Webers have at least SOME wavy blade... i.e. I'm not sure that any are truly perfectly flat... but mine is entirely flat at least to my eye and I've never had a bad effect from a wavy blade on mine so for the sake of simplicity I will just say that mine seems flat enough for me.

The Weber is an interesting little razor. I don't know the exact weight and I'm not going to go measure it, but I can tell you that it feels quite heavy for it's size. The handle is very solid and dense and feels a lot heavier to me in the hand than some of my other razors that I guess must be heavier. Maybe it's because there is more weight in the handle vs. the head on the Weber. I don't know. But either way it has a wonderful weight and is incredibly pleasing to hold and manipulate with fine tuned motions during a shave.

For the shave I again used Chicago soap from Razorock (I still don't like the smell, but the performance is really good), a feather blade, and a nice little 2-band badger brush that I had made for me a while back.

On to the shave. Well, I'll say up front that maybe I used the Weber with a bit too much stubble for it as it's definitely a milder razor. But the first pass was hugely inefficient. I had to rinse it constantly and it still missed a bunch of stubble. I found myself actually having to apply some pressure to my face with the razor to get it to cut (which is usually a big no no!!). That said, the comfort level was off the charts... as in amazing. Absolutely zero irritation on the first pass. The second pass was also extremely comfortable and this time it actually got to cutting the stubble much more smoothly. That said, it still didn't give me a close shave by any stretch of the imagination. I hardly ever do a three pass shave (my face never appreciates the third pass ATG), but I did spend some time doing a fair bit of touch up/clean up after the second pass, and even still, the shave was not that close in the end. But it sure was comfortable. And the shave was still was perfectly acceptable. Well... maybe not to the touch. But perfectly acceptable from more than a foot or two away. I finished off with some splashes of Lime from the Captain which as always is one of my favorites.

It's getting hard for me to keep track of all the earlier ratings by scrolling up and down through this thread so I think I'll start copying everything into these subsequent posts so it's easier to compare. So, here are the ratings:

Razor
Closeness
Comfort
General Experience
ATT H2
9/10
8/10
8.5/10
ATT S2
8/10
9/10
8.5/10
Ikon Slant (original version)
8.75/10
8.5/10
9/10
Weber Polished Head
6.75/10
9.5/10
7.5/10

I wish I could rate the Weber higher because it was a lot of fun to use. But I just wasn't thrilled with the closeness at the end of the day and so that impacted my overall enjoyment. But maybe it's my fault because I started with perhaps a bit too much stubble for the Weber so I'll be sure to revisit it sometime soon and maybe I'll decide to modify my ratings.

Hope you enjoyed!
 
Alright gents - it's time for another update as I've enjoyed my next shave. I'm not sure how long I'll keep summarizing these here but Ted Danson seems to be enjoying at least so here's another. :thumbup:

This time I had a pretty lengthy amount of stubble (some might call it a starter beard)... and my face was feeling nice and calm, so I busted out the BIG GUNS. :thumbup1:

What do I mean by that? Well... I mean the razor that is the most aggressive in my den. In fact it's probably the most aggressive DE in almost any den. There is nothing else I've used that's quite like it. If you haven't guessed already, yep - it's the Muhle R41. And not just any R41. It's the seemingly now very hard to find 2011 variant.

For anyone who has used the R41, you know it's very different from most other razors. It demands respect. If you rush the shave, or if you let your technique slip, you'll pay for it. For anyone who hasn't used the 2011 version, all I can say is that the R41 2011 is an entirely different beast than the regular R41. So much so that I sold/traded my regular R41s a while back because they just weren't doing it for me. The 2011 is in a realm of its own.

So... this gets me to the shave. I was honestly pretty nervous about this shave because I hadn't used the 2011 in YEARS and have shaved very little recently as anyone reading this thread hopefully has gathered by now. :lol: So I didn't know if the 2011 would live up to my memory or if it would end in a big bloody mess.

I paired the 2011 with one of my favorite handles... the UFO Titan Fine from Rafael. The R41 2011 is made of pot metal (such a shame... what I'd give for a stainless version!!). For that reason, I bought several of them when they were readily available as I figured I'd tuck them away and work my way through them if my current one ever died from pot metal rot. Still going strong on my first one though, so that's a relief at least! But I digress. Let's get back to the shave. I chose the Titan because it's made of titanium. The light weight of the handle pairs well with the light weight of the 2011 head, but the fat size of the Titan is very easy to grip and allows much dexterity with such an unforgiving head (which is definitely needed!). Like all of the UFO handles, it's also just a thing of beauty too.

To round out the shave I used XXX soap from Razorock (it's the BEST) and one of my favorite two band badger brushes.

Well... all I can say is... wow. The 2011 did not disappoint. The first pass left me with a shave that was closer than my last full shave with the Weber. Irritation was zero. The second pass XTG was absolutely lovely as well. It left me with a very tiny, tiny bit of irritation in a couple of places on my chin which easily were remedied with a few splashes of Cat O Nine Tails from the Captain (after which I'd say the irritation went down to near zero). The shave was so close and smooth... I wouldn't dare go ATG with the 2011 (I don't even like doing it with "normal" razors), but who needs to with this thing as the second pass was crazy close. I don't think it's possible for me to get a closer shave than the shave I got with this razor... without drawing tons of blood, at least. Just don't try to use this razor in a rush... it demands care and patience... I recall that I made the mistake of rushing it once or twice and you can imagine what happened.

The other thing that's incredible is the blade feel on this razor. Some may hate it, but I personally really love the feeling. You REALLY feel the blade. Not in a bad way, but it makes it's presence known. It also makes an incredibly loud sound. Not as loud as the ikon slant... a bit rougher, but still quite loud nevertheless.

If you like aggressive razors, all I can say is that you should do yourself a favor and try the 2011 if you ever have the opportunity. It's definitely not a razor that I could shave with daily... not even several times a week... but it's perfect for me when I want a really close shave and already have a fair bit of stubble. The trick for me is use a very steep angle. Not too steep, but I remember that I tried a bunch of angles years ago and found that the steep angle worked best with the 2011 for me.

So on to the ratings:

Razor
Closeness
Comfort
General Experience
ATT H2
9/10
8/10
8.5/10
ATT S2
8/10
9/10
8.5/10
Ikon Slant (original version)
8.75/10
8.5/10
9/10
Weber Polished Head
6.75/10
9.5/10
7.5/10
Muhle R41 2011 version
11/10
8.5/10
9.5/10
 
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