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CARBON SHAVING CX-316L - REVIEW

O-Tay, peeps, here is my review of the Carbon Works CX-316L razor. (Which is still a work in progress).

I was super excited to receive the CX-316L a day early. It arrived Thursday night.

I was pretty excited. So I said, “What the heck?”...and proceeded to lather-up with some Mitchell’s Wool Fat soap, inserted a fresh Kai razor blade, and went for it with the same gusto I usually use with my Merkur razor.

So here is where my first mistakes were made.

1) I live in a place with hard water. So I have not mastered my Lather-Fu with the MWF yet. And although I use distilled water, I am not “all that” with the MWF yet.

2) I am using a brand new razor. So to go with one of the sharpest blades on the market, and then it also being one of the (if not THE) widest blades...well...not too swift if me.

3) Overconfidence, without restraint, killed the cat.

I was using a Merkur 38C Barber Pole razor beforehand, with the same Kai blade. (It gives me my closest shaves, on line with the Feather blades).

Long story short, I ended-up with some serious razor burn.

Only two small nicks, but me thinks they were just pimples that happened to grow at the wrong place, and at the wrong time, in their short, bloody, little lives.

Potassium alum was brutal across my entire face. No spot was exempt from the burning.

Drats! 😮

Lemme sleep and think on this overnight.

Everyone had said the CX-316L had a similar “blade gap” as the Merkur 38C I’ve been using. Maybe a bit more aggressive.

And that is exactly what I was looking for in this new blade.

So what happened?

Did I install the incorrectly?

Hmmm...

Then Friday morning I received the Captains Choice Sandalwood soap and balm.

Good timing if I say so myself.

So I got my second wind, and decided to shave my head with it today, Friday afternoon. (I wasn’t touching my face, as it was still sensitive from the razor burn from last night).

I was super careful, slow and methodical, and very conscious of the sound of my hair being shaved.

What the heck?!

Best head shave ever.

I could rub my hands on my crystal ball head and tell the future.

So what was the problem from last night?

Well, after reading a bunch of other stuff, I have realized that there is more than just “blade gap” that determines the quality of the shave.

It is the combination of the “blade exposure” (which I will talk about in a moment), the “angle of the blade,” and there is also the blade sharpness.

All these things, working in conjunction with each other, will determine the individuals shave. (If he has a coarse beard, fine head hair, sensitive areas on his face, etc...).

So I had to sit down and start with the basics.

Blades.

Hmmm...I could have swore I read something about Kai blades being wider than most.

And if that were true, it would mean that there would be more “blade exposure” than other blades, hence more aggressive.

So I got out my reloading calipers, and measured the width of all the blades I’ve been testing.

CLICK HERE FOR THE RESULTS

Sho Nuff...the Kai blades were super wide. Hence they were more aggressive.

So I took a few pictures of the same Kai blade on my Merkur 38C Barber Pole. Look at the pictures below to see how far the blade sticks out, and also look at the angle.

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Now take a look at the same Kai blade inserted into the Carbon Shaving CX-316L.

Look how far out it protrudes (making it much more aggressive), and also look at the blade angle. It is nowhere near as angled like when placed in the Merkur 38C Barber Pole.

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So as you can plainly tell, this CX-316L is MUCH MORE aggressive than the Merkur 38C...unlike what everyone had me thinking. (It’s actually no ones fault but my own. It’s my job to verify everything before investing in anything).

So now I understand that “blade gap” is not the only determining factor in a razors efficiency and smoothness.

Side note: I remember reading that in a Shaveologist’s article, he claimed that the Merkur blade gap was .71mm. And since my Carbon Shaving CX-316L was a .68mm blade gap, it should be very similar.

I was wrong.

Anyhoo...so now my search continues.

Realizing this, I went for a face and head shave today, Saturday, with the same Kai blade installed.

I had learned a few things in the last two days, so I was prepared with knowledge. I was cautious, and methodical.

Super nice shave this time around.

My face was totally fine after the shave, and there were no nicks.

So my current goal is go down in blade width, but still keep the sharpness.

I will be trying the Gillette Silver Blue (GSB) the next few days. And even going with a Personna Med Prep as well. (The latter being sharp, but also the narrowest).

This should give me a “less aggressive” shave, but also keeping the sharpness.

Another thing I learned was the blade angle. More specifically, how I hold the razor itself.

I found that giving it “more or less” angle, made the razor cut the whiskers either easier, or more audibly. The latter being less efficient in cutting the whiskers. (At least I believe so).

Anyhoo...I’m excited, as todays shave was pretty, darn, nice.

Hoping to fine tune the blades to the razor, for excellent future shaves.

I’ll post more later.

And THAT’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. 😁

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I’m sure you will dial it into perfection with more practice. Given the extra weight of the carbon, I’d recommend being conscious to not press at all, letting the weight of the razor do all the work. Your may also want to experiment with Astra blades. Gorgeous razor. Happy shaves!
 
Thanks to all the responses.

By the way, I also have that same picture of the razor parameters.

Like it states, one of the things I have noticed is that since the blade angle is shallower on the CX-316L, I must use a less-angled hold on the razor itself. This helped with shaving my noggin, which like the post stated...gave me the best head shave evah!

As for the weight, the Merkur 38C Barber Pole was also pretty heavy. So I am totally used to using a heavier razor.

But with the aggressiveness of this new CX-316L, I was even more cautious (especially on my head), and totally let the weight of the razor do it's ju-ju.

I am also learning the intricacies of a balanced razor, so I am readjusting where I hold the razor when I shave...and it's working flawlessly.
 
Having done a ton of research (aka. shopping) on higher-end razors, and as someone who prefers mild shaves with no blade feel, I seem to care more about blade exposure than blade gap.

Many reviews of the Cx-316L noted the increased amount of blade feel -- not surprised as all of their plates have positive blade exposure.
 
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...and as someone who prefers mild shaves with no blade feel, I seem to care more about blade exposure than blade gap.

Many reviews of the Cx-316L noted the increased about of blade feel -- not surprised as all of their plates have positive blade exposure.
Very good observation of your personal shaving style.

Being pretty new to DE shaving, I "heard" a lot about aggressiveness, but didn't really know what "aggressiveness entailed.

I guess (in this specific case), aggressiveness had to do with blade exposure, and not so much with the angle of the blade in the razor. (Which can also be a form of blade aggressiveness).
 
Thinking it out a bit more, it looks like "blade gap" is pretty important (if not most important) for letting the stubble-riddled lather to escape, and pass through the openings in the base plate openings.

OK, that's enough for now.

Off to play with the liddle estrogen and booger machine.

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Well, after reading a bunch of other stuff, I have realized that there is more than just “blade gap” that determines the quality of the shave.

It is the combination of the “blade exposure” (which I will talk about in a moment), the “angle of the blade,” and there is also the blade sharpness.

All these things, working in conjunction with each other, will determine the individuals shave. (If he has a coarse beard, fine head hair, sensitive areas on his face, etc...).
Glad to see you are learning the intricacies of razor parameters whereas far too many seem to focus on blade gap and ignore blade exposure. It does not help with manufacturers only giving figures for blade gap but rarely comment on exposure. The other parameter you cannot measure is how much pressure each person uses.
It also explains why razors shave differently and you have to adapt your style of shaving to each razor and blade combination.
The left side of your photos show blade reveal and on the right, because of the angle, it was difficult to compare blade exposure other than the Merkur has less blade exposure.
Thinking it out a bit more, it looks like "blade gap" is pretty important (if not most important) for letting the stubble-riddled lather to escape, and pass through the openings in the base plate openings.
The Fatip open comb has no blade gap but clears the lather without a problem and gives a great shave; it does drip after a rinse as the shaved lather displaces the water. This is a razor with significant blade exposure so is in the zero gap, +ve blade exposure razor group.
 
The left side of your photos show blade reveal and on the right, because of the angle, it was difficult to compare blade exposure other than the Merkur has less blade exposure.
It was challenging to take the pictures as it was.

I was using an older iPhone 8. And with the blade edges being narrower than a hair follicle, I was fortunate to get the existing pictures to show what I was trying to explain.
 
I don't have this razor but will get the chance to borrow one (and the + and ++ plates) as part of a pass around soon. This razor does have positive exposure according to my conversations with Sean.

"Our blade exposure is similar to Closed Comb Masamune Nodachi (cap), although our gap is .68 (vs their .9mm).

Our blade exposure would lie between the C and D plate (Karve), yet our gap is also smaller (vs their .85/.98mm).

On top of that the blade exposure changes depending on blade choice....However I agree it does swing the experience a lot. We played around with a number of different exposures and gap combinations.
Based on our customer's experience and our testing the following were good guides depending on what you want:

Nacet & Polsilver - Milder shave (less exposure)
Astra - Neutral
Kai blades - More aggressive/efficient feel"
 
Very helpful and informative thread. Being relatively new to WS, I am very interested in how using different razors requires one to modify their shaving technique. I’ve been using a variety of razors to familiarize myself with all the variables one must juggle to refine their technique. (This approach also dovetails nicely with RAD). The CX-316L strikes me as very well designed, with nice balance and maneuverability, and trending toward the more blade-forward and hence more aggressive end of the spectrum. It is a razor that taught me the value of paying close attention to what one does while shaving and introduced me to the real value of more demanding razors. One must be an “active participant” in the end result. No autopilot allowed. If done well, the outcome can be a great shave and a sense of accomplishment. Developing a new skill is just plain fun. The focus required can also be a temporary respite from the tensions of the day, which only adds to the reward of the enterprise. Happy shaving.
 

BigJ

Ambassador
Excellent write up!!

Three key messages (that I need to be reminded of from time to time):
#1. Be cautious with new kit!!
#2. Avoid changing too many variables at once!
#3. Blade gap is only one (and IMO not the most important) variable determining how a razor shaves!

:clap: :clap: :clap:
 
Nacet & Polsilver - Milder shave (less exposure)
Astra - Neutral
Kai blades - More aggressive/efficient feel”.
Anyone know what the blade widths are on the Gillette Nacet or the Polsilver?

I also heard that the Polsilver blades have been discontinued. (But I have not actually checked on purchasing any yet).

Anyone have a 5-pack of each that would like to make a swap?

I’ve got a few extra blades laying around if you wanna swap.
 
Anyone know what the blade widths are on the Gillette Nacet or the Polsilver?

I also heard that the Polsilver blades have been discontinued. (But I have not actually checked on purchasing any yet).

Anyone have a 5-pack of each that would like to make a swap?

I’ve got a few extra blades laying around if you wanna swap.
Wizamet Super Iridium are the same excellent blades as Polsilver... You can find them on eBay, they are shipped from overseas.
 
I don’t suggest shopping by blade gap. It’s good for relative measurements within a family of razors with similar geometry. But even then it can be a moot point (timeless bronze .38mm being more aggressive than their SS or Ti .68). It’s kind of like shopping for mattresses and trying to sort out the mess of names, terminology, coils, etc. try to find friends with razors to try or just buy them yourself, the only real way
 
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