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Do you really need adjustability in a razor? My answer is - NO.

Great. We agree. So tell me, if an adjustable razor has 9 settings that vary exposure AND gap simultaneously with each setting, how does that user not learn about correct angle and pressure? How does holding 9 different razors hamper a newbie? It seems the opposite would be true.

For argument sake, maybe we could assume the newbie started at 1, worked with his technique until he got good at that setting, then moved up, progressing to 9.

I'm not tracking how a Gillette adjustable is a bad thing, for anyone really.

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Increased gap affords a wider opportunity to utilize non-optimum angles. Thus what a newbie is learning as they "step up" to more aggressive settings on an adjustable is how to not hurt themselves , which is great but what's being learned is NOT how to optimize angle and pressure most expeditiously, .That skill may come in time messing with settings but it's best learned by figuring out how to maximize efficiency from a mild or at at least fixed head razor which doesn't offer poor technique the out of increasing gap as substitute for learning.

My comments are not specific to Gillette, same would go for a Merkur Futur for example. Shaving with a Futur wide open may be a challenge but only being able to get optimal results at that setting isn't an indication of real Progress (See what I did there ...)


No Gillette adjustables are not bad rhings, I got no problem with other people enjoying them. I have some and have owned more, but I don't think they're the best learning tools and are compromised shavers I don't feel the urge to use often.

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I get your point, I think, although I kinda disagree. I'm not saying they are perfect razors however, if at some point you are running through settings 1-9 without issues (nicks, cuts, weepers, irritation) then, surely you have a pretty decent grasp of angle and pressure, no? Whether you get to that point via an adjustable or 9 different 3 piece razors (at a much higher cost) doesn't really matter. Optimum results are optimum results, no matter the journey
 
I get your point, I think, although I kinda disagree. I'm not saying they are perfect razors however, if at some point you are running through settings 1-9 without issues (nicks, cuts, weepers, irritation) then, surely you have a pretty decent grasp of angle and pressure, no? Whether you get to that point via an adjustable or 9 different 3 piece razors (at a much higher cost) doesn't really matter. Optimum results are optimum results, no matter the journey
Yes, sure, we do agree there.

I always feel the need to push back on the concept he/she who shaves with the more aggressive razor is somehow the more advanced in their shaving skills, where I've come to believe as often as not the opposite is true.

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Yes, sure, we do agree there.

I always feel the need to push back on the concept he/she who shaves with the more aggressive razor is somehow the more advanced in their shaving skills, where I've come to believe as often as not the opposite is true.

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I see. By what standard do you judge the "good" shaver from the "bad"? Just curious.
 
I see. By what standard do you judge the "good" shaver from the "bad"? Just curious.
A good shaver, in addition to basic understanding of things like proper prep has learned to modify technique to get optimum results from the razor at hand.

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Last edited:

Esox

Ambassador
I think adjustables, like my Slim, are great learning tools if one wants to understand blade gap and how it affects a shave. As gap increases so does blade exposure, to a point.

Slim, setting 1.
SET_1.jpg

Slim, setting 9.
SET_9.jpg

Even on 9 it has barely neutral blade exposure. Increasing blade exposure will make a razor more efficient, but also more difficult to use. However, the Gillette adjustable razors can also be 'overclocked' to increase gap and exposure again.

If you shave with a very shallow angle, gap is irrelevant because you dont use it anyway. Taking advantage of blade gap is more effectively used at a steep angle and more so again at a neutral angle. This is where many shavers can have problems though. With razors that have a lot of blade exposure, such as a Fatip OC or R41, few shavers use them at the neutral design angle and instead moderate the usage of that blade exposure through manipulating the handle angle away from neutral until they find the proper combination of angle and pressure.

The only razors I use at their neutral design angles are razors with neutral or less blade exposure. All are too inefficient for my liking.

As @romsitsa said a few pages back, virtually all razors can be adjusted, to a point, either through the use of shims or by adjusting the tightness of the handle.

This thread as an example of shimming to increase effectiveness: Shimming the Wolfman - https://www.badgerandblade.com/forum/threads/shimming-the-wolfman.574479/

Its been my experience though that if I want a more effective shave, increasing blade exposure is what works. Give me less blade gap and generous exposure of a well supported blade and I'll have smoother, more comfortable and closer shave, but, they also need a more refined technique because razors that have those characteristics are more unforgiving in use.

I'm not sure there are any 'good' or 'bad' shavers but there may be some that havent yet learned to get the shave they may want. Proficiency comes from familiarity. A 'master' shaver, if one was to exist, in my mind would be able to get the best shave from any razor he happened to pick up. The only way that could be accomplished is through learning to use them all.
 
I think adjustables, like my Slim, are great learning tools if one wants to understand blade gap and how it affects a shave. As gap increases so does blade exposure, to a point.

Slim, setting 1.
View attachment 1027854

Slim, setting 9.
View attachment 1027855

Even on 9 it has barely neutral blade exposure. Increasing blade exposure will make a razor more efficient, but also more difficult to use. However, the Gillette adjustable razors can also be 'overclocked' to increase gap and exposure again.

If you shave with a very shallow angle, gap is irrelevant because you dont use it anyway. Taking advantage of blade gap is more effectively used at a steep angle and more so again at a neutral angle. This is where many shavers can have problems though. With razors that have a lot of blade exposure, such as a Fatip OC or R41, few shavers use them at the neutral design angle and instead moderate the usage of that blade exposure through manipulating the handle angle away from neutral until they find the proper combination of angle and pressure.

The only razors I use at their neutral design angles are razors with neutral or less blade exposure. All are too inefficient for my liking.

As @romsitsa said a few pages back, virtually all razors can be adjusted, to a point, either through the use of shims or by adjusting the tightness of the handle.

This thread as an example of shimming to increase effectiveness: Shimming the Wolfman - https://www.badgerandblade.com/forum/threads/shimming-the-wolfman.574479/

Its been my experience though that if I want a more effective shave, increasing blade exposure is what works. Give me less blade gap and generous exposure of a well supported blade and I'll have smoother, more comfortable and closer shave, but, they also need a more refined technique because razors that have those characteristics are more unforgiving in use.

I'm not sure there are any 'good' or 'bad' shavers but there may be some that havent yet learned to get the shave they may want. Proficiency comes from familiarity. A 'master' shaver, if one was to exist, in my mind would be able to get the best shave from any razor he happened to pick up. The only way that could be accomplished is through learning to use them all.
Thanks for the informative post. I suspect the fact that I am naturally a steep angle shaver explains why I tend to agree with just about everything you said. It makes sense. The mindset that guys who prefer gobs of gap are masking poor technique is where I struggle.
 

Esox

Ambassador
Thanks for the informative post. I suspect the fact that I am naturally a steep angle shaver explains why I tend to agree with just about everything you said. It makes sense. The mindset that guys who prefer gobs of gap are masking poor technique is where I struggle.
You're welcome.

Steep vs shallow shaving is something thats been on my mind a lot lately. I need to shave shallow with my Fatip and R41 because they have such generous blade exposure. My GEM SE's also have generous blade exposure, even the Bullet Tip, that is much milder than the MMOC. I can use either of my GEMS at any angle and, as a rule, prefer a steeper angle. That makes them even more effective.

The difference I've found in the last few months is in the blades themselves. Using my Grande, if I vary the angle even slightly the edge of the thinner DE blade will flex, tug the hair lifting my skin as it cuts and when it springs back, even that tiny amount, I can have at worst a weeper or, at best, irritation and/or redness. Because the GEM SE blades are more than twice as thick as DE blades, that doesnt happen. Because the blade doesnt flex when I shave with it, I can use it steeper and more effectively but it demands a very good technique for a comfortable and close shave.

Why I prefer SE's over DE's is because the thicker SE blades have removed the variable of blade flex from my shave completely.

Having a large blade gap combined with using a steep angle, as you've found through the use of shims, greatly increases the effectiveness of the blades ability to cut by changing the angle of blade edge to skin while increasing blade exposure.

If you like large blade gap of a well supported blade, such as the Wolfman design, you might try a devette if you havent.

@rabidus made one from a NEW SC.

Here's my DEvette made from from a NEW SC... I love the rigidity of the NEW SC, best of the NEWs...
tmp_2663-20170223_175605-1-274605770.jpg
Virtually unlimited available blade gap of a well supported edge. Although I'm sure its not easy to use, I'm also sure its capable of a very effective, efficient shave.

Finding the best combination of blade exposure and blade gap is a personal journey for each of us. I've said before that finding the ideal razor and having the ideal shave is out there for everyone. Understanding which aspects of a razors design will let you achieve it easily makes that road considerably shorter. The time it takes to understand it all is time well spent.
 
You're welcome.

Steep vs shallow shaving is something thats been on my mind a lot lately. I need to shave shallow with my Fatip and R41 because they have such generous blade exposure. My GEM SE's also have generous blade exposure, even the Bullet Tip, that is much milder than the MMOC. I can use either of my GEMS at any angle and, as a rule, prefer a steeper angle. That makes them even more effective.

The difference I've found in the last few months is in the blades themselves. Using my Grande, if I vary the angle even slightly the edge of the thinner DE blade will flex, tug the hair lifting my skin as it cuts and when it springs back, even that tiny amount, I can have at worst a weeper or, at best, irritation and/or redness. Because the GEM SE blades are more than twice as thick as DE blades, that doesnt happen. Because the blade doesnt flex when I shave with it, I can use it steeper and more effectively but it demands a very good technique for a comfortable and close shave.

Why I prefer SE's over DE's is because the thicker SE blades have removed the variable of blade flex from my shave completely.

Having a large blade gap combined with using a steep angle, as you've found through the use of shims, greatly increases the effectiveness of the blades ability to cut by changing the angle of blade edge to skin while increasing blade exposure.

If you like large blade gap of a well supported blade, such as the Wolfman design, you might try a devette if you havent.

@rabidus made one from a NEW SC.



Virtually unlimited available blade gap of a well supported edge. Although I'm sure its not easy to use, I'm also sure its capable of a very effective, efficient shave.

Finding the best combination of blade exposure and blade gap is a personal journey for each of us. I've said before that finding the ideal razor and having the ideal shave is out there for everyone. Understanding which aspects of a razors design will let you achieve it easily makes that road considerably shorter. The time it takes to understand it all is time well spent.

Thanks again for your thoughts. Which R41 version you talking about? 2011? that is the only razor we seem to have in common, so I'm curious.

I'm curious about "blade flex"...is it the same thing as blade chatter? I don't know that I've ever felt a blade flex. I know a lot of guys trash the Blackbird for not being very secure but I've not had that issue. Does a steep angle reduce the likelihood of that happening? Can you describe the sensation?

A DEvette, huh? I've seen some photos of one DuFour did. I'll try anything once but I'm not sure I'd reach for one. Plus, I've refused to try SE's, shavettes, straights and the like. My DE obsession has been kind of expensive. If I were try them and really like it, it could spiral out of control. I've finally pared my DE collection down far enough that my wife doesn't fuss, much anyway. I start introducing new gear and I might be single.
 
A good shaver, in addition to basic understanding of things like proper prep has learned to modify technique to get optimum results from the razor at hand.

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk

Thanks for the exchange. I appreciate your time.
 

Esox

Ambassador
Thanks again for your thoughts. Which R41 version you talking about? 2011? that is the only razor we seem to have in common, so I'm curious.

I'm curious about "blade flex"...is it the same thing as blade chatter? I don't know that I've ever felt a blade flex. I know a lot of guys trash the Blackbird for not being very secure but I've not had that issue. Does a steep angle reduce the likelihood of that happening? Can you describe the sensation?

A DEvette, huh? I've seen some photos of one DuFour did. I'll try anything once but I'm not sure I'd reach for one. Plus, I've refused to try SE's, shavettes, straights and the like. My DE obsession has been kind of expensive. If I were try them and really like it, it could spiral out of control. I've finally pared my DE collection down far enough that my wife doesn't fuss, much anyway. I start introducing new gear and I might be single.
My R41 is a late version and, possibly, a bit of an anomaly.

IMG_2786.JPG IMG_2792.jpg IMG_2796.jpg IMG_2798.jpg

The center of the comb is bowed outwards and upwards. The blade is clamped very well to the center four teeth of the comb. As you move away from the center of the base the effect of that becomes more pronounced. The plating is flawless. The geometry, not so much.

Despite its obvious flaws, I can have a really great shave with it but only with a Feather blade and then only for a single shave. The first blade I use in any new to me razor is Derby Extra. Its a top 3 blade in all my DE's but all my DE's are rigid designs. My first shave with my R41 and a Derby was one of the worst shaves I've ever had. A Polsilver was better but still not good enough. A fresh Feather is the only blade I use in it but even then because my stubble is so coarse and dense I cant shave directly ATG with it on my second pass. I need to stay directly XTG and only shave ATG on my third pass. Even then its a slow cautious shave because of the amount of blade flex.

If my R41 had a base plate the allowed the entire width of the blade to be clamped to the comb, as the center four teeth are, it wouldnt be a problem. If the razor had less blade exposure, it would be less of a problem.

The blade in my R41 will flex considerably but I dont think of that as blade chatter because the blade is clamped very well to the center four teeth. If it wasnt, it would chatter along its width. As it is, the blade can, I suppose, chatter closer to the sides because thats where it can flex.

My Gillette Regent in this post however, was very prone to chatter until I came up with a fix for it, as was my 1916 Gillette Single Ring until I fixed it.

Notice how the rolled over corners on the cap stopped the cap from mating properly with the base. Theres airspace around the blade. When I shaved with it the blade would flutter, chattering between cap and base audibly. That was an extremely difficult razor to shave with.

before (2).jpg

After 30 seconds with a steel nail file to remove those rolled over corners.

after (2).JPG

That completely removed all blade chatter by putting the cap in proper contact with the base. Also notice the difference in blade gap at the comb between both pictures. The base still isnt perfectly flat but its a very smooth and efficient shaver and I dont feel the need to to make it perfectly flat.

In each of those examples it was support from the base plate that was lacking to one degree or another. All I did with my Regent and Single Ring was increase the amount of support the base plate could give the blade.

There is no hope for my R41. If it wasnt Zamak I could fix it, but it is so I cant.

As blade exposure increases, support from the cap and base must also increase to maintain the same amount of rigidity at the edge. As blade exposure decreases, because theres less blade available to flex when under load, blade support can also decrease to maintain the same level of rigidity.

You mention Blackland. The Dart would work better for me than the Blackbird. The main difference is the support from the base plate and how the cap clamps the blade to the base.

Blackbird.
Blackland Blackbird.jpg

Dart. Ignore the black line denoting blade exposure. Its a web pic and not one I made.
Blackland Dart.jpg

Obviously, blade gap varies between them. Blade exposure may as well too. Blade angle is similar. The main difference is the amount of base plate support. Given the same blade geometries between the two the Dart would be the smoother shaver to me. That would quickly become apparent as blade exposure increased. Its a very different design than a Wolfman.

WR1.
WolfmanWR1.png

Wolfman razors support the blade in a completely different way. Full support both from the top and the bottom as if the blade is being held in a vise, which it basically is, and closer to the edge. Timeless razors offer the same basic design in regard to how and where they clamp the blade, as do many vintage Gillettes and Fatips.

When comparing different razor types or blade platforms; DE, GEM SE, AC SE, the main difference, and the only one I'm personally interested in, is the blade itself. GEM razors you can find very inexpensively. The least expensive option for AC blades I'm aware of is the RR Hawk.

The GEM PTFE blade is very good. Its very sharp and at .009" thick its also very rigid. AC blades are thicker again and I suspect will have a more refined edge.

In maybe the last year I've slowly moved away from DE's to SE's. I can have a fantastic shave with a DE and the only weakness I've found is the blade itself. The GEM SE blades, as I said are very good and cut as well as DE blades, if not better in some cases, but are a bit less refined and there arent as many choices in blade types or coatings. I think the AC blade platform has more options in that regard.
________________________________


Since I'm covering so much thats not about adjustable razors I will also add that, as far as I know, there are only two adjustable razors that have specific design elements to enhance rigidity of the blade. Most Gillette Fatboys and all Gillette Slims.

They have a single, simple design element that, when fully closed, firmly clamps the blade to the inside of the doors.

Instead of simply stamping out those openings as lather slots, the designers had an idea.

Slim_Blade_Support_Points.jpg

They left those tabs and set them pointing up. I put that very same idea into practice when my 'fixing' my Regent.
 
Mike that was an excellent review on blade rigidity in razors. For me personally I do not seem as effected by rigid designs as my smoothest razor is the RS10 and the base does not support the blade that far out and I have not received great shaves with the Karve which was designed to have great blade rigidity, but I believe many people are effected by blade rigidity and this review should help them pick out razors that would theoretically give them a better shave.
 

Esox

Ambassador
Mike that was an excellent review on blade rigidity in razors. For me personally I do not seem as effected by rigid designs as my smoothest razor is the RS10 and the base does not support the blade that far out and I have not received great shaves with the Karve which was designed to have great blade rigidity, but I believe many people are effected by blade rigidity and this review should help them pick out razors that would theoretically give them a better shave.
Thanks Mark.

No one can say what will give another their best shave, but understanding the differences can make the road to that end much shorter. Some need a lot of rigidity, some need very little. Most, will need something somewhere between the two extremes.

The same can be said about blade exposure, blade gap and to a point, blade angle. We all need to find our own ideal. Once we have, everything we've done to that point will be worth it.

I've gravitated to razors with the most blade exposure of the most rigid blades, my Fatip Grande and GEM MMOC. I find they give me a smoother shave with more predictable blade behavior. That also makes them extremely efficient but more difficult to use and it takes much longer to learn them to get the most from them.

The payoff for me has been a closer longer lasting BBS finish and, because the blades are more stable and predictable, my technique with them has become finely honed. The dividend of that is improved skin condition. My skin has improved since switching to mainly SE from mainly DE.
 
My R41 is a late version and, possibly, a bit of an anomaly.

View attachment 1028229 View attachment 1028230 View attachment 1028231 View attachment 1028232

The center of the comb is bowed outwards and upwards. The blade is clamped very well to the center four teeth of the comb. As you move away from the center of the base the effect of that becomes more pronounced. The plating is flawless. The geometry, not so much.

Despite its obvious flaws, I can have a really great shave with it but only with a Feather blade and then only for a single shave. The first blade I use in any new to me razor is Derby Extra. Its a top 3 blade in all my DE's but all my DE's are rigid designs. My first shave with my R41 and a Derby was one of the worst shaves I've ever had. A Polsilver was better but still not good enough. A fresh Feather is the only blade I use in it but even then because my stubble is so coarse and dense I cant shave directly ATG with it on my second pass. I need to stay directly XTG and only shave ATG on my third pass. Even then its a slow cautious shave because of the amount of blade flex.

If my R41 had a base plate the allowed the entire width of the blade to be clamped to the comb, as the center four teeth are, it wouldnt be a problem. If the razor had less blade exposure, it would be less of a problem.

The blade in my R41 will flex considerably but I dont think of that as blade chatter because the blade is clamped very well to the center four teeth. If it wasnt, it would chatter along its width. As it is, the blade can, I suppose, chatter closer to the sides because thats where it can flex.

My Gillette Regent in this post however, was very prone to chatter until I came up with a fix for it, as was my 1916 Gillette Single Ring until I fixed it.

Notice how the rolled over corners on the cap stopped the cap from mating properly with the base. Theres airspace around the blade. When I shaved with it the blade would flutter, chattering between cap and base audibly. That was an extremely difficult razor to shave with.

View attachment 1028241

After 30 seconds with a steel nail file to remove those rolled over corners.

View attachment 1028240

That completely removed all blade chatter by putting the cap in proper contact with the base. Also notice the difference in blade gap at the comb between both pictures. The base still isnt perfectly flat but its a very smooth and efficient shaver and I dont feel the need to to make it perfectly flat.

In each of those examples it was support from the base plate that was lacking to one degree or another. All I did with my Regent and Single Ring was increase the amount of support the base plate could give the blade.

There is no hope for my R41. If it wasnt Zamak I could fix it, but it is so I cant.

As blade exposure increases, support from the cap and base must also increase to maintain the same amount of rigidity at the edge. As blade exposure decreases, because theres less blade available to flex when under load, blade support can also decrease to maintain the same level of rigidity.

You mention Blackland. The Dart would work better for me than the Blackbird. The main difference is the support from the base plate and how the cap clamps the blade to the base.

Blackbird.
View attachment 1028251

Dart. Ignore the black line denoting blade exposure. Its a web pic and not one I made.
View attachment 1028253

Obviously, blade gap varies between them. Blade exposure may as well too. Blade angle is similar. The main difference is the amount of base plate support. Given the same blade geometries between the two the Dart would be the smoother shaver to me. That would quickly become apparent as blade exposure increased. Its a very different design than a Wolfman.

WR1.
View attachment 1028255

Wolfman razors support the blade in a completely different way. Full support both from the top and the bottom as if the blade is being held in a vise, which it basically is, and closer to the edge. Timeless razors offer the same basic design in regard to how and where they clamp the blade, as do many vintage Gillettes and Fatips.

When comparing different razor types or blade platforms; DE, GEM SE, AC SE, the main difference, and the only one I'm personally interested in, is the blade itself. GEM razors you can find very inexpensively. The least expensive option for AC blades I'm aware of is the RR Hawk.

The GEM PTFE blade is very good. Its very sharp and at .009" thick its also very rigid. AC blades are thicker again and I suspect will have a more refined edge.

In maybe the last year I've slowly moved away from DE's to SE's. I can have a fantastic shave with a DE and the only weakness I've found is the blade itself. The GEM SE blades, as I said are very good and cut as well as DE blades, if not better in some cases, but are a bit less refined and there arent as many choices in blade types or coatings. I think the AC blade platform has more options in that regard.
________________________________


Since I'm covering so much thats not about adjustable razors I will also add that, as far as I know, there are only two adjustable razors that have specific design elements to enhance rigidity of the blade. Most Gillette Fatboys and all Gillette Slims.

They have a single, simple design element that, when fully closed, firmly clamps the blade to the inside of the doors.

Instead of simply stamping out those openings as lather slots, the designers had an idea.

View attachment 1028267

They left those tabs and set them pointing up. I put that very same idea into practice when my 'fixing' my Regent.

Great work, Esox. Thanks for the insight. I can certainly see how your R41 could present some blade issues. I had the 2011 version at one point. While it cut close, I didn't care for the razor. Other razors produce similar results without being threatening.

While I've not experienced any kind of chatter with a Blackbird, I don't doubt those who do. I'm the better for it too because I think it's a fantastic head. Low gap doesn't define it, the exposure does, and I like it.
 
I put my money where my mouth was and cranked my Slim down to 2 today and shaved with a 5 shave old Lord Classic Super Stainless. It felt like a 1 blade Bic disposable. I was done in 2 minutes tops. It wasn't a great shave ( result wise ) by any means, and I'm sure I'll have shadow, but that wasn't the goal. It was fast and insanely comfortable, and socially acceptable.

I like having that flexibility in one razor. I'd be hard-pressed to match that mildness except maybe with my Feather Popular. Obviously this is a little used feature, but it is there when I want it.

Different horses for different courses.
 
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