- The Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2) was photographed and measured. General measurements (mass, length, center of mass, etc.) were made and safety razor parameters (blade exposure, guard span, blade angle, etc.) were analyzed.
- The nickel-plated brass razor is solidly built, but there are numerous surface imperfections
- Due to the shape and welding of the side pin ends, there is significant blade play with my Fatip Piccolo. This blade alignment issue is apparently common with Fatip razors.
- The blade tab overhang is okay, but not great
- Ridges along the handle really help reduce slip, but soap scum is difficult to clean out of the handle ridges
- Blade rigidity with the Fatip Piccolo is very good
- The Fatip Piccolo/Grande (Mk 2) and the OneBlade GENESIS/CORE have similar blade exposures and guard spans that can make the razors perform similarly, despite the obvious differences between the razors
- As is, I found the Fatip Piccolo to be much too aggressive for me due to the larger blade exposure and possibly the larger blade angle, despite the smaller guard span
- After extensive testing with different blades, blade exposures, blade gaps, and open versus closed combs, I found that extensively modifying the Fatip Piccolo, and using a sharp and smooth blade, for fairly neutral or slightly negative blade exposure worked best for me: (1) the relatively aggressive open combs were filled in with steel-reinforced epoxy putty to make gentler closed combs, (2) the Kai blade was chosen for its sharpness, smoothness, and longevity, (3) blade exposure was significantly reduced by two layers of ultra-high-molecular-weight (UHMW) tape on top of the cap and wrapped underneath its edges, and (4) blade exposure can be fine-tuned from fairly neutral to slightly negative with the addition of a reverse shim above the blade
- My modified Fatip Piccolo, with its closed combs and fairly neutral or slightly negative blade exposure, has become my new daily driver due to its smoother contour, lower friction, smaller guard span, larger blade rigidity, better efficiency, and lesser tendency to bite as my modified Bevel DE safety razor. The larger blade angle with the Piccolo is believed to cause more irritation, but shaving with the Piccolo is still better due to the multiple advantages.
The Fatip Piccolo is an Italian-made, three-piece, open-comb (OC), double-edge (DE) safety razor that is totally made of brass with nickel plating. ("Fatip" is pronounced in Italian with the "a" as in a doctor asking you to say "Ah" and the "i" like an "e" in "meet".) As claimed by Fatip, the open-comb head "guarantees the perfect, clean shave for every type of facial hair", as long as users "simply [slide]" the razor "without pressing". The Fatip Piccolo has its fans, some of which are members of the Piccolo Lovers Club (URL). The razor has a reputation for being aggressive, but that reputation applies more for the original version, which has earned a 7.5 out of 10 in the B&B table on DE razor aggressiveness (URL). Sometime in 2016, Fatip widened the cap (URL) and decreased the aggressiveness of its open-comb head to around 5 out of 10 (URL). The second and current version of the Fatip Piccolo, evaluated here, can be referred to as the "Mk 2" version.
Special Thanks to Raven Koenes
@Raven Koenes deserves special thanks for his great generosity and help. He had a spare Piccolo that he thought I might like to measure and try, and sure enough, he was right! I received the gift on June 16, 2018. It had only been taken out of the box and used once since being purchased in December 2017, so it came to me in like-new condition. Thanks, Rave!
The Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2) is my sixth DE safety razor, and as discussed in detail below, it has become my fourth daily driver, but only in a modified form.
Packaging Is Appropriate for the Price
Since the razor was used, its box had already been opened, but the razor still arrived in its original packaging. The box is pictured below, and inside the box is the razor in its open-ended clear bag. The packaging is appropriate for the price of the razor, in my opinion.
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2) Box: Angled, Front, and Rear Views
Solid Build, but Surface Imperfections Abound
Photographs of the Fatip Piccolo are shown below. According to Fatip, the razor is "distinguished by the classical design of its Greek column handle". This may be true, and the razor has a fine appearance, but upon close inspection, one can see all kinds of surface imperfections, including marks, rough spots, and scratches. The welds of the pins are particularly noticeable.
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2) with Blade: Angled Views
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2) with Blade: Front and Neutral Shave Plane Views
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2) Cap: Angled Views
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2) Baseplate: Angled Views and Close-Up
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2) Handle: Angled View and Close-Up
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2): Surface Imperfection Examples
Measurements of Razor without a Blade
Below is the general table of measurements for the razor without a blade. Mass was measured with a calibrated scale having a 0.01 g resolution and distances were measured with a calibrated digital caliper having a 0.01 mm resolution. The center of mass was found by carefully balancing the razor on a relatively thin edge of folded paper at the critical location marked on a piece of tape on the razor, measuring the distance with the caliper from the bottom of the razor handle, and then calculating the location from the top of the razor. Regarding the cap and baseplate, width dimensions are perpendicular to the guards and length dimensions run parallel to the guards, as observed from the top of the razor.
|Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2) DE Safety Razor: Measurements without a Blade|
|Mass||73.64 g [Fatip states 70 g]|
|Length||80.10 mm [Fatip states 80 mm]|
|Center of Mass from Top||28.54 mm|
|Head Height without Pins||9.03 mm|
|Handle Mass||42.35 g|
|Handle Length||75.20 mm [Fatip states 71 mm]|
|Handle Diameter||10.01 mm|
|Cap Mass||14.40 g|
|Cap Width||19.32 mm|
|Cap Length||40.89 mm|
|Cap Height without Pins||4.03 mm|
|Baseplate Mass||16.89 g|
|Baseplate Width||24.44 mm|
|Baseplate Length||42.13 mm [Fatip states 42 mm]|
|Baseplate Height||6.42 mm|
|Center Pin Diameter at Blade||4.39 mm|
|Side Pin Diameter at Blade, Maximum||4.79 mm|
|Tooth Thickness||0.90 mm|
|Tooth Gap||2.01 mm|
Analysis around Blade Cutting Edges
The methodology that was followed for determining parameter values around the blade cutting edges (URL) of a 1957 Gillette Tech (URL) was applied here, but slightly adjusted for the specific geometry of the Fatip Piccolo. The following overall procedure was employed:
- Measurements were taken of the cap and baseplate, as tabulated above, with care taken to make measurements that would help with analyzing parameters around the blade cutting edges
- The razor was loaded with a nominal 21.96 mm wide blade and the distance between cutting edges was measured as 21.52 mm using a calibrated digital caliper
- Using my accurate set of micrometer-measured feeler gauge blade combinations (URL), blade gap was accurately measured on each side of the razor to a precision of 0.01 mm by finding the thickest feeler gauge stack that fit at most places between the guard and the blade cutting edge with room to spare. The very even blade gaps were each found to be 0.14 mm.
- An investigation was conducted for measuring the neutral blade width, the blade width that causes zero blade exposure. Since even the smallest blade width (21.73 mm) from my reference blade catalogue caused positive blade exposure when the blade was shoved over to one side or the other, I was unable to physically measure the neutral blade width.
- A digital camera was set up for closely photographing the razor from its side. Wooden stands (URL) were used to vertically hold and easily adjust the placement of a metric scale and the razor. In particular, razor height was fine-tuned by raising and lowering the razor within its wooden stand, which helped with aligning the blade cutting edge height with the center of the camera lens. Aligning the blade cutting edge from the top was aided by a lined notecard that was taped into position such that one of the lines was in the vertical plane running forward from the center of the camera lens. Moving the razor into position was relatively easy compared to setting up the camera with wooden pieces, painter's tape, and small thin right-angle acrylic pieces to have the camera looking forward at the right height. The setup included hard stops for the camera to be repeatedly placed in the same position after rotating it up, taking out the memory card and/or battery, putting back the memory card and/or inserting a full battery, and rotating the camera back down into place.
- Close-up photographs were taken for analyzing parameters around the blade cutting edges, as shown below. After manually adjusting the camera's white balance, a bright secondary light was held close to the razor to highlight desired surfaces and provide a backlit background. Standard photographs looking down the blade cutting edges of a nominal 21.96 mm wide blade were taken. Photographs were also taken looking down a flat plastic piece against a cutting edge of the blade for quantifying shallow shave plane angles. Similar photographs would have been taken with the flat plastic piece against each guard for quantifying steep shave plane angles, but as much as I tried, I couldn't tape my square plastic piece against the steep shave planes because of the small guard spans, steeper angles, and geometric imperfections, so I eventually had to come up with a different method. For capturing the neutral shave planes, the normal blade was replaced with a shim. A blade modified for excessive exposure was used for better capturing of the blade planes, and with that same blade shifted over for zero blade exposure, a small metric scale was balanced on the razor and photographed for measuring neutral guard and cap spans.
- For capturing the steep shave plane angles, a method was developed that involved setting up the razor in a horizontal position with the head against a piece of paper. As shown below, the handle was aligned with lines on the paper and everything was taped into place. Then, I gently held the square plastic piece against a shave plane, aligned my small scale with the bottom of the plastic piece at the same time or after finding the shave plane, and used a pencil to mark the line for the shave plane against the piece of paper. After marking lines for the steep and shallow shave planes, the paper was scanned.
- Mean (average) dimensions around the blade cutting edges were found using physical and digital measurements. Blade and shave plane angles, along with neutral guard and cap spans, were digitally measured from their corresponding images using a free scalable vector graphics program. The average shallow shave plane angle from the lines-on-paper method was only one degree more than the average from the taped-on-plastic-piece method, giving me confidence that the steep shave plane angles from the lines-on-paper method were fairly accurate. For this razor, there is no simple pivot between the neutral and shallow shave planes or neutral and steep shave planes. More complicated trigonometric calculations were performed with extra measurements from the blade cutting edge side views, the measured neutral guard and cap spans, and measured plane angles to fairly estimate the blade width extensions from the neutral shave planes to the cutting edges of the 21.96 mm wide blade used in the analysis. Trigonometric approaches from both the steep and shallow shave planes yielded averages that were almost identical, which seemed to validate all measurements and both approaches. The neutral blade width was then estimated simply as 21.96 mm minus twice the average blade width extension. Neutral parameters were then used to calculate blade exposure, guard span, and cap span for a blade having a nominal width of 21.96 mm. Finally, the free-end/clamp distance was approximated using four width measurements and one angle measurement. This applied for a blade width of 21.96 mm, but using the neutral blade width, the mean free-end/clamp distance was traced back to the neutral shave plane as a reference value.
*See this ShaveWiki page for definitions
|Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2) DE Safety Razor: Neutral Values* Associated with Zero Blade Exposure|
|Neutral Blade Width||21.26 mm|
|Neutral Blade Angle||23.53 deg|
|Neutral Handle Angle||49.62 deg|
|Neutral Guard Span||0.89 mm|
|Neutral Cap Span||2.24 mm|
|Neutral Free-End/Clamp Distance||1.12 mm|
*See this ShaveWiki page for definitions
|Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2) DE Safety Razor: Parameter Values* Associated with Nominal Blade Width of 21.96 mm|
|Steep Blade Angle||33.20 deg (w/ 39.95 deg Handle Angle)|
|Neutral Blade Angle||23.53 deg (w/ 49.62 deg Handle Angle)|
|Shallow Blade Angle||20.39 deg (w/ 52.76 deg Handle Angle)|
|Blade Angle Range||12.81 deg|
|Blade Exposure||0.14 mm|
|Guard Span||0.57 mm|
|Cap Span||2.56 mm|
|Blade Gap||0.14 mm|
|Free-End/Clamp Distance||1.47 mm|
Blade Alignment Is Inferior
A well-known issue with the Fatip Piccolo, and other Fatip razors, regards blade alignment. Depending on the specific sample of the razor, there might exist a significant issue with blade alignment, requiring manual adjustment of the blade during loading if symmetric exposure is desired. Based on my measurements of many DE blades and of my Fatip Piccolo, the nominal side pin diameter provides about 0.19 mm of blade play for the average DE blade, while the center pin provides about 0.66 mm of blade play. These tolerances give the impression that the side pins might do a fair or good job of aligning a blade, but this only happens if the side pins are welded such that the narrowed ends of the side pins near the cap are filled in. As with the razor pictured above, due to the shape and welding of the side pin ends, the side pin diameters usually narrow significantly right near the inside surface of the cap. This causes significantly more blade play than the nominal value of 0.19 mm. Such is the case with my Fatip Piccolo. The blade alignment is not good. It can be frustrating to loosen the handle, adjust the blade, tighten the handle, and check the blade again, doing this repeatedly until even blade exposure is achieved.
Blade Tab Overhang Is Okay, Not Great
The average blade hangs past each side of the Fatip Piccolo's head by about 0.36 mm, based on my measurements and calculations. This amount of overhang is more than enough for allowing the user to manually adjust the blade alignment during loading. Less blade tab overhang, though, would make gripping the razor head more comfortable when tightening or loosening the handle. Bare hands can be used when tightening or loosening the handle, but a towel around the razor head provides safer loading and unloading of the blade.
Weight and Balance Are Good to Me
At about 2.6 oz., the weight of the Fatip Piccolo is fairly average and seems good to me, even if I might prefer a heavier razor. The center of mass at 1.1 in. from the top also seems good, providing a balance point that is neither too close nor too far from the head. The handle diameter is probably also fairly normal. Preferences for razor weight and balance vary from person to person, but as far as this user goes, the Fatip Piccolo has a good weight and balance.
Handle Ridges Help Reduce Slip
The ridges on the handle, as shown above, really help reduce slip because they are deep enough. Slipping could still theoretically occur, but with a normal grip, the ridges basically stop circumferential slipping and also significantly reduce the chances of lengthwise slipping. I would prefer deep knurling over deep ridges, but at least the Fatip Piccolo has the latter.
Blade Rigidity Is Very Good
Blade rigidity is the resistance to blade cutting edge deflection (URL). Compared to the five other razors that I've measured, the Fatip Piccolo has the smallest clamp distance and arguably the best blade rigidity. The superior clamp distance of 1.47 mm occurs at each tooth of the open comb, but the blade rigidity along the gaps between the teeth is also strong.
More blade rigidity generally causes less aggressiveness and more efficiency. Some traditional shavers strongly believe in using razors with great blade rigidity. While the blade rigidity of the Fatip Piccolo is advantageous, other factors dominate its performance for my hair and skin, as discussed later.
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2) Has Fundamental Similarities to OneBlade
As different as the double-edge, open-comb, three-piece Fatip Piccolo/Grande (Mk 2) is to the single-edge, straight-bar, pivoting-head OneBlade GENESIS/CORE, the razors actually have fundamental similarities with respect to parameters around the blade cutting edges. The small table below shows how the measured blade exposure and guard span of a nominal blade in the Fatip Piccolo are similar to official values provided by OneBlade.
|Safety Razor||Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2)||OneBlade|
|Neutral Blade Angle||23.5 deg||31.3 deg|
|Blade Exposure||0.14 mm||0.15 mm|
|Guard Span||0.57 mm||0.65 mm|
The razors look nothing alike, but fundamentally, their blade exposures are very similar and their guard spans are similar, as well. These similarities led me to ask the B&B community for comparisons between the razors, especially with respect to aggressiveness and efficiency (URL). In order to avoid tainting the responses, I said nothing about my hypothesis that the Piccolo's open comb and the OneBlade's "Active Floating Blade Approach System" would probably make the Piccolo feel more aggressive, but not really more efficient. Only one comparison was given. B&B member @shave/brush (Ron) wrote that both the Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2) and the original OneBlade GENESIS provide the same efficiency and "equally close smooth shave[s]" for him, but the Piccolo provides "slightly more blade feel" and "requires more awareness", while one can "shave almost mindless" with the OneBlade. Ron's experience provides more circumstantial evidence that the Piccolo and the OneBlade may be more fundamentally alike than different, as odd as that might sound. (Thanks, Ron!)
1st Shave: No Modification . . . Yikes!
My first shave with the Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2) was on July 23, 2018. I loaded the razor with an unused Astra Superior Platinum blade and used my optimum lather for L&L Grooming (now Declaration Grooming) shaving soap (URL). Shaving with the grain (WTG) didn't seem to do much, but across the grain (XTG) was somewhat effective, which is all normal for my face. I made it through my first pass without any nicks or cuts. The second pass was across the grain (ATG), which I need to get close, and that's when I started getting nicked and irritated.
Angle and pressure were studied, aided by really feeling the blade and sensing the blade angle range. I tried using no pressure or very little pressure, and I also tried some pressure. I tried using steep, neutral, and shallow angles. I tried using extremely shallow angles, really feeling the cap and the shallow blade in that case. I tried some extremely steep angles, too. I tried combinations of all of these things, and the whole time, the blade feel was way too much and there was way too much drag to the point of snagging. The positive in all of this was that the blade felt very rigid and I didn't feel like the razor was going to really "bite" me. I attribute that to the small guard span and small blade gap. However, there was bad drag that could be considered snagging or "small bites" that led to nicks.
For experimental purposes, I really pushed things by conducting my standard third pass, a second ATG pass. That's when I got even more nicked above the lip and got more irritated overall. My face ended up feeling quite irritated for many hours after the shave.
2nd Shave: Foil-Tape Guard Was Better, but Still Drag and Irritation
The second shave was with the same blade sample and lather formula as the day before, but this time, one of the guards was covered with foil tape, as pictured below, making a scalloped guard with less guard span and blade gap. The blade alignment was made as symmetric as I could manage while making sure that the blade angle range was effectively the same with both guards, as checked with a flat plastic piece. The scalloped guard probably made that side more like the Fatip Gentile, but without measurements, it is impossible to know.
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2): Foil Tape on Open Comb, Making Scalloped Guard
In XTG strokes during the first pass, switching back and forth between the two sides of the head, I found that the side with foil tape felt better, a little less aggressive. In the second pass, ATG felt much better with the foil-tape guard. A few strokes with the open comb made that apparent, so I continued the rest of the shave with the foil-taped side. The modified guard was still too aggressive for me, but the drag was significantly less than before. The resulting shave involved plenty of irritation and blood spots, but the resulting three-pass shave felt better and was much closer than before. In fact, the closeness was better in some spots compared to what I'm used to with my modified Bevel (URL). Overall, though, the closeness was on par or probably not as good.
Despite the blade feel, drag, and irritation that still existed, the foil-tape guard felt smooth and I had a lot of slickness with it in combination with my favorite lather. This test added to the circumstantial evidence that I prefer scalloped guards more than open combs. Actually, I prefer straight guards above all because I think that uniform geometry along the blade cutting edge works best, at least for me.
3rd Shave: Epoxy-Putty Straight Guard Beat Foil-Tape Scalloped Guard
After confirming that the foil-tape scalloped guard was better for me than the open comb, I decided to go one step further and completely close the open comb for comparison during the third shave. The modification could have been temporary, but I decided to make a truly solid guard by permanently filling in the open comb with steel-reinforced epoxy putty, as pictured below. This modification was only done to one open comb. Closing the open comb with epoxy putty was accomplished in three stages, and after the epoxy putty had sufficiently cured, a single-edge blade on a handle was used to shave off excess putty that was interfering with the blade from lying flat on the baseplate.
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2): Epoxy Putty in Open Comb, Making Straight Bar
The third shave had the same setup as before, but with one epoxy-putty straight guard in order to compare it to the foil-tape scalloped guard. In switching back and forth between the two sides of the head, I found that the epoxy-putty side felt similar to the foil-taped side, but the epoxy-putty side seemed to be a little more uniform from stroke to stroke. The result of the shave with mostly the epoxy-putty side was better than before with less blood spots. However, irritation was still felt before the shave was over and much irritation was still present long after the shave. The drag, though, was not bad, and in general, I was able to apply some pressure with both guards while feeling the blade.
It can be argued that the Astra SP blade being used helped make a smoother shave, more so than the epoxy-putty guard, and that is a reasonable point, but I liked the straight bar better than the open comb. The results seemed a little better, but more than that, I like the idea of uniform parameters of blade exposure, guard span, etc., along the blade cutting edge. To me, that makes a more predictable, uniform shave with less chance of getting bitten or nicked.
4th Shave: Painter's Tape Made Less Blade Exposure and Better Shave
For the fourth shave, one layer of blue painter's tape was added on top of the cap and wrapped underneath the edges of the cap in order to drop the blade exposure, which was then determined to be slightly positive with the epoxy-putty straight guard and fairly neutral with the foil-tape scalloped guard. This setup is pictured below. The piece of painter's tape was 38 mm long, aligned with the guards, by 31 mm wide. Reverse shims could have been used, but I used tape instead because one layer to tape could make a significantly larger change to the blade exposure than one reverse shim.
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2): Painter's Tape on Cap, Decreasing Blade Exposure
The shave was similar to the last time, but there was definitely less blade feel, definitely less drag above the lip for a reasonable amount, probably a little less irritation, and also probably a little less, but very similar, closeness. There were plenty of blood spots by the end of the shave, as with the previous day's shave, but only one spot that needed extra care after cleanup. Shaving with the foil-tape guard did not seem as efficient and uniform as with the epoxy-putty guard, which corresponded with the blade exposure being greater and more uniform on the epoxy-putty side. Again, shaving with the closed comb was more pleasant than with the open comb.
5th Shave: Zero Blade Exposure with Kai Blade . . . Piccolo Was Tamed!
Given the ongoing issue with irritation, I decided to abandon the used Astra SP blade for my usual and favorite blade, the Kai, which I consider sharper and smoother based on past testing. Further, since the aggressiveness was still too much for me, I added more layers of tape and a reverse shim to make the blade exposure fairly neutral, as verified with a flat piece of plastic. This setup is shown below. With three layers of painter's tape, the cap was effectively made wider, more than before with one layer of tape. Without the layers of tape on the cap, it would have taken an inordinate amount of reverse shims to raise the cap enough to make the blade exposure neutral.
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2): Three Painter's Tape Layers and One Reverse Shim
The foil tape was removed from the open comb so that the epoxy-putty closed comb and the open comb could be compared with neutral blade exposure for the fifth shave. Only a little testing XTG and ATG was needed to confirm that I liked the closed comb much better than the open comb here, the latter feeling more aggressive and efficient. The closed comb felt really good, as if I couldn't cut myself. The open comb felt kind of dangerous, as if it wanted to dig in while it detected and cut what was left over from the closed comb. I was free to apply more pressure with the closed comb, which I like, but the open comb forced a lighter touch and still felt too aggressive.
There was some irritation from this shave, but it wasn't nearly as bad as before. My best guess is that the blade angle was too high for me. The blade angle was greater than the steep blade angle associated with a nominal 21.96 mm wide blade because the Kai blade is wider. Based on a quick lines-on-paper method for the adjusted steep shave plane, the modified steep blade angle was about 35 degrees, about 2 degrees more with the Kai blade. A larger blade angle could explain the irritation that I experienced from both the Astra SP and Kai blades.
Despite the noticeable irritation, I got the closest shave that I'd gotten in a long time, as best as I could tell. The shave seemed closer overall than those that I get with my modified Bevel. I got one or two blood spots that needed a little extra cleanup afterwards, but that was about it. I didn't get hacked up. For the first time, I felt like the Piccolo had been tamed. Also for the first time, I felt like my modified Bevel had some competition. I suspected that my modified Piccolo was better than my modified Bevel, except that painter's tape on the outside of the Piccolo was always understood as temporary. After one use, as shown below, the painter's tape was already showing signs of wear near the edge of the cap on the epoxy-putty side, which was favored during the shave.
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2): Wear of Painter's Tape from One Shave
6th Shave: Three Layers of UHMW Tape for Slightly Negative Blade Exposure
With the painter's tape showing wear after serving its temporary purpose, I moved on to replacing it with ultra-high-molecular-weight (UHMW) tape, as pictured below. UHMW tape is made of UHMW polyethylene (UHMWPE) with an adhesive and is a lot like PTFE/Teflon tape.
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2): Three UHMW Tape Layers on Cap
I first experimented with UHMW tape with respect to reducing friction in early 2017 (URL). Reverse shims above the blade and tape strips under the cap edges are preferred for reducing blade exposure due to their simplicity and robustness (URL), but for razors such as the Fatip Piccolo, tape strips are infeasible and reverse shims are cumbersome; even four reverse shims with two layers of UHMW tape around the cap produced positive blade exposure. Three layers of UHMW tape, making the cap wider and large enough, were able to make the blade exposure negative without any reverse shims. UHMW tape around the outside of the cap is not ideal, but the tape should hold up well with minor adhesive loss along the edges. Replacement could theoretically be necessary in the long term.
The sixth shave involved the same lather and Kai blade sample as before, but with slightly negative blade exposure due to the three UHMW tape layers. The open comb still felt too aggressive to me, but it was able to get closer and clean up after the epoxy-putty-filled comb. Actually, from the little bit of open-comb shaving, the open comb appeared to be related to the few blood spots that I got. If I had just used the closed comb, I might not have gotten any nicks. The shave was primarily accomplished with the epoxy-putty straight guard. The resulting closeness was decent, but not as good as before due to the blade exposure difference. Irritation was present, but it wasn't bad and it certainly was less than before, which was also due to the blade exposure difference. The larger blade angle was still suspected for causing irritation. Nevertheless, the epoxy-putty-filled comb of the Piccolo with negative blade exposure felt very smooth. I loved that! What I didn't like was that the negative blade exposure caused no blade contact quite a bit of the time.
7th Shave: UHMW Tape and One Shim for Neutral Blade Exposure
The seventh shave had the same setup as the sixth shave, but with one shim added to fine-tune the blade exposure and make it fairly neutral. Blade gap increased from 0.14 mm to about 0.23 mm, which shouldn't make the razor 64 % more aggressive, but should only make more room for cut hair and skin with lather to accumulate between the blade the baseplate, which is a good thing. Guard span increased a little, too, but not much compared to its value before the shim was added.
The resulting shave was similar to before with approximately the same amount of nicks and cleanup, but the shave was a little closer. I tried the open comb, and once again, I felt too much blade. With the closed comb that was used almost the entire time, it felt like the blade exposure was too low in some areas and just fine in others. Sometimes, I ended up using what I felt was too much pressure, excessive pressure. There was an overall low-level irritation that developed by the end of the shave and died off over a few hours.
8th Shave: UHMW Tape and Two Shims for Slightly Positive Blade Exposure
The eighth shave involved the same Kai blade, now having been used three times, and the same lather as before, but another shim was added below the blade. This change, pictured below, made the blade exposure slightly positive.
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2): Three UHMW Tape Layers on Cap and Two Shims under Kai Blade
The slightly positive blade exposure increased the blade feel and resulted in my normal applied pressure, which was a good improvement, but there was overall irritation before the start of the third pass and lingering irritation after the shave. Plenty of nicks were also present by the end of the second pass, although cleanup involved only one stubborn spot. The shave might have been a little closer than last time, but it was hard to tell.
9th Shave: New Feather Blade with Negative Blade Exposure . . . Feather Was Tamed!
As evidenced above, progress had been made in transitioning from an Astra SP blade to a Kai blade, but results with the Kai blade and various blade exposures had stalled, so it seemed appropriate to step up the blade sharpness once again. For the ninth shave, I decided to load a fresh Feather blade into the Piccolo and fine-tune the setup for negative blade exposure. (The wax was wiped off from the blade and the blade was carefully cleaned with isopropyl alcohol beforehand.) One layer of UHMW tape was removed so that the guard span would be minimized, since keeping three tape layers required four shims to make fairly neutral blade exposure. Two reverse shims were added, as pictured below, to make negative blade exposure. Blade rigidity was decreased in the process due to the narrowness of the reverse shims.
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2): Two UHMW Tape Layers on Cap and Two Reverse Shims above Feather Blade
The shave wasn't the closest that I've had, but I didn't get one blood spot at all during or after the shave with the epoxy-putty-filled guard. It was a perfect shave with respect to nicks, cuts, and weepers. That's rare for me, so I was really impressed, especially since it was with a Feather! I've always gotten hacked up by the Feather blade, so this was the first time that the Feather was tamed for me. It wasn't due to any significant improvement in technique on my part. It was due to the modified Piccolo with a small enough guard span and blade exposure. The blade exposure was too negative to get a close shave, but at least the Feather was tamed, and that was with using moderately applied pressure most of the time. Low-level irritation was again felt after the second pass was over, but the irritation seemed a little better to that experienced here with the Kai blade, so I still suspect that the larger blade angle is to blame, especially since the blade angle here with the Feather blade was less than that with the Kai blade.
10th Shave: Used Feather Blade with Slightly Negative Blade Exposure . . . Better!
For the tenth shave, one reverse shim was removed to increase the blade exposure to slightly negative and make the razor-blade combination more efficient. In addition, residual epoxy putty in front of and underneath the one guard was shaved off and the other guard was filled with epoxy putty and shaped with a single-edge blade to permanently close both open combs. At this point, I could freely use both sides of the razor, which are pictured below.
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2): Two UHMW Tape Layers on Cap and One Reverse Shim above Feather Blade
The resulting shave was a little closer than last time with less irritation. The closeness was not BBS, but it was good. I only got two blood spots, one of which needed extra cleanup after the shave. Irritation was still present by the end of the shave, but it was small and was gone within two hours or less after the shave.
11th Shave: Used Feather Blade with Barely Negative Blade Exposure
For the eleventh shave, the reverse shim was removed, increasing the blade exposure while still keeping it slightly negative. Without the reverse shim, blade rigidity was increased. The same Feather blade from earlier was used here.
Despite the increase in blade exposure, the shave was only marginally better overall. Closeness was similar, possibly even a little worse, which I attribute to the Feather blade having lost sharpness. I got three small blood spots during the shave, but they all cleaned up easily, so that was better than last time. Irritation was better than last time, too, since it was small by the end of the third pass and went away in short order.
12th Shave: New Feather Blade with Barely Negative Blade Exposure . . . Better!
The twelfth shave had the same setup as the eleventh shave, except a new Feather blade replaced the one that had been used three times. The resulting shave was better than last time. The shave this time was closer with similar low-level irritation afterwards. The efficiency was really felt during the third pass when there was little feedback on the neck. A few blood spots were developed on the chin during the third pass when consciously shaving too much in that area for more closeness, but the nicks were not bad since cleanup was a one-time deal.
13th Shave: Used Feather Blade with Neutral Blade Exposure
One shim was added under the Feather blade from the previous shave to increase the blade exposure to fairly neutral, as judged with a small flat piece of plastic. The shim increased the blade exposure, but it also increased the blade gap and the drainage area for refuse that can potentially collect between the blade and the baseplate.
The shave was a little closer than last time, but there was more irritation that started being felt at the end of the second pass and lasted longer after the shave. There were more blood spots, too. However, as with the prior shave, only one step was needed for cleanup since the nicks healed quickly. Even though there were no bad nicks or cuts, it felt like there was more potential for that during the shave.
14th Shave: New Feather Blade with Neutral Blade Exposure . . . Too Much!
This shave had the same setup as last time, except a new Feather blade replaced the one that had been used two times. The resulting shave was a little closer than before, and was pretty close overall, but there was more irritation that started earlier, in the middle of the second pass. I also got many nicks and felt the razor "bite" one time. Cleanup was not as simple.
At this point, I felt like I had optimized my shave with a Feather blade in the Piccolo, reaching the point where more closeness was not worth the irritation and skin damage. It was time to try another blade.
15th Shave: New Astra SP Blade with Neutral Blade Exposure . . . Drag!
For the fifteenth shave, I went back to the Astra SP blade, using an unused sample, but kept the two UHMW tape layers around the cap and had two shims under the blade to make neutral blade exposure. The resulting closeness was fine, but not as good as what I had been getting with the Feather blade. Irritation was similarly present and two nicks needed extra cleanup after the shave. The most notable distinction was how much drag was felt with the Astra SP blade, which made the shave frustrating at times, especially when shaving on the chin and above the lip. Once again, I was reminded how the Astra SP blade is not sharp enough for my hair.
16th Shave: Used Astra SP Blade with Slightly Negative Blade Exposure . . . Still Drag
This shave involved the same setup as before, but with one shim under the used Astra SP blade for slightly negative blade exposure and less blade gap. This shave was better than before with similar closeness, less irritation, and only one nick that needed extra cleanup. There was still too much drag due to the lack of blade sharpness. The shim could have been removed, but that would have resulted in less closeness and it already felt like the setup did not have enough blade exposure at times. Therefore, it was concluded that the Astra SP had been optimized in the Piccolo for me. Revisiting the Astra SP was good, but it was time to move on to another blade.
17th Shave: New BIC Chrome Platinum Blade with Slightly Negative Blade Exposure . . . Better!
For the seventeenth shave, the used Astra SP blade was replaced with an unused BIC Chrome Platinum blade. The resulting shave was definitely better with approximately the same closeness, but with less irritation and a noticeable increase in "smoothness" or a decrease in the tendency to bite. Despite the presence of some brief irritation, the shave felt good and I only got one blood spot that did not require any extra cleanup after the post-shave balm. My only complaint is that the efficiency was not as much as I would have liked on the chin and above the lip.
18th Shave: Used BIC Chrome Platinum Blade with Neutral Blade Exposure
A second shim was added to the setup for the eighteenth shave, making fairly neutral blade exposure and a larger blade gap. The closeness and comfort of the shave were similar to before, but there was a little more blade feel and drag, especially above the lip. Also, I got a few nicks. More shims would have simply exascerbated the issues, so with the BIC Chrome Platinum blade having been optimized, I moved on.
19th Shave: New Kai Blade with Neutral Blade Exposure
In revisiting the Kai blade, the two layers of UHMW tape around the cap were kept, but the shims were removed to compensate for the extra blade width and make the blade exposure neutral, as detected with a flat piece of plastic. This setup is shown below.
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2): Two UHMW Tape Layers and Kai Blade
Closeness of the shave was similar, but seemingly a little better, than with the BIC Chrome Platinum blade due to the clear superiority in efficiency with the Kai blade. This efficiency was correlated with (a) reasonable drag in cutting hair and (b) closer cutting of hair during the second pass that made the third pass more of a pickup pass. No nicks occurred with the second pass, but several nicks happened during the third pass, and two nicks needed extra cleanup. It never felt like the razor might "bite". The most significant issue with the shave was the irritation that started near the end of the second pass. This irritation, although not awful, was greater than that experienced with the BIC Chrome Platinum blade. It is possible that the irritation was greater with the Kai blade because of its efficiency, such that my third pass was too much and exacerbated the apparently blade-angle-related irritation issue.
20th Shave: Used Kai Blade with Slightly Negative Blade Exposure
A reverse shim was added to the previous setup to make slightly negative blade exposure with the used Kai blade. The picture below shows this setup.
Fatip Piccolo (Mk 2): Two UHMW Tape Layers on Cap and One Reverse Shim above Kai Blade
The shave was not quite as close as last time, but it was similar and good. The efficiency was noticeably less with very little cutting of hair during the third pass. The resulting irritation was also less pronounced. I received a few nicks, but the cleanup was not a problem.
21st Shave: Used Kai Blade with Neutral Blade Exposure
The twenty-first shave involved the same Kai blade sample as the two previous shaves, but without any shims, bringing the blade exposure back to neutral as in the nineteenth shave. The shave was similar, but with a little more closeness and irritation. At this point, it seemed like I had optimized the Kai blade with the modified Piccolo, such that the optimal setup involved two layers of UHMW tape on the cap and possibly one reverse shim.
22nd Shave: Head-to-Head Comparison of Modified Bevel and Modified Piccolo
With both setups having used Kai blades and slightly negative blade exposures, I directly compared my modified Bevel (URL) to my modified Piccolo in the twenty-second shave. (The Piccolo had two UHMW tape layers on the cap and one reverse shim above the blade.) The difference was startling. The modified Bevel had significantly more friction than the modified Piccolo. This fact was evident from the first stroke of the first pass (XTG). It seems to me that the Bevel's sharper contour at the leading edge of the guard causes more bunching up of skin and more friction compared to the gently curved contour of the Piccolo.
Given the obvious friction difference, I performed the second pass (ATG) with the Bevel only and the third pass (also ATG) with the Piccolo only in order to study the efficiency difference. The Piccolo seemed to clean up more remaining stubble after the Bevel compared to how much stubble was removed by the Piccolo in previous shaves during the third pass, meaning that the efficiency of the Piccolo was greater. Further, the tendency to bite from the Bevel was recognized as greater. This increased aggressiveness is believed to be strongly related to the larger guard span with the Bevel.
An advantage that the Bevel might have over the Piccolo is that the Bevel has a smaller blade angle. The larger blade angle with the Piccolo is still believed to contribute to the low-level irritation that I've experienced with the razor, but the many advantages with the Piccolo outweigh this possible drawback.
Modified Fatip Piccolo Has Become My New Daily Driver!
What makes the Piccolo considered to be "aggressive" by some users is partially the open combs, but mostly the large blade exposure, in my opinion. The large blade angle also plays its part. Otherwise, the blade rigidity, guard span, cap span, and blade gap correspond with "mild" characteristics. By filling in the open combs and adding UHMW tape and possibly a reverse shim to make the blade exposure even and fairly neutral or slightly negative, I was able to "tame" the Piccolo and make a new daily driver. My modified Bevel has finally been replaced. Even though I'm fairly certain that the blade angle with the Piccolo is too high for me, causing some irritation, I'd rather have the low-level irritation that goes away in short order for better shaves overall with a razor that is less likely to bite me, feels more comfortable and smoother on my face, and has more grip than my modified Bevel.
A friend here (@Cal) asked about the lack of drainage room below the blade. This issue should be addressed. There isn't much room for lather to collect or get out of the way, but that doesn't seem to matter one bit for my daily shaves. Lather and cut hair and skin just doesn't seem to have a chance of getting in the way against the mass of the razor and the sharpness of the blade. Nevertheless, if I were to use my modified Bevel to cut hair after two or more days of growth, then the lack of drainage room could be an issue.
Soap Scum Is Hard to Clean out of the Handle Ridges
Through extensive testing, I found that cleaning the Piccolo involved a slight problem. Soap scum gets trapped in the ridged lines of the handle. This soap scum is difficult to clean out from the handle, even when using a toothbrush and soapy water.
The Artist Club World is Next!
Thanks again belong to @Raven Koenes for his great gift. It took a long time to analyze the Fatip Piccolo and put together this review, but it feels good to finish with more data and a new daily driver. Thanks, Rave!
After having analyzed and used several double-edge (DE) razors, I feel that it is time to explore the single-edge (SE) world. Earlier this year, @Chan Eil Whiskers (Jim) generously offered to loan me his Above the Tie (ATT) Atlas SE2 razor and SE1 baseplate, so I grabbed the opportunity recently and asked if he would be willing to add his Colonial General (316L). Those Artist Club (AC) razors are all of the SE razors that Jim has. Jim kindly cleaned his AC razors, added some Schick Proline P-30 blades, and sent it all on its way. (Thanks, Jim!) In the coming months, I will photograph and measure Jim's AC razors in detail. We will have to be patient, but in the end, I am confident that fruitful comparisons will be made between DE and SE razors.