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Feather Artist Club RG (final thoughts/review)

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Although I have had my differences with the feather artist club, with practice, the suffering is over, and now I bask in the delights of the "feather experience."

Lets start this final review with the beginnings.... how do you load this sucker?

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If you look at the tip of the razor, it has a hole in the front, and the inside is "hollowed" out.

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If you look at the "injector" case for the feather blades it has that nib at the end of it.

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The "nib" is inserted into the hole at the tip of the razor which lines the blade holder upto the blade holder (razor).

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Once lined up, you squeeze the spine of the feather, which compresses the spring assembly within the inner-workings of the razor, and slide the "push-pull" lever on top of the blade injector - which "injects" the blade into the razor. Once you let go of the spine, the blade is held safely and securely by the spring tension. VERY quick, easy, simple and safe. With one of the $1 blade safes purchased from classicshaving - you never need to touch a blade (inserting or ejecting) and never need to deal with sharp blades loose in the waste bin. It is prudent to note that on the back of the blade injectors, is a slot to put used blades. Although effective, it requires touching the blade. Since they are wicked sharp and a blade safe is only $1 (and is large enough to last at least a year) I would recommend investing in one. To discard the blade from the razor, simply squeeze the spine over the blade safe, trash bin, or safe location with the blade pointing down, and it will cleanly fall out.

Now the important part - the shave.
Once you are accustomed to this razor - it is one hell of a razor. Super smooth shaves are seamless, with zero irritation. This artist club has impressed me quite a bit, and this feather straight razor will become one of my primary 1-3 shavers... it is really that wonderful.

The MAIN "problem" if you will with these feather razors is that they are so bloody sharp (pun intended) and the razor is so heavy, it is VERY easy to apply too much pressure. When applying to much pressure, especially at the wrong angle - it is a complete and miserable blood bath. When held almost flat against the face, and almost negative pressure applied so it "floats" over the face - magic occurs. This razor is so effective it is truly astonishing, but it is not to be used by the faint of heart, or those easily discouraged. For most - it will require at least a week of getting used to such a magnificently sharp edge, and you will suffer some irritation.

One trick I learned to speed up the learning process was to shave some hairs off of the top part of my hand. I laid the razor flat against my hand, and lightly slid it across my hand. This cut down all the hairs it touched, yet since the blade did not touch my skin, as laying flat the blade does not protrude out enough to touch the skin, it was not a close shave - but a shave nonetheless. Next I slowly ramped up the spine of the razor off of my hand, so only the blade was touching my skin and played around a bit finding the most effective position. Once I was able to find the most effective position, I knew how to hold the feather against my face when shaving, and after attaining this knowledge the rest was a bit of practice, and wicked smooth shaves. I found this to be most necessary with this razor, as the feather razors are so sharp and hefty they give little, or possibly NO feedback.

Just how good is this thing?
Well as some of you know, I own a few straight razors, and have used well over 100 different straight razors, from a myriad of different brands. Of my daily shavers the following razors are INFERIOR to the feather... (save for maybe the craftsman)
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Shown is a filarmonica, craftsman, TI horn handle (square back), 7/8 Ivory TI, 5/8 Dovo genuine MOP, 6/8 Genco

Shown below are my daily shavers that are at least as good as the feather...
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Shown below are razors I feel are noticeably superior to the feather razor...
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A 6/8 Puma gold (honed by Lynn), 5/8 Damascus Le Collier A Nogent frame back with Pyrenean Ibex horn handle, and the elusive Chronik razor (white handle) which is significantly superior to the aforementioned straight razors and feather razor.

Bottom line..
I find the feather straight razor to be SUPERIOR to a DE loaded with a feather blade. It is a highly effective tool and for the money is of great value.... here is my reasoning.
Let’s use the Dorko 6/8 I feel is as good as the feather as an example.

The razor will set you back about $130 or so easy. For a good strop, you are looking at a good $40 or so (at the least.) For a top quality hone you will have to drop another $70 for a norton 4K/8K and probably require another strop loaded with diamond paste - but I will assume JUST the razor, strop and hone are to be necessary. That is a cool $240.
$240 will buy you an artist Club RG, and 254 blades (good luck trying to get and keep the dorko as sharp as those blades). Assuming 3 blades a month that is a lofty 84 months - more than seven years of amazingly sharp blades!!!

Keep in mind - this also requires no stropping, and if an edge is nicked or ruined, you are a new .55 cent blade away from shaving nirvana.

While this razor is not for everyone - if you do the math, blade wise the feather straight razor is less expensive to own/use than a DE loaded with feather DE blades. To me - this is one hell of an effective tool, at a wonderful value, and pending this company is around long enough, I am sure I will be using a feather on at least a semi-regular basis.

Final thoughts -
Although this razor is perfect for me... it may not be for you. It may require a much steeper learning curve, it might beat you up quite a bit... but I feel nearly EVERYONE will be able to get consistently superb results from this razor within 2-3 weeks. If you have the DESIRE and the INTEREST in shaving with a straight razor, and are completely content with JUST function - no soul, no stropping, no honing, throwing things away, etc then this razor is a gift from above. While it works wonders, I reiterate what t I mentioned from the beginning... it is the difference between a Honda accord and a Porsche 911S. The Honda will be more reliable, easier to drive, easier to learn to control to its intended limits, easier to maintain, etc, BUT the Porsche will give you a blank canvas and the opportunity to strive for greatness. It gives you full control, more experience, more depth.... more soul - more fun.

There you go... the Feather Artist Club is superb - you will not hear a gripe of this razor in the future (assuming nothing about it changes) from me, however I am NOT about to push aside some of my favorite straight razors in place of the feather. The feather has its place in the shaving realm... I believe at the top, but the VERY top I feel is reserved for those truly rare, truly special, truly "alive" straight razors not so easily stumbled upon.
 
Joel,
My first attempt at using a straight razor ended in profound disappointment. I purchased a Dovo for around $150. It's a beautiful work of art, but I haven't had even one good shave from it. Beard prep, stropping, honing, and straight razor technique; there were too many possible causes for my problem. Then I found the Artist Club on the Classic Shaving site. The idea immediately appealed to me. I ordered the bottom-of-the-line razor and the more aggressive blades.
After one week, I am convinced to it is the best way to learn to use a straight razor. I have quickly learned that my Dovo is not sharp. I'm not at all certain as to the cause, but my first (very tentative) shave with the feather was far better than anything that I could achieve with the Dovo.
Bottom line: I'll put away the Dovo for a good long time. I fully intend to get back to the traditional straight razor after I have perfected my technique with the Feather Razor. This way I'll know what to expect from a properly prepared blade.
After just one week I am becoming quite comfortable with the Artist Club straight razor. It has given me to satisfaction that I was hoping to get from the Dovo. I admit that I may be a special case in that have an extraordinarily high follicle density, but this Feather razor can deal with it better than anything that I have tried in well over 30 years of shaving.
I googled the net for more on the Artist Club. I found this site and your review. You are obviously a strait razor expert who has high regard for the Artist Club. So I had to ask: Do you think that the Artist Club is the best tool for learning to use a straight razor?
Thanks,
Wen
 
It is very rare for a new razor to be shaving sharp, they nearly always need honing before attempting to use them. You can send it off to Lynn Abrams or Joe Chandler or a few other honemeisters to get it sharpened for a nominal fee. You can also hone it yourself if you'v got a very fine hone like a barber hone, a spyderco ultrafine, a translucent arkansas, or a waterstone of greater than 6000 grit.
 
Wenbier said:
Joel,
So I had to ask: Do you think that the Artist Club is the best tool for learning to use a straight razor?
Thanks,
Wen

No. A feather has a much sharper blade, with different shaving characteristics. While with a genuine straight you cannot get a BETTER shave (as both will leave you equally as baby smooth) you CAN however get a longer lasting shave with a genuine straight razor. Learning on the two - in my opinion, is remarkably different. When I first got the feather, I literally shredded my face into a hamburger/bloody mess. With a feather you use an INCREDIBLY light touch, with light/soft/short blade strokes... I mean barely touch the skin. With a genuine straight, you have to apply a little bit of pressure, and take firmer, more confident strokes.... going between one and the other, at least for me is a disaster. If I use either one for an extended period of time, I'll get superb results, but just going back and forth doesn't work for me... at all. Also - with a straight razor, you have the whole maintenence issue, learning how to strop, hone, etc - which without question is the hardest part. If you receive a properly honed straight razor, it isn't to difficult to shave with at all, however KEEPING it, and GETTING it sharp is the key. If you can't strop properly, you'll DULL the blade instead of sharpen it. Basically.... as far as I am concerned... pick one or the other - and run with it. If the feather is delivering the results you enjoy - by all means, run with it, and do not even consider a straight razor, as honestly... to do it RIGHT, you are looking at investing a TON of money, and countless patient hours.... and more than likely a roughed up face until you get the hang of sharpening/keeping it sharp.

A true straight razor is really for a certain "breed" of folks, and truth be told, I flatly do not recommend it. To get a 4 sided pasted strop, experiment with which strop/hone/razor works best for you, and to find that perfect match can take years.... and thousands of dollars to reach the level of comfort/enjoyment you can/will get from a good DE or a feather straight razor.... the only thing you WON'T get is the incredible sense of satisfaction shaving with a BLADE (read: an ACTUAL blade, not some injectable weenie ***) you sharpened, babied, and kept sharp. Shaving with a legit straight is more of an organic experience... but without question a labor of love. If you want results... you don't want a straight.... if you want a hobby/passion/ something different/special, etc... you want one. A legit straight is about the "experience" versus the "result" - at least as far as I am concerned.

With that said -I occasionally get a defunct feather blade (in DE or straight razor) form and it gives me an awful shave with a bunch of weep holes.... and just last week I got a slightly deformed Derby blade (the edge was folded upward in one section) that I didn't notice at first - until it tore my face up... it was then I decided I was really sick to death of relying on OTHERS to give me a sharp blade, and I decided enough was enough... I started this wetshaving hobby 4 or 5 years ago with straight razors and just within the last year to year and a half switched to 99% DE shaving.... but as of next week, it's back to genuine straight razors... and this time, more than likely it'll be perminant. No if, and's or buts, I get the most satisfaction, the most enjoyable, longest lasting shaves from a genuine straight razor.

I will be receiving several strops from Tony Miller I'll be trying out/reviewing, as well as a 1/4 hollow Wacker straight razor, and a few more misc items to keep my razors sharp (as I haven't seriously honed a razor in more than 2 years). If you want a good deal on a DE... I might have 15-20 up for sale in a few weeks :biggrin:
 
S

Sam

I loved the Feather straight but in order for me to get the closest shave, I have to go side to side on neck and face. That is when, despite many months of using a straight, I would get nicks and weep holes. I just had to satisfy myself with shaves just not as close with a DE and stubbling up a little quicker with DE.

Sam
 
Wen, you could try a Schick Injector blade in your Feather AC if you find the Feather Pro/Super blades to harsh and sharp. With an Injector blade you can use a bit more pressure (like a traditional straight, so I'm told) and it won't butcher you like a Feather blade will. You can even push into the skin a bit (within reason, of course) and it won't cut you, yet they cut whiskers with no trouble. The only problem is the Injector blades are a bit shorter, but to be honest it is not that noticable. If I use a Super Pro blade for a few days running I find the skin on my chin thins a bit, meaning it stays reddish in colour and will nick easier on the next shave. I don't get this with the Injectors.

Like Joel said though, it is not good to rotate because you forgot just how sharp those Feather blades are when you go from one to the other.
 
Hey, Joel, what Feather blades do you prefer in your Artist Club and why? Could you elaborate a bit on which ones you've tried and what you think of them?

Thanx,

Bruce
 
Skyguy said:
Hey, Joel, what Feather blades do you prefer in your Artist Club and why? Could you elaborate a bit on which ones you've tried and what you think of them?

Thanx,

Bruce

Bruce,
I actually don't use my Artist club too much anymore.... I'll probably sell it soon. I've used all three of the blades available, and the only ones that worked for me were the "super professional" blades... the pros and the guards seemed to do more harm than good. IF used daily (and you are accostomed to it) the feather is a great razor.... but if you like to switch things up (like I do) it's pretty miserable. In fact I shaved with it today.... and was not happy with the result.
 
Thanks Joel, and everyone else for the excellent review and comments. I've been thinking about a straight razor for some time, but I know that I could never get the honing, stropping, etc., down correctly. I'm absolutely certain that if I had a good straight razor, I'd wreck it in no time. (and my face along with it.) Don't know what I would have done if I had lived in the era when the straight was all that was available. I suppose King Gillette invented the safety razor for someone in my category.
That's why, for someone as klutzy as I am, the Feather Artist club RG sounds like the perfect razor. I use Feather blades in my DEs, but I know it's not the same thing. Reading your review was at one and the same time a bit scary, and a bit tantalizing. I'm aware of the pitfalls, yet I think I'd be inclined to give it a try one of these days. OK--if you decide to get rid of the Artists Club, let me know and we'll see if I'm able to work my courage up by then. :001_unsur
 
ravkesef said:
Thanks Joel, and everyone else for the excellent review and comments. I've been thinking about a straight razor for some time, but I know that I could never get the honing, stropping, etc., down correctly. I'm absolutely certain that if I had a good straight razor, I'd wreck it in no time. (and my face along with it.) Don't know what I would have done if I had lived in the era when the straight was all that was available. I suppose King Gillette invented the safety razor for someone in my category.
That's why, for someone as klutzy as I am, the Feather Artist club RG sounds like the perfect razor. I use Feather blades in my DEs, but I know it's not the same thing. Reading your review was at one and the same time a bit scary, and a bit tantalizing. I'm aware of the pitfalls, yet I think I'd be inclined to give it a try one of these days. OK--if you decide to get rid of the Artists Club, let me know and we'll see if I'm able to work my courage up by then. :001_unsur

I'll sell it to you right now. PM me if you are interested.... I've got a ton of blades for it as well, and it's original box.
 
As for the harshness of the feather blades:

Load a new super pro blade into the feather, then place the heel of the blade on a wine cork and pull the razor backwards allowing the cork to roll underneath the razor with the blade cutting into the cork. Do this a total of 2-3 times (depending on your personal taste). This will take the excessive harshness out of the super pro blade, leaving it with the sharpness and smoothness of a well-honed traditional razor. At that point the feather shaves like any other straight razor (although it still feels too short).

I still prefer my traditional straights, but the feather is fine once the blades are smoothed out.
 
Great thread with a lot of information. I've read it twice now. I'm still new to DE shaving so the whole straight phenomenon is such an alien world. Really nice to read about it from someone who has put the time, money, and effort into learning about it.

I'm really happy with my DE shaves at this point but I'll come back to this thread one day I'm sure when I want to try a straight.

Thank you.
 
Thanks for the answer! So, the Feather is not the best training tool for the traditional straight. No matter. I'm still overjoyed with my Artist Club razor. I do not believe that I have been so satisfied with my shaves since I was a teen. Now that you describe the difference, I suspect the the light touch required by the Feather might actually be less difficult to master. Because of the reputation, my first few outings were actually pretty tentative. Still, I'm not exaggerating when I say that I have yet to have a serious bleed.
My downfall has always been sensitive skin along with a very tough whiskers. It is that pressing in that irritates the skin. With the Artist Club, I do not (and actually should not) press the blade in. It does its work without leveraging the hair against the skin. Technology is a wonderful think!
Next I think I am going to try a Feather DE. Well, the blade at any rate. (I hear that the Feather DE razor is not much to brag about.) I'm open to DE razor opinions.
By the way, my very first experience with a straight razor was in China. I was teaching at a university in a somewhat remote area. I only had hot water at certain times of the day. One semester, I had a late lecture on MWF. Sluggard that I am, I always slept late and missed the morning window for hot water. One morning I decided to stop by the University's barbershop and ask for a shave. (As I remember, I did not know the verb for shave, so I just pointed the the barbers razor at the proper moment in mid sentence.) This was the beginning of an embarrassing experience. I guess Chinese barbers do not often confront beards like mine. He had problems from the start and soon decided that I needed a second hot towel. The second attempt faired no better, with the barber making frequent retreats to his strop. Soon, all of the other barbers were huddled around giving advice. The other customers, however, were getting a jolly laugh from the whole thing. This barbarian, it seems, had a true barbarian's beard. The barber, in the end, resigned himself to defeat.
Word of this incident went around the whole campus. A week or so latter, one of my students related a very embellished version of the incident to me. I laughed so hard that I almost fell out of my chair. This was over fifteen years ago, but I still get a good laugh when I think about the incident.
 
I wanted to resurrect this thread, in light of my recent experience with this razor. I recently purchased a used DX (Stainless Steel) version of this razor, a pack of "Professional Super" blades. Incidentally, I also purchased the Japanese version of the DX, as well, but it has not yet arrived.

I had the opportunity to have my first shave this morning, and it went surprisingly well. I feel obliged to say, I am NOT an experienced straight shaver (in fact, this is my first real experience with straight shaving.

Perhaps, because I was already familiar with Feather blades, in my Merkur HD (thus, knew how very sharp their blades are), I was able to get a nearly incident free shave (I did nick myself on the upper lip, while going ATG, on my third pass), but that was no ones fault but my own, for not paying close enough attention.

What was, perhaps, most surprising was the comfort of the shave. Despite all the warning (well deserved, mind you) this razor is capable of giving a close but comfortable shave, if you respect the sharpness of the blade and play close attention to what you are doing. Of course, this caveat goes with all sharp objects, but doubly so with this instrument.

Now, bear in mind, this was my FIRST shave with the Feather AC; Others have indicated that my experience was not atypical; however, longevity of comfort has mixed reactions. I will assuredly report back after I have spent some time with this razor.

For now, I really enjoyed my shave (MUCH closer than my DE shaves, and honestly, more comfortable. Remember, as has been mentioned above, keep the blade angle low (spine closer to the face), and respect the sharpness...the results may just surprise you - it did me....

Sean
 
I have just gotten started with straights (about 4 months) and was considering getting a feather. Given the information above about the technique and touch being somewhat different between the two, think I will stick with my straights. I am to the point where I am reasonably comfortable with the straight although I do not always get the "baby but" feel everywhere. I learn a bit more during each shave how to hold the blade and manipulate both my face and the blade. I must say that it does give quite the feeling of satisfaction!
Steve
 
Joel, although this thread isn't that active anymore, I wanted to thank you for your thorough review of the Feather Artist Club. I have just recently given in to my curiosity and ordered a DX one with a couple of blade packs from a fellow wet shaver. Your review and comparison to other straights was very valuable to me and provided a lot of good information. Thank you!
 
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