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?
If you look at the tip of the razor, it has a hole in the front, and the inside is "hollowed" out.
If you look at the "injector" case for the feather blades it has that nib at the end of it.
The "nib" is inserted into the hole at the tip of the razor which lines the blade holder upto the blade holder (razor).
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)
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...
Shown below are razors I feel are noticeably superior to the feather razor...
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.
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.
Letâs 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.