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First shave with a 86 + year old razor. Wow.

I have been interested in SE razors ever since I first read about them, but this seemed like a whole new game and a little overwhelming given how I only started wet shaving this year.

Then, one of the members here posted a few of his razors for sale (thank you cpool222), and I figured what the heck, at the very worst, I end up with a vintage display piece. Per my research, these particular razors were manufactured between 1930 and 1933.

Razor came on Friday, and I found some store branded SE blades at my local Rite Aid yesterday.

So, today was the day.

I just couldn't get out of my mind a mental image of rubbing my face with a rusty cooktop scraper... and many reviewers were complaining about certain SE blades being more irritable than others, so for the first try I decided to only do one single WTG pass and give up the moment it gets uncomfortable. Trying to keep the angle as shallow as possible, per original manufacturer's instructions that I read online, and avoiding my problem area around Adam's apple where I always get irritation when trying new blades or razors.

I ended up doing four passes - WTG, XTG, and two ATG passes just to get it right. It was that good.

I would not call the sensation of using this beast "mild. It made a loud scraping noise as if I was rubbing it on sandpaper, and it almost made me feel like I was not cutting any hair. However, there was zero irritation. Zero. The first time around I was able to shave my problem area better than I get with most other razors, and with no irritation, even a mild one - like I haven't even touched it. Amazing. This has got to be the mildest yet still efficient razor I've used to date - at least with that one brand new blade. I did not get a perfect BBS, there are some spots I should have cleaned up better, but it's certainly great for a first use - better than what I got out of my Razorock German 37 slant the first time around.

Now, about the blades... I need to find a good source of great blades. The ones I got from Rite Aid and seem to be carbon - after the very first shave, there are discoloration points all over surface that appear like it's starting to rust. For now, I put the blade in a container of rubbing alcohol until the next use.

I read people saying that with many SE blades, the first shave is heaven and the second one is total crap. At 50 cents per blade, that's a tad expensive. I do have an order of GEM SS blades coming, but they are not coated so there's a possibility they will be uncomfortable to use. So, I am open to advises !

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I am really happy for you -- this is the 2nd thread I've read in the last few hours where someone has discovered the joy of the GEM 1912....totally awesome!!!

As to blades, here's my 2-cents:
  1. I like Carbon blades, they are typically smooth shaving right out of the container -- and yes they will absolutely rust...not on the cutting edge, but on the body of the blade. I used to remove them from the razor after shaving, rinse them in water, dry them, dunk them in alcohol, dry them again, and then I put a light coat of mineral oil on them with a Q-tip. And the next day they've got rust spots on the body....so now I rinse them, dry them and live with an ugly blade. The downside to me with Carbon blades (and I prefer the Treet carbons), is they only give me 5 shaves. That makes them a touch pricey (especially compared to the blades below), but I keep a bunch on hand because I do like them.

  2. My strong preference is the GEM SS PTFE blades. Best deal I've found is Connaught Shaving. Google Connaught Shaving to find the site, go to Razor Blades and select GEM Single Edge, and viola! Many folks (nearly everyone I've spoken with) find the first and sometimes 2nd shave a little harsh feeling. Hard to explain, but think of a super-sharp feather on it's first shave and first pass. Some will palm strop the blade before using, some run it through a piece of cork (cork-stropping), some put in their mildest razor for it's first shave (face stropping), and others tough it out because it's not like awful, just harsh and not as comfortable as later shaves. Now these blades last me a minimum of 10 shaves and I can probably get a solid 12+ if I'm feeling really thrifty. I recommend the PTFE coated blades....I have not had success with the plain SS; but I absolutely know guys who are completely fine with them.
Hope that helps and keep reaching out if you have questions -- SE razors are awesome!!!!
 
4 passes? With a SE blade I usually do 1, maybe 2 at most. I think with experience you'll find single-edge razors are more effective than DE's and don't need "beard reduction" quite so much.
 
I can't get BBS without going ATG. I don't think it's even possible with my facial hair type. If you have soft, blond hair, XTG should work great. With my (formerly) dark, wiry hair, I sometimes require 2 ATG passes to get true BBS. My stubble is so hard, I could probably grate cheese on it.
 
I am really happy for you -- this is the 2nd thread I've read in the last few hours where someone has discovered the joy of the GEM 1912....totally awesome!!!

As to blades, here's my 2-cents:
  1. I like Carbon blades, they are typically smooth shaving right out of the container -- and yes they will absolutely rust...not on the cutting edge, but on the body of the blade. I used to remove them from the razor after shaving, rinse them in water, dry them, dunk them in alcohol, dry them again, and then I put a light coat of mineral oil on them with a Q-tip. And the next day they've got rust spots on the body....so now I rinse them, dry them and live with an ugly blade. The downside to me with Carbon blades (and I prefer the Treet carbons), is they only give me 5 shaves. That makes them a touch pricey (especially compared to the blades below), but I keep a bunch on hand because I do like them.

  2. My strong preference is the GEM SS PTFE blades. Best deal I've found is Connaught Shaving. Google Connaught Shaving to find the site, go to Razor Blades and select GEM Single Edge, and viola! Many folks (nearly everyone I've spoken with) find the first and sometimes 2nd shave a little harsh feeling. Hard to explain, but think of a super-sharp feather on it's first shave and first pass. Some will palm strop the blade before using, some run it through a piece of cork (cork-stropping), some put in their mildest razor for it's first shave (face stropping), and others tough it out because it's not like awful, just harsh and not as comfortable as later shaves. Now these blades last me a minimum of 10 shaves and I can probably get a solid 12+ if I'm feeling really thrifty. I recommend the PTFE coated blades....I have not had success with the plain SS; but I absolutely know guys who are completely fine with them.
Hope that helps and keep reaching out if you have questions -- SE razors are awesome!!!!
Thanks ! Much great info.
 

  1. My strong preference is the GEM SS PTFE blades. Best deal I've found is Connaught Shaving. Google Connaught Shaving to find the site, go to Razor Blades and select GEM Single Edge, and viola! Many folks (nearly everyone I've spoken with) find the first and sometimes 2nd shave a little harsh feeling. Hard to explain, but think of a super-sharp feather on it's first shave and first pass. Some will palm strop the blade before using, some run it through a piece of cork (cork-stropping), some put in their mildest razor for it's first shave (face stropping), and others tough it out because it's not like awful, just harsh and not as comfortable as later shaves. Now these blades last me a minimum of 10 shaves and I can probably get a solid 12+ if I'm feeling really thrifty. I recommend the PTFE coated blades....I have not had success with the plain SS; but I absolutely know guys who are completely fine with them.
Hope that helps and keep reaching out if you have questions -- SE razors are awesome!!!!
+1, could not of said it better!
 
I can't get BBS without going ATG. I don't think it's even possible with my facial hair type. If you have soft, blond hair, XTG should work great. With my (formerly) dark, wiry hair, I sometimes require 2 ATG passes to get true BBS. My stubble is so hard, I could probably grate cheese on it.
I'm not aiming for BBS just DFS or SAS because in my experience going against the grain is a recipe for skin irritation and ingrown hair. And the tougher your beard is, the more likely that is to happen.

If you must go ATG, I would do a 2 pass shave, one WTG and another ATG. Do not do multiple plasses WTG, it's a pointless exercise as a single edge razor is much more efficient, it does not miss hairs nearly as often as a DE.
 
I'm not aiming for BBS just DFS or SAS because in my experience going against the grain is a recipe for skin irritation and ingrown hair. And the tougher your beard is, the more likely that is to happen.

If you must go ATG, I would do a 2 pass shave, one WTG and another ATG. Do not do multiple plasses WTG, it's a pointless exercise as a single edge razor is much more efficient, it does not miss hairs nearly as often as a DE.
Before I throw in a few more cents to this thread (you might actually get a nickel's worth of info from me :001_smile), I'm going to start by espousing my core belief which is you should absolutely do whatever works for you. In my case, I am in @FireDragon76's camp of not shooting for BBS. It does happen from time to time, but I'm very happy with a DFS, and there are times I just leave it as a SAS -- especially my trouble areas.

My initial experience with SE's were they shaved so much closer than DE's (partially because of my lousy DE technique, and partially due to the increased rigidity/thickness of the blade), that I would almost always end up with razor burn on my lower neck and jaw line. Two things really helped me: I really paid attention to my beard map -- my hair grows one direction on my lower neck and another on my upper -- and I started moving towards a 2-pass with a light-as-possible touch up. The first pass is always WTG, the second is ATG/XTG (Against the Grain on cheek and non-problem areas; and Cross the Grain in the sensitive/problem areas), the third pass is another ATG/XTG touch-up for those places where I run my hand around my face and I don't like what I feel -- but I try not to shave anything again that passes my feel test.

Basically I'm trying to get-in-get-smooth-and-get-out in the least amount of strokes. Now with a DE, I can do a full-three pass shave (and often need to if it's a mild razor); but with an injector or GEM-style SE, I find less-is-more with my face.

One last thing and then I'll shut up. I don't know about others, but I find that even though I feel a hint of stubble right after a pass, if I rinse my face and do my post-shave routine, about 30 minutes to an hour later, I notice that I'm completely smooth....no stubble where I thought I might be leaving some. Now in those cases, it's not a real BBS and the growth will come back sooner....but as far as the LOTH and co-workers are concerned, I've got a great shave, so I don't sweat that my shave only lasts 8 hours and not 12. If I'm shaving every other day or less, then I might tempt fates and really shoot for BBS, but as a daily shaver, the potential downside (i.e., irritation) outweighs the potential upside (a few more hours of smoothness) for me.

I hope you don't mind the advice....it's one of the big things I like about this forum is finding out what others do, whether it works for me or not. But -- and I know this goes without saying (and it's the 2nd time I'm saying it) -- you should absolutely do what works for you. I would just suggest that you may have to alter it a bit to account for the difference between DE and SE.
 
Yeah, I notice that too. Hairs are like pasta and they elongate when they are soaked with water. So when you feel your face after a pass- that can be deceptive.

I also try to "shoot for par" (As Mantic puts it) and not try to be overly zealous, because I'm also a daily shaver. Knowing when to say "good enough" is tough, however. But it's all part of respecting the blade. And that's especially important with an SE because the blade doesn't flex like with a DE blade. You might get away with going for BBS for a few shaves but if you do that as a daily shaver, you could potentially end up with irritation dermatitis as you'll be taking off way too much skin faster than your body can replenish it.
 
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I appreciate all the help, but I guess everyone is different.

I shave 6-7 days a week, ever since I was a teenager, and I absolutely aim for BBS. I never had any irritation since I started using cartridges, 30 years ago, and I only get irritation with DE if using a blade that disagrees with my face. E.g. I am still somewhat healing from a bad date with Crystal. But as long as I stick to Feathers or ASP, I should be able to get BBS without any major issues in three passes (and probably just two would suffice, but I like my routine). Otherwise, might as well just stick with an electric shaver.

Now, back to SE. I made a mistake of storing the blade in a vat of isopropyl alcohol overnight, and this morning it was as dull as a butter knife, not cutting any hair whatsoever (yet miraculously not giving me any irritation either). After two wasted passes, I just switched back to DE.

I am convinced however, that with a good blade and a good technique, a BBS with a SE is very achievable. I am still surprised at just how gentle my first shave was. So, I will keep experimenting.
 
This was more an attempt to prevent the blade from rusting even further. It did not appear to have more rust on it than when I put it in that alcohol the night before, but the edge was destroyed. Either that, or these RiteAid carbon steel blades are one use only... but somehow I doubt that.
 
So, my Gem Stainless SE blades order came yesterday and I had a second shave with Ever-Ready this morning.

This time, just two passes (XTG and ATG) with clean up.

Just like the first time, the shave was very mild and the result was near BBS with zero issues, perhaps just a tad less smooth than what I am getting with Feathers in my Variant - but then it was only my 2nd shave with this completely differently behaving type of razor, so definitely lots of room for improvement.

Now, on to see how many shaves I can get out of a single blade. 5-6 per blade would make me happy.

My first carbon steel blade, that I think I destroyed by storing it in a vat of isopropyl alcohol overnight (so it was only good for one shave) was clearly made by the same manufacturer.

Now, what is the difference between coated and non coated SS Gem blades? AFAIK coating is supposed to make them smoother? The non coated blade that I used was perfectly smooth on its first run.
 
So, my Gem Stainless SE blades order came yesterday and I had a second shave with Ever-Ready this morning.

This time, just two passes (XTG and ATG) with clean up.

Just like the first time, the shave was very mild and the result was near BBS with zero issues, perhaps just a tad less smooth than what I am getting with Feathers in my Variant - but then it was only my 2nd shave with this completely differently behaving type of razor, so definitely lots of room for improvement.

Now, on to see how many shaves I can get out of a single blade. 5-6 per blade would make me happy.

My first carbon steel blade, that I think I destroyed by storing it in a vat of isopropyl alcohol overnight (so it was only good for one shave) was clearly made by the same manufacturer.

Now, what is the difference between coated and non coated SS Gem blades? AFAIK coating is supposed to make them smoother? The non coated blade that I used was perfectly smooth on its first run.
I believe the coating is PTFE.

Stainless steel blades were a revelation when they came out in the 60's. It doesn't surprise me you found them so smooth.

You can easily strop carbon steel blades on a belt or towel... or even your hand (not recommended). But they do tend to be rough shavers as compared to stainless steel.
 
I use a Henckels Rapide with Gem SS or Feather FhS-10 blades. I can shave about 10 times with one blade and it is always BBS. The Gem blades are used for microscopy, so ask a dealer for laboratory hardware. They often got 100 blade dispensers for a good price.
 
So, up till now I had 3 shaves with this razor, one with a carbon steel blade and two with a non-coated SS blade.

- This is certainly the most forgiving wet shaving razor I've ever used to date. My last shave, I just went at it as if I were using a cartridge, no 3-pass routine, just shaved everywhere in every direction. Zero irritation or cuts. With my mildest DE razor, Baili 176, I still need to pay at least some respect to it or I will end up with a razor burn. This one is super forgiving.

- OTOH, the shave quality is still "almost" BBS. Just a little less smooth and just a little less long lasting than when I am using my Variant with a Feather blade. Somewhere between DFS and BBS.

So, how typical is this experience ? Are these 1912s just super mild with decent efficiency ? Or, should I expect a better BBS as my technique improves ?

Finally, while at first sight the razor seems bulkier than a DE razor, it's actually very compact, thanks to the smaller handle and the way the head is mounted to it at an angle. Would make an excellent travel razor.

Which makes me wonder - why did these razors lose to DE ones ? The DE razors lasted longer (still do outside of Western countries), were far more widespread, and in many parts of the world, the SE razors were pretty much unknown - yet, they are efficient enough, more forgiving and easier to use, not that difficult to manufacture, and the blade cost per shave is comparable. Better marketing ?
 
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