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Henckels Henso cleanup and review

I recently acquired for £25 including carriage from EBay France, a vintage Henckels Henso DE razor as shown below:

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I am unsure of the date of this razor but the fact it is marked 'Germany' and not 'East' or 'West' Germany suggests it is pre World War Two. Given that it is marked 'Germany' and not 'Deutschland' suggests it was made in Germany for export to an English speaking market. I cannot imagine there were many such exports occurring in the late 30s and 40s so I suggest 1935 would be an approximate date which corresponds to the suggestions from other members. The appearance and style of the razor and box also suggests a similar date, at least to my untrained eye.

I decided to clean the razor by first giving it a 15 minute soak in hot soapy water followed by a scrub with an old tooth brush. I cleaned the insides by use of cotton buds as shown which removed several dead insects and insect wing casings. I take this as indicating that the razor has been unused for many years and was not cleaned by the seller. After drying I decided on a light clean with a gentle metal polish and a final polish with a lint free cloth. I decided on a very light clean as I prefer to retain some patina on vintage items. Note - this is a user grade item and I do not recommend using metal polish on a fine item or one with gold plating or other lacquers.

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Following this I again used cotton buds to clean the case interior and lightly cleaned the case outer with a wax spray furniture polish; here is the finished result:
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I have shaved with the razor using a new Astra Platinum and found it to be mid aggression. The razor is heavy and feels substantial and well balanced in the hand. It has noticeable audio feedback which I like but slight blade chatter which can cause the blade to skip a little. I found there is very little room for error in obtaining the correct blade angle and it is easy to find oneself riding the head or the safety bar. If the angle is not correct then the head will leave tracks in the soap in a similar way to an open comb razor. I had thought the razor may be a similar shaver to the Eclipse Red Ring but on first use the Eclipse is far superior in terms of smoothness. Overall the shave result was excellent and the razor is a pleasure to use but it does require attention to technique and to the cutting angle. Loss of attention in this regard results not in nicks or cuts but in simply not cutting the whiskers. In that respect the razor is forgiving and a pleasure to use. In summary I am pleased with the Henckels Henso razor, I very much like the style, weight, and feel in the hand. It is forgiving but requires good technique to achieve a good result an on first impression it will remain in my rotation for the foreseeable future. Here is the shave of the day and the razor in its new home.

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Northstonehill

Contributor
Superb review, Richard, thanks for sharing! That case interior looks magnificent. Did you use some kind of soap on the cotton buds?!

As for the shave it seems you reached the same conclusion that I did. But I may just take mine our for a spin though, I feel inspired now.

This is mine. I overpaid and it was user grade so Chris Evatt replated it for me in 3 layers of silver.

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After several uses I have concluded that this is a mild razor and is is best used with a known sharp blade. I have tried using a shim which was not very successful. I have loosened the top cap by half a turn to provide more blade gap and this has worked very well. I have then fully tightened the top cap for those areas which are more sensitive. In this way I am using the Henckels as an adjustable which is odd as I never adjusted my Gillette Fatboy or Slim after finding a setting I liked. This is the method I will continue to use with this razor. Peter - I cleaned the interior of the case by spraying cotton buds with computer screen cleaner so that dust and fluff would adhere to the bud tips; I find that this liquid evaporates quickly and does not tarnish the cloth interiors.
 
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