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Master Shifu Must Have a Sense of Humor

Here’s my experience with the 1996 so far. At this post I have a fully set bevel at 4k, so finishing is just a few more minutes. I’ll post about that later.

First, I assume that the 1996 model is intended to commemorate the founding of the company in 1996, so you’d expect it to be a better razor than maybe some other models. TL;DR: Nah, it’s a pig with lipstick.

One of the first things I noted were the scales. An improvement over the 66/208/Monkey scales to be sure, but also noted that one scale is considerably thicker than the other. This does not bode well for QC, and the edges of the scales are completely unfinished and sharp. Also the toe is well overground as noted above - Jim’s razor looks a lot better. The usual work did remediate that overground toe a little, but it’s still there, which is OK, it will probably shave a little milder because of the upsweep. I also relieved the heel a bit which wasn’t absolutely necessary, but it did seem to improve the appearance of the heel. At $8 shipped I really can’t complain. They’re $10 shipped now, I think there was a coupon going for a while.

I was hoping that the bevel would set without resorting to the mellow 325 DMT, not so unless I wanted to wear out a $90 stone on an $8 razor. So out comes the 325 and away I go. I was seeing considerable edge chipping/mangling from the DMT that I don’t usually see. On most Gold Dollars, I can get a fairly straight edge off a mellow 325. This manglement also didn’t want to clear on the 500 Shapton Glass with King 1k slurry, or the 1k Shapton Glass. It began to straighten up with the 2k, and was gone after the 4k. My pal up in Newport, Mike, cut his King 1k into ‘brown biscuit’ sized chunks and gave me a couple. They’ve been working well to clean swarf and to speed up the coarser stones like the Shapton 500 - King 1k slurry on this stone seemed to cut well.

Curious about the chipping out, I measured the bevel angle after the 1k stone, and it’s right at 18 degrees, maybe 18.1 if you believe in tenths. Most are 19.5-20, so maybe the steel isn’t supporting the edge well at 18 degrees or is less durable? IDK, but I’ve never seen a Gold Dollar edge rip out like this one. Any ideas Slash?

Finishing post later.

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Wow that looks horrible! The 1996 and W62 razors I have seen were not bad. And yeah the bevel angle on these is slimmer than a 66 by a degree or a bit more. Makes for a somewhat nicer shaver. The few 1996 razors I have sold or given away were well received, and I didn't have to work my fingers to the bone to get them shave ready, either.

If you want to hone it straight, you have a lot more steel to remove. Notice how the edge line bends upward about 30% in from the toe. And yet I see your hone wear on the spine indicating that you have definitely did your best to get the toe involved. Well, that one is just badly ground. It is really a poor example of this razor, one that has found a lot of acceptance in our community. If you want it straight, just shift your center of pressure out toward the toe, right about where the curve becomes noticeable. Eventually the majority of the edge will catch up to the toe and you will achieve full bevelhood. Or you can roll your X and just live with a lopsided smile. It can definitely be honed, no doubt about it. Just takes some powerful medicine. Honestly, I think I would clamp a belt sander upside down in your bench vise, with maybe a 200 or 320 grit belt, and have at it. Remember it only takes a couple of seconds to overheat the edge! Or glue some wet/dry sandpaper to an acrylic plate. and wear it out. When the bevel is like 90% there or better, move to a more civilized grit and let the chipping heal as you continue to wail on it with finer stonery.

When you hone below about 600 grit you kind of have to expect to see some edge chipping now and then. The W59 I took to my "F" DMT took some pretty big chips. What I suggest, when you see this, is jump up a grit or two, but work up a slurry, to speed up the work at that grit to make up for the slower cutting of the plain stone. Then the bevel is set, wash it off and hone with clear water, and rejoin the program in progress.

BTW I just got my sample from the factory, model 92. Interesting. I will hone it up tonight, probably and post some pics on a new thread. It looks like Master Shifu was too busy butchering W59's to see to these razors.
 
Thanks Slash, that’s about the way I have it figured. There’s no point in brute forcing the middle to match the toe, it will shave well enough but look not quite right, but I’d rather just buy another one, or three. But it once again confirms my belief about Gold Dollar ‘quality’ that it isn’t which model you buy, it’s which specific example of a razor that you get! My latest 66s are good too, but like you say, they’re chunky.

I agree about the chipping, but had never seen it this bad before. It did clear up. And here’s the finish....

A butterscoth kiita with diamond plate slurry removed the synthetic scratch pattern, then my yellowish karasu with tomo slurry provided the final edge. The HHT is everything that I want, so I’m expecting a good shave tomorrow.

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Thanks Slash, that’s about the way I have it figured. There’s no point in brute forcing the middle to match the toe, it will shave well enough but look not quite right, but I’d rather just buy another one, or three. But it once again confirms my belief about Gold Dollar ‘quality’ that it isn’t which model you buy, it’s which specific example of a razor that you get! My latest 66s are good too, but like you say, they’re chunky.

I agree about the chipping, but had never seen it this bad before. It did clear up. And here’s the finish....

A butterscoth kiita with diamond plate slurry removed the synthetic scratch pattern, then my yellowish karasu with tomo slurry provided the final edge. The HHT is everything that I want, so I’m expecting a good shave tomorrow.

View attachment 1052400
I feel your pain! I set a bevel on a stock 66 on an ikarashi with botan slurry. I used more botan than the razor was worth! Lol. Took me half hour. With gds and zys your going to get a razor that will be able to be pounded into shape. I've seen loads of them and it never bothered me. Personally I would take a stock 66 over any of them. Quick heel trim with a dremel and onto the 600 chosera. I never broke any of my gold dollar scales. But it's easy enough to make scales of your own imo.
 
Thanks Slash, that’s about the way I have it figured. There’s no point in brute forcing the middle to match the toe, it will shave well enough but look not quite right, but I’d rather just buy another one, or three. But it once again confirms my belief about Gold Dollar ‘quality’ that it isn’t which model you buy, it’s which specific example of a razor that you get! My latest 66s are good too, but like you say, they’re chunky.

I agree about the chipping, but had never seen it this bad before. It did clear up. And here’s the finish....

A butterscoth kiita with diamond plate slurry removed the synthetic scratch pattern, then my yellowish karasu with tomo slurry provided the final edge. The HHT is everything that I want, so I’m expecting a good shave tomorrow.

View attachment 1052400
I am sure you will be perfectly pleased with the shave, especially compared to a GD66 shave.
I feel your pain! I set a bevel on a stock 66 on an ikarashi with botan slurry. I used more botan than the razor was worth! Lol. Took me half hour. With gds and zys your going to get a razor that will be able to be pounded into shape. I've seen loads of them and it never bothered me. Personally I would take a stock 66 over any of them. Quick heel trim with a dremel and onto the 600 chosera. I never broke any of my gold dollar scales. But it's easy enough to make scales of your own imo.
Lately the grind has been quite good on the 66. The last batch, I skipped the belt sander altogether, and set the bevel on the 600 grit Chosera and 1k Superstone with a few dozen swats on the 12u film just to ensure everything is flat and true. Bevel in maybe 10 minutes.
 
Yep, my 66s lately are good, the ‘high end’ Gold Monkeys lately are bad, but they used to be quite good of you look at the one that I have left posted above, with a real stabilizer properly made.
 
The ugly dog can bark! I’m baby dolphin butt smooth.

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This is what the arguments over the years were based on! They're ugly, ground like crap many times, fit and finish lacking scales not sized correctly etc. But at the end of the day you have a $5 or so razor that shaves great. I've always said the edge put on the thing is first and foremost. If it doesn't shave it isn't the razors fault. Lol. Some people love to hate these razors. And I'm sure they have their reasons. But for utility they are more than adequate. I have heard the gold dollars sold on Amazon have their stabilizers removed. I haven't bought any from there so I can't say that's 100% accurate.
 
I’ve done the same thing with Japanese knives Bill. I have a 180mm Masahiro Virgin Carbon, people love these but they’re $65 knives (back then) and they’re kinda rough, so people don’t feel like they have to baby them in the kitchen and they perform well.

I had a question. Can I turn a $65 knife into a $750 knife by hand with traditional methods. The answer is yes if you don’t mind putting 50-100 hours into a cheap knife. I smoothed and rounded the scales, smoothed and thinned the blade, smoothed the spine, and polished the blade with a series of jnats out to an uchigumori finish. Pretty much like you’d do a sword. I also had the idea of putting this kind of finish on a straight but haven’t done it yet.

with Japanese knives, the fit and finish are many times most of the asking price. You can replicate a lot of that yourself, but like fixing up Gold Dollars, not many will put the hours in to do it.
 
Folks on other forums disapproved of Gold Dollars in part because those fora supported businesses and they thought that Gold Dollars would take away from their Dovo, Boker, etc sales. That’s probably right in the short term, but I think that they were, and are wrong about this. If someone buys a Gold Dollar, you might think that you’ve lost a Dovo sale, but the Gold Dollars will, in the long run, get more people to TRY straight razor shaving vs a $150-250 entry point. Some of this larger number of noobs will like straight razor shaving, and the next thing that they’re going to buy is a better razor, not another Gold Dollar. OK, maybe a better razor and another Gold Dollar.

They also have or had a more legitimate concern that people would buy one and base their opinions about wet shaving on a factory Gold Dollar. You can see that on all SR forums, along with folks that got a RSO that unlike the Gold Dollar, can’t be made to shave. Not much that you could do about that though.

Still, if I were selling regular straights, I’d encourage new folks to try a Gold Dollar, not discourage them, for the reason above.
 
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I’m ambivalent about Gold Dollars. I can put a crap ton of work in them and make them look nice but if I paid myself an hourly wage they would outprice an Aust. If I just sharpen them then I have a shaveable $8 razor. They shave fine when tuned up.

I think the hate some have is that a lot of sites sell them as kits to clueless consumers looking to try straight shaving. It’s not the razors themselves but the merchants that prey on new guys that cause the ire.

I’ve had friends get them as gifts and ask me to hone them. I just don’t feel like putting in the time or stone wear anymore. It’s just not fun and I’d rather spend the energy on something else.


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I’m ambivalent about Gold Dollars. I can put a crap ton of work in them and make them look nice but if I paid myself an hourly wage they would outprice an Aust. If I just sharpen them then I have a shaveable $8 razor. They shave fine when tuned up.

I think the hate some have is that a lot of sites sell them as kits to clueless consumers looking to try straight shaving. It’s not the razors themselves but the merchants that prey on new guys that cause the ire.

I’ve had friends get them as gifts and ask me to hone them. I just don’t feel like putting in the time or stone wear anymore. It’s just not fun and I’d rather spend the energy on something else.


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I think most of those kit sellers actually do not even know how to use a straight razor, and think they are giving good value for the money LOL.

Yes I feel your pain on the work involved. I have done a lot of mods that took up 50 to 100 hours. You do the math. I can buy myself another new Bismarck for $165 or so, and done. I don't mind just honing and selling... I can hone a 66 in I guess about 20 minutes in assembly line fashion. (still, there is time spend printing labels, packaging, trip to post office, lost nap time...) I am too jaded to really enjoy shaving with a stock 66, though. All I get out of that is the rebellious satisfaction of shaving with a razor that cost me $3.71 shipped.

I won't hone one for someone else, either. In fact I don't take in outside honing at all. I would rather tell someone to learn The Method and do their own honing.

Some of the hate is actually there for three reasons I can think of. One is that someone who just bought a $200 to $1000 razor desperately craves validation for his actions. Some straight razor madman gleefully bragging on his great shaving razor that cost less than a mug of beer doesn't sit well with some guys. And there are those who make their dime selling "premium" razors like Dovo Bests LOL! It probably sucks to take heat for selling a crappy $80 razor while other guys get cheered for buying sub $4 razors. Then there are the parrots who hear and repeat. Once they start down that slippery path, they can't back off and say well maybe a GD is not such a bad razor after all.

Best thing to do with a GD is once a year mod one heavily for entry into the annual competition. Or hone some up and get them into newbie hands so they can start shaving without spending a week's wages on startup gear.
 
Start up cost is what's currently holding me back.

That and next to zero knowledge of straights.
What are you shaving with, now? Do you have a brush, and soap? Once you have mastered face mapping, skin stretching, shaving WTG/XTG/ATG, hydration and making a good lather, your shave with your current shave method will improve quite a bit. And you will be halfway to being equipped for straight shaving. Just need a strop and a razor. If you decide not to spend the dough for a razor and strop, you still can make good use of the brush, mug, and soap with your cartridge or throwaway or DE/SE razor. Then again, all you would need is a "thexbay" $8.88 strop and a shave ready Gold Dollar or vintage from a member here, and you can be shaving like a boss. Lots of threads on the board for newbs or wannabes getting started. Stick around and do your homework. Get yourself a couple of shave daddies to nudge you along the path and you will soon be shaving like a boss.
 
Start up cost is what's currently holding me back.

That and next to zero knowledge of straights.
There used to be a couple of members here offering shave ready Gold Dollars at very reasonable prices. It was a great thing for the community. I don't know if anyone, who we know would deliver good edges, is offering that now.

If you keep you eye out on the BST you can find some good deals there, and probably re sell for close to your investment if you decide straights aren't for you. Strops are almost more of a problem than the razors.
 
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I think most of those kit sellers actually do not even know how to use a straight razor, and think they are giving good value for the money LOL.

Yes I feel your pain on the work involved. I have done a lot of mods that took up 50 to 100 hours. You do the math. I can buy myself another new Bismarck for $165 or so, and done. I don't mind just honing and selling... I can hone a 66 in I guess about 20 minutes in assembly line fashion. (still, there is time spend printing labels, packaging, trip to post office, lost nap time...) I am too jaded to really enjoy shaving with a stock 66, though. All I get out of that is the rebellious satisfaction of shaving with a razor that cost me $3.71 shipped.

I won't hone one for someone else, either. In fact I don't take in outside honing at all. I would rather tell someone to learn The Method and do their own honing.

Some of the hate is actually there for three reasons I can think of. One is that someone who just bought a $200 to $1000 razor desperately craves validation for his actions. Some straight razor madman gleefully bragging on his great shaving razor that cost less than a mug of beer doesn't sit well with some guys. And there are those who make their dime selling "premium" razors like Dovo Bests LOL! It probably sucks to take heat for selling a crappy $80 razor while other guys get cheered for buying sub $4 razors. Then there are the parrots who hear and repeat. Once they start down that slippery path, they can't back off and say well maybe a GD is not such a bad razor after all.

Best thing to do with a GD is once a year mod one heavily for entry into the annual competition. Or hone some up and get them into newbie hands so they can start shaving without spending a week's wages on startup gear.

Agree there are a lot of shavers with sunk cost fallacies and hubris. For me personally it was around the time of Skyfall and the boom when I got repeated requests from IRL friends, coworkers, etc. to hone them up. At first it was fun and exciting getting newbies involved but after about the 50th one I just walked away and have never honed a razor for another person again, with a rare exception or two. I found 95% of those guys that I did the work for by honing and making them look nice was wasted time. Within 6 months the razor was gathering dust or stuck in some drawer. They faced the same hurdles someone buying a $90 razor faces but the cost to walk away was cheaper and my labor just wasted.
 
@slim6596 you buy a razor and I’ll hone it for you so now you just need a razor and a strop and don’t need to worry about hones right away
I may take you up on that extremely generous offer, sir.

Slash, I'm using a Merkur 3 piece DE, not sure of the model but it has a longer handle and closed comb(Feather blade). I use a brush in a metal shave bowl that I preheat with hot water (also soaking my brush in it). I've been bouncing back and forth between cremes and soaps, tending more towards soap. It just seems to last longer in my dopp kit. Most days I shave WTG then XTG and call it good. When I'm home, off the road, I may add a ATG pass for my wife's sake.

Started out wet shaving in the mid to late 70s with dad's hand me down Gillette DE. Came back to it for the usual reasons: save money long term, face and neck irritation no matter what I tried. Once I found out that it was the store bought goop and the multiple blade monstrosity lurking in my kit causing the problem instead of being the solution, I pitched all that and here I am.
 
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