I was looking at Gold Dollar on AliBaba and ran across this razor, one that I had not yet seen. It looked like a step in the right direction, design-wise, from their other models. What I was forgetting was that first of all, nobody at the factory actually knows anything about razors, and secondly, the philosophy of "it's good enough" rules there, unchallenged, as in most Chinese factory settings. I corresponded with Cici Liu there at the factory and inquired about this razor, and ordered a sample. Three pieces, actually. I kind of liked what I saw, in general, when I received them. I like the general profile of the blade, including the humpback shank. This would in a perfect world, get all shank steel out of the honing plane so that overrunning the hone is of no consequence. Well, this isn't a perfect world so no, doesn't work that way. It would take very little work to make it so, but for $6.50 each, I expect to not have to do much more than just hone it. The stabilizer is gone, replaced by a big thumbnotch. Unfortunately the shoulder is still there. Again, easy enough to grind away, but meh. The factory "edge" has a tolerably low bevel angle. There was just a thin hairline of hone wear on the spine, indicating that the razor was not overbeveled like recent W59 razors. No wedge. A spacer, instead. I have never seen a factory GD with a proper wedge, so par for the course. Wood scales. Ebony? Probably not, but they look nice enough.
The razor was in a way difficult to hone. Because of the humpback shank, it is difficult to torque the edge down onto the hone. There are no jimps to assist, either. I usually don't care for jimps but they would be welcome on this razor to make balancing pressure easier. With a natural grip and honing style, the spine alone is pressed to the hone. The only way I felt in control was with my forefinger extended lightly along the hollowgrind as I honed. Once I got that worked out, honing was not difficult. But it sure looked skinny! Turned out the spine thickness was only 11/64" and edge to top of spine contact area was 49/64" so bevel angle calculates to be 12.89 degrees. Way too acute. most beginning honers will have a difficult time with this delicate a blade.
I honed this razor without tape, though I would recommend using a layer of Super 88 on the spine to bring the bevel angle out to a more civilized 14 degrees or so. I set the bevel on a 1k Naniwa Superstone and 12u lapping film on acrylic. I started to run the progression on film but I did not like the way the bevel was morphing and faceting. I thought about digging out my awesado and naguras and working up a thin slurry, but I remembered the balsa strops I made up for full progression honing, and started with the 10u. Wow. Big difference. Treetopping at 10u! No doubt assisted by the very acute bevel angle. Okay, so then 5u, 2.5u, 1u, and finally my normal three finishing stages, .5u, .25u, and .1u. Better than my average Method edge, TBH. The very slight convexing of the edge by the soft balsa was apparently just the thing for this razor. Treetopping is silent but hair base is still slightly disturbed. At 1/4" it lops off the majority of the hair tips it encounters. So yeah, the edge as honed is good enough to make me pretty proud of myself, but I have on occasion formed a sharper edge. So call it a 9.9, not quite a perfect 10.
As expected, with the super acute bevel angle and Method edge, it shaves a lot like a shavette. I am used to edges like this, but most straight shavers are not, so someone else would need to concentrate on keeping the angle dead low. I have not deliberately muted the toe, either. So good stretching and careful strokes would be called for. My shave went very well, with some very slight degradation of the hyper sharp edge by the time I was finished. Still ready to shave another face without stropping, but by my standards it would definitely benefit right away from my usual daily edge maintenance regimen using the .1u balsa strop.
Without tape, this razor will not respond well to synthetic stones in the hands of most honers. I suspect Jnat honers would be able to figure out this one, though. I don't think the edge will last more than a dozen shaves for most shavers, without the balsa strop edge maintenance as per The Method, so it would definitely need to see that Jnat again soon. With tape, all bets are off. Two layers of Super 88 would probably put you up around 15 degrees, and a good synthetic progression would work nicely and the edge would still have plenty of sharpness potential. Alternately, one could put together a 20u to .1u diamond on lapped balsa progression, for honing from scratch. The standard .1u ought to work fine, for just daily maintenance.
So far, I don't think anyone is retailing this razor. I was thinking about jumping in and ordering 100 of them, but not so sure now. I may take one more shave with it, and then do a pass around, to be announced in another thread, if any accomplished honers want to shave and play around with it.