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Rolling the Bones

Here’s the TL;DR of the below: I’m still new to wet shaving and went deep into the rabbit hole very quickly, and now it’s time to work my way through my razors, soaps/creams, and brushes in a random fashion by rolling dice to see what gets tried. There will be blood. And pain. And regret. And joy. So, pretty much the human condition through shaving. :straight:

Hello, B&B! I’ve decided to document my wet shaving journey in the hopes that someone may find some amusement at my foibles or perhaps something worthwhile in my experiences.

I first joined B&B in 2007 right after I’d moved to Tennessee to take a new job. I don’t remember how I first came across the forums, but after a lot or reading and researching, I de-lurked and got some helpful advice from the members and started out with a Merkur 34C, an Edwin Jagger Best Badger, a blade sampler pack, and a couple of soaps and creams. The first shaves were rough and, looking back over my initial posts, I never did get to a truly comfortable shave, though I definitely had some improvements. About a month after I started I had the opportunity to attend Dave Ramsey’s taping for “Financial Peace University” and got all fired up to pay off the last of my school debt. That meant taking on a second job and that meant my time was now further constrained. Wet shaving was dropped in favor of an electric to save me a few minutes a day.

I finally paid off the school debt in 2009 thanks to a civilian deployment to Iraq, but stuck with the electric due to an okay shave and because with two young kids and a long commute the time savings was worth it to me.

Fast forward to 2014 and I got interested in DE again, going so far as to hit B&B to see what had been going on in the wet shaving world and coming across several interesting posts, one on slants and one on sticking with Astra SP blades rather than trying samplers. Shortly thereafter I put in my first order to West Coast Shaving for a 100-pack of Astra Superior Platinum blades and a Badger & Blade edition boar brush. Before I could get started however, I found myself on the move to Florida for a new job.

Skip ahead to 2020 and I needed a new head for my Braun. Trouble was, due to Covid shortages, I was having a hard time finding one and the reviews on the replacement heads were horrendous—screens wearing through in three months and the like. Given the cost and the issues (not to mention with plenty of time on my hands from teleworking and saving an hour a day in commuting), I looked at DE again. After considering it for a few weeks, and remembering the posts I’d read in 2014, I dug out my Astras and other shaving supplies and ordered a Parker Semi-slant and some Speick and Salter creams from WCS and a bunch of samples and a Kong brush from Stirling.

I then started DE shaving in July. And it’s been an overall great experience so far. I’ve stuck exclusively with the Parker, but have rotated soaps, creams, and brushes.

After doing some reading on B&B, I started thinking about a birth year razor and peeked into the Buy-Sell-Trade forum here. That was a mistake! :001_smile Right away I found a 1968 Gillette Slim and bought it. But that innocent purchase resulted in a lot more purchases of brushes, razors, and soaps. And then of course, eBay and the Reddit Shave Bazaar contributed more. And naturally I picked up some more blade sampler packs from Amazon.

Of course, I’m really just kidding. The re-sell aspect of the community is part of what makes this so much fun and has allowed me to get a lot of stuff to try at great prices. I’ve only had one purchase go bad, and you can read about that on this thread: Don't Be a Paypal Chump Spoiler: I was one of the chumps–but I learned! There is some excellent advice on that thread and I highly recommend it to you for your consideration. I did not let that one scammer stop me from utilizing the BST and it is a great way for folks to get started. In fact, with a little patience, you’ll see members selling kits that will provide you with everything you need to get started at very reasonable prices.

Wanting to cool the jets on my purchases, I enrolled in the September 2020 Gentlemanly Restraint Until Month End (September 2020 GRUME), which has been a good way for me to move beyond the “if it’s available, I must buy it” phase and on to (perhaps) more considered purchasing. I’m 20 days into the GRUME and do believe I’ll make it to October. I don’t know that I’ll do the October GRUME because I’ve got a shopping list going… but stay tuned.

Reading–and enjoying—other journal entries as I searched different things on B&B, I thought it’d be fun to document my own progress with the items I’d purchased. So, I first cast about for a suggested order. I got some great responses at this thread: Suggestions for a razor tryout order?

My initial thought was to work the DEs from mild to aggressive/efficient and then try out the SEs in the same general pattern. However, I was really struck by @santamariasteve's comment that: “As to the rotation order, it makes no difference. Randomness in life has an element of sweetness.”

Indeed it does, and after considering the suggestions in that thread, my plan is to start with the Slim, work my way up the dial, and try my unused soaps. To get the randomness started, I’ll roll the bones (i.e., dice for those unfamiliar with the phrase) to randomly pick a soap and brush for each shave. For this first part, as a soap gets used it will come off the list so that I can get through them.

After that, the fun will start in earnest as I work my way through the shave den in random fashion. Every night I’ll roll for software and brush and every two weeks or so I’ll roll for a new razor. I’ll stick to the dice roll except when I roll the same badger or boar twice in a row (I’d like to let them dry in between). For the razor rolls, if it’s one I’ve already used then I’ll use it that night and roll again the next day. If it’s a new one then I’ll use it for two weeks before rolling for another. And to keep the random theme, I’ll roll for face or bowl lathering, too (except when a shave stick comes up—those will automatically be face lather). The only thing I won’t choose randomly is aftershave—if I have one that matches the soap, then I’ll use it. Otherwise, I’ll choose something to go with whatever soap or cream is used that day. At some point I’ll work pre-shaves and blades into the mix, too.

As I obtain more items, I’ll add them to the mix, too. Items I use that I’m not crazy about will be set aside to sell or PIF. In fact, I’ve already got a BST box going, but I’m going to throw most of it back into use to give them at least one more try. Who knows—my opinion of them may change.

I think this will be fun!
 
Here’s a picture of the razors I own that will be part of this process:



Starting with my Gillette 1968 N2 Slim in top-left, then the others in acquisition order, more or less (L to R, Top to Bottom). Some still in box to be revealed when their number comes up:

1. Gillette 1968 N2 Slim
2. Merkur 34C HD
3. Parker 55 SL Semi-slant
4. Maggard V2 on MR 5 Bamboo
5. Fine Superlite Slant
6. Parker 24C open comb
7. iKon X3 on iKon Bulldog handle
8. Muhle R89
9. Maggard Slant on MR5 bamboo
10. Muhle R41 rose gold
11. Standard Razors black
12. Gem Jr.
13. Schick Injector type E3
14. Wilkinson Sword TTO
15. Blackland Dart
16. Gillette 40s Super Speed
17. Schick Injector type L
18. Fatip Lo Storto
19. Gillette 1947 Aristocrat, Jr.
20. Gillette Fat-handled Tech
21. Fine Marvel
22. Gillette Ball-end Tech
23. Gem Micromatic Open Comb
24. Yaqi Beast head on a RazoRock Radio Knob handle (so essentially a RazoRock SLOC at this point)
25. RazoRock German 37 on Bulldog handle

Contrary to what it looks like from the picture, my end goal is to eventually focus on a core collection that give great shaves, plus have some variety. I bought each of these with some thought given to general regard in the community, reviews, and what I thought I might like. I definitely do not intend to keep all of these—the majority will hit the BST or be PIF’d after I’ve done some experimenting to see what works for me.
 
SOTD

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Pre: Noxzema face wash
Brush: EJ Silvertip
Razor: Gillette N2 1968 Slim On 1
Blade: Astra SP (#1)
Cream: TOBS Grapefruit
Post: Alum followed by Adidas Get Lucky!

Wow! Just, wow! First shave with something other than my Parker. I thought I was getting good shaves before, but this, on first shave, easily tied with the best shave I got from the Parker in 10 or so weeks. And on the mildest setting! Not at all what I was expecting. An easy CCS with just two N-S passes. Amazing. And shows how much I have to learn. I did not think a mild setting would shave closer than the Parker, but there it is. Zero feedback from the alum.

Cream was great with a spot-on grapefruit scent. Bowl lathered and I did get a little thin on the second pass; that was easily corrected with a little more cream and some face lathering.

A fantastic shave to close out this week!
 
SOTD

View attachment 1157861

Pre: Noxzema face wash
Brush: EJ Silvertip
Razor: Gillette N2 1968 Slim On 1
Blade: Astra SP (#1)
Cream: TOBS Grapefruit
Post: Alum followed by Adidas Get Lucky!

Wow! Just, wow! First shave with something other than my Parker. I thought I was getting good shaves before, but this, on first shave, easily tied with the best shave I got from the Parker in 10 or so weeks. And on the mildest setting! Not at all what I was expecting. An easy CCS with just two N-S passes. Amazing. And shows how much I have to learn. I did not think a mild setting would shave closer than the Parker, but there it is. Zero feedback from the alum.

Cream was great with a spot-on grapefruit scent. Bowl lathered and I did get a little thin on the second pass; that was easily corrected with a little more cream and some face lathering.

A fantastic shave to close out this week!
Congratulations, brother blackbird,

Your collection of 25 razors seems to capture the desirable elements of quality and variety.
 
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Pre: Ivory in the shower
Brush: Omega Mixed Midget
Razor: Gillette N2 1968 Slim, setting 1
Blade: Astra SP (#2)
Soap: Southern Witchcrafts Necromantic
Post: Alum followed by Soap Commander Integrity balm

Another easy CCS with two N-S passes. This razor is definitely a keeper. Plan to move up to setting 2 tomorrow.

Have been wanting to try Southern Witchcrafts for a while and this was a great sample to start with. Fantastic scent which reminds me of Georgia in the spring. Easy lather, too, and the Mixed Midget did its usual great job. And for once I didn't notice any shedding, but that's probably because I wasn't paying attention. 😃 I like the combo of boar and badger enough that I'm putting a Semogue Mistura on my wish list. That hair combo in a larger handle sounds like a winner to me.
 
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Pre: Ivory in the shower
Brush: EJ best badger (my OG brush)
Razor: Gillette N2 1968 Slim, setting 1
Blade: Astra SP (#3)
Soap: Figaro Monsieur
Post: Alum followed by Clubman Lilac Vegetal

I forgot to move to position 2, so had another night at 1. Easy CCS with two N-S passes. This razor continues to impress.

The soap smelled really good, and had plenty of cushion, but wasn't especially slick. Will keep it for another go before making a decision. Might benefit from a pre-shave.

I'm glad I got a sample of the Lilac Vegetal. Won't be getting a full size. Smells like a baby's nursery. A powder scent I suppose.
 
Here are the brushes that are going to partake in roll-a-shave. Listed in order of purchase, and the number will correspond to the dice number for each.


1. Edwin Jagger best badger. My OG brush, purchased for my first false start in 2007. Probably my favorite handle shape. At some point I want to purchase a custom @Rudy Vey brush in Irish Bog Oak and this Persian Jar shape will be a strong contender. 23mm knot, 54mm loft, 46 mm handle height, 101mm overall. 47g weight.

2. West Coast Shaving Badger & Blade 2014 Edition Omega boar brush with "frosted seafoam" handle. Not gonna lie: bought it because of that stunning handle--and because it benefitted B&B. Purchased in 2014 during my second false start and not tried until this year. The rest of the brushes have been purchased this year. 24mm knot, 55mm loft, 51mm height, 105mm overall. 60g.

3. Stirling Kong synthetic. This was in my BST box (i.e., things I've decided to sell), but I'm adding it back in to the rotation to see if a bit more experience on my part changes my initial impression, which was that it was just too dang big. 26mm knot, 63 mm loft, 120mm overall. 105g.

4. RazoRock Chrome silvertip Plissoft. This was also in my BST box for being too dang heavy. However, back into rotation it goes. 24mm knot, 57mm loft, 63mm handle, 120mm total height, and a heavy-enough-to-constitute-a-workout 179 grams.

Note: For all brushes I'm pulling measurement info from the manufacturer or retail sites where possible. All are undoubtedly approximate given that the RazoRock is a smidge taller than the Kong, but both are listed at 120mm height. Measurements on the B&B and EJ are my own (with cheapish digital calipers) because I didn't find the info either on my original order emails or the web. All weights are my own. Heights on numbers 10, 11, and 13 are also my measurement. I rounded up or down as needed to get to a whole number. (e.g., 63.35 is listed as 63).
 

5. La Maison du Barbier synthetic. This is a Plisson-made (LMdB is apparently a Plisson sub-brand) brush that uses the same synthetic knot (as I understand it) as the wood-handled L’Occitane or Plisson brush. 23mm knot, 55mm loft, 48mm handle, 103mm overall. 64g.

6. Omega 11047 Mixed Midget banded boar and badger mix. I’m forever mistakenly calling this the “Mighty Midget”* which also fits, because it really does work well. It is really tiny, though. I bought it because I was curious to try a badger/boar mix and because I thought it would make a good travel brush. It sheds 4 to 5 hairs every time (but I knew that when I bought it). 22mm knot, 43mm loft, 30mm handle, and 75mm overall. 31g.

7. Yaqi Mountain Lake 24mm two-band silvertip badger. Bought because I was curious about Yaqi and liked the handle. This is a really dense knot and I find I’m just now starting to get the hang of using it (read: more soap than usual when loading). WCS says it’s both two-band and silvertip, so that’s what I’m going with. I love badger, but still don’t have a firm grasp on the naming differences. 24mm knot, 53mm loft, 75mm handle, 128mm overall. 100g.

8. Edwin Jagger 21mm silvertip badger in medium. I like this one a lot. There’s a great thread about the EJ badgers here: EJ Badgers. Great brush, though the handle is a bit smaller than I’d ultimately prefer. If I see one available in a larger size I’ll definitely get it. 21mm knot, 50mm loft, 37mm handle, 87mm overall. 41g.

9. Parker Pure Badger travel brush. I have yet to use this one. I was waiting to try it with a shave stick, but it’s going into the mix. I love the design of this thing—very slick; can’t wait to try it. 20mm knot, 53mm loft, 105mm handle, 158mm overall (when assembled for use). 64g.

*I realized just before posting this (having come across it again) that Sharpologist refers to it as the “Mighty Mixed Midget” in an article and I bet that’s where I got it.
 

10. AP Shave Co. handle with Viking Soap synthetic silvertip fan. I got this because I had yet to try a fan shape. I do not like the knot in this one at all. However, I love the handle. The gentlemen I bought it from used silicone to set the knot, so I’ll be yanking it and replacing it with an Elite Razors Manchurian as suggested by @dfoulk in this post from the thread "How much difference can a brush make?": Elite Manchurian. Back to the brush as currently configured: 26mm knot, 53mm loft, 45mm handle, and 95mm overall. 73g.

11. AP Shave Co. handle with 28mm Shave Forge boar knot. Not much of a looker, but this is great brush. Super-comfortable handle and an excellent knot make for my second-favorite brush. This exact combo would make a great first knot/handle setting project for anybody. And it’s cheap: $6.75 for the knot (Shave Forge boar) and $8.99 for the handle (AP handle). Back to the brush: 28mm knot, 70mm loft (59mm as set, by my measure), 48mm handle, and 106mm overall. This handle style might also make a good model for a custom brush. 77g.

12. Vie-Long silvertip badger. An impulse purchase and my most expensive brush purchase so far at $60, but stunning to look at and even better to use. This is the alpha dog of my brushes right now. I absolutely love it. 24mm knot, 50mm loft, 48mm handle, and 98mm overall. 58g.

13. Yaqi Moka 24mm synthetic. By the time I purchased this, I was pretty sure I preferred natural hair to synthetic, but the price was right and I really liked the handle. It’s really good in use, too. I like the handle enough that I’ll probably pick up the two-band badger version at some point. 24mm knot, 52mm loft, 54mm handle, and 107mm overall. 90g.
 
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SOTD
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Pre: Ivory in the shower
Brush: Yaqi Moka synth
Razor: Gillette N2 1968 Slim, setting 2
Blade: Astra SP (#4)
Soap: Stone Cottage Soapworks Coconut Holiday cream
Post: Alum followed by Captain's Choice Bay Rum balm

First move up the Slim, to position 2. I can't say I noticed much of a difference. If anything, maybe not quite as close, which I would assume is because the blade is on its 4th shave tonight. A slight bit of feedback from the alum, but that was because I was messing around with buffing under my chin, trying various angles. Was able to get under my nose better with a little bit of concentration and angle work.

Soap (I know it says cream, but it's firmer than my DG Weinstrasse) was pleasant and plenty slick. The balm was also pleasant--neither greasy nor overbearing.

All in all, a good shave tonight!
 
Here's what I have left to work through on new stuff. Mostly samples. Then it's back to the den for the big rotation. For this list, once a soap is used it retires to the den until I can get through these.
  • Stirling Gin & Tonic On the Rocks sample
  • Stirling Weekend in Malibu sample
  • Stirling Satsuma sample
  • Stirling Island Man sample
  • Stirling Electric Sheep sample
  • Stirling Baker Street soap
  • Stirling Sandalwood soap sample
  • Turtleship Lime soap sample
  • Turtleship Te Java sample
  • Declaration Grooming Yuzu Rose Patchouli
  • Noble Otter Hamami soap
  • Sudsy Soapery Vetiver and Vanilla
  • Ariana & Evans Kaizen soap
  • Declaration Grooming La Petite Prairie
  • Stone Cottage Soapworks Spiced Myrrh soap
  • Stone Cottage Soapworks Hesperide soap
  • Noble Otter Monarch soap
  • Chiseled Face Midnight Stag sample
  • Martin de Candre Original soap sample
  • Martin de Candre Fougere soap sample
  • Henri et Victoria Cognac & Cuban Cigars soap sample
  • Jabonman Vetiver de Haiti sample
  • CBL Tonsorial Back-alley Barbershop sample
  • Goodfellas Smile Abysso
  • Captain’s Choice 45th Parallel cream sample
  • Captain’s Choice Lime sample
  • Zingari Man The Wanderer sample
  • Zingari Man The Nomad sample
  • Zingari Man The Explorer sample
  • Zingari Man The Magician sample
 
Doing a GRUME this month has mostly cured me of SAD as I realize just how much I have, but has done nothing for my BAD. Not only have I come close to breaking the GRUME because of a couple I saw on the BST (first rule of GRUME: stay out of the BST), I've got an ever-growing list going for yourshaving.com (Zenith, Semogue, Vie-Long).
 
Tonight the Slim will be joined by a new Astra and... (hunts for dice and rolls) Zingari Man The Magician and (rolls again). Ugh. The Viking Soap synthetic. My first October purchase may very well be an Elite Manchurian so I can replace that knot.
 
Doing a GRUME this month has mostly cured me of SAD as I realize just how much I have, but has done nothing for my BAD. Not only have I come close to breaking the GRUME because of a couple I saw on the BST (first rule of GRUME: stay out of the BST), I've got an ever-growing list going for yourshaving.com (Zenith, Semogue, Vie-Long).
Yeah. I don't know what it is about brushes. I love several of the ones I have, but want others. And not in search of something better, just a different handle material, or slightly different bristle.
 
SOTD Thursday night
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Pre: Noxzema face wash
Brush: AP handle with Viking Soap synth
Razor: Gillette N2 1968 Slim, setting 2
Blade: Astra SP (#1)
Soap: Zingari Man The Magician, Sego base
Post: Alum followed by a splash of Dickinson's and Stirling Piacenza balm

New blade, but position 2 still seems like it's not quite as close as position 1. It could be because I struggled with the lather tonight and never did get it right. Passable, but too wet. Tried to add some more soap, but the brush just pushed it around--which I didn't find out until the end when rinsing the bowl. I blame a lot of this on the knot, which I've decided I downright despise. Slings lather all over, doesn't splay, and on it goes. This is a definite BST. I'm tempted to yank the knot this weekend and throw it in the BST box. I'll think about it.

I'm going to reserve judging the soap until I've tried it with a different brush. Balm was okay.

Overall, a below average shave.
 
With the end of the GRUME in sight, I cobbled together a quick spreadsheet this morning for items that are on my "to buy" list and added in prices for some of the main vendors. So far, Your Shaving is the winner for every item.
 
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