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Why Zamak is Not a Four Letter Word!

In fact, I bet that some of your favorite razors are made from Zamak.

All Merkur and Edwin Jagger razors are made partially or completely of Zamak 7.

Like most manufacturers such as Merkur, Edwin Jagger, Muhle, and Parker make some or ALL of their razors from Zamak. These razors last for years, and have some of the best reputations in traditional shaving. Yet, if the razor were made in China, the fact that it is made from Zamak will lead many to conclude, “its made from Zamak and it is cheap Chinese junk!”

These days, with modern Zamak alloys this sentiment is simply untrue.

Merkur 34C is 100% Zamak.

Are you a Zamak Snob?

Our philosophy has always been to use the best possible materials to meet the razor’s objectives. We only have two razors made completely from Zamak – the Sumatra and the Black Tiger. Many of our razors don’t use Zamak at all. Some use a combination of metals including Zamak. Whatever we use, we make certain that it is the best material for the job.

So, if you are a Zamak snob, you may be missing out on some great razors including everything made by Merkur, Edwin Jagger, and Parker.

Did you know that there are many different types of Zamak?

The name zamak is an acronym of the German names for the metals of which the alloys are composed: Zink (zinc), Aluminium, Magnesium and Kupfer (copper). The New Jersey Zinc Company developed zamak alloys in 1929. … A large problem with early zinc die casting materials was zinc pest, owing to impurities in the alloys. While zamak is held to higher industrial standards, it is still considered by many, a pot metal.

So what’s wrong with that??

Many fire arms are made 100% of Zamak.

For the sake of definition, pot metal is considered any metal that has zinc in it as an alloy. But, the family of alloys known as Zamak, are distinguished from Zink itself, because of their constant 5% aluminium composition.

However, unknown to many, there are various types of alloys, called Zamak. Most modern razors use Zamak 7.

Zamak 7

Most Zamak Razors today are Made of Zamak 7, and improvement over Zamak 3.

Zamak 3 is the de facto standard for the zamak series of zinc alloys; all other zinc alloys are compared to this. Zamak 3 has the base composition for all Zamak alloys (96% zinc, 4% aluminum). It has excellent castability and long term dimensional stability. More than 70% of all North American zinc die castings are made from Zamak 3.

If the plating remains intact, and the razor is not subjected to trauma, it can last many years. Solingen and Sheffield are the bases for edged steel weapon manufacture in Great Britain and Germany, yet there’s no steel in the Merkur, Muhle, or EJ razors made in these cities.

Today most DE Razors are made of Zamak 7.

The advantages of Zamak 7 to a manufacturer are obvious:

  • Zamak 7 is easy to cast.
  • The tooling costs less and lasts longer.
  • Because Zamak 7 is so inexpensive about 70% of all die cast parts are made from Zamak 3 or Zamak 7.
  • Many die casting machines, even ancient ones, can spit out thousands of castings in an hour.
  • Zamak 7 is surprisingly strong! Zamak 7 die castings are known for their superior impact strength over competing materials and processes.
  • Because Zamak 7 is so easily cast, the manufacturer usually has no need for welding. Welded joints, which are often used in the manufacture of razors for the posts on a head, or for different material types and coatings on handles are much weaker than a solid casting.
  • Zamak 7 is quite strong! For instance, Zamak 7 has an impact strength greater than 15X that of aluminum Al380. Many razors are made of this alloy. The yield strength of a bar of material is the maximum stress that can be applied along its axis before it begins to change shape. Yield strength is the amount of stress a piece of steel must undergo in order to permanently deform.
Even in its most inexpensive form, Zamak 3 has a high tensile strength.

The disadvantages of Zamak to a manufacturer are obvious:

  • Zamak 7 is very difficult to plate.
  • Nickle will adhere to Zamak 7 much better than chrome, but still will not adhere all that well.
  • In order to chrome plate a Zamak 7 razor properly, it is necessary to plate the razor first with copper. Copper adheres extremely well to Zamak, and chrome adheres really well to copper.
  • Zamak is considered pot metal (which is perhaps more true of Zink itself,) and therefore not popular with consumers.
  • Funny thing though all Merkur and Edwin Jagger razors are made from Zamak 7.

The advantages / disadvantages of Zamak 7 to the consumer are not so obvious:

  • If We DoBecause of its high yield strength, Zamak 7 has virtually no malleability. This means that Zamack 7 is not easy to bend. If your razor breaks, the part most likely will have to be replaced instead of repaired and bent back in shape, although it may be more difficult to break it in the first place. (Advantage & Disadvantage.)
  • Cost. Zamak 7 costs about a third as much as steel and about half as much as brass. (Advantage.)
  • Finish. Unless plated properly, as described above, Zamak 3will lose its coating over time. (Disadvantage)
  • BUT these days almost all Zamak 7 razors are plated first with copper as mentioned above.

Why We Use Zamak 12 or Zamak 15 in Global Shave Razors When We Use Zamak at All.

Our Sumatra is made of 100% Zamak 12.

Zamak 12 uses more percentage copper as well as aluminum and magnesium in the alloy with zink. This not only slightly improves malleability but moreover improves the adhesion of the plating and simplifies the plating process. Zamak 12 costs significantly more than Zamak 7, but is worth the investment because the finish and durability of the end product are vastly improved.

Our Gemini Razor uses one heavy brass handle for face shaves. A steel handle for head shaves and a dual comb head made of Zamak 15.

Zamak 15 has its own unique advantages. It has a much higher copper and magnesium content still than Zamak 12. It costs a bit more than Zamak 12, which in turn costs more than Zamak 7

Zamak 15 is a zinc alloy of high quality with many advantages: it is comparable to steel in many ways, boasting high tensile strength, more malleability and superior corrosion resistance. It is also very easy to plate.

Perhaps a good example of Zamak 15’s proper use is on the head of our Gemini razor. Because it is both an open and closed comb head, it was both much easier, and far less costly to produce out of Zamak 15 than steel or brass, yet with excellent tensile strength. In short there were many manufacturing advantages and no consumer disadvantages by making Gemini’s head this way.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Double Edge Razor Blades but Were Afraid to Ask.

I Didn’t Know What Approach to This Post I Should Take…..

At first, I wanted to show the evolution of double edge razor blades using a historical approach. That seemed more than appropriate.

Then I got to thinking……. many wet shavers do not understand the basic differences between steel quality and blade  coating technologies to be informed enough to select a blade that they have not tried just yet. So in this post we will look at some of the many of the technologies involved in finding your potentially perfect blade.

Where to Start?

First let’s see how basic double edge razor blades are manufactured.

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Why a Styptic Pencil May Be Healthier to Use Than an Alum Block.

ALUM IS TOXIC AND YOU SHOULD LIMIT ITS USE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!

Adapted from an research article by Anne Marie Helmenstine Phd.

ALUM IS NOT AS SAFE AS YOU THINK!!!!

Alum may be absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. Although it is deemed safe enough for this purpose by the Food and Drug Administration, there may be negative health consequences from continued exposure to the aluminum ions in the alum. Because some of the product is absorbed into the skin, one way to cut your exposure to the product is to use a styptic pencil on cuts and weapers, and leave alum blocks by the wayside.

USING A STYPTIC PENCIL ON CUTS AND WEAPERS REDUCES YOUR EXPOSURE TO THE ALUMINUM IONS IN ALUM!

Alum Health Concerns

All forms of alum can cause irritation of the skin and mucous membranes. Breathing alum can cause lung damage. Alum also may attack lung tissue. Because it’s a salt, eating massive amounts of alum can make you sick. Usually ingesting alum will make you vomit, but if you could keep it down, the alum could upset the ionic equilibrium in your bloodstream, just like overdosing on any other electrolyte. However, the primary concern with alum is long-term exposure to low levels of the chemical. Alum, from your diet or healthcare product, can cause degeneration of nervous system tissue. It is possible that exposure to alum could lead to an increased risk of certain cancers, brain plaques, or Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alum from natural sources may contain impurities, including toxic metals such as chromium. Because the chemical composition of natural alum is variable, it’s best to avoid its use when there is a chance of ingesting the mineral or getting it into the bloodstream.

A styptic pencil is made out of alum, but by using one ONLY on your cuts and weepers, will significantly cut down your exposure to alum itself.

Five Great Chinese Razors That Cost Under $15.00.

Don’t Kid Yourself China Makes Some Great Razors.

Image result for chinese flag

Perhaps where we should start is to understand that, for the most part, the Chinese make three types of razor heads. Only one is unique to China and I think it is amazing!

The other thing to bare in mind is that of the 400,000,000 men who shave in China, most of them have light beards and do not shave every day. So although their are some aggressive Chinese razors most of them are on the mild side.

For those uninitiated, China is broken into “economic zones.” Textiles are in one city, clothing manufacturing is in another etc. The economic zone for razor manufacturing in China is Ningbo, a very pretty port city.  There are over 200 establishments that make safety razors, some owned by Persona and Gillette!

Manufacturers sometimes share out the work. If a huge order comes in, there could be many manufacturers collaborating to share the job at hand and finish it on time. It is a concept very unique to China. Best of all, with very few exceptions, the Chinese make very good quality razors.

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The GOOD The BAD & The UGLY of Russian Blades

Introduction:

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Many traditional shavers like Russian Blades. Here’s a rundown of many of them. Hopefully it will clarify quite a bit. 

Sharpness, smoothness and longetivity are rated on a scale of 1 to 5.  Please always remember that you may have a completely different experience than I do. These are my opinions. Here goes….

Recent History:

Gillette

In the 1990’s Gillette (P&G) moved all of its U.S. DE blade production to Russia. Great strategy. Because most of the world shaves with DE blades and most of their usage is in the developing world, Russia offered five distinct advantages:

  1. Cheap and sofisticated labour force.
  2. Low overhead in general.
  3. Lots of reprocessed and therefore inexpensive steel. (Yes most blades these days are made from reprocessed steel….)
  4. Great transportation advantages to Africa, Europe and Asia where these blades are mostly used.
  5. Government support. (The Russian government owns a 33% stake in the venture.)

Gillette manufactures the following blades is St. Petersberg.

Gillette Silver Blue (light blue)

Gillette Platinum (dark blue)

Gillette Rubie Platinum

Perma-Sharp

Iridium super

Astra Super Stainless (blue)

Astra Super Platinum (green)

Sputnik

Polsilver

Gillette 7 O’Clock Super Stainless (green)

Gillette 7 O’Clock Sharp Edge (yellow)

Nacet 


Mostochlegmash manufactures the following blades:

Mostochlegmash was founded in 1903 as a manufacturer of needeles. They started divesting into various sectors of the Russian economy and started to do work for the military. In doing so, they began to manufacture razor blades. Their factoty is now too small for their operations. Their Voskhod blades are their largest seller.

THE BLADES IN BRIEF

The Truly Excellent:

1 – Polsilver Irridium.

Polsilver Irridium is a sharp, (though not as sharp as the other blades in this category) extremely smooth blade that works exceedingly well in mild razors such as a Gillette Tech or a Merkur Classic.​ It also stays sharp longer than the average blade. I would say that Polsilvers have quite a cult following and are certainly one of the best, if not the best blades made in Russia, with one exception. (see Excellent but Ugly below.) Polsilvers are actually very consistent from shave to shave.

Sharpness 4 / 5. Smoothness 5/5. Longetivity 5/5.

 

2 . Astra SP and Astra SS

Most shavers do not realize that these blades are exactly the same, except the Astra SP (Super Platinum) is coated and the Astra SS (Super Steel) are not.

Which is sharper? The Astra SS because the plating on the SP actually dulls the blades quite a bit. The Astra SP has a good balance between smoothness and sharpness. However realise that the Astra SP’s coating will wear away after a few shaves. We see that limiting the product’s longetivity. The sharpness difference isn’t even close. The SP is somewhat smoother than the SS but not by all that much.

Astra SP – Sharpness 3.0 / 5.  Smoothness 5/5 Longetivity 3.5 / 5.

Astra SS – Sharpness 4.25 / 5  Smoothness 4/5 Longetivity 4 / 5

3. Perma Sharp

These blades are actually quite sharp, durable, and smooth! They are one of my fabvorites as far as Russian Blades are concerned. There is a debate as to whether Perma Sharps are PFT (teflon coated) or not. After careful analysis and contact with Gillette, Perma Sharp blades are NOT coated yet surprisingly smooth.

Sharpness 4.5 / 5  Smoothness 4/5 Longetivity 4.5 / 5

4. Gillette Nacet

If you really start looking into it there are even a lot of DE razor blades that are not branded as Gillette but still made by Gillette. Nacet is one of them. It is the sharpest of all of the Russian blades, just a tad below Feather. If you like really sharp DE razor blades then you will want to give the Gillette Nacet Stainless a try.

Sharpness 5 / 5  Smoothness 4/5 Longetivity 3.75 / 5


The Excellent but UGLY:

5. VOSKHOD

If it wouldn’t be for Voskhod, I wouldn’t be a traditional shaver. They are so smooth and sharp that just about anyone, using any razor, with just about any skin type will get a great shave. They also have excellent longetivity as well. VOSKHOD is almost the perfect blade.

So why are they UGLY?

For the most part, VOSKHODS are being subcontracted to LORD in Egypt. Some are still made in Russia, although all of the VOSKHOD blades are claimed to be made in Russia on the box. I have contacts at LORD. Are their differences between the two? No. Even the same stainless steel is used.

Sharpness 4.0 / 5  Smoothness 4.75/5 Longetivity 4.0 / 5


The Very Good and Good Russian Blades:

Most Russian Blades fall into this category. Especially Gillette. So let’s run down each Gillette blade that fit into this category with a short summary, then we will look at the blades from Mostochlegmash that fall into this category.

Gillette:

  1. Gillette Silver Blue – The Chevrolet of Gillette blades. If Gillette had just one blade that they made Silver Blue would possibly be it. This blade is GOOD. Sharpness 3.5/ 5  Smoothness 4.0/5 Longetivity 4.0 / 5
  2. Gillette Platinum – Sharper than Silver Blue. Smooth. Very consistent. This blade is VERY GOOD. Sharpness 4.25 / 5  Smoothness 4.75/5 Longetivity 4.0 / 5 
  3. Gillette 7 O’Clock Series – These Blades Can Be Confusing to Many. Let’s Take a Look!

Gillette Green – Very Sharp. Very smooth. A blade boardering on Excellent! Not great longetivity though. This blade is VERY GOOD. Sharpness 4.5 / 5  Smoothness 4.75/5 Longetivity 3.0 / 5

Gillette Green Perma Sharp – The same sharpness and a bit smoother than Gillette Green and they last longer. (Note these blades are also made by Gillette in India which are absolutely identiical and less expensive.) This blade is VERY GOOD. Sharpness 4.5 / 5  Smoothness 4.75/5 Longetivity 4.0 / 5

Gillette Yellow Sharp Edge – Actually not as sharp as the Green blades and not as smooth. The blades strength is consistency from one shave to another. (Note these blades are also made by Gillette in India which are absolutely identiical and less expensive.) This blade is GOOD. Sharpness 4.0 / 5  Smoothness 4.75/5 Longetivity 4.0 / 5.

Gillette 7 O’clock Platinum Black Extremely smooth. I mean perhaps the smoothest blade I have ever used. Not as sharp as the rest of the series. Excellent in slightly more aggressive razors, especially adjustables which was their actual design criteria according to a contact I have at the factory. Also they sell in packs of 7 blades (5 + 2 free) and have been sold that way for years. They are actually pretty similar to the Astra SP above, but a tad sharper. This blade is GOOD. Sharpness 3.5 / 5.  Smoothness 5/5. Longetivity 4.0 / 5.

4. Sputnik – These are not super sharp blades and a bit more on the rough side but can give a good shave. They also last a long time. I personally like them a lot. This blade is GOOD-. Sharpness 3.5 / 5.  Smoothness 3/5 Longetivity 4.5 / 5.

Mostochlegmash:

I actually love the blades made by Mostochlegmash. My favorite Russian blade is VOSKHOD even if some of them are made in Egypt. (Actually LORD has slightly better quality control, and is an ISO 9000 certified manufacturer, Mostochlegmash is not…) That being said, Voskhod (meaning sunrise) is the best blade that they make.

By in large Mostochlegmash’s main product line is Rapira. Rapira blades are a bit confusing to say the least. They are very different from one another in terms of performance.

Rapira Super Stainless – This blade is sharp! It is by far the shapest blade made in Russia, next to Necet. Although it is uncoated, it is also pretty smooth. Not Voskhod or Astra SP smooth but for an uncoated blade, one of the best you can get. This blade is VERY GOOD+. Sharpness 4.5 / 5.  Smoothness 4/5 Longetivity 4.5 / 5.

Rapira Platinum Lux – Extremely smooth blade. A great blade for a new wet shaver. Not that sharp though, but the smoothness makes up for it. Works well in most beginner razors like the 34C or DE89. This blade is GOOD+. Sharpness 3.5 / 5.  Smoothness 5/5 Longetivity 4.0/ 5.

Rapira Swedish Supersteel – These are the least sharp blades in the Rapira lineup. But they last forever, and although uncoated still provide a really comfortable shave. I have gotten 8 to 10 shaves out of a single blade. I have a really fast growing and heavy beard and pretty sensitive skin. They actually get sharper the more that you shave with them. This blade is GOOD. Sharpness 3.25 / 5.  Smoothness 4/5 Longetivity 5 / 5.


TWO RUSSIAN STINKERS:

Ladas – They used to import a $4,000 car into Canada called a Lada. It was a terrible car. Ladas are terrible blades, Not sharp. Not smooth. Stay away.

Rubies – Why Gillette even makes these blades is a mystery to me.They are by far the worst blades made in Russia. They are TOPAZ dull. They are not smooth. They are an embarrassment to Gillette as far as I am concerned.

 

 

Razor Showdown. The Merkur 34C Vs The Edwin Jagger DE89. Which One Sucks?

 THE EDWIN JAGGER DE89 versus THE MERKUR 34C. Which One Wins the Day?

Find Out Which One and Why….

Photo credit Spy Vs. Spy – MAD Magazine.

This post may be a bit controversial. Remember, these are my opinions, based on my experiences with these two razors. Your mileage may vary.

Presenting the Edwin Jagger DE89.

Edwin Jagger was founded in 1988 by Neil Jagger, a silversmith from Sheffield, England. (Trivia – “Edwin” was Neil’s grandfather’s name…)

In the last 20 years they have grown to be a world leader in luxury shaving items for men and women. It is a small family run business. Choosing only the finest materials and combining cutting edge manufacturing processes with age old skills of the craftsman, Edwin Jagger produce an unrivaled collection of traditional razors. They are especially known for their DE89 safety razor that is one of the highest recommended shavers for beginners.

Edwin Jagger and Mekur couldn’t be more different. Merkur is more of a “corporation.” While Edwin Jagger is sort of a group of artisans on steroids! Edwin Jagger do what they do because they truly love to do it. They just try to perfect one tried and true product, which is available in various different models. In fact, they only make one single head design, used in all of their razor models.

So hear is my take on the Edwin Jagger DE89.

DE89 Fit and Finish – (10/10):

Rumor has it that the chrome work on the DE89 is done by the same sub contractor that does the chrome work for Rolls Royce. One thing for sure, the DE89 has the best chrome of any razor I have ever seen for under $150.00. As a manufacturer myself, I can honestly say that I am jealous.

Every part of the DE89 is subject to meticulous detail. In short, the fit and finish is top notch.

Construction (8/10):

The EJ DE89 is a beautiful razor and the construction quality is well above average. The barley handle on the razor I own, is comfortable and I did not find the very fine knurling of the handle to be slick or difficult to hold, even with soapy fingers. Yet the other DE89 I own is the “cheapy” model, on that razor, the handle is smooth and has no knurling. Yet, it is surprisingly easy to grip, even when wet.

The entire razor is cast from zinc alloys. It will still last a lifetime but remember, since this razor is made of cast metal, be careful so you do not tighten the head too hard. It is rumored that the center screw can break. I have had my original DE89BL for quite a long while. I have dropped it on a tiled floor. All was well. In my long association with this razor, I have never found the center screw to be an issue. (BTW the Merkur is also cast in zinc alloys…)

One thing to note is that Edwin Jagger is a very consumer friendly company. If there is an issue with the razor, they are usually very gracious about fixing or replacing it.

DE89 Ergonomics (10/10):

The DE89 is weighty at 2.6 ounces. The handle is 3.25 inches long. The balance point is one third the way down the handle from the head, which is absolutely excellent. The razor feels comfortable to hold, and because of the balance point being where it is, the user does not have a tendency to apply pressure when shaving.

The DE89BL is a 3-piece razor. The blade alignment is spot on. Always. Blade balance is perfect.

There is a slight blade overhang at the sides of the head, but again, it is very slight indeed. Many other razors have that as well.

Changing blades is super simple. Unscrew the handle from the head. Separate the plates. Take the old blade out. Put the new blade in. Screw the handle back on.

The DE89BL is, in my experience with it, a really well designed razor. It’s ergonomics is almost perfect!

Shave quality (8/10)

Edwin Jagger razors are mild and efficient. It is easy to get a great shave without any nicks, cuts, or weepers. I use a Derby Extra, Voskhod, or Astra SP in mine, with the Voskhod giving me the best results.

Value for Money (9/10)

The EJ will last a lifetime. It can be had for around $35, which in my opinion is a hell of a deal for what you get. It comes with a 2-year warranty, and the company supports the product very well.

RECAP OF THE EDWIN JAGGER DE89 SERIES

The Edwin Jagger DE89 Series of razors is a superb choice.

Fit & Finish10/10
Construction  8/10
Ergonomics10/10
Shave Quality  8/10
Value for Money10/10
Total Score (Subjective)46/50  92% favorable.

 

Presenting the Merkur 34C / 34G

Let me start off by saying that I do not think that the 34C is the best beginner razor that Merkur makes. That honor goes to the Merkur 33C (Classic,) or better still the the Merkur 42C which is truly a great razor at a fantastic price. But since the DE89 and the Merkur 34C are usually compared, I am limiting this revue to that razor.

Image result for merkur 34c blade alignment issue

Merkur was founded in 1896 by Emil Hermes who wished to become a safety razor manufacturer. His preferred company name (Hermes) was already taken, so he got clever and used the equivalent Roman messenger god, Mercury. This symbol of which can still be seen on all of Merkur’s packaging 121 years later!

The 34C is a great choice because its head design is forgiving and has just the right amount of blade exposure. It’s been reviewed on countless blogs and YouTube videos and for a good reason – it’s certainly hard to beat. (credit: Razor Emporium)

Merkur 34C Fit and Finish – (7/10):

Merkur’s fit and finish is also quite good, but nowhere near as good as many people think.

Here’s why:

Zinc razors are plated first in nickle because nickle adheres to the zinc, and then with chrome because chrome adheres to the nickle. Merkur’s application of the nickle layer is way too thin. That said, no one I personally know has ever complained about the Merkur’s finish fading or be coming worn. But if you go to the various shaving forums online, there are numerous complaints about just that.

So in my opinion, the fit and finish of the Merkur 34C is “okay,” but not spectacular. It should be noted however that for a premium (about $20) you can get a Merkur 34G which has a superior finish. Gold is a soft metal so it usually scratches and “dings” more easily than nickle or chrome. Not here. Merkur plates this razor very well, and does not skimp on how thick and hard the coating is. It is one of the most durable gold plated razors I have ever found.

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Construction (8/10)

As you can see, the Merkur 34C is a 2-piece razor. It is well-made, however, being a two piece razor,  there is an internal mechanism that has to be taken out and lubricated every few months. Not a big deal in practice, but still a bit more cumbersome than the Edwin Jagger.

The most serious problem with the Merkur 34C is a blade alignment issue. That is unacceptable in a razor at this price point. However if you hold the razor upright and tighten the head vertically, the blade will align properly most of the time.

Like the Edwin Jagger, the entire Merkur 34C razor is cast from zinc alloys. It will still last a lifetime but remember, since this razor is made of cast metal, be careful not to drop it, and never over tighten the head.

Image result for merkur 34c blade alignment issue

ERGONOMICS (8/10):

The Merkur 34C has an extremely short 2.75 inch handle. It is kind of feature that people either like or dislike with no in between.

However, the handle is certainly beefy. It is also pretty heavy. The EJ and the 34C actually weigh just about the same overall, but the weight distribution between the two is different so balance is completely different. Which razor is better balanced? That depends on what you find more pleasing to your style of shaving. The EJ has a balance point 1/3 of the way down the handle to the head. The Merkur 34C’s balance point is smack dab in the middle of the handle. This means that the EJ is more head heavy, which I think is advantageous because you may have less of a tendency to exert pressure as you shave.

Shave Quality (7/10)

The Merkur 34C and the Edwin Jagger DE89 series are very mild razors. It would be very difficult to get cuts and nicks from either. That is why they make for great beginner razors. But in my experience the Edwin Jagger is more efficient. It is easier to find the angle on the EJ, and because of its efficiency, you do not have to work as hard to get a good shave.

Value for Money (5/10)

Both razors are fairly affordable. However with the street price of the Edwin Jagger DE89 series of under $40.00 and the street price of the Merkur 34C being between $55.00 to $65.00 there is no contest here. A good starter razor can be a lot less expensive than either of these, but if you have narrowed down your choices to these two, The Edwin Jagger is by far the better value of the two.

Fit & Finish  7/10
Construction  8/10
Ergonomics  8/10
Shave Quality  7/10
Value for Money  5/10
Total Score (Subjective)35/50 70% favorable.

My Conclusion:

While both razors will probably last the average user a lifetime and make a great family heirloom, and many Merkur fans may not like this post, I do believe that between these two razors the Edwin Jagger is a clear winner. Furthermore Merkur is a difficult company to get after sales support from. If you expect any customer service at all, stay away from Merkur.

If you are going for a Merkur as a first DE razor, look at the 33C or the 42C which are similar to shave with, but are a bit more efficient that they are in fact easier to shave with.

As for the Edwin Jagger……. it is absolutely a wonderful razor for anyone, beginner or not.

EJ WINS THE DAY!

FIVE Quick Traditional Shave Tips You Cannot Live Without!

Here they are……

Tip 1 – Apply Your Shave Balm AFTER Your Afterashave.

 

The purpose of shave balm is two fold. It’s primary purpose is to add moisture to the epidermal skin layer because it has been scraped by a blade. Your skin also needs repair after a shave. That is also accomplished by adding moisture, but also additional additives such as vitamin e, menthol, etc.

Now think of what an aftershave or witch hazel do. They dry out the skin because they are primarily astringents. Their real purpose is to treat cuts, abrasions, and weepers. But that is at cross purposes to what shave balm is supposed to do.

Does it make any sense to moisturize your skin and then use an astringent which by its very nature will dry out your skin? 

Use shave balm as the last product of your shave routine and see what a difference it makes.

 

Tip 2 – Use COLD Water.

Cold water, you ask?? That is rediculous!

Well, it depends who you’re asking.

Ask a barber and he will explain that hot water softens your beard and opens your pores thereby producing a closer shave.

Ask my dermatologist (like many others) and you will get a completely different answer.

You do not want your pores to be open. Let’s look further as to why.

It is true that a great time to shave is right after a shower, as your skin will be warm and moist and free of excess oil and dead skin cells that can clog up your razor blade. BUT your pores are open. This causes the following problems:

Hair from your beard gets trapped in your pores. Skin is oily by nature and the combination of those oils and hairs from your beard that get left behind actually blocks your pores, attracts dirt, and increases drag on your razor. This makes for a less comfortable shave and gives rise to pimples, black heads, and other skin problems.

So start with a hot shower to soften your beard. Then use a COLD WATER RINSE all the way through the shave and especially at the end.

Try it. You will get a better and smoother shave and according to my dermatologist, healthier skin.

 

TIP 3 – Use SHAVE OIL, Not a PRESHAVE CREAM, & Use It BETWEEN PASSES As Well!

Why??

Simple. Oil and water don’t mix.

Shave soap, cream, and gel, get absorbed by the skin. They are lubricants, so you want lather to sit on top of the skin. Using a quality shave oil helps keep your lather on top of the skin and also further lubricates it as you shave.

 

Tip 4 – NEVER Store Your Razor & Blades In The BATHROOM.

Surprised?

Your bathroom is a warm, humid place, right?

That humidity causes microscopic rust particles on the edge of your blade which dulls the blade and destroys the coating.

Keep ypour razor(s) in a cool place. Your blades will last longer. Your shaves will be smoother and closer.

 

Tip 5 – For a Closer Shave Use UNCOATED Blades. They ARE Usually Sharper & Less Expensive.

Its true that uncoated blades may be slightly less comfortable to shave with, but in exchange you can get a sharper blade. Actually of note is the fact that when using a coated blade, the second and third pass is always shrper. The blade sharpens up because friction causes the coating to wear off.

Here are a few stainless steel blades that are pretty good and easy to shave with:

  • ASTRA BLUE – Many shavers use the popular ASTRA SP (Special Platinum) blades. Astra SPs are pretty smooth for the first shave but decline quickly from there. They really are not that sharp. ASTRA BLUE is in fact a much sharper blade. If ASTRA SP is a 2 / 5 in sharpness ASTRA BLUE is a 3.5 / 5 in sharpness, and is very consistant from shave to shave.
  • RAPIRA SUPER STAINLESS – These are scary sharp, I would say pretty close to Feather. They last forever. The trade off is that they are not as smooth as some other uncoated blades.
  • SHARK SS – Not as sharp as the two others reviewed above, but if the Astra Blues are a Corvette, the Rapira Stainless are a Ferrari, then the Shark SS blades are certainly a Jeep. They are super forgiving, pretty smooth to shave with, and I get consistent great shaves with them.

Got some do’s and dont’s to add? Well that is what comments are for. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

 

Best Beginner Razors Under $20!!!! Some you may have never heard of. Our first and second place picks will leave you in awe!

First Things First….

Let’s get GSCI’s stuff mentioned up front…..

We have four razors that have been designed to be gentle, yet super efficient, which are both hallmarks of a good beginner razor. They each carry a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.They are very inexpensive. I am proud of each one!

They are:

Top Row: Sumatra & Espresso.

Bottom Row: Black Tiger & Americano

JAVA SUMATRA – $14.99                        JAVA Espresso / Americano – $19.99     Vintage Black Tiger – $10.99

Now that our razors are out of my system,here are my 6 choices. Great beginner razors for under $20.00.

In 6th Place – Baili BD179.

AKA Rockwell R1, and many other brands.

The Baili BD179 is really an excellent and super affordable choice and has earned its place as my 6th pick overall. It is also a “butterfly” or twist to open, one piece razor. Blade loading is fast and easy because of this.

The chrome on the Baili is simply dazzling. Its construction is very solid. I have a few, and have dropped mine a few times with no damage after the fall. The open / close mechanism is a bit squeaky but durable. The shave is gentle, efficient, and comfortable. A great first time razor.

You can purchase it on eBay, or Amazon for $15 to $25. Or better still, buy a Rockwell R1. It is the same razor, but backed by Rockwell – a very customer focused company. The razor can also be purchased in Baili’s store on Ali Express. It will only cost you about $5.00 or so there, but take 6 weeks to arrive.

Baili BD179 Construction: Chrome over Zamac. Country of manufacture: China. Weight: 2.5 ounces. Handle Length: 3.25 inches.

Baili BD179 blades to try:

  • Astra SP (green)
  • Gillette / Wilkinson Sword (India)
  • Derby Extra.

Price $15 to $20.


In 5th Place – LORD L5 – AKA LORD TECH.

The LORD Tech is really a great beginner’s razor. It has slightly more aggressiveness than a Gillette Tech, after which it was designed, but not so much that the LORD Tech should be overlooked by beginners. Best of all it is dirt cheap! The LORD Tech costs about $12.00 or so on eBay or Amazon. That usually includes 1 to 3 packs of LORD manufactured blades!

The LORD Tech is a 3-piece razor.

This razor is very light. But, it is also head heavy which compensates in part for the razor’s weight. The razor is super easy to get a nick free close shave from.

LORD Tech Construction: Chrome over Zamac head, aluminum handle. Country of manufacture: Egypt. Weight: 1.2 ounces. Handle Length: 3.5 inches.

Lord L5 Tech – blades to try:

  • Astra SP (green)
  • Gillette / Wilkinson Sword (India)
  • Shark SS.

Price $12.50


In 4th Place – The Feather Popular

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The feather double-edge safety razor is a efficient butterfly opening safety razor that combines affordability with performance. It is also a “butterfly” or twist to open, one piece razor. Blade loading is fast and easy because of this.

Carefully designed for easy handling and superior grip, and built with quality materials including stainless steel. The butterfly loading mechanism is highly practical when loading or cleaning the razor. A perfect shaving instrument, in the feather tradition of high quality shaving instruments. It uses any modern double-edge blade. 

The Feather Popular is a very mild razor. It has been designed to work with sharp blades such as Feather’s own Stainless Steel blades, which are perhaps, the sharpest blades you can get.

Feather Popular Construction: Steel & plastic head, plastic handle. Country of manufacture: Japan. Weight: 1.2 ounces. Handle Length: 4.0 inches.

Feather Popular – blades to try:

  • Feather Hi Steel
  • Dorco Prime
  • Rapira Super Steel

Price: $14.99


In 3rd Place – The LORD L6 or L7 (Very similar…)

Lord Premium Safety Razor Model LP1822L (L6) or Model L125 (L7 aka as the LORD Fresh) have a gentle Merkur like Head. This Razor offers the ultimate in double edged affordability and lightweight construction.

The LORD L6 & L7 are both 3 piece razors. They both produce the same shaving experience because they use the same head. The handles are very similar, and are in fact the same length. However, the L7 has a handle that has a slightly greater diameter.

LORD L6 / L7 Construction: Chrome over Zamac head, aluminum handle. Country of manufacture: Egypt. Weight: 1.2 ounces. Handle Length: 4.33 inches.

Lord L6 / L7 – blades to try:

  • Dorco ST-301
  • Voskhod
  • Astra SP.

Price: $14.99


In Second Place – A $10 Razor That I Wish That I Made! The Mac’s 33C.

Found only on Amazon USA & Amazon Canada, the Macs 33C is a gem of a razor. Best of all, it is under $10. It even has a stainless steel handle! It also comes with 20 Derby Extra blades which are worth almost half of the price of the razor.

Its chrome is near perfect. It’s shave is smooth, comfortable and efficient. The razor’s fit and finish is top notch. It has a head that is so similar to an Edwin Jagger DE89 that the shaving experience is identical.

This razor is just a great bargain!

A well-made, easy to love 3-piece razor with a Merkur style head, for under $10 including excellent packaging and a stainless handle. Pinch me. I must be dreaming.

MACS 33C Construction: Chrome over Zamac head, stainless steel handle. Country of manufacture: India. Weight: 3.7 ounces. Handle Length: 3.75 inches.

Macs 33C – blades to try:

  • Derby Extra (the razor comes with 20….)
  • Dorco ST-301
  • Voskhod
  • Astra SP.

Price: $9.99 on Amazon.com or $14.99 on Amazon.ca.


Ok folks here it is… In absolute first place!

The Wet Shaving Products (wetshavingproducts.com) “El Grande.”

WSP “El Grande” Double Edge Safety Razor (Closed Comb)

Measuring 14mm (about half an inch) in diameter, the El Grande just feels great in your hand. The 85mm long handle (3.35 inches) is lathe turned and a deep knurl pattern is carved into the metal keeping it from slipping when wet.

The 3-piece Edwin Jagger DE89 style head is molded from high quality Zamac. The same as higher priced German & English brands. The head & handle are then polished by hand on a buffing wheel. Plated with copper. Then nickel. Then chrome.

Blade alignment and balance are absolutely spot on!

The razor comes in an attractive, quality, magnetic closure storage box.

You can’t find a better quality razor at a better price. Just a joy to use and a joy to own.

WSP El Grande Construction: Chrome over Zamac head and handle. Country of manufacture: Pakistan Weight: 2.75 ounces. Handle Length: 3.35 inches.

WSP El Grande – blades to try:

  • Derby Extra (the razor comes with 20….)
  • Shark Super Stainless.
  • Voskhod
  • Astra SP.

Price: $19.99 on wetshavingproducts.com