Tag: Safety razor

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.

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.

Related image

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!