Shaving-Tool Innovation & The Weber Razor

Weber Razor With "Diamond-Like Carbon" Coating on Head

Recently I was pondering the rapid growth of traditional wetshaving. A few years ago, for example, there was one source of blade sampler packs for double-edged blades: LetterK on ShaveMyFace.com and BadgerAndBlade.com. (LetterK went from that to start WestCoastShaving.com, now a major on-line dealer.) The most recent edition of my Guide to Gourmet Shaving now lists 21 vendors that sell blade sampler packs, and the list is probably incomplete. The number of forums has grown, the number of vendors has grown, and the forum I frequent (reddit’s Wicked_Edge) has doubled in size (from 3500 to over 7000) in just the past four months.

I strongly suspect that this rapid growth is driven in part by a bad economy: people’s finances have been hit hard, and those trying to get a foothold in the workforce after finishing college find their financial situation especially difficult—difficult enough that a price of $4.50 plus sales tax for a single multiblade cartridge prompts a search for alternatives.

Moreover, younger shavers—the very group hit hardest by the economic downturn—are much more willing to experiment and learn new skills than the middle-aged; and the young also spend more time on the Web, where they find that good double-edged blades are available for 9¢ each. When they learn that they can get 50 blades—a year’s supply—for the price of a single Fusion multiblade cartridge, their interest increases sharply. And once they find out that the shave is not only better, but they now actually enjoy shaving, they tend to stick with it and tell all their friends.

So traditional wetshaving is growing, but a sign of more substantial growth, beyond mere fad or trend, would be the emergence of new double-edged safety razors: new developments in the tool traditional shavers use. Innovation in double-edged safety razors would demonstrate that some entrepreneurs have recognized a growing market and have invested in it by creating new, specialized offerings.

One sign that a product category is stagnant is that innovation ceases. For example, even with major advances in computer-aided design, materials technology, and manufacturing methods, new buggy-whip designs have not been introduced. Even though continued innovation and improvement for a product category is technically possible, when companies change their strategic direction and drop a product category, they curtail all efforts in that arena, directing their money, energy, and focus instead toward a new field of endeavor.

When Gillette, for example, decided to move to multiblade cartridges (to regain patent protections that had expired for the double-edged blade), they discontinued research and development on double-edged blades, including the razors that use such blades. That did not mean that no further improvement of such razors was possible; it meant merely that the company had made a strategic business decision to leave that market and instead direct their research, development, and marketing efforts to a higher-margin business. (How much do you think it actually costs for Gillette to manufacture that Fusion five-blade cartridge that sells for $4.50 (plus sales tax)?)

But now we once again are seeing innovations in traditional double-edged safety razors. A couple of years ago Edwin Jagger and Mühle worked together to create a newly designed head for their razors, replacing the Merkur Classic head they had used for years. Edwin Jagger’s DE8x series of razors uses this new head design and in my experience it clearly improves on the design of the Merkur Classic (which itself was once an innovative improvement on still earlier designs).

But even before Jagger/Mühle’s new head design was announced, the first iKon stainless steel razor came on the market. It was something new—and from a new company. The very first iKon, which sold at around $50, gave a harsh shave, but it was quickly superseded by a second model—the Bulldog Open Comb, also solid stainless—which turned out to be incredibly comfortable, a characteristic shared by all subsequent iKon razors to date.

Small production runs and high-quality materials and finishing meant that the $50 price could not hold. The Bulldog quickly moved to $85, and today iKon razors cost $150 and above. Another innovative stainless steel razor, the iKon S3S, uses an open comb on one side and a straight bar on the other and sells for $225 when you can find it. The Pils stainless double-edge safety razor, whose head design was yet another innovation in safety razor technology, debuted at $150 but now runs $240. The Feather Premium AS-D1—another newly designed stainless steel safety razor—entered the market at $150 and is now $200.

The Weber Stainless Razor

We now see a new manufacturer of a premium stainless-steel razor: Weber Razors, a company located in Missouri. The first razor from Weber is hefty (3.2 oz), innovative (with a “Diamond-Like Carbon” coating on the head), and well made (solid stainless steel with good chequering); and it provides a very fine shave.

The thing that catches one’s eye is the black finish—the “DLC”—on the razor’s head. The feel of this head on your skin is extremely pleasant: a kind of smooth pull that works well in shaving. (Were I their product manager, I would be bruiting about phrases like “Smooth-Pull Technology™”.) The long handle provides good balance (and you can buy the handle separately for $20, which offers the opportunity to mix and match three-piece razors: threads are standard across brands and Frankenrazors are fun to use).

The Ready Row

I keep my active razors, each loaded with a blade, on a shelf in the bathroom and each day I pick one to use. The shelf holds 40 razors and those that I use most tend to drift to the left (the “head of the line”). I noticed recently that all the razors on that end now are stainless: the iKons, the Pils, the Feather Premium, and now the Weber. Something about a solid stainless razor—the heft, the finish, the look—is quite attractive, and perhaps these razors work so well has something to do with manufacturing cost: making a razor from solid stainless is much more costly than using a die-cast zinc alloy, so perhaps stainless prompts more care in design and testing. [UPDATE: A machine and metal worker pointed out that start-up costs for making die-cast razors are enormously greater than for machine tooling individual razors. He's right: the manufacturing costs---and thus, presumably, the importance of getting the design right, favors the big manufacturer. So the high quality and great performance of the stainless razors is not due to it being more expensive to create them in the first place. It's from some other cause. Apologies. - LG]

Whatever the reason, the Weber is a fine razor. I do not believe the $55 price can hold: materials, manufacturing, and small production runs all argue for a higher price, as iKon discovered. My view is that the version 1.0 price is artificially low and the price will inevitably rise. (Those trading in razor futures, take note.)

Some considering the razor may worry that the company could go under: tough economic times, as noted above, combined with a market that’s growing but by no means fully established and the possibility/likelihood that giants like Gillette/Procter & Gamble may move in to destroy or co-opt the movement, crushing small vendors and manufacturers. (P&G have already purchased the Art of Shaving chain.) The survival of Weber Razors is certainly not assured.

But what, exactly, does the razor buyer risk? The razor is a simple three-piece design: no moving parts, nothing to break. You get the whole thing and it’s complete in itself and will work for so long as the steel endures and blades are available. Once you have the razor, the manufacturer becomes irrelevant: you don’t need to get anything more from him. You don’t even need a manual—at least I didn’t get one with my Weber and had no trouble using it. An example of highly successful “orphan” razors are Gillette razors from the period 1930-1960: enormously popular once again and now widely used, with no support at all from the manufacturer.

The Weber is a very nice razor indeed—an innovative treatment in stainless steel of a good three-piece design—but the current price of $55 is simply too low to last.

I’ve never talked to Weber: I’m just a regular customer like anyone else, buying my razors at retail, on-line. Because I have a good collection of razors, including the innovative stainless razors mentioned above, I recognize the Weber as something deserving immediate attention. In fact, after using my first Weber, I bought a second (just in case they do go out of business).

The current safety razor scene

The obvious evidence of renewed innovation in double-edged safety razors—and the increasing pace of such innovation—clearly indicate that this product category is quickening. No longer stagnant, traditional wetshaving is attracting an influx of new users and stimulating new enthusiasm, and that in turn has attracted new entrepreneurs and new development. Things are looking up for traditional wetshavers.

Of course, major commercial manufacturers are also innovating in safety razor design (though for razors that use a multiblade cartridge), but in a different direction. Schick’s new top-of-the-line safety razor, for example, includes features not found in the Weber: things like a multi-speed vibrator, a battery-life indicator, a hydrating-gel reservoir, an LED readout, and a flip trimmer that (I assume) helps the shaver trim his flips. Note that, while these innovations might possibly offer some help in shaving, they certainly reduce the razor’s lifespan. (Apparently big manufacturers are determined that never again will their razors be used for decades into the future.)

The Weber razor lacks “an easy-to-read LED screen that communicates visually to clearly distinguish which vibration level is in use,” but that seems tangential to its shaving function, doesn’t it? I believe that Weber razors made today will still be shaving stubble a century from now, but the Schick Hydro Power Select razors will hit landfills within a few years if not within a few months. Long term, solid beats flimsy every time.

Take a minute and think about the sort of teaspoon that the Schick design team might create. (Feel free to describe the spoon in comments. :) )

It’s unusual for a stagnant product category to show new life and vigor, but it does happen. For example, craft breweries have in recent years once more become prominent. With traditional shaving, the revitalization seems to owe much to three overarching trends: one, already mentioned, is economic pressure; the other two are globalization of commerce and the rise of the Internet.

Globalization of commerce and the Internet

The Internet supports the Web, and with the development of good search engines, people with esoteric interests (such as traditional wetshaving) can more readily locate each other and pool their knowledge to identify products and dealers that support their interests. Moreover, online searches ignore national boundaries: the world is their oyster. So a thinly scattered group, connected through the Internet, can becomes a significant force. I don’t know the amount of money spent on traditional wetshaving worldwide, but the sum of purchases from all the scattered traditional shavers must be a sizable amount, as indicated by the growing number of vendors and manufacturers this activity supports.

With the globalization of commerce—to a great extent the result of containerized shipping (and of cheap and abundant petroleum, so this may change)—dealers in one country can easily serve a customer base that includes many in foreign lands. And the Web enables dealers to publicize their wares to scattered, remote customers without having to invest heavily in advertising: dealers need only maintain a good Web presence.

One example might suffice: Bruce Everiss in his shaving blog posted an excellent reference post on horsehair shaving brushes: their virtues, why they fell from favor, and their current situation and availability. (In brief, horsehair brushes occupy, in Goldilocks terminology, the “Mama Bear” position between Papa Bear boar brushes on the one hand (coarse and stiff—but still terrific brushes, well-loved by Italians in particular, thus the fine quality of boar brushes made by Omega, an Italian company) and Baby Bear badger (made of fine soft bristles from the Asian badger) on the other: horsehair brushes—coarser and more resilient than badger, softer and finer than boar—are terrific at the job of generating lather. Add that horses are unharmed in creating the brushes, which use horsehair collected through routine grooming, and what’s not to like?)

The Everiss post (his blog is located in the UK, but that is not only irrelvant, it’s not even evident when one is on the Web) stimulated interest throughout the English-speaking shaving world, prompting much discussion in the shaving forums. GiftsAndCare.com in Spain, which offers a good line of horsehair shaving brushes, began receiving orders from shavers all over the world who discovered them on the Web. Certainly quite a few orders came from the US (I myself actively participated), and now some US dealers (BullgooseShaving.net, for example) offer a good selection of horsehair brushes in their on-line shaving stores.

Horsehair brushes are a single example of how the Web has provided a way for traditional shaving to grow. Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving includes an appendix that lists links to shaving forums and shaving dealers, and the number of those has grown in each edition. The current edition (the fifth) lists 13 English-language shaving forums and 99 on-line dealers. [UPDATE: The link now points to a list of Amazon sources for the 6th edition, whose vendor list numbers now more than 120 on-line dealers. - LG]

A commercial environment like this attracts entrepreneurs. In summary: The Web offers easy, effective, and inexpensive access to information and products, and one result has been the creation of a growing market of traditional shavers, and that market (and trend) has attracted entrepreneurs, whose innovations (the DE safety razors mentioned above, for example) create more interest and thus attract more new shavers, increasing the size and activity of the market, drawing in more entrepreneurs and vendors… This is positive feedback, which can lead to quite rapid growth indeed. And when you look at what’s happening, you indeed see such growth.

The ratchet effect of traditional wetshaving

This phenomenon of niche markets exploding due to the shifting economics of communication (the Internet) and commerce (globalization from containerization and cheap fuel) is discussed in detail in Chris Anderson’s book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More, but the traditional shaving movement differs somewhat from other niche markets: traditional shaving has a ratchet-like effect. Let me explain, drawing on some statistics I just made up. (I’m sure you’ve heard that 89% of statistics are simply made up on the spot.)

Let’s say that in the US, Canada, and Europe about 85% of men shave their beards. And when men actually try traditional wetshaving, something like 85% stick with it—mainly because it’s so enjoyable, but other factors—better shaves, kinder to skin, much lower expense once the initial kit is in hand—certainly add weight to a decision to continue and also are reasons that resonate well with, say, one’s wife. So traditional wetshaving is, on the whole, a room with a one-way door: guys once in want to stay. And, guys being guys and competitive by nature, they want to brag to their buddies about how their shaves are now much better (“than yours” implied), and in that context offer additional reasons (gadget appeal, the bad-ass factor), playing to the male audience.

The result is that more and more men will be drawn into traditional wetshaving over time, with a likely market size of 85% (the proportion of men who stick with it after trying it) of 85% (the proportion of men who shave) of the total number of men in the US, Canada, and Europe. Do the math and you will see that traditional wetshavers could eventually amount to about 75% of that male population. And, of course, as more men join in and talk it up, traditional wetshaving becomes more visible and prominent, which will induce more to try it. And if newbies get good guidance for the transition (and sources of such guidance increase steadily), they will (a) adopt the method permanently and (b) brag to their buddies, which brings them into the fold, whereupon they become traditional wetshaving missionaries.

You see how quickly this is building. No wonder we once again are seeing innovation in double-edged safety razors.

The immediate response one has in seeing the size of the potential market for traditional wetshaving is, “Problem solved!” With a potential market that large, big corporations will be on this like hair on a gorilla. Unfortunately, big corporations have to contend with their own ratchet effect: profits. Large public corporations must see profits increase every single year if not every single quarter. That’s impossible, of course, but that doesn’t matter: it still is required, or CEOs lose their jobs (along with quite a few other people, and frequently the CEO is far from the first to go—before that the company will try layoffs, plant closings, outsourcing, anything, desperate to keep profits inexorably moving upward—the CEO, after all, gets to pick (up to a point) the changes to be made, and few CEOs fire themselves).

In traditional shaving, supplies are a constant seller, but a shaver who once buys a razor and brush has (in theory) completed purchasing of the big-ticket items, and double-edged blades today provide profit margins as thin as the blade itself: the blade-making machinery is old (and well-maintained in developing countries, whose manufacturers in many cases bought them from Gillette when Gillette abandoned double-edged blades). The machines thus by now have long since been fully depreciated, so there are no tax benefits to provide a profit cushion: profits must come from simply selling the blades, which (as noted above) go for as little 9¢ apiece though most go for higher prices—in the 25¢-40¢ range, and some few may cost 60¢ or more—but none, I assure you, come close to $4.50 apiece.

So we are now engaged in a great struggle between shavers—who want a good shave at a reasonable and affordable price—and large global corporations—who must extract ever greater profits from consumers. We in the traditional shaving movement are in the front lines, and the outcome is far from certain. But if the traditional shaving market becomes large enough, new companies (who are just beginning their profit ascent) will spring up to serve that market, under the umbrella of the exorbitant prices companies like Procter & Gamble now charge for multiblade cartridges. And, of course, P&G (in its plants in the developing world) continue to manufacture double-edged blades, but they are doing all they can to kill the product category: discontinuing brands, shutting down plants, and trying to convince (for example) India’s teeming millions of shavers to switch to a cartridge—the Vector Plus cartridge, just two blades, very cheap (for now). Once enough shavers switch to cheap cartridges, the profit ascent will begin, with double-edged blades—and inexpensive cartridges—made ever scarcer and more difficult to find. From the point of view of big corporations, consumers are sheep to be sheared, for money rather than wool.

How this will end, no one knows: the future is notoriously difficult to predict. But every shaver I know has his own hoard of blades for the “Shavepocalypse.” And the movement to the tools and methods of traditional wetshaving continues to accelerate even as corporations frantically resist.

We live in interesting times.

UPDATE: I turn out to have been conservative on the price differentials. I just read a post from tommij, a guy in Denmark. Typical price for Fusion cartridges there are around $6 each if you buy a 4-pack and $5.50 each if you buy an 8-pack. Alternatively, he can buy a 200-blade box of SuperMax for about 4 2/3 cents per blade. That is, he can choose between paying $5.50 for a Fusion cartridge (by buying a pack of 8 for about $44), the same cost as 118 blades in the SuperMax box o’ blades. Since a DE blade typically lasts about a week, he’s looking at spending the same amount for however long he can stretch a Fusion’s life vs. 118 weeks of double-edged blades, or just over 2 1/4 years. Not a difficult choice, in my eyes.

Leisureguy (10 Posts)

A retired guy who hated shaving and so decided to figure out how to enjoy it. Did that, wrote a book, and now look forward to my daily shave. I also enjoy movies, cooking, reading, blogging, and the like.


Comments

  1. LOVE the article. I’m giving a persuasive speech for a class this semester, so naturally I chose wet shaving. (Not that it’s a hard sell). I may quote you on this article later on, if it’s alright with the Great LG.

  2. That would be fine, but take note of the corrections NoHelmet offers.

  3. Todd Oppenheimer says:

    This is an excellent run-down of a large & complex trend, and a wealth of knowledge accumulated by Michael. I suspect Weber, for one, will notice the value this article just in the orders they start receiving. (And fearing that Michael’s predictions would be right about Weber’s costs rising, I of course ordered a razor.) Kudos to Leisureguy, and to Mark, for getting all this information out there in one, carefully written spot.
    T.O.

  4. Darn you, LG, it’s too early in the process for me to be thinking of buying a $55 razor. I barely know how to use my EJ.

    *checks birthday money*

  5. Brebeanu Alex Catalin says:

    This article was fabulous! I loved it!!! Excellent!

  6. The Weber looks like a Merkur 23c I know it’s made out of different material but is the head that much different? Is the blade exposure pretty much the same? Great article by the way!

    • I don’t have a Merkur 23C, but the 23C uses the Merkur Classic head, and this head does indeed look similar. But just as different Merkur Classic razors with the same head have a different “feel” due simply to handle length, diameter, and weight (the 34C and the 38C, for example), the DLC on the Weber makes the head feel quite unlike a chrome-plated head.

      After reading your comment, I examined Merkur models in on-line catalogs, and I have to say that the Weber looks an awfully lot like a Merkur 33C with a DLC-coated head. Merkur does indeed seem to supply some small vendors with razors for customizations (cf. http://www.eliterazors.com). But I don’t think that Merkur razors come in stainless steel—they are chrome-plated, but the underlying material is not, I think, stainless. (Traditionally, razors have been made of brass, and then plated with nickel, but the Merkurs are plated with chrome. Some newer designs—the Edwin Jagger razors, for example—use die-cast zinc as the underlying material, which is then chrome-plated.)

      The Weber may well be modeled on the Merkur to some degree. It’s hard to be sure, because the form of 3-piece DE razors is to a great extent dictated by function, and they all serve the same function, so they do tend to have close resemblances. And the fact remains that the DLC coating gives this razor a unique feel, very different from the Merkur Classics I own (and, as noted, each Classic model has to some degree its own feel, despite sharing the same head design and finish—a chrome finish in the case of the Merkurs, not a DLC finish like the Weber). The Classic head is quite good in any event, so it would not be a bad model.

      Interesting thought. Thanks.

      UPDATE: I just took another look at the Weber. I really doubt that it’s a customized Merkur. Details in the head are different—e.g., the two studs from the cap that keep the blade in the right orientation. Also, the Weber has some ribs on the bottom side of the baseplate.

      • I’m intrigued. The Merkur 23c was my first foray into the world of wet shaving. I’m going to have to get a Weber now and make a comparison.

        • It’s definitely a good razor with a unique feel (at least among razors I own). But the one after that should *definitely* be a Slant Bar. :)

          • I’ve used a Weber a few times now and, while I think it’s an excellent razor, I don’t think its all that different from other well-made razors (HD, DE89, Goodfella, etc.). Nice and hefty, good shave, but I haven’t found it dramatically better/different yet.

  7. The guys at Wicked_Edge have been having some fun with the new Schick Hydro® 5 Power Select™’s “easy-to-read LED screen [that] communicates visually to clearly distinguish which vibration level is in use” and one tommij points out this video.

  8. Ted Pettinicchi (TAP119 on B & B) says:

    Great article, thanks!

  9. Gummo the Goat says:

    Great view of carts v DE’s. I have never been a DE shaver and have no intentions of becoming one at age 61. I have found a suitable middle ground for me in reverting back to Gillette’s Sensor Excel, IMHO the last razor designed with the consumer, not profit, in mind. I remember wistfully my favorite razor, The Wilkinson (the real Wilkinson) bonded blade razor, a cartridge but with a single blade. I would love to see the return of this comfortable, safe, and economical razor.

    • I can only point to the observation that those who try DE shaving generally (85% of the time!) *vastly* prefer it, based on their experience. But of course YMMV. Given that you’ve never tried DE shaving, while I welcome your comment, I must point out a certain lack of breadth in the experience on which it is based.

      I switched to DE shaving at around age 65, so mull it over a few years, then give it a go. The difference I discovered is that shaving suddenly became something I really enjoy and eagerly anticipated each morning. But you may already be there.

      Thanks for commenting.

      BTW, I know a young man who really loved the 2-blade Sensor cartridges and sought them out, and then one day he found that he was paying $1.80/cartridge and I was paying 2¢/blade at the time. For the price of one of his Sensor cartridges, I got 90 blades = 90 weeks of shaving, or almost two years. He could afford the cost, but still… And then, having tried it, he discovered (as so many do) that it totally changed the nature of the experience and his attitude toward shaving.

      I urge you not to set limitations on what you can do based on your age. It’s a cop-out.

      • Gummo the Goat says:

        Dear LG, Thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough and encouraging response about DE shaving. Who knows? When I grow up perhaps I’ll follow your good advice. All the best, Gummo the G.

        • You’re welcome. I will add an interesting fact that I’ve observed: every guy who’s switched from carts to DE shaving wishes he had done it years earlier. :)

          • Gummo the Goat says:

            I was inspired my your message, so I contacted one of my favorite vendors who recommended a Jagger DE-89L and Gillette super platinum blades. I ordered them and look forward to my new venture. Thanks for the encouragement!

  10. Your choice of starting razor is spot on: excellent! That particular brand of blades may or may not work for you: blades are quite mysterious. Take a look at this explanation, which also provides sources of sampler packs.

    I highly recommend this introductory guide (which I wrote). Next edition will include this note:

    One accustomed to a cartridge razor, which has a pivoting head, will find that he must hold a DE razor’s handle farther from his face than he did with the cartridge razor in order to maintain the correct blade angle to avoid razor burn and nicks. Generally speaking, this requires conscious effort for the first week or so before it becomes habit.

    I think you’re going to enjoy this. The three main problem areas novices encounter: prep, pressure, and blade angle.

    Prep: Shave after showering, and wash your beard at the sink with a good pre-shave soap. Any high-glycerine soap will do, but Musgo Real Glyce Lime Oil soap (MR GLO) is what I’ve found works best for me. (It’s generally available—use Google to search—but I’ve linked to one supplier.) Rinse partially with a splash and then apply lather, which is reapplied prior to each pass of the razor.

    Lather is worked up with a good shaving brush and a shaving soap or shaving cream. Shaving soaps are sensitive to water hardness, so if you have any doubts about the softness of your tap water, try a distilled water shave as a diagnostic (and possible workaround).

    Take your time applying the lather: enjoy the fragrances and the sensations and work it well into your beard—you want to allow time for the stubble to soften under the gentle ministrations of the fine lather you’ve made, but you also want to maximize your enjoyment of the process.

    Pressure: Cartridge shavers—particularly those using cartridges with 4 or 5 blades—develop a habit of exerting considerable pressure against the skin to keep the cartridge down as they pull to overcome the resistance that 4-5 blades encounter when as they simultaneously cut through stubble. A single-bladed razor does not encounter such resistance, and pressure with a single-blade razor will result in razor burn and nicks. Try to use just the weight of the razor.

    When you rinse after the first pass, you’ll feel a lot of stubble remaining, and many think this means they didn’t use enough pressure. NOT SO. Shaving with a single-bladed razor is a matter of progressive stubble reduction, which is why one does multiple passes. After the first pass, shaving with the grain, rinse, relather, and do a second pass across the grain. At the beginning, that’s enough. As your skill improves, you can add a pass against the grain: rinse, relather, and shave against the grain but on first shaving against the grain do only the easy parts: under the sideburns and on your cheeks. The gradually add the chin, around the mouth, and the neck.

    Quite often cartridge shavers don’t know the grain of their beards, and the grain may change unexpectedly here and there, especially on the neck. Map it as best you can by rubbing your beard at various spots: “against the grain” at a spot is the roughest direction at that spot. Some guys have neck grain that is in whorls; in that case, thorough prep and light pressure is one’s only salvation.

    Blade angle: Focus on keeping the edge of the razor’s cap, just behind the cutting edge of the blade, in contact with your skin, and more or less ignore the guard. It will take care of itself. And watch the pressure.

    About 10% of novices make an initial error of inverting the baseplate: putting it in upside down. Inspect the razor carefully and note the scalloped portion of the guard goes up, toward the cap and away from the handle.

    These are the essentials, I think, but the book has much more, along with a guide to and discussion of equipment, supplies, and vendors.

    I’m quite excited that you’re going to give it a go. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Happy shaving!

    • Gummo the Goat says:

      Thanks again for your encouragement and most helpful information. While my schedule does not allow me to shave after a shower, I do use pre-shave oil. I have 4 silvertips and one very nice fine brush, which I alternate seasonally. Since my skin is sensitive, I use with much success Art of Shaving unscented cream and Cade shave soap, and finish with mild alcohol-free balms. I will follow your instructions here; I am pleased to have them for a guide. Best, G.

  11. That is an excellent article, Leisureguy, and right on the money in my opinion. Thank you very much for your insightful and informative observations.

  12. Gummo the Goat says:

    PS. I ordered your book. As a librarian and book reviewer, I have never seen a self-published book with so many praise reviews! G.

    • Thank you. You’ll find it has quite a bit more information. I’ve not found shave oils to work for me. I test pre-shaves by following a “week with, week without, week with” regimen, and they generally fail. You’ll read of the one that passed.

      And, BTW, an enormous number of cartridge shavers discover, to their astonishment, that their skin is not especially sensitive, but scraping it daily with 4 or 5 blades pressed down hard into the skin with the little protection that canned shave mix provides creates the impression that their skin must be “sensitive”, for it is certainly damaged by the shave. Given that you use a Sensor (2-blade cartridge) and good prep, it’s unlikely that you will see so dramatic a difference, but let’s hope. :)

      Re: self-publication: I have to admit that I didn’t even consider shopping around a book on shaving with a DE safety razor. Somehow I didn’t think commercial publishers would find that an entrancing prospect. :)

  13. Gummo the Goat says:

    Thanks for the good insight about pre-shave oil, and perhaps my skin is already less sensitive since I stopped using the con-Fusion razor. You are likely right about commercial publishers not being interested in publishing your book. My remark was meant as a compliment because one of the magazines for which I review books does review self-published books. From my own experience, most are clunkers, but some are terrific. That you had almost 50 responders praise your book on Amazon, is unusual for a self-published book. But perhaps you should consider finding an agent because you have documented in your blog entry above the growth in traditional shaving. So maybe there is a bigger audience for your book. Best. G

    • I did indeed take it as a compliment, just commenting on the sort of niche appeal—though it’s becoming less niche as word spreads. Just think of how rapidly the movement will grow if each new convert to traditional wetshaving can convince just 35,000 others to try it. :)

  14. @Mantic59 — No “reply” button, but in response: Interesting. For me, the feel of the head is unique: no other razor I’ve used has that feel. The heft is indeed not that different from my other solid stainless razors, and the level of aggression/efficiency is about on par with the EJ DE8x series or Merkur Classic. But I really did find the feel of the head unique. May I ask what other razors you have that mimic that sensation? I would like to try them as well.

    UPDATE: Sorry, I see you’ve listed the other razors. What’s weird is that none of those you list—the HD, the Goodfella, the Edwin Jagger DE89—feel to me anything at all like the Weber razor. Besides the distinct difference I detect in the feel of the head, I also note:

    The HD handle is substantially shorter, which gives the razor a different feel, plust the “Hefty Classic” is not nearly so hefty as this guy

    The Goodfella handle doesn’t work at all for me: too slick with no knob at the end for ATG shaving, plus the shaving action of the Goodfella feels quite different. But the big difference is the handle feel (along with the aforementioned head feel). The Goodfella’s lack of chequering on the handle is a marked (to me) contrast with the deep chequering of the Weber handle.

    And in comparison to the EJ DE8x series, once again I detect a major difference in heft and handle feel/length, besides the feel of the DLC coating.

    While I can get good shaves from all three you mention, and even enjoyable shaves from the HD and EJ razors, their feel in action is (to me) quite distinct and different from the Weber. The Weber feels much more like the Feather Premium razor—similar weight, handle length, and comfort, but again the feel of the head is completely different.

    Indeed, were I shaving in the dark (not advised), I could readily pick out through shaving the Weber from the others. But of course, shavers differ. But take it from me, for some shavers the Weber is quite a distinct razor with a distinct feel.

    • Maybe I need to try another blade?

      • That could be it! I used a Swedish Gillette blade, FWIW. At one time Giovanni Arbate had a table that showed blade widths, which is probably the key factor in how well a given blade works in a particular razor.

        But, truthfully, the quality of the completed shave was no worse or better than with my other top-drawer razors, and the comfort and security of the shave in progress, though excellent, did not quite match, say, the iKon open-comb Bulldog or the Feather Premium Stainless. Rather, the Weber’s uniqueness was in the particular combination that the razor offers—heft, length and diameter of handle, chequering, knob treatment, and most of all the DLC coating (I keep the cap in contact with my skin as I shave, so I drag the cap over my entire beard area multiple times in the course of the shave)—those are the things that give it (for me) a unique feel of its own. The other attributes of interest, also unique—a new DE safety razor, and created and introduced by a new manufacturer, and in the US—make it worthy of note, I thought: a straw in the wind in the world of shaving.

      • Try the Astra blade. Just clean the blade first with alcohol to get rid of the industrial smelling “wax”. Weber plus Astra = perfect shaves, at least for me.

        • The Astra Superior Platinum blades also work well for me, but I have to note one oddity: Kai blades work extremely well for me (like a Feather, only smoother) in most razors, but for some reason a Kai in a Weber is quite harsh. I suppose the dimensions are just a little different than the Astra, making a big difference in shaving comfort.

          • Finding the right blade for a razor is a mind boggler. All I can do is keep trying new brands of blades. It must be a dark art like alchemy. I’m at a loss to figure it out

          • Yes, trying a blade in a razor is the only way I’ve found to know whether that brand of blade will work for me in that razor. Eventually I have discovered several brands that work well. It’s like gardening: experience is the best teacher.

      • I have been getting great shaves in this razor with everything from Dorco,Derby, Astra, and Feather. Red IP, and Crystals deliver a DFS with discomfort, but Feathers were more comfortable. Run a sample pack through your Weber again. I can’t get a lousy shave from this razor! Astras seem best to me. I cannot handle Feathers in my EJ89 nor my Parker, but the Weber does it.

        • Sometime try a Kai blade as an experiment. The Kai seems to me to be a smoother version of a Feather, and the Kai works fine in my razors with the exception of the Weber: a Kai in a Weber seems quite harsh to me. But brands other than Kai love the Weber.

          • Done, and I agree. I was loving that blade until my Weber shave with it. It might have been the most aggressive shave I ever had.

  15. Based on your review, I purchased a Weber razor and used it for the first time today with a new Feather blade in it. This may end up being my new favorite razor. Great feel and a nice shave.

    • It really is nice, isn’t it? Good solid heft, great grip, and I love the feel of DLC in the morning. What razor were you using previously? And you do note a difference?

      • I have been using the following razors:
        Edwin Jagger
        Open comb Merkur
        Slant Merkur
        Progressive Merkur

        The adjustable Progressive was my favorite, then the Edwin and the the Slant, but I am really liking the Weber–besides I have Weber Grill.

        • VERY important: do NOT mix up the two Webers or those steaks will never get done. :)

          The Merkur Progress is a favorite razor—indeed, I believe the favorite razor—of our host, and I also like it a lot. I love that chunky head, and it shaves like a dream.

  16. IAmTheJody says:

    Just noting that this Weber is actually 2.0 or maybe even 2.5 or 3.0…

    1.0 can be seen in the first 2 posts in this August 2010 thread on B&B:
    http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php/269237-Weber-Razor

    It had a stainless head with a “W” engraved on the head-cap. They sold them briefly via eBay and Amazon and then stopped making them so they could be redesigned and improved. They weren’t heard from or seen again until around November or December 2011 when they started selling this version with the “diamond coat” head pieces.

    • Aha! I wondered how they had achieved such a good head design first time out. That there was an earlier prototype floated and then redesigned explains it. That’s more or less what happened with iKon as well: version 1.0 sold a few copies but was quite harsh and was soon superseded by the (highly successful) open-comb Bulldog. Thanks for pointing that out and the link.

  17. On your recommendation, I looked in Weber razors a couple of weeks ago. They are out of stock, but one can register to be notified when new razors are available. I wonder if even now the price rise you anticipate is being put into effect!

    Many thanks for the above illumination!

    • You’re welcome. As far as I know, he plans to hold the price for now, though I suspect the highly anticipated all-black (full DLC) razor will be at a higher price.

  18. P-Dubyah says:

    The Weber DE Razors are back in stock. Just ordered one. Can’t wait. Currently using Merkur 180 Long Handle w/ Derby’s, Feathers or Wilkinson Swords depending on the week. Looking for something ‘different’ in both look and feel. Will post back after use. Wanted to let others know it is available now.

  19. Shave Dude says:

    Extremly informative and well written…..time to start buying a lifetime supply of blades, just in case the big guys shut down Our little thing.

  20. Daniel Carroll says:

    I was excited to try this razor and now they have discontinued them. Anyone know why the product was pulled?

    • Weber has a problem (suppliers? sub-contractors?) in keeping razors in stock. The Weber DLC will come in stock, sell out quickly, and then another long wait. Two other models have been made: the ARC (Advanced Razor Coating), which seems to have been discontinued, and the Polished Head model (no coating), which is available with the same sort of outages as the DLC. The Polished Head is quite good. It has a somewhat different feel from the DLC, but the head geometry is the same, and it shaves well with the same blades that work well for a shaver in the DLC.

      • If I recall correctly, among Weber razors, you at one time expressed a clear preference for the ARC coated head. Is that right? Is that still the case? I’m wondering what I’m missing by not having had an opportunity to try that particular one. And I’m wondering how it makes a difference, or how much of one. Thanks for any enlightenment. Or even just opinions!

        • The differences among the ARC, DLC, and Polished-Head Webers are mostly a matter of feel. So far as I can tell, the underlying head is the same across the line, and all shave very well indeed. I felt that the ARC was slightly better, but now I’d have to reshave with them all to test the contrast: it was very close. I just recently bought a Polished-Head Weber and was stunned to find the first shave with it very harsh. Because the razor was new, my thoughts went to it as the cause. As it turned out, I was using a Kai blade, which works fine for me in other razors, but did not work well with the Weber. (I had not used the brand in my other Webers.) I changed to another brand of blade for the next shave, and once again enjoyed the familiar Weber comfortable, smooth shave. So some blade testing is useful with any new razor.

          TL;DR: You’re not really missing much: the DLC and the Highly-Polished Weber are both quite comparable.

          • Thank you, I can stop my campaign to Ed Weber to begin making the ARCs again. He’ll no doubt be grateful to you! (Thanks for your posts. And thanks mantic59!)

          • @Andrew: I wish I knew why the ARC was discontinued. I imagine it was difficulties with subcontractors or some such. But it would be nice if he did bring back that option. Heck, it would be nice if he could just keep his razors in stock. :)

  21. Jason Zelin says:

    Does anyone recall a product from the late 1960′s-70′s called “AMAZING” ? It was a small tube containing a Teflon-type coating that you applied a couple of drops to your blade before and after shaving. The result was an “amazing” shave -AND the blade lasted a month or more. I believe that one of the blade manufacturers must have bought the patent and removed it from the market because it could kill their bloated sales. Love to find out if anyone else knows what happened.

  22. I bought a Weber DLC on the Badger&Blade BST forum, and it arrived literally today. I’m trying really hard to resist the urge to shave again today. :) Gonna hit it tomorrow with a fresh Personna Medical Prep blade. Soooo excited!

  23. The stainless steel construction of the Weber is it’s selling point. I wouldn’t expect it to shave differently than chromed razors of similar construction, It is the durability of stainless that makes it superior.No plating to flake off. I wonder why the handles and heads are made of different stainless alloys? For stainless razors out there, Weber seems solid and is cheaper than Ikon, Pils, and Tradere !

    • The trick is “similar construction”: even barely noticeable differences in dimensions and angles make major differences in the shave experience. The Weber, IMO, shaves better than (for example) the Merkur Classic and the Edwin Jagger line.

      I believe the head may be made from a different process than the handle.

      I agree that it’s an excellent razor, one of the premium razors.

      • You are so right. Thanks to you and Mantic59 for shepherding we the noobies and returnees who have many questions.

  24. The head and handle are constructed of different grades of stainless steel. I am not sure why they did this, but I don’t give a hoot that they are made of two stainless steels, or that the undersurface is not polished. What counts is that it’s a great shaver in stainless, at a fraction of the price of other stainless DE razors. Uh oh I feel an attack of RAD kicking in. Surgical instruments last forever because they’re stainless. I’ve never wielded a chrome plated scalpel handle in twenty years as an operating surgeon. For beauty I prefer my EJ. The Weber cannot flake or break, unless subjected to abuse, like all stainless razors they last forever.

  25. succumbed to RAD and purchased two. One, as a gift for the son who brought me back to DE shaving after a decades long hiatus, and one for me. I believe this should vaccinate me against the urge to buy Pils, Ikon, Tradere, or Feather’s SS razors… I hope. Blade-quest now begins.

  26. Rarely do products in the modern world meet expectations. This razor exceeds them. The presentation is high industrial art, with no signs of machining noted. It has more exposed blade than the EJ89, but shaves smoother. Wow !

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