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Oh, the Chinese Razors I’ve Known! (A Romantic Comedy)

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chinese sign
It’s fairly common knowledge that I’m a frugal shaver. I love the idea of getting good value, and, in the last year, I have been sucked in by the low-risk proposition of buying Chinese-made razors, with the potential to get a real bargain, a real steal – sort of a penny-wise, pound-foolish flim-flam. Not surprisingly, it looked like I was destined to be unlucky in my lovelorn quest for cheap-but-good shaving implements. Then something changed. My story with Chinese-made razors became a boy-meets-razor, boy-quits-razor (over and over), and then, finally razor-hooks-boy tale.

 The Weishi 2003M

weishi 2003
My first razor from across the Pacific was the all-aluminum, TTO, Super-Speed knock off from Weishi. It looked cool, was super light for a potentially great travel razor, and came in a nice case. But the first one delivered wouldn’t hold the blade edges straight, and its replacement wouldn’t either. I tossed one in the trash, and made some manual adjustments with jeweler’s pliers to the other, which improved it, but it never shaved right either. It obviously wasn’t right for me; I moved on.

The Silver-Toned Special #1

My first bargain-basement three-piece Chinese razor for $3 or less, arrived in a blister pack. The brand was Ri,Mei (sic). (I didn’t think to record the model number.) Strangely, it didn’t quite look like the images in the sales ad. The poorly-formed baseplate allowed a dangerous blade exposure – kind of a straight razor disguised as a DE. I never used it in its arrival condition, but later did bend the baseplate such that the razor was safe to use. It never gave a shave that was an improvement on my favorite razors, so for a time I used its heavier handle on other razors, but never had any love for the razor head. Eventually, like memories of a bad girlfriend, this razor  became history, relegated to the recesses of my shaving box in my clothes closet.

The Weishi 9306-F

weishi 9306-F
Another Super-Speed knock off, the 9306-F has a brass substrate that is finished in chrome. A mild shaver, but irritating on my skin none the less, it never lived up to the promise of its potential. It also had annoying quirks: the blade would occasionally loosen in the razor making the shave unexpectedly more aggressive, and the butterfly doors never closed symmetrically. This one shares time in my closet shaving box and in the hands of friends as a DE-test-shave loaner.

The Silver-Toned Special #2

ST-Special#2-as delivered
I knew that I was ordering junk, but I wanted to experiment further with my metal-working skills, hoping to again modify the baseplate, but better this time, to try and find a great-shaving adjustment. This one arrived with baseplate damaged, and not even in a blister pack, unlabeled, unbranded, and, ultimately, unloved. I did adjust the baseplate to be shave worthy and with smaller blade angles than previously seen. But it just didn’t work out; there was no chemistry; it wasn’t right for me. I ditched it, too, into the closet shaving box.

The Silver-Toned Special #3

ST-Special#3 as arrived
Obviously I’m a sucker, but, long story short, this one was doomed from the start. It arrived in a blister pack with the brand label torn off the top of the packaging. I assume the seller did this either to get the package in the small shipping envelope, or, more likely, to try to hide the fact that they weren’t delivering what they promised. Though the sales ad promised a razor from a brand of unknown to me, what actually arrived was another Rimei product, model RM:A2001. (I got that info from the small print on what was remaining of the blister pack: “Technical support by: the JINDA RIMEI metal research center” and the model number printed under the UPC barcode.) We didn’t hit it off either. Blind dates can be a real crap shoot.

The Rimei RM2003: True Love

I had heard good things about this razor, so, ever the optimist, I ordered one. It arrived with a bent safety bar. Its replacement finally arrived at about the time I had given up hope of finding true mail-order love. This razor isn’t the prettiest in catalog; it seems to have asymmetrical flange depths on its safety bars. However, the good news is that when you’re not studying it closely, just enjoying its company on your face, it just feels right. A soul mate, perhaps. My first shave with a week old blade was surprisingly close and comfortable. Untrusting, burdened with the baggage from my previous Chinese-razor relationships, I warily took the next few shaves starting with a fresh blade. I felt the affection well up from my bruised heart. I can’t explain it, but it gives me both the closest shaves that I’ve had, and at the same time, leaves my sensitive skin in the best shape. It is better to me than my Gillette Slim Adjustable, my Merkurs 15C and 37C, and my previous favorite, my Merkur 33. The RM2003 isn’t a world class beauty, but it is obviously kind and faithful, and I think I’m in love. I look forward to our every-morning trysts. (Just don’t tell my wife.)

The Moral of This Story

If you are a beginning DE shaver, you could do much worse than starting out with a Rimei RM2003 razor. It’s wonderfully inexpensive, is a mild shaver, and, if you’re lucky, could blossom from a first experience into a long-term relationship.

If you are an experienced DE shaver with sensitive skin, and haven’t been quite satisfied by the closeness and comfort of your current razor(s), you might spin the bottle and take your chances with this one. I have found it to be both face friendly and, strangely, able to shave quite closely as well.

In the near future, I’ll be exploring the design characteristics of this razor to try to understand how it can be both so close yet comfortable – the ultimate happy ending. But, of course, that’s for another day.
Happy shaving!

About the Author:
Doug Hansford is a shaving hobbyist who writes the weblog, Shave Like Grandad, and who makes a shave soap for sensitive skin called (oddly enough) Grandad’s Shave Soap for Sensitive Skin.

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Doug Hansford

Doug Hansford

5 thoughts on “Oh, the Chinese Razors I’ve Known! (A Romantic Comedy)”

  1. Great article, Doug! I’ve been looking into Chinese razors a bit myself, partly out of interest, and partly out of frugality/not wanting to lose a nice razor abroad. I’d be interested to hear how you think the Rimei stacks up against a more common bargain razor, such as the Merkur 34C!

    1. I actually don’t consider the 34HD to be a bargain razor at about US$40, though I acknowledge it’s popular to some degree. A razor that I personally know much better and like very much is the 34HD’s cousin, the Merkur 33 Classic.
      The blade exposures differ between the 33 and the RM2003: the 33 is fairly negative, which greatly contributes to its mild shave character, while the RM2003 is slightly positive (on average, that is; its edge exposures are not completely identical, in my experience), and this positive exposure allows the RM2003 to provide a bit closer shave with less effort.
      The blade angles are different as well, with the 33 having about a 30-degree angle and the RM2003 is in the mid-to-upper 20s (depends on which edge of the razor that you’re measuring). This means that the 33 would offer a more scraping, irritating effect relative to the RM2003’s more slicing stroke, but, of course, the negative blade exposure of the 33 offsets that potential irritation factor a great deal — perhaps entirely.
      As of this comment, I can’t compare the blade-bar gaps in these two razors because I don’t have sufficient observational data. I can say that these two razors, as I indicated in my comment reply, above, are currently the only two razors that I regularly use. They are both, for different reasons, generally well suited to my sensitive skin and moderately tough beard.
      As for the Merkur34HD, well, there’s an on-going discussion subsequent to an article I posted yesterday. In that article, I argue that the 33 and the 34HD do not have the same razor head designs (meaning they offer different shaves). I assert that the 34HD is more aggressive, less face friendly than the 33. Currently I would be reluctant to lay down US$40 for a 34HD, which I’m pretty sure would be too harsh for my uber-sensitive skin.

      1. My first DE razor in recent years was a 34HD. I never got the hang of using it without cutting myself, and I don’t understand why it’s recommended for beginners. The answer must be in the YMMV category. My first DE razor successes were with a Tech and with a Muhle DE89. I’ve never had the nerve to try any $2-5 product.

  2. So you’ve spent how many $$ and hours chasing an elusive bargain? You seem to enjoy the journey. I wouldn’t, especially the bloody part.
    To me, THE DE bargain is a clean Tech–$20 or less. For about $30-60, a new Muhle or EJ 89 will be pleasanter to use and last decades. If you pay still a little more, you can do even better. But all this may be too easy. No thrill of the chase.

    1. :-), You’re right, there is some thrill to the chase. The irony is that my other favorite razor, the bathroom-cabinet mate to the RM2003, was the first new DE razor that I purchased, the Merkur 33C. Priced at about US$30, I generally alternate shaves between the RM2003 and the 33.

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