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Jumping into the deep end of wet shaving

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804px Vintage Gillette Fat Boy Adjustable Safety Razor2C TTO Twist To Open2C Made In USA2C Date Code G1 1961 24686650391

Being a middle-aged man, I have been shaving for quite a few decades. Since my adolescent days, I think I have shaved with every instrument offered to mankind.

Shaving Like Dad?

I can honestly say that my first attempt at shaving was with my father’s Gillette Fat boy when I was two years old. Being so young, I don’t remember the incident, but I am guessing  I had seen Dad shave, and I guess I thought, “I want to be like Daddy.”

My mother used to tell the story of how I pulled a stool up to the bathroom sink, and when she came in the bathroom, she said I was covered in shaving cream from head to foot wearing nothing but a big smile and a steady stream of blood trailing down my cheek.  (I still have a scar on my cheek from that event.  After this time, I was given a bladeless razor to play with.)

Sometime during my childhood, my father decided he was tired of using his double-edged razor and asked for a cordless Norelco razor for Christmas.  He would see that commercial come on television, the one where Santa Claus was riding the Norelco through the snow instead of his sleigh and would grumble “Even Santa has a Norelco, but I don’t.”

I never saw him as happy as he was on that Christmas morning when he unwrapped his very own cordless electric razor. Thinking about it he reminds me of Ralphie from the Christmas Story movie when he unwrapped his rifle.  I think he liked it even better than the carton of unfiltered Camel cigarettes us kids got him.  (It was the seventies, don’t judge me!) From that day on that razor rode in the glove box of his car with a bottle of Aqua Velva aftershave.

Learning To Shave

When it came time for me to learn to shave, I was kinda on my own.  I tried Dad’s prized electric razor, but I hated it! To me, the circular blades never seemed to shave my face! I would continually rub the razor over my face until it was raw.  So, I knew I had to find my own way.

With Dad’s double edge razor long gone, I had to resort to the newly invented disposable razors.  A cheap, throwaway razor and a can of Barbasol was the instruments I used as a shaving apprentice.

These razors were awful! They would constantly clog with shaving cream and stubble to the point I used to bang them on the side of the sink to knock the residue out of it so I could finish the shave.

I hated these razors! They hurt my face, they tugged and pulled my beard in a struggle between myself and the plastic razor to see who would ultimately win.  When the last of the Barbasol slowly swirled down the drain, I had a shave which could at best be considered “good enough.”  I was bloodied and sported the redness of razor burn but I made it through the ordeal alive (with the help of a styptic pencil)!

I endured the pain and suffering of these terrible razors for all my teenage years, through most of my twenties.  I even grew a mustache because I could never get the “knack” of shaving under my nose down to the point I was proficient.

During those years I spent a ton of money on those terrible torture devices until around 1995 when I heard the personalities on a radio show I listened to begin to sing the praises of a new razor they discovered: The Mach III.

The Mach III

Given the conversation, I don’t think they were doing an ad for the razor.  It was just a razor they discovered and was discussing how much they liked it versus the disposables they had been using.  That’s how the Gillette Mach III came into my life.

1280px Gillette Mach3 razor from Indonesia2C 2015 08 03

So for nearly two and a half decades, this became my shaving instrument of choice.  Sure, the cartridges were expensive, but I had figured out if you continued to purchase the starter set (a handle and two disposable cartridges) It was much cheaper than buying a replacement pack of multiple cartridges.  I also discovered the Dollar General clones of the Mach III would fit one of my many handles.

Besides, I got a nice comfortable shave that had eluded me my entire adult life.  I had even tried newer razors with even more blades, and they didn’t work as well as my beloved Mach III. I thought it was the difference between driving a broken down Yugo versus a Cadillac.  The difference in price was worth the shave I got.

A New Beginning?

Over the last few years, especially since the invention of social media, I have noticed lots of younger men (younger than me) begin to adopt some of the basic everyday ways of grooming of my father and Grandfathers.  Several of them encouraged me to adopt the practice of using a straight razor for my daily shave.

I said, no way! Even though I have had straight razor shaves from a professional barber, I just knew if I tried to use one myself, I would be found in my bathroom in a pool of my blood with a throat cut from ear to ear.

One day I was researching something on YouTube, and I happened onto a wet shaving video by a man who calls himself “Sinatra Lennon.”  I must admit I laughed out loud at the antics of self-described “Bob Ross of shaving.”  Not only does he shave but puts on a great performance, so I had to investigate this “wet shaving” a bit more.

I began my search for more information in the group’s section on Facebook.  I joined several of these groups, and I asked where I should start out, what type of razor should I get, the best type of shaving soap…all the typical newbie questions.

I was a bit shocked when I received a private message from one of the group members asking for my mailing address.  Needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive given today’s online environment.  My first question seemed obvious “How much will this cost?” He replied, “Nothing, it is just something we do for new guys to help them start out.  I gave him my address and hoped for the best.

A few days later, I received a package in the mail.  Inside was a Razorock Tech II razor, several shave soaps, and a bunch of different razor blades.  I felt like my dad with his Norelco on that Christmas morning so long ago.

Teck IIwhite 1024x1024

I looked at the many blades the gentlemen had sent me and tried to decide which blade to try first. I decided to try the Gillette 7’Oclock Black bade first.  Mostly because I had heard of Gillette of course and I thought the packaging of the blades looked cool.  (Seemed as good as way as any on how to choose a blade) and began to try to load the blade to the razor.

I must admit I was a bit confused when I tried to load the blade into the Tech II.  I had never seen a three piece razor before, and it took me a while fumbling with the plates of the razor without cutting my fingers on the blade.  After about twenty minutes of trying, I could not get the blade, plate, and razor to play nice and fit all the pieces together.  I gave up in frustration.

Several days later, after my temper had cooled, I finally realized I had the bottom plate upside down.  I felt a chill of excitement go up to my spine as the blade clicked into place.

I ran into the kitchen and got my coffee mug and began to bloom a soap sample and wet my brush before getting into the shower.  I rushed through my shower in anticipation of starting my new journey.

Now, I’m not naïve.  I knew I might get a couple of cuts while trying to use this new razor.  I figured with a styptic pencil in hand I could take on the worst the wet shaving God’s could throw at me.  That day I gave myself many more scars to match the one I got as a toddler.  I looked like I had been visited by Freddie Kreuger the night before.


I guess in hindsight I shouldn’t have chosen the day I was going to have some medical tests done to embark on my new wet shaving journey.  When my lady got home to pick me up to take me to the doctor’s office, she looked at me with fright in her eye.  “Her first question was “What in the world did you do to yourself?” Her eyes were as wide as saucers.  I said, “I decided to try wet shaving for the first time!” I could see in her eyes she wasn’t too impressed with my decision (Not like it was the first time for such a reaction to one of my decisions) Her only reply was “Don’t try it again until you heal.”

I must say my first attempt did discourage me a little. I put the razor away and went back to my Mach III thinking maybe a safety razor wasn’t “safe enough” for the likes of me.  Even though I was still using a cartridge, I still watched the shaving videos on YouTube.

After several months of watching these videos, I paid close attention to the techniques of these “Shaving stars of the screen,” and I thought I would give it one more try.

I noticed my shaving Hero; Sinatra Lennon used a Rockwell razor, and a Gillette Fat boy like my dad had.  With the prices of the Fat boys on the various website and online auction, there was no way I would invest that much into something I wasn’t sure would work out, but I noticed that I could buy a Rockwell R-1 for less than twenty dollars. So I thought what the heck.

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The day the Rockwell came, I was excited.  It was a beautiful razor.  Chrome plated, and the mechanisms worked well.  Best of all, it was a barn door type of razor like my dad’s fat boy! I took one of the Rockwell Swedish steel blades and began to shave!

I won’t say it went perfectly.  Even with all my research into various techniques by various shavers, I still got a few nicks but nothing like my previous attempt.

What’s Going On Now

That was several months ago, and my technique has greatly improved, and I have begun to experiment with the different double edge blades offered, and as many different shaving soaps, my lady will allow me to buy.  I’m just lucky she is very supportive of all my crazy antics.

I guess the old adage may not always be true; Sometimes you can teach an old dog new tricks!

About The Author:

Bill is a freelance writer and a “newish” wet shaver.  Some of Bill’s previous works have been published in the “Journal of the Masonic Society” and the “Midnight Freemasons” online journal and other various other publications.

Originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana Bill now makes his home in Ardmore, Oklahoma with his partner Tammi and their dog named Happy.

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18 thoughts on “Jumping into the deep end of wet shaving”

  1. Loved the article. Began wet shaving approximately seven years ago and shared many of your same experiences. Wife now loves the closeness of the shave, but certainly was skeptical of the idea after the initial nicks and cuts.

  2. Wow all these years I thought I was quite possibly the only one who experimented with Dad’s safety razor and had the scar on the cheek to prove it. My mother still tells the story of her horror upon discovering my secret mission gone bad.
    I also went the route of electric and on through the cartridges. I was at a trade show in Providence RI 6 or 7 years ago dreading my upcoming shave before going to dinner with acquaintances when a commercial for a safety razor being promoted by Rick Harrison of Pawn Stars game came on. It set in motion a chain of events that completely changed and energized my dreaded routine. At this point the only shaving grief I receive is from my immediate family. More shave stuff you have got to be kidding me?

    1. Amazing to think someone else got into mischief when left alone at such a young, tender age ?
      I remember those commercials. Honestly I was so “Team cartilage” at the time I never gave it much thought. I bet a lot of the now wet shavers got into the hobby thanks to Rick Harrison. I remember hearing at the time the quality of that razor wasn’t great. I’m sure it made a Great starter razor.

      1. Merkur 23C was my first razor. Luckily I watched allot of YouTube before jumping in. Mantic 59, Geo Fat Boy, and Nickshaves were my go to’s. Currently I enjoy watching Paul H Films, he is very consistent.

        1. I watched all of them too also Kevy from Kevy shaves and Kensurfs. I’m sure few of them thought about it when they started filming themselves shaving but they have helped an entire generation of wet shavers learn the craft and helped further the hobby.

          It’s a good thing you paid close attention to those videos that Merkur could have caused a bloodbath ? That’s not just swimming into the deep end of wet shaving it’s more like cliff diving into it. ?

  3. My journey was quite like y’all’s. I recall my Dad squeezing out some cream out of a tube and lathering-up!! Today, for me, it’s a Muhle 89, Feathers and Proraso. Bill, If we can figure a way to get it to you, I’ve got a Fat Boy in prestine condition, with your name on it. Semper-fi & This We’ll Defend, Mike

    1. Wow Mike! That’s quite an offer! But since I wrote this article I actually snagged a 59 Fat boy (Look for it in an upcoming story). I think I can honestly understand that “Razor acquisition syndrome” now ?.

  4. 5 years ago I found a Gillette NEW Short Comb circa 1932-40 at a local fleamarket. It was cruddy looking and the guy wanted 5 bucks for it. So on a whim, I bought it. Took it home, got on the interwebs found out how to clean it up. Then I found my guru, Geo Fatboy. Got some shave soap, a blade sampler and a bottle of Clubman Classic. I never looked back. Been getting great shaves since. Loved your story. Happy shaving brother!

  5. I had a similar experience to Bill. My first razor was a Norelco similar to what my Dad used and I could never get a decent shave. After several decades with a beard because I gave up on the idea of a comfortable shave, I eventually discovered the joys of wet shaving, even going through a Mach III phase. Eventually rediscovered the double edge razor, learning the proper techniques and turning a morning ritual into fun little hobby.

    1. I never did understand why my Dad loved that Norelco. Only thing I can figure is he had been shaving for about 40 years by then and from what I’ve read the old DE blades, even the Gillette blades wasn’t to the quality of the blades we have today.
      I might went with a beard too but I didn’t like the itching and they looked horrible on me (Maybe if I had heard of beard oil back then it might have been different)
      Thanks for reading the article. I hope you liked it!

  6. I shaved with a disposable prep razor and a bar of deodorant soap for years. Missed out on the joy of it all.

    1. I feel your pain! the silver lining is you know about it now and you will appreciate the experience more than you would have than if you had always done it this way. Thanks for checking out my article!

  7. Excellent article! I too had a childhood accident with my dad’s DE razor, I still remember my mother’s screams when she saw my face, I looked like something out of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (according to her). Then, many years of cheap and nasty throw-away razors, a sore face, and the Mach3 (the cost! the cost!).
    Finally I decided to make an old dream come true. I bought a straight razor and I’ve never looked back since then. Shaving is now fun…

    1. I guess that kinda makes us “blood brothers” 🙂 It’s amazing how much fun shaving can be with the proper tools! The best part is the journey is still ongoing as we experiment with different razors, blazes, artisan creams…etc. You are only held back by your imagination! (I guess you can add to that your billfold and the disproving look on your wife’s face too…)
      I wish I would have discovered the hobby years ago!

      1. This is a great article. Very cool that you got to share your story here! Nice to meet you too!

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