by PLANofMAN at 11:47 PM
(16,883 Views / 11 Likes)
One man's vision: A perfect straight razor shave, everyday.

I like self sharpening razors and I have long been an advocate of advancing razor design, so now that you know I am already somewhat biased...

"Look Sharp, Be Sharp, Feel Sharp," is the first thing that popped into my head when I heard about the BornSharp razor. After all these years, that old Gillette advertising jingle still has the power to evoke strong feelings among shavers.

Over fifty years have passed since Gem, Star, EverReady, and Rolls Razor conceded defeat and shuttered their doors, vanquished by the twin giants, Gillette's Double Edge razors and Schick's Injectors. But, like a phoenix from the ashes, a new, modern single edge razor is rising to take their place.
BornSharp is the brainchild of Steve Worthington, an avid wet shaver himself. According to his bio on the BornSharp website, Mr. Worthington is "a trained mechanical engineer with a passion for aviation, classic design and exceptional grooming for men." This razor was not designed in a vacuum though, he was also "joined by a team of engineers and industrial designers who have refined the idea of the BornSharp shaving system."


To view the razor by itself is a mistake. It is a full shaving system. Clearly inspired by Mr. Worthington's 20 year's experience straight razor shaving, it is a self contained, self sharpening razor. I personally would have rather seen a design that embraced current double edge or single edge blades, but I can understand why he choose to follow in the footsteps of the venerable Rolls Razor and Wilkinson Empire razors. He choose the wedge shaped blade profile because it works well and has a much higher durability factor than the thin blades found in modern (and not so modern) razors. A simple removal of four screws will give you access to the blade for deep cleaning or replacement.

This is not just an updated copy of the Rolls Razor. One of the features that I find appealing as a traditional wet shaver is the BornSharp's ability to be adjusted.The user can set their preferred level of blade exposure. A modern adjustable single edge razor is something that many wet shavers have wanted for a long time, but never thought they would ever see. (The BornSharp system automatically adjusts the set blade exposure to account for the miniscule amount of edge removed during sharpening).

One can also adjust the level of blade sharpness. This is the feature that the BornSharp razor hangs it's laurels on, and is also the feature I view with the most skepticism. According to the BornSharp website, "the user can change the sharpness of the blade... [by] increasing or decreasing the sharpening time." This will allow a range of sharpness from disposable razor to "old fashioned straight edge sharp." Presumably, the moderate setting the razor ships with is equivalent to an average DE blade. Does it give you a sharp blade each and every time you use it? I don't know. I've never used it. I have absolutely no reference point to fall back on when talking about this razor. For all I know, the edge on this thing could range from "rough edge of a tin can" to "it will split atoms if you look at it wrong." Mr. Worthington has assured me that the edge on the BornSharp rivals that of a straight razor, and I'm inclined to believe him.

My biggest gripe with this razor is (or rather was) the polished handle. While this looks nice, in reality, it often becomes slippery while dealing with water and know, while shaving. But, you can use your own handle! "Any standard razor handle with #10-32 thread - a standard imperial 19" (5/32) will work. Handle sizes from 3 3/4" to 4" can be used. The supplied handle is 3 3/4". Longer handles require removing the black rubber plug in the sharpening port (the plug is there specifically to accomodate longer handles.)" So, it will fit almost all Gillette style handles...which is fantastic news.

Price. This is the kicker. At $470 (or $370 through the indiegogo fundraiser), this is not an impulse purchase. At least not for the average wet shaver. The campaign slogan for this razor is "Get it before 007 does;" and that is the group this razor is currently aimed at. If you drink Macallan 25 year old single malt, drive an Aston Martin, or own a home with more than 4 bedrooms, you need this razor. Even if it doesn't live up to it's claims, it will still be better and cheaper than that plastic 5 bladed piece of garbage you drag across your face every day in homage to Gillette's advertising dollars.

For the average wet shaver (i.e., any long term member of this fine forum), this razor is, at best,...
by PLANofMAN at 10:41 PM
(37,074 Views / 4 Likes)
Has the world really seen the best razor designs have to offer? I’ve thought for a long time about the need for true innovation, even in a market that is as codified as the traditional wet shaver’s razor.

Drawing of King Gillette's original razor patent (source: Wikipedia)

Year after year, I see “new” razors coming to market, but they all borrow from the tried and true 3 piece razor designs that Gillette perfected almost a century ago. The few twist-to-open designs are virtually reproductions of Gillette Super Speeds. The only company offering anything like true innovation is Merkur, with their Futar and Vision models. Merkur seems content to rest on their laurels and we haven’t seen anything new from them in a while.

Above the Tie has probably come closest to innovation, with their interchangeable base plate designs, but they too fall short in that their razor is just another 3 piece design. There are many reasons to follow the 3 piece design. It is simply easier to manufacture. It is less prone to suffer mechanical failure. It is cheaper to produce.

You are probably wondering where I’m going with this. Those who have followed the recent conversation in the Shake Sharp thread will have some idea. I have a vision of a new razor design, loosely based off of the Shake Sharp’s design principles, and borrowing from other razor designs, some successful, others less so.

On the market right now are a variety of designs, all with pros and cons.

The Slant. The slant is an interesting razor concept, one that is based off of a shaving technique called the Gillette Slide. The advantages to a slant are mostly directly related to the rigidity of the flexed blade rather than the “slant” itself. By its nature, one end of the blade’s edge is always going to be more aggressive than the other.
The Adjustable. A proven design. The butterfly style doors, adjustment knob, and locking twist are all familiar to users of vintage DE razors. If this design was so successful, why is Merkur the only one making them now? The answer to that is complicated. It would be an expensive razor to produce, and why would anyone buy one when literally thousands of vintage ones are readily available in antique stores, garage sales and internet auction sites.
The Three Piece. For such a simple razor design, the three piece razor has dominated the new razor market. There are a thousand variations by hundreds of manufacturers over the years.
Open and Closed Comb. Combs add or detract from the aesthetics of a razor. I find a combed razor to be more attractive than a plain razor bar guard, but truth be told, the benefits of a comb over a bar guard are largely in the eye of the beholder. Combs have enjoyed a reputation for being more aggressive, and some are. The truth is that razors with combs can be just as mild as any other razor.

Some of the topics discussed have been going with a mono-edge design (where only one edge of a DE blade is exposed), incorporating self-sharpening features using modern ceramic hones, having a sectional handle (to allow you to set your own handle length, without having to buy multiple handles) and most recently, a dual adjustment system, that would let you set your own blade gap and blade exposure preferences.

Personally, I would like to see a mono-edge design on the market, simply because there hasn’t been a new Single Edge razor design (excepting injectors and the cobra) on the market in over 50 years. According to Waits Compendium, the last of the GEM SE razors was the GEM Push Button razor of the 1950's. The last ASR SE was Star Cadet of the 1940's. I think that a mono-edge razor using DE blades would extend the life of the blades because the blade wouldn’t get tossed until both edges were dull. I would like to see it come with two blade inserts, so that one could also use SE or injector blades.

I welcome comments and thoughts on this subject, and perhaps collectively we can figure out what a perfect razor should have and maybe we can start a co-op and have it built. If that ever happens, I think it would be fitting to call it TSD’s Razor. If it was ever sold for profit, I would like to see it sold through the TSD shop, with all profits going to TSD and TSD administrators.

This is a hypothetical situation. What if we as a forum, had the opportunity to create and build a modern DE razor that borrowed from razor designs that were not so mainstream as the generic TTO and 3 piece razors. What features would you want included? What materials used in it's manufacture?

I know this is doable, I myself own razors with most of those features. The trick is, how many features can we realistically include in one razor to keep both cost and weight down? How do we make it sturdy enough for a lifetime's use, and how do we make it easy to clean?

I would love to see a new razor design that would revolutionize wet shaving and razor design for years to come! I'd like to see it be...