BornSharp: The world's first smart razor?

Discussion in 'Articles' started by PLANofMAN, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    One man's vision: A perfect straight razor shave, everyday.
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    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.
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    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."

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    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 soap...you 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, a curiosity or something to put on a wish list for a birthday or Christmas present. Most wet shavers who have already abandoned cartridge razors can use a vintage Gillette and a new double edge blade daily and still come out ahead in the price per shave. (for example, a $50 razor, plus 0.15 per DE blade, equals almost $325.00 over the course of five years...and that is if you replaced the blade daily! Most shavers get at least four or five shaves per DE blade.)

    BornSharp's value proposition could rise, depending on how much it costs to replace the honing system and blade (which should, according to the BornSharp website, only need replacing every five years). If the replacement parts were cheap enough, the BornSharp would start looking like a better value to the average wet shaver if the total life span of the razor can be measured in decades. In an age where the average $500 smartphone is considered a disposable product, this distinction is an important one.

    In our conversation, Mr. Worthington pointed out that he wanted to make the razor for a price that would appeal to the average wet shaver, but at this point in time, with development costs, small runs, and extensive quality control checks all factored in, this was as low as he could go.

    There were a lot of features about this razor that I could have gone into more detail on, but left out for the sake of brevity. A quick google search will bring up BornSharp's website, youtube channel and other information.

    PROS:

    Adjustable blade exposure
    Adjustable sharpness
    Interchangeable handles
    Blade longevity
    Self sterilizing
    Stainless steel construction

    CONS:

    Proprietary blade system
    High initial entry price
    It won't cut Chuck Norris's beard (but nothing does, so that really shouldn't be a con, should it?)

    Final Verdict: As a complete shaving system, it is worth the $470 asking price to those who can afford such extravagance. (For the rest of us, I hope there is a payment plan). This razor appears to address every failing of modern cartridge and new DE designs I have noticed, and even some I haven't. This product could have come across as a gimmick, but instead seems to be a well crafted, well designed addition to the wet shaving world.

    *NOTE: Early adopters can get this razor for $370 through the indiegogo campaign (if they raise enough to meet their goal amount).

    If they meet their goal amount, you can score one of these for a mere $10 contribution (ignore the twitter pic; it is not a subliminal message). I don't care who you are, that door hang is cool!:
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    I really hope this razor is great and succeeds beyond the creator's wildest expectations.

    Disclaimer: My opinions are my own, and do not reflect the opinions of The Shave Den community, nor its administrators, or it's moderators. I did not receive payment, services or product for writing this article...I just think this product is awesome and felt the shaving community ought to know more about it. :D
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016
    Rapidray, joshkamradt, vwp528 and 8 others like this.
  2. Slipperyjoe

    Slipperyjoe Rusty Metal Tetanus

    'BornSharp's value proposition could rise, depending on how much it costs to replace the honing system and blade' This is what was bugging me about the thing..and it looks like a complex electronicy, plastic replacement scenario. Also if the whole venture eventually turns out a bust, one would be left with a nifty but useless gizmo that can no longer be sharpened...
     
  3. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    Moderator
    Interesting. I appreciate the concept behind the product—an adjustable, self-sharpening, sleek-looking razor.
    R&D plus manufacturing comes at a price, and with a small target market, a very substantial one at that. No surprise there.
    I look forward to seeing how this all plays out. Will it be ground-breaking, or simply another novelty in field full of inspired failures?

    Thanks for the excellent write-up, Ryan. :happy088:
    …and that IS a cool door-hanger.
     
  4. macaronus

    macaronus Sir Nice-a-Lot Staff Member

    Moderator
    Great article, Ryan! Thanks!
    It looks like a reat gizmo. I especially like the fact that you can use your own preferred handle. Now if the sharpening systerm was mechanic in stead of electric... Oh, and if it was less costly (though I totally understand there's a lot of costs to develop a new razor).

    Bottom line: I'd love to put my hamds on this one. Looking for sponsors... :D
     
  5. 178-bplatoon

    178-bplatoon Well-Known Member

    "VERY" informative article Ryan :happy096: Apon first reading about this new "razor system" my first thought was "BS" another poorly made in China gismo with no real value, only this one has an "EXTRAORDINARY" price tag!!..
    Your article however has answered a few questions for me and let me readjust my feelings about this new "shaving system". For one thing if the shave head will actually take a 3" BullDog type handle that would be a plus in my eyes(another question is will it work with an over 1/2 dia handle like a griestshaving "FAT" handle or some of the UFO handles?)..If the adjustable blade exposure, auto adjustable for hone wear feature and blade sharpness features "actually work" that would be a "BIG BIG" deal!!

    Another important thing would be system longevity...The "Rolls Razor" worked well when it was first introduced and more importantly continues to work even today..If the "Born Sharp" system can offer that kind of longevity, then even at $500 it may still be a good deal I.M.O. I guess all we can do is wait and see..:confused: At any rate thanks again Ryan for making eveyone aware of this new develoment in the shaving world, I'll certainly be keeping my eye on the "Born Sharp" in the future...:happy088:
     
  6. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    It is a very interesting system that is an investment and should be weighed as such.

    Here are two areas that I see as issues.

    1. If you are planning on having this unit for longer than, I thought the blade life is expected to be 5 years if I am correct, you should obtain enough replacement blades at the point of purchase. Is that number 2, 3, 6 is up to how many years that you plan to use it.

    2. What is the life expectancy for the sharpener? If the company does not last long and you have a system and blades, but the sharpener ceases to function then you will be back to other forms of razors.

    It is interesting, but at this stage of my life, I will be sticking with the older technologies, not because I do not like the new, but simply because I am too well invested in what I have.
     
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  7. Aimless1

    Aimless1 Active Member

    $6,921USD
    Raised of $100,000 Goal
    30 days left​

    If Indiegogo funding is required to get this off the ground it may not make it anyway.
     
  8. richgem

    richgem suffering from chronic clicker hand cramps

    Great review, Ryan. Thanks! It's all a bit rich for my blood, but it's an innovated idea if they can get if off the ground and with a (much) less expensive initial buy in.
     
  9. Weeper Warrior

    Weeper Warrior Well-Known Member

    The sharping stones ( whatever they are made out of?) wear out the same time as the blades. According to the website. The motor....I don't know?!?


    Great article! But the Rolls was adjustable! You can take the safety bar off! ;) I'm joking of course!

    I kind of wonder, though. The price of this machine compared to the Rolls or Darwin considering inflation.
     
  10. Chuck Yager

    Chuck Yager Member

    I think even if Born Sharp doesn't get the funding it is a good thing to have guys out there trying to think of some new ideas in this area; it will lead to good things. I think it is a solid product and if it does what it says it does the price tag is about right, a lot of mechanics involved and it needs to work well and for a long time, so it will cost you. I expect that in a few years, if it takes off it will be about as much as a premium electric (a few hundred dollars)
     
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  11. feeltheburn

    feeltheburn Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure what those cost but I found an inflation calculator online. A Fatboy that cost $1.95 in 1958 is apparently the same as $15.76 today. So about 700%.
     
  12. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    The Gillette toggle was under $2.00 then too. Look at what they sell for nowadays...
     
  13. Star

    Star Active Member

    I really like the idea of this, and I hope it succeeds...but I can't afford the divorce that thing would cause if I actually bought one.
     
    PanTheMan, Larry P and PLANofMAN like this.
  14. Weeper Warrior

    Weeper Warrior Well-Known Member

    The Toggle sold for around $10.00 new.

    What I was meaning to say was I imagine the Rolls sold for $30 to $50. Which with inflation would be close to the price of this machine today.
     
    PLANofMAN likes this.
  15. feeltheburn

    feeltheburn Well-Known Member

    I found a web page that says Rolls razors sold for $10 for the basic model up to $50 for a set with 7 blades in 1935. So it looks like that's $170-$850 in today's dollars. So, yeah it seems like a similar price point.

    Also on the Rolls razor wikipedia page, it says the primary market was people buying them as 21st birthday gifts. Sounds like a nice idea but apparently it didn't work that well as a marketing strategy.

    I'll be looking forward to the reviews but it's going to have to be significantly better than what I've got for me to think about buying one.
     
  16. blanka

    blanka I will not eat my shaving products. Promise.

    Looks great, but the price point would put me in deep deep trouble with SWMBO. I'm already in enough trouble for buying a Nomiku (although less so, because it turns out amazing food). Also, I think they are making a mistake of putting it on indiegogo instead of Kickstarter since they need a pretty hefty amount of $$$.
     
    Jack Bonner likes this.
  17. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    I was actually thinking the same thing. Perhaps going through indiegogo is a trial run to raise brand awareness before tackling Kickstarter? His partner used to work with/for Art of Shaving, so I imagine part of his long term goals is to get his product into AoS stores.

    I could also see BornSharp working well with "Triumph & Disaster," that brand needs a razor. They pretty much have everything else shaving related, and if their customers can afford T&D, they can also afford BornSharp's razor.
     
    blanka likes this.
  18. HoosierTrooper

    HoosierTrooper Steve-less in Indiana

    Here is what came to mind when I read about this idea.

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  19. Cool Breeze

    Cool Breeze Sushi Shaver

    Just weighing in fellas but the biggest reason I never left the straights and safetys was the "old school" appeal. Keep in mind this is just my opinion but as far as Im concerned (through too many years to mention) I have learned that with moving parts comes breakage, every time, sooner than later EVERYTHING breaks.
    Without the old school appeal, this thing is just an extremely over priced "I have one and you dont" type of product.
    Again fellas, not by any means trying to sway your opinion, just stating mine.
    You wanna sell me somthing? Bring a NEW single edge, with a handle longer than 3" , make it out of real metals, not in some 3rd world country, and I'll buy a case.
    Again folks, I hope I didn't offend, just how I feel.
    Besides, that type of system robs you of the control of your shave and puts it in the hands of a mechanical object.
    Isnt that what everyone here has gone out of their way to prevent?
    Is that not why we scour the streets for 50 year old razors? Spend hours cleaning them and bringing them up to useable status.
     
    PatrickA51, fram773 and Shaver X like this.
  20. Cool Breeze

    Cool Breeze Sushi Shaver

    One more thing crossed my mind. If you really want one, wait a year or two until the Japaneese reverse engineer it, improve it, and sell it for a tenth as much. Oh and they'll probably warranty the thing for 300,000 miles.
    (Kawasaki, Honda, Toyota any one?)
    Man, reading that post to myself just sounds rude. I didnt mean it that way.
    Gonna post it anyway in the hopes that I dont offend anyone.
    I just cant see anyone obsessed with Grandads Straight or Safety going for this thing. It kinda goes against the whole lifestyle.............. But then again, I guess the bottom line is in fact , the perfect shave, right?
    Besides, which of us DOESNT have 3 or 4 hundred dollars of soaps, razors, aftershaves, etc.
    Well, I guess it's as true now as ever..........YMMV !
     

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