Shim Your Weishi

This is a retraction of sorts, though I can't cite the error: I didn't think the Weishi could be effectively shimmed. It probably had to do with the type of shim I made -- narrow, as seen in the photo with a Feather brand, on the left. That may have been fairly effective with Tech and anchor-style 3-piece razors, which I got my start with, because they support the blade near center. It's not as easy to cut along the very edge, and I may have seen some wavy blade with initial, poorly-executed attempts.

But clearly, I have to revisit all of my less than ideal razors with the shims. Hell, maybe even the Slim! Because the narrow shim and the wide shim differ in how they affect the emergent angle of the edge, depending on how the top cap contacts the baseplate or analogous part. I've even heard of people putting the shims on the top side of the blade, perhaps for the purpose of altering that contact.

Anyway, I put one of the wide shims that I made for Chaoying under the same Ming Shi blade, and the Weishi became instantly efficient, and fully capable of BBS. Whereas, the narrow shim just made a rougher shave, and still couldn't reach into my follicles. This was a left-side, right side comparison; luckily, the rough side wasn't so rough that I couldn't finish it with the better shim.

So. If you're unwilling to give the internet your bank information, are averse to the vintage razor market, or you just don't have the moolah or real estate for more razors; you can still enjoy a custom-tailored shave. At least, it's not exactly like running around with pins in your suit. There weren't always adjustables, or a million models of razors available. Shims are fairly traditional.

I hereby retract all criticism of the Weishi. It's good to start learning to shave with complete safety against cuts, and in the end, it is a fully capable razor. The only fuss about it was having to hold the blade down by the ends, as I screwed the doors shut. Because of the bow in my shim, the razor was raised to where the doors could impact the edge.

One Slim Better Than Two Shims

Taking advantage of the Baili BD-191 cutting head's ability to be adjusted in two ways simultaneously -- the gap via shim, the angle via handle loosening -- I found myself reverting to my adjustable ways. The rougher shave provided by one shim with some handle loosening was good for WTG, but two shims with no handle loosening made the finishing smoother.

The feel of the cutting was reminiscent of the "efficient" low angle razors, but I found I had to apply high-velocity strokes to actually take down the hair. I wasn't expecting that. As a fighter, Chaoying was definitely wobbling. I lost track of how many shims were in there for one shave, and took some battle damage, myself.  Roughness nigh bumpiness on the contralateral jaw corner.

Then the Slim came forward and just laid waste. I didn't have to use progressive settings with each pass -- set to "5," in light of my condition, it easily bested the contender.

My theory of three-piece superiority was incorrect. If you have to raise the edge for the exposure that lends efficiency, the traction control provided by the safety bar is lost. Beyond the safety value, a hair extraction function is lost.

I still love the Baili, and think it's the best beginner razor out there. The way it starts on the safe side, like the Merkur 41C, transitions to a super learning tool for tug-and-cut method with shims, and with skill, is fully capable.

But if you haven't had it all together, at the same time -- the safety, the efficiency, and the ease -- you haven't had the best that DE has to offer. And that, my friends, is exactly what the Gillette Adjustable is.

Zeroing In

Good news for the suckers who bought a Viking's Blade "Godfather": you might have broke even by saving the cost of a Slim adjustable. (The more savvy first-time razor buyers who found the Razorock DE1, with a less dildo-ey handle, or the original Baili BD-176, can still lord it over you, unfortunately.) The battle of vintage vs. new has come to a sudden head in my medicine cabinet, and it looks like it's going to be a real fight!

The Undisputed Champion

The Slim long ago unseated a great 3-piece from its place in the cabinet by virtue of adjustability. Not in the "aggressive" direction, but in the mild -- reducing gap made unsafe blades workable, and worn blades perform to their maximum potential. I further used it to increase the edges' reach with successive passes. That's like starting WTG with a gentle TTO, aimed relatively more directly at the skin, and ending with an idealized, Tech-like capability to reach the roots without stabbing. I think it's more than fair to say that the Slim is the greatest razor of all time. Especially considering its original price, historically -- it was, and is, the ultimate legacy of King Camp Gillette's idealism.

The Underdog Contender

And yet, something of a clap-trappy impression is left by its mechanism. The touchy way it must be opened before adjusting, little rattling noises. The Tech is a more elegant razor, and was arguably more accessible to the common man because of its even lower cost. The same attraction brought me to the Rimei RM2001 originally, and today, the Razorock DE1 is an even better option. Where the Tech and the Rimei give the edge a good amount of exposure by default, the DE1 does not, instead relying on the old-style handle loosening adjustment. But that doesn't mean the gap can't be adjusted independently, either, because it can be shimmed.

The Equalizer

The narrow shim I was able to dig up, from earlier times in my technical development, was not suitable to the smooth curve of Chaoying's baseplate, the way it would have been to other razors with a raised portion or ridges in the center. The curve was exaggerated, and when compensated for with greater loosening, flattened the blade to the point where shaving was uncomfortable.

I tried to figure out some slick way to remove only the edge from a razor blade, but manual grinding on a sharpening stone wasn't working rapidly enough, and my blade shattered before I could work anything out with pliers and scoring, just from the teeth of the pliers. So I didn't have anything better to use before lathering up for the next shave, and was like, "Oh, shit" -- off to the kitchen, to hurriedly snip the edges off a blade using a pair of those toothy, penny-cutting scissors.

Surprisingly, that worked just fine. Although the non-edge was now curled and rough, it extended beyond the baseplate, and did not result in any wavy blade. Which I suppose also speaks to the vise-like grip of that cutting head.

Round 2

Slim takes it by a score of 10-9, because I had a good bit of burn with my splash. But the contender is showing some good stuff. Where the narrow shim had given a shiny shave (like other low-angle shavers, Ming Shi 2000S and Dorco PL-602), the wide shim preserved my skin texture. Maybe even improved it, as evidenced by the burn -- hey, a guy can hope!

The smoothness in operation was not as notable as those other mentioned razors, and certainly not the flight over skin that the Tech gives, with its relative inefficiency -- but a good balance of tug-and-cut and not missing any hair. I think that in time, I could shave off a third pass with this, and get my BBS in two. Overall, I could almost be persuaded that I was supposed to have this amount of burn with my aftershave, because it felt natural.

One Razor?

Let's just assume, for a moment, that my Ming Shi Diamond blades are the ultimate. My first minimalist milestone has been achieved. I don't have to try any more blades -- I'm done.

I'm not quite there with soap. Not that there will ever be just one puck, but I envision a small variety of "fresh" soaps and creams, with a seasonal spin. It's not going to be associated with or proportional to my perfume collection, in other words; I have faced that monster. Aftershaves, on the other hand, are loosely associated with soaps, and serve as EdT on days I'm not willing to wear any (which is to say, most days). Aqua Velva Musk goes the furthest in that direction, following Palmolive Classic, for example. Brut follows the hard boiled Razorock sandalwood, Dollar Tree follows the muskier AOS Sandalwood, Lime Sec follows Tabac, Duru Limon follows Fresco Verde. Some splashes are better at soothing the skin than others; the factors in making a choice seem hopelessly multiplied. I think I can at least stop buying more. The brush situation may be similarly tied to the whims of my skin.

But a new target in clutter reduction has risen on the horizon. Having expanded my hardware collection recently has ironically turned my attention to perhaps the least obtainable goal of the minimalist: a single DE razor. And I am thinking just as I did at the very beginning: a three-piece ought to do it.

What I learned from the Ming Shi 2000S, and the Dorco PL-602, I had already some inkling of with the Slim: gap adjustment is more important, the lower the natural pitch angle of the razor is. The aim of modern fixed razors that wouldn't cut it for me, with their unreasonable demands on the nature of my skin and hair, was finally achieved. I got that taste of a low angle and high exposure, without the usual penalties of nicks, burns, or residual velvet.

With the Slim, I had used the adjustment to compliment technique, and accommodate ill-suited blades, because I can shave with the non-adjustable counterpart (a Tech) just fine. With these latest razors, it was simply accommodating the poorly suited geometry of the hardware itself. The fixed counterpart of the PL-602 is a BiC. The fixed counterpart of the Futur is an anchor-style razor. My skin was fed into the breech in ideal fashion, yielding smooth shaves, but fed nonetheless. Visible, shiny, but oddly comfortable exfoliation resulted.

"Chaoying" Baili BD191, with a Schmidt R10 handle is my most beautiful razor. It occurs to me that where I have customarily used the handle-loosening angle adjustment to get some skin contact, I have never tried a shim. Unlike the Tech, which is like a Slim turned to 8 or 9, Chaoying starts with negative exposure and greater blade curvature. This may be concealing some hidden, useful element of efficiency (which the Tech decidedly lacks). Today, I just did the usual adjustment with the Dorco blade that came with the PL-602, and it was handled more easily than in the Super Speed.

Great Progression: Ming Shi Diamond

The Ming Shi 2000S (Futur clone) seems to require a fairly fresh blade to operate, at its low, low natural angle of attack. The supplied blade seemed up to the demand -- despite the initial weeper and over-exfoliation -- for a few shaves. And I guess that's what it takes for someone like me to experience no tugging. But once that performance was over, I put the blade through its paces.

Next down the ladder was the equally new and nearly as exfoliating Dorco PL-602 disposable. I've come to the belief that it's just the top cap made of ABS, and the rest a cheaper polystyrene, not that that's a huge distinction. It works well, the way an aluminum handle works with a plated zamac screw, but aluminum on aluminum might bind and strip. An evil kind of genius that meets the market where it's at, because let's face it, everybody IRL is shaving with disposables. That rock solid screw mechanism gives a gap adjustment allowing the close shave I am accustomed to -- and which BiC cannot supply. But it's only a couple more shaves after the 2000S before the blade nosedives into my skin. I could ride it the full month like a BiC Sensitive, but it wouldn't be a close shave.

Moving the blade to "Stella," Baili BD-177, was much too extreme. I couldn't feel the blade at all WTG! (My Tabac might have been a little dry.) So I tried the Rimei, which was fine for a couple more shaves, but notably more injurious to the skin than any of the other razors when it reached a perceptible limit. I must have used the Super Speed then, but honestly, I can't remember... such an underrated workhorse!

The blade ended up in my Slim, the ultimate dull blade milker. Set to "5," it's about 60% as aggressive as a Tech -- and that's pretty damn mild, which is what you need to keep a dull edge from diving into your face. I got through the better part of a week with a relatively shallow BBS. You know what the deal killer was? Sharp stubble. I got perfectly even stubble at bedtime, but it got sharper as the blade exceeded the bounds of the Slim's geometry.

Finally, today I gave the Weishi a shot. I guess I can't write off that damn razor, after all. Another nice shave, with a lot of scrubbing, but not quite BBS.

And that's where the story ends, because it's got to be BBS everyday, now. The Ming Shi blade was smooth in every razor from extremely low to extremely steep natural angles, high edge exposure to low. The Ming Shi 2000S and Weishi razors aren't even razors I would normally use. Got to get me some more of these! They're labelled MP-036 "Super White," and a diamond is pictured, so we'll just translate that to "Diamond." Good news for DE shaving, to see China putting forth such good product.