ShavingUniverse.com

Register a free account now!

If you are registered, you get access to the members only section, can participate in the buy & sell second hand forum and last but not least you can reserve your preferred username before someone else takes it.

Managing Expectations

Paul

Well-Known Member
Disclaimer: I'm about to work on a blog entry about what buyers should expect when buying something relating to this hobby. So, if appropriate, I may steal direct quotes from here. Another note, the idea for (if not the exact) following questions came from an email from Bart :)

What should we expect from our gear when buying it?

Razors: Should they come with a shave ready edge? Should it cost extra to have such?
Brush: Should they come fully bloomed? Should a boar brush come already broken in?
Strops: Should they require any treatment prior to being serviceable? How much is acceptable?
Hones: Should they come fully lapped and ready to hone a razor?
Soaps and Creams: Anything besides performance?


What are your thoughts? Thanks
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
My opinions are:

Razors: yes shave ready or its not fit for the job, description of goods act covers that in the UK, in theory at least
Brush: no, its brand new, and unless its synthetic its natural hair, expect it to require some breaking in
Strops: depends on the end users requirements, general use for shaving I expect a strop to be supplied ready to use, specialist honing like on Coticules, I am happy to have to optimise the cloth a little, but the leather should be ready to use.
Hones: manmade should be lapped and ready, naturals are fine as they come for me, I am happy to have to lap them
Soaps and Creams: I expect value for money, there is a world of products out there, and I dont want to have to pay the earth for something that is no better than a low cost alternative, and I expect a fragrance to delight me (very subjective I know) if I buy a Lavender soap it should smell of lavender etc.

Just how I see things
Regards
Ralfson (Dr)
 

Emmanuel

Well-Known Member
Agree Paul. I like to add a suggestion Just for the razors . Some new members that like to
sell razors ,maybe are'nt fully experienced for a perfect edge.So is better to pass their shipment through coticule.be honing stuff before the final destination paying just the bypass charges.Especially if the receiver ia a newbe too.
Whats your opinion.
Best regard
Emmanuel
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
Ok, before I post this: I'm not being argumentative about anything, just asking for a point/counterpoint dialogue (dual listening)

Ralfy,

I agree with you about the razor, but that brings up a point: Is the vendor or manufacturer responsible for ensuring it's shave ready? Regarding the strop: why would the cloth component have a different standard than leather? Thanks

Emmanuel, I think that's a great idea, but I don't think the free honing service is designed for such a purpose and would quickly overwhelm the system. I would be willing to offer such a service for members who need it, though.

Thanks for starting the dialogue, gentlemen :thumbup:

Regards,

Paul
 

DJKELLY

Well-Known Member
Very few razors would satisfy me "off the rack". Even if it is keen, what kind of keen. I don't want a 30K Shapton edge. I think having the bevel set is plenty for me.

Strops are weird. How many would we have if we could test them first? I do like different strops for different draws and most seem to perform well in the leather department. The variation in linen is allmost overwhelming in that each one is different to me and not ready until it's had thousands of laps.

Natural hones need little lapping for the most part. I have a couple with quite noticeable saw marks that perform perfectly. For synthetics, from what I understand, even lapping isn't enough to get the hone going and they don't mention it in literature that comes with the stone that you have to use up 1/16" or so. I think that is wrong.

As I get better at actual shaving (this iteration) I find soaps make less and less difference. I use Dove handsoap to get strays at the end of a shave and it works fine for lubrication and the beard is already soft. Many times, a cheaper one is just as fine a product and I think the exotic nature of the product has a place in choice. For instance, Jann brought me back some Boots aftershaves that are not available in the states that I have seen. That makes them nice for me. Thanks to several members here, I have a lifetime supply--yeah, yeah, I know, it's not that long.
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
I would say that it is the vendor's responsibility on the razor, as they are the one the end user buys it from, if the vendor takes issue with having to hone razors before sending them out, they should take that up with their supplier.

I didn't mean the cloth and leather had different standards, I meant that as a Coticule honer I expect more from the cloth, than a regular user, and had no problems with that, I would say that if I didnt hone I would expect every component of the strop to work straight out the box, however personal preference has to play a role, and not everyone like the same draw etc.

Regards
Ralfson (Dr)
 

Matt

Well-Known Member
Razors: Well the problem is rather that beginners often do not realize that a brand new razor will usually not be shave ready. Such a razor for a beginner is like buying a PC in pieces by someone who's never had any experience with it. He still will need someone to help, right? So it's about awareness - if I buy stuff that will be in the need of further service, or help, I should know it.

Now, should it cost extra? That makes me go back to the beginning of my razor shaving. Of course after searching online I ended up at SRP (BTW I wonder how we are in google's ranks)? To my astonishment I saw that people charge for honing a razor - something I was considering a help for a pal who shares a special hobby, how idealistic and romantic, huh? :|. Before I found this site, luckily I bought only Chinese 12k and finally ended up sending two or three razors to Olivia for honing. By this time I changed my mind somehow and accepted the fact that some can charge for their knowledge, the investment they made in gear, their experience, and so on. Then again was CBE, when I realized that things can be as I was imagining them. :) It would be good if people knew they have a choice. Of course all that applies to a beginner.

Brush: Should they come fully bloomed? I don't think I 100% get this, does this mean top notch, or is it about the shape? :) I believe it's good to note, that lather quality depends significantly on the brush, too. Broken in already? Hmm. It's normal - to me - that a natural product is prone to changes. It's never even crossed my mind that they could be already broken in.

Strops: Not much, in my opinion. This I consider to be a use ready thing. Of course again, being the natural product it's also susceptible to changes, but hey, we're not buying raw leather, so why should we do some more things out of the box?

Hones: Again - I'm buying a not shave ready razor, I'm buying a hone which also needs to be prepared first to hone a razor on it, god, it's so lucky that I have something that doesn't need to be worked on to lap the hone on it! You get the irony. No no to me.

Soaps and Creams: Well, price. :rolleyes: Or a quality/price ratio, though it may be personal, but so might be the performance assessment as well.

best regards,
Matt
 

altshaver

Well-Known Member
Razors: Should they come with a shave ready edge? Should it cost extra to have such?

A razor is supposed to be able to shave facial hair. It should be able to do this out of the box. As an end-user, I don't really care who makes the edge shave ready; but on principal, I believe that the manufacturer should make a shave ready razor without the need for extra work. The second question does not make sense to me. Dovo monitors its vendors pricing schemes and, more or less, controls the pricing on its razors or makes sure the market is uncompetitive. I wouldn't be surprised to find that Theirs Issard and Boker do much the same thing. Revisor avoids this entirely by selling direct from the manufacturer. A few years ago, you could buy a Dovo Best Quality razor for around $50; now it will cost you around $80. I am not sure if vendors are adding the cost of razor sharpening to the prices of razors or if Dovo (in this case) raised its MSRP. Regardless, the market is not competitive enough to notice too many differences in prices. The idea of "Shave Ready" can also be subjective, making a discussion like this difficult. Also, new users might be likely to not understand the qualities of a shave ready razor in the first place.

Brush: Should they come fully bloomed? Should a boar brush come already broken in?

No. The customer would not know if the brush is used or not. A brush more or less works out of the box anyway, even if it does get better with use. I also think that breaking in a brush at a factory would raise the prices on brushes significantly enough to not warrant the extra work and labor.

Strops: Should they require any treatment prior to being serviceable? How much is acceptable?

A strop should work out of the box or it should be understood by the customer that extra treatment is required. The manufacturer should educate the customer on what to expect from the strop in order for the customer to get the proper usage from the strop. If the strop requires treatment prior to usage, then the manufacturer must make that information available to the customer.

Hones: Should they come fully lapped and ready to hone a razor?

A hone should work out of the box as well. I will make an exception for the natural tendencies of the materials involved. For instance, if the hone is prone to losing its flatness overtime without use for whatever reason, then I would forgive the hone not being lapped in the first place. I do believe that the manufacturer is required to make available educational materials to the customer so that the customer is able to understand what they are getting their self into buy purchasing and using the hone.

Soaps and Creams: Anything besides performance?

A shaving soap or shaving cream should work. This topic is probably the most subjective of the ones listed in this thread. From what I read, some products just do not work for some people (or some people do not work for some products :p) while they do for others. What is interesting is that most of these products are made of the same ingredients. Take a look at some of the canned shaving creams, and you'll see that they share ingredients with some of the most expensive luxury products some wet-shavers use. I have no problem with a product that costs more money based on scent. However, I feel that the high cost of some of these products has to do with the name of the manufacturer more than the actual cost of the ingredients, but I could be wrong on this.

This is an interesting discussion. As far as the soaps and creams go, they should be pretty consistent from sample to sample since they are mass-produced and composed of well-known chemicals. The artisanal soaps and creams would be the exception to this case, though. Perhaps another question would be: What is acceptable quality from a handmade shaving product? I am looking forward to more thoughts.
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
Thanks guys this is good stuff. What I'm realizing very early here is that even though we expect certain things, we do not get them in large part from our vendors. I wonder why that is.

Please continue to add thoughts about what we should expect, but I'd be interested in where ever this thread heads :thumbup:
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
I agree, I have listed my expectations and they seldom match my experiences, I think it would may be fair to preface all my comments with "in an ideal world" lol

I agree with the Artisan soaps also, I expect equal or better performance from them, I am happy to have to work at the method needed, and I enjoy supporting the makers too

Regards
Ralfson (Dr)
 

squeezyjohn

Well-Known Member
Can I simply add these things: Although the learning curve for me to learn how to shave with a straight razor has been short and steep and has come to include learning the skills of stropping and honing with a coticule, it has also been much more expensive and frustrating than it needed to be! Firstly - I get cross with Dovo (and other cheap options like Cyril Salter for example) coming with a demonstrably non-shave-ready edge. I have taken some back to the shop I bought them from because they had no bevel to speak of at all - the shops all seemed very surprised.

Not everyone looking to get in to shaving this way is as patient or interested as to research and learn like most of us here and it's a shame that they don't even get to experience a good shave to know what they need to put right when it dulls. But it is good that they are interested in a cheaper, more environmentally-friendly way of scraping hair from their face every day - I expect that most cheap straight razors bought in department stores end up rusting away in a drawer somewhere after a couple of unsatisfying attempts with about £100's worth of equipment! :thumbdown:

Obviously all you need is a razor which is shave ready, some quality soap, a brush (I have to say that I haven't really noticed much of a difference between them apart from swankiness), a double sided strop and a coticule plus link to this site or the address of a professional honer. I think that any website selling straight razors should do a beginners box with just these things inside and make it come up on the front page of their website - that way there's bound to be a knock on effect for future business because the buyers don't go back to Gillette within the week!

Just my thoughts of course,

Squeezy

PS - The price increase that altshaver mentions is the same here, but is more to do with the weakness of the pound and dollar against the euro than actual price increases because most straight razors are made in the euro zone. If Britain and America could vote in a government to actually sort out the cause of the recent economic problems rather than keep on trying to patch up the holes and hide it from the electorate then we wouldn't be seeing such increases in imported goods - but that is an entirely different rant to the one above :)
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
It was purely coincidence that I named this thread "Managing Expectations" because my idea was to see what we "should" expect in an ideal world, or rather what you would like. It looks like

I'll give my "in an ideal world" expectation

Razors:

Ideal - I personally believe that razors should come shave ready out of the box. Ideally, it would come from the factory shave ready and retailers wouldn't have to do much more than "pass boxes" (besides developing a market, providing excellent customer service, etc.).

Real world - Now, in this environment, it's kind of challenging to expect vendors to provide shave ready razors without someone shaving with them to ensure it's really "shave ready". Do we want our new razors to have been shaved with. I do think if we buy a new razor, we should not have to hone it for it to shave, but may need to tweak it for our preferences. I've really heard that some retailers complain about others who provide honing services because it effectively lowers the prices.

Brushes:

Ideal world - I would expect the brush, any brush, to come fully functional

Real world - I would actually prefer that boar brushes come broken in. I don't like the process, I hate the smell, but the performance to price ratio of a well broken in boar brush makes up for the little bit of work it takes to get the brush ready for use isn't a problem for me.

Strops:

Ideal world - I expect a strop to come fully functional, or come with a disclaimer fully explaining what needs to be done to get it ready and maintenance

Real World - Same expectations

Hones:

Ideal world - The hone would be mathematically flat, chamfered, and ready for immediate use

Real world - I actually don't care if a hone is mathematically flat, in fact, I could hardly care less. However, I see no excuse for hones needing to be lapped to any significant degree in order for it to work. If someone wants it to mathematically flat, then that's something they should be ok with lapping to achieve. However, the hone should come fully prepared not to have a negative affect on the blade.

Soaps and Creams
I'm actually too much of a soap/cream snob to have realistic expectations... so I'll not even bother with this one, personally :lol:
 

squeezyjohn

Well-Known Member
Yes - I see what you're driving at. I don't see why ideal should be different from real world though, in this case anyway.

I think razors should definitely come from the factory able to shave most faces to some degree if not perfectly - that should absolutely not be the vendor's area. They should also come with an instruction sheet that tells you how to strop and shave - it should probably also contain links to places like coticule.be and other shaving websites and mention that at some point the razor will need honing. If this costs slightly more - then it should cost more!

Dovo seem to me to be the market leaders by some significant distance and in my opinion it is stupid of them not to do this as they also sell other accessories and higher end razors. The economics of putting a set of good clear multi-language instructions in those little boxes is clearly beneficial to their business given the amount of purchasers that currently just give up rather than educate themselves and who could go on to buy much more in the future. But no - we get a slip of paper which gives us the very basics of saying it should be stropped and not to touch the blade. If they had the foresight to make up a simple starter box like I mentioned in my previous post containing simple but full and encouraging instructions and all the things you would need to shave for quite a long time then you would have a lot more continuing straight shavers in the world!

As for all the other products you mention, they should simply be able to do what they are supposed to straight from the box. With strops I have to say that I think stropping on an un-broken in one is still much better than not stropping at all - and to break one in it is impossible for the manufacturer to do that if it needs to strop daily for a few months! With soaps and other consumables it's too hard to call really because that really is down to ones face.

Cheers

Squeezy

PS - sorry Richmondesi - just cross posted with you but thanks and here's some more rant then!
 

TM280

Well-Known Member
I guess I am a bit more cynical than most, or something. I don't really have any ideals in mind, of course, hopes, but I see that as slightly different than expecting/wishing the world was other than it is.

I care about quality and representation, or rather a lack of misrepresentation. I don't expect quality of any currently manufactured item, though it is always nice to be surprised. Misrepresentation is just a lack of honesty.

Razors: Though one would be pleased to find a newly purchased razor (new or used) to be up to our personal expectations, how would this be possible? Even if one test shaved every production razor? That said, if I buy a "shave ready" razor, I expect it to be ready for me to merely have to tweak it a bit. I have only purchased two razors that were sold "shave ready", one new and one restored. The new one was not what I expected from a "honemeister", and the other one had two half bevel width chips in it and the edge failed after two shaving strokes.
But, regardless, a razor that has been made shaveable (by some decent standard...)must be worth more than one that is not? A razor that is not shaveable is not yet a serviceable tool.

Brushes: Here it is really just an issue of manufacturing quality. I would expect that it is in most people's definition of "shaving brush" that they retain their bristles and hold lather up to the capabilities of the material. Natural materials need to be broken in.

Strops: Don't know what to think here, since I have never purchased a new strop (one new manufacture but used). But I can say, since I am attempting to make quality strops, that like shoes, they must be expected to go through a breaking in period (with exceptions). Also, since as far as I know, there is no leather or fabric manufacturing aimed at providing suitable materials for strops. So whatever we manage to find that works, is a good deal luck. (I do have my suspicions about the Japanese since the Kanayama is almost exactly the same leather as a couple of vintage Japanese strops I have. But the best I can find out is that is is only Horween and a tannery in Cordoba who still produce cordovan. Perhaps there are some leathers being produced in the same manner as strop leather was and is now used for something else? Finding them is a hit or miss...)
But again, quality should be expected, if it's claimed.

Soaps: I don't have high expectations for soaps, but have been very pleasantly surprised by a few. Generally, I expect any soap to be crap. But I do expect them not to burn my face...

I don't approach all of this differently than any other area of purchasing. I am usually disappointed by today's standards of design and manufacturing, and so acquire old or used things, if at all possible.

regards,
Torolf
 

Tok

Well-Known Member
To be honest, I don´t see the point at all. I think as long as you know what you get, everything is ok. Should a razor come shaveable? No, but the seller should write what happened to it, or at least "I don´t know", which lowers the price, of course. That is far more important to me, than shaveability. Is it honed with tape? Usage of pasted strops? All other stuff: the same. Pretty simple to me.

In fact, the "Shaveable" thing is a question I asked myself. This is where I come from: I never really have bought a shaveable razor, I did it all for myself. Thus, I can´t really tell how shaveable my razors are, when I think about selling one.

Regards,
Tok
 
G

Guest

An interesting approach, Paul.

  • [li]When talking about razors, I presume you mean factory items, ie new production. If so, yes, they should come shave ready. But realistically, "shave ready" will mean "can be used to remove facial hair", not "will match my exact expectations". This is simply not possible, certainly not taking into consideration labour costs in Germany. That said, the Dovo razors I have seen over the past two years were shave ready in that sense. Which means that vendors should only have to check for shave readiness, and not hone every razor that crosses their path. Incidentally, I have been shaving with an NOS Henckels that had the factory edge, and which I have managed to keep serviceable with touch-ups on the Coticule only. Used razors are a different matter entirely, and I have been unpleasantly surprised by several razors that were advertised as shave ready by people who are believed to know what they are doing.[/li]
    [li]Strops, like shoes, need to be broken in. As in "the strop needs to be used", not "you need to smear whatever is the latest fanboy item onto it." I have never had any problems with this approach so far, except with the SRD Premium I that took a long time to break in properly, but has delivered very well ever since.[/li]
    [li]Soaps and creams I could write a long, angry article about myself. With two exceptions, all so called artisan products have disappointed. They are typically way overpriced, and underperform. TOBS would be my benchmark for a high quality product, and they retail for approx €10 for 150g. Anything more expensive is either a luxury item (Castle Forbes and Domenico Caraceni come to mind), or simply overpriced. The rest is up to the buyer. Some people like heavy amounts of glycerine, I find it unbecoming. Some people like monodimensional, heavy scents, I prefer more elaborate ones. But the buyer should have a clear understanding of what to expect. Which is where most basement dwelling soapmongers fail, despite the fact that basenotes.net has everything you need.[/li]
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
Yes, Robin, I am talking about new items. So, you're spot on with your points, in my opinion. Of my strops, my Premium I & IV came ready to use, but have gotten even better over time.
 

Drybonz

Well-Known Member
I agree with most everything in Ralfy's first post.

I would like to add that with brushes and leathers strops... I expect a bit of a break-in period... just like when I buy a pair of shoes. I don't expect a brush to be bloomed out or a strop to be in peak broken-in condition as soon as I get it. However, I also don't think a brush, for example, should take 2 months to break in (just like a pair of sneakers... I know there will be a break in period, but a ridiculous long break-in period is not a sign of quality to me).

With soaps... a lot of it has to do with value. If I pay $50 for a puck of soap, my expectation is that it is going to be of far, far superior quality to the MWF for which I paid $10. It would be difficult for a soap to live up to those expectations.
 

rtedwards

Active Member
Please, Log in or Register to view quote content!

Razors: I have learned quickly that "Shave ready" is more or less a non sequitur given how individual our tastes are in edges. I bought a Grelot that was shave ready, but not for me. No harm done, I know now that I will want to touch up any edge I get on a new razor. Maybe "shaveably sharp" describes an edge that is potentially shave ready for the right guy or touch up ready for someone else. The bevel should be set and sharp. If the seller offers a honing service with a finishing technique selectable by the buyer I think the buyer should be willing to pay something for that service.

Brush: I don't get the brush bloom thing. I don't see the point of the before and after the bloom picture. I've restored over 15 brushes and how they look before and after they bloom is not a concern. But then I don't like a lot of bloom, I like the lather to go where I want it to and I have a small face. So I guess that argues for selling pre-bloomed brushes so the buyer knows what the final product will look like. Of at least a photo of that brush model after the bloom.

Strop: I don't know that much about strops. I have a Screaming Pig that was perfect out of the box and a home made Latigo that has taken quite a while to break in. Kind of like shoes I guess, I think I like breaking my own in to my own fit.

Hones: Well I've lapped all mine. I think it could go either way as long as the seller is clear what it will be. Not everyone has a lapping plate so giving the option of a lapped stone for a small fee seems appropriate.

Soaps and creams: Performance is all that matters. Again there is so much difference in individual tastes all a manufacturer can be expected to do is sell a consistent quality product that is clearly described. I do think that major changes in composition should come with a label change to warn the potential buyer that the product is not the same.
 
Top