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My Happy Birthday

deighaingeal

Well-Known Member
I just heard from my father that he wants to buy me a custom razor for my birthday. I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I would want for my ideal custom razor. I have a lot of designs drawn up, but I have no idea who I would want to create my dream. I have limited myself to certain makers partially for price, but also for how long their lists are.
I won't say who I have decided for or against, but if any of you are willing to share your experiences with some of the makers. Also I am asking just in case I don't know of all of them.
I ask for many reasons, but mostly because I cannot afford to do it again if I dislike it, but also I am still very new to honing and cannot fix the mistakes of a maker who has no trouble honing a warp or any other imperfection.
If this question is inappropriate please feel free to delete this thread, but I ask this here because I feel this is the only place that I can get honest opinions/experiences. I also understand that each is only one person's opinion and as such should not be construed as the way that it is.
If someone feels the need to, please feel free to contact me via email through the site.
I also want to know of your opinions regarding newer steels, styles and comfort in grip/tang styles.
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
I've owned or tried razors from all the makers, so I feel pretty well qualified to answer this.

What are you looking for? A work of art, or a great shaver? If you want a work of art, just get whatever maker's razors appeal to you. They each sell with a full satisfaction guarantee (I think), but I can assure you that most of them are not going to be great shavers. Tim Zowada's are about the best from a shaving standpoint, but they're not as visually striking as some of the other makers.
 

deighaingeal

Well-Known Member
For me it is always function first. I am looking for a combination that I haven't seen available. And I also want to try some of the newer steels. My largest considerations are that it fits well in my hand, gives a great shave and, to a lesser degree, is close to my design. Of course the mighty dollar dictates a lot when it comes to makers as well. I would like it to stay below $700USD. A lot of that will be accomplished in materials, I am not looking for a flashy piece: no damascus, basic scales, simple shape, no custom boxes or inlays. The shape I am choosing is primarily for function. I have a very flat face and extremely large hands, therefore I feel more comfortable with a heavier razor. I also am thinking a thumb notch for added control. I have never tried a spanish point so I may go that way, but if not it will be square.
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
What a wonderful present :thumbup:

I have nowhere near the experience that paul has, and I dont think you will find better advice than he can give
I must say how good I feel that you posted this, its very nice to know how you feel about Coticule.be and its members
Thanks G and which ever way the razor goes I hope you get a treasure to enjoy forever

Regards
Ralfson (Dr)
 

BlueDun

Well-Known Member
Gerrit,

there's a new kid in town. He's a young knife maker from Austria who recently got into razor making. He already has built himself a name among the German users for superb quality at reasonable prices. And his blades are just stunning. Check out his razor gallery:
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.
A Koraat razor surely is on my wish list ... :blush:

Cheers
BlueDun
 

decraew

Well-Known Member
What about a Japanese straight in tamahagane steel ? Beautiful in its simplicity.

At rasurpur.de I saw one for 715 EUR but you should be able to get it for less.
 

Woodash

Well-Known Member
I absolutely love some of Robert Williams' work:
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. Tim Zowada is also making a run of razors from steel that he smelted himself using heavy/black sands from the Lake Superior shore. Like Paul said, these are not as fancy as perhaps his Damascus blades are, but it's a very interesting concept.
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
I have a RW custom that I absolutely cherish, but I will admit that Robin's review is of my second
 

Woodash

Well-Known Member
BeBerlin said:
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Unfortunately, no, I have not had the pleasure. Of course, I've never driven a Lamborghini either, but I'd sure like try one - however it may be.

So, you posted that review just yesterday, huh? Good timing for this thread. I understand your disappointment and I see that you are very direct. As your review relates to this consumer, I would say that I still like Robert Williams razors very much (as do a great many other people who apparently have not had your same experience); however, after reading your comments, I almost certainly would be sure to try at least one razor if I ever put in a custom order. While you have convinced me that a 'clam' may actually go out on occasion, I'm not sure that that's necessarily representative of the broader body of his work.

But, I really don't know. What was your experience, Paul?
 
G

Guest

Woodash said:
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Got back from vacation on Monday, tried it, wrote the review.

Woodash said:
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Define "direct". I have no allegiances, commercial affiliations of any kind, and no personal preferences towards any single manufacturer or dealer. I like to tell things as they are. And this razor is dull, the craftsmanship is below that of Wacker, let alone Revisor razors I have seen so far. But it is not my razor, so I am really just sorry for the owner.

Woodash said:
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I wonder what made you draw that conclusion. Nowhere in the review will you find a generalisation. After all, that razor is a custom razor. But even small enterprises like Wacker have internal QA, something a custom maker maybe does not (at least not in the German sense of the word). Which is fine, as long as everyone involved in this deal is aware of it, and ready to take the risk. But I can also assure you of one other thing: Do not trust reviews, unless they come with very, very clear pictures and are written by independent reviewers. Or, more to the point: Would you trust a review of a razor by a guy who builds the scales for the manufacturer commercially? And no, this is not a random example.

Regards,
Robin
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
Steve,

I got the razor, looked at it, noticed the bevel and grind, text Robert about the blade almost hitting the scales when you close, and mailed it out to Robin to try. I didn't shave with it, strop it, fondle it, anything... I just mailed it.

For the record, the review was Robin's idea before he got the razor. In fact, he offered to pass it around to some German vendors to help penetrate the market if Robert was interested. But he changed his mind and wasn't going to review it because it wouldn't be very flattering. I've shared with him (while working on another project) my thoughts that reviews need to indicate what we believe about a product and should be written irrespective of whether we like it or not, and that's absolutely how I feel. I believe people lose credibility if they only tell you about good products while not sharing their opinions of others.

The purpose of me sending it out (and it's on its way to Bart) was for them to experience Robert's work, including his proprietary steel recipe. They were both given permission to do with it what they wanted from honing to disassembling it... whatever they wanted. The last thing I had in mind was anything negative coming to light about Robert; he's a friend of mine, and I respect him a lot. The review is what it is: Robin's opinion of the style and his evaluation the edge. I have zero perspective on anything mentioned about it other than the grind, bevel, and blade centering that I observed.

I wrote a very positive review of my first custom from him. It fits perfectly in the "never gonna let go" category. Obviously, I was pleased enough with it to order another one. I'll have more of an opportunity to evaluate this one after Bart finishes up, and I'm positive that if I'm not satisfied Robert will stand behind his work.
 

Woodash

Well-Known Member
BeBerlin said:
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Review things however you see fit. Nothing wrong with that.

The point of my last post was simple: that although you wrote a detailed (and useful) reivew of a Robert Williams custom, I do not consider that your observations and conclusions about this razor extend to the full body of his work - custom or otherwise. That's about it right there.
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
Woodash said:
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I agree. My other one is a fine example of craftsmanship, and the edge was good when I got it, and it has held the edge great. It's also easy to hone.

Now... Back to the OP. Before you order a custom, what types of razors do you like? You said heavy, but do you mean wedge, or bigger full hollow?

Bob Allman (OCD Razors - He's on SRP, but I don't think he has a website) is a very under-appreciated maker (mostly because he makes razors primarily for fun and himself. They are large, full-hollows, and they take a very nice edge. Some of his designs are bit out there, but if you want something simple, he can certainly do that. He's a great guy and a friend. If you want full-hollow and big, he's the guy, IMHO.

If you want a wedgier razor, any custom maker does that. I've long wanted to try a Buddel razor, but I don't know that much about his work. Alex Jacques does some innovative designs, but that's not exactly what it sounds like you're after. I have one of his razors that is reminiscent of the
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...

The truth of the matter is that if function is truly the most important, you should most likely get a Zowada (price and availability are issues), but after that, I would honestly go with a couple of really nice NOS razors from Revisor.

If you want the appeal of a custom maker, I would recommend working with Robert or Alex depending on the style you prefer. Both are extremely talented, and from my conversations with them, I'm convinced that they'll stand behind their work. However, with all of them, I wouldn't necessarily expect shaves any better than a really nice production razor.

I've got a lot of respect for all of the makers, and these are the ones that I've had personally great experiences with.
 
G

Guest

Although you haven't answered the question how you came to draw a generalisation from a review of a custom (ie unique) product, let me expand on what Paul said.

I have written quite a few reviews in my time. Looking back, they are not too shoddy overall. I'll readily admit that one was based on trust (ie the product I was given was a dud, I reviewed it as though it wasn't, and when the replacement arrived, I was proven right), and one on good will. The rest are completely honest - and as independently written as possible. No, I would never have bought all the soaps, creams or strops I reviewed, and I am still grateful to the guys at The Different Scent in Berlin, and to the guys at SRD. But I would not do them like this again from today's perspective. I believe that a product that gets reviewed should be purchased, not given. And never should the reviewer generalise, since almost all of the products we use are man made. And man makes mistakes. It's only human. If you want a particularly egregious example of how not to do it, I again invite everybody
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. Please mind that its originator never provided visual proof.

Regards,
Robin
 

danjared

Well-Known Member
The custom makers I've been curious about are Tim Zowada, Butch Harner and Joe Chandler. They all strike me, based on what I've seen, as well-crafted. Paul (or others), do you have any experience with the latter two?
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
Yes, I've owned two Chandlers and used a Harner for a couple months (on loan from a Buddy).

Chandler's work is probably more visually appealing to me than anything I've ever seen, but I didn't find them to be as functional as I had hoped. Privately, I've had conversations with guys who echo that sentiment, but no one really says it publicly. I guess it might be seen as slighting him in some way, which couldn't be further from my intent. His work is amazing and worth owning as a work of art because they're that well done and gorgeous razors.

Harner's razor was nice too, but I'm just not a big fan of wood scales.
 

danjared

Well-Known Member
richmondesi said:
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Could you expand on what you mean by not as functional as you had hoped? Did they not hold edges well?

My complaint about the Harner's that I've seen (in pictures) is also the scales, although I've mostly seen scales that look more like fancy knife scales (fancy metal liners, more than two materials used, etc) and not plain wooden scales. I'm impressed by Harner's grind work, especially his concave ground razors.
 

deighaingeal

Well-Known Member
Wow this thread is moving fast.
@ Ralphy: I thank you sir for everything, but mostly for guiding me to this sanctuary. And I in no way blame you for helping me encounter Dennis.

@ Bluedun: I will check him out thanks for sharing that. I will go to my parents' house tonight so my mom can translate.

@ decraew: I have looked at them, but I fear that they won't fit my face well. I have a very flat face which seems to fit well in the larger euro blades. I will see if I can find one to try beforehand. I have an opportunity to try one maker before I buy, but I will try to call in some favors for the rest before I buy.

@ Steve: I have looked at these blades and am not looking for a showy piece of damascus. I am sure, with the hype, his orders filled fast.

@ Paul: I am looking into something hollow, but heavy. I called Bob. He is about the nicest guy I have ever met.

I will say that Chandler and Zowada are not in my group, but not because they aren't good blades.
I think it would be awesome to get a pair of blades; one from Bob and one from Charlie showing aspects of each other's work. From what I hear Bob has the slickest way to ensure an even grind.
 

DJKELLY

Well-Known Member
OK, Gerritt, what encounter. All I got was a message from your cell phone saying it couldn't post right now. Do I have to quit teasing you about the rough flight? Hope not, Denny
 
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