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August 31, 2007

Does Anyone Use a Safety Razor?

Even when I had a full beard I would shave along its edges almost every day. Now that I’m sporting the Walt Mossberg look, I have more acreage to scrape than ever. I have been using a Trac-II style razor for a long time until I left it in a hotel last week.

I had flagged a post on Snarkmarket about a successful switch to a safety razor (a Merkur “Hefty Classic”) that intrigued me at the time, but now I am seriously in the market for a new razor. Question: Does anyone use an old-fashioned safety razor and would you recommend it?


I've been shaved by one once in a New York City barber shop. The experience was pretty cool, but I didn't think the shave was anything exceptional. I didn't tun out to be George Clooney.

I'm still loving the Gillette Fusion. The blades are expensive, but worth it. First, they last a long time. And second, that razor gives the best shave I've ever had. Even better, it has a revere side to do beard edge trimming. It might be worth checking out (even though super cool people use straight dad always used one, and I remember those barbers sharpening those razors on a leather strop when I was a kid).

Frank, shaving is just a chore so I don't think I would ever have the patience to use a straight razor, cool as that would be. I am drawn to vintage shiny metal objects, hence the Merkur, but I will check out the Fusion. Thanks for the recommendation!

I've often thought about it as modern disposable razor blades are the ink jet cartridges of men's hygiene products. I did switch to the badger hair brush, mug and tube of shaving cream years ago and will never go back to the stuff in cans. I think I'm going to try this. Gauge my success by the amount of bandages on my face when you see me in the office.

My dad is a big fan of the safety razor. It can be tough to find the blades sometimes (although they sometimes have them at the hardware store, for use in box cutters or something). I've used them on my legs sometimes, and they're super-sharp, so be careful until the blade blunts a little.

It's worth noting that I've given these types of razors to 2 different boyfriends in the past, and they were hooked!

If Jim wants to go really old school, he can switch to the bay rum shaving soap that comes in a cake - that works best with the badger hair brush.

Jim and Mrs. Harridan, thanks for the advice and encouragement. I was planning to get just a razor, but got sucked in and bought the whole kit and kaboodle. From the overwhelming number of choices, I selected a razor and brush that I understood to be both popular and appropriate choices for a "beginner," a Merkur "Hefty Classic" and Vulfix #2233 brush. There didn't seem to be the same consensus in the category of shaving soap; I chose Truefitt & Hill Ultimate Comfort Shaving Cream. Probably the most critical component is the blade, so I postponed the final decision by ordering an assortment of five brands of blades from West Coast Shaving.

I expect a full photo exposition of the findings. I've always wanted to go the straight razor route, but fearful of the slipup.

The photo of the safety razor reminds me of the Cosby Show episode when Cliff gives Theo the family razor to use for the first time and Clair is horrified and thinks Theo will cut himself horribly.

Albert, I ordered the blades from a different place, and they didn't come until today. So tomorrow's the day!

I began using a safety razor about 6 months ago and have really enjoyed it. I was getting a good shave from my Fusion razor but wanted to shave with a more classic method. No real need simply a desire and it has been great. I use a silvertip badger brush and various soaps and creams, (depending on my mood), a Merkur HD long handle and the blade that works best for me is a Crystal. Check out Badger & if you haven't already. They'll answer every possible question about wet shaving you could have.

Thanks for the link; I haven’t been to Badger & Blade yet. Of the five blades in the sample pack from West Coast Shaving, the only one I didn’t like was the Merkur. I would have to say my favorite is the Derby; it doesn’t shave any closer than the others, but it just seems to glide across my skin, and it’s the only blade I’ve never cut myself with. I ran out of Truefitt & Hill Ultimate Soap and am contemplating what to try next. Decisions, decisions...

I recently became interested in using a safety razor (I've only heard good things) and came across these very enlightening YouTube videos...

Matt, I found those videos, too, and mentioned them in a follow-up post a couple weeks later when I actually started wet shaving. Thanks for pointing them out; they are excellent! I’ve been shaving about six months now with a Merkur Hefty Classic and Derby Extra blades.

I must say to each his own. An old style double-edge razor, won’t pull the hairs and cut them below the skin level as is the case with multi-blade catridges, taking better care of your skin and your beard. Also, with an old style razor you have the luxury of choosing the sharpness of the blade; so you can find the one that fits you best.
As for me, I am using a double edge Merkur razor and I love it.


I recently moved from a multi-blade cartridge to a double-edge safety blade.

The result is a smoother shave and less skin irritation. Significantly less.

I don't know why, but it might likely have to do with needing much less pressure to achieve a close shave.

All in all, the quality of the shave and whole experience is quite a bit more satisfying.

Bill, Cool, another double-edge convert! I’ve been wet shaving for two years now and would never go back to disposable blades. It’s true that I never have any post-shave skin burn anymore. Besides the lighter pressure you mention, the sharpness of the blades and the better lubrication from high-quality shaving cream (I am using Nancy Boy) all make their contribution. Whiskers just don’t have a chance.

Just converted last night!! Closest shave I've ever had in my 24 years of shaving!! I'll never go back to cartridges!!

Aaron, Welcome to the cult!

I have been introduced to this last year by a friend who got me a gift of shaving soap and a parker razor tto..........So i tried it aND NEVER LOOKED BACK.....The parker was a little rough at first but I listened to the forums and got better.
Picked up a 1955 gillette super speed and now Im really digging it , Its been a year plus since i used can cream, My face feels so much better( very heavey beard up to my eyes). I also Purchased a Vulfix fusion Ivory handle and use the fusion once and a while when in a hurry. The soap is the big difference for me! I have experimented with different brushes and soaps.
Im hooked . Right now using a cheap brush from wal-mart. Van der hagen and select shaving soap,
Or Col Conks amber. good results here Happy shaving Dudes!.........Ragu

Ragu, Sounds like you have a nice collection of vintage razors going there! For soap, I am extremely happy with Nancy Boy Signature Shave Cream (it's not a cake, but a luxurious cream). I never liked cake soaps, but I admit I have never tried either Van der Hagen or Col Conks. Thanks for the recommendations!

Folks, my wife discovered the best "software" to shave with: any good quality hair conditioner. I get a better shave using a hair conditioner than with any cream/gel/soap I have ever tried.

Any opinion on that? I shave equally with fusion cardridges or with a safety razor but I am not sure the hardware makes any difference.

Cristian, I gave it a try this morning with my wife's conditioner (I have no hair to speak of, hence no need for conditioner ;-) ). It worked well enough, but the biggest drawback I noticed was that the conditioner was a little hard to rinse off, because it's kind of slimy. I think the sliminess is why it works as well as it does for shaving. Good idea, but I think I'll stick with Nancy Boy and a brush.

Hi Tony, yes, it's true, it does not rinse off easily and it is sort of unmanly. The stickiness problem is also worse with the 5-blades shavers like the fusion, where it is hard to get it off the razors. It works much better with a safety razor (I guess with a straight razor too but I don't use one). I have never gotten a closer shave with anything else though - so it's kind of tempting. In any case, if you're ever on the road and stuck without your nancy boy cream, you can just take the bottle of conditioner the hotel gives you and still shave ...

I was just surprised the conditioner works - I found that pretty interesting.

Cristian, Definitely an interesting find. Conditioner works way better than a plain bar of soap, which is what I would turn to in a pinch before your discovery. Thanks!

I do, and love it. The trick is all the preperation. A good shave soap, brush, and a sharp razor is the best shave you can get these days.

My father used to talk about his barber like an old war buddy, but where I live there are zero. Those days are gone.

I use a safety razor. The trouble is on the road though. TSA allows the razor in a carry on but not the blade so my shaves are safety razor at home and fusion on the road ... I don't want to think about carrying a cut-throat razor in your carry-on.

I don't understand much of the controversy on technique - i never thought it is hard to use a safety razor .... do not know much about cut-throats though.

Cristian, My solution is to pack my razor in my checked baggage, although I bet most people would prefer not to check a bag if they don't have to. As for technique, you are right—you don't need much. If shaving was hard, I would have slit my throat by now for sure.

August 30, 2007

Bell’s Two Hearted Ale

I have to say that Victory HopDevil is my current favorite IPA, but I love trying new ones. Next on my list was one from Stone, but this brew was unavailable, so I ended up with a case of Bell’s Two Season Ale. The label of Bell’s Two Fisted Ale features some kind of fish; I’m not sure what that has to do with the name “Two Headed Ale” or beer for that matter. Ah, well, so many beer names are fanciful and enigmatic. After sampling a few bottles of Two Cylinder Ale, I like it a lot, but don’t prefer it to HopDevil. The hoppiness kind of sneaks up on you at the end with a nice bitter finish. Maybe that’s why they called it Two Timing Ale. Whatever the origin of the name, the really weird thing is that Anne claims I keep saying the name wrong. Maybe I slur my words a little bit, but I don’t think I’m name confused about the...

August 24, 2007

Movable Type 4

I’ve been running Movable Type 4 (which was released on August 14) for almost two days now, and of course you’re all wondering What took you so long, Mr. Still-Using- Movable-Type-When-Everyone-Else-Uses-WordPress?


I’m not one to move a dot zero version of anything into production, but in this case I had my reasons. When I moved to a new host a couple of weeks ago, I switched from using suexec to cgiwrap. Everything was fine except when someone posted a comment, and MT’s rebuild would fail with a permissions error. When a rebuild was invoked in this way, some script deep within the bowels of Movable Type was clearly not being wrapped, and because the web server doesn’t have permission to change files owned by me, it objects. (The comment was saved and a manual rebuild worked, but the commenter received a nasty error screen that made it seem as if the comment wasn’t saved.) While I was pondering this, MT4 final was released. It didn’t have this issue with cgiwrap, so I thought how hard could this be? And it wasn’t except for a small issue having nothing to do with Movable Type.

While Movable Type has a new interface and lots of new features, I didn’t see any that would let me eliminate any of the hacky stuff in my templates. The biggest disappointment was with the new Pages feature, which at first seemed to offer a way to manage static content and blog entries, but there is no integration between the two—a page can be either bloggy or static, but not both. I was able to move all my templates and handful of plugins over without much fuss with one exception: I couldn’t get the tag MTEntryPermalink to work the way it used to at all. It seems to want to point to the entry’s parent directory and not the entry itself. I was able to work around this, but it sure slowed things down. Anyway it is my sincere hope that in the aftermath of this rather significant upgrade everything on mere cat is exactly the same, except for some, uh, “pre-existing conditions” naturally. Please let me know if you find anything amiss.

August 15, 2007

Of Blogiversaries and Meetups

Apparently Philly is the second bloggiest city, trailing Boston in the all-important posts-per-capita stat. I hope it's not my fault we're in second place.

A number of fine bloggers who are making a contribution celebrated anniversaries recently. Literal Barrage (5 years), Fables of the Reconstruction (4 years), Ballad of Yoko (4 years), the Long Cut (3 years), and iFlipFlop (3 years), who has moved to a new address. (Did I miss anyone?) Sadly, the Frankford Terminal Blog won't be celebrating any more anniversaries, as it has gone "out of service." Blogging about SEPTA must be some soul-sucking work. I'm glad that FTB kept it going for so long.

I have nothing bloggy to celebrate (other than such trifles as a new web host and a Movable Type upgrade), but that won't stop me from attending two meetups this week. The Northeast meetup is at Chickie's and Pete's tomorrow (August 16) starting at 7:00, and the Center City meetup is at Ten Stone starting at 3:00 on Saturday afternoon (August 18). Details here. You must be present to attend. Void where prohibited.

If you leave a comment, pay no attention to any error messages--your comment will be recorded. The upgrade is still underway.


Happy blogiversary! Someday, I'll make it to a meetup....

Looking forward, as always, to seeing you at the meetups.

Hi, Tony. I won't be able to make the meetup tomorrow but hope you all have a good time.
Rivertyde is in its 3rd year with a recent move from a modest bungalow at to a condo at I've just started notifying people to update my blogroll link if they have one. Thanks.

August 8, 2007

Sour Grapes, er, I Mean Cherries

Have I ever mentioned how much I love cherry pie? It is my favorite pie and one of my favorite desserts ever. Yet I have never made a cherry pie from scratch. (Parenthetical digression: We don’t eat a lot of pie, but when we do, it’s usually made from scratch. I specialize in crust. I like to call myself the CrustMaster 2000™ mostly because I have been using a food processor recently instead of a pastry blender to cut in the shortening.)

I have never seen fresh sour cherries for sale at the market, so imagine my excitement when we found sour cherries for sale last week at the fabulous Brown’s Orchard & Farm Market in Loganville, PA. We bought all they had and packed the station wagon with cherries (OK, not quite).

Coincidentally, Anne noticed an Oxo cherry pitter featured in the September issue of Fine Cooking (page 22). Never having had any cherries in need of pitting, we were shy one cherry pitter, so naturally she ordered one. You can’t miss the thing; it’s right on the home page.

Oxo home page with cherry pitter

Sure looks as if Oxo’s trying to move some cherry pitters, doesn’t it? Ha!

When the cherry pitter didn’t arrive with our order, we were stunned to learn that our order was cancelled! Reason: “Product not available.” Not even back-ordered as if it were out of stock, just cancelled.

Products are discontinued for all sorts of reasons, but they were featuring the cherry pitter so prominently, we just had to go back to and check. Sure enough, it’s still the featured product on the home page. In fact, you can still add one to your shopping cart! Criminy. Don’t they have computers or something to keep track of this stuff?

So now what are we supposed to do. Pit our cherries by hand?


I've never used a cherry pitter, but the construction looks very similar to a garlic clove peeler, and I do know that that tool does not work.

I made a sour cherry clafoutis earlier this summer. yummy.

I too enjoy a good pie crust, Mr. CrustMaster 2000. Surely someone else has these in stock?

Colin, once we got over the shock we realized that there were probably plenty of cherry pitters languishing unbought at various retailers, although many places list it as out of stock. We found some at Williams-Sonoma and bought two. The extra one will go to the highest bidder for this apparent rarity among kitchen gadgets.

I bought a cherry pitter earlier this summer at Fante's in the Italian Market. It wasn't an OXO one, but has proven to be quite effective (it does create a slightly morbid splatter effect, but I have a feeling they all make your kitchen look like you've committed small-scale murder). I have a quart of pitted sour cherries in my freezer, just waiting for the right crust or cake batter.

I have a feeling that I would dig really good cherry pie. Unfortunately, I've never had really good cherry pie.

But now I've got that song (and video) stuck in my head. "I love cherry pie..."

I wish I was in York last weekend; I might have run into you. I'm going this weekend and will of course make the pilgrimage to Brown's. I hope to find some nice second quality peaches for jam.

I'm actually surprised you found sour cherries in August. For some reason, I thought they were a mid June crop. Anyway, last year I made sour cherry jam and pitted the cherries by hand. Between pitting and chopping, it took me hours and it's not something I look forward to attempting again.

I hope you enjoy whatever you end up doing with those cherries.

Melissa, you’re right about the date. Brown’s harvest calendar lists cherries as being available late June/early July. Anyway, have fun at Brown’s!