Picking My Razor: Three Piece Suits Me

I don’t buy for myself easily.  Law school credit for moot court participation should really be given to me anytime I spend more than about $5 on something I want.  Wills have been given serious consideration and reached their final conclusion in less time than I’ve spent deciding if I want to buy a $1 app for my phone.

So despite the potential financial savings of switching to a DE razor, it still took me weeks to come to a conclusion.  A substantial part of that was spent deciding which razor I wanted, which in turn was also trying to convince myself that spending money in the first place was actually worth while by finding the razor that justified it the most.

Complicating this was the fact that there are TONS of options.  These razors have been around for over a century, and so there are hundreds of types floating about in the internet ether available for purchase.  They range from models introduced this year, to vintage razors that predate my parents.  Razors that are mainly plastic and cost a few dollars, to razors that, based on their cost, must have been carved out of unicorn horn in the forges of Mordor.

My first step was simple: I asked on facebook.  Turns out several friends were already shaving like this, and so their input and suggestions were an invaluable place to start.

I wanted something that I felt would last me a long time, many years hopefully.  Changing to a whole new setup only to have the razor break would be extremely frustrating, or worse missing a great experience because I tried to cut corners on equipment, but so would spending a fortune only to find out that I couldn’t stand DE shaving and wanted to go back to cartridge.

Using their tips I turned to amazon, and quickly settled on three brands: Parker, Merkur, and Edwin Jagger.  All had excellent reviews, looked great, and were within the price range I’d set for myself ($40 or less).  But between these three brands are dozens of models, so I had to dig a bit deeper.

The first to get ruled out were the Parkers, for two reasons.  First, I decided that I wanted an all metal razor.  Something that looked and felt like it was crafted out of the fender of a classic American land barge.  The Parkers looked dang snazzy with the black faux ebony handles, but I wanted some thing a bit different.

The second reason deals with the mechanics.  There are three types of DE razors: two piece, three piece, and butterfly.  Two piece razors have half the head permanently mounted to the handle, with a rod running through the shaft from base to head.  The rod screws into the top head piece, locking the two pieces together with the razor between them. Three piece razors have a handle, bottom head/safety bar, and top head piece.  Rather tan a rod that screws from the base, the three piece screws in at the top edge of the handle. A butterfly razor has a permanently mounted head that opens like a Venus fly trap, the razor is deposited inside and then it closes back up on it.

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A three piece razor, with blade. The top piece has a screw set in the middle, which goes through the hole in the safety bar to form the razor head, the blade in the middle of them. It then screws into the handle, forming the razor.

I decided early on that I didn’t want a butterfly styled razor.  While they are reviewed well and have been around for decades, I wanted as few moving parts as possible.  Less things to break, less things to get gummed up with hair and soap, etc.  Honestly, I have no idea if that’s even a significant issue with those razors.  But the mental image was in my mind, so I decided just to avoid have the brain itch and just focus on to the other two.

After a good amount of asking and searching, it came down to the Merkur 34c and the Edwin Jagger de89L (the De89 Barely was my favorite, but I couldn’t justify the extra expense simply for a different handle pattern).  They both had a lot going for them.  The Merkur 34c was recommended by a friend who loves his, and from everything I’ve read it is one of the benchmarks by which other razors are now compared.  All metal, small, weighty, industrial styled and a two piece, it’s the Willy Jeep of modern shaving.

The Edwin Jagger de89L is relatively new, having been out for only a few years.  It uses the same three piece head design as the more expensive Muhler razors, with a lined, grooved handle that has a more classic style.  While not as widely reviewed as the Merkur, it seemed to compare well and the company had some excellent reviews concerning their customer service (sending hand written apology letter when errors were found, etc).  Plus, it was on sale at the time bringing it just under the Merkur in price.

I bounced between the two for probably a week and a half before committing, and I have not had a single regret.  I love the feel of it in my hand, the weight of the metal, and the solid feel that it has when taking it apart or putting it back together.  It feels like it was built to last.

What finally tipped the scales for me was that I liked the three piece design.  While it has more pieces it has no moving parts, which I really liked.  Though my friends assured me that they’d never had any issue with water or soap building up in the Merkur’s hollow handle, in the back of my mind I knew it was going to bug me on top of all the other stresses of trying to figure out how to use it and take care of it properly.

That being said, I wouldn’t mind picking one up down the line.  Now that I’m getting a little more comfortable with things, and have a razor that I love, a little experimentation wouldn’t be a bad thing.  But given the cost, that’ll probably have to wait a few years.

Till then I’ll be enjoying my Jagger.  Worth every penny!

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3 comments

    1. I wouldn’t mind trying it out at some point, but I don’t know that I’ve got the patience or nerves to do it on a daily basis. My worry is that if it were something I was doing daily that I’d be more apt to getting careless or rushed.

      Sidebar: Earlier today I was a rushing a bit and suddenly felt a bit of a pain as I was shaving near my adam’s apple. Immediately my mind flashed: there will be blood. Turns out I didn’t cut myself at all, must have just tugged a bit, but from that phrase I jumped to Daniel Day Lewis, then Lincoln, then Lincoln fighting Magwa, and eventually had Last of the Mohicans stuck in my head all morning.

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