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Thread: Why do my attempts at using an open comb result in blood loss?

  1. #1
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    Default Why do my attempts at using an open comb result in blood loss?

    I have a Gillette open comb razor (either Old Type or Single Ring... I really don't see the difference). This thing will be the death of me if I keep trying to use it. Twice now, I've carefully attempted it with a mild blade, and I've wound up "donating blood" every time.

    I've gone with so little pressure that the thing is just barely touching, have a good lather, and I think my blade angle is good.... yet, here I sit with world-class razor burn and a few weepers still stinging from styptic.

    I especially have trouble with my upper lip, and also with doing an against-the-grain pass.

    Can some people just not use open comb razors? Are they not intended for use against-the-grain?

    My daily shaver is a Gillette Slim Adjustable, and I usually survive the morning ritual without blood loss.
    Last edited by DamnFineBob; 08-17-2011 at 06:41 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Something is definitely amiss in your technique, because all the other things you mentioned seem spot on.

  3. #3
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    I don't know. I've always found my open combs (single ring, tech, Goodwill 162) to be less forgiving then any of my other razors. My go to razor is a Fatboy (I also have a normal super speed and a red tip) and even on 9 I don't seem to have a problem with it. I find with the open comb, although not all the time, I do tend to nick myself more often and I have to take a lot more care when shaving with them. I do find them to feel more aggressive ATG then my other razors as well. I don't know if it's all in my head but my face tells me there is a difference. All that being said, with either style, I will very rarely show any signs of razor burn and any nicks are fairly small and usually close up with a splash of cold water and witch hazel. Just keep at it and hopefully you'll find that sweet spot.
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    Strange....
    It could be a defect with the razor, something like bend teeth, or it's misaligned?

    I found my OCs very easy and hassle free to use.
    That said, I have not tried an Old Type.
    (I just got one, but it's on the backburner because of the new Muhle OC's).

    Maybe you have a picture, so the OC experts can tell if something could be wrong?
    Have a nice day! - Wim

  5. #5
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    I just used an Old Type this morning and it is my go-to razor. I have shed some blood with it, but this was mostly when testing out different blades. Once I found my blade that works well with this razor I rarely get any nicks or weepers (and very little to no razor burn). I would suggest trying a few different blades to figure out which one works with this particular razor. It may not be your favorite blade with other razors.

    Just a thought.
    CZ

  6. #6
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    I think this has less to do with the fact that it's an open comb and more to do with the Old Type head being quite unforgiving about any deviation from its optimum angle. I find it to have a very small sweet spot and if you get too far outside it towards the comb the claws come out. What you're shooting for is the feel of the cap and blade on your face and none of the comb.

    The Single Ring is one of the varieties of the Old Type family, by the way. The name "Old Type" was what Gillette referred to the old model razors they continued to sell cheaply after the New Improved came out, but we now use it to refer to all the razors made in that style. So you've got Double Ring, Single Ring, and Ball-end Old Types. Though most people will just drop the "Old Type" altogether when talking about the Double and Single Rings.
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    Some are more aggressive than others and some require a slight adjustment in technique. OC's are my preferred razors especially the Gillette News.
    Dave

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    I would tend to believe that it is a problem with the razor itself. Yes angle is important with an older Gillette open comb, but the shaves I get from all of mine are beautifully smooth and I only drew blood when my angle was off drastically.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacDaddy View Post
    I think this has less to do with the fact that it's an open comb and more to do with the Old Type head being quite unforgiving about any deviation from its optimum angle. I find it to have a very small sweet spot and if you get too far outside it towards the comb the claws come out. What you're shooting for is the feel of the cap and blade on your face and none of the comb.
    Ah, ha! Perhaps that is the problem. I could have changed my angle a bit on the ATG pass... possibly... very slightly. It must have a very narrow sweet-spot, indeed. Apart from the teeth on the open comb, the head is similar to the Tech, which I also find more angle-sensitive compared to the Slim's big TTO head. "Unforgiving" is a good word for it, considering how it has punished me. Given the time at which open comb razors peaked in popularity, they were likely marketed to people who had previously mastered straight razors... not Mach 3 cartridges!

    Quote Originally Posted by MacDaddy View Post
    The Single Ring is one of the varieties of the Old Type family, by the way. The name "Old Type" was what Gillette referred to the old model razors they continued to sell cheaply after the New Improved came out, but we now use it to refer to all the razors made in that style. So you've got Double Ring, Single Ring, and Ball-end Old Types. Though most people will just drop the "Old Type" altogether when talking about the Double and Single Rings.
    That clarifies alot. They're the same razor! Here I thought there was some invisible difference that was beyond my comprehension.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wimbouman View Post
    Strange....
    It could be a defect with the razor, something like bend teeth, or it's misaligned?

    I found my OCs very easy and hassle free to use.
    That said, I have not tried an Old Type.
    (I just got one, but it's on the backburner because of the new Muhle OC's).

    Maybe you have a picture, so the OC experts can tell if something could be wrong?
    I can't post a picture at the moment, but I assure you all the teeth are perfectly straight, and all the parts fit as they should. I also paid close attention to putting the blade in square and even.
    Just a traveling cat in a tall black hat riding a goat. Nothing to see here.

  11. #11

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    Just a thought - maybe a sharper blade (something not so mild) might do the trick. Sometimes wet shaving is counter-intuitive!

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    Easy answer: the Old Type is a very aggressive razor. It is more aggressive than the Slim on the highest setting. Shaving with a shallower (10 instead of 30 degrees) angle and practice should improve the shaves.

    On what setting do you use the Slim?
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    I enjoy using my Gillette and Conard OC. You seem being what is correct. You did not mention your angle. I found an OC requires a differnt angle then for i.e. a SS. I found that you need angle little steeper then a SS. I found passes North to South, West to East, East to West work the best for myself. As far as the lip area I angle the head so thar it touching the lip. I found there is no need for ATG pass.
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    Quote Originally Posted by noahpictures View Post
    Easy answer: the Old Type is a very aggressive razor. It is more aggressive than the Slim on the highest setting. Shaving with a shallower (10 instead of 30 degrees) angle and practice should improve the shaves.

    On what setting do you use the Slim?
    I change my Slim's setting throughout the shave:
    7-9 for the 1st, WTG pass,
    5-6 for subsequent diagonal passes, and
    3 for ATG passes.

    Occasionally a little buffing of small trouble spots here or there at #2, after rinsing, with just a wet face.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by noahpictures View Post
    Easy answer: the Old Type is a very aggressive razor. It is more aggressive than the Slim on the highest setting. Shaving with a shallower (10 instead of 30 degrees) angle and practice should improve the shaves.
    Quote Originally Posted by coyotewhisper View Post
    I enjoy using my Gillette and Conard OC. You seem being what is correct. You did not mention your angle. I found an OC requires a differnt angle then for i.e. a SS. I found that you need angle little steeper then a SS. I found passes North to South, West to East, East to West work the best for myself. As far as the lip area I angle the head so thar it touching the lip. I found there is no need for ATG pass.
    My angle was definately less (i.e: blade more parallel to the face, handle more horizontal) than with my Slim. I would have guessed between 10 and 20, but maybe I'm guessing wrong.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DamnFineBob View Post
    My angle was definately less (i.e: blade more parallel to the face, handle more horizontal) than with my Slim. I would have guessed between 10 and 20, but maybe I'm guessing wrong.
    This sounds right to me. I don't really care for guessing angles etc. but the head in the Old Type bends the razor blade less than other razors (or maybe this is just how it makes sense in my head). So, you have to hold the handle at an angle that is more perpendicular to your face than compared to a newer TTO. If you are having trouble with it, you may have just taught yourself to shave with the handle at a different angle. Try using the Old Type for a while, the adjustment may come organically.

    FWIW, there are plenty of different ways to measure and understand aggression, it is a classic case of YMMV. Noahpictures finds it more aggressive than a Slim on the highest setting. But, I would not say that the Old Type is anywhere near that aggressive. Perhaps unforgiving at times, but not really overly aggressive.
    Good Luck.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacDaddy View Post
    I think this has less to do with the fact that it's an open comb and more to do with the Old Type head being quite unforgiving about any deviation from its optimum angle.
    You beat me to it! It's not the comb that's messing you up, it's the whole razor. Learn how the razor works, and you'll get great shaves.
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  18. #18
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    I've never had any trouble with an Old Type. Due to the way the blade lies flat against the comb, there is only one angle that is really effective and there isn't enough blade exposure to cut the skin. I have seen Old Type clones that don't hold the blade flat but allow it to curl upwards away from the comb and I can well imagine them resulting in an injury. Is it possible that yours has such a problem?

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    I've not used an Old Type, but I have two OC razors and don't have any problems with them. First one I got was a Merkur "1904", which seems pretty mild to me - I've used it to shave off 2 months of growth WTG, then turned it round for an ATG pass with no problems. The other is a Gillette New long-comb that I just got (gold, looks unused - lacquer untouched and original blade with it, still in card), and I shaved with it today for the first time - and it's instantly become a favourite.
    Alan Oscroft (maker of strops)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greyfox View Post
    Some are more aggressive than others and some require a slight adjustment in technique. OC's are my preferred razors especially the Gillette News.

    I got a beat up gillette new tossed in when I purchased a SA... I'm sorry to say its now my favorite razor and my SA/slim/flair/40s/tech are now sitting on the side... OC-RAD onset time..
    Ike

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