So maybe I overanalyzed the video's and posts... but using the merkur 34c... i didn't apply any pressure and it took me a good 4 passes to get a close shave. I'd still consider the shave to be 'so-so'. I was able to get a good lather built using bigelow cream and used the merkur platinum blades that came with razor... maybe the blades just aren't sharp enough for my relatively thick folicles? I have a whole 100ct box of astra's to give a whirl. Fortunately no serious cuts.. a few minor nicks but wow did it feel amazing when the cold water splashed on my face after finishing... throw on some nivea w/ coq10 and felt pretty great. Now if I can just get a closer shave without having to pass 4X for mach3 quality.