My recent Durham Duplex experience.
Okay, a while back I had been interrested in purchasing one of these, but was told acquiring blades might be problematic. I dropped the idea and went to real straights.
Not too long ago I was telling my step-brother about straight shaving and he was interrested. I decided I'd try to get him started. I was going to give him one of my messier, but usable straights to try out. I even had a strop I could loan him. I figured I'd buy him a cheap VanderHagen brush and soap to start him off. I figured though it might not be too long before he'd need that razor honed again, and I do have a strop I could lend him, but eventually I'd like it back. I DID pull out the razor I intended to give him though, and used it to make sure it was still shaving sharp.
As it happens, we had the carpet replaced at my place of employment. Sure enoughthe knives they were using used slotted DE blades that looked like they would fit a Durham Duplex. I asked the job boss where he gets them, and he said you can get them in any Home Depot in the carpet section (I have not verified this). He said they are about $20 for a box of 100 blades (again, I haven't verified this). When I told him why I was interrested he gave me a couple of blades. I also happened to tell him I knew an antique store near him that happened to have a couple Durham Duplexes for sale and he seemed interrested as he thought his Fusion cartridges were too expensive(I haven't heard from him since, and probably won't have cause to cross paths with him again, but who knows; maybe I made a convert).
So, now I had blades to try. I hit eBay and picked up a Duplex for under $10. I made sure I bought one that included what research has be believing is called a "stropping attachment." My research also turned up one person who mentioned the carpet blades and considered them not good enough to shave. However, I figured I wasn't putting out much money, so it was worth a try. I received the Duplex, cleaned it up and installed a blade with the safety attachment. The blade moved around slightly without too much force which was a bit disconcerting, but I made sure it was at least straight and parallel with the guard and was determined to give it a try.
The next morning I gave it a whirl. It took a bit of getting used to to find the correct angle with the safety guard, but I must say it did make me feel pretty safe, and I whipped through my stubble pretty quickly. Another thing that was interresting is because the guard is on one side of the blade, you hold the razor differently to do the opposite side of your face (difficult to explain, but basically you hold the razor upside down). The shave was a bit on the harsh side, but not too much worse than I had been getting with a few of my straights; and actually equevilant to one or two I have.
The next day I decided to put the stropping attachment on instead of the safety attachment, and the razor performed and felt MUCH more like a straight, and I got a decent shave. I ALSO stropped the razor when I was doen for 30 passes on ly paddle. It felt though as if the stropping angle was a bit harsh, and I didn't like the sound it made as I was stropping. It sounded rough. I made a mental note of it. The next morning I gave the blade another 30 passes before shaving. I felt the blade was more dull than before. It almost seems to me this was due to the stropping. As an unscientific test, I used a fresh blade on the fourth day with the stropping attachment (but without stropping) and I feel I got a really decent shave!
My overall impression is I like the Duplex and I think it shaved well! I'm going to pass it on to my step-brother to introduce him to straights without the need for a strop and hone. I'm considering picking one up myself.
Points of note:
-The Duplex appears to be plated brass, which is nice because rust is not a concern.
-If you acquire one, I DEFINATELY recommend you seek one that includes the "stropping attachment." My extremely brief experience in using it to actually strop a disposable blade made me feel it might not be worth it for that, but for shaving it made the razor for me. With that holding the blade on instead of the guard it felt just like using a straight.
-The one I purchased also came with a number of original blade that were used, but not rusted. They actually appeared to be of a better quality than the carpet blades. perhaps the original blades are worth stropping and maybe even honing. That's more effort than I want to put into it at the moment, but I'm planning to pass the old blades on to my step-brother and give him the option to clean and maybe refurbish them.
Last edited by Finnigan; 04-25-2008 at 01:44 PM.
-.-. --.- -.-. --.- -.. . -.- -.-. ..--- -. -.-- .--. -.-