Entries Tagged 'Books, videos and websites' ↓
April 20th, 2011 — Books, videos and websites
November 30th, 2010 — Books, videos and websites
Feather of Japan make famously sharp DE razor blades. This is a corporate video that contains some interesting footage of blade manufacture.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall made a TV series about Edwardian living, here he pays a visit to Trumpers in London to have a traditional shave.
Shaving with a sword.
The Semogue 2010 Limited Edition shaving brush. Just 100 of these are being made.
October 27th, 2010 — Books, videos and websites
About a month ago here Michael Ham wrote an article about how he came to write this book, the story behind its creation and development. He then sent me two copies of it, one of which I took to Spain with me last week and read.
Traditional, real shaving is a popular movement in the Western world that has really taken off. Suppliers are having difficulty keeping up with demand and the online activity is increasing steadily. Against this background the Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving is very important because it is the only book that is at the centre of what is going on.
Michael has been very clever in that the book is not designed to compete with the online resources, instead he has written a book that complements them. The main problem with online shaving resources is that they are mainly forums with a very poor bandwidth of valuable content and woefully bad organisation of that content. This book is the exact opposite with a huge concentration of valuable information that is presented in a well organised manner.
The Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving really conveys the authors love and enthusiasm for the subject. He seems to be genuinely in awe that the daily tedium that is shaving using a multibladed system razor can be totally transformed into a joyful and luxurious daily ceremony.
The book is primarily aimed at the neophyte. It is the absolutely perfect gift for someone who is new to traditional shaving. More than that it is also ideal for those poor people who are still stuck with multibladed system razors. It shows them that there is a far better way. Whilst the book may be targeted at the beginner it has an outstanding characteristic that makes it valuable for anyone who is interested in the subject which is that it is so rich in resources. It tells you where to find a whole wealth of shaving information. Bruce on Shaving is listed, for instance.
Whilst Michael is American and so the book is US centric, it still has great value for readers elsewhere, this is because of the global nature of retail in shaving goods and the global nature of the online shaving communities.
I have said repeatedly in this blog that real, traditional shaving is very personalised. Products and methods that work for you may not work for the next man. This is part of the joy of what we do: we exercise infinite choice. So when Michael gives advice it is very good and well founded advice but it is not necessarily always what I would do. But this is obviously to be expected and the book gives the reader a very solid grounding from which to develop and experiment.
Overall The Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving serves a very valuable purpose, not only is it a great resource for every traditional shaver, it is also a great tool for evangelising and proselytising what we do. For converting poor multibladed system shavers over from the dark side. Lend or give a copy to your friends and they will thank you.
October 20th, 2010 — Books, videos and websites
It is difficult to know what to say about this. Certainly in some markets you would reduce sales by doing something so sexist.
October 16th, 2010 — Books, videos and websites
Godrej in India make some excellent shaving creams that are highly sought after and appreciated by shavers in the West. Their Menthol Mist, in particular is regarded as being a bit special. For their home market they promote their products with amusing TV commercials.
And, for a bonus, a Bengali razor advert:
October 11th, 2010 — Books, videos and websites
I have done a lot of research and put a lot of work into producing this article. Everything in it is purely my opinion and should not be taken as fact. Also that opinion will change over time, so this is just a snapshot. Do your own research and find what suits you, your opinion may well differ. Forums have the potential to be a useful way of trading information, they are also excellent for trading shaving kit, in fact this latter are what they are mostly suited for. However often they are, largely, nasty places and here’s why:
- People are mostly anonymous and often behave in genuinely nasty ways that they would never do if their name was attached. There is some truly sociopathic behaviour out there that people should be ashamed of. If they walked into a bar or pub and behaved like this they would be in trouble very quickly.
- The forum moderators can have serious power complexes. Rather than encouraging a community to work they are often over officious bullies who wield their power badly. Banning people who they disagree with is often the norm.
- Inevitably cliques form and then go to war on non members of their little fraternity. They really do behave like troupes of monkeys. To make things worse the moderators are often clique members.
- Forums have a very poor signal to noise ratio. You often have to read a lot of rubbish to get anything of value.
- Huge discrepancy in knowledge levels. Nearly every week, for instance, some newbie starts a thread about the numbers 1-4 on a double edged razor blade without first searching the archive. This sort of inane behaviour can really clutter a place up.
The history of these forums is just like the history of Christianity, schism is rife. People get banned or get fed up with the forum they are on and so set up one of their own. There is a lot of history and bad feeling here. But it does mean that there are quite a few forums and that they have different characteristics. I will divide them into two kinds, those that I think are badly flawed and that should in my opinion be avoided and those that are good and worth spending some time on.
Firstly the ones I think that you should avoid:
- Badger & Blade. Probably busier than all the other forums put together. Very aggressively moderated, a lot of the key people in the industry are banned which devalues the content. I don’t like the way they take money off some vendors and ban others, it amazes me that they can accuse others of shilling (usually falsely in my opinion) when they do this. And I don’t like the way that some of the most important things in traditional shaving are censored out, iKon razors for instance. And I personally wouldn’t believe anything that a moderator there says.
- Shave my Face. Just like B&B but 95% quieter. There is no reason to visit here.
- The Shaving Room. The nastiest of the forums. Lots of off topic banter within the clique. Moderators allow appalling, shameful behaviour. If you are a genuinely objectionable person join here.
Now the good ones:
- Damn Fine Shave. Liberal, minimal and intelligent moderation makes this a real community and a nice place. One slight downside is that threads can ramble off topic a bit at times, but that is the price for the ethos here. It could do with more activity and I am sure that this will come.
- The Shave Den. Perhaps the most authoritative forum of them all, there are huge amounts of great information here.
- Straight Razor Place. Whilst they have double edged razor discussion this is primarily targeted at an eponymous niche. However it is very well informed and well worth a visit. If you use a cut throat then obviously this place is perfect.
If you want knowledge then the shaving blogs are probably far better than the forums and I have listed some of these in a separate article. They have a far, far better signal to noise ratio and don’t suffer from bad behaviour. If you are using blogs and forums then please use the search function within them to find what you are looking for, there are many thousands of articles and hundreds of thousands of posts out there which contain just about the total sum of knowledge of traditional shaving.
Once again this is all in my humble opinion and your opinion may well differ, this is a fundamental aspect of the human condition.
September 30th, 2010 — Books, videos and websites
Shaving cream was recorded by Benny Bell in 1948 but was considered unsuitable for general audiences. It was re-released in 1970 and sold more than a million copies.
ARTIST: Benny Bell with Paul Wynn
TITLE: Shaving Cream
I have a sad story to tell you
It may hurt your feelings a bit
Last night when I walked into my bathroom
I stepped in a big pile of
Shaving cream, be nice and clean
Shave everyday and you’ll always look keen
I think I’ll break off with my girlfriend
Her antics are queer I’ll admit
Each time I say, “Darling, I love you”
She tells me that I’m full of
Our baby fell out of the window
You’d think that her head would be split
But good luck was with her that morning
She fell in a barrel of
An old lady died in a bathtub
She died from a terrible fit
In order to fulfill her wishes
She was buried in six feet of
When I was in France with the army
One day I looked into my kit
I thought I would find me a sandwich
But the darn thing was loaded with
And now, folks, my story is ended
I think it is time I should quit
If any of you feel offended
Stick your head in a barrel of
As I have said before on here badger shaving brush knots are mainly made in China, they are available in the West from companies like The Golden Nib or, in quantities, directly from China. This means that to make your own custom brush all you have to do is turn your own handle, after which you can simply glue the knot you have bought into it. Many hobbyists are doing this.
But it also opens the door to small, artisan, businesses to provide low volume hand crafted brushes that can be unique works of art. Kimson in Vietnam is one such company, they specialise in making handles out of horn which they sell for $30 to $50. But the jewel in the crown is their black buffalo horn brush handle inlaid with abalone which you can see being made in the videos below. For this they charge $60, or $80 with a silvertip knot already glued in. Kimson handles are absolutely beautiful and have been well received by those lucky enough to own one.
September 26th, 2010 — Books, videos and websites
Michael Ham (Leisureguy) is one of the most influential people in the traditional wet shaving renaissance, his blog, Later On, covers a wide range of topics but has lots of real shaving content and it is probably the most popular blog covering the subject. In addition he is the author of the book: Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving: Shaving Made Enjoyable, now on its 4th edition and pretty much the standard tome evangelising, popularising and explaining the move back to shaving how our grandfathers did.
To mark the publication of the 4th edition I asked Michael if he would write an article for this blog telling the story behind his book. Here it is:
It all started with a letter to my son. I had discovered shaving cream (TOBS in a tube, specifically) and wanted to mail him a tube to try. I asked if he had a shaving brush, and he had only a cheap drugstore brush.
So I googled “shaving brush” and discovered that the tools I used in the 50’s were still in active use—and this time, lots of information was available. One reason I hated shaving so much in those days was, I now realize, that I didn’t know how to shave. And getting information on how to shave, should you decide to look, was incredibly difficult. I just discovered (via one of the shaving forums) a February 1957 article from Science and Mechanics—freely available now on the Web, but unseen by me at the time (my senior year in high school).
I read with fascination, bought approximately 1 bl (boatload) of shaving tools and supplies, and started learning and experimenting. The letter to my son was to tell him of what I had learned, and I posted the shaving content of the letter on my blog. (The phrase “gourmet shaving” is from my brother-in-law, who’s worn a beard his entire adult life. When I tried to get him interested by touting all the lovely shaving creams and shaving soaps, he told me he wasn’t that interested in “gourmet shaving.”)
As I continued to learn new things and find new products, I kept revising and extending that post, until my son-in-law told me I should publish it as a book. I didn’t much like the idea—who would buy a book when the information can found on the Web.
He pointed out that for most guys, a book would provide an organized introduction and consistent information. Plus you could give a book as a gift.
That appealed to me greatly. I had grown a beard in the first place simply because shaving was a boring, tedious, daily chore. To my surprise and pleasure, I now was actually looking forward to each morning’s shave, which had become an enjoyable ritual. I went from shaving only on Monday, Wednesday, Friday to shaving every day but Sunday, and skipping Sunday only because I like shaving a two-day stubble at least once each week.
Lulu.com was around, and I decided to take the plunge. The whole idea was to show guys who hated shaving that they could actually enjoy it—thus the subtitle “Shaving Made Enjoyable.” I went with Lulu, and the first edition of Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving: Shaving Made Enjoyable came out and was rapidly revised. With print-on-demand, the technology used by Lulu, you can update the content easily at any time, so I went through editions 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, etc., up to 1.8, at which point I realized I was going to run out of edition numbers. So the final version of that first book was edition 1.85.
I wrote that first version based on my own experience, so it omitted any discussion of problems foreign to me—acne, ingrowns, razor bumps, and the like. One reviewer on Amazon dinged the book severely for not having the very shaving information he needed, and I immediately recognized that his criticism was just.
So Edition 2.0 came out, specifically to add a chapter on shaving problems. And, of course, I updated the reference material in the book (the vendor list, for example).
Edition 2.0 turned out to be relatively stable, but Lulu.com seemed to be going through some changes not good for my readers. The postage for a single copy of the book, for example, went to $11—about the same price as the book.
So the primary motivation for edition 3.0 was to move from Lulu.com to CreateSpace.com, which offered reasonable postage rates and also (like Lulu) a plan that allows the book to be purchased through Amazon.com. (CreateSpace is in fact owned by Amazon.com.)
I did, of course, update the references and add a bit more information—for example, I recommended a shave stick as ideal for the beginner, and I added some information on boar brushes that’s new to that edition.
For edition 4, I reorganized some chapters and added new matter:
- A reorganized and extended section on razors to include new razors that have come to market, including some really excellent ones like (alphabetic order) Feather Premium, iKon, and Pils.
- A reorganized brush section, fully acknowledging the excellence of “artificial badger” brushes, that name now being used for the best synthetic fibers.
- A section on having your razor replated—I held up the book so I could include photos of some of my own replated razors.
- New insights: For example, I finally figured out why some men detest shave sticks: if your beard is sparse or soft (or both), a shave stick simply will not work. The beard’s stubble has to be long enough and tough enough to scrape soap off the stick—that’s the soap from which the lather is made. If no soap is scraped off, no lather results, and the shave stick doesn’t work. And, as you probably recall from your own experience, when a man first begins shaving, his beard is generally fine, soft, and sparse: totally unsuited to a shave stick.
That last point is particularly important to me: the idea is to make shaving a pleasant ritual, and having something not work, though you’re following the instructions exactly, is highly frustrating and annoying. With this additional information in the book, readers can decide for themselves whether a shave stick will be of interest to them and can avoid frustration.
I thought of the book as primarily a gift—guys already on the forums would, I figured, have little interest in the book for themselves, since they probably know already most of what’s covered in it. It is, after all, a book for beginners in traditional wetshaving.
Since the recipient may well not have previously considered this method of shaving, I devote the beginning chapters to persuasive writing: trying to interest the reader in giving traditional shaving a try. Thus I address potential objections and do all that I can to smooth the path. Roger Fisher made an excellent point in Getting to Yes: if you want a horse to jump a fence, you should make the fence as low as possible. I tried to write the book to remove all potential barriers to taking up traditional wetshaving.
I was pleased to hit upon the (perhaps obvious) organizational scheme of presenting the material following the natural chronological sequence of a traditional shave. I think it makes it easy to follow and, by the end, the reader has in effect experienced (through reading) all the steps of a traditional shave.
Given the thinking behind the book, it’s no surprise that this is probably my favorite reader review:
“I bought this as a gift for my fiancé, along with a wet-shaving starting kit and a safety razor. He DEVOURED this book, and finds himself reading it again and again. He finally enjoys shaving. This book has helped him figure out so many things about wet shaving, and has recommended it to all of his friends and family. Truly a great source of information for any man.”
That’s the goal: a guy who hated shaving now enjoys it: a daily pleasure instead of a daily chore.
September 23rd, 2010 — Books, videos and websites
I must admit that this is plagiarised from a well known shaving forum. Thanks chjome.