06-21-2015, 03:41 AM
#1
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A month or so ago one of our extremely talented artisans - Brian Brown - announced that he was starting a line of 'production' razors. These differ from his 'customs' in that the blanks are pre-cut in Germany. He still grinds, tempers and finishes them, so while they may not be available in a custom size and shape, they are still essentially hand-made in the USA. 

In some ways, this is similar to the Hart Razors that have been around for a while. I've had two Hart Steel Razors - one 6/8" and the other 7/8", and I'll be using them as a comparison in this review. 

Brian offered one to me to try out and see if I had any feedback on the razor. It was a square-point 6/8" razor. I didn't take pics of the razor myself (I forgot), so I'm using Brian's pic of the razor here:

[Image: brown_razor_works_1.jpg]

LOOKS and GRIND: This is a lovely, functional shape. The razor has a straight edge, clean lines and the tang and tail are really well-done. Jimps are filed on the top and bottom of the tang, and they're deep. They look good. The tang has 'Brown Razor Works' engraved, and it looks professional. The blade has a mirror-finish that matches the best I've seen. 

The scales are green G10, and are lovely without being too ornate. I like that they're actually pinned on both ends (unlike the Hart razors that I had). They are well-balanced with the razor, and I was really happy with the overall balance of the razor.

The grind is where this razor separates itself from the Hart Steel and other razors. Most of the current customs and semi-customs are 1/4 hollow grinds. I don't actually care for 1/4 hollows. I prefer more hollow grinds. This razor has a grind that is very close to a full-hollow. I'm not sure how Brian does this, but he's obviously got very good at grinding. I was very impressed with this aspect of the razor. The only (slight) flaw here was a very slight variation in the bevel width, which probably reflects how hard it is to get these fine grinds just right. 

EDIT: The grind is hollow, but has a little belly in it too. I confirmed with Brian that all the BRW razors will have a belly grind. The overall grind makes this razor sing a bit when you strop it. 

STROPPING and HONING: One thing I've found with some custom razors (and I've had a few) is that sometimes they look great, but are not that easy to handle. What I mean is that maintaining a consistent stroke when stropping or honing is a constant struggle. This is usually because of a lack of balance between the blade and scales - either the blade is too heavy or the scales are too heavy). 

This razor gets the balance just perfect! The combination of the fine grind and the lovely scales makes this razor so well-balanced that it feels a lot lighter than it is. This also makes it a pleasure to strop. Also, the tang is just the right width and the grip offered is just about right, allowing for easy flipping of the razor on the strop. The finish on this razor also is very good - not causing any damage to the stropping surface. 

When I received the razor, it already had an excellent edge on it and it really didn't need to be honed for any reason. However, I wanted to see how the edge responded to honing, so I reset and finished the edge. 

It was just like any other well-ground razor. It was easy to reset the edge and it honed up quickly and well. 

SHAVING: This is the main point of getting a razor like this. So, how does it shave? 

The answer is that it is an excellent shaver! My thoughts on straights and shaves are that as long as they can take and hold an edge, and as long as they suit your preferences for size and grind, and are honed well, they all shave really well. This razor matched my preferences very well - I loved the grind! I loved the size! I loved the edge!..........and so it shaved like a dream!

What I found is that again the balance was so good that it was a very nimble razor around the face. Maintaining a no-pressure stroke was very easy and the shaves were all close and comfortable. 

The grip afforded by the jimps, while subtle, was just enough to make a difference, while not being spiky or uncomfortable. The scales stayed out of the way, and the feel on the face was smooth and comfortable. 

Quite honestly, this razor shaved as well as any straight has ever shaved and it was more of joy to use than some much more expensive straights. 

CONCLUSIONS: I was not sure what to expect from this razor. I was expecting a vanilla hand-made straight - like the Hart Razors. It was a bit better than that. It was better-finished, and way better balanced than the Hart razors. The biggest difference between them is the grind - I like hollow grinds, and so I preferred this razor to the Harts (which are 1/4-hollow). If you prefer thicker grinds then this razor may not suit you. 

The quality of the shave and the ease with which I could strop, shave and handle the razor in general made this razor a joy to handle. I usually find it hard to stick to one razor for a week, but I found this so easy to use and so enjoyable, that I really didn't feel tempted to use another blade through the week I had this one. 

The prices on these vary from $265 for the 6/8" to a bit more for the larger blades (you can get it in 7/8" as well). I think that's a fair price for one of these semi-custom blades. If I had the money, I wouldn't hesitate to buy one. As it is, I will probably save up to buy one when I can. 

I give this razor a big thumbs-up!! Brian has done a great job with it!

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 06-21-2015, 03:52 AM
#2
  • Thug
  • Active Member
  • South Africa
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I've really liked the look of this razor from the get-go and I think the clean lines are perfectly suited to the G10 scales.

I'm glad to hear that it strops, hones and shaves as good as it looks as it is definitely on my "to acquire" list.

Thanks for the great review Yohann.

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 06-21-2015, 04:04 AM
#3
  • eengler
  • Administrator
  • South Dakota, USA
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Nice Review Yohann!
I purchased the 7/8"BRW and after shaving with it added the 6/8" BRW. They both have an amazing edge and provide a wonderful shave.
[Image: sS3cn5w.jpg]
[Image: KJIWdDJ.jpg]

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 06-21-2015, 04:06 AM
#4
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Nice review there's much to like about the razor full hollow for sure square point very nicely peened both ends, I'm no fan of Hart razors tried a few got to say I haven't been at all impressed with them, there's also the cost $265 not bad for a hand finished semi custom razor.

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 06-21-2015, 04:49 AM
#5
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(06-21-2015, 04:06 AM)Jamie Mahoney Wrote: Nice review there's much to like about the razor full hollow for sure square point very nicely peened both ends, I'm no fan of Hart razors tried a few got to say I haven't been at all impressed with them, there's also the cost $265 not bad for a hand finished semi custom razor.

Jamie - I didn't think the Hart Razors were good either. They really didn't do anything for me.

Also, the grind is sort of in between a 3/4 hollow and a full-hollow. It's not as hollow as some of my vintage blades, but more hollow than any current artisan seems to offer (with the exception of Mastro Livi).

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 06-21-2015, 05:59 AM
#6
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
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Thanks for the review. I do like the looks of the razor especially the shoulderless design. A hollow ground blade is, as you say, more difficult to do than a 1/4 hollow. A bellied hollow is, I would think, even more difficult to produce so my hat is off to Brian for being able to do that. Some of the blades I like best are bellied hollow ground, so another plus. The price seems reasonable considering what you are getting too. Just may have to save up for one.

I would like to know if the wedge is a wedge or just a spacer? Also does the tang taper towards the tail and from top to bottom?

Bob

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 06-21-2015, 07:49 AM
#7
  • Steve56
  • Senior Member
  • Knoxville, TN
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Excellent review Yohann, thank you!

Cheers, Steve

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 06-21-2015, 07:52 AM
#8
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Yohann:
Great review, I just traded into my second BB custom and he does VERY nice work on his one off razors. Great to hear that he is keeping that quality up in his production line-up, I would also like to know the answers to the questions that Bob asked.
Thanks for the information and opinion on this new and exciting line of razors from Brian.

FrankC

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 06-21-2015, 08:15 AM
#9
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The wedge is a wedge - of a different material (or colour) than the rest of the scales. 

I'm not too sure about the taper. I cant say I paid close attention to it, but my impression is that there is a taper from the tang to the tail. 

Perhaps Ed can weigh in on this, as I don't have the razor anymore to check this.

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 06-21-2015, 08:16 AM
#10
  • eengler
  • Administrator
  • South Dakota, USA
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 06-21-2015, 08:43 AM
#11
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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Yohann, excellent review.  I have one of these on my wish list.  Maybe someday.

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 06-21-2015, 08:53 AM
#12
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
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(06-21-2015, 08:15 AM)yohannrjm Wrote: The wedge is a wedge - of a different material (or colour) than the rest of the scales. 

I'm not too sure about the taper. I cant say I paid close attention to it, but my impression is that there is a taper from the tang to the tail. 

Perhaps Ed can weigh in on this, as I don't have the razor anymore to check this.

Well sort of, some custom makers have been using a parallel sided spacer in place of the traditional wedge. I see from Ed's photos that Brian uses a traditional wedge and it looks like the tang tapers in the traditional way too.  This being so is even more reason to put this razor on a short list when looking for a razor made by an artisan. Thank you Ed for the photos. Have to add that I like the way the jimping is done too.

Bob

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 06-21-2015, 09:17 AM
#13
  • eengler
  • Administrator
  • South Dakota, USA
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No problem Bob. I would be happy to take more if you would like to see other details.

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 06-21-2015, 09:28 AM
#14
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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(06-21-2015, 09:17 AM)eengler Wrote: No problem Bob. I would be happy to take more if you would like to see other details.

You have to ask?  WE LOVE PICTURES.  Biggrin

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 06-21-2015, 09:54 AM
#15
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
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(06-21-2015, 09:17 AM)eengler Wrote: No problem Bob. I would be happy to take more if you would like to see other details.

Me, I have seen enough thank you but I am sure more photos would be appreciated by others as Johnny has said. I am not likely to drop that kind of coin on a SR but am very happy to see some still building them the traditional way and from the review with a quality build too. Almost makes me wish I wasn't so cheap.

Bob

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 06-21-2015, 05:24 PM
#16
  • eengler
  • Administrator
  • South Dakota, USA
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(06-21-2015, 09:28 AM)Johnny Wrote:
(06-21-2015, 09:17 AM)eengler Wrote: No problem Bob. I would be happy to take more if you would like to see other details.

You have to ask?  WE LOVE PICTURES.  Biggrin

The Jade is 7/8", Black is 6/8" both in French Point. 
[Image: 14zLC27.jpg]
[Image: tFmKIUT.jpg]
[Image: Uhaf6p1.jpg] [Image: cgkzTQW.jpg]

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 06-21-2015, 09:50 PM
#17
  • Thug
  • Active Member
  • South Africa
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Lovely photographs Ed.

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 06-21-2015, 10:23 PM
#18
  • eengler
  • Administrator
  • South Dakota, USA
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Thank You Tony!

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 06-21-2015, 10:38 PM
#19
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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Thanks Ed.  I knew you would post some quality pictures.

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 06-22-2015, 08:28 AM
#20
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First off, a big thank you to Yohann for taking the time to test out the razor.
I sent the razor out to 5 different guys. Basically it went to guys I trust to give me a honest opinion (most have tested things for me before Smile.
All have (or had) one of my customs and in general have handled a lot of different razors (both customs, modern and vintage)

Just to answer a couple of questions. Yes the wedge is a wedge and it's not a glued, just fitted and pinned. The tang/tail is tapered as well
There are some guys using spacers instead. As long as the tang isn't tapered is can be "OK" but can still cause some problems with natural material (not as many with synthetics)
The grind.. both the 6/7 & 7/8 are belly grinds. Honestly almost all full hollows are belly grinds. It's just some have the belly really knocked down but if you rub your fingers across it you can almost always feel it.

If you have a question that are not answered your welcome to ask of feel free to contact me though my site

On a side noted:
eengler... dude, great pics!!
I love to use one if you don't mind.

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