05-21-2017, 04:47 AM
#1
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Now I have both and I also have a cheap 25$ handle from eBay made by stokes(?).
I just don't see what is so special about the quality/finish.

Is it the shine?
I understand the hand polish is very good but I would not know and difference between this and a machine polished head.

Thanks - I love my blackbird but I am just trying to understand this - no hate - just insight please

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 05-21-2017, 06:13 AM
#2
  • chamm
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  • Central Ohio
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This is a fair and interesting question. I can offer my own insight, as I'm friends with both James and Shane, and I have annoyingly asked both of them lots of questions about their processes. (I'm really into those sorts of things.) They have very different approaches to how they make their razors.

Also, I want to say up front the I'm not trying to imply that either approach is better or worse. Unquestionably, these are my two favorite razors, for different reasons. And both business owners are good and honest people, who are doing their level best to earn a living making razors. Neither person is engaged in unfair pricing policies.

It's a little difficult to appreciate the difference by looking only at the end product. Think of a shark and an orca. They need to accomplish the same things, so they both have similar features. But one is a fish and the other is a mammal.

James is a gifted machinist. He was making aerospace parts when he was commissioned to make a razor. He made an incredibly good one, and developed a love for the hobby. Being such a talented machinist, though, his time is worth a considerable amount of money. In order for him to stop making aerospace parts and switch his production to razors, he needs to at least make as much money as he was making before. I believe the price of the Wolfman reflects that.

Shane, on the other hand, is a businessman who was looking for a project to build a business on. He was interested in machining and mechanical design, but he isn't a machinist. He designed the Blackbird, then, rather than learn how to hand-make each razor, he searched for a machine shop who could make them in higher volumes. He also had to search for, and find, a provider who could finish each razor, which takes several hours per razor. Each of these shops employ dozens of people who can work in parallel, and make the product in higher volume.

In the end, both produce a very high quality, extremely effective razor. Shane's costs are lower and his output higher, because his time is spent managing production, calculating costs, quality assurance, etc. James's costs are higher and output lower because he is doing all that, in addition to making and finishing each razor.

Neither approach is inherently good or bad. I don't think either end-product is "better" at shaving. Both are currently making great razors and operating successful businesses. If you want a Wolfman, you should expect to pay a higher price. That doesn't necessarily translate to better quality, just economics.

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 05-21-2017, 06:41 AM
#3
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That was a damn good explanation Craig, thank you Smile

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 05-21-2017, 06:48 AM
#4
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(05-21-2017, 04:47 AM)inspectoring Wrote: Now I have both and I also have a cheap 25$ handle from eBay made by stokes(?).
I just don't see what is so special about the quality/finish.

Is it the shine?
I understand the hand polish is very good but I would not know and difference between this and a machine polished head.

Thanks - I love my blackbird but I am just trying to understand this - no hate - just insight please

Not familiar with Stokes or where they are made. With regards to a machine polish vs hand polish you would absolutely tell the difference on a razor head, but maybe not a handle. I know because I've been trying to mechanize and automate our polishing. It's all come out terribly so I'm going back to laboriously hand sanding and then polishing. It's simply the best way to maintain the design integrity of the razor and get a high quality polished finish.

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 05-21-2017, 07:10 AM
#5
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Craig, thanks for a thoughtful post.

Shane, thanks for your informed perspective as an insider.

The bottom line is that they are both great razors.  Any preference for one over the other is based on personal subjective criteria, and does not reflect that either one is better.

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 05-21-2017, 07:55 AM
#6
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I agree wholeheartedly and do not question the price at all.


What I meant To say is that with all due respect - I can't tell a difference between my d89 and wolfman/blackbird as far as finish is concerned.

I understand that a combination of extreme effort and ingenuity goes into designing and finishing the product and bringing it to market.

I just think that when I look at the Razor - I cant appreciate the beauty - I absolutely understand the design and the performance and the comfort - again top notch. I agree that a premium is rightfully warranted for their efforts as far as design and production goes.
I unfortunately can't fully appreciate what others can - the finish.

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 05-21-2017, 08:03 AM
#7
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(05-21-2017, 07:55 AM)inspectoring Wrote: I agree wholeheartedly and do not question the price at all.


What I meant To say is that with all due respect - I can't tell a difference between my d89 and wolfman/blackbird as far as finish is concerned.

I understand that a combination of extreme effort and ingenuity goes into designing and finish it the product.

I just think that when I look at the Razor - I cant appreciate the beauty - I absolutely understand the design and the performance and the comfort - again top notch. I agree that a premium is rightfully warranted for their efforts as far as design and production goes.
I unfortunately can't fully appreciate what others can - the finish.

This is fair. A chromed finish looks excellent and there's nothing wrong with that. I think for most people it comes down to an appreciation for the labor and effort behind the product. When you hold a well made and hand finished product you know there was a person behind that product putting his or her passion into it and taking no shortcuts. In other words, it tells a story and there is a connection there between maker and user. The same is true of most high end products- watches, jewelry, art, etc. For most people, the mass produced razors will suffice and they look beautiful and perform nearly as well as the high end stuff. But they don't tell a story and they aren't something you're likely to pass down with pride or cherish. Thankfully there are plenty of options Smile.

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 05-21-2017, 08:08 AM
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(05-21-2017, 08:03 AM)Blackland Razors Wrote:
(05-21-2017, 07:55 AM)inspectoring Wrote: I agree wholeheartedly and do not question the price at all.


What I meant To say is that with all due respect - I can't tell a difference between my d89 and wolfman/blackbird as far as finish is concerned.

I understand that a combination of extreme effort and ingenuity goes into designing and finish it the product.

I just think that when I look at the Razor - I cant appreciate the beauty - I absolutely understand the design and the performance and the comfort - again top notch. I agree that a premium is rightfully warranted for their efforts as far as design and production goes.
I unfortunately can't fully appreciate what others can - the finish.

This is fair. A chromed finish looks excellent and there's nothing wrong with that. I think for most people it comes down to an appreciation for the labor and effort behind the product. When you hold a well made and hand finished product you know there was a person behind that product putting his or her passion into it and taking no shortcuts. In other words, it tells a story and there is a connection there between maker and user. The same is true of most high end products- watches, jewelry, art, etc. For most people, the mass produced razors will suffice and they look beautiful and perform nearly as well as the high end stuff. But they don't tell a story and they aren't something you're likely to pass down with pride or cherish. Thankfully there are plenty of options Smile.
Actually I disagree with one point . I don't think that any mass produced razors have ever come remotely close to the artisanal razors as far as the performance is concerned.

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 05-21-2017, 08:10 AM
#9
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(05-21-2017, 08:08 AM)inspectoring Wrote:
(05-21-2017, 08:03 AM)Blackland Razors Wrote:
(05-21-2017, 07:55 AM)inspectoring Wrote: I agree wholeheartedly and do not question the price at all.


What I meant To say is that with all due respect - I can't tell a difference between my d89 and wolfman/blackbird as far as finish is concerned.

I understand that a combination of extreme effort and ingenuity goes into designing and finish it the product.

I just think that when I look at the Razor - I cant appreciate the beauty - I absolutely understand the design and the performance and the comfort - again top notch. I agree that a premium is rightfully warranted for their efforts as far as design and production goes.
I unfortunately can't fully appreciate what others can - the finish.

This is fair. A chromed finish looks excellent and there's nothing wrong with that. I think for most people it comes down to an appreciation for the labor and effort behind the product. When you hold a well made and hand finished product you know there was a person behind that product putting his or her passion into it and taking no shortcuts. In other words, it tells a story and there is a connection there between maker and user. The same is true of most high end products- watches, jewelry, art, etc. For most people, the mass produced razors will suffice and they look beautiful and perform nearly as well as the high end stuff. But they don't tell a story and they aren't something you're likely to pass down with pride or cherish. Thankfully there are plenty of options Smile.
Actually I disagree with one point . I don't think that any mass produced razors have ever come remotely close to the artisanal razors as far as the performance is concerned.

Well that is certainly good news for me and my razor making peers!

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 05-21-2017, 08:31 AM
#10
  • chamm
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  • Central Ohio
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Also, it's worth pointing out that there is definitely a qualitative difference when comparing machined stainless steel (Wolfman, BlackBird, and several others) versus cast and chrome plated zinc alloy. (Merkur, Mühle, Edwin Jagger.) Take a look at any zinc alloy razor that has been used for many years versus the old machined brass razors. Zinc alloy generally doesn't hold up well over years of use. It is also more brittle than steel, so more likely to break off a post or a tooth if you drop it.

Zinc alloy is extremely inexpensive to work with, and is generally regarded as inferior across all applications, not just razors. It will serve its function OK, but there is a substantive difference between an EJ89 and a machined stainless razor.

For an objective, non biased opinion, just google "stainless steel vs. zinc alloy" or "steel vs Zamak." This is a universal question that applies to many other applications, not just razors.

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 05-21-2017, 09:27 AM
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  • Steelman
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This is a great thread. And great points have been made.

Here are some additional thoughts. .

There is definitely the quality differences in these hand made products...but the end user may not know the difference.

That is not to imply ignorance or disdain....only inexperience.

Consider this....if someone were to offer me a $400 bottle of wine - I might take a sip and say..."it's Ok but I prefer my Yago Sangria"

I'm just simply too inexperienced to know the difference.

So if someone is happy shaving with their Gillette New or EJ89.....and is then handed a Wolfman or Blackbird...the response may be similar. Something like.."yeah its nice but I don't see the hype"

It would be interesting to have the OP's thoughts a few years from now. These highly machined razors are definitely works of art most appreciated by the "cognoscenti".

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 05-22-2017, 08:21 AM
#12
  • Gabe
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  • Arizona
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(05-21-2017, 09:27 AM)Steelman Wrote: This is a great thread. And great points have been made.

Here are some additional thoughts. .

There is definitely the quality differences in these hand made products...but the end user may not know the difference.

That is not to imply ignorance or disdain....only inexperience.

Consider this....if someone were to offer me a $400 bottle of wine - I might take a sip and say..."it's Ok but I prefer my Yago Sangria"

I'm just simply too inexperienced to know the difference.

So if someone is happy shaving with their Gillette New or EJ89.....and is then handed a Wolfman or Blackbird...the response may be similar. Something like.."yeah its nice but  I don't see the hype"

It would be interesting to have the OP's  thoughts a few years from now. These highly machined razors are definitely works of art most appreciated by the "cognoscenti".

I actually still prefer my New over my Wolfman (very small margin). The New just agrees with me. However I do appreciate the quality of my Wolfman. I did not know that they were hand sanded and hand polished. I assumed they used machines. 

I have hand sanded and polished ATT razors and they come out great. However, it takes a lot of time. And they do not come out as good as my Wolfman. I can see why the cost of these razors is high. 

This is a great thread.

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