04-30-2018, 12:32 PM
#1
  • DanLaw
  • Just an old slow fat man
  • Peachtree City, GA
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Having recently taken delivery of a sand blasted Tatara Masamune DE razor with both SB and OC baseplates and stand, wanted to share the experience with forum brethren.  Relatively unknown in the US, Tatara is a small Portuguese based company founded by 3 friends with mechanical engineering education and an appreciation for Japanese swordsmith craftsmanship.  The goal was to apply their engineering acumen and love of all things samurai to improve double edge razors in craftsmanship, design, ergonomics and technology.  Focusing on minimizing blade vibration through a unique fastening system, perpendicularity of the head to handle and tight tolerances they have achieved a classic, dare I state minimalist aesthetique in keeping with traditional Japanese design and a truly unique razor.


If one is but secure at the foundation, he will not be pained by departure from minor details or affairs that are contrary to expectation. But in the end, the details of a matter are important. The right and wrong of one's way of doing things are found in trivial matters

The first thing one notices is that the packaging screams low volume craftsmanship.  While simply boxed in high grade paperboard and - in an homage to Portuguese heritage - beautiful cork insert, the impression is one of low volume hand made craftsmanship with a nice touch of marketing sizzle.  Inside rests the most uniquely finished steel razor I have encountered; the finish has a texture and appearance imparted from the sandblasting that is so strikingly different that many of the design features are easily overlooked.  Were one to describe it, the best I can offer is it is derivative of the colour and texture of the frame/casing finish of Ducati Reparto Corse superbikes of the 90s and early 2000s.  As one stares transfixed by the finish and almost afraid to touch the razor for fear of disturbing such a unique piece of kit, other obvious design details begin to make an impression: that of being quintessentially Japanese in the sense of the simplistic elegance reminiscent of traditional samurai weaponry that presents an aura of fragility belying its inherent strength and capability.  If the soul of the samurai is the blade, then the soul of Tatara is the blade holder.  Once beyond the initial visual impression, handling the razor brings a sense of wielding a katana: the lightness and tactile sensations are almost overwhelming and quite different from anything else used to date from unique handle designs of traditional SE and DE razors to even the OneBlade.  Nothing approaches how the finish, slim handle, dimpling and weight distribution synergistically interact in a positive manner to remind the user that this is something unique.  Having acclimated to the look and feel of the razor in hand, the next obvious design element is the flat stack height of the baseplate and cap which promises maneuverability and is a welcome change from bulbous nature of recent design trends making tight areas difficult to access.  One comes to believe there is merit in the pride the designers take in the low stress riser/shouldered fastener cap and recessed thread/shimmed handle as one loosens the head assembly.  Although never dropped to test the matter (and blessedly never experienced), based on motorsports experience one could expect that this design will be far more immune to cap stud breakage than other 3 piece designs of similar metallurgy.  The hidden surface finishes were unsurprisingly very European in an Old World craftsmanship way.  2 Baseplates are offered that differ in blade gap and comb style with the SB being significantly less efficient than the OC.  The stand is thankfully a simple semi hemispherical design and has a beauty complementing the execution of the handle which as alluded is a signature element.  Assembled and presented, the Tatara Masmune is quite elegant and reflects tastefully on any home décor.  While this may be a matter of small importance, in keeping with the samurai ethos, matters of small concern should be treated seriously.

As they say: enough talk, now we shave!  Feather blades are delivered with the razor, so the first shaves were undertaken using the sharpest DE blades of which I am aware with the SB baseplate.  There is an overall impression of lightness with head bias that is surprising given the steel construction; perhaps this is due to the thin almost medical instrument feel of the handle.  Truth told there were qualms that the slim handle and dimpled design would be quite slippy when combined with slick modern soaps such as Grooming Dept and Wholly Kaw but between the sandblasting and dimples, there was never a moment of jeopardy over the course of a couple week's shaves.  The finish feels unique on the face and instead of being an impediment to smooth gliding as feared, actually seems to facilitate both short and long strokes.  Indeed this is a rather unique razor!  I was able to get a damn near BBS in 2 passes - with the grain and across the grain.  If there was a challenge, it was that this razor is highly angle dependent akin to a LASSC BBS-1 and maintaining that angle is critical to a smooth (and with the Feather blade) nick free shave.  Subsequent shaves were undertaken with Polsilvers that maintained the quality of the results with far less chance of biting.  The OC was unique in the feel afforded by the sandblasting combined with well defined teeth; even taking days between shaves, the combination was overly efficient after one pass irrespective of blade - and everything from GSB to Timor to Astra was loaded in an attempt to tame passes after the first.  A really nice combination was to execute the first pass of multiday beard growth using the OC baseplate then switch to SB for the remaining pass and touch up.  Bottom line is the shave is very pleasant and unique; every shave yielded better results as I learned the angle required for the Tatara Masamune to work its wonders.  Typically the best shave results from the first usage of a product (other than brushes which require breaking in) probably due to the care exercised from unfamiliarity with a new product; to my experience only have the LASSC BBS-1 and the Tatara Masamune required a learning curve.  Do have some patience if the first shave is less than perfect - technique here really yields dividends!

My conclusions are that this is a beautiful and unique razor forming a solid base from which to grow Tatara as a brand.  It is limited in availability, beautifully designed, well executed and yet quite affordable.  I really enjoyed this razor and would suggest 3 additional options be made available to this particular model requiring minimal additional capital:
1, Make a Dual Comb option of the current gaps available
2, Have an Open Comb and Dual Comb version of both gaps
3, Make a polished version available

So now the razor is off to other passaround testers that will join this thread and opine; some are industry people and others highly experienced with DE razors well known/regarded on the forums.  It will be interesting to read their impressions and looking forward to the feedback which will be shared with Tatara.  There are extremely limited slots available, if you would like to be included in the passaround, PM directly.  Thank you for your time and best to all forum members.
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 04-30-2018, 01:41 PM
#2
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Very good write up. Ty for the work

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 04-30-2018, 01:42 PM
#3
  • DanLaw
  • Just an old slow fat man
  • Peachtree City, GA
User Info
Love Aprillia - you race?

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 04-30-2018, 04:52 PM
#4
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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Great write-up Dan!

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 04-30-2018, 05:01 PM
#5
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That is an impressive review Dan.  Thank you for organizing a pass around.  My Tatara arrived today.  I haven't shaved with it yet, but it's a beautifully machined and finished razor.

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 04-30-2018, 07:49 PM
#6
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Interesting

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 04-30-2018, 11:26 PM
#7
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Very interesting read, thank you for sharing Smile

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 05-07-2018, 01:18 PM
#8
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Before I give my opinion of the razor, let me rate some current DE razors I own. This may be helpful to see if my tastes line up along yours, or not. I'd say that so far, I would rate my razors as such 1 - Blackbird SB,  2 - Paradigm 17-4,  3 - Wolfman .74 gap,  4 - Timeless 95 OC


I didn't devote much attention to the SB plate as what I had heard, and what a preliminary shave confirmed - that it was just too damn mild for me. So, the remainder of my comments will focus on the OC plate.

My first impressions with the razor are as such - the design is very well thought out. The blade is clamped down near the edge, ala wolfman and timeless. This is a feature that I like as it provides stability and reduces chatter when going ATG. The blessing, and curse, of the design is how the handle protrudes through the bottom of the baseplate and helps to establish and reinforce the blade angle. The blessing being that the blade aligns perfectly, every time without issue and is clamped in place. The curse being that aftermarket handles, while usable, do detract from the original design of the razor. The finish seems nice and durable.

The shave is in one word, smooth. This razor is very very smooth. I believe it is in part due to the negative exposure this razor has. You can get away with some pressure with this shaver. Even the OC head was a touch mild with my first choice in blade, a pol-silver. The next few shaves went to a GSB, and ultimately landed on a Gillette 7 o'clock yellow. I think a feather would be a solid choice as well. I have no faults with the performance of this razor. It was right up there with my top DE's

There are a couple of things that would keep me from buying this razor. One is the handle. I think its around 85mm, which I know is a popular size, but it's too short for me. Especially since that length is also coupled with a narrow circumference as well. The second is the finish. I would prefer a more pleasing finish to the eye for the premium price they're asking. If there was a different polished option, and some options in the handle I would certainly pick this razor up. It shaves like a dream. 

Thanks to Dan for the opportunity to try this razor. Please feel free to ask any questions and I will do my best to answer.

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 05-08-2018, 05:53 PM
#9
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(05-07-2018, 01:18 PM)Kehole Wrote: Before I give my opinion of the razor, let me rate some current DE razors I own. This may be helpful to see if my tastes line up along yours, or not. I'd say that so far, I would rate my razors as such 1 - Blackbird SB,  2 - Paradigm 17-4,  3 - Wolfman .74 gap,  4 - Timeless 95 OC


I didn't devote much attention to the SB plate as what I had heard, and what a preliminary shave confirmed - that it was just too damn mild for me. So, the remainder of my comments will focus on the OC plate.

My first impressions with the razor are as such - the design is very well thought out. The blade is clamped down near the edge, ala wolfman and timeless. This is a feature that I like as it provides stability and reduces chatter when going ATG. The blessing, and curse, of the design is how the handle protrudes through the bottom of the baseplate and helps to establish and reinforce the blade angle. The blessing being that the blade aligns perfectly, every time without issue and is clamped in place. The curse being that aftermarket handles, while usable, do detract from the original design of the razor. The finish seems nice and durable.

The shave is in one word, smooth. This razor is very very smooth. I believe it is in part due to the negative exposure this razor has. You can get away with some pressure with this shaver. Even the OC head was a touch mild with my first choice in blade, a pol-silver. The next few shaves went to a GSB, and ultimately landed on a Gillette 7 o'clock yellow. I think a feather would be a solid choice as well. I have no faults with the performance of this razor. It was right up there with my top DE's

There are a couple of things that would keep me from buying this razor. One is the handle. I think its around 85mm, which I know is a popular size, but it's too short for me. Especially since that length is also coupled with a narrow circumference as well. The second is the finish. I would prefer a more pleasing finish to the eye for the premium price they're asking. If there was a different polished option, and some options in the handle I would certainly pick this razor up. It shaves like a dream. 

Thanks to Dan for the opportunity to try this razor. Please feel free to ask any questions and I will do my best to answer.
Very good review, thanks

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 05-09-2018, 10:27 AM
#10
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(05-08-2018, 05:53 PM)FedeMore Wrote:
(05-07-2018, 01:18 PM)Kehole Wrote: Before I give my opinion of the razor, let me rate some current DE razors I own. This may be helpful to see if my tastes line up along yours, or not. I'd say that so far, I would rate my razors as such 1 - Blackbird SB,  2 - Paradigm 17-4,  3 - Wolfman .74 gap,  4 - Timeless 95 OC


I didn't devote much attention to the SB plate as what I had heard, and what a preliminary shave confirmed - that it was just too damn mild for me. So, the remainder of my comments will focus on the OC plate.

My first impressions with the razor are as such - the design is very well thought out. The blade is clamped down near the edge, ala wolfman and timeless. This is a feature that I like as it provides stability and reduces chatter when going ATG. The blessing, and curse, of the design is how the handle protrudes through the bottom of the baseplate and helps to establish and reinforce the blade angle. The blessing being that the blade aligns perfectly, every time without issue and is clamped in place. The curse being that aftermarket handles, while usable, do detract from the original design of the razor. The finish seems nice and durable.

The shave is in one word, smooth. This razor is very very smooth. I believe it is in part due to the negative exposure this razor has. You can get away with some pressure with this shaver. Even the OC head was a touch mild with my first choice in blade, a pol-silver. The next few shaves went to a GSB, and ultimately landed on a Gillette 7 o'clock yellow. I think a feather would be a solid choice as well. I have no faults with the performance of this razor. It was right up there with my top DE's

There are a couple of things that would keep me from buying this razor. One is the handle. I think its around 85mm, which I know is a popular size, but it's too short for me. Especially since that length is also coupled with a narrow circumference as well. The second is the finish. I would prefer a more pleasing finish to the eye for the premium price they're asking. If there was a different polished option, and some options in the handle I would certainly pick this razor up. It shaves like a dream. 

Thanks to Dan for the opportunity to try this razor. Please feel free to ask any questions and I will do my best to answer.
Very good review, thanks


Thanks!

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 05-31-2018, 12:18 PM
#11
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My apologies in posting this review here as Dan was kind enough to include me in this passaround.  I appreciate the generosity of the manufacturer in letting me try this razor as well (Thank you!).  I recently had the Tatara razor for about a week before sending it to the next person.  I posted the below review on another forum so I'm posting it here now as well.  

Ok, so I've had the Tatara for the past week and have used it for several shaves. I used the SB plate for the bulk of the shaves (around four) and the open comb one for a couple shaves. I'll be sending it off to the next participant in tomorrow's mail so I figure I should post some thoughts here. 

Some background on the razors I normally use. I own quite a few razors including Wolfman .48, Wolfman .54, LA Shaving BBS-1, Paradigm Ti2, Paradign 17-4, Timeless .68, Timeless .95, Charcoal Goods Lvl1, ATT (H, R, M, H2, R2, SE1), and a King Cobra. The big name ones I don't currently own I've likely tried. Recently I've been using the Paradigm and Wolfman razors quite often and I'm rather fond of the Charcoal Goods Lvl1 razor. 

I'd have posted sooner but the combination of being sick and really busy at work has given me reason to procrastinate. Either way I have a good understanding of the razor and my opinion of it at this point. 

First off, I had really high expectations for this one after reading some great reviews as well as some discussions about the machining of the razor with some forum members. Out of the box the razor is a bit smaller than I expected. The handle does have a nice texture and the grip is surprisingly good considering it's appearance and lack of deep knurling. So overall no problems there. The plates seem to be really well made and I like that they are a bit thinner like the Wolfman and Charcoal Goods plates are. I find this design to be a bit more nimble as opposed to the bulkier razors. I would prefer a polished finish but I suspect that a polished finish would remove some of the grip that is present. The handle does feel good in my hands but I would prefer it to be a bit larger both in both length and in diameter. I tend to prefer handles that are about the size of a Wolfman WRH1 or WRH2. The build quality is excellent and the threads are nice and smooth. 

In assembling the razor I tried the first shave with the Tatara handle. I didn't get any slip from the handle and it did feel good in my hands. After the shave I tried several other handles on the razor and quickly realized that the design prohibits any other handle from being used. The end of the Tatara handle is not threaded all the way up and goes up into the base plate. The cap threading stops early which doesn't allow any other handle to tighten all the way. So in threading on a Wolfman handle I run out of threads before the base plate is secure and tight with the cap. This is a great setup to secure the blade but it is far from ideal for me as I really enjoy switching up handles to find the perfect combination. 

For the first few shaves with the Tatara I used a soap from either Grooming Dept or Tallow & Steel. These are (in my opinion) currently the very best soaps on the planet and in turn the very best soaps ever made. These are my normal go to soaps. For the blade I used a Feather blade for the initial shaves and I tired a Polsilver in the razor as well. The results were about the same with both blades. Brush was a Morris & Forndran L7 Finest Fan and I used an aftershave balm from Viking after the shave. Preshave was a hot shower and washing my face with some bath soap. 

Back to the shave. In shaving with the Tatara razor I noticed that it was a bit mild. It provided lots of audible feedback and was enjoyable to shave with. No nicks or cuts at all but I did notice that I had some difficulty in clearing the stubble from some of my trouble spots, specifically under my jawline and on my lower neck. So while I do enjoy mild razors this razor was a bit less efficient than what I'm used to using. I got similar results from each shave with the SB plate. The razor would shave similar to the Charcoal Goods Lvl1 razor that I own but it wasn't as efficient nor quite as comfortable to shave with. I suspect that with repeated use my results would improve and that it's a razor that I'd have to get used to shaving with in order to master it. Unfortunately, I didn't have the time needed to perfect my shave with it. 

It was very comfortable to shave with but the results were less that perfect for me with it leaving behind some stubble even when I addressed the area several times. I was generally doing three passes and a fourth on my neck in an attempt to clear all of the stubble. I tried a Feather blade and a Polsilver with similar results. 

In using the open comb plate for me the shaves were similar but I did get a little more blade feel with the oc plate than the sb version. Still no irritation from the razor as I resisted going over the same spot repeatedly or applying too much pressure to chase a perfect shave. 

I used the Tatara for about six shaves total, four with the sb plate and two with the oc plate. I got good shaves from the razor but not bbs shaves. If I were to own this razor I suspect that it's one that I could learn to get perfect shaves with but it would take some repeated use on my part. It's a comfortable razor to shave with and I'd likely be very impressed with it had I not already owned several other high end razors that I prefer. 

So for me I truly appreciate the experience of trying this razor. Sometimes it's not only about finding the products that are right for you personally but also eliminating those that aren't. This is not a razor that I'd likely purchase as the handle configuration alone would keep me from buying it. I suspect that some will really enjoy this razor but I do prefer others over it. 

Thank you Dan for the experience of trying this razor. It was very enjoyable and I'm happy to have had the opportunity.

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 06-18-2018, 12:01 PM
#12
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I recently was able to participate in the Tatara pass around and wanted to share my experience and opinion with the forum.  First, let me thank Tatara for facilitating this opportunity to experience a relatively rare razor with unique design elements.  As an Italian, design is important in both visual and ergonomic user experience - it is in this criterion that the Tatara really stands out.  The unique design elements of the handle texturing and blast finish are nicely done, as is the engineering of the cap threaded shank, which is appreciated from my days racing motorcycles and automobiles as the proper method to relieve stress at the critical juncture where razors break when dropped.  However, the diminutive size of the handle and lack of finishing on the underside of the cap give less than a positive impression of quality when compared to some other high-end razors.  Surely, I can agree that people will have different preferences but mine are for more weighted, larger diameter longer handle razors when paying a premium.
 
My favorite characteristic of shaving with this razor is the auditory feedback; I like to hear the blade working even if some attribute this to blade vibration as it really helps me get a better shave.  Another element that I thought positive was the razor's low head stack height.  My current everyday razor is a Timeless 0.68 Open Comb that just shaves marvelously but is very difficult to maneuver around tight areas such as the nostrils.  The Tatara was super agile and able to quickly and effortlessly get in places that are nearly impossible to access with the Timeless.  There seems to be a trend toward ever more stack height in razor heads and congrats to the Tatara designers for bucking the industry!  This may be the most agile modern razor I have used along with the BBS1 and Wolfman WR1.
 
However, there is one aspect of this razor with which I simply could not come to terms: no matter if using the safety bar or open comb plate, the shave was just too mild for my preference having tried both Timor and PolSilver blades.  My routine is to shave every second or third day which works quite well with the Timeless but even using the most aggressive open comb base plate and PolSilver blade, I was left with stubble after 3 passes (even though it was very light).  No matter what angle was attempted, the results were always the same and it influenced my experience negatively.
 
My conclusion is that this would be ideal as currently offered for somebody with the desire to shave every day or seeking a very mild razor.  Unfortunately, for the those wanting to skip a day or two while getting a close shave that particular day, it really needs to be offered with more aggressive base plates.  Finally, for women seeking a leg or body razor, this would be an ideal choice not only for the way it shaves but also for its sleek and elegant design - and I mean that as a complement.  Again thank you for the chance to try this razor and I would be interested in following up with future offerings from Tatara.

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 06-21-2018, 06:22 AM
#13
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Last week I was able to participate in the Tatara pass around.  I hadn’t heard much about the razor…just seen pictures so I was excited to give it a try.  I had 3 shaves with it.  The first shave was with the SB plate and the other 2 were with the OC plate.  My reviews are honest, and I didn’t receive anything for my reviews.  My comments below are compiled SOTD posts from FaceBook shave groups.  All shaves were with my go to blade: Personna Red’s.

The first night I had my shave all planned out and when I got home and had an unexpected package in the mail. Opened it up and saw the Tatara, which is on a pass-around loan. Completely switched up the shave game and went with the Tatara.

Shave 1: I was first turned off that it has a proprietary handle design to fit to the head. When loading the blade I noticed that the fit of the blade to the top cap had tight tolerances, which I'd expect from a machined razor. Once I snugged it all up it was a very tight fit. It was then when I realized that the neck of the proprietary handle was fitting and sitting higher up, closer to the blade making it a very stable fit. My “turn off” just turned to an applause. Reminds me of my favorite DE razor, the Blackbird. Once shaving I could tell quickly that the blade was very stiff with no notice of flex or chatter. This is where most modern machined razors set themselves apart from vintage or non-machined razors. They have a distinct stiff blade feel and give great shaves. As for the Tatara, I'd put it at a 4-5 on the aggressive scale. Very smooth shave and had to do 3 passes and a cleanup pass, where other razors like the Blackbird I can do 2 passes and clean up to get the same results. Very little blade feel. Overall, I would say the Tatara would be a great daily shaver. If it was my only razor it may be efficient enough to go every other day.
The shave was awesome. Very smooth. 7.5 hrs post shave and I'm still very smooth. If I didn't already have a number of razors I already enjoy this one might be on the short list. As of now it will be on the would like to own list.

Shave 2: This time I waited almost 3 days to try it with the OC plate. I wanted some growth to mow through. And that it did and smoothly at that. Most razors feel good when the skin has time to rest. So tomorrow will be a repeat of today to see how the OC plate feels on back to back night shaves.

Shave 3: Second time with the OC.  Last night was a great shave with 3 days of growth. Tonight, I wanted to see what it would be like with one day of growth. It was a really close and efficient shave. Not much blade feel, but a close shave. For me probably not a daily driver with the OC plate. The SB plate would be good for a daily driver and the OC when you have multiple days growth.
Fit and Finish:  The razor is on the petit and lighter side of machined/ stainless razors.  The handle is similar in size to a Gillette Tech.  To my surprise the finish and the dimpled handles perform well.  At one point during my cleanup passes my hand holding the razor was completely covered in lather and the razor was not difficult to hold on to what so ever. Very impressive.  The tolerances are good on the head and how the blade fits and the base plate and cap mate together.

Closing:  Overall, it's a great razor. Down the road if I see a good deal on one I might have to scoop it up!  It’s a solid razor that is comparable to a lot of the higher end machined stainless steel razors.  It’s a very fun razor to shave with.  Down the road if I see a good deal on one I might have to scoop it up!  Thanks Dan and nice job Tatara!

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 06-21-2018, 06:39 AM
#14
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Some great reviews here, gentlemen.  Thanks to Dan for starting the thread and for everyone for the detailed reviews.

I bought the Tatara from Portugal before it was available from Bullgoose.  It was still the second run, yet the serial number is 053, so this does seem to be a very limited production razor.  And I agree that the quality of craftsmanship shows.

I bought only the OC plate without the stand.  I wish I had bought the SB plate as well to try it.  With the OC plate, there is a significant blade feel, but I've never felt the razor would bite, and it never did.  I used a Personna Med Prep in the razor for 7 shaves in a row and was rewarded with low drama, excellent shaves every day.  On Day 7, I recorded in my shave journal that "I can't seem to get a mediocre shave out of this razor."  I still hope to try a SB plate at some point.

I wasn't crazy about the gun metal brushed finish, so I polished it myself.  Not to a mirror finish (because I didn't want to remove material to the point of affecting the shave), but I like it better.  Just a light polish to lighten and shine it up a bit.  The steel used is quite hard, so the work:reward ratio was pretty high.

Thanks again, guys, for taking the time to do such detailed reviews.

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 06-21-2018, 06:53 AM
#15
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(06-21-2018, 06:39 AM)BrickHud Wrote: Some great reviews here, gentlemen.  Thanks to Dan for starting the thread and for everyone for the detailed reviews.

I bought the Tatara from Portugal before it was available from Bullgoose.  It was still the second run, yet the serial number is 053, so this does seem to be a very limited production razor.  And I agree that the quality of craftsmanship shows.

I bought only the OC plate without the stand.  I wish I had bought the SB plate as well to try it.  With the OC plate, there is a significant blade feel, but I've never felt the razor would bite, and it never did.  I used a Personna Med Prep in the razor for 7 shaves in a row and was rewarded with low drama, excellent shaves every day.  On Day 7, I recorded in my shave journal that "I can't seem to get a mediocre shave out of this razor."  I still hope to try a SB plate at some point.

I wasn't crazy about the gun metal brushed finish, so I polished it myself.  Not to a mirror finish (because I didn't want to remove material to the point of affecting the shave), but I like it better.  Just a light polish to lighten and shine it up a bit.  The steel used is quite hard, so the work:reward ratio was pretty high.

Thanks again, guys, for taking the time to do such detailed reviews.

Could you please post pictures?  I like the matte, sand blasted finish, but would like to see what the polished razor looks like.

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