A Tale of 3 Razors, part 3: The High End Shave Club

Chisel Shave Club wasn’t originally on my list for this series, but they should have been. While their competitors Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s have been focusing on undercutting expensive shaving cartridges you’ll find in the store, Chisel is carving out its place as a monthly box for wet-shaving, double-edge safety razor novices.

People have been shaving for about 30,000 years– and making tools to shave for at least 8,000. Early razors were simple, sharp blades that you could kill someone with as easily as you might kill yourself while using them. In 1680, the first of the three modern shaving implements was being manufactured: the Straight Edge Razor. The preferred murder implement of Sweeney Todd was, and still is, a dangerous tool in the wrong hands. It was with this in mind that the first safety razors were designed, and  no design was more renowned than King Camp Gillette’s. Gillette had a brilliant idea: Make a handle with interchangeable, stamped blades that were easy and cheap to manufacture. Gillette sold his blade handle for $5, equivalent to about $130 today. Blades were a few pennies,equivalent to a about fifty cents today. by 1915 he was selling half a million razors and 70 million blades a year.

Gillette’s designs were copied, and competitors began making their own blades after that. It wasn’t until the 1970s that modern cartridge razors came on the scene, and the new business model of “giving away the razor to sell the blades” came about. With this business model, the $130 investment became $15, and the fifty cent blade became $3. Since then, cartridge razors have been cutting deeper into our wallets.
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Chisel Shave club is a cost effective way to avoid both the deep investment, and the expensive blades. Offering a monthly subscription for no more than $30/month, Chisel sends out trial quantities of razor blades, shaving soaps, and other grooming items. Committing to at least 3 months will get you a modest discount, while committing to at least 6 months will score you a free razor and brush. Both of which are also available to purchase for $20.

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As a less hairy person like me, these $30 of supplies last a lot longer than I would have expected. I am only on my second of ten blades, and maybe one sixth of the way through the shaving soap. I’ve barely touched the moisturizer or face wash, although the Bar Soap they sent is nearly half gone. That’s after a month of use, so parts of this $30 box should last me at least six months! And now, I have learned which blades I prefer (Russian-made Astra Platinums) and that I like Red Leaf’s Sandalwood shave soap. I enjoyed, but don’t need to keep ordering Dr. Squatch’s bar soap or Brickell’s aftershave and face wash.
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The Razor is well built and works well. At $20, it’s a fine entry into the wet shaving field. While I don’t have a more expensive razor handle to compare it to, it’s clear that it will hold up for a long while.

Oh, and the shave? Fantastic. I did have to change my shaving technique– shower shaving  is a recipe for disaster when you’re working with a classic Safety Razor. And technique matters– but the single blade system does the job with less irritation than any cartridge razor I’ve ever used, and I have yet to give myself a bad cut. And at about $0.50 a blade, I’ll be saving a lot of money on cartridges.

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So, a $30 supply box with a $20 razor and $20 brush (all in the above photo) has shown me that I don’t need to spend $2-4 for cartridges. I’ve historically used 2 cartridges a month, which means that this investment will pay for itself in about 9 months on razor blades alone– and although the premium discovery service Chisel Shave Club offers will be more expensive than most fold spend on shaving supplies, it’s a phenomenal tool to discover shaving supplies that work for you. And if you’re like me, you’ll value the joy I get from using the same sort of razor my grandparents used.

Chisel Shave Club is available for monthly subscriptions over at their website, but as of this writing is completely sold out. I’ll post an update if and when they offer new memberships, so be sure to enter your email address in the menu on the left to subscribe for updates– and reach out on Facebook or Twitter if you have any Q’s!

-Mash

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