Pass Around: Rocnel SE-G (GEM/FHS blade) razor - Finished

OP
riverrun
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Rocnel SE-G - The Verdict

I've been asking for it for ages - a modern razor for GEM blades. Rocnel has delivered and others are coming soon. Was I right to demand one? Am I happy with it? I've had the razor for more than a week and have come to a conclusion. Let's have a look at the good, the bad and the ugly.
(I'll be referring to my British made Ever-Ready 1912 occasionally as this is the razor I use most.)

Packaging.
Fine. Who cares?

Looks
No. It's not ugly. Far from it. I like its looks a lot. Rocnel have come up with an original design that shows that they (mostly) understand SE blades. Have a look at the other GEM SE razors in the making - boring and uninspired. Top cap and base plate are for DE razors. I don't want to see a blade post through an SE blade. The other GEM blade razors I've seen have started with a DE razor and adapted the concept to GEM blades. Rocnel have started with the GEM blade and designed the razor around that. They have come up with something novel and I like it. It's actually the only one of the GEM blade razors coming out this year, that I like the looks of. Does it look as good as a vintage SE razor? Certainly not. While my 1912 is not made from stainless steel, it's made from timeless style.

Material and finish
Stainless steel. Yes, I do get why people love it, but I think it's just too heavy as a material for razors. I think the Rocnel would be better in aluminium, but I'm probably alone with that opinion.
The razor looks good in black and I can't fault the finish, but I'm easy to please.

Choice of blades
GEM style blades. I love them. Sharp, yet smooth, nice and rigid. About time they made a revival. Feather AC blades in modern razors are too wide for my taste. Injector blades are for injectors and DE blades are flimsy.
Rocnel claim that you can use Feather FHS blades as well. I disagree. The Rocnel SE-G doesn't have blade stops. The GEM blades are correctly exposed by their depth, but with Feather blades you have to guess where to put the blade edge and fix it with the set screw. If the Feather blades were amazing, I'd be tempted to do this at least once, but they are rubbish anyway.
I have tried both GEM PTFE coated blades and Treet carbon blades. Both gave good shaves, but the carbon blades need to be removed and dried after each use, which makes them less convenient.

Blade loading
What were they thinking? This is the weak point of the razor. I have several issues with loading a blade into the Rocnel SE-G. First of all the slot for the spine of the blade is too narrow. GEM style SE blades don't have a precision spine. It's a piece of sheet metal crimped onto the back of the blade. The thickness of the spine varies from blade to blade and across the width of each spine. The slot for the spine of the blade is too narrow for some blades I have tried. Vintage stropping blades have a spine twice as thick and won't fit at all - I admit that this is an unusual use case.
Also, it is easier to insert the blade from one side of the head than it is from the other. Apparently the head design is not completely symmetrical. WHY? I can't for the life of me think of a single reason why this should be the case.
Even when the blade goes in smoothly, I find it slightly difficult to hit the slot with the blade when I'm not wearing reading glasses.
You also have to make sure that the blade is nicely centred before tightening the set screw, otherwise the corner of the blade can protrude ever so slightly from the head and cause injury when shaving close to the nose. I was almost caught out by this, but noticed something was amiss before damage was done.
Lastly, I can see why they went for the set screw design, but I don't like it. Loosening and tightening the screw by hand every time I change a blade is awkward. Maybe the screw should be part of the handle, maybe not, but there must be a better solution than manually twisting a set screw by its threads.

The shave
This is what it is all about and this is where the Rocnel shines. Once the blade is properly in the head - and it's not as difficult as it seems after reading the above - the Rocnel will give shaves that are up there with the best. The shave is very assertive, bordering on aggressive. Lots of people like aggressive. There is more blade feel than I'm used to from my 1912 and it shows in the result. For me, the 1912 is incredibly smooth, much smoother than the Rocnel, but the 1912 can't compete when it comes to closeness of shave. I wish the Rocnel was a bit lighter and I'm not a big fan of its balance. The balance between handle and head is fine, but the head is front-heavy. The head wants to point downwards. It's not a big problem though, just a little niggle.
If you're used to vintage SE razors you will have no issues finding the correct angle. Keep the top of the head (the wide bit, covering the blade) flat on your face and you're pretty much there. That's as it should be with SE razors.
The audible feedback of the Rocnel is interesting. Apart from the sound of stubble being mowed down, there isn't any. None of that "buttering toast" nonsense people like about their vintage SE razors - that's blade chatter, because a modern GEM blade has a thinner spine than the original stropping blades. No blade chatter with the Rocnel - the blade is rock solid inside the head. A major benefit of the head design and the stainless steel solidness.
Most of the time I was left with a shave so close that I could easily have skipped a shave the next day. Even 6-8 hours after the shave my face felt nice and smooth.

The price
The Rocnel, even with forum discount, costs £200. Take a breather and let that sink in.
£200+
That's a bit on the expensive side. Some of you guys won't blink an eye before spending that kind of money on the latest and greatest stainless steel razor, but I can't help thinking that I can buy 20 (in words: twenty) vintage razors like the 1912 for that. I think I paid £8 for my favourite one. Boxed - lovely bakelite box. For £200 I expect to buy a boxed sun-ray 1912 set and have some change left.

How does it compare to my Ever-Ready 1912?
The Rocnel wins when it comes to closeness of the shave. That's impressive, as - for me - the 1912 gives me shaves that are very close, but with more effort.
The 1912 wins in pretty much every other aspect: Looks, smoothness, weight, balance, blade loading, blade seating and last but not least price.
Every single criticism I have about the Rocnel has already been addressed. In 1909, by August William Scheuber in ↪his patent for the 1912. If you have a 1912, read the patent with the razor in your hand and marvel at the details. If you want to design a GEM blade razor, do the same, try to find room for improvement and weep. There are actually only two improvements I can think of to bring the 1912 into the 21st century: Add an M5x0.8 screw to the head and incline the blade platform slightly, so that no shim is needed.

To sum it all up...
This is a very good razor. Make the slot for the spine slightly larger, make it from aluminium, find a better solution for the set screw and drop the price by a lot and it would be an exceptional razor. If you don't like the idea of vintage razors, this could be the razor for you. I'd happily swap this for any of my DE razors and I do have some nice ones - not a single stainless steel one though. I'd rather buy the Rocnel than any stainless steel DE or Feather AC blade razor I've tried. But as it stands I'll stick with my vintage GEM SE razors. I'll shave in style.

Thanks, @Paul for enabling this pass around. I really enjoyed it.
Time to pass the Rocnel on to @Looney12345
 
Last edited:
OP
riverrun
Messages
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Location
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The razor is now with @Looney12345
  1. sɐǝɹpu∀ / riverrun (ATG/TSR)
  2. Looney12345 (ATG/TSR)
  3. Mikey J (ATG)
  4. Mr_Smartepants (ATG/TSR)
  5. Mr Bigmem (ATG/TSR)
  6. p.b (ATG/TSR)
  7. Barry Giddens (TSR)
  8. Blademonkey (TSR)
  9. Luckypip (TSR)
  10. MPH (ATG/TSR)
  11. Bizzyberry (ATG/TSR)
  12. AndyMc133 (TSR)
  13. Rowlers (ATG/TSR)
  14. The Geordie Shaver (TSR)
  15. Glenn_Lee (TSR)
  16. Wayne (ATG)
  17. shevsky (TSR)
  18. You?
The list is open.
Legend: Waiting, Currently with, Completed
 
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Day 9 - Shave #8 - Last shave
  • Lea Mentolada shaving cream
  • Mühle 25mm synthetic brush
  • Rocnel SE-G
  • Treet carbon blade (2)
  • Alum block
  • Alcolado Glacial
It's just over 30℃ out there and I'm in need of cooling down. Lea Mentolada is the only mentholated soap or cream I have left, but it is good stuff on a hot day.
The Treet blade went into the Rocnel easily again, but I was lacking concentration.
Right on the first pass, when shaving close to my nose I noticed that something was wrong. I hadn't centred the blade properly and the corner of the edge was protruding ever so slightly. I was lucky to notice this before I sliced my nose.
Unscrew the handle, loosen the set screw, adjust the blade, tighten the set screw, put the handle back on. There must be a better way.
As for the shave, there is not much new to report. I'm now getting consistently excellent shaves with the Rocnel. The Treet blade is very good and I can't wait to try it in my 1912 tomorrow. The razor is a joy to use, but I still think it is a bit too heavy. That is strange, as my 1912 with a long stainless steel handle weighs almost the same, but the longer handle and lighter head give it a completely different balance.
¡Alcolado Glacial! That's the after shave for summer. My face is freezing cold.
That was it for my shaves with the Rocnel SE-G. I'll pass the razor on tomorrow. My final overall verdict will follow later.
To be continued…
Re: centring the blade. I've found the most workable method is to load the blade,and then pinch the blade spine ends and razor top gently but evenly together. This evens out any overhang either side.

Sent from my Redmi Note 3 using Tapatalk
 
OP
riverrun
Messages
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Re: centring the blade. I've found the most workable method is to load the blade,and then pinch the blade spine ends and razor top gently but evenly together. This evens out any overhang either side.
It does, but my 1912s don't need that procedure - just saying :p
 
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It does, but my 1912s don't need that procedure - just saying :p
For sure, and much easier. I think this and the Rocnel halved DE are about the only safety razors I've got where the blade positioning is via an horizontal free float, without stops or references.

Sent from my Redmi Note 3 using Tapatalk
 
OP
riverrun
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The razor is now with @Mr_Smartepants...
  1. sɐǝɹpu∀ / riverrun (ATG/TSR)
  2. Looney12345 (ATG/TSR)
  3. Mikey J (ATG)
  4. Mr_Smartepants (ATG/TSR)
  5. Mr Bigmem (ATG/TSR)
  6. p.b (ATG/TSR)
  7. Barry Giddens (TSR)
  8. Blademonkey (TSR)
  9. Luckypip (TSR)
  10. MPH (ATG/TSR)
  11. Bizzyberry (ATG/TSR)
  12. AndyMc133 (TSR)
  13. The Geordie Shaver (TSR)
  14. Glenn_Lee (TSR)
  15. shevsky (TSR)
  16. Burgundy (ATG)
  17. You?
The list is open.
Legend: Waiting, Currently with, Completed
 
OP
riverrun
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The adventures of @Mr_Smartepants with the Rocnel....


OK, I've had one shave with the Rocnel-G and that's one shave too many.
Worst
Shave
EVER!


My neck is on fire!
:(

I made sure to use products that I've used many times so I know what to expect. Fewer variables.
There's a few things that could have contributed to the awful shave.
First, the razor is an open-comb, and has a really large blade gap with quite a lot of blade exposure (gap & exposure are not the same thing).

Second, when loading the blade there is a potential for the blade to be twisted and impact the cutting edge on the "baseplate". This potential is remote though because of the enormous blade gap. This potential exists with nearly every razor that uses a side-loading method (Schick injectors...) and I've seen personally how blades can have the cutting edge 'rounded' by running the edge against part of the razor.

Third, there are no "blade stops" to protect your skin from the blade corners (the sharp 90 degree edges).

Lastly, the "top-cap" is rounded, which makes finding the ideal angle a challenge. I've included photos comparing the Rocnel with the Blackland Sabre. The Sabre has a completely flat "top-cap" which helps in finding the right blade angle, just like the vintage SE razors.

The guys at Rocnel sure do rock the boat when it comes to razor design, always coming up with unique ideas. But sometimes unique doesn't equal good.
A great razor inspires confidence, but for me this razor incites fear.
Thanks for the opportunity, but I'm ready to move this on to the next victim. :D
 
OP
riverrun
Messages
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The Rocnel is now with @Mr Bigmem:

  1. sɐǝɹpu∀ / riverrun (ATG/TSR)
  2. Looney12345 (ATG/TSR)
  3. Mikey J (ATG)
  4. Mr_Smartepants (ATG/TSR)
  5. Mr Bigmem (ATG/TSR)
  6. p.b (ATG/TSR)
  7. Barry Giddens (TSR)
  8. Blademonkey (TSR)
  9. Luckypip (TSR)
  10. MPH (ATG/TSR)
  11. Bizzyberry (ATG/TSR)
  12. AndyMc133 (TSR)
  13. The Geordie Shaver (TSR)
  14. Glenn_Lee (TSR)
  15. shevsky (TSR)
  16. Burgundy (ATG)
  17. ManicDee (ATG)
  18. You?
The list is open.
Legend: Waiting, Currently with, Completed
 
OP
riverrun
Messages
4,860
Location
London
The razor is now with @p.b
  1. sɐǝɹpu∀ / riverrun (ATG/TSR)
  2. Looney12345 (ATG/TSR)
  3. Mikey J (ATG)
  4. Mr_Smartepants (ATG/TSR)
  5. Mr Bigmem (ATG/TSR)
  6. p.b (ATG/TSR)
  7. Barry Giddens (TSR)
  8. Blademonkey (TSR)
  9. Luckypip (TSR)
  10. MPH (ATG/TSR)
  11. Bizzyberry (ATG/TSR)
  12. AndyMc133 (TSR)
  13. The Geordie Shaver (TSR)
  14. Glenn_Lee (TSR)
  15. shevsky (TSR)
  16. Burgundy (ATG)
  17. ManicDee (ATG)
  18. You?
The list is open.
Legend: Waiting, Currently with, Completed
 
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