Friday, December 31, 2010

Semogue LE 2010

Semogue's 2010 Limited Edition of 100. A Silvertip with a 24 mm knot with a loft of 52 mm. It will be added to and reviewed on Fido's Shaving Brush Blog. Here's some pics before and after use:

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Alternative Ebony

When I visited a supplier of materials for wood turners, he showed me a sample of alternative ebony, alternative ivory and some alpalina - a sort of white striped resin material.  Here in the New Forest I'm now working with my craftsman to produce some sample brushes that I might offer for sale on my New Forest Brushes Blog next year.

I'm delighted with this sample made from alternative ebony. It is not easy material to work with but if it goes well, it comes up with an excellent finish. This is a Finest Silvertip sample.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A useful accessory

This little plastic spatula, about 6 inches across, is a really useful shaving accessory. I use it to scoop out a small portion of cream and to smear around the base of my shaving bowl. The soft plastic tip makes it ideal for purpose.

I hope you had a great Christmas. No one bought me any shaving items. I think everyone now realises I have too much of everything. They are right!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Castle Forbes Lavender Balm, Martin de Candre, New Forest High Mountain and Jagger Chatsworth. My elite squad for the Christmas build up. M de C is a superb soap, this jar is one year old tomorrow and looks good for a few more years at the rate I use it. The balm leaves the face relatively dry immediately after the shave but my skin feels nice and soft and quite moist as time passes.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Old Scuttles

I find using soaps in their original wooden bowl a bit of a messy business. I got a decent size sample from an artisan soap maker and decided to put it in this old scuttle. It works a treat. Much easier to contain the lather without getting in too much of a mess.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Simpsons - a blast from the past.

Gary Young, Grandson of Alexander Simpson, has turned up on some shaving forums and has and is answerering questions about the history of the family business.

Follow the threads here:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Coming shortly

I'm taking a break at the moment. My New Forest High Mountain 2221 Badger brushes will be available in January. When things settle down after they go on sale I will be releasing a few brushes I am having made locally in the New Forest. I enjoy doing this. I pop over to my craftsman to discuss details, he pops over to me with samples, and we sit and chat about everything but brushes! He makes superb model aircraft and boats for enthusiasts who fly and sail the models. Shaving brushes are a bit of light relief for him.

For now, we are sticking to a handle shape like these. The handles of these brushes are Tambootie, a naturally waterproof African hardwood sealed with a lacquer. Other materials will include alternative ivory, ebony and alpalina - a white striped resin. I will post details of brushes for sale on my New Forest Brushes Blog when available next year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Back to the future?

OK, so a Mach 3 is hardly new age. But compared with a 1940s Superspeed it's back to the future. I had a really superbly comfortable close shave with it today. I used one of my New Forest Two Band prototypes with the ever delightful Martin de Candre and the great value Proraso balm. Just one lesson. I applied too much lather. Not necessary with the Mach 3 blade. Just a nice modest coating is all that is required. Too much lather and it gets a bit messy.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Stash reduction

Most enthusuiasts end up with too much of everything. Here's some examples - and this is just soaps and creams!

Soap and cream stashes

One of the nice things about many shaving forums is the willingness of many people to give away some of their surplus items free of charge to enable others to try different products. I decided yesterday to make a start on passing on some things that don't figure among my favourites. So I listed a razor and three soaps in bowls. They went in a few minutes! It's not really made a dent in my stash, but it's a start.

Is there anything you are likely rarely to use again or the odd sample you don't really want? Give someone a treat. And what goes round comes round!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Favourites - Jagger Chatsworth

All enthusiasts get tempted to try several razors. I suppose I tried around 20 new and old. My most recent being a new Feather Stainless Steel razor costing £130 and an old Shavex featured in my previous post. There are few rights and wrongs and we all have our personal preferences. I don't like aggressive razors that must be handled with great care to avoid razor burn or nicks and cuts even with mild blades. But nor do I like a razor that doesn't feel as though it is removing any hair. I like to feel the blade on my skin, but not too close. I'm not too keen on short handled light razors either. This is why this Jagger Chatsworth is just about my favourite razor. It weighs in at 110 grams with an overall length of 11.3 cm. A razor with a solid feel and just the right amount of aggressiveness for me. As with razors I also prefer blades neither too sharp or too mild. So I use most often Red Personna and Gillette Super Thin blades - they serve me well in this razor.

There's a bit more information here:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


This is such a humble looking razor, but it shaves like a dream! Among a collection of shaving gear given to me by a friend I never thought of using it until recently. It just holds the blade at a perfect angle for me - just the right amount of aggressiveness - not too much, not too little. If that makes sense!

The only "Shavex" that I can now find is based in India. This razor is marked "Made in England" If anyone knows anything about the English Shavex shaving company and what happened to it I'd be pleased to hear from them. Either with a comment here or by email to

Monday, December 13, 2010

Older stuff

An old friend of mine has given me several old shaving items. The brush and razor were his dads. The brush has a 18 mm knot with a loft of 37 mm, small but effective still. The razor is an old Shavex - I'll comment about that tomorrow. The Yardleys remained an unopened Christmas gift from the 1960s until I used it earlier this year. I just don't understand why they dropped this line. It is a superb soap that produces a rich creamy stable lather. It still turns up from time to time. One like this sold on Ebay for about £55 a few months ago.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Gillette Tech

Sometimes I come across posts on shaving forums that really illustrate the efforts that enthusiasts are prepared to make for the rest of us. This is one. This really must have taken a lot of time to put together. Neocaligatio is a member of the UK based The Shaving Room Forum and an excellent custom brush maker.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lathering bowl

This is an indispensable member of my line up. Made by a local potter for £12 the ridges inside the bowl make lathering so easy. And the size is just right for all but my monster Polo 14, and even for that with extra care. Internal dimensions are 13 cm across the diameter at the top and a depth of 5.5 cm.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Semogue LE 2010

Someone kindly sent me this photo. What a superb looking brush. Mine is on it's way!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Feather Stainless Steel Razor

I mentioned this acquistion a few days ago.

I have now used the Feather Razor with three different blades, including the Feather blade.

That it is comfortable to use, there is no doubt. You get the feeling, even with a Feather blade, that it is gliding across the surface of your skin so smoothly that you are left wondering if it has removed anything at all. And it has. But only the Feather blade produced the really close shave I am used to getting with my other razors in regular use - a Jagger Chatsworth and Merkur 38C. But the Feather blade leaves my skin feeling sore for several hours. It seems to me that I either put up with having a less close shave than I like or have a close shave and put up with some discomfort after my shave. Having developed my technique with my other razors to the point where I get an incredibly close shave with no irritation it really is a no brainer. The Feather razor is really not for me. I think it will be better appreciated by someone who already enjoys the use of Feather blades so it will soon appear at a very reasonable price in the B/S/T section of "The Shaving Room" forum where I post most often.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Castle Forbes duo

The CF Lavender combined with the after shave balm is simply superb. The Jagger Chatsworth and New Forest High Mountain completed the first team line up today.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Rooney brushes

My Rooney prototype 

Rooney Finest

I saw this referred to here:

My prototype, which I bought direct from Lee Sabini through Ebay cost about £30 - it's the Rooney Super grade, costs a lot less than the brushes on offer at Classic Shaving - $324

Want one?

I'll be giving them a miss.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Big brushes

They don't get any bigger than this. My favourite size brush has a knot of 22 mm with a loft of about 50 mm. A good compromise as a versatlle brush for use with soaps creams and any type of lathering. The Simpsons Polo 14 is the largest brush on the market for the general shaver. Some bigger ones are made for display only. That's what this ought to be, too.

The Polo stands 139 mm with a loft of 57 mm and a 34mm knot. The Best Badger hair is very soft and produces huge amounts of lather. This is best painted on your face but the sheer size of the head makes it difficult to control. It's a novelty and fun to use, but not a serious option for regular use. I'm pleased to have it in my collection.

This gives some idea of how it compares with the size of a Chubby 2, Tulip 1 and Wee Scott.

But I did get through my shave with the excellent Body Shop Maca Root cream, balm and Jagger Chatsworth razor with a Gillette Super Thin blade.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Matters of consequence

I'm sorry shavers - Fido is engaged on a matter of consequence today.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Feather Stainless Steel Razor

What on earth made me buy another razor?!
 For £129.95 shipped.

I bought it from here

He only has the one with the stand left in stock. Go on, it's Christmas soon.
Seriously folks it really is a superb razor. First shave was excellent. But I'll use it for a while before coming to judgement. Meanwhile, take a look at that review. That's an enthusiast sharing his passion. It's what this is all about.

Meanwhile I've got more important matters on my mind.

Like England's World Cup bid. I was at Wembley in '66 when we won it. I doubt I'd get a ticket this time.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I didn't buy any shaving stuff yesterday. Bought this Apple Magic Mouse instead. I wish I'd bought one earlier. It's magic!

I paid £56 for it in the UK. How much is it in the USA? or elsewhere?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two band and finest silvertip

I was pleased to be able to help a fellow enthusiast by supplying the knots used in my first two New Forest brushes. Fine looking brushes! Nice bowl too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Back to the 60s

They stopped making Yardleys soap a few years ago. This remained an unused 1960s Christmas gift until given to me by a friend lat year. I've now shaved with it several times. The lather is superb. On the day I was given it a bowl sold for £56 on Ebay! I wouldn't have paid that but, but I can understand why someone did.

The razor is a 1964 (Fourth quarter) Gillette Flair Tip Superspeed. How do I know that?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fido's Christmas razor

Last year it was Martin de Candre. This year I'll use it with this Feather Stainless Steel (AS-D1) This clinched it:

New Forest Finest Silvertip 2211 - SOLD OUT

The New Forest Finest Silvertip 2211 is now sold out.

I will be launching my next brush, the New Forest High Mountain Badger 2221 in January.

I will now also be making a few brushes locally using some different handle shapes and materials as a way also of deciding future projects.

I really appreciate the support I've received - it really does make the effort worthwhile.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

New Forest Brushes - Special offers

From time to time I intend to post special offers. These will include new and used samples as well as small batches of new brushes which I now intend to have made in the New Forest. Details can be seen on my New Forest Brushes Blog here:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Shaving "Passes"

I don't recall anyone telling me how to shave. Most of my life I used goo or foam bought by my wife and scraped it off with the latest razor or blades she gave me at Christmas. I never thought of applying additional lather or systematically shaving in different directions. I just felt my face to find remaining bits of stubble and had another go at that area. I simply hated shaving - particularly with a new blade. Looking back, it's no wonder I so often ended up cursing the nicks and cuts.

These days, thanks to all the advice that I've picked up on the internet, shaving is now a daily ritual I really look forward to. I assemble the team for the day and take my time. Now I shave my face in three different directions. Before each "pass" I apply fresh lather. I finish off by gently squeezing out some lather left in the brush for a fourth tidy up. All the time focusing on slow gentle strokes of the razor. For the next few hours I never can resist a little bit of faceturbating to confirm just how good my shave was that day.

The shaving forums can be a bit of a bear pit at times. But I am hugely indebted to all those people who take the time and trouble to post advice and suggestions for those of us who decide to take more interest in improving our shaving ritual.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Brush handle materials

Some materials I intend to use to have a few shaving brushes made here in the New Forest using some new handle shapes. Only in small groups of three or four at a time - in two band and finest silvertip. From top - tambootie, an African hardwood, alpalina, alternative ebony and alternative ivory.

I'll post links here to my New Forest Brushes Blog when brushes become available.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Brush loft comparisons

These are samples I had made for a New Forest 2203 - a fan shape version of a two band brush. They both have the same knot. One is set at 49 mm, the other is 44 mm. The shorter loft makes it more like a bulb shape - and in my opinion simply too stiff although it might suit some soap and face lathering enthusiasts. If I do decide to produce a batch of these brushes, I will aim for a slightly flatter top with a loft set at 48 mm.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


This is the third day using the new Wilkinson Hydro 5 and it really does give a very comfortable shave. It leaves the skin feeling lubricated throughout the shave. No need for a lot of lather. I just gently painted on a thin coat of Tabac with my Acca Kappa brush. To round off, the Hydro balm provides a great value finish. On sale at the UK at present at half the normal price of £4.99. Might get a couple more.

A litttle more about the brush:

Monday, November 22, 2010

New Forest Brushes -Looking ahead

I have had a fantastic reaction to my first two brushes. I have just posted details on some shaving forums and my blog. Feedback has done the rest. I'm not doing any other marketing.
My next brush, the New Forest High Mountain Badger 2221 completes the first phase of my venture. It will be released in January. At £45 shipped worldwide, it will be simply the best value high quality brush money can buy. To match this quality hair with a Plisson High Mountain White of the same knot size would cost over £200. The hair is more expensive because of it's rarity but as far as I'm concerned I'm not interested in a policy of charging what the market might bear. I'm continuing to provide top quality brushes to enthusiasts at a price that many more can afford. Here's the prototype I have been using for a few weeks:

New Forest High Mountain Badger 2221

Two new developments will now proceed. I have bought a batch of two band and Finest Silvertip knots. And a small stock of imitation ivory, alpalina and imitation ebony. This will enable me to experiment with some new handle shapes for a few brushes I will have made in the New Forest.

And in the spring of 2011, I will be introducing a small number of new brushes in a 24 mm knot size using this handle shape:

I plan to keep New Forest brushes as a small manageable one man business. I have declined offers from on line retailers to sell my brushes. That would push up my prices and increase the scale of activity beyond my comfort zone. I have no wish to be a threat to other brands and brush makers. I hope I can encourage enthusiasts to enjoy the fun of collecting more brushes. In that way, everyone benefits!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wilkinson Hydro

I was recently invited to a promotional event about Wilkinson Hydro shaving products. I couldn't go. These turned up yesterday:

You can find all you need to know about these products here:

Wilkinson Hydro

And some reviews


These are not the sort of thing that those of us who have returned to traditional shaving are likely to favour. But I will give some of this stuff a try with an open mind.

Something I found particularly interesting was a document that came with the samples describing the conclusions of some research for Wilkinson by The Future Laboratory.

I quote:

.. new research shows how men's attitudes and behaviour are evolving to define new trends in facial shaving, in line with the seismic changes all around us.

The next decade is set to be the most challenging, problematic, optimistic and imaginative period of our lives, and has been dubbed the turbulent teens by The Future Laboratory. Jobs, earning power social standing and security are all under threat, affecting the changing role model of masculinity. Three trends are identified:

Sharp Shaving - In response to flashy consumerism, we are seeing a renewed interest in traditional shaving styles, steeped in shared history and authenticity yet fashion led, which has led to Sharp Shaving. (Me err..../)

Straight Shaving - In troubled times, men are reverting to a more conventional manly stereotype, giving rise to Straight Shaving, an overtly masculine, no frills, no nonsense and confidence asserting attitude to shaving.

Spa Shaving - Indulgence is no longer restricted to women. Spa Shaving sees men taking the time, money and effort to take care of themselves to look and feel their best, as part of a holistic grooming routine.

These trends are portrayed through the Three Ages of  Shaving, defining male typologies that embody them:

The Forced Shaver - the young rebel who won't shave, but knows he needs to in order to conform and move forward in life.

The Connoisseur Shaver - the dapper dandy who wants the authentic art of shaving to express his fashion style.

The Revitalised Shaver - the older gent re-energised about life and caring for himself through shaving, looking healthier and happier.

The research applied a combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies and analyses, spanning extensive desk research, a consumer survey, expert interviews to expand on key themes and consumer vox pops.

While the motivations behind men's shaving habits are many and complex, the barriers to shaving are equally intriguing. As noted by Mark Tungate, author of Marketing to Men and Luxury World: "The best way to get men to shave is to make the experience more pleasurable. If there was a way of making the act of shaving as pleasurable as going to the barber, I reckon many more men would do it"

WOW! I cannot quite tie in these conclusions with the Hydro range of products - are they a return to tradition?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Simply perfect!

This is the New Forest High Mountain Badger 2221 due to be released in January. It is such a joy to use. Todays Castle Forbes Lavender produced an explosion of lather in a bowl. A gentle painting then a massage in circular motions illustrated just how soft the tips of this brush are. The 22mm/ 46 mm spec makes it an ideal size for lathering while retaining control of the brush. The Jagger Chatsworth/Red Personna make a great combination and I must soon think about some more Cucumber and Rose Milk!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shaving Forums

I started keeping a record of forum numbers last year. This is a comparison with numbers on 17 November each year:

                                             2009               2010

Badger and Blade                 18273             31637
Straight Razor Place              15843             27194
Shave My Face                       6143               6998
The Shave Den                       2822              5053
The Shaving Room                   172                628
Dam Fine Shave                                            404 
Shave Ready                                                 288
Pogonotomy                                                   53        

Total                                    43703            72255 

Probably a lot of multiple registrations across forums, but no doubt about the growth in numbers. I will continue to monitor. Apologies to Forums I've not included. Happy to add numbers if anyone can supply the figures.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chubby 2 Best

The Chubby 3 must be a whopper. This is simply too big for lathering off the puck without getting messy. But it did deliver from L'Occitane Cade today. It's a magnificent brush but just a bit too big to be among my favourites. I prefer to lather creams in a bowl with it. Much better, less messy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Forest 2203 Superior Badger 2 band

My next New Forest brush, to be released in January, will be my first High Mountain grade brush, the 2221.

The pictures above are of the brush likely to be released next March. It will be a fan shape version of the New Forest 2201. I am in a real quandary about the loft. The knot will be 22 mm. The brushes in the photo are both set with a loft of 50 mm. The used one on the right has been tested by me over several weeks now. I'm soon due to receive samples set at a loft of 46 mm. This is likely to be popular among soap using face latherers who like a good backbone. But I do wonder about whether or not the brush would be better with a slightly higher loft. At 50 mm it feels soft and luxurious and has a backbone greater than most silvertips. I'll probably end up deciding between 46/47 or 48 mm.

I do fuss over my specs. That's what makes it so satisfying when you get excellent reviews for the choices you make.

I shall ponder on.

DE Aggressiveness

I'm not sure if I posted this link before. But here it is anyway.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A post on a shaving forum:

I think I actually enjoy less dense brushes...

So I have purchased a rediculous amount of brushes in the last few weeks (eight to be exact). I have a few Simpson two-bands, a pre-fix Simpson PJ1 in super, a couple TGN silvertip knots, a Wee Scot, and two Vulfix brushes, a 660 small and a 374 both in super badger.

I am having a badger hair melt down...

I honestly do not like my Simpson two-bands, I want so much to love them but I can't. I think they are too scrathy and stiff for me, I can't get passed it.

I recently picked up a PJ1 pre-fix in super and really like it. I think it is because of the fan shape and the softer feel. I keep hearing of these two-band revalations but I can't make mine come to fruition. I think it is the spend more get more misconseption that is coming through.

Basically this is what I can tell you after just a year of wet shaving. If you find a brush, a cream, a soap, a blade, or a razor that works for you, stick with it. No matter what everyone else is using, who cares!!! Use what works for you.

This is an interesting observation. It illustrates the wide variety of brushes available because so many of us have different preferences.

I have several two band brushes. Some enthusiasts like them the stiffer the better to give a really good scrub during lathering. At another extreme I have some soft, floppy silvertips that provide a totally different experience. There are no rights or wrongs here. Each of us will find our own preferences. I find that I love the variety on offer in the world of wet shaving. Creams, soaps, razors and brushes - different types, shapes and sizes. And they can be used in varied combinations.

It's why all reviews should be treated with caution. There's only one way to find out if you like something!

New Forest in China

Sold my first shaving brush to China.

Well it was to someone with parents in the UK who has moved from Houston. But who cares. Fido's off to China! The New Forest Finest Silvertip 2211 goes far and wide.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mix and match

One of my most expensive brushes worked up a great lather from one of my cheapest soaps. The 90th Anniversary Simpsons Astor LE (£180) with Palmolive shave stick. Stuffed in a mini casserole dish it works perfectly. Another great value after shave balm is Proraso.

The Astor is my favourite two band, not too dense with a loft of 52 mm, it has very soft tips and makes an excellent brush to use with creams as well as hard soaps.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Two band lofts

This is a New Forest 2202 two band. One of only a few made in the New Forest using tambottie, an African hardwood. This is a 22 mm knot set at a loft of 55 mm. Even at that loft it has sufficient backbone to deliver excellent lather from hard soaps. Today it was Arlington, from DR Harris. Many enthusiasts favour lofts below 50 mm, so you can make your choice from 45 mm to 55 mm and still achieve satisfactory results. I prefer 50/52 mm. for two band brushes. A good compromise.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fido's 2 bands

From L to R TGN, LE Grosvenor, Rooney 1/2 Finest, PJ2 Super, PJ2 Best (both 2 band) New Forest 2201, New Forest 2202, New Forest 2203 (not on general release yet)

2 band brushes are all great performers with soaps - firm backbone and soft tips. Bulb shape are best at 50 mm or above. Fan shape are best a little lower.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Back to soaps

After a couple of weeks of creams it was back to soaps today. Trumpers Rose soaked in water while showering then face lathered with a Simpsons PJ2 two band delivered great results. The bulb shape works perfectly at a loft of 50 mm - plenty of backbone but not too stiff. Cucumbers and Rose Milk starting to run low. Complements the Trumpers Rose perfectly.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pre shave products

I've tried several pre shave products and some home made stuff. I've used hot towels and sometimes spent a lot of time on pre shave action.

These days?

After my shower, I just rinse mt face again in hot /warm water and leave it wet. Then apply my lather.


Great shaves every time. I wouldn't discourage anyone from trying anything. But a fairly simple pre shave routine works just fine for me.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Silvertip Shaving brush prices

"Silvertip" is the softest and most luxurious of the shaving brush grades. There are variations. Finest Silvertip is resorted and redressed silvertip. Some brands use the term "Super" to describe their best silvertip. Others use the term to describe a lesser standard (Vulfix)

Here are a few examples of prices of some well known brands for some medium size brushes:

All are in the silvertip/super/finest silvertip category:

Vulfix 2235                  23 mm knot  50mm loft                 £152
Simpsons Tulip 2          22 mm          50 mm                      £108
Shavemac 177               23 mm          54 mm                      £75
Rooney 3/1 ST              22 mm           48 mm                     £65
Jagger medium              21 mm           50 mm                     £67
           large                  23 mm           50 mm                     £90
Thater 4125/0                22 mm           48 mm                     £87
Savile Row 3824            22 mm           52mm                     $98 exc tax.
Kent BK4                      22 mm           55 mm                    £50

I have used most of these brushes. They are fine brushes and a pleasure to use.

I quote this to show a comparison with the best value silvertip available today:

New Forest Finest Silvertip 2211  22 mm knot  48 mm loft   £35 inc. shipping.

Just a few now left!