Today’s post is an interview with François Martin of Falcon Razors. François has developed a prototype single edge safety razor called the Falcon F1. I reached out to François to see if he would want to share his story with us and he has kindly accepted.
1) On the off chance that readers don’t know who you are, please tell us a bit about yourself and how you fit into the wet shaving community?
My name is François, I’m getting 23 in November and live in Switzerland. My fiancée and I don’t live together yet, although we are currently in the process of moving together. After completing my apprenticeship as a chemical lab technician, I started studying Molecular Life Sciences for 3 semesters, although I now switched to IT, which begins in September. I am a perfectionist and always looking around for new ways of improving things in my life, which includes shaving. I tried almost everything out there, before finally getting to DE razors and straight razors. I now appreciate shaving a lot more and like trying out different soaps / creams. It makes shaving much more fun and diverse. Of course now since the start of my blog of Falcon Razors (www.falconrazors.com) I hope the community will appreciate the work I put into the razor I designed and gives them the same great shaves as well!
2) Can you tell the readers anything about your struggles when starting wet shaving or anything you struggle with now?
What I struggled with most when starting wet shaving was probably not being able to go straight against the grain without getting pulling or tugging with any DE blade I tried, even Feathers. Since I am a perfectionist as I already mentioned, it was quite annoying for me not being able to get a very smooth shave that way, as I do have a pretty coarse beard. What I struggle with now is a lot harder for me to say, since if there’s a struggle, I try to work on it and find a solution. What I would say I’d struggle with most would be my allergies, since I do seem to react to some soaps / creams I try, which is very unpredictable for me since I couldn’t really narrow it down to certain things.
3) What is your current go to shave set up?
Good question! My setup changes almost every time I shave, since I do like to experiment a lot. As for the razor it is an easy choice, my 3D printed prototypes of the Falcon F1. It surpasses everything I have tried so far and if I can, I will use it. I use a Feather Professional AC blade, since I want the Professional blade to kind of be the baseline to start with, and this allows me to adjust the razor accordingly. My favorite soaps/creams so far would be (in no particular order) Martin de Candre, Castle Forbes, Meissner Tremonia, Valobra and Tabula Rasa. However, this may change at any point since I still have some soap brands to try. As for the after-shave, I almost exclusively use Geo F. Trumper Skin Food Coral, which seems to work well for me. As for the brush, my favorite brush so far has been the Simpsons Chubby 2 in Super Badger, although I recently got my Wolf Whiskers Übersoft 24mm 7 Seas in the Bishop shape, which I seem to like more and more.
4) How has the wet shaving hobby changed since you started?
Well, I have to say that from the point on I first tried the F1 3D printed prototype, my shaves have become a lot better. I also learned a lot about the most ideal way to shave for me and the correct technique since the beginning.
5) When did you start thinking about creating your own razor?
Every time I faced a point in shaving where I didn’t have any more options to improve my shaves further but still wasn’t happy with them, I felt a “nudge”, telling me that there can’t possibly be no other way. They added up over time to that point where there really was nothing like what I needed on the market, so I thought the only way was to design it myself, essentially creating a solution to all of my problems.
6) What do you feel makes the Falcon F1 razor stand out / makes it unique?
What probably most of my readers would answer to this question would be clearly the design. I get the feedback from a lot of people that they like a lot how it looks and they think it’s a very good looking design. This wasn’t my main intention, although I am glad about people liking the design so much!
In my opinion what makes the F1 stand out or unique would most probably be the shaves that it gives. The shaving experience with it is the best I ever had and there are times where I can’t believe it myself. I mean, after all this is the purpose of a razor, so in my opinion this should be the thing that makes a razor stand out the most. Of course there are other things that stand out, like it having a replaceable thread stem design, which as far as I know is the only DE/SE razor with this intention in mind on the market. What may also make it stand out would be the fact that I didn’t design this razor with profitability in mind, but focused on longevity and shaving performance with as few compromises as possible.
7) What are the technical specifications of the Falcon?
The complete technical specifications can be found on my blog . But to name a few, it will be made in 316L stainless steel and 6061 aluminium, polished to a mirror finish, machined by CNC. This allows for very tight tolerances up to ±0.01 mm (about 0.0004 inches). I plan to eliminate blade alignment this way and also reducing quality issues. It uses the Feather Artist Club single-edged blades. The aggressiveness is comparable to a Mühle R41 (2013 edition) with a Feather Professional blade, but shaves more comfortably. This way, people can put a Kai Mild blade in there if they would like to have it more mild and some needing an even more aggressive razor, can put a Feather Super blade in there, which results in a broad variety of aggressiveness levels, so everyone should be able to find a combination that suits them.
8) While final dimensions wont be known until the design is finalized, is there anything that you are specifically trying to achieve (examples: certain blade gap, certain blade exposure, final weight of the head unit, price point, or anything else?)
The blade gap is a quite difficult topic with AC blades, since each of them will have a different one, because of the different blade lengths, compared to DE blades all being the same shape. I set the blade gap to be about 0.9mm with a Feather Professional blade and like I said, if someone would use a Feather Super blade in there, the blade gap would be greater, allowing for a more aggressive shave and with a Kai Mild blade the blade gap would be smaller, resulting in a milder shave. As for the price point, head only will be $90-150 for the aluminium version and $100-160 for the stainless steel version. Of course the price depends greatly on the demand, since the more people order, the more pieces I can have machined and the cheaper it gets. I can’t say much about the price for the handle though, since I will yet have to design it and get quotes from suppliers for it.
10) Currently the Falcon is only being developed to be sold as a head unit sans handle. Will this change in the future?
[From this blog post: Please don’t ask me too much about details like the material yet, since I need to design the handle from scratch first and as you know me, it will probably not be a boring, everyday handle. I will take balance into account very much and try to design the handle as ergonomically as I possibly can, without being too fancy, still maintaining that clean look.]
11) If you could ask fellow wet shavers one thing and get an answer from all of them, what would that question be?
I would be interested in knowing their issues in shaving, which they couldn’t find a solution to. I’m pretty sure I can’t be the only one who ran across issues he/she couldn’t solve, simply because there was not anything like what they would need on the market yet. This would give me the chance to maybe enhance the razor even further by accommodating for issues I don’t know of yet.
12) Would you like to give anyone in particular a shout out or a honorable mention?
I think firstly my fiancée, since she has been very supportive from the beginning, motivating me to go on the venture and was always there for me if someone/something would let me down. Secondly would be Chris Bailey aka TSE. I share a lot of his opinions and appreciate him giving me advice, especially since he has been in the wet shaving community for a lot longer than I have been. His suggestions are always very thought out and his advice seems to always prove itself right. Of course I’d also like to give a shout out that every single person out there, believing in my project and supporting me. Every little comment I get on my blog, emails or social network messages I appreciate a lot and I try to answer every of them. Without you, I wouldn’t be at the point I am now.
13) For someone new to this community, how do they get the most out of it?
I recommend watching a lot of videos from wet shaving YouTuber’s but still staying critical and questioning if what those people are doing is right. Not every YouTuber has very good technique or knows how to use their tools well, and if something works for them this doesn’t have to mean it works for you as well. Try out a lot of different things, even if they seem to be obscure at first thought, it may end up improving your shaves by a lot. Also of course, if you stumble across a hurdle, don’t simply walk away, follow your dreams and don’t be afraid to try out different things to solve problems and to create new solutions if there aren’t any for a particular problem.
14) Has anything surprised you about producing a product or the response of the wet shaving community?
Yes, definitely. I thought like I would get the blog up and expected like 50 visitors at max in a week or so, surely not being overwhelmed by so many people. Now, the blog has been up for about 2 weeks and I’ve had about 4000 unique visitors, which is a lot more than I could have ever expected. I was also surprised by how many people there were who are really supporting me and my project, but also about how much some people put out hate and try to stop me. But I’m really glad to have all of those great people around me who always get me back on track, following my dream.
15) Where do you see the Falcon Razor, and yourself, 5 years from now?
5 years is quite a lot of time I think. I would live with my fiancée together, which would make me very happy. By then I will have finished my bachelor degree for sure and maybe will be at my master or working at a company. At this time, it is quite difficult for me to predict if Falcon Razors will be such a success that I could do it as my main job, but time will tell! In 5 years I will have the F1 launched for sure, maybe already working on some other razor designs and selling them.
16) A lot of people have been trying their hand at artisan soap making, restorations, and honing, and even some new safety razors. If you had one piece of advice to give to someone who wanted to start a business centered around wet shaving what would it be?
First off would be to tell them to follow their dreams and only start a business if it’s because of a passion they have. People give me a lot of feedback, telling me that they can feel my passion in my writing and I’m sure it would make starting such a business a lot easier. Also, to not give up and have other people destroy their dreams, even more so looking for people around them who support them and who they trust in, since that helps a lot. Try to evaluate first, before starting a project, that you would at least be able to cover your costs, since nothing would be worse than a business you’re passionate in doing, but ruining yourself financially. Involve the community from the point on you realize you can at least cover your costs and you take the venture of starting your business, since that way people can give you feedback, helping you to improve your product from the beginning.