The 'Fergiebilly' Shim

Billy, you know him as 'Fergiebilly', has made some precise measurements of modern GEM/Personna blades versus the old GEM, Ever Ready and Star blades from around the 1910s and found that the old blades, Damaskeenes, Cru-Steel and the like, had a thicker spine and so, the dynamics of the razor were actually quite different to the shaves we experience today with modern GEM/Personna blades.

To remedy, he found that half of a modern GEM/Personna spine slipped underneath was just right.

Here's how ...

First, de-spine an old blade by squeezing at each end of the spine and wiggling it free:

Now, using flat blade screw drivers and a good hard edge, like a metal ruler, open up the spine ...

... close it up and repeat a few times until it snaps:

Take your razor, say a 1912, and load in the half spine and the blade on top:

Voila! Shimmed!

You can do the same with, say a GEM Junior Bar, loading in the blade and then slipping the shim under:

Voila! Shimmed!

... that's how :D
Naturally, once you've removed a spine from a GEM you can easily slip it onto the back of a FEATHER blade if that's something you'd want to do ...
Just a wee footnote......

With the Modification, you will find that the shaving angle of these older razors is closer to the face as per the manufactures instructions and that the comb is leading and smoothing and stretching the skin whilst offering protection from the blade exposure.....The razor becomes markedly more aggressive cutter on the whiskers whilst being more smoother and efficient shaver even with a new blade......


Your shaving angle needs to be spot on with the Modification.....If its not you will experience some blade chatter due to the fact that modern blades are not as rigid as the older stropping blades as you now have the correct gap which is wider between the blade and comb......

This can happen anyway when your shaving angle is off course with modern SE blades in older razors even without the Modification....... In my experience this never happens with more modern SEs..........:icon_razz:

I've been experimenting with the shim a few days now in a Clog Pruf and a G bar. This morning I used the Clog Pruf minus the shim the shave was very good still but I definitely think it's closer and smoother with the shim. Shimmed two passes does it... Incredibly smooth!
Thanks Paul ☺
H Dave,

That's great you are finding an improvement with the Modification.....You are a away ahead of me regarding the Clog Proof.......:icon_razz:
The GEM Heavy Flat Top also known as the GEM G Bar, OCMM, Clog Proof and the Bullet Tip were all designed to take a standard Modern GEM Blade......
If you have found that the Clog Proof shaves well for you with a modified blade that's great, but I haven't tried it....:s

I would be careful about trying that in a Heavy Flat Top and a Bullet Tip as they were designed to close down on a Modern Blade ......I don't know if there is enough clearance without potentially damaging the spring......:huh:

Great to hear folks experimenting.......:icon_razz:

Hi Billy,
This is my second day of using a Gem junior Bar , using a shim with a Gem S/S blade. Whilst the shave felt aggressive even tuggy, for me the finish was poor,despite taking longer to shave than usual.

I thought perhaps down to new blade, but the experience today was similar. Near the end of the Shave, I removed the shim and immediately the razor became milder,and I finished off my shave. Tomorrow will do the whole shave without the Shim,and see how it goes.

I guess it might be the case of what suits one, does not always work for others.Will let you know how it goes on SOTD.
Regards Mike
Hi Mike
Yeah the razor does become more aggressive. and the shaving angle has to be spot on with the shiim or it will be a bit tuggy, and of course it's maybe not for every body as you say.......It took me more than a moment......The razors almost flat on the face with the Shim.....

Good to hear youre enjoying the G Bar Junior:icon_razz:
I carried out the modification today, and well....I doff my cap to you Sir, many thanks.
I wouldn't have thought it possible to improve upon the perfection in the 1912 but this most certainly does. Not entirely sure how it manages to become more aggressive whilst still maintaining the smoothness. The latter is why I have always been taken by the 1912.
I guess I'm just going to have to get some original blades and a stropper now!