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The Wapienica (Wapi)

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If you have visited any forum on the Internet dedicated to wet shaving, you have most likely run across chatter about that 'cheap' straight razor from Poland.  The Wapienica, or Wapi for short, is an inexpensive, but highly regarded straight razor made in the 70s for use in Russian hospitals.  The are all steel construction, including the scales, as they were autoclaved after use on patients for sterilization.  All Wapis are sourced out of Poland and are new, old stock, which means they are unused.  Supposedly a large stockpile was found in Poland that was never used, therefore they are being sold off by a Polish eBay seller. 

What makes this little razor so special is not only does it does hone up easily and take on a wickedly sharp edge that lasts a long time, it only costs around $25 USD shipped from Poland if you can find them.  They can also be purchased pre-sharpened from reputable forum members at straightrazorplace.com for an additional fee. 

The blade itself usually carries the stamping 'SFK' on the shank, although some do not.   It is a small blade compared to most straight razors although the width is right at 5/8.  The grind is betwen full wedge and 1/4 hollow.  Now, although the Wapi is basically a wedge, the edge is still somewhat flexible, unlike most antique wedge razors. 

Unfortunately, there are a few problems with the Wapi.  The scales are made of stainless steel, which physically looks very attractive, but they are way too heavy for the small blade.  Shaving with the original scales is a chore because they tend to want to lean towards the ground, away from your face, which changes the angle of the blade and results in too steep of an angle to efficiently cut hairs.  This is easily solved by replacing the scales with wood or a much lighter material.  There are several great scalemakers on the forums that can assist with this or they can be replaced by getting pre-made DOVO replacement scales.  Another issue with the Wapi is that, they can be somewhat inconsistent.  I have handled 3 different Wapi's and 2 out of 3 were very easy to hone.  The 3rd was much more difficult.  The blade was somewhat warped and did not sit even on the hone.  It required alot of work to get the bevel set but it shaves just fine now.

Now once this razor has new scales on it and is honed up properly, it shaves better than most of my more expensive razors.  It seems to just want to slice right through the hair with little or no effort.  The first time I shaved with one I had to literally check to see if the hair was being removed because it was so easy to shave with.

The Wapi is a great little blade for people new to straight razors or experienced shavers alike.  It makes a great addition to anyone's razor rotation.  Plus, it won't break the bank.

 

 

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Bruce
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