Smoothing up one's face, of course.
Once upon a time, I used an electric face-buzzer for the purpose. (It was good enough for my father, and all that.) About 20 years back, I started having Issues with ingrown whiskers, and switched to a disposable-cartridge face scraper most of the time (the exception being those mornings when I'm feeling lazy and/or rushed just after I get out of the shower, in which case I use the electric after breakfast).
The last few years, I'd been using a Gillette Mach 3, which works very well indeed, but those blade cartridges are so dang expensive...!
And so it came to pass that I got motivated to give an old-fashioned, single-blade safety razor another go. Not finding the random cheapie that I'd inexplicably had lying around some years back, I went and ordered a good sturdy Merkur from Amazon, along with one of those blade samplers (50 assorted blades from around the world, for about $25).
I figger I'll try a bunch of different blades, identify some that work well for me and don't wear out too quickly, and then keep an eye out for bulk-quantity bargains.
This morning, I started keeping a spreadsheet, perhaps for eventual publication.
The Merkur sample blade was good for a couple of weeks, and was OK on both comfort and closeness.
Next up was a Gillette 7 O'Clock Super Stainless*. Used that yesterday and this morning. Very comfortable, but... I just couldn't get a decent shave around the chin area. Keep scraping, keep getting what seems like a whisker-cutting sensation... but the stubble obstinately remains. Forget the longevity test on this one; it just isn't giving me good results.
I finished up the chin this morning with the next blade in the queue, a Shark Super Stainless. Good on both comfort and closeness, at least for a first impression (and keeping in mind that this was a touch-up shave). Now to see if it gives good results tomorrow morning, and how long it lasts. This is a very cheap brand, so if I get good results it's a leading candidate for stocking up on.
In the queue: Feather, Blue Bird, Astra, Lord, Nacet. Then many others still in the bag they came in.
*Made in Russia. When's the last time you saw a clean-shaven Russian? Or does the brand name refer to the fashionable seven o'clock shadow it leaves behind?
Update: looks like the Shark is good for almost a week before the quality of the shave deteriorates. At around 13 cents a blade in bulk, this isn't a bad deal.
Next out of the pile is Feather Hi-Stainless. First use is marginally better than the new Shark, and significantly better than the week-old Shark. These are quite a bit pricier than the Shark, but if it gives good shaves for a month instead of a week... well, we'll see how long it lasts. (Actually, it looks like Feather blades can be found for around 30 cents, so a fortnight of good shaves would make them a good value.)
Additional: I just came across a recommendation that one should switch from canned shaving cream to real lather applied with a brush, before switching from the proprietary cartridge razor to a standard safety razor. I'm, characteristically, doing this the other way 'round; having started the blade comparison while using Gillette Foamy Regular, I'll stick with that until I'm done comparing blades (or at least with the first round of comparisons).