09-30-2014, 02:04 AM
#1
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I been thinking again, and sometimes when I do that my brain gets stuck on questions I cant answer...

Given that the original Gillette blade was - among other differences - noticeable thicker and therefore more rigid than today's blades, and that perceived blade aggressiveness is often linked to blade exposure and angle... would an old razor (like, say, a Gillette Old Type from 1918) shave and feel any different back then compared to these days?

What y'all's opinion on this? Were razors, milder, more aggressive, much the same? If anyone tried an old razor with a NOS old carbon steel blade (pre 1929, if my research is reliable) and wants to weigh in on this issue it would be great too Smile

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 09-30-2014, 03:41 AM
#2
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Great question, Im curious myself.

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 09-30-2014, 05:38 AM
#3
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The only Gillettes that I use today are pre '21 single rings. I have Gillettes that are younger, but they have a slightly thicker head and I can feel that as a sort of "dump truck" like feel to the shave. Then one moves into TTO DE Gillette razors and that feeling is amplified. FWIW, one wouldn't think that the slight thickness in the head cap would be noticeable; it's barely perceptible to the eye, but it does make a difference to some folks.

I wouldn't claim any fixed head Gillettes are aggressive, but the older razors are generally considered to be more aggressive than the more modern models, or so I've gathered reading on the forums over the years (excluding the adjustable models). I have been known to add a shim or 2 to my single rings to help them along (make them more aggressive). Allow the adjustable modes into the mix and they can be made far more aggressive than the fixed Gillette heads.

Then one can consider the SE razors, and they run the gamut of aggressiveness. The mildest SE razor I ever used was the GEM 1907 Jr Bar lather catcher. Then to prove the first one wasn't just a fluke I bought another and yes, it was far too mild for me. Most lather catchers are mid aggressive on my scale of aggressiveness. Comparing DE to SE razors of the day I'd have to rate the SE razors as being more aggressive. They didn't begin to get generally mild until the '40s, then in the '50s the head on the featherweight was developed and that design was used until GEM went belly up. The Featherweight type head is mild for a SE razor, though not nearly as mild as the much earlier GEM Jr Bar LC.

I'd love to know the shave differences between the older, thicker DE blades and the thinner modern blades too. I can't image anyone actually rehoning one to find out though. I spend most of my shave time using SE razors primarily because of the thicker blades. They flex less and that makes for a far more pleasant shave for me. They shave more like an exceedingly sharp Rolls Razor with no vibration, and a more "stable" blade. I wonder if the older thicker DE blades would have the same effect? I don't know the answer to this, how much thicker were they? Someone?

SE blades were thicker in the old days as well. At least one gent elsewhere has honed a few of them and while I don't remember him claiming that the shave was wildly different does like them. I seem to remember him claiming that the shave was more like a shave from a wedge blade. That could be strictly due to the honing by hand. I dunno. Honing by hand changes everything, just as much as time changed the carbon steel edge just by sitting in atmospheric moisture has. I think to test that a manufacturer would need to be enlisted to buy thicker blade stock and test it. I wonder if they have?

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 09-30-2014, 08:16 AM
#4
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King Gillette's original patent do mention "The blade of my razors made of' sheet steel having preferably a uniform thickness of about six one-thousandths of an inch."

Or in measures more easy to understand; 6/1000" = 0.1524 mm.

A fair bit of digging online seems to indicate that modern blades are about 0.10 mm thick, or about 2/3rds as thick as the old blade - assuming, off course, that the original blade was as thick as the patent calls for.

These guys offers three hole blades that are a dimensional match for the pre-1929 Gillette blade... and it seems that one of the thickness's they offer match the old blades. At any rate they are made for cutting plastic film, so they will probably be rotten for cutting beards with Sad

Making a number of wild assumptions, desperately pulling on what I learned in structural mechanics more than two decades ago, and hoping that this website have got their code right; the old blade ought to be twice as stiff as the current blades - with the biggest caveat being that the modulus of elasticity is the same for the steels used.

Even so, after all that searching and math, I have no idea how a blade twice as stiff would affect the behaviour of an Old Style Gillette Wink

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 09-30-2014, 08:25 AM
#5
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Very knowledgeable, Brian. Thank you for this. I was curious myself.

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 09-30-2014, 01:11 PM
#6
  • Johnny
  • MODERATOR EMERITUS
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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It is my aged opinion that the old razors with the old blades did not shave as well as the old razors and the modern blades we have today. The old blades were not as sharp and could not handle the elements.

My Dad had several old Gillette razors with the Gillette Blue blades and after trying to use them is the reason I shaved with a Schick Injector for my first 10-years of shaving.

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 09-30-2014, 05:15 PM
#7
  • SRNewb
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  • No. Va, USA
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(09-30-2014, 01:11 PM)Johnny Wrote: It is my aged opinion that the old razors with the old blades did not shave as well as the old razors and the modern blades we have today. The old blades were not as sharp and could not handle the elements.

My Dad had several old Gillette razors with the Gillette Blue blades and after trying to use them is the reason I shaved with a Schick Injector for my first 10-years of shaving.
There speaks the voice of experience. Good to have on a forum like this.

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 09-30-2014, 07:27 PM
#8
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(09-30-2014, 01:11 PM)Johnny Wrote: It is my aged opinion that the old razors with the old blades did not shave as well as the old razors and the modern blades we have today. The old blades were not as sharp and could not handle the elements.

My Dad had several old Gillette razors with the Gillette Blue blades and after trying to use them is the reason I shaved with a Schick Injector for my first 10-years of shaving.

The Voice of Experience Smile But would you say they were milder or more aggressive than modern blades - I realise that it may be hard to tell, considering they were also duller.

Does anyone have any Gillette Blue laying around, so we could see if they are indeed thicker than modern blades? I'm seeing some indications online that started going thin before the Blue came on the market, but this seems to be a field few people have looked into.

Brian makes a good point about SE blades; I may pull out my callipers and have a go at measuring my new GEMs and one of the old EverReady Radio Steel blades.

Following up (I should have had my breakfast and getting shaved, but this is interesting):

It's hard to tell exactly when blades got thinner, but over on another forum I spotted one guy claiming that
Quote:[blades] became a lot thinner after that; I have seen blades from the 50's and 60's that went from 0.10 to 0.08 and even 0.06mm.

For all I know the increased thinness of the blades could have started sooner, the the modern shape and perforation of the DE blades seems to have appeared around 1930. Going by the patent numbers listed on a US Gillette Blue from 1935, it's hard to tell... several references to "thin, flexible blade", but nothing on just HOW thin it is.

Yet another follow up - thankfully I got a bit of downtime at work and can still ponder this:

Brian correctly mentions that he likes SE razors due to their thicker, stiffer blades - which like DE blades used to be even thicker and therefore even stiffer - since they flexes less. Stiffening of a blade can also be achieved by twisting it in a slant razor, and slants are often considered to be more "aggressive"... even if I personally don't think my slants are aggressive, just efficient.

Combining what Brian says about SE razors (and I'm inclined to trust his word, since he uses them far more than I do) with what I know about the torsionally stiffened blades in slants, I'm leaning towards the idea that the Old Type Gillettes using the pre-1929 blades may have been more aggressive than they are with the thinner blades of today.

Granted, I may be barking up the wrong tree completely here.

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 10-01-2014, 06:26 PM
#9
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Hans, I wonder if the Feather Super/Pros, et cetera SE blades are thicker than the ones you are referring to. These have no problem in cutting you at every possible moment! Biggrin

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 10-03-2014, 03:39 AM
#10
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I wonder how similar these blades would be compared to some of the older blades: http://www.tedpella.com/dissect_html/dissect.htm#_121_9

I have used an old Gillette blade myself at one time. Maybe a 1947 perhaps? It was the dark color. On a Google search I'd say it was a blue blade. It was less sharp and less flexible. Thicker than a modern blade. I used it in a Red Tip perhaps so it's not the right razor or blade combination for your inquiry.

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 10-03-2014, 05:26 AM
#11
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The Feathers in carbon steel are closer in thickness to the original patent than modern blades... but I'm not sure how they would be for shaving, seeing as they are sold for slicing lab samples up into tiny slivers... has anyone tried them?

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 10-03-2014, 07:41 AM
#12
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(10-03-2014, 05:26 AM)WegianWarrior Wrote: The Feathers in carbon steel are closer in thickness to the original patent than modern blades... but I'm not sure how they would be for shaving, seeing as they are sold for slicing lab samples up into tiny slivers... has anyone tried them?

I've personally never tried the carbon Feathers but I've heard horror stories. I was inclined to perchase some at one time because I only use Feathers and "carbon is sharper" but decided not to after reserching them.

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 10-03-2014, 10:24 AM
#13
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When I was remodeling my bathroom, I pulled up the subfloor and found a large pile of old DE blades. A friend of mine explained that medicine cabinets used to have slots for blade disposal. You'd take your old blade and put it into the slot, whereupon it would fall into the wall or between the joists for some poor sucker to find decades later. I think I kept some of the non-rusty ones. I'll have to see if I can get a measurement.

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 10-03-2014, 11:48 PM
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(10-03-2014, 10:24 AM)Shannons Soaps Wrote: When I was remodeling my bathroom, I pulled up the subfloor and found a large pile of old DE blades. A friend of mine explained that medicine cabinets used to have slots for blade disposal. You'd take your old blade and put it into the slot, whereupon it would fall into the wall or between the joists for some poor sucker to find decades later. I think I kept some of the non-rusty ones. I'll have to see if I can get a measurement.

That would indeed be neat Smile

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 10-04-2014, 05:41 AM
#15
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Ironically, the only one I found so far is a Gillette "Thin" blade. I will look further for the blue ones.

The Thin blade looks kind of like this:

[Image: 1957%20(C1)%20Thin%20Blades%20England.jpg]

...But they have "P1" on them, which seems to indicate they were made in 1945. That predates the construction of my house by 7 years, but that's the code that's on them.

At any rate the blade measures 4 thousandths (.1016 mm). Logic would indicate that "non-thin" blades were thicker than that.

I'll keep looking for the blues.

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 10-12-2014, 02:14 PM
#16
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Found a Gillette Blue blade. It measures 6 thousandths of an inch (.1524 mm), which matches the thickness referenced in the original Gillette patent referenced above. It is noticeably stiffer than a modern blade.

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 10-12-2014, 03:32 PM
#17
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alright then - i'm curious as well so i'll take upon it as an interesting ride. i have unopened vintage gillette blues - from the 30s i guess. i will gladly shave with them in a uk new and see how i like it - starting sometime next week - and will provide pics and a short review in this thread Euro

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 10-13-2014, 08:17 AM
#18
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Fascinating stuff. Great thread.

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 10-13-2014, 11:21 AM
#19
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(10-12-2014, 03:32 PM)tonsorius Wrote: alright then - i'm curous as well so i'll take upon it as an interesting ride. i have unopened vintage gillette blues - from the 30s i guess. i will gladly shave with them in a uk new and see how i like it - starting sometime next week - and will provide pics and a short review in this thread Euro

Well, Marius, you are a brave soul! I tried with some older 'Gillette Blues' and they were horrendous! Never again! Biggrin

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 10-13-2014, 03:29 PM
#20
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For what it's worth, my Dad was one of the first in our neighborhood to track down the Wilkinson Sword blades when they hit the U.S. He had a very heavy beard and, as I recall, was only able to get 3 - 4 WTG shaves with Gillette Blue Blades. With the Wilkinsons, he claimed he was able to get almost a month out of a single blade. Realizing he was a thrifty old Connecticut Yankee, so take that for what it's worth.

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