10-01-2014, 03:06 PM
#1
  • Mouser
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  • Forest City, Florida U.S.A.
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I recently shaved with a Schick Krona edge carbon blade which , like many carbons I've used that were properly stored, are among the sharpest blades I've ever used which has me thinking about a theory that's been forming in my damp, musty, largely empty brain. It's based on posts I've read elsewhere by persons who seem to have first hand knowledge of Gillette's upper management at the time of the industry change from carbon to stainless and have said that even tho Gillette had the patent for a stainless razor blade they made the executive decision that American men would choose a sharper blade over a less sharp but longer lasting one. They were wrong. In a big way. Add some things I've learned in a conversation with a metal smith years ago and some articles in Time from that"time". I hear many comments on these forums that vintage razors are milder shavers, in the main, than new ones. Going by the assumption that razors are made to work with the blades being sold, I theorize that vintage razors are milder because the old carbon razor blades were sharper. At least, I think so.

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 10-01-2014, 03:17 PM
#2
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I recently purchased a "WAR" tech from an antique shop here in Lacey, WA and it came with some old carbon Gillette Blue Blades that tore my head up. I was not very happy with those blades at all. I, in my opinion, from the research that I've done online, don't believe that carbon blades were sharper than what is now mass produced.

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 10-01-2014, 05:59 PM
#3
  • kav
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The debate of carbon VS S/S is still going on in the world of knife use.The earliest S/S was the 440 family which is a very high chromium content steel. These stain RESISTANT knives were great in marine or other corrosive environments. What they WERE NOT, was, and is getting a good edge and maintaining it. This is a bit of a bad rap.The manufacturers also began selling knives with ( mostly) lousy edges leaving the customer to attack this stuff with inadequate stones. You really need a sanding wheel and SKILL to sharpen these beasties.
Meanwhile, carbon was, and is easy to sharpen to very fine edges depending on skill and tools. What carbon cannot stop is the insidious oxidation that slowly dulls all but a meticulously maintained tool; oil, protective finishes or the patination of protective films ( stick a blade in a potato overnight and admire the case colour effect)that still leaves the actual edge vulnerable.
So, many knife users still like the ease of sharpening ( important for a butcher or cook) carbon and 'think' it's sharper because S/S is more difficult.But, given all things equal there is virtually NO difference in equal blades.
A good example are the cheap( but very usefull) MORA knives from Sweden. Both are Very sharp OOB( and can be honed further) but time,use and resharpening make for very interesting results.

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 10-01-2014, 06:31 PM
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Kav, thank you for the very informative post! Smile

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 10-01-2014, 06:39 PM
#5
  • Mouser
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  • Forest City, Florida U.S.A.
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C No Evil, the carbon blades that tore up your face were most likely corroded. Men wouldn't have shaved at all if that had been the norm.

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 10-01-2014, 08:49 PM
#6
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(10-01-2014, 06:39 PM)Mouser Wrote: C No Evil, the carbon blades that tore up your face were most likely corroded. Men wouldn't have shaved at all if that had been the norm.

That would be my guess also.

When I first entered the world of DE shaving in '69/70ish the first pack of blades I got my hands on were carbon steel blades. I have no idea how long they'd been on the rack, but they were absolutely horrible. I know today that they had micro rusted. But it stopped me from shaving with a DE. I didn't figure it out until I began shaving with disposable blade a few years ago what had happened.

I've used Classic Treets, a carbon steel blade and they are excellent. I've also shaved with vintage SS blades and they're excellent as well and have a fantastic reputation even today. Based on the SS blades from back then I can only imagine how good a fresh carbon steel blade was. The problem, and I remember the advertisements when SS blades first came out, was that the carbon steel blades would rust, ruining the edge. The rust couldn't be seen, it was the cutting edge.

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 10-02-2014, 02:08 AM
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They may or may not have been sharper, but there sure was a lot of different devices you could buy to sharpen them - that is something we don't see any longer.

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 10-03-2014, 02:02 AM
#8
  • Mouser
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Well, I was just going by some 1962 Time articles and the postings of a gentleman who had first hand knowledge of Gillette decision making at the time who, although they had the patent for years, sat on it because they were banking on the male public would want sharper over longer lasting. Rust was a problem but the main one as I understood it was that carbon is a little softer than stainless so that sharper edge wouldn't be sharper after a shave or two or three.

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 10-03-2014, 07:39 AM
#9
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Thanks Mouser. That's good to know.

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 12-28-2014, 09:11 PM
#10
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I am shaving with some pristine Gillette Super Blues and some vintage carbon blades from the 60's. They seem as sharp as the current Treet varieties I have tried. It is difficult for me to compare carbons blades with stainless blades in terms of sharpness as they shave differently.

I do find I like the way my face feels after shaving with a carbon blade and I get absolutely no irritation.

It seems you either like carbon blades or hate them.

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