10-09-2014, 10:36 AM
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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For the past few months, I have been "rotating" DE blades in my Standard Razors razor, alternating between Gillette Silver Blue (GSB) and "Iridium Super" (as identified on the outer Wizamet packaging) or "Super Iridium" (as printed on the blade itself) blades. I had purchased five 5-packs of GSB and two 10-packs of Iridium Super blades and, after giving the GSBs a three or four consecutive use head start, I have been alternating one-by-one: GSB, IS, GSB, IS, etc. Let us call this rotation, as the term is used frequently on this forum, Type A rotation. The rest of this posting is about what I have dubbed Type B rotation.

I have not seen any significant difference between the GSB and the IS blades in terms of number of shaves per blade per brand. I can get a reliably sure five good shaves per blade with either a GSB or an IS, and have achieved as many as eight good shaves with one or two of the GSB and one or two of the IS blades, though the eight-shave blade remains a rarity. Conveniently ignoring for the time being the possibility that the significant difference between a five-shave blade and an eight-shave blade could be accounted for by lax manufacturing tolerances or by external forces that I cannot control (I understand that there has been some research into whether beards grow at different rates during different phases of the moon, for instance), I have begun to investigate to what extent the difference may be explained by factors that are entirely within my control.

One feature of a double-edge razor blade is that each blade has two edges (quelle shock!). And yet, observing myself shaving objectively, I notice that I tend to use the same (that is, only one) edge of the blade that I am shaving with for an entire pass. When I set the razor down to re-lather, I may pick it up in the same orientation as I had used for the previous pass, or I may not -- that is hard to determine objectively, as the process of checking which side of the blade I am using injects me into the decision of how I will hold the razor for the next pass, so I no longer am an objective observer at that point.

One possibility for the discrepancy among number of shaves per blade, therefore, is that I am getting more shaves out of blades where the usage between edges has been fairly uniform, and fewer shaves out of blades where I have used one edge much more than the other edge, and dulled the more used edge more rapidly, so I feel a need to toss the blade earlier..

So, to test that hypothesis, I recently have begun to be conscious and intentional as to the number of passes that each edge of the blade is used for over the life of the blade. It would be very easy if I had a Shavecraft 101 razor to load the razor so that the "1" or "3" side of the blade [see note below] always faces the open-comb side of the razor on even-numbered days of the month and always faces the closed-comb side of the razor on odd-numbered days of the month, etc., but the Standard Razors razor is symmetrical, so I have to use the technique of reading the printing on the blade through the slots on the underside of the razor head to determine which way the blade is facing.

[Note: tangentially, I have noticed, in my so-far small sample of razor blade packages, one difference between the GSB and IS blades. Every GSB blade that I have used to date has had the wax dots on the 1 2 side of the blade, whereas the IS blades have been randomly distributed, even within the same cardboard package, between blades with the wax dots on the 1 2 side of the blade and blades with the wax dots on the 3 4 side of the blade. I completely disassemble the razor after each shave to rinse and dry each of the four pieces, and, when I reassemble it for the next shave, I alwsy position the wax dot side of the blade toward the handle and away from the cap, so whether the 1 2 side is down or the 3 4 side is down, the printing on the blade visible through the slots still will indicate which edge I am using for any pass.]

Now, therefore, in addition to a Type A rotation between GSB and IS blades, I have commenced a Type B rotation of alternating passes for the blade in use between right-side-up and upside-down printing visible through the slots on the bottom of the head.

Curiosity compels me to ask if any other Shavenooker has made such obsessive compulsive observations of blade orientation vs. blade wear as I have started to do. If so, what were your results?

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 10-09-2014, 11:18 AM
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I don't know if it is obsessiveness or not, but I always use one blade edge (i.e. one side of the razor) for one side of my face and the other edge for the other side of my face, an attempt to get equal wear of both blade edges.

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