04-09-2019, 11:58 AM
#1
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As someone who does not shave with a straight yet (my first is away for honing), I've been wondering a bit about the wide blades that seem to be in vogue today. When I'm looking at antique/vintage straight razors the wide bladed ones seem to be in minority and I don't see any really wide ones at all. Modern razors, on the other hand, especially artisan or otherwise fancy ones, seem to lean heavily to the wider side. Perhaps I am wrong because I judge from what I see in online auctions and on pictures here etc, but if not, I'm wondering why?

I suspect a big reason (for modern straights being wider, if they really are) is that it looks cooler (bet I'll get push-back on this one). It seems to me that if wider, chunkier blades was just objectively better, then they would have figured that out in the 1800's and the auction sites would be full of 150 year old 7/8's. But they aren't.

So my question is: are there advantages to more narrow blades? Seems to me like there must be some, since they appear to have been the norm until recently.
Or am I misinterpreting what I see? Maybe blades aren't wider, it's just that the old wide ones rarely end up on the auction sites? You tell me.

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 04-10-2019, 08:01 AM
#2
  • evnpar
  • Emeritus
  • Portland, Oregon
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It's recommended that beginners start with a 5/8 or 6/8 round point. They are small enough to maneuver around the face easier than a 7/8 or larger blade, and the round point help to prevent a potential slice of the cheek with a square or sharp pointed razor. Eventually, one finds the size and grind that works best for them. Although I have straights of all shapes and sizes, my preference is for 6/8 or 7/8 heavier grind razors. I do have a few 8/8 that I enjoy, but reach for them less frequently. I have very large hands which sometimes feel cramped when holding a 5/8, so I have fewer of them, although the ones I have shave just as well as  my larger razors. The grind of the razor makes more of a difference. While I think the majority of people prefer a hollow grind, I tend to prefer 1/4 or 1/2 hollow, and less frequently a near wedge. A well made razor honed well will give an excellent shave, no matter what the size or grind. Just as with DE's and SE's, with experience one finds what works best for them.

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 04-10-2019, 12:51 PM
#3
  • Steve56
  • Senior Member
  • Knoxville, TN
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What Richard said is good advice. I’d recommend a razor from 11/16-13/16” or a little wider than 5/8 to a little wider than 6/8. Narrow blades are more maneuverable but you have to rinse the lather off quite often. With a wide blade like a 7/8, you can shave half your face, rinse, then shave the other half, but under the jaw can be a little more fun while you’re learning! Actually there are a lot of 150 year old wide razors around, just search eBay for Wade and Butcher FBU (for barber’s use), or the same for Joseph Rodgers, Wostenholm, etc.

Nose styles are just that, styles, it’s like fins on cars lol. There are some subtle differences. Square, Spanish, French, etc are easier to trim with around facial hair like moustaches, sideburns, and goatees because they don’t obstruct your view as much, and muting the toe can tame those pointy problems. Round nose has been a staple for years can let you give yourself a little more of a safety zone up near the ears, etc. But in the end it’s just a personal preference thing.

I like all grinds if they’re well-made razors, except a very heavy grind with a very wide blade is just to heavy for me though lots and lots of people like those big FBU choppers. A heavy grind will give less ‘feedback’ (sound/feeling) while stropping and shaving, very hollow razors will ‘sing’ on the strop and you can feel them cutting. But it doesn’t make any difference in the quality of shave, so this too is mostly personal preference. My ideal razor is one with a wider blade, 13/16-7/8, hollow ground to reduce the weight, and a little shorter in length, some the C. V. Heljestrand razors are ideal in this respect. The Japanese made a lot of nice razors with shorter blades but most are half hollow though a few are more hollow.

Just get a decent quality razor, modern or vintage that’s in good condition and not extreme, have it properly honed, and you’re off on a pleasant journey.

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 04-10-2019, 01:40 PM
#4
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Thank you Richard and Steve for the info. Very useful.

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 04-10-2019, 05:15 PM
#5
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I don't think there is anything wrong with narrower blades.  In fact, my two best razors both have narrow blades.  

Yes, you have to rinse more often, but they are also more maneuverable.  

I do believe that some guys want to have wider blades because it seems more macho to them.  Please note that I have nothing against wider blades; I just don't see how they could be inherently better at shaving.  You shave with the edge anyway.

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 04-12-2019, 07:43 AM
#6
  • Steve56
  • Senior Member
  • Knoxville, TN
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[Image: ckEWJeR.jpg]

Wider blades aren’t inherently better at shaving. They have some different properties as folks Have noted, but both narrow and wide blades shave equally well provided that they’re well made.

Here’s a treat for the 5/8 fans, Le Grelot 355 fancy spine Sheffield Steel. It always reminds me of a sports car, light maneuverable, and high performance! It’s always fun to shave with it.

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 04-12-2019, 08:39 AM
#7
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I agree with Richard and Steve. I have started using wider blades recently, and I like them but I have some 5/8 in my rotation that give a great shave. The big ones in my opinion are more stable, the weight, etc. It's much like with shoes and personal items, you will find what goes best with you. I began with a 5/8 and moved on to 6/8. 4/8 are nice and there are people who prefer them.

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