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4 Blades Under Microscope (moderate 56k warning)

What do you think of the (soon to be improved) microscopic pics?

  • Eye-opening! Probabaly will influence my choice in blades

  • Very interesting and might help me decide

  • Nice, but I don't care how they look, just how it feels to me

  • Fool and knave! Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!

Results are only viewable after voting.
"Razor blades + Microscope", or "What does your blade really look like?", Episode 1

Dorco New Platinum ST300
Personna Platinum Chrome ("Red Box") - Dist. by ASR
Crystal Super + Platinum ("Israeli Personna")
Treet Blue Special, blued carbon steel (maroon/gold paper)

Today I snapped some photos of four blades under two microscopic magnifications. Although this was just an initial hasty test, I think I got some good results. Unfortunately, a conventional 1000x power is designed for a very flat viewing section under oil immersion, and that's simply not going to work for razor blades. For the same reason, it's hard to get clear pictures with lower powers as well. I also didn't clean any of the lenses because honestly I didn't know this would work as well as it did, and I really had insufficient light so I'm going to try again soon. But anyway... on to the blades!

Dorco New Platinum ST300

Just eyeballing this blade gives the impression that the slope is curved and the edge rounded. I seem to have misplaced the image of the low magnification, but the honed area has large uneven craters that look to me like air cavities, and the cutting edge has an uneven orange peel or shark skin texture. The Dorco 300's were the only blade of the 4 that showed these characteristics. It could have been a bad blade, so next time around I'll try another box. Under both magnifications, the blade still seems to have a rounded tapering and the edge is very hard to focus on. I would guess this is why these blades are so "forgiving"

Personna Platinum Chrome ("Red Box")

These are the blades supposedly produced at the same factory as the Crystal "Israeli Personna" blades. Mine appear to have the same packaging, stamping, and box numbering as the "eBay Red Box" blades. At 100x, one side of the blade looks like a 3-angle grind job, but the other appears to be 2 angles. Strange... maybe these are a bum batch. I'll do some more of these blades next time around. There are very clear striations from shaping the blade; sort of a brushed aluminum look Close up, the edge has a clearly chromatic surface (rainbow). I'd guess this is the coatings. The cutting edge appears to be relatively straight and even, with some areas where the edge is slightly receded. Better that protruding!

Crystal Super + Platinum ("Israeli Personna")

"Made in Israel" dispenser, white paper w/ blue printing. I'm pretty sure these are the real deal, and the microscope seems to agree. Deep striations like the "Red Box" blades, so they're not radically different. The closeup didn't come out well, but the blade was very similar to the "red box" Personnas.. just better. The edge was a bit finer, only a few receded areas, and a hell of a lot more coating. I like the way this looks! (aside from the striations)

Treet Blue Special

One of the few carbon steel blades I have, it was a sample so there's only one to look at. Fortunately, it looks great. Wide view shows much finer striations that the "red box" and Crystal (d/t being carbon steel?), a two angle grind, and a very fine edge. Closeup shows evenness that I would put on par with the Crystal, but the receded spots on the edge are not as wide. I don't know if these are coated, but I don't see anything on them. Carbon steel is prone to rust, unlike the stainless blades, but take care of these and you should get a damn fine shave. Supposedly you can even hone them because they're carbon steel.


Well that's it for now. I'm pleased with the results of my makeshift experiement, so I think I'll charge the camera so I'm not in a hurry, clean the lenses, and have a go at it again sometime.

In the future, I'll be testing packs of the following:
· Personna "red box" re-test
· Dorco re-test
· Derby Extra (5 coating)
· Iridium Super Extra Stainless (Gillete, St. Petersburg, Russia)
· Sputnik (St. Petersburg, DuPont brand PTFE coating)
· Wilkinson Sword Classic (black label, triple coated, not NOS)
· Personna Super Platinum Chrome (top of the line, US, large dispenser)

I also have single blades as free samples of:
· Treet Classic (carbon steel, supposedly same as Blue Special)
· Treet Trig Silver Edge (imported exclusively by B-----ria Italia?)
· Polsilver ("Polish" Gillette, imported exclusively by B-----ria Italia?)
· Treet Dura-Sharp Stainless (embellished packaging)
· Super-Max Platinum (Indian made for UK market, platinum + teflon)
· Vidyut Zorrik Super (Indian)
· Gillette 7 O'clock (St. Petersburg, not Wilkinson 7AM)

And of course if anyone wants anything else checked out, plese feel free to send me a couple of blades. Just PM me and I'll give you my address. I'd ask that you send two blades in case one is a dud, 3 if you really want to.

Thanks for your time, and I hope some at least find this interesting if not informative. :)

P.S. ImageShack is a PITA and mangles my filenames... is there another free alternative that lets me directly embed images?
Nice, looking forward to the rest of your research
Personally, I've either loaded pics either to Flickr, or to the B&B gallery, just click "more" at the top menu of the site
Bottom light was off, no side light so I was using a bright lamp. :(

It was just a quick "wonder if this will really work..", so I'll do more as soon as I can figure out better lighting. Buying a purpose-made sidelight is out of the question though, and I don't have access to a fancy-schmancy microscope with a camera built in.
When I look at edges, I use an LED booklight with a bendable neck. If you set it up right you can really see both bevels on a DE blade.

On a side note, Dorcos and Derbys are my DE blades of choice. Neither are sharpness award winners.
It seems to me that the Dorco's look the worst of the bunch, but I can tell you, I get really really comfortable shaves with them, so I can only guess that the sharpness/finish that shows here isn't the whole story. But this does confirm my experience that the Israelis are really great.
Great post. Should help dilute opinion with some data. Looking forward to pictures of a feather :)
Interestingly, I dislike the treat, even though the edge appears good - and do not consider myself fussy about blades. Some are better than others, but most for me are good enough. But there are a few I just would not use.......
This is excellent information Fiero. I look forward to the updates. Thanks for taking your time and resources to do this!
Very interesting idea. Thanks for a cool insight and please do update us when you have more.
I don't think I would changed because of these pictures but really cool to see.
At the Northeast Ohio Event a few weeks back we were looking at the edges of straights under a microscope setup. It was really interesting to see how the sharpening process progressed that way. The microscope setup was microscope with a digital camera attached, which was viewed on a black and white TV screen. Doing it that way made it very easy to scan the complete length of the sharp edge and everyone could see it.