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Blade Chatter: What Is It and Is it Real?

  • A blade that sticks and then skips along your face when shaving. Possible for both DE and SE razors though most commonly mentioned as an issue for SE razors, especially when shaving against the grain (ATG) where this can cause a nasty cut. I've seen lots of mention of this definition both in recent on-line materials in shaving "how-to" documents that go back over 100 years.
  • A blade that flexes (or vibrates) during the shave. Have seen even more posts referencing this from many sources including B&B members that related it to shaving noise level to marketing materials for various razors touting superior blade clamping. I've even seen a patent that reference reduced blade chatter though it provides no proof or statistics.
Don't see why this has to be an either or question.

Is there a reason to arbitrarily split these two things? They seem like a spectrum of the same thing. If the blade flexes it can make noise, if it flexes too much, it can also bite you and give nicks. I have a lot more confidence in using my razors which provide a rigid blade edge. The only razor I do not feel secure with are my Super Speeds. I can shave with them, but they do not have the rigidity of most other razors in my den.
 
Is there a reason to arbitrarily split these two things? They seem like a spectrum of the same thing. If the blade flexes it can make noise, if it flexes too much, it can also bite you and give nicks. I have a lot more confidence in using my razors which provide a rigid blade edge. The only razor I do not feel secure with are my Super Speeds. I can shave with them, but they do not have the rigidity of most other razors in my den.
It's possible that these are part of the same spectrum for some razors. They are listed separately based on the way shavers have posted/talked about chatter over the years. Also, a number of the skipping chatter discussions refer to SE razors that are extremely rigid and don't flex yet can still skip across skin, especially when shaving ATG. Given this listing the two separate definitions is reasonable. Suspect that even a well clamped DE blade, with poor technique, could skip without flexing.
 
If you're skipping without flexing, I'd say that is mostly likely about the technique and the lather, perhaps less about the razor. I wouldn't call that chatter.
 
Hi, nicely summed up and this somewhat takes us back to my OP in this thread that there are two definitions of blade chatter out there including:

  • A blade that sticks and then skips along your face when shaving. Possible for both DE and SE razors though most commonly mentioned as an issue for SE razors, especially when shaving against the grain (ATG) where this can cause a nasty cut. I've seen lots of mention of this definition both in recent on-line materials in shaving "how-to" documents that go back over 100 years.
  • A blade that flexes (or vibrates) during the shave. Have seen even more posts referencing this from many sources including B&B members that related it to shaving noise level to marketing materials for various razors touting superior blade clamping. I've even seen a patent that reference reduced blade chatter though it provides no proof or statistics.
Don't see why this has to be an either or question. Both of these can be true though we may decide at some point to rename one of them. The first appears to be real and is periodically referenced over the years. Only happened to me once when I first returned to DE because I did not tighten my TTO razor correctly. I've old documents that warn against this when shaving with a SE blade ATG as another example.

The second one seems to be more based on perception of the sound heard while shaving. No real scientific proof and also an open question as to whether blade vibration/flexing helps or hurts shave quality. Modern shaving system cartridges are actually designed in many cases to flex (sometimes with tiny springs) to better match skin contours for example. Note that if there is sound then it has to be caused by some type of motion/vibration as this is what creates sound.

Part of why chatter has received a lot of attention is that many modern razor manufactures talk about reducing it as a benefit from superior blade clamping in their razors. One goal of this thread is to better understand how real this benefit is in delivering a better quality shave. I looked for some research related to this and really couldn't find any other than what I noted above on modern shaving systems. Without research we need to rely on perception and YMMV though this is not always accurate.

Definitely an interesting and worthwhile discussion.

Based on my own experience, I think blade chatter (the skipping over skin, drawing blood kind) depends on whisker characteristics as much as razor design. I only have issues with that kind of blade chatter where my thick whiskers lay flat against the skin.

Everywhere else on my face I could use practically anything with no issue. However, where the whiskers lay flat, I get ingrowns with a cart and blade chatter with any DE that doesn’t support the blade well.

I think there are a lot of folks who would never experience this kind of chatter with a DE because their whiskers aren’t thick or don’t lay flat against the skin. I’d love to hear @Blackland Razors thoughts on how whisker characteristics affect blade chatter of the skipping, cutting type.
 
Based on my own experience, I think blade chatter (the skipping over skin, drawing blood kind) depends on whisker characteristics as much as razor design. I only have issues with that kind of blade chatter where my thick whiskers lay flat against the skin.

Everywhere else on my face I could use practically anything with no issue. However, where the whiskers lay flat, I get ingrowns with a cart and blade chatter with any DE that doesn’t support the blade well.

I think there are a lot of folks who would never experience this kind of chatter with a DE because their whiskers aren’t thick or don’t lay flat against the skin. I’d love to hear @Blackland Razors thoughts on how whisker characteristics affect blade chatter of the skipping, cutting type.

I’m going off intuition and not anything quantitative, but I think it’s a glancing blow. Like chopping a log at an angle instead of 90 degrees is more likely for the axe to bounce off. There’s maybe a secondary effect that if the hair is not vertical, you have to cut through a wider cross-section which puts more force on the blade and might increase the prevalence of blade flex/chatter.

Again, that’s purely a guess so let’s not pretend that I’ve ever measured any of this.
 
For chatter; yes, I thought from the audible feedback, Outlaw chatters for me.

For a rough shave; it is very hard to describe for me. The shave was not comfortable, not close and not smooth.
Do you have the new or old Outlaw?
I've had both and sold the old one. The new one fixed all the issues that the old one had i.e., blade alignment issues & too much blade flex.
One of the few razors (the old one) that have actually made me care about too much chatter.
The noise was great but the shave wasn't. The amount of blade flex was to the point that it would skip all over your face. The new one still has some flex but nothing that's noticeable.
It's actually excellent in every respect!
Blade flex doesn't bug me unless it's exaggerated.
 
Do you have the new or old Outlaw?
I've had both and sold the old one. The new one fixed all the issues that the old one had i.e., blade alignment issues & too much blade flex.
One of the few razors (the old one) that have actually made me care about too much chatter.
The noise was great but the shave wasn't. The amount of blade flex was to the point that it would skip all over your face. The new one still has some flex but nothing that's noticeable.
It's actually excellent in every respect!
Blade flex doesn't bug me unless it's exaggerated.
I dont have the Outlaw Evo yet. I would try the new one.
 
Chatter is the blade flexing away from your desired shave angle. The hair/skin is pulling the blade towards being perpendicular to your skin. It doesn't cut well at this angle so it kind of skips. Then it inevitably snaps back to where it started because of the tension on the blade. That back-and-forth movement is the chatter. It's not specific to razors. Chatter is a big deal in machining when either a tool flexes away from the workpiece, the workpiece flexes away from the tool, or both. The sound is caused by the chatter and is less a specific sound than it is a change in sound. In machining everything sounds consistent and then you'll hear the chatter. Not always louder - just different. You can try this yourself with a kitchen knife on a cutting board. Start with a low angle and drag it across the board perpendicular to the edge (like how you'd shave). It'll sound nice and smooth. Then increase the angle until it skips and chatters. It moves and sounds different.
Brilliant. Unequivocally clear.
 
I used 3D printed razors to test clamp distance and bending radius of the blade:

In short:
- Haven't noticed any influence of the bending radius on shaving experience
- There is a huge impact of the clamping distance on shaving smoothness. The shorter the distance, the smoother the shaving and less skin irritation

Only clamping distance and bending radius were changed between various printed razors. All other parameters stayed the same.
Feeling of razors with different clamping distance was obvious - a 4 mm difference in clamp distance changed an average razor into a really poor one, leaving me with major skin irritation and razor bumps.
 
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