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Do we really need to stretch blade life?

I treat my DE razor like I treat my guns after a trip to the range. I'd never think of putting her back in the safe without first cleaning and performing a function check. Same with my razor; disassemble, clean, wipe. Blade gets the suds and stubble line wiped off and then I flip the blade to use the opposite side for the next shave.
 
I can’t imagine not cleaning my razor. That’s part of the shave honestly.
I only run water over the blade thou. I never wipe the blade. I don’t even pat it dry.
 
I kinda think, Yes. I do try and get as many shaves out of my blades as possible. Granted, I don't shave my entire face, just cheeks and part of my neck, so I don't use as much as many do. Over the past 15 years, it's gotten harder to find anything in the, regular, retail outlets, other than the multi-level many bladed throwaway refills from all the disposables. When I do see them, they are usually behind a locked glass cabinet. Those, so heavily guarded, blades aren't even quality blades. They're usually store brands made by God knows Who and aren't really any better than the plastic, disposable blades they sell for the newer throwaways. It's been years since I've seen Gillette or Wilkinson blades stoked regularly at the Wal-marts, Targets, or Pharmacy's. I typically just buy bulk online but even then, it may not always be available at the time I need them so I end up having to buy and rebuy periodically until the bulk supply is available again.
I'm not fancy or particular. I'm still very happy with the German made Wilkinson blades that I've been using since 1983. I've tried a few others over the years and they just really don't shave any better, and many times, they're significantly worse than the Wilkinson.
 
God!, how is using something that still performs as well as it did in the beginning "stretching "? Don't take this too seriously but sounds like someone trying to justify what they're doing. There's no stretching involved when I'm using a Personna 74 for the 25th shave and its giving me a better shave than anything new on it's first use.
 
God!, how is using something that still performs as well as it did in the beginning "stretching "? Don't take this too seriously but sounds like someone trying to justify what they're doing. There's no stretching involved when I'm using a Personna 74 for the 25th shave and its giving me a better shave than anything new on it's first use.
Well said.

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With blades being ~ $0.10-0.15 apiece, do we really need to try and stretch them to 6 or 7 shaves? My general rule is 3 shaves and change.
Hell, I'm not even that conscientious. I like each shave to be a new experience, not like wearing yesterday's socks.
 

Toothpick

TACO HOUND
Moderator
Do we need to stretch blade life? No, of course not. Do we need to use a different soap for every shave? Again, no. Do we need to own 30 different razors? No again.

Everything about this “hobby” , or whatever we are calling it now, is a matter of want and personal preference. And most importantly, that some folks in this thread (especially those arguing the same daft point over and over) should note....it’s a matter of opinion. It’s all subjective. Bozo’s opinion is no more greater or important that Doopy‘s opinion.

Heck, when I was shaving I would routinely toss blades after one shave. Use a different blade every shave. Just to try something new. I’m not going to save a 2 cent blade to use again in a week, or a month. Some folks do though and that’s their choice.

But on the other hand, yeah I have saved blades. I’ve used the same blade over 10 times and got 10 great shaves out of it. There’s nothing wrong with that either.

And while I never believed it when I was new I do think that on some blades the 2nd or 3rd shaves are better than the 1st.

We don’t know anything about what we like and prefer unless we experiment with new things. If that means stretching a blade life regardless of the cost of the blade then that’s what it means.
 
God!, how is using something that still performs as well as it did in the beginning "stretching "? Don't take this too seriously but sounds like someone trying to justify what they're doing. There's no stretching involved when I'm using a Personna 74 for the 25th shave and its giving me a better shave than anything new on it's first use.
That must be some special blade or you have angel fine hair on your face.
For the rest of us the question still remains.


Oh and don’t give me this “it’s all in you technique” BS. It’s not.
 
Do we need to stretch blade life? No, of course not. Do we need to use a different soap for every shave? Again, no. Do we need to own 30 different razors? No again.

Everything about this “hobby” , or whatever we are calling it now, is a matter of want and personal preference. And most importantly, that some folks in this thread (especially those arguing the same daft point over and over) should note....it’s a matter of opinion. It’s all subjective. Bozo’s opinion is no more greater or important that Doopy‘s opinion.

Heck, when I was shaving I would routinely toss blades after one shave. Use a different blade every shave. Just to try something new. I’m not going to save a 2 cent blade to use again in a week, or a month. Some folks do though and that’s their choice.

But on the other hand, yeah I have saved blades. I’ve used the same blade over 10 times and got 10 great shaves out of it. There’s nothing wrong with that either.

And while I never believed it when I was new I do think that on some blades the 2nd or 3rd shaves are better than the 1st.

We don’t know anything about what we like and prefer unless we experiment with new things. If that means stretching a blade life regardless of the cost of the blade then that’s what it means.
I love trying different blades but I’m not into working a blade to see its longevity. I don’t find that enjoyable at all.
 
I don't really stretch blades that haves started to perform poorly, but I don't throw blades till they stop performing well. Some blades seem to last longer than others. Personna Blue & Personna Medprep, German Wilkinson, and Gillette Platinum seem to last a long time for me (8+ shaves usually) but that's just my subjective experience and not based on a large data set. I use D10 dice to track blade age.

Many things can affect blade edge life. I'm a woodworker and have learned that if you want a plane or chisel blade to last longer, you sharpen it to a steeper angle and strop it well. A steeper angle gives you a stronger but slightly less sharp blade edge and stropping reduces and mitigates the small inconsistencies that lead to problems. Essentially, the reason you strop a blade is to lop-off any small jagged areas and straighten the edge and break off any thin spots from where the wire-edge of the sharpened blade has separated. When you sharpen an edge, you create a small riffle on the front of it called a "wire edge" where the edge has become so narrow that the grain of the steel no longer has the resolution to support a consistent edge and the excess falls away. Using the word "resolution" is probably a poor analogy, but it provides a visual that people can understand. If you have a 4k screen, you can draw a thinner straight line than on a 720p screen because the 4k screen has smaller pixels and in a sorta-similar way, higher quality steel has a more consistent grain that can produce more consistent thin edges. Stropping removes that wire-edge riffle, revealing the sharpest possible edge. Stropping removes inconsistencies and smooths the edge so it doesn't have any weak spots or high spots. What you want is a smooth consistent edge with no weak spots and no rough or high spots because those weak/rough/ragged/high areas are where the blade catches and begins to bend. Once you have one small bend in the edge, that bend starts to catch more and carries the damage farther down the length of the edge until enough of the edge is compromised and ineffective. A blade with no weak spots lasts until it has become dull. A blade with weak spots only lasts until it becomes damaged and the damage spreads enough to make it ineffective. On razor blades, it probably doesn't take much to damage the edge, and even if it still cuts, it likely becomes uncomfortable soon after any damage has occurred.

I tried putting razor blade edges under a microscope to compare edge angles and honing, but found that the coating occludes the edge, making it hard to view, but really, a razor blade is just a sharpened edge on a piece of steel - there's no reason to believe it functions completely differently from other steel edges. Metallurgy has some impact too. The percentage of elements in the steel, the tempering (a harder edge will last longer but fail more catastrophically) Also, technique likely has an effect. Blades last a long time if they're cutting head-on into something softer than they are. Scraping is much harder on blades than cutting, and scraping is even hard on blades if the thing they're scraping on is softer than they are. As long as the object is hard enough to bend the thinnest part of the tip, it can start damage that will worsen and spread. So, better technique and a lower shaving angle should reduce off-axis pressure and reduce the probability that a weak spot becomes damaged.

I looked on youtube for a vid of a well-sharpened, well-stropped edge and found this vid of microscopy on a surgical blade. Ideally, this is what you want a shaving razor blade to look like - and what the good ones probably do look like under the thick slather of teflon goo

 
I don't really stretch blades that haves started to perform poorly, but I don't throw blades till they stop performing well. Some blades seem to last longer than others. Personna Blue & Personna Medprep, German Wilkinson, and Gillette Platinum seem to last a long time for me (8+ shaves usually) but that's just my subjective experience and not based on a large data set. I use D10 dice to track blade age.

Many things can affect blade edge life. I'm a woodworker and have learned that if you want a plane or chisel blade to last longer, you sharpen it to a steeper angle and strop it well. A steeper angle gives you a stronger but slightly less sharp blade edge and stropping reduces and mitigates the small inconsistencies that lead to problems. Essentially, the reason you strop a blade is to lop-off any small jagged areas and straighten the edge and break off any thin spots from where the wire-edge of the sharpened blade has separated. When you sharpen an edge, you create a small riffle on the front of it called a "wire edge" where the edge has become so narrow that the grain of the steel no longer has the resolution to support a consistent edge and the excess falls away. Using the word "resolution" is probably a poor analogy, but it provides a visual that people can understand. If you have a 4k screen, you can draw a thinner straight line than on a 720p screen because the 4k screen has smaller pixels and in a sorta-similar way, higher quality steel has a more consistent grain that can produce more consistent thin edges. Stropping removes that wire-edge riffle, revealing the sharpest possible edge. Stropping removes inconsistencies and smooths the edge so it doesn't have any weak spots or high spots. What you want is a smooth consistent edge with no weak spots and no rough or high spots because those weak/rough/ragged/high areas are where the blade catches and begins to bend. Once you have one small bend in the edge, that bend starts to catch more and carries the damage farther down the length of the edge until enough of the edge is compromised and ineffective. A blade with no weak spots lasts until it has become dull. A blade with weak spots only lasts until it becomes damaged and the damage spreads enough to make it ineffective. On razor blades, it probably doesn't take much to damage the edge, and even if it still cuts, it likely becomes uncomfortable soon after any damage has occurred.

I tried putting razor blade edges under a microscope to compare edge angles and honing, but found that the coating occludes the edge, making it hard to view, but really, a razor blade is just a sharpened edge on a piece of steel - there's no reason to believe it functions completely differently from other steel edges. Metallurgy has some impact too. The percentage of elements in the steel, the tempering (a harder edge will last longer but fail more catastrophically) Also, technique likely has an effect. Blades last a long time if they're cutting head-on into something softer than they are. Scraping is much harder on blades than cutting, and scraping is even hard on blades if the thing they're scraping on is softer than they are. As long as the object is hard enough to bend the thinnest part of the tip, it can start damage that will worsen and spread. So, better technique and a lower shaving angle should reduce off-axis pressure and reduce the probability that a weak spot becomes damaged.

I looked on youtube for a vid of a well-sharpened, well-stropped edge and found this vid of microscopy on a surgical blade. Ideally, this is what you want a shaving razor blade to look like - and what the good ones probably do look like under the thick slather of teflon goo

40 years ago you would've been offered a job developing nuclear weapons with Monsanto.
 
My experience has been that the best shaves are often between 2 and 5 shaves on a blade and going beyond that with many different brands of blades will often deliver consistently smooth excellent shaves. I also discovered that using a blade that has been shaved with several times in a milder razor and then using it my Muhle R41 has made the R41 much more pleasurable to use.

I almost always shave after a shower and wash my face with castile soap in the shower. This routine contributes to a consistently comfortable shave for me and seems to also prolong blade life as an added bonus. My beard has gotten tougher over the years but as my prep, lathering and shaving technique have improved I still seem to experience good blade life from the same brands of blades I have used for many years.
 
That must be some special blade or you have angel fine hair on your face.
For the rest of us the question still remains.


Oh and don’t give me this “it’s all in you technique” BS. It’s not.
Do you know about those blades? They're vintage and they stopped making them because they lasted so long. When I was using modern blades I got 3 to 5 shaves from one depending. My beard is average, a barber who gave me a few straight shaves and was also a good enough friend to be honest told me two things, one that everyone including me thinks they have a heavy beard and two, mines average. But, like he said, what do we have to compare to? We only shave ourselves.
And I'm with you about technique , it's not rocket science. It does matter some but not to the extent many want to make out.
 

GaryTha

Contributor
This topic always ends up in the same debate between those who say it can't be done and those who are doing it. This debate seems to be the reason the Excalibur Club split off into another thread.

I've read all the posts in this thread once and all the posts in the Excalibur Club twice. When I observed the progression, I was convinced many people are getting over 100 great shaves per blade and some are getting over two hundred. It's not angel fine hair or a special blade. It's good technique and the knowledge that blades don't get dull as quickly as people think they do.

Now that I'm progressing towards the higher numbers, I know maximizing a blade's potential can be done by following a few simple rules.
 
Oh lord...

That’s not the question

ok then. Everyone who gets 100-200 shaves... do we really need to put up with learning new technique to have a blade last another 50-60 shaves?

It’s a question as to why you shave and what you’re looking for out of your equipment. Not a contest as to who’s better than who with blade longevity and the ability to put up with a crappy dull blade.
An “extra” one or two shaves is the exact same thing as an “extra” twenty or thirty shaves. Do we really need the extra?
 
Why do we question guys who put their interests in blade life but praise those who turn their attention to acquiring $400 brushes? The one that's ridiculed actually effects the outcome of the shave at least. But why should either one or anything about this thing of ours cause such reactions? It is, for us anyways, a hobby. Live and let live.
 
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