Excalibur Club - Blade Longevity DE, SE and Injector

Discussion in 'Clubs and Brotherhoods' started by jamesspo, Nov 13, 2014.

    What: A club with a focus on getting the longest useful life from DE, SE or Injector blades.

    Why: There have been a number of posts on "above average" blade life in the Blades forum, and elsewhere. These include the legendary "One blade in February" threads, and of course the 100+ shave odyssey by Mick (Turtle) with a Vintage English Wilkinson Sword. A few folks are clearly getting much more shaves than the average. Mike (mswofford) and I thought it might be a good idea to have a central spot to discuss the topic, both for those that already are achieving long blade life and those that might want to experiment with getting more great shaves from their blades.

    No, no... Why? Blades are Cheap! : Sure, they're cheap, and disposable. But that's no reason to throw away perfectly great shaves! Not everyone has lots of disposable income. For some, getting one more shave from a blade may really help their bottom line. For others, getting the most from everything is just in their DNA. The point here is to find out what your real number of great shaves per blade is, instead of just stopping at some arbitrary point. I, and many others get 40+ shaves from lots of different blades. These aren't just cases of lite beards - there's a whole spectrum of beard types represented. Prep and technique seem to be common factors here.

    Entrance Criteria: No hard criteria, but to qualify for putting "Excalibur" in your signature, you should make an concerted effort to see how many great shaves you can get on a blade. Don't assume a blade is bad just because you have a bit of irritation. Push through those issues - they are usually you, not the blade. Pitch the blade when you have repeatable problems - tugging, etc. Repeat this process for several blades at least before determining how many shaves are "your number". Keep evaluating the max number as your technique improves. Often as your prep and technique improves, your number of shaves per blade will increase!

    A special thanks to Mike (mswofford) for the original idea for the thread/club!

    Let the discussions begin!
  1. I got my ideas from James and recently completed 47 shaves with a Feather in an English Gillette Tech. It's been advocated that SE and SE Injector last longer than DE because SE blades are thicker and therefore stiffer. I'm really not sure that is the reason (I have SEs also) but let's see where the discussions lead. At this point it seems that excellent prep and a very shallow blade angle with a DE is key; Think the angle used for SE and SE injector.
  2. I've been thinking about this actually. It's not about saving money, if I wanted to save money I'd just stop buying razors. :lol: But really, I've been curious about blade longevity, just to see how many shaves I can really get out of my favorite blades, the Gillette Platinum.

    At the moment I'm experimenting with some other stuff and I don't think it's a good idea to throw blade longevity into the mix. I'll be following this thread and maybe I'll be sharing my own experience in the future.

  3. I have gotten 25 shaves on a Chinese Schick Injector blade, and recently got 46 on a NOS Personna 74 Injector blade. I still have that Personna blade, and might try to see how many more I can get from it. It wasn't completely finished, just starting to dull a little. The biggest problem I experienced was getting bored while waiting for the blade to give out.
  4. My oldest Rolls Razor was made prior to 1940

    Blade is original. It is a single edge.

    So until I can prove an earlier age I'll go with 64 years.


  5. :lol:
  6. I've posted a few times on the topic of blade life with my experiences, but I thought I'd go ahead and collect up some of those thoughts on it here for future reference.

    I have been DE shaving for a good while, since the early 80's. For most of that time I was a single pass shaver, and certainly getting 10+ shaves from a blade. When I joined B&B, I saw all of the folks going for only 3-5 shaves, and was somewhat surprised buy that. For a while I actually started pitching them early myself, thinking there might be some magic I was "missing".

    Fast forward a few months later, and I was chatting with dad about blade life (I'd recently brought him back to DE shaving). I mentioned I was pitching blades at 5-ish shaves, and he gave me one of those "dad" looks :). You know the one....the one that says "are you an idiot, or what?". He proceeded to tell me he gets 40 shaves or so from a good blade. I knew I'd been getting ten+ for most of my life, so I decided to stop throwing away blades at some arbitrary number that other people came up with, and objectively judge my blades as to their health. What I discovered was that there are random events that happen..the occasional weeper for instance, that would trigger me to pitch a blade. I started pushing through those events, to discover that the blade was/is not the issue, typically. I discovered that for me, the blade just gradually looses sharpness over time, but most brands can easily go for 30 shaves. I don't do any kind of heroics on my blades. They're pretty much rode hard, and put away wet, as the saying goes. Actually , I do loosen the head, and blow out the water. That's it though. I use Feathers, almost exclusively, but I've had 30+ shaves from many other blades.

    Now, why the stark difference with the experience of others? That's a tough one to answer. I don't have a particularly light beard - it's on the medium to heavy side, with rapid growth. I do have what may be considered fairly exceptional prep, in that I work out (hard, profuse sweating) before I shower/shave. I've recently discovered this may be a key factor. I've had some days where I did not work out, and I had an immediate reduction in blade performance on those days (not unusable..just increased cutting force required), followed by the next day where I work out, the blade feeling like new again.

    Other factors might be technique related. The more you DE shave, the better you get at it, and the less sharp your blade needs to be to do the job. I shave with a very shallow blade angle, creating maximal cutting efficiency and minimizing blade damage. The combination of beard prep (sweating for an hour before the shave), shower shaving, low blade angle (reduced damage and increased efficiency) all come together to increase the overall blade life substantially.

    More controversially, I would say user expectation and psychology plays a role. If someone says to a new DE shaver "you can expect 3-5 shaves per blade", or "this brand of blade doesn't last as long as others", I think it can taint the expectations such that even the slightest issue with a blade leads to pitching the blade, even though that issue , very likely, had nothing to do with the blade whatsoever.

    This said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using a blade for 3-5 shaves. I think that's probably on the low side for anyone, but I can't fault the logic. Blades are cheap (even "expensive" blades), so no reason to extend past their "prime". For me, the "prime" is 30 days or more. I guess I'm just one of those folks that can't pitch something that I know has more use in it. It's in my DNA.
  7. Don't forget to add Excalibur to your sigs!
  8. Very well written! I actually learned to question all that I knew to be 'true' during the Open Comb October event. Using my FaTip Grande and a Gillette Silver Blue, I went for seven shaves, which for me is outstanding. I'd never managed it before, and it made me wonder just how well I could do with a regular safety bar razor and some patience.

    Right now, I'm testing out a 1937 Gillette Sheraton with a Feather blade, as the Lab I had in it felt too rough. The Feather is effortless. I'll stick with it until I have to pack to go visit my father for Thanksgiving in Tennessee. I'm taking it with me for him to see and use, as it's his birth year razor. He has already expressed that he doesn't need another razor, and that I'm to enjoy it for him.

    Upon my return, I'll invest even more time to learning just how far I can take a blade. I want to know. I have to know. My father manages six months on one blade in his 1954 Gillette Super Speed I got him and the Gillette Silver Blue blades I got with it. Because of that, I have to know if I can match that our get close. I just have to know...

    My father would be a member of Excalibur, I know. ;-)
  9. Good idea for a club! Makes me feel like even less of a misfit.:thumbup1: When I found this forum I felt a little odd that I seemed to be one of the only people who had shaved with a double edge and injector razor all my life and didn't even really know what a "cartridge" razor is. Still never used one, a disposable is as close as I've come and don't care much for them. Then I felt even more odd when I found out most people change their blades after a handful of uses, more or less. Oh yeah, and I also use canned stuff.:blushing:

    My experience is similar to Jamesspo, and I've also posted some on it before. I generally shave 3X a week with a double edge, sometimes more depending on meetings and appointments I may have planned and change the blade every two months. So that would be 24+ shaves. I'm not sure how I came up with that schedule, but some time or other I guess I decided that's what works best for me. If I remember, when I was in the military I would change the blade every two weeks, and of course shaved about every day. Of course making sure I got a good shave was more important then. Though I'm not sure I can really tell the difference from the first shave to the 20th shave or so.

    Another thing this forum has got me wondering about is the longevity of the injector blade compared to the DE. I got a Schick injector for field deployments in the military. I valued my late '40's Super Speed, that was originally my Dad's, too much to take it to the field. I tried disposable ones to take in the field, and just never liked them, so I ended up getting the injector. I think I actually changed them twice as often as the DE on the assumption that one edge would last half as long as two. I don't think I've ever tried to max one out. Unlike many here, I preferred the Super Speed to the Schick. Again, that may be because it was my Dad's and it was what I was used to. I now prefer the DE even more because of the availability of cheap blades.

    I've almost always used AAFES (PX/BX) branded Personnas and never really considered that there may be big differences between blades, that was another thing that kind of surprised me on this forum. I'm now trying some other blades, and so far can't say I see the differences between them some others do. So far I'm more likely to buy on country of manufacture and price than anything else so far.

    One thing that got me about people changing blades every 3-5 shaves was that I thought they came out with stainless steel blades because they were supposed to last longer, and I thought people used the old high carbon blades at least that long. Of course I understand that the cost of blades may have been relatively more expensive in the past.

    I'm kind of set in my ways and my habit of changing my blade every two months. I'm not entirely closed to trying new things. Like claiming there is a big difference between blades, I thought people here were also a little strange in thinking there's a big difference in the model of DE razor they use also. After finding this forum I bought an old type and a NEW out of curiosity. You may never get me to admit that my dad's old SS isn't the best razor ever, but I do have to admit there is also something special about those two old open combs.:thumbup:

    One final observation, I very rarely to never cut or nick myself. I don't know if that also goes along with how I use the blade that makes it seem to last longer, like I have my technique down like James was saying, or something. (After 30 to 40 years, if I don't have my technique down, I don't think I ever will.:001_smile But again, I'm not completely against learning new things on this forum.)
  10. BTW; I added Excalibur to my sig, but I'm not seeing it on the page, but it's there if I go back to the settings page?

    Edit: Never mind, I see it now.:blushing:
  11. I agree with James, that many folks toss a blade before (well before) its time. I usually do not keep track of my blade longevity, but I know I always get at least 2-3 weeks out of a blade, with 2-pass daily shaves.

    I have posted in the past about using a feather blade for over 60 shaves.

    I'm currently using a Personna blade with over two weeks on it, and it is still as smooth and comfortable as if it was new.

    I gladly join your ranks.

    My curiosity is how SE/Inj compare to DE. The common wisdom, as stated above, is that the thickness of the SE & Inj blades makes them last longer. My own personal experience does not support that. I'm curious to see how this is for others.
  12. Well, in spite of Mike having alerted me in advance, I managed to miss this thread so far.

    I am in. So far, the most I've got is 16 shaves with a 7 o'clock yellow, followed by 10 with a 7 o'clock green (Indian). I strongly believe in not wasting anything, so I simply hate tossing a blade after a couple of uses or even a week (which I used to do till I read James' shave count).

    Thanks Mike for the idea and James for putting up the thread. Off to adding Excalibur to my sig - right now my target is to extend a blade for a month, which will be about 22-24 shaves for me on an average.
  13. @jamesspo

    Another thread has made me think more about this. I'm sure prep has a lot to do with blade longevity, so I'm curious what your prep is. Mine is just a basic shower before every shave. But I think that washing my face and getting the whiskers super hydrated with hot water makes them very soft and easy to cut, which in turn puts less wear & tear on the blades. Maybe that is why I can use blades for so long. Is your routine similar?
  14. See post #7 for more on this, but to summarize, my prep is probably somewhat unusual in that I do a very hard sweaty workout before my shaves in the morning. I have noticed on the occasional day where I don't do the workout an increase in the force required to cut. On an old blades it's more noticeable. Prep during the shave is just what I get shower shaving. I don't really do anything special there - but as said, I'm already well "prepped" before I even get to the shower.

    On the basic idea though, I completely agree. I suspect prep is a key factor in blade life.
  15. :a43::a20: So basically, your whiskers are exhausted, and put up much less of a fight to the attacking razor! :laugh::lol:

    That is what I'm beginning to realize. I'm curious now, if anybody who has real issues with blades uses the same type of prep. People talk about blade tugging as an indication of when they need to toss a blade. I have NEVER experienced blade tugging/pulling when shaving right after a shower, no matter how many shaves the blade has on it. The only time I have experienced tugging is when I'm in a hurry and shave without showering first.
  16. Yep, that's it! :lol:

    Same here..I've never really experience anything that would qualify as a tug. Even at 40+ shaves, the blades are still cutting hair - it just takes a bit more force to make the cut (and I'm sure I compensate for that unconsciously). I think shallow blade angle is probably a big factor as well, although I don't know if that's something everyone here does. Anything you do that improves cutting efficiency is going to have a dual effect - reducing blade damage and reducing necessary sharpness. Both of those manifest as longer blade life.
  17. I'm on day four on my quest to join the Excalibur Club. I'm hoping my Feather blade will last me to Xmas.

    My beard doesn't grow fast enough to get BBS shaves on a one-day interval, but I easily get DFS shaves. I have a pretty good idea of what's needed for "Excalibur" performance: shallow shaving angle, thoroughly hydrated beard, ample lather, strokes that are short and light.

    And I know that causes blades to dull prematurely: too much pressure on the razor, insufficient hydration, worn out blades.
  18. Well, I'm starting with a new Astra today. Earlier experience with Astras is not stellar, but I'm looking at a marked improvement, since I believe my technique has improved since then.
  19. Vintage English Wilkinson Sword (48) - and she's done. I could keep shaving with it, but the last two shaves I've had some trouble getting good bite on the hairs in some spots, requiring excessive redo.

    So, my conclusion, only based on the experience with this one blade is that the vintage English Wilkies aren't really much different than a Feather. They are very similar throughout - maybe a tad better in the later stages (although I will be doing an day by day alternating scheme with a vintage Wilkie and a Feather next to judge that more carefully.

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