- Based on photo analysis as applied to an average blade width of 21.96 mm, the PAA DOC Satin has a very large negative blade exposure of -0.22 mm, making the razor relatively inefficient at cutting hair, and a large guard span of 1.96 mm, making the razor relatively aggressive. This combination of inefficiency and aggressiveness generally makes the PAA DOC seem "mild" overall.
- The PAA DOC Satin has a blade angle of 24.4 deg, which might also contribute to the razor's "mild" character
- The PAA DOC Satin has a handle angle of 36.1 deg, as found by photo analysis, which matches typical statements that the handle angle is more than 30 deg and closer to 35 deg or 40 deg
- The PAA DOC Satin is visibly different on each side of the razor head, which corresponds to differences in guard span and blade gap for the blade's two cutting edges, as verified by photo analysis
- The PAA DOC Satin has visible "blade play" when loading a blade, which can lead to asymmetric blade exposure, as verified by photo analysis
- The open combs, which hold onto lather, and textured surface of the PAA DOC Satin result in less friction during shaves compared to safety razors with smooth top caps, allowing for thicker, drier lather without compromising on perceived slickness
- The handle of the PAA DOC Satin has very good knurling
- The PAA DOC Satin comes with several noticeable surface imperfections
- The PAA DOC Satin does not have much blade tab overhang, but due to deficient razor design, blade tab corners can access and cut skin during shaving, while loading and unloading the razor may be dangerous with bare hands
I started DE shaving on June 12, 2016, and my first safety razor was the Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements (PAA) Double Open Comb (DOC) Satin. My first post ever here was fittingly about the PAA DOC Satin on July 8, 2016, regarding mass and length measurements and photo analysis for blade exposure, guard span, etc. (B&B URL). On July 18, 2016, I shared some photos (B&B URL), and then on July 22, 2016, I posted more photo analysis results with respect to the "blade play" issue that is present with the PAA DOC Satin (B&B URL). Soon after, on July 29, 2016, I posted an updated photo analysis with averaged blade parameters for both sides of a symmetrically revealed blade having a width of 22.00 mm (B&B URL). Finally, on January 30, 2017, I wrote about quick friction experiments that showed how the PAA DOC Satin resulted in significantly less friction under wet conditions with only water on skin compared to safety razors with smooth top caps under similar circumstances (B&B URL, B&B URL).
Despite all of my analysis and other posts about the PAA DOC Satin and having switched to the Edwin Jagger (EJ) Kelvin on January 26, 2017, I never provided a review of the PAA DOC Satin with updated mass and length measurements and extra photographs about design and manufacturing flaws. This post rectifies that situation.
Mass and Distance Measurements
Below is the general table of measurements for the razor without a blade. Mass was measured with a calibrated scale having a 0.01 g resolution, distances were measured with a calibrated digital caliper having a 0.01 mm resolution, and center of mass was measured by carefully balancing the razor on a relatively thin edge of folded paper, noting the critical location, and measuring it with the caliper. Regarding the head, top cap, and base plate, width dimensions are perpendicular to the open comb sides and length dimensions run parallel to the open comb sides, as observed from the top of the razor.
|Razor||PAA DOC Satin|
|Mass||55.79 g [PAA states 56 g]|
|Length||78.81 mm [PAA states 3 in.]|
|Center of Mass from Top||31.00 mm|
|Handle Material||Satin Finish Plated Brass|
|Handle Mass||35.17 g [PAA states 36 g]|
|Handle Length||72.94 mm|
|Handle Diameter||11.98 mm|
|Head Material||Satin Finish Plated Zinc Alloy|
|Head Mass||20.62 g|
|Top Cap Width||19.03 mm|
|Base Plate Width||23.38 mm|
|Head Length, Center||39.75 mm|
|Head Length, Maximum||42.49 mm|
|Center Pin/Post Diameter at Blade||4.78 mm|
|Side Bar Width at Blade||1.90 mm|
|Side Bar Span at Blade||34.92 mm|
|Open Comb Gap||1.30 mm|
The razor's mass, length, and center of mass are described above. Each individual develops preferences for these overall parameters, so reviewing them is somewhat fruitless. Nonetheless, I will say that I like the weight, size, and balance of the PAA DOC.
As posted on July 29, 2016, photo analysis was conducted with a symmetrically revealed blade having a width of 22.00 mm (B&B URL). The Wilkinson Sword blade had a reasonable thickness of 0.098 mm and was loaded to the best of my ability by eye with manual adjustments to yield symmetric blade reveal. Close-up photos down the blade edges on both sides of the razor head were analyzed, and results were subsequently averaged and rounded, as illustrated below.
Given that the average blade width is approximately 21.96 mm, based on my numerous measurements of different blades, I extended the photo analysis results for a 22.00 mm blade width to an average 21.96 mm blade width by means of simple geometric calculations. The following table shows the estimated results for the PAA DOC Satin safety razor loaded with an average DE razor blade:
|Razor||PAA DOC Satin|
|Blade Width||21.96 mm|
|Blade Angle||24.4 deg|
|Handle Angle||36.1 deg|
|Blade Exposure||-0.22 mm|
|Guard Span||1.96 mm|
|Cap Span||1.94 mm|
|Blade Gap||0.47 mm|
|Blade Reveal||1.26 mm|
The blade angle of 24.4 deg may be less than average and might make the PAA DOC less efficient, since shallow blade angles apparently cut hair less effectively. Regarding another important angle, the handle angle of 36.1 deg is in the ballpark of reported estimates, the handle angle being typically stated as more than 30 deg and closer to 35 deg or 40 deg.
The analysis that was performed for both sides of a symmetrically loaded blade yielded significant differences in guard span and blade gap. The differences are not artifacts of the analysis method, but are real and manifest from visible geometric differences on each side of the razor head. The two sides are not equal. One side has a guard span of 2.05 mm and a blade gap of 0.51 mm, while the other side has a guard span of 1.82 mm and a blade gap of 0.42 mm. Unlike guard span, blade gap does not really affect how a razor feels and performs, but differences in guard span and blade gap reflect a lack of precision in the manufacturing of the razor.
Razor Is "Mild" Overall with Inefficient Blade Exposure and Aggressive Guard Span
Overall, with its very large negative blade exposure, large guard span, and possibly shallow blade angle, the PAA DOC can be considered to be a "mild" razor, but it is more precisely described as inefficient with respect to blade exposure, and possibly blade angle, and yet aggressive with respect to guard span. The combined effect is a razor that feels mild overall and possibly not as efficient as one might desire.
Personally, with my tougher hair, I could not get close shaves with the PAA DOC, even when using a very sharp blade and applying undesirable pressure in a final pass against the grain (ATG) with blade buffing. I tested the PAA DOC with a variety of blades, including, but not limited to, Derby Extra, Wilkinson Sword, Astra Superior Platinum, Voskhod, Gillette Silver Blue, Kai, and Feather blades. I liked the Kai blade the best with the PAA DOC. This makes perfect sense because the Kai blade is very sharp and is about 0.2 mm or more wider than other blades. The sharpness of the Kai blade helps increase efficiency in general, regardless of the razor, but the extra width of the Kai blade helps to compensate for the PAA DOC's large negative blade exposure, in particular. A blade with a larger width in the PAA DOC yields a slightly less negative blade exposure and a slightly smaller guard span, yielding a razor-blade combination that is slightly more efficient and less aggressive, especially if the blade is also relatively sharp. Shimming with the PAA DOC either didn't make a perceivable difference for me or it noticeably made the situation a little worse due to increased aggression beyond what was comfortable.
A minor issue regarding performance has to do with the head profile. The open-comb safety guard of the PAA DOC acts and feels like a rake against the skin. The ends of the safety guard do not provide much surface area against the skin, making it harder to feel the safety guard and maintain a proper angle. As with other razors, however, experience allows one to get used to how the PAA DOC feels and performs.
"Blade Play" Is Noticeable
Loading a DE razor blade in the PAA DOC Satin can be irritating because of noticeable "blade play" that often leads to asymmetric blade reveal and exposure. The amount of "wiggle room" when loading a blade can be quantified by caliper measurements. The thin part of the cutout running across the center of a DE razor blade has a width that ranges from 2.10 mm to 2.20 mm with an average of 2.15 mm, and the diameter of the hole at the center of the cutout ranges from 4.93 mm to 5.12 mm with an average of 5.05 mm, based on my measurements of many different blades with a precise digital caliper. The PAA DOC is one of several razors that has two thin bars on the sides of the top cap for fitting into the cutout and automatically positioning and aligning a blade. As measured with my digital caliper, the two blade-alignment bars of the PAA DOC Satin have a width of about 1.90 mm near the top cap where the blade sits, and the center pin/post has a diameter of 4.78 mm at the blade when the razor is loaded. These dimensions result in theoretical blade plays of (1) 0.20 mm to 0.30 mm with respect to blade cutout width and PAA DOC Satin blade-alignment bars and (2) 0.15 mm to 0.34 mm with respect to blade cutout circle diameter and PAA DOC Satin pin/post diameter. For a particular blade sample, photo analysis revealed a variation of about 0.25 mm between minimum and maximum blade reveals, which falls between both theoretical blade play ranges. Blade exposure on one side of the razor in this case was measured as significantly changing from -0.27 mm for minimum blade reveal to -0.12 mm for maximum blade reveal (B&B URL).
Given the wiggle room between a blade and the PAA DOC Satin, the natural asymmetry that often noticeably occurs when loading a blade has some combination of translation and rotation. This necessitates manual adjustments to symmetrically load a blade. When I initially load a blade into the PAA DOC, I check the blade on both sides, and if the reveal is asymmetric, then I unscrew the handle a bit to allow me to move the blade a little using the blade tabs, and then I fully tighten the handle. If the blade is still not symmetrically revealed/exposed, then I repeat the quick process of partially loosening the handle, adjusting the blade position, and tightening the handle until my eyes see the blade as symmetrically loaded.
This is not a big problem, but I'd rather have a razor automatically seat a blade perfectly or at least better than the PAA DOC Satin. The bars on the top cap and the center pin/post are thinner than necessary right near the top cap where the blade sits, creating unnecessarily larger blade play. This is a design flaw. Instead of a 1.90 mm width, the blade-alignment bars on the top cap should have been made with a width that is closer to 2.10 mm, which would have resolved the vast majority of blade play that currently happens with the PAA DOC Satin while still allowing for all or almost all blades to fit.
Open Combs Hold Onto Lather, Reducing Friction
The PAA DOC is advertised as being "based on the classic Self Lubricating Grand Razor" with an open comb on the head that "catches excess lather and water keeping the razor constantly lubricated during the shave." This certainly seems true. The PAA DOC looks cool with its open comb safety guard and open comb top cap, but more importantly, the open combs utilize increased surface tension and surface area to hold onto lather and water, providing extra lubrication during the shave. Streaks of lather are actually left behind for better buffing, which supports the advertising that the PAA DOC is the "best buffing razor". Regardless of whether the PAA DOC is the "best buffing razor", as advertised, the functionality of holding onto lather is very nice.
Textured Surface Also Reduces Friction
Experiments with the PAA DOC Satin showed that its textured surface produces much less friction than razors with smooth surfaces do on wet skin (B&B URL, B&B URL). Testing involved dragging top caps of razors against dry skin and skin wetted with water. The PAA DOC Satin resulted in a little more friction in wet conditions with only water on skin compared to dry conditions on skin, but safety razors with smooth top caps resulted in significantly more friction, including stick-slip, in wet conditions compared to dry conditions. The lower surface area from the open comb of PAA DOC's top cap may be a factor, but testing with the solid part of the top cap confirmed the significance of the textured surface. Good lather reduces friction for all razors, but fundamentally, the textured surface of the PAA DOC Satin works better than smooth surfaces. It has been theorized that a reason for this is because lather gets in the small crevices of the satin finish, cutting down on friction relative to the level that accompanies smooth surfaces (B&B URL). This advantage might be lost with the latest version of the PAA DOC, which has a smooth nickel plating.
Knurling Is Very Good
One thing that I really like about the PAA DOC is the knurling on the handle, which PAA states is their "special brand of knurling". As shown below in the zoomed-in photo, the knurls are shaped well with plenty of depth to facilitate comfortable gripping without slipping. This claim is based on my use of the razor for over seven months.
Surface Imperfections Are Abundant
The picture below shows prominent examples of surface imperfections with the PAA DOC Satin. The plating and surfaces are not perfect, but functionally, there are no issues because of this.
Blade Tab Overhang Is Small, but Dangerous
Blade tabs are exposed by the PAA DOC Satin, as pictured below in top and bottom views, but despite the fact that the overhang is technically small, deficient razor design makes the blade tab overhang dangerous during shaving and when loading and unloading the razor.
The blade tab overhang is large relative to the top cap and the center of the base plate with its curved cutouts, and this lack of material on the sides of the head makes it harder to hold the top cap and/or base plate when tightening or loosening the head. The angled corners of the base plate also contribute to the increased likelihood that one's hand might slip and get cut when changing the blade. Using a towel or other soft material in between the razor head and one's gripping hand is thus recommended when changing the blade so as to protect the hand.
While it is good that there is some access to the blade tabs, so that manual adjustments can be made when loading a blade in order to compensate for the PAA DOC's "blade play" issue, the blade tabs can make contact with skin and cause cuts when shaving, especially around the nose and ears. This is because the angled corners of the base plate allow easier access of the blade tabs to the skin, even though the overhang of the blade tab corners is technically small relative to the base plate. When using the PAA DOC, I certainly felt the blade tabs on many occasions, and I believe that this resulted in a nick near the ear when I was not careful enough.
The PAA DOC Satin was my first DE safety razor, which I bought after spending quite a bit of time researching razors, reading reviews and trying to figure out what razor was best for me. Transitioning to traditional shaving turned out to be relatively painless with the PAA DOC, due in large part to the razor's mildness and lather-quality tolerance, the latter being unknown to me at the time. After getting my bearings with DE shaving, I still struggled to get a close shave. Frustration set in and I became disenchanted with the PAA DOC. This led to my photo analysis of the razor, which quantified its large negative blade exposure and large guard span. With explicit statements about how I was not reviewing the razor, but trying to share my quantitative analysis results, I submitted the results to PAA's website. PAA did not post my write-up. That was a big turnoff, but it was a good lesson about how undesirable reviews and information can be easily censored by razor manufacturers at their websites. Shortly afterwards, on July 8, 2016, I joined B&B and posted my photo analysis results. I really disliked the PAA DOC by this point in time, but I still shaved with it for several more months, gaining more experience with DE shaving technique and different soaps and blades. I wish that I had switched to the EJ Kelvin sooner, or started DE shaving with it instead of the PAA DOC, because the EJ Kelvin forces the user to make better lather and use lighter pressure in order to achieve closer shaves. Nevertheless, if it weren't for the PAA DOC Satin, I might not have learned as much about DE shaving difficulties and mechanics.
I've been shaving with the EJ Kelvin since January, but I have yet to perform photo analyses of pictures that I took looking down the blade edges. I will eventually determine blade parameters for the EJ DE89 head. Also, I haven't even cracked open the Bevel razor that I purchased in February, so I'll get to analyzing that razor, too.