Photo Analysis with Minimum and Maximum Blade Reveal for PAA (Phoenix) DOC

Discussion in 'Double Edged Razors' started by ShavingByTheNumbers, Jul 22, 2016.

    Here is my photo analysis on how blade parameters change with the Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements (PAA) Double Open Comb (DOC) satin safety razor when a Wilkinson Sword blade is loaded all the way to one side or the other of the razor head for minimum or maximum blade reveal.



    Minimum Blade RevealMaximum Blade Reveal
    Blade Angle (deg)26.925.1
    Blade Exposure (mm)-0.27-0.12
    Guard Span (mm)2.221.80
    Cap Span (mm)1.882.18
    Blade Gap (mm)0.510.46
    Blade Reveal (mm)1.111.36

    This might be the first time that anyone has ever documented and measured how blade exposure, span, etc., change for a razor with respect to the razor's slack in seating a blade. For the PAA DOC with a Wilkinson Sword blade, the blade exposure increases from -0.27 mm to -0.12 mm and the guard span decreases from 2.22 mm to 1.80 mm with a blade reveal that increases from a minimum of 1.11 mm to a maximum of 1.36 mm.

    It is common that some slack is present when loading a DE razor blade, typically resulting in some noticeable asymmetry in blade reveal, etc., between one side and the other of the razor head. Small manual adjustments are, therefore, often necessary during loading to make the blade parameters fairly symmetric around each blade edge. Blade exposure is the most sensitive blade parameter in that blade exposure changes the most in percentage with respect to changes in blade reveal. In the case of the PAA DOC with a Wilkinson Sword blade, for example, blade exposure magnitude decreases by 56 % as the blade exposure increases from -0.27 mm to -0.12 mm at the extremes, or blade exposure magnitude increases by 125 % as the blade exposure decreases from -0.12 mm to -0.27 mm. Other blade parameters change, as well, when adjusting the blade during loading, but the blade exposure changes the most relative to itself, and since blade exposure is the most important parameter in how a razor-blade combination feels and performs, the photo analysis shown here highlights the importance of loading a blade as evenly as possible for consistent shaves.

    The photo analysis that I performed was done for the PAA DOC because it is the only razor that I have with slack in loading the blade. (I started wet shaving on June 12th and my only other razor right now is the Dorco PL602, which automatically loads the blade very evenly.) The Wilkinson Sword blade was chosen because its blade width is precisely 22.0 mm, as best as I have measured and verified on the Internet. Given my lack of experience, I don't know whether the blade-loading slack with the PAA DOC is large, small, or around average. Photo analyses of blade parameters for minimum and maximum blade reveal could be done for other razors, by myself or by others in the future, but analyses like this are more educational than practical since wet shavers generally strive for even blade exposure. There is an interesting exception, however, that comes to mind and might justify such analyses: purposefully loading a blade to one side to intentionally create a relatively more aggressive side with more blade exposure and a relatively less aggressive side with less blade exposure. I'm not sure how practical that would be, but it is an interesting thought, nonetheless.

    Regarding analysis details, it should be noted that the same side of the razor was used in the photographs to avoid potential geometric differences between the two sides of the razor that would likely result in slight differences in blade parameter values. I would also like to mention that the measured blade angles of 26.9 deg and 25.1 deg and the total spans (guard + cap) of 4.10 mm and 3.98 mm are certainly different due to measurement error, but the measurements are relatively similar, which serve as evidence that the analysis is good. The analysis is not perfect, though. The measured difference in blade reveal of 0.25 mm, combined with the measured blade angles, leads to a calculated difference in blade exposure of 0.11 mm. My measured difference in blade exposure of 0.15 mm is not far off, especially when considering measurement and roundoff errors, but the error is present.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2016
  1. Very nice work :thumbup1:
  2. Thanks, Jacquers. I appreciate that. This thread has been pretty quiet. I'm going to keep doing photo analyses to get blade parameters and share them here. I'm almost done with the PAA DOC. Since my first photo analysis, I've improved my methods, so I will update blade parameters for the PAA DOC. My first analysis only used one side of the head and the picture was too fuzzy. Now, I have sharper pictures of both sides of the head with a blade loaded fairly evenly to my eye. I will analyze both pictures and average the results to yield much more reliable blade parameter values. Given blade-loading slack, as demonstrated here, analyzing both sides of a loaded blade is actually necessary in most cases to get a truly accurate representation of blade parameters. That is the general method that I will start using and that I recommend for others, if they ever get into photo analysis of their razors.
  3. That's very interesting. The only razor that I really need to watch closely is my Fatip Piccolo. it seems to have the most play of any razor I have. I would be interested in knowing just how much play it does have.
  4. A lot of time went into preparing this content, and I appreciate it. I'd appreciate a few clarifications.

    I haven't noticed (or measured) much blade or razor asymmetry on my blades or razors. Is this asymmetry really all that common with the PAA razor? How would one quantify this statement?

    Maybe a PAA razor requires some adjustments (a razor I haven't tried). With most DE razors these days, adjustments aren't even possible. How do you make these manual adjustments on the PAA razor? Wouldn't having to make these adjustments be considered an issue?

    Could you define blade "slack"? Are you talking about the flexibility of the blade, or how loosely it fits on your razor?

  5. With the PAA DOC, I found it hard to estimate by eye the difference in blade reveal when loading the blade as far as I could while still being able to nudge the blade back and forth from one side to the other. You could give it a shot with the Fatip Piccolo. I didn't try this, but you could try fully loading the blade as far as possible to one side, mark the location of the blade edge with tape on the razor head, fully load the blade as far as possible to the other side, and estimate the difference in blade reveal with a scale/ruler to the nearest tenth of a millimeter. It wouldn't take long to try, but it might be too hard to gauge the difference. If you can do it, let us know what you measure.
  6. I used the word "slack" in the context of my post to mean the differences, or asymmetry, in loaded blade reveal, exposure, etc., that can occur between the two sides of the razor head and can, therefore, change between loading a blade one time and loading a blade another time. Some people, like matwho above, might prefer the word "play". I considered using that word, too. Both words are fine, and there might even be others that are better.

    I wrote that it is common that some slack/play is present when loading a DE razor blade because that seemed apparent based on what others have said. I didn't think that that statement was controversial. I'm relatively new to wet shaving, but it seemed, based on what I had read, that making sure that a blade has even and uniform blade exposure on both sides was common when loading a blade. If most razors perfectly position blades, then that is news to me. Maybe it has been done before, but I have never seen anyone, before myself, quantify the maximum difference possible in blade reveal and how the blade parameters change with it for a given razor-blade combination. When I load the PAA DOC, I have to often make at least one small adjustment for even blade reveal according to my eyes, no matter the blade, and since advice for newbies seems to make references to adjusting the blade when loading, I didn't think that anything was abnormal about that. You and others could add to the quantitative data that I have provided by taking photos and making measurements, or by making quick and less accurate estimates by eye, for other razor-blade combinations, but I figured that guys wouldn't be interested in quantifying blade-loading slack since centering the blade is desired and it sounded to me like the vast majority of razors have at least a little slack/play.

    Are you saying that most newly designed, modern (not vintage) DE razors have no blade alignment/centering issues and are naturally seated perfectly for symmetric or consistent blade reveal, exposure, etc., even if you tried to bias the blade reveal during the loading process? If that's the case, then that's great news to me! When I initially load a blade into the PAA DOC satin DE razor, 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 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 I'm happy with the blade loading. It's not that the PAA DOC is bad at seating a blade, but there is often a little asymmetry between the two blade edges that my eye can see and that I can then fix quickly and as best as possible by eye. It's not a big issue, but, of course, I'd rather have a razor naturally seat a blade perfectly. Does anyone else go through such a process with another razor?
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2016
  7. Cal

    Cal Contributor

    Thank you for your posts. :thumbup:

    I'm a detail freak, but doubt if I will ever attain your level of detail freakishness. Good on ya buddy!

    I am the proud possessor of both the Mk1 and Mk2 Fatip Piccolos. Blade alignment on the Mk2 is significantly better due to several things, but I believe mainly to the thicker cap alignment pins (bullets).

    Installing a blade in my Mk1, tightening it up, then shaving apparently frightens some people due to the possible differences in blade exposure. (I hardly ever bother to grab the tabs and line the blade up.) Personally I like the possible variance from equal both sides to skewed (slant style). For me, I just glance at the blade once tightened up then start shaving. Knowing it can be, and often is, different each time a new blade's installed keeps my awareness and technique at a good level (I think). Here's an old pic of Mk1 in slant mode:


    Although the angle of blade varies a lot, the amount of exposure (each side) remains pretty constant.
  8. The PAA razor is dramatic and impressive - no question. But it seems there may be an issue with alignment. For reference, here's the blade exposure for the Rockwell 6S, Gillette Slim, and Gillette Aristocrat Junior:


    Okay, there's not much detail...but alignment is spot-on for all three razors. In each case, the blade snaps and locks into place...then you screw it closed.

    One of the reasons I sold an ATT razor was for alignment. The razor is fine as long as you make sure the two pins click into the blade; but if the two pins don't click, you can end up with a blade that rotates 360 degrees. That happened to be three times.
  9. Nice work. For me the blade wiggle room has always been blade-dependent, not razor-dependent. With the same razor some blades will have some play while others will be perfectly aligned without any room fr adjustment. This is why I always find it weird when people malign a razor/brand when the blade doesn't line-up perfectly.
  10. Yes, the wiggle room depends on both the razor and the blade. I should have made the point in my original post that I get wiggle room for all blades that I've tried in the PAA DOC. The Wilkinson Sword blade was fairly representative in showing how the blade reveal can be biased quite a bit in one direction. I didn't notice any differences when using other blades, but any differences might have been too subtle for me to notice by eye.
  11. Thanks, 1Cal, for the kind words and the great picture and info. When I first saw the picture of the Mk1 Fatip Piccolo in "slant mode", I thought that the blade and the top cap were skewed, but after analyzing the picture a little bit, I saw that there is a little bit of perspective distortion and the top cap is not skewed. It is AMAZING how skewed the blade can naturally be in the Mk1 Fatip Piccolo! Wow!

    The PAA DOC does not have such a natural blade rotation issue, and there is no top cap rotation issue. However, given the wiggle room between a blade and the PAA DOC, the natural asymmetry that often noticeably occurs when loading a blade in the PAA DOC has some combination of translation and rotation. Maybe someday I'll just let it be, like you do with the Mk1 Fatip Piccolo, and adjust technique to compensate.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2016
  12. Thank you for posting this. I like threads involving various measurements of razors and blades.

    So many razors require blade alignment manually. Merkur 45, Fatip, some of cheap Chinese razors and most of Ikon razors are among them. Some razors align blade perfectly automatically every time; such razors are Wunderbar, 1938 Tech and Dorco PL602.
  13. Thanks for the picture, poikkeus, and your notes on the blade reveal asymmetry issue. It's a shame that there was such a blade alignment issue with the ATT razor you got. The ATT sounds like a really good razor. Do you think that the razor that you got was defective due to manufacturing or design?

    It does appear in your photos that the blade reveal/exposure is even along the edges shown on one side of the razor heads, but are the blade reveals/exposures identical on both sides of the razor heads? Can blade reveal/exposure become biased by loading the razor at an angle or something? If not, then that is great for the Rockwell 6S, Gillette Slim, and Gillette Aristocrat Junior!
  14. For razors of the two pin style and that do not self-align the blades, I place the blade on the top cap and squeeze both ends of the blade to make it buckle away from the top cap. This forces the blade cutouts tight against the pins of the top cap. While still squeezing I screw on the handle letting my fingers get pushed out of the way as the top cap is tightened. For me this most frequently results in a well aligned blade, assuming the pins have a precise fit with the bottom plate.
  15. Thanks, play. I like measurements, too. I'm going to deliver more. Thanks for verifying that blade alignment issues are out there for a lot of razors, while some razors perfectly align blades. Most razors don't perfectly align blades automatically, right? That's the impression that I got as a newbie researching wet shaving.

    You listed the Dorco PL602 as one of the razors that automatically loads blades perfectly and I can personally attest to that, too. It's blade alignment is awesome, and because of that, I didn't have to take pictures of both sides of the razor. It's molded plastic symmetry and blade symmetry is making the analysis easier. I haven't done the analysis of blade parameters yet, since I'm finishing that up with the PAA DOC, but I'll get there for the Dorco PL602, along with other photos and measurements for that razor.
  16. Thanks for the tip, Feather-man. I tried that with the PAA DOC, but I couldn't do it, and I think that it's because there are skinny rectangular pins only about 3 mm high off of the top cap instead of longer thicker pins:


    Maybe I'm not doing it right. I don't know. Please let me know what you think about that. At the very least, others might find your blade-alignment tip very useful with other razors.
  17. Someone else at B&B mentioned the alignment trick. For this razor I mistakenly believed the pins were the round type, have not tried with this type of top cap.
  18. That's cool, Feather-man. Thanks for the passing along the tip. It might help in the future. Also, I didn't mean to give you credit for someone else's trick, by the way. You weren't doing that. I'm sorry for the misunderstanding.
  19. The ATT is a well-crafted razor, but the alignment problem stems from the design. A shaver just has to get into the habit of making sure the pins drop in every time. Most guys don't have any problem with it. Feather-man did an excellent job describing the ATT blade-loading process in post #15.

    With every Gillette DE I've tried from 1930 to 1970, it's impossible to load the blade at an angle. The same thing applies to the Rockwell 6S. But you can get faultless alignment on your razor by doing this:

    1. Disassemble the razor. All three parts should be in front of you.
    2. Push the blade into the top of the cap so the two vertical bars are seated and locked in place. The blade should be slightly flexed.
    3. The blade is seated. Now, close the razor, and screw the handle on.

    Feel free to include a few pics of the razor with blade installed. I can't get enough pics of this gorgeous razor.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2016

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