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What's going on here?

I have recently shaved off the beard that has been on for more than thirty years. I trimmed with an M3 and all was well. I returned to wet shaving and bought a 34c and subsequently purchased other razors because I thought the 34c and the others were possibly defective.

Here's the deal: with the M3 and also a BIC disposable, I can test these razors on my arm and dry shave the hair from my forearmm no sweat. When I try a number of blades (Feather, Astra, Wilkinson, BIC, 7 o'c, and others in several of my recently purchased DE razors, I am unable to shave any hair from my forearm. It's as though there is no blade in the razor and feels exactly the same as trying to shave without a blade, even with some pressure applied. Ultimately, I went to a Futur and a Slant (37c) to get any kind of a decent shave.

At first thought, I was thinking that I was tightening the razor's head a little too much. I am pretty gentle with the hardware as I am aware that the razors are cast from pot metal and I don't want to separate the shaft from the head so I just snug the head home and don't stress the razor.

I measured the blades and they seem to be close to spec and I chose those with the greatest width dimension. I can leave the head on the loosish side (not completely tightened) but that alters the geometry and causes a lot of irritation because of the change in blade angle.

I have several nice razors that I would like to use but if I load them normally they simply don't cut. The Slant works but feels mild (not a very close shave and the Futur on 2 does the job quite nicely.

Any ideas what I might be doing wrong or is it simply these razors are too mild for my skin and beard?

Particulars: Proraso Green after shower prep. Two passes: WTG/XTG.

Thanks in advance,
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Is the base plate upside down?
This is the most likely answer. It is common for people to mistakenly load the blade with the baseplate upside down; in that case, it won't cut hair worth squat.

There's absolutely no reason why a DE razor wouldn't shave hair off your arm just as efficiently as a Bic disposable or other cartridge razor.
What is your angle of attack? It should be like the middle picture.

View attachment 584132

Start at the first one and lower the handle until it cuts hair. Usually if the handle is like the last picture you have gone too far.
Yes, odd. Are you removing the paper wrapper from the blade?:lol:

Ha! Good one!

This really has me baffled. Yes, bases are installed properly; I am also trying both 3 pc and 2 pc razors, six in all. Also, when testing on arm hair I can vary the angle of attack from 10 deg to 45 deg with no noticeable change; still won't cut the hair on my arm. I can also drag my finger across the blade opening on the razors and I can barely feel the blade or catch my skin, even when applying modest pressure.

It is definitely a case of very little/no blade exposure; it's as if the blades aren't wide enough to protrude beyond the cap/safety bar. I was convinced that I had a defective 34C but when I got out my old one it behaved the same. I also tried my '56 Gillette SS Navy issue and the blades don't extend far enough to cut whiskers. I used the SS during my time in the service and it worked fine but I can't recall what blades I used. I seem to recall Gillette Blue Blades or whatever was available on board ship.

Normal blade width is 21.95mm nominally as measured with a caliper; the spec from years ago according to the internet seems to indicate that Gillette set the standard at 22mm. Feathers are at 21.95 on average while Astra SP are at 22.18mm and I can almost get a shave with the Astras.

I am open to any and all suggestions that might put me on track to solve this issue.
From the above photos, it appears that a fair amount of pressure is being applied causing the cap to push into the cheek. I tend to use very little pressure; perhaps that is the issue?
When examining the blade flex under a magnifying glass when tightening the cap I noticed that the blade edge drops below a straight edge bridging the cap/safety bar gap. So it is definitely a blade exposure problem and I can create more blade exposure by not snugging the cap but that is not a reliable/repeatable setting. I may have to look at shimming.
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