Over the past few months I’ve been looking at DE razor blades to see which one is “best.” I have previously looked at “drug store” brands like Personna and Studio along with more popular blades like Crystal, Astra (green box), Dorco, and Derby blades. This penultimate post will concentrate on the legendary Feather blade.
The Feather DE Blade
What makes the Feather DE blade so “sharp?” From one perspective it looks like a lot of other DE blades. Here’s an unused Feather blade magnified 600 times:
And here is another brand of blade (Dorco) from the same angle and magnification:
They are fairly similar–you can see the grinding marks, a bit of the non-stick coating, and a pretty flat edge. What else might be at work here? I took a look at a cross-section of the blade’s point magnified about 370 times normal (the blade was immersed in liquid nitrogen then snapped in half for the cleanest possible break):
(I believe the strands coming off the very tip is residue from the non-stick coating.) Again compared to another blade brand (in this case Zorrik) there doesn’t seem to be much difference:
What if I cranked the magnification up as far as I could go and still get a decent image? Here’s the very tip of the Feather blade edge magnified 4000 times:
Here’s the Zorrik blade at the same angle and magnification:
Here I think a difference can be observed. It looks to me like the density of the metal of the Feather blade is much higher compared to the Zorrik blade.
But What About The Shave?
Like many other shavers, my experience with Feather blades is one of “yikes!” I can get extremely close shaves with the razors I have been testing blades with (a Merkur Progress adjustable, a Parker 92R, and a Merkur HD) but I have to be very, very careful with my technique. If I lose my attention even for a moment I am “rewarded” with a nick. My best results with the test razors come from the Progress dialed way down (about 1.5). However, as I mentioned in a previous article, the combination of a Feather blade in a Feather All Stainless razor (AS-D2) gives me astonishingly comfortable shaves. Unfortunately the cost of the AS-D2 is a barrier to some.
Next time I will summarize my tests and results to determine the “best” blade.
Thanks to John Koonz at West Coast Shaving for his help with obtaining blades for this series.