Mantic59’s Razor Blade Search – Feather

feather blades

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:

feather face

And here is another brand of blade (Dorco)  from the same angle and magnification:

dorco unused

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):

feather point

(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:

zorrik point

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:

feather tip mag

Here’s the Zorrik blade at the same angle and magnification:

zorrk point mag

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.

Related Posts:

Feather Razors And Blades, A Contrast

Razor Blade Search: Derby

Razor Blade Search: Dorco

Razor Blade Search: Astra

Razor Blade Search: Crystal

 

mantic59 mantic59 (543 Posts)

also known as "Mantic59." Shave tutor and sharpologist.


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Comments

  1. Man, you literally have shaving down to a science! Interesting look into the composition of these blades…!

  2. I hope you are able to find a blade that works for you. My go to blade used to be Wilkinson Sword but now it is Lord Super Stainless. Voskhod blades also performed well with my skin and technique.

  3. Terrific work, Mark. I often wonder why blades are so different from one another. Now I have even more to wonder about! How do such microscopic differences make such pronounced character traits. And why did they stop making my favorite blades (St. Petersburg Iridium Supers)<<–mini-rant

    • The Dean says:

      Have you tried the Polsilver Super Iridium blades? I have used both and couldn’t tell the difference. I always assumed they were simply the same blade as the Wizmet Iridium Super with a different label. I get great results from both. If they were less expensive they would probably be my go-to blade.

      I’ve never had an issue with Feather blades being “too sharp” or irritating. But I do find several of the Russian blades give a little smoother shave. Super Iridium, Gillette Yellow, Voskhod, Rapira, Ladas, even Sputnik are blades I’ve had good luck with. In fact, I find the very inexpensive pink Rapira blades to be as smooth as any blade out there. But I only get two shaves off of a Rapira–sometimes only one.

      For my money (and face) Voskhod represents the best value as they are fairly inexpensive, very smooth and can go a few shaves before needing to be replaced.

  4. Very awesome Mark!

  5. I’ve used Feathers exclusively for about a year now, in a Muhle R89 Grande and a Merkur 39C. Never had issues with nicks or irritation. IMO they’re the best blade you can buy, although I haven’t yet tried the Gillette Silver Blues.

  6. KeyserSoze says:

    What about “Red Personna” blades? I see them in a list, but where’s review? Did you tried them? My personal favorite blades, somehow i feel that you may like them, Mantic. :)

  7. Mark,
    It’s unfortunate that 4 of the 5 blades you compared gave you less-than-great results (3 if we give Dorco benefit of the doubt). So there’s not much suspense waiting for your conclusions.
    Do you have any interest in widening the search? If so, FWIW, I’ve had good experience with Gillette Silver Blue, Gillette Black and Polsilver. My second tier includes Rapira, Gillette Yellow, Personna Med Prep, SuperMax and Wilkinson. Lower down on my list are Gillette Green, “Indian” (Chinese?) Wilkinson, Personna Red and Merkur.

    • Hi Bob– Yeah I have not have the luck I was hoping for. I haven’t reviewed *every* blade I tried under the SEM because of the costs involved so I’ve tried to show the popular ones in these posts. I have found a few that work decently for me which I will discuss in the final post.

      • Mark, you should check out tryablade.com. They allow you to just purchase one blade, to help lower your costs of trying many different blades. I believe they also charge a flat $2 shipping rate. It’s a pretty good deal, and they have a lot to choose from.

  8. Great photomicrographs. I find the blue Astras to be similar to Feathers. As mentioned these blades are unforgiving, and if you have a lapse in technique, there will be blood!

    That said, they remain in my rotation for use with razors up to and including Super Speed Red Tip. They remain off limits in my Weber, Standard, EJ 89. They yield excellent, if not comfortable shaves in a Merkur 42C, SS Flare tip, or Fatboy on 1!

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