Table of DE blade widths
Giovanni Arbate, the proprietor of the famed Razor & Brush online shaving store, compiled this chart some years back. The store was a sideline, and he could not continue it after a promotion to a more demanding position, so it became (in effect) ShoeboxShaveshop.com. However, the postings on the site were not transferred.
Today /u/russkhan posted on Wicked_Edge what he was able to recover via the Wayback Machine. Two photos didn’t make it, but the content was there. Giovanni had posted this:
I recently noticed that the Korean DORCO blades were gentler than some other popular blades and that they, in fact, appeared to “tame” some of the more aggressive razors. I did a quick visual comparison between the DORCO and another, more aggressive blade and noticed that the width (from edge to edge) of the Korean blade seemed to be slightly smaller than the width of the other blade.
I then compared it with a vintage blade and the DORCO was almost identical to it. I assumed that the width of most new blades may be slightly larger than what was the standard in vintage blades: this could explain why so many vintage razors seem to be quite “aggressive” when used with a modern blade. Well, that was the theory…
I armed myself with a very accurate digital caliper and proceeded to measure the width of a number of blades that I have in my possession. As a reference, I chose three vintage Gillette blades: a Blue blade from the 1930s, a Super Blue blade from the 1950s and a Super Stainless steel blade from the ’60s or ’70s. All three Gillette blades turned out to be dimensionally almost identical: the oldest blade had a width (edge to edge) of 21.95mm, the other two blades had the same width of 21.96mm.
I then took measurements of several modern blades: the following table shows the width in millimeters and the ranking of the various blades, based on their measured width, with the blade having the smallest number being ranked #1 and the one with the largest measurement ranked as # 21.
The first three blades in our list are the vintage Gillettes.
There are a few surprises: the blade with the smallest edge exposure is the Dura Sharp carbon steel blade, a good performer from the Treet Corporation of Pakistan. The other two blades from the same factory, the Treet Silver Edge stainless steel blade and the top of the line Treet Platinum are also at the top of the ranking, respectively positioned at the third and fourth place. The number two place goes to the American Personna, a blade that is widely sold as the store-brand of many American Supermarkets and Drugstore chains.
The DORCO comes in fifth position. At 21.85mm it is slightly narrower than the vintage Gillettes.
The blade that matches the vintage Gillettes perfectly (at least dimensionally) is the German Merkur stainless steel blade.
The Russian Sputnik has the most exposed edge, a fact that may explain its great ability to cut through the toughest beard; interestingly, this blade still retains a smooth character, probably thanks to its advanced Dupont Teflon coating.
A lot of the low cost Chinese blades can be found towards the bottom of our ranking, as can the popular Turkish Derby blade. In the case of the Chinese blades, the edge is often not as sharp as is the case with the other blades in our list. Some of the cheaper Chinese blades are also uncoated or coated with inferior substances and the resulting shaving experience is sub-par.
The famous Feather blade is in 9th place, with a width of 21.93mm, very close to the width of the vintage Gillettes. These blades are considered somewhat aggressive, although, for me at least, they seem to be extra sharp, but also very smooth. Perhaps the exposure of the edge contributes to the feel of extreme sharpness of the Feather blade.
The Astra Superior is also close to the bottom: another very sharp and extremely smooth blade, with advanced PTFE coating and a ceramic coated edge. [The latter is the wonderful Astra Keramik Platinum, now no longer available. Sic transit gloria mundi. – LG]
It is interesting to see how the variation in size and the resulting difference in edge exposure may explain some of the characteristics that make each blade type unique.