A small guide to single edge blades

Discussion in 'Safety Razors' started by HoosierTrooper, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. HoosierTrooper

    HoosierTrooper Steve-less in Indiana

    One of the most commonly asked SE related questions is: Where can I buy blades for my SE? I have put together a guide that I hope will help SE fans find their perfect blade.

    American Safety Razor/Personna is by far the largest producer of single edge blades that are suitable for shaving. They manufacture the Treet, Gem Blue Star, CVS brand and PAL blades. Treet, Gem Blue Star and CVS blades are uncoated carbon steel blades that come packaged in a grey, vault type dispenser that has a slot to place used blades in. They have 009 RD stamped on the spine, which denotes the blades thickness, .009 inches, and RD is for regular duty. It is possible that these are the same blades, I have used a large number of each and cannot tell them apart.

    PAL blades are also carbon steel but have a dark blue coating, and have the word PAL stamped on the spine. I have never found PAL blades in any retail stores, but it appears they come individually wrapped in cardboard sleeves and in the ASR vault dispenser. The medical supply sites that I will talk about later sell PAL blades in bulk amounts.

    Carbon steel blades will rust or tarnish if they are left in the razor wet. I remove the blade after each use, place it in a folded hand towel and “pat” dry, then store in a small plastic container that has a cotton ball and sometimes a desiccant pack. Even doing this the blades will sometimes develop dark spots on the sides but I have never experienced any rust or tarnish on the blades edge.

    Treet blades are carried by Rite Aid drugstores, and of course the CVS blades are available at CVS. The Gem Blue Star and PAL blades are carried by various independent drug and grocery stores, and at some of the large chain drugstores. I have found Treet’s at IGA grocery stores and Gem Blue Star blades at Family Drug.

    ASR also make stainless steel SE blades that are carried primarily by Walgreens drugstores, but they may also be found at independent drug and grocery stores. The stainless blades also come in the same vault type dispenser as the carbon steel brands, but have GEM and STAINLESS stamped on the spine. The package sold at Walgreens doesn’t indicate that they are coated, but some members here and at other boards have contacted ASR and were told they are. I cannot confirm this.

    ASR also supply blades in bulk amounts to supply companies for use in medical equipment; the two largest of these are www.tedpella.com and www.emsdiasum.com
    Individuals can purchase blades from these medical supply sites and they usually come with 100 blades packaged in white boxes with the blades individually wrapped in a protective cardboard sleeve. www.razorbladesandmore.com sell these boxes in 50 and 100 count.

    In addition to the retail stores and medical supply sites most of the SE blades can be purchased at online sites such as Amazon www.razorbladesandmore.com www.westcoastshaving.com and others.

    Feather makes a single edge blade that was originally made to fit in their brand of razors, but these blades also work in the Valet Auto Strop razors. The Feather blades differ from the standard SE blade in three ways. First, they do not have a spine, second they have cutouts in the body of the blade so they will fit in the Valet models that were made originally to use only the Valet proprietary blades, and third, they lack the cutouts on the sides so they will not work in the Micromatic razors.

    The Feather blades will work "spineless" in some of the Gem/Star/Ever-Ready SE razors and can be used in others by adding a spine from an SE blade. Before using a Feather blade test it to make sure the blade doesn't slide backwards in the frame, the spine on an SE helps hold the blade in place.The only vendor I know of that currently stocks the Feather blade is www.razorbladesandmore.com

    The third company that markets SE blades is Dorco of Korea. They probably make the house brand blades for stores such as Meijer, Dollar General and Family Dollar. I've looked at these blades and the package just usually says Made in Korea, but, since Dorco is the only known razor blade company in Korea it is logical to assume they are making the blades for the stores mentioned above. Dorco also sells SE blades that aren't specifically labelled as shaving blades. I've tried them and they aren't very good.

    I invite anyone that can add to this list, or correct any mistakes I've made, to please do so.
    ASR/Personna carbon steel blades.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Walgreens Gem/Personna stainless blades and a typical 100 count box from a medical supply site.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Feather SE blades.
    [​IMG]
  2. jeraldgordon

    jeraldgordon TSD's Mascot

    Excellent - thank you! I have been using the Gem stainless blades - was fortunate to buy the entire stock from a grocery store in my area that was closing them out - got 7 x10blade packs for 3.59 each!

    Have not tried the Ted Pella blades. Do you find any difference in how they perform vs. the plain Gem? How do the Dorco's compare? I have never seen the Dorco blade - do you know of an online source for them?

    Lots of questions! Thank you for the benefit of your experience!

    -Jerald
  3. HoosierTrooper

    HoosierTrooper Steve-less in Indiana

    I can't tell any difference between the blades sold by the medical supply sites and the Gem/Personna sold at Walgreens, but some guys prefer one over the other. An online site that I can't remember was selling the Dorco SE blades but made it clear that they weren't sure they were made for shaving.
  4. richgem

    richgem suffering from chronic clicker hand cramps

    Excellent post!

    The only thing I can add is: do not become impatient and think to use the similarly shaped blades which can be bought at your local hardware or big box store. These are designed for box cutters, utility knives, etc. and they are not sharp enough or smooth enough for shaving. Your face will not thank you if you use them.
  5. PanChango

    PanChango Not Cute

    Well done Tom. I have used and liked the Gem Blue Star, but primarily use the (Ted Pella 121-3) Stainless PTFE blades. If you provide a business address for shipping from Pella, the rate seems much lower than shipping it to a home address.

    Jerald - The Dorco SE blades are best reserved for paint scrapers and the such. Their DE blades aren't bad, but the SE blades are on the bad side of terrible. If I see made in Korea on a package of SE blades, they stay where they are.
  6. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    Super job Tom!
    I use the Gem/Personna with excellent results.
    The only other I've tried was the Treet. Couldn't stand 'em.
  7. NoobShaver

    NoobShaver BGDAAA

    are you speaking from personal experience? I've thought of trying a hardware store blade just to see if it would work. I'd love to hear your story, if there's one to tell.

    I've gotten good shaves from both the carbon steel and stainless blades. I get a great first shave from a carbon blade, but the quality drops off dramatically on following shaves. The stainless blades degrade more slowly, but the first shave is not as good as a carbon blade. In terms of cost, the GEM stainless are a better buy for me.
  8. richgem

    richgem suffering from chronic clicker hand cramps

    No, I"m not speaking from personal experience in this case. I'm repeating the results of a couple of the guys over at B&B who were brave enough to try. (IIRC one of them accidentally bought the wrong blades due to a sale or an amazon mix up or some such and one or two others were just brave enough to try intentionally.)
  9. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    Two words for that situation: NOT GOOD!
  10. IAmTheJody

    IAmTheJody Gillette-i Master

    awake2shave and GDCarrington like this.
  11. senex

    senex Member

    In Australia all the ones I have ever found in Chemists are designed for scrapers and box cutters.
    We don't seem to have any local source for shave ready blades.
    I understand some places will post to Australia but with high prices and huge postage costs, I have never found any of the cheap net stores that sell them to offer overseas postage.
  12. lradke

    lradke and doggone it, people like me

    Excellent job Tom! This will help answer many questions! ;)

    Thank you. :)
  13. tuco99

    tuco99 Well-Known Member

    Great read with lots of information.
  14. Mark1966

    Mark1966 Well-Known Member

    Great post!
  15. Mechguy

    Mechguy Well-Known Member

    Nice reference, thanks for the work.
  16. emolient

    emolient New Member

    The PAL blue steel blades are also available in 100-boxes from the medical supply houses. It might be worth pointing out that those boxes (as illustrated here) are clearly labeled "INDUSTRIAL BLADES -- For Industrial Use Only". That wording suggests that whatever difference there might be between the bulk-packaged blades and those in the ASR vaults, the former are not preferentially intended for facial shaving. Hardware stores also sell SE blades in ASR vaults and I really wonder if there is substantive warrant for the assertion that there is an explicit differentiation in the manufacture of SE blades for shaving and any other purpose.
  17. IAmTheJody

    IAmTheJody Gillette-i Master

    The PAL blades are labeled industrial but the medical supply blades Tom illustrated here are not PAL-brand blades. They are the GEM PTFE-coated (teflon-coated) blades used for micro-thinly slicing biological samples. They are no doubt perfectly suitable for shaving.

    The ones you are referring to... these:
    [​IMG]
    ...aren't mentioned by Tom in his post and most likely aren't suitable for shaving although they may be since it also says on the box "surgical carbon". I imagine, when it comes down to it, that any of the blades sold on the Ted Pella and Electron Microscopy Sciences web sites, are suitable for shaving as they are medical grade blades for use in medical and biological lab settings.
    Kentuckygent likes this.
  18. HoosierTrooper

    HoosierTrooper Steve-less in Indiana

    I have tried the PAL blades that you pictured, and found them very rough, too rough to complete a shave with. I was sent a few to test, and I sent a couple on to other SE users, and we all agreed that they weren't a lot of fun to use. I have also tried a couple from hardware stores, a vault labelled Stanley and one from Home Depot, just to see how they perform and they are not sharp enough. There have been thousands of the PTFE coated stainless blades from the medical supply websites used for shaving, there have been several group buys over at B&B in the last few years alone, not to mention the individual buys over the last few years. Also, the shaving supply site razorbladesandmore sell the same blades in either 50 or 100 count.

    The medical supply websites also sell untreated carbon steel SE blades, but there hasn't been very much documented experience with them. They may perform very well, but not many seem to be ordered for shaving because the PTFE coated stainless blades are preferred.

    I have adopted the practise of purchasing as many blades as possible from local retailers, by doing so I hope that may help convince ASR to keep supplying them at the retail level.
  19. HoosierTrooper

    HoosierTrooper Steve-less in Indiana

    Thanks to everyone for the kind words, hopefully it will help a few guys out as they venture into the wonderful world of SE shaving.
  20. emolient

    emolient New Member

    Yep. Those are the ones I believe a large number of us take as the pogonotomical benchmark. The bulk carton of them illustrated in Tom's posting, but not fully revealing all its printed detail, is labeled "Single Edge Industrial Blades" and "For Industrial use Only"; the word "medical" doesn't appear anywhere on it. (The same photo is on the Pella website and I have 100-boxes of both GEM and PAL blades received from them at hand.)

    I have also shaved with both and find the PAL blades to be markedly inferior. Again, although there are clear differences in the performance of SE blades from our perspective, I have yet to see any evidence that this is the result of deliberate catering on the production side.
    IAmTheJody likes this.

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