2:28:13 Razor Blade in Moonlight

Once I settled on the blade for me: the Derby, as I discussed here, I thought I was done with discovering anything new about Old-School Shaving.

Moreover, blade choice settled, I bought a lot of 100 Derby blades. I seemed set for possibly two years--using a blade a week--so the thinking went.

Then I noticed numbers printed on the blade: 1 and 2 on the top and bottom edges of one side and 3 and 4 on the other. What did those numbers mean? Someone online has posted the numbers were intended as a help to the shaver to know what side of the blade was used first, so that the blade might be flipped over for more shaves.

[moon through window]

Flipped over? I've sharpened enough woodworking tool edges to know once a blade goes dull, the edge is dull no matter how you look at it.

Still I'm game for a mysterioso strategy to keep a razor blade sharp (One of my favorites from years ago was the supposed practice of Eastern Bloc soldiers putting their blades on a window sill so moonlight might restore the blade's sharpness.).

To be honest, I didn't see the point of extending the number of shaves I was getting. I mean, why bother going beyond a week of seven shaves? If I switched out every Sunday, that was easy to remember. Tracking the switchout day when I'd get the ninth shave (or whatever I decided was optimum), persistently falling on a different day of the week, was too much to think about for the elemental activity of shaving a beard with a very sharp blade.

So I made a decision for a trial.

I would flip the Derby blade over after the first Sunday shave (the 1 and 2 becoming a 3 and 4) and see if I could get two weeks or 14 shaves!

Unbelievably, flipping the blade worked. For these past few months, I routinely get 14 shaves from one blade. I find flipping the blade does change the character of the blade resistance to the beard for the first day or so after flipping. But the 13th and 14th shave seem as close as the 1st and 2nd.

I suppose the skeptic would argue I should try shaving for 14 days in a row without flipping the blade. Possibly that would work. But I think something else is going on too. The safety razor holds the blade tightly for one week, tensioning it in one direction. Does that have something to do with balancing the wear on the edge? I don't know. Possibly flipping the blade for those four numbers is my equivalent of resting a blade on the window sill overnight so it drinks in the moonlight and restores well-forged edges!

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The Cat at Light's End

Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

.mobi (Kindle)
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)

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