Poll: Which blade do you prefer using in your OneBlade?
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Feather FHS
47.37% of votes
47.37% Complete
GEM PTFE
47.37% of votes
47.37% Complete
Feather's and GEM's are equal in quality
5.26% of votes
5.26% Complete
Other (NOS Valet's, Carbon Steel options, etc.)
0% of votes
0% Complete

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#1
(This post was last modified: 04-01-2016, 12:41 AM by Len.)
(Below is my own review, but please share your own reviews and feel free to vote in the poll.)

GEM vs. Feather in the OneBlade: A Side by Side Review

The OneBlade is a fantastic new SE razor that was designed to natively use the uncommon Feather FHS blade. I’ve owned and used this razor as my daily driver for the past seven months now, the first six of which have been devoted entirely to using the FHS. The Feather FHS is a fairly uncommon blade, which prior to the OneBlade was mainly only known to shaving enthusiasts for use in the long discontinued Valet Auto-Strop razor. Feather once made their own SE razor (also long discontinued, and rare), which was modeled off the Valet. The Valet requires a spineless SE blade, which Valet once manufactured, but having gone out of business after being absorbed by Gillette, Feather’s version works just as well. Nearly all other vintage SE razors require, or were designed specifically for, a spined blade which Personna continues to manufacture under their GEM brand. The number of old razors made for a spined blade makes the GEM PTFE blade the default blade choice for traditional SE collectors and enthusiasts.

Therefore, it was to the disappointment of many vintage SE users that their default blade in the GEM would not be blade chosen with the first traditional width SE razor produced in decades. Realistically, if you are an SE guy, you have to learn to love the GEM, as there’s nothing else to choose from or compare to. And it is specifically this PTFE blade that has been used in modern days to compare and contrast in a variety of vintage razor models. The Feather FHS, on the other hand, has had no razor comparison beyond the Valet for vintage users to test. Sure, a user may waste a GEM blade to put it’s spine on a Feather, but there has been little to no reporting on guys wishing to waste a blade just to put a spine on a Feather. So unfortunately, all previous judgements of the Feather rely on use of the Valet, with no other razor comparisons to tell if it’s attributes really belong to the razor, or the blade.

It is fortunate that the OneBlade chose the spineless Feather in their blade choice, if simply for the reason that it is easier to de-spine a GEM, than it is to re-spine a Feather and waste a GEM blade. Thus, for all the talk and complaints of limited blade choice for the OneBlade in going with the spineless Feather, the OneBlade actually has more blade choice than all of the old vintage SE’s, due to the ease in which it is to de-spine a GEM. (To make the GEM ‘lock in’ to the OneBlade in the same manner of the Feather, one must also clip the edges of the blade. This procedure is just as easy as de-spining, which I have detailed elsewhere.) While the GEM was not intended to be used in the OneBlade, it is fortunate that such easy modifications can be made for those who do prefer this blade.

Why did OneBlade choose the Feather? Some cynics argue that because the Feather has a shorter blade life, and because they are relatively uncommon, OneBlade could corner the N/A market on these blades and make a healthy profit on blade sales. This may be a benefit to OneBlade, but their explanation on using the Feather FHS was different. According to them, they first had to choose an SE over a DE because a spring style pivot would not work in a DE design. A pivot doesn’t go both ways. They also, perhaps, chose to go with traditional width SE blades over the shavette style AC blades to make the razor more nimble, not having the blade exposed to such a wide area of skin. So, they were left with only 2 blade choices: the GEM PTFE or the Feather FHS. Why didn't they go with the GEM? They claim it is because that in practice, and in microscopic analysis, there was no other blade but the Feather that had a smoother leading edge.

[Image: Feather-SS-SE-Blade.jpeg]

Feather blade from OneBlade's testing

[Image: Blade-of-competitor.jpeg]

Competitor blade from OneBlade's testing (Presumably GEM, as there there was no other option for traditional width, stainless steel, coated, SE blades)

By controlling the blade to an extent, you are maintaining quality control, ensuring users receive the consistent initial experience i.e. smooth and safe that OneBlade designed and tested for. The good news is, that experienced wet shavers that do happen to prefer the GEM have the option to easily modify a GEM blade for the blade type they desire.

********************
My Own Testing

For myself, and for a lot of other owners of the OneBlade, using the GEM was never even considered an option or possibility. The credit for thinking outside the box here really belongs to Brian Sharp (SharpSpine). Without his experiments, and very vocal preference for the GEM blade, I and many other OneBlade owners would never attempted this. Thank you Brian!

For my first GEM use, I de-spined and clipped the PTFE to lock in and lay flat in my OneBlade as has been detailed elsewhere. The following is what I wrote after my first GEM shave:

“Was not happy with my first GEM shave. Several weepers, and a bad cut on my cheek near the ear, and I have never cut myself this badly with the Feather in the OneBlade. There is more tactile and auditory feedback with the GEM. You know a blade is there at all times, as opposed to the Feather, where one can sometimes lose track of the blade. The Feather is definitely smoother...

...But I cannot conclude from this one shave that the Feather is better overall. It is reported that the GEM can be harsher on the first couple of shaves, and smooths out.  I would like to shave with this same GEM blade until it gives out, 4-10 shaves I'm assuming. Then, I'll go back to a Feather for the life of that blade, 2 shaves. And I'll try a second GEM blade after that, perhaps a third if there are any lingering questions to conclude my test.

I do feel I have to be more careful with the GEM, and alter my approach if I am to get the most out of it.”

My second shave as well, I cut myself badly with a profusion of bleeding under my nose that lasted over an hour after the shave was done.

Fortunately, experienced GEM users were correct. After the first shave or two, the GEM smooths out, and becomes much less dangerous. I wrote at the time:

“Third shave into the GEM, and... WOW... what a difference! Very efficient, and much, much smoother than my first 2 shaves (but still not as smooth as the Feather). A couple very minor weepers, but nothing to really worry about. BBS smooth and zero irritation. The GEM is a MUCH better blade after the first shave or two, and am looking forward to see how many more shaves I can get out of it. I suspect at least 2 more shaves, and sense that they will equal or surpass this 3rd shave. I am very pleased with today's shave!”

The quality of the 3rd shave lasted through a total of six shaves, after which I tossed to go back to a Feather before resuming my test with the GEM. By the 6th shave, the GEM was becoming more blunt, not cutting as well. Still efficient, but requiring more work to achieve the same results.

For my next GEM blade, I was in terror of having to once again suffer through the danger of bad cuts I received the first couple shaves before it smoothed out. Thanks again goes to Brian (SharpSpine) for advising to palm strop the GEM before use. And I have to say, palm stropping the 2nd GEM made all the difference! None of the shaves on this stropped blade produced any serious cuts or weepers. It was a much safer blade, and I would recommend anyone who would like to use the GEM PTFE, palm strop it before use. This second GEM lasted 5 shaves before it was tossed, and I would say that if I were to continue to use the GEM as my primary blade, I would use it for 4-5 shaves at most. After this point, for me, it is past it’s prime and bluntness/degradation slowly starts to creep in.

Up to this point I’ve mainly concentrated on the GEM, and will have less to say on the Feather, as most OneBlade owners will have more experience with the Feather. But I do have some comments on the Feather, and some comparisons with it to the GEM.

The GEM has a life approximately twice as long as the Feather. I can get 2-3 shaves with the Feather in it’s prime, but have settled on 2 shaves as a rule. No stropping is needed with the Feather, while it is essential with the GEM. The Feather is almost ghost-like in its smoothness. In the OneBlade blade exposure for the GEM and Feather is the same, but the Feather is so smooth, you often don’t even feel the blade is there, and is so sharp you can’t even tell it is cutting hair at all, like a hot knife through butter. For the GEM, you always know a blade is there, and it is markedly more rough feeling. There is also more blade chatter with the GEM. The loudness of the GEM tells me that there is more vibration in the blade, and is not as sturdy while cutting, even though it is as secure as the Feather. This vibration must be caused by more friction in the blade, which can only mean the blade is not as sharp as the Feather. The GEM not being as sharp is also concluded by two factors. The Feather, being sharper, degrades quicker, and being made with the same materials as the GEM, could only occur if the leading edge is sharper and thinner. Second, there was a small patch of my lower neck that I could not get a BBS on no matter how hard I tried with the GEM, it simply would not cut as close or as deeply. The Feather has always had no problem with this area. I would also say that the overall BBS longevity lasts longer with the Feather, about 24 hours as compared to about 18 hours with the GEM.

So, the Feather wins on sharpness, closeness, and smoothness, but loses on longevity. The Feather also loses on price, big time. The GEM is about half the cost of the Feather, and lasts about twice as long. Per shave, this means the Feather is about four times the cost of the GEM. On the other hand, all razor blades are cheap. In bulk, the Feather costs me about $0.22 per shave. At that price, even being 4 times as expensive as the GEM per shave, the Feather should not be a deterrent for anyone. Blade cost in safety razors is really a non-factor when you are only talking about a difference in pennies per shave.

There is one other factor where the GEM clearly wins, and it is a factor that I believe that some users will prefer the GEM overall, which I already briefly touched upon. That is what I will call blade awareness. You see, the Feather is so ghost-like in its buttery smoothness, that you can sometimes lose track of the blade itself. It sometimes feels as if there is no blade at all. With the GEM, you always know a blade is there. Because the GEM gives you better blade awareness, your reaction to small angle changes and pressure changes with the razor is better. The GEM literally trains you to use the OneBlade in a more efficient manner. It gives you better touch feedback to improve technique. I was amazed that when I went back to the Feather, that it gave me better, safer, more efficient shaves than I ever had with it before! The reason for this improvement with the Feather was because the GEM trained me to use better technique with it’s feedback. If for no other reason, I will occasionally go back to the GEM to improve technique I’ve slacked on with the Feather.

*************
Final Conclusions

The Feather is the better quality blade. It is sharper, giving a longer lasting BBS shave and is more sturdy (less vibration or chatter) due to it’s sharpness. It is smoother by a mile, and the microscopic testing done by OneBlade shown above testifies to this in experience. It is more expensive, but at a difference of pennies per shave, it is a non-factor. It has a shorter life, but this is due to sharpness. Feather has chosen here quality (sharpness) over quantity (blade life), and I will take that every day of the week.

On the other hand, the GEM is still a very good quality blade which will be preferred by some users. If for nothing else, I will still occasionally use a GEM for it’s excellent blade awareness, and to tweak my own technique with the OneBlade when it is lacking. The GEM will always have a spot in my occasional rotation for this reason

The GEM is a rougher, and potentially more dangerous blade than the Feather... at least for the first shave or two. If OneBlade went with the GEM, a regular cart or electric user (OneBlade's target demographic) would undoubtedly cut themselves badly the way I did my first couple shaves with it. This would leave a bad impression with those coming into classic wet shaving for the first time, and I'm sure many would even want to return the razor after the first use. (This problem is not encountered with the Feather.) Second, one must use less pressure with the GEM for it to not be dangerous. This effectively minimizes or neutralizes the purpose of the pivot, and makes it a less forgiving razor... again, something OneBlade could not accept in their design mission. This may be less of an issue with traditional wet shavers, as they already know how to adjust, but cart and electric users will not. For this reason, OneBlade made the better choice of blade for the greater number of potential customers they are serving, and I am convinced they made the right choice here. And it is the right choice for everyone who appreciates variety, as it is easier to de-spine a blade for a spineless using razor than it is to waste a blade to put a spine on a blade for a razor that requires spined blade.

Winners:

Sharpness/Closeness: Feather

Smoothness: Feather

Blade Awareness: GEM

Price: GEM

Longevity: GEM

Overall: Feather

Michael P, grim, beisler and 3 others like this post
#2

Super Moderator
Len thank you for an excellent review and comparison of GEM vs Feather in the OneBlade. I'm not a SE shaver, at least not yet, however, I find your review to be thorough and articulate and useful. Every conclusion you draw is supported with evidence and expressed in a clear and concise manner. This is the sort of review that I aspire to be able to generate at some point.
Thank you,
Marko

Len, Michael P, Freddy and 1 others like this post
#3

SE USER
TAMPA
[quote='Len' pid='45824' dateli

The Feather is the better quality blade. It is sharper, giving a longer lasting BBS shave due to sharpness.
[/quote]

Len----great write-up and thanks for doing this as I know it was alot of work. All the oneblade users applaud your effort I'm sure. I have been shaving exclusively with the one blade for about 1 month now. I have sold off all my DE's and I have been switching back and forth between the 2 blades. The above statement that you made is why I lean toward the feather because I just love long-lasting BBS shaves. I don't find the gem rough on the first 2 shaves,however I must have tough skin. Anyhow, I will continue to alternate between the 2 blades until I decide which I truly like better. Again though ,thanks for all your work.

Michael P, Len and Freddy like this post
BARRY--- BBS OR BUST---- Modern Razors Only
#4

Member
Marin County, CA
Len - absolutely fantastic, thorough, tested and unbiased view of the two blades. I have yet to try the Gem, although I have had a very different experience in terms of longevity with the Feather. My first round with it lasted three shaves, although the third one was based on almost two days' growth and I could feel a noticeable difference in the blade struggling to get through my tough (albeit well-prepped) whiskers. By shave four, I tried one WTG pass and it was clearly done.

The next round with the Feather, I followed some tips on Sharpologist regarding using slower strokes, and even a lighter touch (both applications generically for wet shaving, not specifically the OneBlade). And while it might have been a simple matter of wanting to believe minor tweaks were helping, I got seven shaves out of the Feather - shaves 3 and 4 being the best in terms of efficiency, some degradation on 6, and 7 was just a bit less comfortable but I made it through. I also consciously lathered a bit longer before shaving for this round, perhaps getting my tough whiskers even better conditioned, so perhaps the combination of improvements led to better longevity.

I clearly need to do more testing to determine if the 6/7 shave plateau with the Feather is really consistently achievable, or whether it was somehow a fluke this time around. I'm also aware, as always, YMMV with blades, and what I consider comfortable or efficient may not equate with the experience of others. As a side note, I'm a cold water shaver - prep and shave itself - and I also tend to get 5+ shaves out of most DE blades (sometimes hitting the low double digits in some of the classics and top current blades depending on what razor I use).




Todd R.

Len, SharpSpine, Freddy and 1 others like this post
#5

Super Moderator
San Diego, Cal., USA
Len, that was a suprerb review.  The only question I have is, are you certain that it was a GEM PTFE blade that was compared to the Feather?  While I agree that the PTFEs are the best traditional SE blade I have used, there are others such as Treet, GEM, and GEM Blue Star that I have tried in the past.  For me, none was as good as the PTFEs so is it possible that the "other" blade used for the comparison was even worse than the PTFE for a consistently smooth edge?  This would then do even more to strengthen OneBlade's argument for the Feather being the better blade.

I admit this is just curiosity on my part and in no way takes away from one incredible review.  Between Brian (SharpSpine) and you, you make compeling arguments for a rather non-traditional SE razor. Happy2

Michael P, beisler, SharpSpine and 1 others like this post
#6
(03-31-2016, 07:40 PM)Freddy Wrote: Len, that was a suprerb review.  The only question I have is, are you certain that it was a GEM PTFE blade that was compared to the Feather?  While I agree that the PTFEs are the best traditional SE blade I have used, there are others such as Treet, GEM, and GEM Blue Star that I have tried in the past.  For me, none was as good as the PTFEs so is it possible that the "other" blade used for the comparison was even worse than the PTFE for a consistently smooth edge?  This would then do even more to strengthen OneBlade's argument for the Feather being the better blade.

I admit this is just curiosity on my part and in no way takes away from one incredible review.  Between Brian (SharpSpine) and you, you make compeling arguments for a rather non-traditional SE razor. Happy2

I am certain the blade that I tested was the GEM PTFE. Bought mine from Connaughts here: http://connaughtshaving.com/gemss.html

I am not certain that the picture I shared from OneBlade's testing is the GEM PTFE, but the picture of the Feather is certainly the Feather FHS. This is a presumption (of the PTFE) on my part because this is the only other traditional width, stainless steel, coated SE blade besides the Feather FHS.

In any case, the founder of OneBlade, Porter Stansberry, has stated they tested many blades, and all of them except the Feather, have had flaws/dimples/striations/imperfections in the leading edge just as you see in the picture of that other blade. And in my testing, the roughness and bloodletting in comparison to the smoothness of the Feather matches the edge differences in the pictures.

And thank you Freddy, and everyone else, for all your kind words for my review. Smile

beisler, Freddy and Michael P like this post
#7
(This post was last modified: 04-01-2016, 12:31 AM by SharpSpine.)
The PTFE is NOT the only other traditional width blade. GEM makes a non-coated blade (so no PTFE), as well as a carbon steel blade. You are making a large assumption about the blade being a PTFE. To me this is just semantics and I have never put any stock in these microscopic pictures of an edge. This is merely a picture in time and thus cannot be construed to hold true in use; as soon as that edge comes across resistance it has changed. It's like comparing the findings from a plain film X-ray vs a motion study X-ray vs a fluoroscope (moving X-ray). I'm more interested in how the blade behaves rather than how the edge looks. How often have you seen your food at a restaurant look like the same as food in a commercial?

Freddy, Michael P and wyze0ne like this post
>>> Brian <<<
Happy beeps, buddy! Happy beeps!
#8
(This post was last modified: 04-01-2016, 12:36 AM by Len.)
(04-01-2016, 12:30 AM)SharpSpine Wrote: The PTFE is NOT the only other traditional width blade. GEM makes a non-coated blade (so no PTFE), as well as a carbon steel blade. You are making a large assumption about the blade being a PTFE. To me this is just semantics and I have never put any stock in these microscopic pictures of an edge. This is merely a picture in time and thus cannot be construed to hold true in use; as soon as that edge comes across resistance it has changed. It's like comparing the findings from a plain film X-ray vs a motion study X-ray vs a fluoroscope (moving X-ray). I'm more interested in how the blade behaves rather than how the edge looks. How often have you seen your food at a restaurant look like the same as food in a commercial?

Please re-read my post, Brian. I said, "this is the only other traditional width, stainless steel, coated SE blade besides the Feather FHS."

I'm not talking here about carbon blades or uncoated blades.

And I agree with you about experience being more important than pictures. My experience shows, unquestionably, the FHS is by far, smoother than the PTFE. It just so happens that the pictures match my experience. Wink

Michael P likes this post
#9

Super Moderator
San Diego, Cal., USA
(03-31-2016, 11:55 PM)Len Wrote:
(03-31-2016, 07:40 PM)Freddy Wrote: Len, that was a suprerb review.  The only question I have is, are you certain that it was a GEM PTFE blade that was compared to the Feather?  While I agree that the PTFEs are the best traditional SE blade I have used, there are others such as Treet, GEM, and GEM Blue Star that I have tried in the past.  For me, none was as good as the PTFEs so is it possible that the "other" blade used for the comparison was even worse than the PTFE for a consistently smooth edge?  This would then do even more to strengthen OneBlade's argument for the Feather being the better blade.

I admit this is just curiosity on my part and in no way takes away from one incredible review.  Between Brian (SharpSpine) and you, you make compeling arguments for a rather non-traditional SE razor. Happy2

I am certain the blade that I tested was the GEM PTFE. Bought mine from Connaughts here: http://connaughtshaving.com/gemss.html

I am not certain that the picture I shared from OneBlade's testing is the GEM PTFE, but the picture of the Feather is certainly the Feather FHS. This is a presumption (of the PTFE) on my part because this is the only other traditional width, stainless steel, coated SE blade besides the Feather FHS.

In any case, the founder of OneBlade, Porter Stansberry, has stated they tested many blades, and all of them except the Feather, have had flaws/dimples/striations/imperfections in the leading edge just as you see in the picture of that other blade. And in my testing, the roughness and bloodletting in comparison to the smoothness of the Feather matches the edge differences in the pictures.

And thank you Freddy, and everyone else, for all your kind words for my review.  Smile

Guys, two very different perspectives and yet both of you have me intrigued. I must admit, it is still that $300.00 entry fee, even with any discount, that is giving me pause. Whichever blade is chosen, each of you seems to think the OneBlade is special. I just need to get past that price point.

Len likes this post
#10

Super Moderator
San Diego, Cal., USA
(03-31-2016, 11:55 PM)Len Wrote:
(03-31-2016, 07:40 PM)Freddy Wrote: Len, that was a suprerb review.  The only question I have is, are you certain that it was a GEM PTFE blade that was compared to the Feather?  While I agree that the PTFEs are the best traditional SE blade I have used, there are others such as Treet, GEM, and GEM Blue Star that I have tried in the past.  For me, none was as good as the PTFEs so is it possible that the "other" blade used for the comparison was even worse than the PTFE for a consistently smooth edge?  This would then do even more to strengthen OneBlade's argument for the Feather being the better blade.

I admit this is just curiosity on my part and in no way takes away from one incredible review.  Between Brian (SharpSpine) and you, you make compeling arguments for a rather non-traditional SE razor. Happy2

I am certain the blade that I tested was the GEM PTFE. Bought mine from Connaughts here: http://connaughtshaving.com/gemss.html

I am not certain that the picture I shared from OneBlade's testing is the GEM PTFE, but the picture of the Feather is certainly the Feather FHS. This is a presumption (of the PTFE) on my part because this is the only other traditional width, stainless steel, coated SE blade besides the Feather FHS.

In any case, the founder of OneBlade, Porter Stansberry, has stated they tested many blades, and all of them except the Feather, have had flaws/dimples/striations/imperfections in the leading edge just as you see in the picture of that other blade. And in my testing, the roughness and bloodletting in comparison to the smoothness of the Feather matches the edge differences in the pictures.

And thank you Freddy, and everyone else, for all your kind words for my review.  Smile

(04-01-2016, 12:30 AM)SharpSpine Wrote: The PTFE is NOT the only other traditional width blade. GEM makes a non-coated blade (so no PTFE), as well as a carbon steel blade. You are making a large assumption about the blade being a PTFE. To me this is just semantics and I have never put any stock in these microscopic pictures of an edge. This is merely a picture in time and thus cannot be construed to hold true in use; as soon as that edge comes across resistance it has changed. It's like comparing the findings from a plain film X-ray vs a motion study X-ray vs a fluoroscope (moving X-ray). I'm more interested in how the blade behaves rather than how the edge looks. How often have you seen your food at a restaurant look like the same as food in a commercial?

Honestly, gents, you both offer up compelling reasons to get this beautiful razor.  To be honest, for me, it is the price.  I simply cannot justify that (even if I might be able to afford it).


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