Choosing the right type of razor blade for your needs and skin type can be key in creating a great shave. There are different styles that can be purchased for straight razors. The basic anatomy of a razor blade doesn’t change, however the measurements may differ between styles.
The main metal used in the blade is steel. Steel is an alloy of iron with a portion of carbon. The carbon content helps to make steel harder thus allowing the blade to have a sharp edge, but also can cause the metal to break. It’s rare to find steel with only carbon included. Normally there are other metals present such as nickel, vanadium, chromium, or molybdenum. Stainless steel will usually contain chromium, which allows the steel to resist rust and keep a sharp edge longer. A damascus is a combination of two steels, generally one with a high carbon count and one with a low carbon count, forged together.
A blade can be made into several different styles. The most common shapes are a round point blade and a square point blade, sometimes called a spike. The square blade is sometimes referred to as a spike because it has a sharp corner that works for more exact work. There are also barbers’ notch, french, and spanish type blades. The difference is simply in the shape of the cutting edge. The shoulder styles can be made in either a long cut, single, or double. The shoulders are usually thicker towards the blade no matter which style you choose. The edge profiles can also be made as a straight edge, frown edge, smile edge, or a honed out toe. This depends on what you may be using the razor for.
The handle can be made with a variety of different materials. The natural materials include wood or animal products. Ebony is hard and dense which allows it to last a long time. Boxwood is another good wood to use for the handle. Other woods commonly used are cedar, olive wood, snakewood, and bocote rosewood. Animal products include bone, horn, mother-of-pearl, and ivory. These have fallen out of favor with the rise of plastics and elastomers such as celluloid, Bakelite, and rubber. If you are unsure of which razor blade would suit you and your purpose the best, there are shops that specialize in shaving tools that would be able to help you pick the best option for you.