There are many single edge razor blades out there and the options can be overwhelming at times. Here is a quick do-it-yourself guide to choosing the right single edge razor for your business.
Start with the Basics:
If you are starting out fresh and need to choose a basic, popular, do-it-all razor try an uncoated 0.009" single edge razor blade. Choose a blade constructed from carbon steel with an aluminum backing, a consistently popular combination for value price and high quality single edge blades. Companies that chose this type include manufacturing facilities, tint shops, wallpapering, janitorial, etc.
Double your Sharpness:
For businesses who like the basic blade shape and function, but want an even sharper cut, try stepping up to an extra keen razor. These blades are still 0.009" thick and made with carbon steel, but are sent through the honing process twice for an even sharper blade. Businesses will often start with a basic razor and then swap when they find that they need that extra push. Extra keen, double honed, and extra sharp all mean the same thing for these razors.
Ultra Fine Cuts:
Some businesses find that stainless steel blades are the best option for their usage needs. Stainless steel is a more malleable metal than carbon steel. What this means for you is an even sharper first cut, but a slightly quicker dulling process than with carbon steel. It is worth noting that carbon steel razors are often more susceptible to rusting than stainless steel, since stainless metals contain less carbides. This makes stainless steel blades an excellent option for outdoor uses and storage or with cutting plants. Stainless steel blades usually come either coated or uncoated. Coatings are baked on and provide reduced friction and act as a rust inhibitor. Uncoated stainless steel blades are a better option in uses where extra grease would be a problem, such as paper or catheter cutting. Stainless Steel is not the right option for everyone, but when your work calls for super precise cuts such that even an extra sharp carbon steel blade won't suffice, try a stainless option!
Heavy Duty Jobs:
Sometimes jobs require one of two types of extra duty razors. Businesses will either choose blades featuring heavy duty backings made of stainless steel or an extra thick razor with a 0.012" thick blade instead of the standard 0.009" thick blade. The stainless steel backed razor blades are your best bet when you find that the traditional aluminum backed blades are bending in use. On the other hand, you can opt for 0.012" thick razor blades when you need a thicker blade for cutting, or need the blade to fit in a tool or machine for that size thickness.
Many carbon steel razor blades are stropped and made of 1095 class Carbon Steel. These processes add to the quality, but also to the cost of the razor. If you are working on budget jobs where blade quality is not the number one factor, try less expensive razor blades made with 1074 steel and unstropped. There is a noticeable quality difference between stropped 1095 class blades and unstropped 1074 class blades, but for some jobs, such as warehouse or janitorial, these less expensive blades are a better option.
Special Circumstances and Clean Room Blades:
Some facilities necessitate blades certified for clean rooms with varied requirements. Clean Room classifications are ranked by ISO 14611-1 Standards and Federal Standard 209E classes. Be sure to know the exact class of razor you need to purchase before using blades in a clean room. Traditional blades are individually wrapped in cardboard which can leave fibers on the blade unsuitable for some clean room environments. Other clean rooms require blades to be degreased in a special washing step or vapor wash that rids the blade of all oils. Some clean room blades come in small plastic dispensers or pop-up dispensers for easy handling and to ensure a new, clean blade is always used. These types of blades are used in various sterile environments and are popular among businesses using blades for catheter cutting.
Although there seem to be many different single edge razor blade options available, most blades can be broken down into one or more of these six groups. By finding what qualities your business requires in a blade, you should be able to select the right blade every time.