Corking a razor blade

Different brands of razor blades vary in many ways, but the three main things that we notice are sharpness, smoothness and longevity. There is a popular technique that is supposed to improve the smoothness of a blade and that is corking. The technique is very simple, you get the new blade and hold it firmly between your thumb and forefinger, then you cut lightly into a piece of cork and drag the length of the edge gently through. Some people use polystyrene instead of cork and some people repeat the action up to four times for each edge.

The proponents of this technique have a theory. They say that some blades (notable Feathers) can be initially rough but then become noticeably smoother with use. The theory goes that by gently sliding the edge through cork you remove microscopic imperfections so that when you actually get round to using it to shave with it will be much smoother. Obviously you wouldn’t do this to a naturally smooth blade, like an Iridium, which I mainly use, because there is no need.

Now the cynics say that all you are doing is wasting time and money. That corking will not improve the smoothness of a blade, but it will reduce the sharpness and the longevity. In fact some critics go so far as to say that corking removes the coatings of things like PTFE and so has a further effect on degrading the performance of the blade.

Now I must admit to being an agnostic in this debate, obviously both arguments have some credibility. If you have any experience of this then please let us know.


  1. If you think a blade is too sharp for you, stop buying that blade. Don’t like Feather? Try one of the many great blades being made in Egypt, and save your cork for something else. Call me a disbeliever if you like; I can use any blade and get a great shave so my opinion here is not as valid as those who cannot.

  2. Tend to agree with Zach. Out of fifteen or so different brands of blades I have yet to find a dog. The exception being Gillette thins that did not want to let the doors on my TTO razors seat correctly.

  3. I’m too leery of blood letting (being on prescribed thinners for the rest of my days) to risk this questionable practice.
    Not one of the interweb advocates has ever posted pre- and post macro photographs to prove their belief system.

  4. It would be easy enough to set up a double-blind test, with corked and uncorked blades compared side by side to see if an advocate of corking could tell the difference. It might take some time, though. After all, you can’t keep shaving the same face with umpteen different blades on the same day.

  5. When I was a kid and my father cut himself shaving, he would always say that it was because the blade was brand new. Who hasn’t experienced this? First day with a new blade, a little rough,. Next day, much better. Corking makes it’s own kind of sense, and with the price of blades, it couldn’t hurt.

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