View Full Version : First Straight Shave...Xmas gift
12-25-2006, 08:57 PM
My wife gave me a wonderful gift this year. A Dovo Bismark Super straight razor, Dovo leather strop (no linen I think, but I have question about that). A badger brush (pure, I know it's supposedly lower quality, but I love it... you can't beat the scent of it wet), and a bar of Col. Conk's glycerine soap. I opened the package last night and shaved with it this morning. I have read a few things here and there on the web about straight razor shaving, but I have a few questions. The shave was downright scary (after shaving with disposables exclusively for my entire life) and I did slice me cheek once. I thought it was bad at first, but it didn't hurt and it stopped bleeding after a couple of passes with cold water and a bit of TP. I got freaked out about my neck, so I finished with a disposable. I'm not scared off, however. The bits I did shave with the straight are the smoothest I've ever had. So without ado (I hope I don't bore anyone) here are my questions for all the experts:
First, I have read that the "shave-ready" status from the manufacturer is not true and I need to hone it, or get it honed. This is what I'm worried about. I honed it on a stone that my father had for years (I have no idea on the brand or grade) today after I shaved and I'm worried that I messed the blade up. It seems LESS sharp than before I honed it (I'm a cook, so I understand the fundementals of honing. I made sure to follow the spine and edge flat on the hone rule as per advice elsewhere). I didn't strop it before I shaved (that could have been my mistake this AM) and it pulled pretty hard. Did I ruin my blade with the honing, maybe because it's not a correct hone?
Second, my blade is a Dovo Bismark Super. I have found next to nill on Dovo's site about the specific blade, so I'm not sure exactly what I'm working with here. Any thoughts?
Third, my stop seems to be just leather (one side rough, the other feels like suede). I stropped it after I honed it on both sides of the strop in the reccomended fashion. Do I need a linen strop or is this one OK?
Thanks alot for reading this. I look forward to any replies. I feel so much more connected to my father and grandfather because of the straight. I want to keep going with this as it feels so right. It sounds weird, but I can't wait to shave again! thanks again
Queen of Blades
12-25-2006, 09:26 PM
Merry Christmas and welcome!
12-25-2006, 09:44 PM
Welcome to the forum, and feel free to use your first name if you like, most of us do.
Sounds like you have your heart set in the right place and not only that, that was a wonderful gift from your wife.
First the bad news. Even though it is true that most razors are not shave-ready from the manufacturer, I think it is always best to find out for sure first, before attempting a honing. Of 3 Dovo's I've owned, 2 of them were genuinely shave ready right out of the box, and are some of my best shavers. The other one was not and had to be honed. Secondly, a straight razor likes to be honed on extremely fine grit hones as a general rule, do you know the grit of the hone your father had? It is possible you messed up the edge, as even with great technique a hone that is too coarse will eat the microscopic edge of the razor and make it an uncomfortable shave. In the knife world, 800-1200 grit is a very fine edge. With straight razors, that might as well be a cinder block, as the edge on a straight generally likes 4,000 grit up, some guys on here who use straights have hones with obscenely high grits, 15,000, for instance... (not me) Finally, technique on the strop is one of the most overlooked and most missed "tricks" to using a straight razor. It is also what will make the difference sometimes in a razor pulling and being uncomfortable and gliding through the whiskers like a spatula.
Now the good news, you've figured out it's not nearly as scary as you might have though (happens to all of us) and it's actually harder to cut yourself than you formerly believed....just no SLICING motions (it will...) only scraping motions, just like the blade in any other razor. The other good news is that you actually were able to shave with the edge you created, which means you are doing something right. Without knowing more about your hone or your stropping technique that's all I could tell you and defer to others here who've been at it much longer than myself. I've only known how to use a straight about 3 years or so. There are guys on here who've used them for 10 times that...
Welcome to the forum!
12-26-2006, 04:00 AM
Welcome to the forum!
JohnP is right. A straight razor's edge is much more fine than a knife's. I think (though I know you'll hate this) that you should send the blade to someone who can expertly hone the razor for you. Joe Chandler (a member here but he mainly hangs out at SRP) has a honing service. Even though you know what your doing with a hone, you probably don't know what a straight razor is supposed to shave like. The good news of course is that honing is the most difficult thing to learn about Straight razor shaving - and you already have a leg up.
I believe all of the "Bismarck" branded razors by Dovo are carbon steel.
You don't need a linen side to a strop.
Finally, I would suggest that you get Lynn Abram's "World of Straight Razor Shaving" DVD. It is a great source for those who are new to straight razors. You can get it here (http://www.straightrazorplace.com/component/option,com_wrapper/Itemid,33/) or you can pick it up at ClassicShaving. BTW if you decide to hone the blade yourself this DVD has an excellent section on honing razors.
12-26-2006, 06:15 PM
Thank you for the welcome and the advice. In response to the honing I've already done, I probably used to coarse of a grit. I would like to get it profesionally done, but would rather find someone locally to do it. Any thoughts on that? I've thought about going to a barber that uses a straight and asking them where they get it done or if they'd do it for me. I'd rather not send it through the mail considering the risk of loss or damage, but it may end up being the only way to do so. It's strange to me that something so traditional (shaving with a straight) has been jettisoned by the large majority of men and that straights are collected more than they are used. I wonder if there could be a resurgence of popularity for the straight considering the logical cost difference (albeit a lot up front, a straight razor pays for itself within six months or so compared to the four blade cleavers most men use) and the higher quality shave?
BTW, my name is Phil.
Have a happy new year and happy shaving!
12-27-2006, 04:14 AM
Well the reason straights became unpopular is the same reason that DE razors became unpopular. Something that was slightly more convenient to use came around and used effective marketing.
I think that straight razors are making a bit of a comeback, as it were. At least I've been noticing more and more people on this site trying out straight razors (myself included). I think with all the resources out there it is a lot easier for people now to get into straight razor shaving and stick with it because they know what they are doing. I still think that it will forever remain a niche shaving market, though.
As for using a barber, I don't know, as there are no barbers around me that shave with a traditional straight, so I don't know how good of a job, on average, those guys do.
I don't know how often things get lost in the mail, but if your concerned about it, you can always take out insurance.
12-27-2006, 05:17 AM
Welcome to the forum!!!
12-27-2006, 06:27 AM
I would like to get it profesionally done, but would rather find someone locally to do it. Any thoughts on that? I've thought about going to a barber that uses a straight and asking them where they get it done or if they'd do it for me.
It might be tough to find someone local. By NO MEANS go into a knife sharpening service. A barber is a fine idea, but not many barbers use real straight razors anymore.
Your best chance of finding someone local is to ask at straightrazorplace.com (http://straightrazorplace.com), and find out if they have any expert honers in your neck of the woods who can give you a hand.
12-27-2006, 09:47 AM
Thanks again. I'll check over at straightrazorplace. I'd rather get it done right then to have an amature posing as a pro damage the blade.
You guys have a great thing going here at B&B and I hope to keep finding such great info and discussion with such friendly people!
Powered by vBulletin® Version 4.2.0 Copyright © 2013 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.