View Full Version : Newbie Straight Razor Shaving Diary

01-18-2010, 08:24 PM
With the end of my original Newbie Shaving Diary (http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showpost.php?p=1782287&postcount=66), I mentioned that I'm starting shaving with a straight razor. In that spirit, I'm going to start this diary, detailing my exploits of straight razor shaving as I learn that particular art.

First up, the weapons of choice:

Gold Dollar (from RupRazor)
Magnetic Platypus (currently being restored by Ambrose)
Bengall (learning to restore on this one)
Birko (learning to restore on this one)

RupRazor Filly

Men-U Synthetic

Anthony Logistics shave cream

Alum Block
Spieck Aftershave Balm

On to the first result...
Week 1, Day 1
The Gold Dollar is going to get a fair bit of a workout while I wait for my restore to be finished. I was originally planning on just doing my right cheek, but as with the beginning of my DE razor journey, I got carried away, and ended up doing a single WTG pass over my entire face (minus sideburns) and neck. The result wasn't too bad, but either I didn't strop enough (possible, 30 passes) or correctly (also possible), the razor isn't as sharp as I need it (also possible), or my technique sucks (almost certainly), because the razor kept pulling like a blunt DE blade does. The single pass got me approaching SAS level with the shave, and I only managed a single nick on the point of my chin due to too much angle.

What surprised me was how hard I had to press to get the razor to do anything - "no pressure" doesn't seem to work for me.

I followed up with another 2 passes using my trusty Merkur HD loaded with a Crystal blade, and got to my normal almost-BBS shave.

I'm hooked!

Notes for next time:
1. Just get the feel for the right angle. I guess like the DE, I'll probably know it when I feel it.
2. Keep going with just a single pass for a while, before starting on XTG passes (I think I recall saying something similar to that when starting out with a DE - it didn't last).

01-19-2010, 01:13 AM
Excellent! Thanks for doing this!

Try 60 laps on the strop next time. That's what I do!

01-19-2010, 03:19 AM
Very interesting. You finish your DE diary and start you straight diary Just about the same time I switch from one to the other. I'll be interested to follow this one now.

01-25-2010, 01:49 AM
Well, I think updates to this one are probably going to be a bit less often, as I now have an hour commute each way to work. Still, it is progressing.

I've also switched to Spieck shave cream, and it seems to make more lather for the same amount of product, but I think it dries out a bit faster.

Week 1, Day 3
Just did a single WTG pass, finished up with my trusty Merkur HD + Crystal.

Week 1, Day 5
Did a single WTG pass, went well, and for some reason decided to throw in an XTG pass, just to see what it was like. XTG pass went pretty well, but didn't do much. Threw caution to the wind and did an ATG pass! It got pretty messy - pretty bad razor burn (about on par as my run-in with Lord Platinum blades), lots of nicks, but no cuts. After the 3 passes, cleaned up with the Merkur HD + Crystal. The alum block set my face on fire even more, but the Spieck aftershave balm works wonders to settle everything down.

Week 2, Day 1
Back to today. I skipped a day because I was out drinking last night, and I guess it helped giving my face an extra day to recover.

I did about 20 passes on the CrOx side of the strop, and about 40 on the smooth side, and somehow managed to take a decent nick out of the edge.

For the shave, 3 passes again (I'm a sucker for punishment), but a much better result. Less nicks, less burn, better result. I didn't even clean up with the Merkur HD! The result is up to my standard, somewhere between DFS and BBS, a bit closer to DFS though.

Now maybe it's just me and my face being a bit strange, but I find that I don't have to stretch the face on my skin to get a good shave, I just go for it. As long as I get the angle right, I seem to be fine.

I still have to figure out the best way to go XTG on my neck, towards my ears. ATG I seem to have figured out, I do it kind of reverse-handed - I shave the left side of my neck with my right hand, and the right side of my neck with my left hand. Seems to work for me.

I also tagged my earlobe tonight, not badly but enough to make it bleed.

I'll just continue to work on the shave, I guess it's just a matter of practice.

Of course, I'm now eyeing off more razors...

01-29-2010, 07:03 PM
More updates. I think I'm getting the hang of this!

Week 2, Day 3
For some reason, I did 2 x WTG, 1 x XTG and ATG passes. This didn't really agree with my face, as I think the razor went blunt too quickly. As I've discovered with DE blades, my face tends to make razors go blunt very quickly. The alum block confirmed that 4 passes didn't agree with me, setting my face on fire.

Week 2, Day 6
Morning shave, for a change. Also took out my MWF soap, and an Omega badger brush, just for something completely different. I'm not used to the Omega brush, and the lather was a bit thin, but otherwise it was actually a very good shave. Might have something to do with the soap, which seems to agree with my face a bit more than either the Anthony Logistics or Spieck creams I've got. Only a couple of weepers, and a slight burn from the alum block. I was seriously considering stopping at 2 passes (WTG, XTG). I think it's just a matter of improving my technique from here on in.

01-29-2010, 07:10 PM
If you have a suitably sharp razor, have you considered eliminating WTG entirely? For me, that's really the pass that does the least for my facial hair. I'm perfectly happy with a single XTG, double XTG, or XTG/ATG.

01-29-2010, 07:12 PM
I like your avatar, I have had moments where I have felt like that since starting this journey, lol.

01-30-2010, 02:38 PM
4 passes, you got more guts than me. 3 is enough. It gets me close enough! Good progress!

02-11-2010, 01:57 AM
Anyway, it's been a while... Very very busy :-/

Nothing much to report, just been getting the hang of it and trashing my strop in the process.

The shaves have been gradually been getting better, 3 passes seems to be enough for my face. I have unusually coarse stubble, which really requires 3 passes, and usually ends up with a pretty blunt blade by the end. I know this from my DE experiment, and I have to hit the green side of the strop every 3 or 4 shaves, otherwise I just end up nicking and razor-burning myself pretty badly.

I did go back for a DE shave once, and I swear the shave isn't as close as I'm getting with the straight.

I've given myself a couple of nicks now, one on the bottom edge of my left earlobe (ATG pass), one just under my eye on my left cheek (WTG pass), and one across the front of my chin (ATG pass).

On another note, my Magnetic Platypus came back from Ambrose yesterday - un-restored :crying: There is just a little bit too much corrosion on the cutting edge for it to be a good shaver. Oh well, the entire exercise only set me back about $50, including the razor itself.

On the other hand, it gives me an incentive to get my Bengall and Birko restored, and go hunting for another one. The Gold Dollar I have at the moment just sounds like it's made of plastic when it's shaving, not very satisfying.

I'll post another irregular update sometime, but in the meantime I'll be getting pretty good shaves.

02-11-2010, 02:28 AM
That's good that you still shave with it... It will get better.

You might want to contact Oz to get your razors restored...

02-11-2010, 06:50 AM
JPM - you never mentioned how you got around the "no pressure" issue. I'm 2 shaves in with the straight too but I find it very clumsy since I cant put weight directly behind the blade. I am having the same problem you were with skipping and not being smooth. Please advise!


02-11-2010, 12:02 PM
Luc: yeah, I am still going with it, and the Alum block tells me that I'm steadily getting better. Far less bleeding now!

tominabox1: not sure if that was directed at me (those are my initials) or the user on these forums called JPM (who started doing everything I'm doing at about the same time), but I'll answer anyway. There seems (to me at least) to be a relationship between beard coarseness, razor sharpness, and pressure needed. If you have an insanely coarse beard like me (e.g. DE blades such as Derbys feel consistently blunt out of the box, and you only get 2 shaves from an IP Red), you NEED to keep your razor sharp by hitting the Chrome Oxide every couple of shaves, and possibly stropping a bit more than normal. You may also actually need to put a small amount of pressure behind the blade, but before you do that you need to make sure you've got your technique right. You can feel it when you've got your technique right, the blade just feels like it's doing its job properly. The best advice I've seen to get the angle right is to tilt the spine up from your skin about the same width as the spine itself.

And don't worry about cutting yourself, it WILL happen, just let it, but remember what you were doing when it happened so you don't do that again.

02-11-2010, 12:13 PM
Pressure depends on the sharpness of the blade. On a very sharp blade you don't need much pressure at all. In fact if you use the pressure on a 15k blade that you would use on a 8k blade, you will slice a hunk of face off like lunch meat and not notice it until you look in the mirror or apply after shave.