So, I went to bed last night knowing I was finally going to take the plunge and try my hand with a straight. When I signed off last night, I was not sure which blade would be my weapon of choice as I faded off to sleep anxious to try my hand.
I woke up this morning, and prepped my kit, I filled the sink with hot water, put a bit of hot water on top of my Proraso White Soap, started soaking the custom Shavemac Silvertip and hopped into the shower. As the hot water soaked into my beard and woke me up, I debated which razor it would be. Would I start with the gorgeous red Dubl Duck Special with that intimidating spike point, or the much more tame looking Case Bros with the barber's notch. I continued to debate as I showered.
As I got out of the shower and started really getting myself more organized, I thought back to the words of a member who said the DD has a great reputation, so I boldly let go of my fear and grabbed that blade from my shaving kit determined I would master the spike!
I started making my lather, I was trying something new because I bought some of that B&BW Proraso yesterday. I loaded the brush on the Proraso soap and then started making a superlather combining it with the Proraso green. The lather exploded like I'd never seen. It was so rich, thick and slick, I quickly gained confidence. I applied preshave oil, wetted the face and lathered up. I could already feel the cooling menthol, I knew it was going to be a good shave!
As I opened up the Duck, I could see the oil Mainaman had left on the blade after he honed it before I purchased it from him and remembered his words, "wipe down the blade, but you don't need to strop it before the first use." Knowing nothing of what I don't know, I trusted his advice, wiped the blade down and fumbled to find the right way to hold the blade as I approached my first stroke with a straight razor.
As I set the blade against the skin and tried to take my first pass, I thought, "Isn't this supposed to just slice right through the hair." I wasn't expecting any resistance, though I'm not sure why I had such an unrealistic expectation. So I repeated my mantra to myself: "Watch the blade angle, and no pressure." As the blade slid down, I fell in love with the sound of the straight working its magic. One pass down, and I knew I could do this. I kept going in methodical stripes down my right cheek. Halfway through that cheek, I got ****y. The tip of the spike left a nice red line. I expected to feel a searing pain because I could see the blood. I started to call out for the medic, but realized, it was but a mere flesh wound; so I continued. After my first full pass (realizing everyone was right and the angles get really weird), I rinsed and realized there was a lot more hair taken off than I realized.
After making a full pass with only one little nick, I decided to take it a bit further. I relathered with that glorious Proraso lather I'd made. This time I could really feel the menthol in that cream! It felt great, and I was rejuvenated for my second pass. This time I tried XTG. As I went, my confidence built and my strokes were smoother and felt like they were actually cutting easier. After that pass, I was getting some really smooth areas--but the neck was another matter.
I hadn't realized how difficult that neck area would be. My first WTG pass was not very comfortable because I couldn't find the right way to manuever the blade. After that pass, my neck still had a ton of hair. So I lathered up and tried ATG on the neck. That was probably not a good idea for the first spin around the block as I feel the razor burn pretty good there. But I went forward nonetheless.
I finished up with a very confident second WTG all over. Once the shave was complete, I used my alum block. WOW! What a burn I have not felt in a long time after shaving. It was good, though, because it definitely told me where my technique was decent and where it needs significant improvement.
Afterwards, I did as Mainaman told me to do, I dried the blade, tried my hand stropping it (I hope I didn't destroy the edge with my first real strop attempt). I learned quickly that all those posts are right; stropping is an acquired skill. Then I oiled my blade, and put it away.
My final verdict: I think I pass. I only got a couple of nicks, no major reconstructive surgery necessary to remove the scars. My confidence in the blade is growing, and I think I got a DFS. I wound up BBS on my face. The neck is a DFS, though not as good as I can get with my DE. I'd say that area is somewhere between my DE and a cartridge.
So here I am, a new straight shaver. I survived the ordeal and know that this is but the beginning! So here's a big thank you to Mainaman for my first razor--he did a fabulous job on the restore, and made sure I was shave ready the first go around; and here's another thank you to all of you here. You made my first foray a success. Now I just need to keep learning, and develop the right muscle memory! In the meantime, tip your glasses fellows!