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Thread: Gus's Shave diary

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    Default Gus's Shave diary

    As you can see from the title, I am copying the idea of many others such as Luc in order to motivate myself to keep going on this straight razor adventure and I hope you will encourage me to continue even if I threaten to ditch the whole project.

    I have been DE-shaving since the beginning of September and although I have enjoyed every minute of it, I have had a constant nagging yearn for straight razor shaving. Last X-mas, SWMBO arranged for me to take over her late grandfathers ' straights and after sending them away for honing at RasurPur in Münster, Germany and ordering a cheap dovo strop I was ready to go.

    Last night I stropped my Eichelnberg & Mack round tip on linen 35 laps and 60 laps on leather as suggested by Luc, prepped in the usual way: face-wash followed by warm wet towel for 30 secs, lathered up thoroughly with Valobra shave stick and made my first full WTG pass taking it nice and slow. There was some bloodshed on my neck but nothing major. I am really enjoying this, somehow it feels as though I should have been doing this all along instead of spending about 15 years on carts (almost complete waste of time). If I can permit myself an analogy I have always felt comfortable with the potato peelers where the blade is in the same line as the grip (just like a straight) and hopelessly inadequate with the one where the blade is mounted perpendicularly to the handle (like a DE-razor or a cart).

    After the first pass, I felt around the cheeks and was rather disappointed to find that a great deal of stubble was left, I think I might have had too steep of an angle so that I ended up scraping off more than cutting which is of course not especially effective. Does anyone have a good tip on how to get the angle right?

    I lathered up for a second XTG pass but I felt uncomfortable with the strokes and decided to quit while I was ahead and try it again after a spot of reading on the subject.

    I would appreciate some feedback on how it is supposed to feel when you guide the razor over your skin. Should it feel like dragging a hot knife through butter? I find that once I have positioned the blade, it is a bit of a bumpy ride to get the blade going and feels as though I was cutting through fabric or paper. Is this how it should feel? If not how can I remedy this? Would some strop paste on linen do the trick? Perhaps my prep is not thorough enough?

    Thank you all in advance for your helpful comments.
    Erik

    [I]"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."[/I] John Henry Newman

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    Hang in there, nice of you to share!

    Some thoughts;

    1) I haven't tried Rasurpur edges myself, but I've heard many good men swear by Martins hone-work, so you can be confident that your straight have a good edge. So no paste needed there.
    2) Regarding angle, do just like with a DE. Start parallel & then raise the spine slowly until it's beginning to cut.
    The tricky part is to have a constant angle around bends, but you'll get there eventually.
    3) Use a light, but firm touch.
    4) Short, rather quick strokes, if you get stuck, change the angle/direction slightly.
    5) Watch some videos, my favorite is Jockeys & Chimensch, but there are loads of them on the Tube.

    And most importantly, have fun with it!

    Lycka till

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    First, happy that you are keeping a journal! Mine helped me heaps when I started, as always, this community is very helpful!

    Now, from what I remember, when I first started the blade didn't shave very well. I didn't use a strop, I had newspaper and when I decided that I should get the proper equipment, it made all the difference.

    You already use a combo strop (linen/leather) which is good and you do the same laps that I do.

    What happened over time is that I would try to do a pass or go in a different direction, it didn't feel right, it didn't feel like this is going to be great. I would then do it the next day, still not right but better. After 3-4 times, it was all right.

    Next shave, hold your straight, you want a firm grip but then you don't want to cut yourself. Try to shave while applying a minimum amount of pressure. This might sound strange and it won't shave much but trust me, with time, you will get closer and closer.

    The only advice that I can give you is don't force it. If you think you can do it, do it, if you think you can't, don't.

    As I remember someone honed the straight for you. Hopefully it's fine but if you want to be sure, buy another shave ready straight. Having a different honer will give you a different idea.
    Cheers, Luc - My Gear(Wiki) - Have a question, PM a mod. That's why we're here!
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    Shave number 2 planned for tonight. Thanks for all the tips, I have been looking at numerous videos and especially on the techniques used when shaving XTG. There seems to be different takes on this: some people shave their right cheek with their right hand starting from the mouth and going backwards to the ears, whilst others shave their right cheek with their left hand starting from their ear and moving forward toward the mouth.

    I instinctively prefer the latter because I tried the former and was anxious I would slip and cut into my ear.

    What would you recommend to a beginner and why?
    Erik

    [I]"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."[/I] John Henry Newman

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    For me, what's easier is to use my left with my left side and right with right side.

    The only exception is when I go ATG. On my right side I need to go from ear to mouth and using my left is easier (pulling the razor rather than pushing it with my right hand).

    It's a matter of preference more than anything. Do what's easiest for you but don't force anything. If it's not going or your not confident, don't do it.

    How long did it take you?
    Cheers, Luc - My Gear(Wiki) - Have a question, PM a mod. That's why we're here!
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    I have not done it yet, this post was just in preparation. The first shave I did which was just one WTG pass followed by a short attempt at a XTG pass took me about 30 minutes. I then finished off with my DE. I am already looking forward to tonight's shave.
    Erik

    [I]"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."[/I] John Henry Newman

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gustav View Post
    I have not done it yet, this post was just in preparation. The first shave I did which was just one WTG pass followed by a short attempt at a XTG pass took me about 30 minutes. I then finished off with my DE. I am already looking forward to tonight's shave.
    30 minutes, that's not so bad. Take it slow and it should go well!
    Cheers, Luc - My Gear(Wiki) - Have a question, PM a mod. That's why we're here!
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    congrats, sounds like you did well for the first time, hang in there. i am relatively new myself (2mos.) and started out with one of martins edges, which in hindsight i did not really appreciate until much later in the game. the angles just kind of worked their way out for me and i suspect that it may be similar for most. enjoy your new discipline!

    Ian

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    Shave #2 Thursday evening 18.06.2010

    Setup:
    Eickelnberg & Mack razor
    Valobra shave stick
    Plisson silvertip badger brush

    Implimentation:
    I stropped the razor as before (35 laps linen and 60 laps leather), prepped more thoroughly than usual applying the hot towel for a minute with some proto-lather on my face, lathered up and did a first WTG pass using short strokes as recommended whilst keeping a shallower angle than during the first shave. This pass was so much better than during the first shave, a lot of stubble left but so much better than the first shave where I must have spent my time scraping the skin more than anything else. Shaving WTG on my neck seems to be a bit pointless because the stubble seems to grow down and sideways and only a minimal amount is caught by the blade. I will carry on for the time being for the sake of practice. A real problem area throughout the shave is, no surprises, the area around the mouth and the chin but hopefully with trial and error and some patience I will figure it out. For the time being I am so slow that it really only makes sense to lather up half of the face at a time.

    On my second XTG pass, I first tried shaving the left cheek with my right hand going from ear to mouth and vice versa, then I actually relathered and tried shaving my right cheek with my right hand from mouth to nose and vice versa. Although I had not thought so from the start this was much easier. Again, shaving the mouth area was unsatisfactory and resulted in minor bloodshed before I gave up.

    I made a real mess on the neck area, after some initial struggling which must have looked comical, I realised that it is nigh impossible to shave clean across the grain as you might do with a DE, instead I tried something more akin to shaving against the grain, starting from the lower left corner of the neck and moving up and sideways towards the center. I found this very difficult and I ended up with several weepers and some redness and the amount of stubble removed was marginal. I should have stopped here but stubborn as I am, I attempted to do a ATG pass and realized that I was not yet ready for it because I did not know really how to do it properly. I finished up with my Merkur 34c/derby blade and Speick ASB.

    In summary:
    -WTG pass: immensely improved although the chin area is causing trouble. WTG on the neck feels redundant.
    -XTG pass: upper part of the face seems doable excepting chin area.
    -ATG: I will leave that until I have more confidence and skill.
    I realize now that this is going to take time but the experience is very interesting and when I switch to the DE at the end it felt boring in comparaison.

    Questions:
    How do you shave XTG on your neck?
    How do you position the scales relative to the blade on the neck?
    Do you grip your razor significantly differently when shaving the neck XTG?

    Thanks in advance for your response, next shave is either tomorrow morning if my wife and daughter permit it or on sunday evening.
    Erik

    [I]"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."[/I] John Henry Newman

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    Good work mate!

    XTG I point the chin up and to the left when I shave the right side. It stretches the skind and it's easier to get it shaved.

    I hold the razor with the scales at 90 degrees. Have a look at the how to hold a straight thread. I'm still didn't get around making good pictures for Wiki but it should give you an idea.

    http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?t=151933

    See post 14. 1st pic, WTG, 2nd pic, ATG, 3rd, XTG

    Post 27 is also excellent for all 3 directions!
    Cheers, Luc - My Gear(Wiki) - Have a question, PM a mod. That's why we're here!
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    Shave #3 saturday 19th june

    Setup:
    Razor and brush see above
    D.R.Harris Arlington shave stick

    Thank you Luc for your tips, this helped a lot. I had planned to do a DE shave this morning because usually my baby daughter wakes up during my shower but this time she did not so I thought maybe I can steal just one pass. I had done the usual stropping yesterday so I went straight to it. I felt much more confident and the bristle on the upper part of the face got a really good beating on the first WTG pass. I also found it easier to maneuver around the chin and lips but the bristle removal here is still far from satisfactory. The XTG pass was far better this time and really did some good. When I was done, I had a definite SAS with some rough spots along the jawline and in the chin area and, on the whole, I was quite satisfied especially since it was nearly bloodless.

    I finished off with the DE with a derby blade that is still not tugging although I must have used it for the last 6 shaves or touch-up shaves hinting that hair removal is definitely happening. I only had to do one pass ATG to get a DFS.

    I notice that I seem to shave more with the tip-half area of the blade, is this ok or should I concentrate on having the whole blade on the face as much as possible?

    In summary: I feel more confident and the blood is no longer thundering in my ears when I put the blade to my face. I still have a very long way to go but at least I know that I want to go there and I am enjoying the process immensely.

    Thank you all for your comments.
    Erik

    [I]"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."[/I] John Henry Newman

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    No worries, glad I can help.

    If you are having good results using the middle/tip part of the blade, that's all right. There aren't any good or bad ways. I think I was using the heel of the blade more than the tip. I use the tip for precision usually. When I shave, I usually have the middle bit doing all the work. Don't change anything if it works.

    It's great that you are now more confident. I had the same thing, I was scarded of the blade at first but it's not so bad. You need to be aware it's a knife to your throat but other than that, it's a great tool!
    Cheers, Luc - My Gear(Wiki) - Have a question, PM a mod. That's why we're here!
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    Shave #4 Sunday evening 20.06.2010

    Eickelnberg & Mack 6/8 round tip razor
    Brush as above
    Tabac SS
    Tüff A/S

    This time I tried applying a touch more force to get the razor going which turned out to be easier than the slow drag I have used before. I got a few weepers at the base of the neck and on my top lip. Confidence is growing and fear abating.

    Quality of the shave was about on par with shave #3 but it seemed I did a better job on the chin area. The overall shave is still far from being a DFS, but if my DE shaving experience is anything to go by, I am not too worried because I am quite sure it will sort itself out with experience.

    I also noticed what a great help it is to have found a selection of soaps and creams that I know are solid performers. The valobra SS is great but somehow, in my hands, the first pass lather from a shave stick is never quite as good as that from a puck. In this category, Tabac is superb.

    Questions:
    1. When stropping, is it important that the strop is completely parallel to the floor? I hang mine on the window grip and thus it has a bit of slope.

    2. I have a second razor: a swedish Erik Anton Berg 5/8 (I think) with a square slightly rounded tip. Would you keep going with the E&M for another while for the sake of establishing a routine or would you try it to see if it suits you better?

    3. Can razors with broken tips be mended?

    Thanks for your support and comments.
    Erik

    [I]"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."[/I] John Henry Newman

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gustav View Post
    Shave #4 Sunday evening 20.06.2010

    Eickelnberg & Mack 6/8 round tip razor
    Brush as above
    Tabac SS
    Tüff A/S

    This time I tried applying a touch more force to get the razor going which turned out to be easier than the slow drag I have used before. I got a few weepers at the base of the neck and on my top lip. Confidence is growing and fear abating.

    Quality of the shave was about on par with shave #3 but it seemed I did a better job on the chin area. The overall shave is still far from being a DFS, but if my DE shaving experience is anything to go by, I am not too worried because I am quite sure it will sort itself out with experience.

    I also noticed what a great help it is to have found a selection of soaps and creams that I know are solid performers. The valobra SS is great but somehow, in my hands, the first pass lather from a shave stick is never quite as good as that from a puck. In this category, Tabac is superb.

    Questions:
    1. When stropping, is it important that the strop is completely parallel to the floor? I hang mine on the window grip and thus it has a bit of slope.

    2. I have a second razor: a swedish Erik Anton Berg 5/8 (I think) with a square slightly rounded tip. Would you keep going with the E&M for another while for the sake of establishing a routine or would you try it to see if it suits you better?

    3. Can razors with broken tips be mended?

    Thanks for your support and comments.
    Good work on the shave. It will get better, I had a few weepers when I started too...

    1. I would say it's all right, if you can easily strop and you find it comfortable, then it's fine.

    2. The less things that you change, the quicker you will learn. Then, I'm not a good example as I started with the same straight for ~10 shaves. I got 3 other straights that I bought shave ready, I couldn't resist. If you think you can resist, that's all right, but I would try it. What if, it's easier...

    3. Depending on the how badly it is, probably, someone who does restorations would be able to advise. Usually, the tip can be rounded and the razor is shorter but usable.
    Cheers, Luc - My Gear(Wiki) - Have a question, PM a mod. That's why we're here!
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    Thank you, I think I will heed your advice on not changing the razor right now. This WE there is going to be a huge back yard flee market in a central part of Munich and I hope to be picking up some vintage shaving gear. Hopefully I can find a few nice razors, send them to Martin Nienberg at RasurPur to have them honed and by then I should have enough experience to start changing parameters.
    Erik

    [I]"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."[/I] John Henry Newman

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    That's pretty cool! I hope you can find a good score over there!
    Cheers, Luc - My Gear(Wiki) - Have a question, PM a mod. That's why we're here!
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    Looks like you are doing great, hang in there & good luck at the loppmarknad!

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    Shave #6 Wednesday evening 23.06.2010

    Setup see #5 except for Speick ASB instead of Tüff A/S.

    We had a customer visit at work on Tuesday so I decided to play safe on Tuesday morning and had very nice DE-shave (Merkur HD, Derby and Tabac) but without the exitement of the straight razor shave.

    I concentrated a lot on stretching this time and it paid off. I have been watching Chimensch's (?) video and used my styptic in order to bet better "traction" on the skin and it works beautifully. I did the usual WTG followed by 2 XTG passes. One of them going from nose to ear and the other the other way around using the grip which some nice gentleman suggested in the pictoral thread devoted to razor grip started by Luc. On the neck I did the same XTG pass twice. This resulted in a DFS above the jaw-line with the exception of the chin which was still rough. The neck was still very rough and pretty much red from trying too hard. However when I did a quick ATG pass with my DE to clean up, it felt as though there was not much more left to cut.

    I am quite satisfied with the results of skin stretching above the jaw line and for my next shave, I hope to have acquired an Alun block which will make traction even easier. Also I think I will give up the WTG shave on the neck since, in my case, this is a complete waste of time. I will replace it with a further XTG but in the long run, I think the only way I am going to achieve DFS on my neck with this razor is by going ATG because it would seem that the stubble is growing flat against the skin.

    In summary, it is safe to say that I am very satisfied with my progress although the neck is causing me some concern. Most importantly I am enjoying myself. SWMBO came in whilst I was cleaning up and wondered what I had been doing for the last hour. I am not worried about how much time it is taking me because it really is quality time.
    Erik

    [I]"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."[/I] John Henry Newman

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    Excellent work!! Keep a it that way, it will get closer.

    For the time, nothing to worry about. I think I did a new record yesterday 15 minutes instead of 20 and BBS... I usually shave and it takes me 3 songs on the radio, I realised that I started pass #3 during song #2... Still, loved it!
    Cheers, Luc - My Gear(Wiki) - Have a question, PM a mod. That's why we're here!
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    Yup! That is what I am thinking of doing. I just realised I made a mistake in the title: it was of course shave #5 with setup of shave #4. Thank you for your input, 15-20 minutes really seems like pie in the sky to me at this point.
    Erik

    [I]"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."[/I] John Henry Newman

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