My Dubl Duck Satinedge came in the mail today. Naturally, the first thing I did was go upstairs to shave with it.
So I get there, grab my Filly strop, and start stropping...to notice that I have gotten part of the strop wet. I'm hoping from here it gets better.
I start stropping the razor, and I hear feedback when I strop one side, but not the other. I am pulling as taut as I can with my weak (left) hand, but to no avail. One side sounded like it was getting missed.
I put the razor down on a flat surface, washed my face with Glyce Lime Oil Soap, scrubbed the dirt out, and then lathered up with some Mama Bear's Awakenings. I figure that, if it's a rough go, at least my face will tingle and feel cool.
I gripped the razor in the manner shown in Joel's straight razor write-up here on Badger & Blade. Using my left hand, I stretched the right side of my face and started to shave. It felt...different. A little more tug and pull than I thought would happen, but I know it was honed before I got it, so it had to be user error. I progressed and things were going okay, save a few times the scales got in my line of sight and I couldn't quite see where I was shaving, but that was an easy fix. I even got my left hand involved and shaved the left side of my face. So far, not bad.
Soon enough, the tug and pull that was only happening occasionally started happening incessantly. I was getting a little bit peeved at the whole thing but I'm no quitter. I rinsed my blade off carefully, dried it VERY gently on a terry cloth towel, and returned to the strop. I made sure to try and put equal pressure on both sides. Because the strop is narrow, I did an x-pattern to make sure I covered the whole of the blade.
I relathered my face and tried again, this time, actually dropping the mild amount of nerves I had and shaving the goatee area, mustache, and neck. That even includes the dangerous Adam's Apple area. I took it slow, and was blown away. I know it's said that stropping is a major part of your shaving comfort, but you don't really know it until you try to develop some technique and add some more pressure on the strop, though being careful not to apply too much.
I then got one small slice right at the intersection of my right nostril and my septum. With all the fun I was having, i was moving the blade a bit too quick, and ran the blade, ever so slightly, parallel to my face. There, however, was very little blood, and the nick closed up during the shave. Impressive.
I splashed on some Aqua Velva and oh WOW did it sting. And this was just with one WTG pass. Despite that, I was and am very satisfied with the shave itself. Here is what I have picked up on already:
1. Don't be nervous.
This is much easier said than done with something like a straight razor in your hands for the first time. Make no mistake about it, the best way to mess it up is to be nervous about messing it up. Two or three times during the shave I had to stop and collect myself because I didn't want to slice my face open. After I told myself "Shane, it's just shaving!", that sort of thing went away. Nerves are the enemy of this whole thing.
2. Get your stropping technique down.
Man, this is everything as far as I found out today. It's a delicate balance, but it is well worth the trouble to learn, as this is how you prepare the razor for shaving. You don't want to be namby-pamby with it, but you obviously don't want to drive the edge into the leather and roll it or dull it. Apply enough pressure that you are getting physical AND aural feedback. When I stropped the second time, I got an audible "WHING!" sound from the razor. Also, you WILL nick your strop, as I did just once today.
3. Use lather that's nice and wet.
DE users can get away with this to a point, but I don't think you can fool a straight razor with dry lather. Make sure that stuff is nice and shiny going on your face, and relather if necessary. Tying into this, NEVER shave an unlathered area.
4. Take your time but don't dissect it.
This ties into number one somewhat. If you tell yourself "It's just shaving!", then it eliminates the fear of it, and what you're left with is a whole lot of fun.
5. Don't expect BBS. Or DFS. Or CCS. Not on your first try, anyhow.
This is something I expected going in. I can easily load up a fresh blade into my R89 and go three passes with no big deal about it. After one WTG pass, I took that as what I got for the day. That particular result is presentable enough, but I know it will get better as my technique does.
Well, those are basically the main things I got from the whole experience. For what it's worth, I found straight shaving a little easier to learn than DE shaving. It seems a lot more intuitive, as there is no middleman involved; that open blade will do whatever your hand tells it to do. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. After today's shave, I'm thinking it's blue skies ahead from here.
Now, onto the next razor...and strop...and some hones...maybe some pastes...