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Thread: Nathan's straight shaving journal

  1. #1
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    Default Nathan's straight shaving journal

    Well, I finally had a chance to try my new Dovo straight razor.

    I managed to get one pass done. Though it was pretty sloppy and did not look like I even cut some areas! It probably did not help that I had 4 days worth of beard to cut off. I decided to stick with just 1 pass this time and I finished with my DE, mainly because I did not want to hurt my face too much. I want to be able to try again sometime in the next 2 days.

    I nicked myself in a few places and got some razor burn on my neck but overall not too bad. I definitely enjoyed it and will continue to try to figure out straight razor shaving

    A few questions, things I need tips on:

    1. Shaving my left side with my left hand. Wow, this is hard! I am going off of the Interactive Straight Razor guide here on B&B. In it, Joel suggests shaving the right side of your face with your right hand and the left side of your face with your left hand. This is really hard, any tips?

    2. Stropping. I know this is extremely important. How many times do you recommend on the linen and the leather sides? Also, when I strop on the leather side I am not hearing any sound normally. I am keeping the razors spine and blade as flat as possible. Should I be hearing a sound? Every video I see there seems to be some sort of sound from the blade crossing the leather.

    3. Length of beard. Does the length of my beard effect how smoothly the razor will cut? My beard is pretty thick and tough. Should I try to shave more often so that the razor cuts more smoothly? I am sure that the times it was not smooth was also due to my angle and being new to all of this.

    4. What tips do you have about shaving under the nose? This was very difficult.

    I will continue to post updates and questions. Thanks for any feedback and help you can give!

    Nathan
    Last edited by nathanb; 11-29-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: added another question

  2. #2

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    Nathan,

    I'm left handed and I do my left cheek and 90% of my right cheek with my dominant hand. Using my right hand is hard and I only use it when positioning my left hand becomes unbearable. Do whatever you're comfortable with. Ideally, using both hands will make your shave a lot easier, but right now, do what you can.

    You should be hearing a sound while stropping. I don't know what's wrong. Someone else should be able to assist you

    I would shave more often. When my hair is long, I have a harder time shaving. After all, we do beard reduction for a reason! If the length of the beard was irrelevant, we all could just go ATG for our first pass

    The upper lip is tough. I struggled myself. Just go WTG for now and ignore the fact that you're not getting a close shave there. Try to flatten that area as much as possible and remember to use a light touch--even lighter than any other part of your face. I personally use a wide angle in that area, so I would recommend experimenting with angles till you see what works best for you.

  3. #3

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    I am right handed and do my whole face with my right hand.. if you really want to practice with the left hand but not make your face looks like Freddy caught you try lathering up and using a butter knife for the lather removal to build that muscle memory.

    For stropping it depends on the blade and the strop.. I only use leather ( don't have linen) and my hollow blades do give me a slight zing sound when I strop. The thicker grinds don't really give me any extra sound at all. Just take it nice and slow and use little to no pressure when stropping as it is not about speed at all.

    For beginning with a straight I know some say to trim it down but it depends on how fast your beard grows.. when I started out I did 1 WTG pass every other day but my facial hair grows fairly slowly and is also very light in color so my rule of thumb was if I can see stubble it is time to shave.

    As far as under the nose this is one of those areas where it depends on the size of the razor. I primarily use 6/8 blades so I tend to have the blade at almost a 90 degree angle at the top and kind of use a putty knife scrapping stroke. I have tried a 4/8 razor and that was much easier to shave under the nose with. You may want to just use your DE there for now until you get your technique down for the rest of your face first since it may be easier then to figure out what works best under the nose.

  4. #4
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    Hi nathan, first off congratulations on the first shave. regarding #1 i am in the camp that thinks you should learn to shave with both hands as that will allow you access to angles not available with just the one hand and learning it from the start will make it far easier than trying to modify an already established routine. #2 yeah i do hear a sound, but a lot of that could be from the fact that i use hollow razors or the type of leather? in general i use about 30 strokes on linen and 50 on leather, depends , on the leather i can usually feel when the blade is right and quit then. it is conceivable that you are using a tad too much pressure when stropping so maybe try to lighten up.#3 fortunately i am blessed with not the heaviest of beards, though definitely plenty of it. some times if i have not payed enough attention to my prep it will become apparent in a hurry when blade comes to face.A lot of this is technique related and will abate. but i would not be able to comment realistically on a what its like to work with a really wiry tough beard, those guys will be along to help soon.#4 a couple of the videos will show you how to use the coupe de maitre stroke, its kinda like a scooping motion and works well once you get the hang. any way just my .02 worth, all of the issues you have noted are exactly the same as i experienced when starting out and it seems to be a pretty common start. The good news is that all of your issues will fade away as you gain more experience, and that is the only thing we can not provide, but i can offer you tons of encouragement as this has proven to be a very rewarding discipline for me to learn. good luck and keep us in the loop.

    Ian

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    I was hesitant to use my left hand for anything when I started. I was not confident at all with using it, so I used my right hand for the whole face. I developed some degree of proficiency doing it all one-handed. Recently though, I've started using my left hand as well, and while I was shaky at first, I developed some skill with it relatively quickly, within a week or two. My shaves are better now, even though I'm still a little shaky. But I'd recommend doing what you're comfortable with, get the basics down, then expand the skill set later.
    Oh yes, there will be blood.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by nathanb View Post
    Well, I finally had a chance to try my new Dovo straight razor.

    I managed to get one pass done. Though it was pretty sloppy and did not look like I even cut some areas! It probably did not help that I had 4 days worth of beard to cut off. I decided to stick with just 1 pass this time and I finished with my DE, mainly because I did not want to hurt my face too much. I want to be able to try again sometime in the next 2 days.

    I nicked myself in a few places and got some razor burn on my neck but overall not too bad. I definitely enjoyed it and will continue to try to figure out straight razor shaving

    A few questions, things I need tips on:

    1. Shaving my left side with my left hand. Wow, this is hard! I am going off of the Interactive Straight Razor guide here on B&B. In it, Joel suggests shaving the right side of your face with your right hand and the left side of your face with your left hand. This is really hard, any tips?

    2. Stropping. I know this is extremely important. How many times do you recommend on the linen and the leather sides? Also, when I strop on the leather side I am not hearing any sound normally. I am keeping the razors spine and blade as flat as possible. Should I be hearing a sound? Every video I see there seems to be some sort of sound from the blade crossing the leather.

    3. Length of beard. Does the length of my beard effect how smoothly the razor will cut? My beard is pretty thick and tough. Should I try to shave more often so that the razor cuts more smoothly? I am sure that the times it was not smooth was also due to my angle and being new to all of this.

    4. What tips do you have about shaving under the nose? This was very difficult.

    I will continue to post updates and questions. Thanks for any feedback and help you can give!

    Nathan
    Good work on the first shave!

    1. Other than practice, there aren't any tips really. Take it slow, keep in mind, not everyone use both hands. It felt very strange at first as I never use my left hand but for shaving, it's as natural than my right hand.

    2. I think Joel recommends 60 linen, 60 leather (laps of course). I did that at first but I am now down to 30 linen and 60 leather.

    3. Like the DE, if you were happy with shaving every 2 days, that's all right. If you feel the need to shave more often, give it a go.

    4. The O face will stretch the skin and give you a better angle right under the nose. I then do XTG-XTG.
    Cheers, Luc - My Gear(Wiki) - Have a question, PM a mod. That's why we're here!

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    Congratulations with tha first straight shave, well done

    I use right hand only, it wasn't easy to shave the left sida as close as the right side at first, but now I'm starting to get the hang of it, and it works out pretty well.

    And shaving under the nose, just grow a moustache, then you don't have to worry about it
    Rune

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    Thanks for all the tips and advice guys! I appreciate the help and encouragement.

    I will probably try to shave again in 24 hours but want to give my face a little bit of time to rest.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zephyr View Post
    And shaving under the nose, just grow a moustache, then you don't have to worry about it
    My wife would definitely not approve of a moustache (nor would I ). Before I married her I had facial hair all the time but it is not acceptable because my facial hair really bothers her face so I started getting in to wet shaving!

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    1. Shaving my left side with my left hand. Wow, this is hard! I am going off of the Interactive Straight Razor guide here on B&B. In it, Joel suggests shaving the right side of your face with your right hand and the left side of your face with your left hand. This is really hard, any tips?

    It is hard when you start but practice it. It will quickly become second nature and makes the process much easier. I now shave my left side of my face left hand, right side right hand, left side neck right hand, right side neck left hand. Being ambidextrous gives you a lot more possibilities in shaving angle.

    2. Stropping. I know this is extremely important. How many times do you recommend on the linen and the leather sides? Also, when I strop on the leather side I am not hearing any sound normally. I am keeping the razors spine and blade as flat as possible. Should I be hearing a sound? Every video I see there seems to be some sort of sound from the blade crossing the leather.

    There is usually a small hiss sound but it depends on the strop material. I strop 50 laps leather and quite often dont bother linen. YMMV.

    3. Length of beard. Does the length of my beard effect how smoothly the razor will cut? My beard is pretty thick and tough. Should I try to shave more often so that the razor cuts more smoothly? I am sure that the times it was not smooth was also due to my angle and being new to all of this.

    Longer the beard, the more work for the razor. I find I get a closer shave if I have had a day or two off, though. Others have reported the same. I'm not sure why this happens.

    4. What tips do you have about shaving under the nose? This was very difficult.

    Pull your nose back out of the way. You look silly but nobody is usually watching. Narrower blades are easier. I go WTG and ATG under the nose. I haven't needed ATG there to get BBS.
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  10. #10
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    I just finished my second shave with a straight. Definitely improved some but still need a lot of practice under my nose, my chin and my neck. I was able to shave some areas with my left hand and it was a little more comfortable.

    I am finding the chin to be very difficult and parts of my neck as well. I know it will get easier as time goes by. One problem with my neck that I am having is that my neck has no flat areas. I know this is probably normal but I am really having trouble with the areas on the right and left of my adams apple. They are really sunken (right word?). Any tips for shaving the neck?

    Thanks!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by nathanb View Post
    Well, I finally had a chance to try my new Dovo straight razor.

    I managed to get one pass done. Though it was pretty sloppy and did not look like I even cut some areas! It probably did not help that I had 4 days worth of beard to cut off. I decided to stick with just 1 pass this time and I finished with my DE, mainly because I did not want to hurt my face too much. I want to be able to try again sometime in the next 2 days.

    I nicked myself in a few places and got some razor burn on my neck but overall not too bad. I definitely enjoyed it and will continue to try to figure out straight razor shaving

    A few questions, things I need tips on:

    1. Shaving my left side with my left hand. Wow, this is hard! I am going off of the Interactive Straight Razor guide here on B&B. In it, Joel suggests shaving the right side of your face with your right hand and the left side of your face with your left hand. This is really hard, any tips?

    2. Stropping. I know this is extremely important. How many times do you recommend on the linen and the leather sides? Also, when I strop on the leather side I am not hearing any sound normally. I am keeping the razors spine and blade as flat as possible. Should I be hearing a sound? Every video I see there seems to be some sort of sound from the blade crossing the leather.

    3. Length of beard. Does the length of my beard effect how smoothly the razor will cut? My beard is pretty thick and tough. Should I try to shave more often so that the razor cuts more smoothly? I am sure that the times it was not smooth was also due to my angle and being new to all of this.

    4. What tips do you have about shaving under the nose? This was very difficult.

    I will continue to post updates and questions. Thanks for any feedback and help you can give!

    Nathan
    Congrats Nathan . You are on your way. It may not seem like it, but you are. You've gotten some great advice already

    My tips:
    (1) Learning to shave with both hands will open up the angles for you a bit more than using just one hand. One thing that helps is doing things you normally wouldn't do with your other (non-dominant) hand....make lather with it, write, whatever is outside your normal comfort zone is fair game. It'll equalize the playing field with both hands. Also, I do left side with right hand and right side with left hand. That really accelerated the learning process for me. Now, I can do whatever I feel like with whichever hand

    (2) Stropping is dependent on blade, grind and many other factors. On average I use ~50 linen and ~60 leather. I strop before and after each shave. You may find that wedges may need a bit more attention on the strop.

    (3) as for sound, wedges will sing less than hollows. That's just the physics of air flow etc...Don't worry about it. Sound will guide you towards developing proper stropping technique. If the sound is uneven, you know you have preferential pressure on one versus another side, etc...listen to what the blade is telling you

    (4) I have pretty thick beard too...your technique will eventually make that a moot point. Shaving every day will leave your skin pretty raw, especially when you are learning but nothing is as good a motivator as "pain"...so, keep at it and your technique will improve. Your skin will also adjust

    (5) Practice, practice, practice and don.t be shy to experiment and modify techniques to make them fit your needs

    (6) Have fun
    Cheers,
    Robert

  12. #12
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    Thanks again everyone for the advice. I think I forgot to mention in my original post that my Dovo straight is a full hollow ground 5/8 best quality razor. I don't know if that will help people with their advice, tips.

    I am realizing that angle is really important so I am sure that is something that I will have to work on since it is very different with a straight than a DE.

    Thanks again for all the encouragement and advice!

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    Another thing that is important with a straight is stretching your skin, it improves your shave and helps you to minimize cuts. On a well lathered face it can be challenging to get a grip but if you moisten your fingers and rub them briefly on an alum block before you grip on your face, they will stick quite well to it. Watch Chimensch's shaving video to see how systematic stretching is done here: http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?t=136249

    Good luck
    Erik

    "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." John Henry Newman

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by nathanb View Post
    I just finished my second shave with a straight. Definitely improved some but still need a lot of practice under my nose, my chin and my neck. I was able to shave some areas with my left hand and it was a little more comfortable.

    I am finding the chin to be very difficult and parts of my neck as well. I know it will get easier as time goes by. One problem with my neck that I am having is that my neck has no flat areas. I know this is probably normal but I am really having trouble with the areas on the right and left of my adams apple. They are really sunken (right word?). Any tips for shaving the neck?

    Thanks!
    I had the SAME problem. Pull the skin towards the right, or left, and you'll be able to get that area in those sunken areas.

  15. #15
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    sounds great, I agree with Erik to watch the chimensch video, it was very instructive for me and extremely motivational. as a matter of fact watch them all. one thing i was lax at was watching all the vids and moving on. after a while i went back and started watching them again and was able to cull a wealth of information that i had not really noticed the first time and found very helpful for the stage i was currently going through. I know what you mean about the upper lip thing as that was one of my dread spots when i started but it really became a piece of cake in short order. now the chin was a different story and that will come in time as you learn how to stretch and your angles become more apparent. that was the last area for me to overcome and now i wonder why i ever had a problem. So keep at it, it really comes down to experience, My motto throughout has always been, patience is the best tool in the kit.

    Ian

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    Quote Originally Posted by sanfranciscian View Post
    sounds great, I agree with Erik to watch the chimensch video, it was very instructive for me and extremely motivational. as a matter of fact watch them all. one thing i was lax at was watching all the vids and moving on. after a while i went back and started watching them again and was able to cull a wealth of information that i had not really noticed the first time and found very helpful for the stage i was currently going through. I know what you mean about the upper lip thing as that was one of my dread spots when i started but it really became a piece of cake in short order. now the chin was a different story and that will come in time as you learn how to stretch and your angles become more apparent. that was the last area for me to overcome and now i wonder why i ever had a problem. So keep at it, it really comes down to experience, My motto throughout has always been, patience is the best tool in the kit.

    Ian
    +1 I really agree with this. Straight shaving is really a case of studying the pros and not being in a hurry. More haste, less speed! Just, when you least expect it you will solve an age old problem you have had. In my experience it is more about doing than theory. You just have to have to find out yourself how you are going to shave your face. That is the beauty of shaving: every face is different!
    Erik

    "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." John Henry Newman

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    Shaved with my straight for the 3rd time today. Not a whole lot to report. Definitely feel like I am making some progress but still got some razor burn on my throat and had trouble on my chin and under the nose. I am definitely getting more comfortable with the razor but know I still need a lot of improvement. I am sure that it will take a lot of practice to get comfortable shaving with a straight and to get consistently good shaves.

    I am going to watch some more of the videos I have seen of others straight shaving go see if that can help me a bit with the angles on my chin, under my nose, and my throat. I think they should be helpful.

    Sometimes my razor doesn't move as smoothly as I would expect but I am guessing that you need more slick lather to shave with a straight, is this true?

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    I forgot to mention that earlier, I think you have found a piece to the puzzle earlier than i did. IMHO a hearty yes to slicker lather, I was pretty hung up on trying to make that shaving cream ad looking stuff which may look pretty, but once i thinned it out things improved greatly. a little trial and error will get you there pronto.

    Ian

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    Default 4th straight shave

    Well, I shaved with my straight a 4th time today. It did not go that good.

    The razor was definitely tugging and pulling, it was not moving very smoothly or cutting that well. So I stopped before I even finished 1 pass and used my DE. I did not want to force it.

    Could this be due to bad angle, bad lather, or...? Or did I dull the edge somehow? Most likely due to my bad stropping skills. Can I do something to make sure the edge is still ok?

    Thanks,

    Nathan

  20. #20

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    You could have dulled it. A good thing to do is keep a second shave ready straight just for comparison purposes. If you feel like the blade is at fault, take out your second straight and do a small patch. It if glides through easily, then you have your answer.

    NOTE: Don't strop your second blade. You shouldn't do full shaves with the second straight. Just keep it to test the readiness of your first straight!

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