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Thread: Grip's Journal (and so it has begun....)

  1. #41
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    Shave #16:

    Did a touch up on the razor before this shave with the balsa strop. 40/40/60 (Green/Red/Leather). Passed the HHT.As I had almost 2 days of stubble I did a light first pass with the DE. My stubble is very course and grows fast (unlike the hair on my head, which is course, but falling out fast) so I thought it best to reduce with the DE first.

    Relathered and did a WTG on the whole face. Again the courseness of the whiskers on the moustache and cheek were tough to get through. I found short guillotine strokes to be the answer.

    Neck is coming along. Short strokes with maximum stretching and not being concerned with whether the stroke was truly WTG. This is helping me figure out the riddle of shaving my neck with the straight. Noahpictures advice of not worrying about missing a spot is helping, as many of my nicks came from trying to finangle a spot that was missed.

    Relathered and did a XTG on the face. This is also coming together. Did another WTG/XTG pass on the neck. Touched up the neck and chin with the DE.

    Results: DFS everywhere and almost BBS on the cheeks. I definitely get closer in a WTG then XTG with the straight than I used to with the DE on the cheeks. I would have had to do an ATG or an opposite direction XTG to get as close. Neck is coming along.

    Newbie advice to newbie's:

    I noticed on some areas over the last couple of shaves, the razor would stick (i.e. not fully cut the whiskers). I first thought that the blade was getting dull. However the balsa strop and HHT eliminated that as a possibility. What I found is that some areas may not be ready for the next change of pass angle i.e. the XTG after the WTG. It seems, especially on courser areas, that another repeated pass is needed before moving on in the progression. It's as if more reduction is needed before moving on. I'll have to explore this further.

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grips View Post
    I noticed on some areas over the last couple of shaves, the razor would stick (i.e. not fully cut the whiskers). I first thought that the blade was getting dull. However the balsa strop and HHT eliminated that as a possibility. What I found is that some areas may not be ready for the next change of pass angle i.e. the XTG after the WTG. It seems, especially on courser areas, that another repeated pass is needed before moving on in the progression. It's as if more reduction is needed before moving on. I'll have to explore this further.

    I agree. As a straight newbie, I've also noticed that adding additional less agressive WTGs or XTGs most always makes the final ATG easier. It's nice to hear someone else with similar reasoning.

  3. #43
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    Shave #17:

    Just about 2 days of growth but decided to just go with the straight instead of a first pass wit the DE. Tough going through my course whiskers. I had to resist the temptation to push harder to get through. I kept a light touch but that insured I would need a second WTG.

    Neck is coming along. Still not close or irritation free but closer and less irritation. I have to keep in mind in took awhile to get close with no irritation with a DE; just have to be patient.

    Did a XTG on the face without too many problems. My little Griffon is definitely less sharp. I keep having to go to the balsa strop more often to get it to pass the HHT. If I had the cash right now, I'd pull the trigger on a coti. But I have to wait so the balsa will have to do.

    Just a touch up on the chin and neck with the DE. Definitely having to rely on the DE less and less to touch up.

    So, in general the pieces are falling into place. I'm progressing well on the passes on the face; figuring my damn neck out and haven't nicked my strop in a couple of weeks now.

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by noahpictures View Post
    One newbie to another: I usually nick myself when I try too many angles during one shave. For me it is best to plan how I shave certain areas prior to shaving. If during the shave the plan doesn't work, I move on.

    Shaving the neck area is challenging. At best I can only get a DFS. My suggestion is to think about the direction of your beard growth and how you shave your neck using a DE then determine a way to hold the straight razor in order to attain a similar angle of attack to slay those whiskers.
    Quote Originally Posted by Grips View Post
    Thanks noahpictures. I'm enjoying reading your journal and I appreciate the advice. I have a good handle on how my hair-growth patterns are and how I shave them with a DE. I struggle to duplicate the process with the longer blade. It'll come; I am, for the most part, a patient man.
    good advice.. for a N-S pass on the neck, with stretching, angle the blade so that the point is towards your upper ear and and the heel is towards below the adams apple with the pass sweeping in to out ... this angle allows gets me somewhere from 20/80 XTG/ATG. follows the contour of my face much better. i used a butter knife or thumb (same side hand) my pointer finger, thumb tucked(other side hand) to plan angles of approach..
    --Jon. "Love me some 14s"

  5. #45
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    Thanks Jon. I really appreciate the feedback gentlemen.

  6. #46
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    Shave #18:

    Took the last shave off from the straight and just used a DE due to extreme time constraints. Went back to the straight last night.

    I checked out the razor first as I seem to be losing the edge. Did a number of balsa strop progressions until I managed to get back to passing the HHT. It wasn't popping the hair cleanly but it was cutting it.

    No first pass with the DE. The first WTG was a little tough. I kept my touch light and resisted the temptation to plow through the whiskers. The WTG/XTG combo on the neck was not smooth but I got it done.

    Second WTG on the face was smooth. Not super close around the chin but it went alright. Above the jawline I have my strokes and holds figured out.

    Second pass on the neck was not smooth but again, I got it done.

    Did a XTG on the face which went ok. The neck was getting a little sore so I did a XTG with a DE. Touched up the chin with the DE and then shut it down.

    It appears/feels that my razor is no longer the sharp "V" anymore but a sharp "U". Since I have to save up my pennies for a hone and/or another straight I guess I will have to just keep up with the balsa to keep the best edge I can right now.

  7. #47
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    I recently put together a honing set with 1000 grit sandpaper, and lapping films. You may want to consider that route. I scavenged all except the films, and at $1 a sheet, it's a easy experiment. I'm quite happy with it. Check my shave journal. I just posted a picture.

    100% newbie advice, so all disclaimers apply.

  8. #48
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    Thanks for the advice. It's funny as I am just starting to explore that route. I really want to get a coti down the road but it's just not doable at the moment. I think the lapping films will be the way to go, at least to begin with.

  9. #49
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    Update:

    I had to go to strictly DE for the last few shaves. Lots of work and family commitments. As well, as I mentioned above, I believe my ability to keep a shaving edge with just the balsa strop is nearing the end.

    So in the interest of $ I can't get the coti I'm thinking of so I've started the process of getting a honing kit together based on lapping film. I picked up my lapping plate (polished granite at Home Depot). There is a woodworking store in town that has lapping film. It's more expensive than on Amazon but I have to see how it evens out with shipping. The store doesn't carry the 1 micron which Slash has said is neccessary. So over the next couple of days I'll try to get my ducks in a row and get the kit together.


    I'll try another balsa strop session and shave this weekend to see how it goes but the inevitable honing is fast approaching. I knew I would have to (and was looking forward to) learning how to hone but thought I could hold it off a bit longer. Oh well needs must.

  10. #50
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    Shave #19

    Prior to this shave I worked that balsa strop over. I stopped counting after 100 laps. I just kept doing sets of 20 on the green. I could get it to where the hair would quiver an inch away from the hold point but not sever on the HHT. It would sever the hair at about 1/8" away but not much farther. I gave it 40 laps on the red and 40 on the leather. Not any noticable difference on the HHT. I figured this was as good as it would get for now.

    The Shave

    Since I had ~three days of growth I did a first pass with a DE. Relathered and picked up the straight. Now I was anticipating sever tugging and pulling. So I went in with the mindset of being even lighter with my touch than usual. Did a WTG and not too bad. Even with the lay-off my neck actually went better than before. Relather and went for the XTG. Again I went for a lighter touch and again it went not too bad. Other than a couple cuts on my chin due to bad approaches the XTG was better than usual. I had between a SAS and a DFS depending what part of my face so I decided to just touch up a bit with the straight and shut it down.

    Results:

    Even though the HHT before the shave and the feel of the shave told me my razor was not up to a great level of keenness this shave was much smoother. Now granted it would have been a different story if I had to get through three days of growth first. However, I think three things are responsible for the results:

    1)My razor was not as dull as I expected (although it is needing a honing soon)
    2)Even with my time away from the straight my holds for my good areas were still comfortable and confident. I'm glad some of this is sticking.
    3)Most importantly, I learned that I was (even though I thought I wasn't) using too much pressure on earlier shaves, especially on the neck.

    I am actually quite pleased with this shave. I thought it might be a disaster but turned into a decent shave with a good learning point tied in. Good angles and proper pressure can have a big impact even with a less than vorpal edge.

  11. #51
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    Hone #1

    Well I finally got the pieces of kit I needed to start to hone (other than the 1 micron that will have to wait). I had already picked up a granite tile from Home Depot a few days ago. I bought a sheet of 15 mic., 5 mic., 3 mic. and 0.5 mic.

    Got the 15 down, marked the edge with a sharpie and started. I saw from noahpictures' thread on first hone... he did enough on the 12 to make the marker disappear and then 30 more. I aimed for the same. Here is the progression and results.

    15: I gave up counting after 100 laps. I had dropped my razor awhile back and thought I saw a ding near the toe. Well it took a long time for the marker to disappear near the toe on one side, must be a depression there. I kept at it until it was gone. I also checked and I could shave arm- hair.

    5:I did 40 laps and felt I could feel a difference at around 30. Not sure if it was my imagination but it felt like a suction feeling along with a more gliding feel to the razor.

    3: I did 50 laps and again I thought I felt a change around 40 laps.

    0.5: I started and immediately realized why guys like Seraphim and Slash put wet paper under the smaller stuff. Put some wet paper under and did 50 laps.

    Balsa Strop: 40 Green, 40 Red

    Leather Strop:40 laps. However was going over the honing in my head and...yup sliced the strop. Not a nick (I have a few of those), a slice. The slice is repairable but I wasn't sure what my hone job was like now.

    I checked with a HHT. Not passing but the hairs were catching. I decided to shave and see the results as they were.

    Shave #20:

    Washed my face and lathered. Started with the straight right off the bat. It cut OK on the cheeks but didn't feel as sharp as I was hoping. I continued WTG on the face and it went not too bad. The WTG on the neck tugged a fair amount. I decided to do a quick WTG on the neck with DE.

    Did another WTG on the face and neck. Better than the first pass but the razor did not feel much improved. Decide to just touch-up and get the razor back to the hones.

    Hone #2:

    I think besides the slice of the strop maybe effecting things, that the jump from the 3 micron to the 0.5 was too big. I decided to start over and spend more time on the 3 and 0.5 film. Here's the progression:

    15: Passed the sharpie test total of 40 laps just to be sure.
    5: 60 laps due to the big 15 to 5 jump
    3: 40 laps
    0.5: 80 laps. Until it could grab and cut hair in the HHT.
    Balsa: 40 onthe Green and 40 on the Red. Now the hairs were cutting cleanly.
    Leather: 40 on the leather. Was now popping hairs on the HHT.

    I will have to wait until tomorrows shave to see how my honing results translate into an actual shave. Anyway another first step.
    Last edited by Grips; 02-13-2012 at 11:57 PM.

  12. #52
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    Shave #21:

    Well hone job #2 did the job. I got two cuts from this shave and both were when I rested the blade on my skin without movement. Both times the blade just sunk in. I guess that makes sense since it was passing HHT-4.

    First pass WTG: Much easier with a sharp razor. I remembered how my little Griffon was when I first got it. Had to be careful with pressure. Needed enough to get through the growth but had to be careful as I haven't shaved with a blade this sharp in a bit.

    Second Pass WTG: Very smooth. Got one of my fore-mentioned cuts here. Chin was much easier. My chin has my coursest whiskers and the freshly honed blade sure helped. Slight guillotine and slicing motions helped as well.

    Third Pass XTG. Again went well. Just the face though. My neck came out of this shave alright but I have sensitive skin there and I could tell another straight pass would irritate it.

    Cleaned up neck and chin with the DE.

    ALmost BBS on cheeks and DFS everywhere else.

    Quite happy with this shave since the one after the first honing wasn't great. I did something right on the second honing. I believe it was taking extra laps on the film that it was a big jump to (the 5 after the 15 and the 0.5 after the 3). I will have to order the 1 micron and maybe a 9 to bridge the gap between 15 and 5.

  13. #53
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    Shave #22:

    Well I went in to this shave hoping to eliminate some irritation I have been getting after the shave, esp. the neck. I think part of the problem is the lack of humidity here in the winter. My face is dry as it is; when you add the slow shave of a straight newbie (and the added time the lather sits on the face) I suspect that the drying of the lather is a problem. Not only is it not doing it's job for the shave, the lather sitting on my skin for so long is causing added dryness. I decided to lather in sections while making sure the rest of my face stayed wet so the whiskers didn't dry out.

    First Pass WTG: Not bad. The blade was still very keen. I just need to get my angles down for the first reduction pass. I find this pass the toughest. With the razor being sharper I could keep a light touch. I found that you have to force yourself not to push through resistance but change the angle of the blade or try a different stroke (guillotine or slice) to get through. I guess that's intuitive to the old hands here, but something I'm just getting a feel for.

    Second Pass WTG:This is my easiest pass. Went very smoothly. Getting my angles, pressure and approaches down on my neck. By no means even solid yet but steady improvement.

    Third Pass XTG: Went well except I forgot about a previous cut lurking under the lather on my chin and caught it and lifted a bit of a flap. The stypic did it's job and I finished up the pass.

    Touch-up and done.

    Results. BBS on most of cheek. DFS everywhere else but chin which was SAS. Maybe I could have worked the chin to get DFS but didn't want to open the cut again. First shave 100% straight razor ! So another milestone passed.

    The lathering in stages with keeping the rest of the face wet definitely helped my face come out of the shave feeling much better.

  14. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grips View Post
    Shave #21:

    ...Quite happy with this shave since the one after the first honing wasn't great. I did something right on the second honing. I believe it was taking extra laps on the film that it was a big jump to (the 5 after the 15 and the 0.5 after the 3). I will have to order the 1 micron and maybe a 9 to bridge the gap between 15 and 5...
    I read this and had to try it. It makes sense. I honed a new-to-me razor in the same manner and had the best edge. I will try the same progression again to make sure.

    Great journal!
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  15. #55
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    Thanks noah. To be honest a lot of what I'm trying is based on reading your journal and honing thread. Not to blow smoke you know where but your journal almost needs a sticky as a newbie to newbie journal. Glad my journal was able to return the favor so to speak.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grips View Post
    Thanks noah. To be honest a lot of what I'm trying is based on reading your journal and honing thread. Not to blow smoke you know where but your journal almost needs a sticky as a newbie to newbie journal. Glad my journal was able to return the favor so to speak.
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  17. #57
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    Shave #23: (Last Night)

    Well another solid shave. I lathered in stages again and it definitely made for a smoother less drying shave.

    First Pass (WTG): No problems. Neck is getting better and better as well as the chin.

    Second Pass(WTG): Again no problems. I just focus my first two passes on covering all area smoothly without caring how much hair gets removed. This has improved my shaves a ton. I still do three passes plus a touch-up but I'm getting closer,smoother and less irritating shaves now that my focus has changed.

    Third Pass (XTG): Didn't catch my partially healed chin cut this time so that's a bonus. This pass is starting to become solid as well.

    Touch-up and done.

    Again. Lathering in stages and not focusing on how much hair gets removed in each pass has improved things. If I feel the previous pass didn't remove enough hair for a change in grain (eg. XTG after WTG) I just do another of the same pass. My skin is thanking me for it.

  18. #58
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    Shave #24:

    Best shave yet ! I received my "consolation" PIF FatBoy today from rossvtaylor. Thanks again Ross. Since I had two-days of growth I decided to do the first WTG pass with the FB. Very nice razor. Having never even tried an adjustable never mind a FB, I was very happy.

    Second Pass(WTG): VERY smooth !! This pass went excellent. I again lathered in stages so my lather was always fresh and my skin didn't get dried out. No nicks, cuts or razor burn.

    Third Pass (XTG): Went excellent as well. Geting my angles, approaches and strokes for the different parts of my down almost as well as my WTG pass. Just one very small nick.

    Touch-Up: No problems. Tried some ATG around the chin for the first time. I quickly realized how shallow you have to have your blade angle. Not smooth but effective and no wounds.

    End results were BBS on cheeks and DFS everywhere else. No sting with the alum other than the nick. No complaints on this shave. Hopefully I retain what went right for the next shaves. But I guess that's mostly the point of this journal.

  19. #59
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    Shave #25: (last night)

    Prior to this shave I touched up the razor on the balsa (40 Green,40 Red then 40 on the leather).

    This shave went very smoothly but not nearly as close as others. My touch might have been too light.

    First Pass (WTG): Went very smoothly, even with two-days of growth. That much growth has previously been a problem for me.

    Second Pass (WTG): First pass went so well I got a little compacent and got a nick. Otherwise smooth.

    Third Pass (XTG): Again no problems.

    Touch-up then done. No sting with the alum other than the nick.

    After closer inspection the shave was not as close as I thought. Probably due to the two days of growth. Next time I have 2+ days of growth I probably will do another pass.

  20. #60
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    Shave #26:

    I am starting to understand the "Zen" aspect of straight shaving. I got an inkling of it this shave. I again lathered area by area. I started to forget which pass I was on and what approach I was using (WTG, XTG, etc.) I was just shaving. Just tackling each area as it was. The following is the best way to describe a shave that was fairly unstructured and free-flowing.

    First Pass (WTG): No problems. Getting the angle down for the first reduction pass. This is my hardest pass and it went well.

    Second (WTG): Again very smooth. I didn't get complacent on my neck like last shave and it went well. Neck has morphed into a combo WTG/XTG depending on the area. As I get more skilled I can do a pure pass on all areas of my neck but for now the combo is yielding good results.

    Third (XTG Face/Touch-up Neck) : Very good. No problems. I'm as comfortable with this pass as I am with my second WTG. Chin is getting better as well as this pass improves.

    Touch-up and done.

    Very happy with this shave. Focusing in on what's happening at that time, as you're doing it and not the big picture, led to a great shave both in results and the experiennce of it.

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