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Thread: Nearly Beardless Dwarf's (AKA Thaekor) Straight Razor Journal

  1. #41
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    Shave #12

    I have to say, I really like this ACME razor. The wider tang makes for an easier grip for me.

    Shave Prep:
    Shower, Art of Shaving lavender shaving cream w/ a couple drops of glycerin.

    1st pass:
    cheeks: WTG (N-S) Normal beard reduction pass w/ slight tug and pull. I am trying to focus on guillotine/slicing strokes here, to reduce the pull/tug.
    neck: WTG! (Ear - Nose) Was finally able to get WTG (at least on the left side of my face using my right hand. I looked straight up stretching my neck up, and pulling down on my neck with my left hand, razor in my right. Was able to do the majority of the left side of my face this way, before the tang started getting in the way/hitting my neck throwing my angle off. Unfortunately, wasn't able to perform similar pass on the right side of my face using my left hand. Not enough coordination I suppose.

    2nd pass:
    cheeks XTG (Ear - Nose) Easiest passes to perform. The razor just feels natural in my hand, holding the blade straight up. Borderline DFS after this pass.
    neck: WTG/XTG Tried the WTG on the left side again, and my normal XTG awkward grip on the right side.

    3rd pass:
    cheeks: XTG (Nose - Ear) Again, one of the easiest passes to perform, do to grip comfort. Have to take my time and pay attention around my goatee (paranoid I will get into it too much, and end up lop sided.
    neck: XTG (S-N) Did an upward XTG pass, at a slight diagonal. Still left with slight stubble on the right hand side.

    Was semi-able to get a WTG pass on my neck area, unfortunately, grip prevents me from trying an ATG pass using a similar technique. Next time I will try to finish the bottom half of the WTG neck area with the tang pointing towards the sky, instead of floor.... If I can figure out a comfortable grip doing that. I am really liking straight shaving. My skin feels better (which I think the new girlfriend likes), much fewer ingrown hairs, closer shaves w/ fewer passes. I am getting solid DFS and even BBS after 2 - 3 passes not using an ATG pass.

  2. #42
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    You sound like you are still doing great. Keep shaving within you limitations. Don't ditch the DE just yet either - you may need it sometime for those problem areas you mentioned. It seems sometimes like my growth pattern changes and I have to clean up some area I can't reach otherwise - arggh! Hopefully you are lucky enough to hit all of your face with a straight.

    Carry on!

  3. #43
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    It has been a week since I posted. Exams are getting close and between work and my classes, things get kind of crazy. Still doing good with the straight razor. I have only skipped shaving one day since my last post (Shave 13-18) and that was because I woke up late, and didn't want to risk rushing. I did notice that the shave went SURPRISINGLY well after 2 days worth of growth. Much more so than, it would have with a DE. I actually managed about a 90-95% BBS shave that day.

    I seem to have settled into 1st pass (N-S) all over, 2nd pass (Ear-Nose) on cheeks and (S-N) under chin/neck area, and 3rd pass (Nose-Ear) on cheeks and (N-S) with a slight diagonal angle to it(semi guillotine/diagonal stroke). Cheeks/jawline are consistently BBS, and under chin/neck area varies from BBS some mornings to SAS others. I haven't discovered what variable determines one from the other yet.

    I have the lapping film in 9,5,3,1,.3 micron grits, and a polished granite tile 12x12 to hone on, but with exams looming, I haven't felt I have had time to try yet. I have noticed the first razor I got from whipped dog, is tugging quite a bit more, and requiring more pressure to actually cut the hair. I think this is one of the more significant factors to BBS vs SAS currently. The Acme is still my preferred razor at the moment. Not sure if it is that it just feels sharper, or if it is the fact it is a 13/16 instead of a 5/8. Exams will be over after next Wednesday, so honing attempt one will begin next week at the latest.

    I think my biggest improvement has come from more stretching. I kept reading that in other shave journals before I started and told myself, that wouldn't be a problem for me, but it has taken me a few shaves under my belt to figure out how to best hold the razor and have a free hand for the stretching, along with where to actually stretch.

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by thaekor View Post
    I think my biggest improvement has come from more stretching. I kept reading that in other shave journals before I started and told myself, that wouldn't be a problem for me, but it has taken me a few shaves under my belt to figure out how to best hold the razor and have a free hand for the stretching, along with where to actually stretch.
    You doing great ...very inspiring! Stretching does sound like what can make a good shave great. I'm trying to concentrate on doing this as well, but as you say, it take time to figure out the best way with having to coordinate with the hand holding the razor. Keep up the journal when you can.
    -Robert

    S.A.S.S. & Proud member of Old Spice Mondays: -Go ahead, smell like your Grandpa!

  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beatnik View Post
    You doing great ...very inspiring! Stretching does sound like what can make a good shave great. I'm trying to concentrate on doing this as well, but as you say, it take time to figure out the best way with having to coordinate with the hand holding the razor. Keep up the journal when you can.
    +1

    Most of us call it "stretching" but I think Mantic says it correctly - It's more like "flattening". Stretching too much becomes counter-productive. I'm an advocate of watching a shave video (it can be a DE video; there's lots of cross-over) then shaving with the fresh concepts in your mind, shaving, then watching another video. I feel that this way of practicing helps more light-bulbs go off. But then again, that may just be me.

    Enjoy your weekend y'all!

    Larry

  6. #46
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    Nice going! Stretching for me seems to most beneficial on XTG scything passes. If I do it right I can dispense with the ATG in some areas. Stretching on ATG passes seems to expose more skin/follicles/etc. to the blade and leads to irritation and weepers...still working that part out.
    ~ ​​Kent
    <[Self-certified Straight Shaver]>
    。。現在日本剃刀に夢中。。

  7. #47
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    Ok, another week later before I post, and honestly I don't know what shave number I am up to. I skipped shaving last Saturday, just had a lazy day. I like flattening better than stretching, sounds more correct at least.

    Shaves for the most part were decent, I had noticed the blade tugging more, so I broke down Monday night and used the lapping film, and 12x12 granite tile to hone my original razor. I have short hair, so I didn't have any hair to try a HHT, and am not experience enough to know what the thumbnail test is supposed to feel like. I did try the float the hair 1/4 of an inch over my forearm and see if it will pop hairs on my arm, without the blade on my skin. When I got it from Larry at whipped dog, it would, but it didn't after my initial hone job. I tried shaving with it anyway Tuesday morning, and got a fair bit of razor burn. Nothing severe, just a bit more than normal (at least normal for the odd days that I get razor burn) I think it was too much pressure since the blade wasn't as sharp as it should have been.

    I had a final exam Wednesday, so no re-do of the hone job Tuesday night. I did shave with it Wednesday morning, this time being more aware of pressure. It didn't do a good job, and I broke out the DE to cleanup. Final over, I got home Wednesday night, and decided to try honing again. This time I got brave, and decided to give both of my whipped dog razors a go. I spent roughly an hour and a half honing both of them, and actually managed to cut myself, though not with either of the razors, with the pocket knife I was using to cut the lapping film.... managed to close it on my thumb.... Yeah, not sure why I decided I wasn't accident prone enough, that I wanted to use a straight razor to begin with...

    Set bevel with 9 micron film (1200 grit equivalent from what I can find online), then progressed through 5, 3,1, and .3 micron films. On my original razor I did laps on the .3 micron film until I could feel it get smooth, then I placed a sheet of copier paper under the film and did 10 more passes. My 6/8 razor, I didn't use the paper trick on. I wanted to see what the difference would be in an actual shave. Thinking back on that now, not sure that will actually tell me anything. It is 2 different razors, a 5/8 and a 6/8. Both razors were popping hairs of of my forearm a 1/4 inch off of my skin, easily. Balsa stropped .3 micron ChOx, and .1 micron FeOx to finish up. Figured I would strop before I shaved.

    This morning I shaved using the 5/8 that I had used the paper trick on. Stropped 40 passes pre shave. Noticed the blade "skipping" under my jaw line. I remember someone commenting after my 1st shave, that the skipping was lack of confidence in my stroke, but I am not sure. I feel more confident, and it hasn't really skipped since that first initial shave that I can recall. It did happen in the same spot of my face that it happened on that first shave. I think it has something to do with blade sharpness. Not that I think I managed to get as sharp of an edge as Larry put on it initially, but sharper than I have had it in a while. Got quite a bit of irritation, and missed quite a few spots, but my face was too irritated to want to clean up with a DE afterwards. Next time, I will try a newly honed blade for 2 passes instead of all 3, to make a cleanup pass with a DE more a possibility. The plan for tomorrow is to try the 6/8 that didn't have the paper under the final film, and see if my face likes that technique better.

    I have to say, honing was nice. I was very nervous, that I would "damage" the blade Monday, but last night, as i moved up the progression of film grits, and kept getting a more and more polished mirror like edge, I felt very accomplished. Felt like it took a long time, but if I only have to do this, once every week or two, and have multiple blades this should be fun. The woman I am seeing, as part of the getting to know you phase, we asked each other lots of questions. One of which, was do you have any hobbies? I told her that shaving was my hobby, and she looked at me kind of confused until I explained that it was with a straight razor, and a bit of what that entailed. Suffice it to say, she was impressed, and actually let me ramble a bit about it, and the B&B forums here. So, I think she is a keeper, as well as straight shaving. :-D

  8. #48
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    Default Good times!

    Good. First-time honing is very empowering, isn't it? Glad you persisted and got it right

    As far as the "skipping" make sure you are using plenty of water - on your blade, in your lather. Not soupy or runny mind you. Rule a dry face out. When I was very new to str8s and shaved more slowly my lather would frequently need replenishing. Even today every time I get rid of my excess lather I get a little more water on my blade. When I do this I am careful NOT to get any water on the shank where I hold it. I always have a towel on the counter so I can dry my razor's shank and my hands as necessary.

    Dry hands, dry shank, dry grip, wet blade, SOMETHING covering from the waist down will prevent a LOT of heartache.

  9. #49
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    So, this morning I broke out the 6/8 and tried my freshly honed edge off of it (this one I did not do the paper trick to the .03 micron film)

    Preshave: Shower, Tabac shave soap, 40 passes on the strop. Following advice from yesterday, I tried to make my lather wetter. I think I need to sit down and do some research on shave soaps. Using DE's I always leaned toward shave creams, but wanted to try a few soaps with straights. I filled the tabac bowl with warm tap water and let it, and the brush soak, while stropping the blade. I then poured the tabac bowl out, and shook my brush once, just to get the majority of the moisture it wouldn't hold onto anyway out, and holding the tabac bowl on its side over the sink, proceeded to load the brush with both a circular, and a pumping motion for 15-20 seconds. I then transfer the lather foaming over the edge of the bowl, and in the brush to a lather bowl, and add water a bit at a time, and work the lather up. With out a lot of water, I can get strong peaks on the brush from the lather, but when I go with a wetter lather, it doesn't drip, but it is just barely soft peaks (Sorry for baking terms, not sure how else to explain it. I am a big guy, and cake/pie speaks to me!) When putting this wetter lather on, I can still see my skin through the lather. I have complete coverage, but it won't stand up thick from my skin, so it can't be seen. Anyway, on to the shave.

    1st pass:
    cheeks: WTG (N-S) Everything goes fine during this part, pretty much has since day 1.
    neck: WTG/XTG (N-S) Normal N-S with a slight diagonal thrown in, due to grip angle. Right hand, right side of face. Left hand, left side of face for the most part.

    2nd pass:
    cheeks: XTG (Ear-Nose) Grab my ear and use it to stretch/flatten to start with and almost easier than 1st pass, because I can see without my arm in the way.
    neck: XTG/ATG (S-N) Bottom up with a slight diagonal. Left hand, right side of face. Right hand, left side of face. For the part directly under my chin, I end up holding it like a steak knife, but upside down.

    3rd pass:
    cheeks: XTG (Nose-Ear) Just like pass 2, but in opposite direction.
    neck: WTG/XTG (N-S) Pretty much a 2nd go at the first pass.

    Better than yesterday. I am not sure if it is the 6/8 blade, the fact I didn't use the paper trick, or just bad technique yesterday. I definitely need more practice honing, and will probably steer clear of the paper trick for a while, until I make certain I have normal honing down a bit better. As for the Tabac, any tips? I see a good bit of posts recommending face lathering with it. I may have to try that.

  10. #50
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    Managed to get my closest shave yet this morning, and thought that was a sign I should update this journal. Bad part is, I was so focused on getting the Tabac lather right, that I didn't really pay attention to the shave all that much, just kind of went with the flow.

    Pre-shave:
    Shower, brush soak, 6/8 Acme blade 30 passes on leather, shook out some of the water from the brush into the Tabac bowl and let it sit, while squeezing the majority of the rest of the water out of the brush. Usually, I just shake it into the sink 3-4 times, and go with that, leaving a much wetter brush. Poured the water out of the Tabac bowl and loaded the brush for 15-20 seconds. Whipped up the lather, looked a bit dry, so I dipped the tips of the brush under running water for a split second and went back to whipping. One more quick dip of water, and I came out with an excellent lather.

    1st pass: (N-S) Over the past few days I have been trying to increase my blade angle a bit. I know wisdom says, to use less angle for less irritation, but I think when I use less angle, I use more pressure to try to cut more beard in one pass. Steeper angle, and less pressure seems to work for me. (by steeper angle, I am meaning 30-35 degrees instead of 10-15 degrees)

    2nd pass: (Ear-Nose) on cheeks, (S-N) on neck. Same thing as 1st Pass. Steeper angle, and less pressure.

    3rd pass: (Nose-Ear) on cheeks, (Chin-Shoulder) on neck. Very little left to cut this pass on my cheeks. On my neck, this is an almost ATG, diagonal XTG/ATG, so I didn't use as much of an angle increase here. More than I used in the past, but not quite as big of an angle jump as the rest of the shave.

    Finished with 25 passes on leather, warm water rinse, generic alcohol free witch hazel (noticed the cotton pad didn't leave any lint behind on my neck area), moisturizer/sunscreen. This is where I noticed quite how close of a shave it actually was. I have been faceturbating all morning. Now just to see if I can duplicate it tomorrow, or if it was a fluke. I have read in other journals, that when you quit trying for BBS, that it will usually come, but the act of trying to "catch" it scares it off.

    On a side note, I got the opportunity this past weekend to show a 5 year old little girl (daughter of the woman I am seeing) how I shave. She wanted to smell everything, and was very impressed with the whole thing. So much so from Saturday, that she got ready for church quick, so she could "help" me with it again on Sunday. She especially liked smelling everything. The Art of Shaving lavender shaving cream, she especially liked. I told her about my straight razor's, and asked her if she was interested in seeing that as well. Trying to describe a straight razor to a 5 year old is more difficult than you would think. So, next weekend, I will travel with the straight for the first time. Hopefully, I can do as well with an audience, as I was able to do this morning.

  11. #51
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    How cool! I remember the first time I straight-shaved in front my Wife. I was a little nervous, and didn't obsess over a perfect shave, but I didn't bleed in front of her so that made it better ;)

    I think I read a wiki somewhere saying that 1st pass should be 25-30 degrees, 2nd pass - 15, 3rd pass - 5. But you have to do what works best for you. If you keep going "reduce, reduce, reduce" while using minimal pressure on your skin I think you will be smiling at the end of the shave!

  12. #52
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    (Going back and doing the counting, I believe my numbers below are correct)

    Shave #30
    DFS just shy of the BBS that I got on shave #29. In all honestly, probably a BBS on the cheeks. Also, managed to get a more irritation that shave #29. Not a huge amount of irritation, but a bit.

    Shave #31
    DFS w/ BBS on cheeks. Close shave, with just a bit off irritation on the side of my neck area. I did 3 of my normal passes (N-S),(Ear-Nose),(Nose-Ear), and then did my under chin/neck area for a 4th pass. If I had stopped after the 3rd pass, i would have been a DFS with little/no irritation, but I had to push it, and paid for it.

    Skipped a day shaving, since I woke up later than normal (weekend) and got lazy until I had to be somewhere, and didn't want to rush.
    Shave#32
    Had a 5 yo assistant and her mama helping me :-) She helped me apply my QED Mocha Java shave stick to my face, and helped me lather it a bit. Using my Acme 6/8, first pass (N-S) was incredibly close. And the little girl was in awe of me using my "butter knife" to shave with.
    For the 2nd pass, she wanted to see the QED Pine & Cedar (excellent scent btw) , so she helped me lather up with that, and I did an XTG (Ear-Nose) pass. I decided to leave well enough alone, after my 4th pass a day or two earlier. I thought a 2 pass day was in order. No nicks or cuts, but the alum block did sting a bit. SWMBO was very impressed with the results after the first pass, and said she can see why I am liking straights so much. I think I almost had her brother-in-law talked into at least checking the forums out and looking into it.... I will keep after him.

    Shave #33
    QED Lavender shave stick (if you can't tell I placed an order for some QED products recently). Normal 3 pass shave, (N-S), (Ear-Nose), and (Nose-Ear). excellent results BBS on cheeks, DFS under chin/neck area.

    I have heard good things about wedges, other than them being a pain to hone. I can't seem to find online retailers that promote wedge designs, unless I am just being oblivious. I have seen a few on Ebay, but usually for brands that I have never heard of. Anyone suggest any manufacturer/site that might lead me in the right direction for a new(ish) wedge?

  13. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by thatsilverguy View Post
    How cool! I remember the first time I straight-shaved in front my Wife. I was a little nervous, and didn't obsess over a perfect shave, but I didn't bleed in front of her so that made it better ;)

    I think I read a wiki somewhere saying that 1st pass should be 25-30 degrees, 2nd pass - 15, 3rd pass - 5. But you have to do what works best for you. If you keep going "reduce, reduce, reduce" while using minimal pressure on your skin I think you will be smiling at the end of the shave!
    those angles may correlate to the type of pass, wtg, xtg, atg...
    --Jon. "Love me some 14s"

  14. #54
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    After awhile you won't even be aware of angles. IMO a steeper angle does seem to catch hair better at the expense of edge longevity. If you incorporate scything with a low angle it cuts much better

    Seems like you are on your way to straight razor exclusivity. I haven't touched a DE in months, and shaves are all under
    20 minutes now from pre to post stropping.
    ~ ​​Kent
    <[Self-certified Straight Shaver]>
    。。現在日本剃刀に夢中。。

  15. #55
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    So neat to read of your progress. While you might think you're fully-fledged, don't get cocky. Keep alert or you might get bitten. And while you know that a weeper doesn't really hurt, the um, "civilians" around you may get discouraged.

    If you want to experiment with a wedge PM me. I don't really care for wedges and have a couple of "really affordable" ones. I like it when my razor "talks" to me during a shave ;)

  16. #56
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    I think I need to give more scything a go. Currently the only places I use it, are under my chin/neck area. It felt pretty natural to do a semi scythe stroke fairly early on. The real problem with my under chin/neck area is the combination of randomness of my hair growth, beard laying flat, and hesitation (lack of confidence). I have a spot under the right corner of my chin, where the hair actually grows in a circular (swirl) pattern, so that makes doing a specifically WTG pass impossible. Even with the shave brush, my beard hair where my under chin meets my neck area, lays flat right along the crease at my neck. Leading to the third problem, lack of confidence. The blade always seems to "catch" here, and if I try to force it, or move it more quickly, I end up with substantially more irritation.

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