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Thread: First Decent Straight Razor Shave!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Default First Decent Straight Razor Shave!

    Well I have been using the straight razor now for about three weeks and have had some pretty crummy and painful shaves. With each passing shave I found that I became better and better at stroping and slowly but surely the shave got closer and closer.

    This morning I awoke early and decided I should shave before going to work. As I sit here at my desk I am amazed at my BBS face! Unbelieveable!

    One good shave down a lifetime more to go!

    Thanks to everyone on this board as your postings as well as some videos on youtube have made this possible!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Truro, UK
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    Default

    It took me about a month until I stopped getting crappy painful shaves and probably another two weeks to get a "fair" shave. Since then I've gone from "fair" to pretty good but it's very gradual (been using a straight for about two and half months) I'd have a job pinning down exactly when I got my first "good" shave.

    I think you're doing pretty well after just three weeks - well done.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    Default Good to Hear/Discouraged

    Great to hear from both of you because I am getting really discouraged. I also am entering week four and have had nowhere near bbs yet. I am even starting to question whether my blade is sharp, though it was done by a honemeister and if I ruined it by pressing down too hard on my paddle strop. I made a four pass shave this morning...no bbs. I am almost ready to sell!
    [FONT="Impact"]Raso[/FONT]

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raso View Post
    Great to hear from both of you because I am getting really discouraged. I also am entering week four and have had nowhere near bbs yet. I am even starting to question whether my blade is sharp, though it was done by a honemeister and if I ruined it by pressing down too hard on my paddle strop. I made a four pass shave this morning...no bbs. I am almost ready to sell!
    Maybe take a break from str8 shaving for a week or two, and then only do it on weekends for a couple of weeks. That way you can rest your face back up (I think rough shaves start to perpetuate themselves because each bad shave takes too much skin off and then the next shave is that much worse). Also, any new muscle memory skill often benefits from a break that allows your mind to filter what you've learned and drop bad habits. I've certainly found that to be the case with slumps in sports - sometime just clearing your mind for a little while gets your stroke/swing/whatever back.

    I'm learning to str8 shave and only do it on weekends. I've done maybe 10 shaves, getting very smooth shaves but only with a pass or two too many, and definitely get little slices at least once a shave and still get razor burn on the neck at least every other shave. But one notable thing I've noticed is my first str8 shave each weekend is good and the second or third always hurts - I think that means I'm getting close but removing too much skin layer and still have work to do on the "smooth no irritation" front.

    But I find going back to the DE routine I've mastered in between str8 shaves (a) gets my morale back up, (b) ensures I still look well shaved most of the time and (c) rests my face for the next try at str8s. If I had more time before work, I might just do str8 ever other day or every three days instead of all in a row on weekends.

    But before giving up, take a break from it and see if you enjoy it more coming back at it with a fresh start and healed epidermis.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Westchester Co. NY
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    Default

    Congrats devnull! Its really a thrill to get your first really good shave, no?

    Raso, I agree that maybe you should take a few days off shaving to let your face rest. I think its very important not to go for a BBS shave. Go for a comfortable shave - the closeness will come with practice. If the razor is really pulling and uncomfortable, it may need a touch up. Hang in there and be patient. Its a process that you have to make work. You'll have good days and bad days.

    Jordan

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Ann Arbor, MI
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    129

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raso View Post
    Great to hear from both of you because I am getting really discouraged. I also am entering week four and have had nowhere near bbs yet. I am even starting to question whether my blade is sharp, though it was done by a honemeister and if I ruined it by pressing down too hard on my paddle strop. I made a four pass shave this morning...no bbs. I am almost ready to sell!
    I'm kind of in the same boat. My first time was a 4 pass and there was still a lot of hair on my face (but my neck was in a lot of pain so I had to stop). I don't think anyone even noticed that I shaved (I had a beard before picking up the straight). I kept with it though, I'm just doing 2 passes now since I don't want to kill my face, and its getting a little closer, but I still just about have a 5 o'clock shadow when I'm done

    I also think my blade needs to be sharper. I gave it a few passes on the norton (8 or so), but didn't notice much change. The past couple days I've been doing much more stropping (I think 30 yesterday, up from 20) and also going ATG on the neck and XTG on the the side of the face on the 2nd pass. Slightly better, but still not good at all.

    I was about to pull out the water stone again the other day when I started reading some threads here. I though I bought everything I needed, but now I read that I need a diamond hone to flatten my Norton before I use it...so now I don't really want to use the Norton until I get that, since from the sound of it I'll just mess the blade up. Or should the Norton be ok for awhile and the article was just written by someone overly obsessive with blade conditioning?

    That also has me thinking...if I need to buy a diamond stone anyway, why not just get the 8000 and sell the Norton since the diamond hone wouldn't need to be flattened ever. Would there be any advantage to keeping the water stone around? (I have the Norton 4000/8000). I'd really like to not have to buy another hone when this thing is brand new. You'd think they'd flatten the thing when they make it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by PHormality View Post
    That also has me thinking...if I need to buy a diamond stone anyway, why not just get the 8000 and sell the Norton since the diamond hone wouldn't need to be flattened ever. Would there be any advantage to keeping the water stone around? (I have the Norton 4000/8000). I'd really like to not have to buy another hone when this thing is brand new. You'd think they'd flatten the thing when they make it.
    You might want to check by posting in the "Hones" section of Straightrazorplace, but from what I understand most diamond stones, or at least the ones most people use for flattening stones, are far to coarse for regular honing. I don't know if an 8000 diamond stone would be suitable for lapping a Norton (might be to fine) but I'm sure you can do it with sandpaper on a piece of tile or glass. Seems a shame to get rid of the Norton to get something less flexible when there's a cheap solution available. Also unless you're planning on restoring a lot of razors you shouldn't be needing to lap very often.
    Last edited by trewornan; 02-14-2008 at 05:18 AM.
    I may be wrong - it's never happened before but it's possible.

  8. #8
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    Feb 2008
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    Ann Arbor, MI
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by trewornan View Post
    You might want to check by posting in the "Hones" section but from what I understand most diamond stones, or at least the ones most people use for flattening stones, are far to coarse for regular honing. I don't know if an 8000 diamond stone would be suitable for lapping a Norton (might be to fine) but I'm sure you can do it with sandpaper on a piece of tile or glass. Seems a shame to get rid of the Norton to get something less flexible when there's a cheap solution available. Also unless you're planning on restoring a lot of razors you shouldn't be needing to lap very often.
    Thanks. I'll do some searching and see if there is some old threads on the sandpaper method for reference. I really want to get this thing sharpened up.

  9. #9
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    Try this thread over at SRP, Hone Lapping 101:

    http://www.straightrazorplace.com/fo...hlight=lapping
    I may be wrong - it's never happened before but it's possible.

  10. #10
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    Perfect. Thanks. I'll probably give that a try this weekend

  11. #11
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    Default

    Just a few ideas/pointers from a fellow n00b who had a relatively easy time picking it up. YMMV, IMHO, caveat emptor, etc: a. use confident strokes. straight razors and timidity do not play well together. b. be sure to stretch the skin as flat as possible. c. if the blade skips across your skin, either the angle is not quite right (too shallow in my case) or you are not using enough pressure. d. if the blade balks you are using too much pressure, the angle is not quite right (too steep in my case) or, and this you cannot do much about, the blade is wrong for your type of beard. e. with hollow ground razors, you can hear the whiskers being sliced off but you should not feel it! No pulling whatsoever.

    And of course f. shaving with a straight is great fun! So enjoy it!
    Henry

    My Kit

    henry (@) badgerandblade.com

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by professorchaos View Post
    Just a few ideas/pointers from a fellow n00b who had a relatively easy time picking it up. YMMV, IMHO, caveat emptor, etc: a. use confident strokes. straight razors and timidity do not play well together. b. be sure to stretch the skin as flat as possible. c. if the blade skips across your skin, either the angle is not quite right (too shallow in my case) or you are not using enough pressure. d. if the blade balks you are using too much pressure, the angle is not quite right (too steep in my case) or, and this you cannot do much about, the blade is wrong for your type of beard. e. with hollow ground razors, you can hear the whiskers being sliced off but you should not feel it! No pulling whatsoever.

    And of course f. shaving with a straight is great fun! So enjoy it!
    A couple random thoughts that I'm finding helpful as I learn (and I agree with everything ProfessorChaos said):

    1. Some creams and soaps seem to make learning with a straight easier, likely because they are slicker and do a good job of softening. YMMV as always, but I've found C&E SAO cream, NB Signature cream, JM Frasier cream, AOS Lavender Cream and Tabac soap to be great for my early forays into straight shaving. I have other favorite soaps for DE shaving, and I'm sure they'll become Str8 favorites too, but the slicker creams (and Tabac) seem ideal for learning with a str8, for me anyway.

    2. Be dang sure your blade is sharp enough - I find myself not only stropping but at least some diamond paste stropping before each shave that has worked out well for me. It's really hard to do this if the blade is dull. Whether this is nec for depends on your beard and your blade, but it's been key for me.

    3. I also find shaving in the evening is great for learning - you can take your time, you are awake (saves many slashes), your face can rest over night, in my case the kids are asleep (and the wife isn't pissed at me for not helping get the kids ready for the day) and you should be able to get a good enough shave with the extra time that you still look fine the next day because straight shaves last a little longer. And if you don't you can do one quick cleanup pass in the morning without too much facial trauma, because your face will have rested overnight, but shouldn't need to pretty quickly.

    4. Half of this in in your head, so if any ritual seems to help (like those I've listed), believe in it because the only thing that really matters is your confidence, not whether any of these tips actually work.

  13. #13

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    Here are a couple of thoughts on honing

    Get someone to physically show you - in person - how to hone your razor;
    my barber did this for me, and it took alot of the mystery out of the process.

    Go slowly; I overhoned the first razor I tried honing, and it took awhile for the penny to drop that that's what I had done. Work until the blade nips your thumb a bit, and then make 5 - 10 passes per session between shaves until the blade works for you. You'll put up with a few lousy shaves but you'll spare your razors and save youself work in the long run.

    Know when to quit; You'll run into razors that require more skill than you've got. Lay them aside for later or send them to one of our resident honemeisters. You'll save yourself alot of frustration.

    Best Regards

    Graham
    Last edited by kestrel; 02-15-2008 at 10:50 AM.

  14. #14
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    Default Today was the day

    I had my first decent shave his morning. Not BBS, but clean and presentable. Took me about 8 shaves to make some progress. I still have a ways to go, but have hope. It can be done.
    "This is Mrs. Bencours, one of my patients. She thinks she's a sheep." - Gene Wilder

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bonusmarple View Post
    I had my first decent shave his morning. Not BBS, but clean and presentable. Took me about 8 shaves to make some progress. I still have a ways to go, but have hope. It can be done.
    Congratulations! It takes a little while, but it's worth it!

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