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Thread: 'Normal' maintenance schedule for a straight?

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    Default 'Normal' maintenance schedule for a straight?

    I'm a few months in to shaving with a straight and I've seen conflicting information on the 'normal' or 'standard' length of time between honings and/or touch-ups on a razor. I haven't seen a long-term maintenance schedule posted anywhere so I thought it would be interesting to get your experiences in one thread. Maybe the Beginners section isn't the right place but I thought it would be good for beginners to get an idea of what to expect. Then if the razor gets dull quicker than the 'average' they can start looking at stropping or shaving technique. For example, I think the following would be helpful:

    Razor data (grind, carbon vs stainless, size, etc)
    Beard type (Coarse, light, fine, thick, etc)
    Stropping data (before/after, number of passes, material of strop)
    Number of shaves before touch-up is needed
    Type of touch-up (Finishing stone, pasted strop, Coticule, etc)
    Number of touch-ups before hitting the hones
    Honing process (Lynn's honing pyramid, 10/15/20 on 5k, 8k, 12k, etc)
    When to reset bevel, if ever

    I realize that the information may be disparate enough that there won't be a 'normal' or 'average' but I think it would still be interesting to see how folks care for their straights. It would also be interesting to find out if the veterans think this is a stupid idea. If so, let me know.

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    Senior Member Splashone's Avatar
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    1000 razors will have 1000 answers. It needs touch up or honing when it doesn't shave well.
    The easy road is rarely rewarding.

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    The original Skolor and Gentileman. gugi's Avatar
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    There is a good reason for the lack of firm numbers - they vary drastically and the most important factors aren't quantifiable - they are the shaving and the stropping technique of the person.

    The main reason for the loss of sharpness (for a regular well made razor) is the chemical not the mechanical degradation of the edge, so stainless steels tend to need less frequent honing. But other than that, how well the razor is maintain, the water acidity and mineral contents, as well as the soap/cream and even that of the person's the skin. Also, how long does a shave take (the period in which the blade is in contact with a pretty harsh chemical envirnoment...)

    So, as you can see if you oversimplify your parameters you'll end up with something that may have some statistical meaning but is not more helpful to a person looking for the answer than what they get nowadays (i.e. depends, but generally between 10 and 50 shaves before the need of a touch up with abrasive media).
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    Thanks guys. Even the vague range of 10-50 shaves is something to go on. If I'm needing to hit the pasted strop after 5-7 shaves then I'm likely doing something wrong, either stropping or shaving technique or possibly beard prep.

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    barba crescit caput nescit Phrank's Avatar
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    There's no other way to say it, there are so many factors, literally from day to day that can effect how you shave, what razor you shave with etc...

    Speaking for myself, I have an old strop that I have a good coat of crox on the back of, if I feel the blade may need a little touch up, and I can do a few laps, strop and shave, it's right there, super convenient, and if I get any tugging or even feeling that it's not shaving perfectly, like I said, I can quickly give it a few laps on the back of the strop.

    This is a total YMMV razor to razor and shave to shave....for me, I will probably do a touch up on the crox every 10 or shaves on the blade, which means with a good rotation, maybe once every 6 months, if I use a particular razor more heavily, then obviously more, it's all how it feels to you.

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    Senior Member Steel's Avatar
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    Larry @ whippeddog gave me some great advice once. He said "why not touch it up after say every 6 shaves whether it needs it or not? You are not going to hurt anything." Then I saw a few posts where guys were experimenting using a paste daily to see if the edge rounded and how long it took. They gave up after months of trying so now I am trying the same thing and after a little more than a month of daily touch ups on paste (.1 FeOx) the razor is still in excellent shape and there is no sign of loss of metal or any ill effect. My point is this- if you are touching up your blades a little sooner or later than others it won't hurt anything if you do it correctly. As you go your technique and everything else will naturally get better and better so no worries there. Just my experience. YMMV.
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    What a curse be a dull razor; what a prideful comfort a sharp one

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    That's an interesting idea. Once I'm confident in my honing skills I may try that. Like Larry said it can't hurt anything.

    And thanks to those who chimed in. It helped me get my bearings a little bit.

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    You guys forgot the RAD factor.....If you buy a new razor once every other week and it comes shave ready you may never have to do more than strop and shave. I have actually stopped buying for as long as a month and I still own no paste :<0)
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    The original Skolor and Gentileman. gugi's Avatar
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    Touching up a razor to keep it sharp is far easier than getting it there in the first place.
    However, that being said, if you can't maintain the razor sharp with stropping you should be a little bit apprehensive about going to an abrasive media be it hones or pasted strops.
    Their effect on a razor is at least thousands and probably million times larger than that of a strop, so that much larger is the damage you can inflict with them vs. with a strop.


    What is most important is to use your head. I'm always a bit nervous when I read blanket advice like "it can't hurt".
    I think you should try to understand what is gong on, what you intend to do, why you intend to do it, what do you think will happen, and then check if you are correct. It's not rocket science, just dragging a piece of steel over a rock, but you should be deliberate rather than chaotic.

    As to how easy it can be I can relay my first experience: my first touch up was extremely successful - I just put the razor (dovo micarta) on the hone (a thuringian) and drew it across without any pressure whatsoever probably about 10 laps, I didn't think there was anything that had happened because I didn't feel anything happening, yet when I tried it the razor had gotten sharp. The razor had been previously honed by Lynn, so it really was properly done and it didn't need fixing anybody's mistakes, hence a touchup was straightforward.
    But honing a factory Dovo and ebay purchases was completely different animal. Not the least because back then nobody talked about establishing correct bevel, it was more or less a given that if you hone for a little bit on the 4k norton you have that done.
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    barba crescit caput nescit Phrank's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coryschmidt View Post
    That's an interesting idea. Once I'm confident in my honing skills I may try that. Like Larry said it can't hurt anything.

    And thanks to those who chimed in. It helped me get my bearings a little bit.
    If you're just starting out, forget about honing and pastes etc., until you've got all the fundamentals of shaving firmly established. Your actual shave, lathering, and what many take for granted, good and proper stropping habits and technique.

    I didn't pay close enough attention to stropping, and when Phil at Classic Edge had a look at approx. half my blades, which at that time was about 6, 4 of them had rolled edges and needed to be fixed. There will be nothing more frustrating than shaving with a rolled edge and not understanding why the shave isn't delivering. There's lots to learn just in the basic areas before you necessarily need to spread your focus to honing, at least that's my opinion.

    Also, from my understanding and experience, there's honing, and honing done by the pro's. Again, this is my opinion, but I've had razor's delivered that were honed by the previous owner from E-Bay, and while for them that may be fine, from my expectations they were terrible edges. I don't even bother now, if I get a new razor it immediately goes off for a pro-honing. Cause the fact is, unless you've honed hundreds, if not many thousands of blades, the edge just can't compete with someone that does this every day. And for the money I invest in razors, I want them to be as perfect as possible, so they go to a pro.

    Like I said, my opinion.

    That won't stop you however learning to hone with some practice razors. Laurens, a member here, uses Gold Dollar razors to learn on. The idea being, while they are nice looking blades, and they can take an edge, the basic story on them is that the geometry is not consistent with them, therefore they're a challenge to hone. What better way to learn the different nuances of blades then practicing on those, or some blades that you don't mind hacking apart.

    Either way, don't "practice" on any of your new blades...there was a new member here awhile ago, it was both hilarious and sad, who purchased a limited edition TI, and then proceeded to hone it almost on an hourly basis, until he got mad at the honing mentors here, decided that everyone here was full of sh&t and left, to return a year later and tell everyone that he had the secret to honing and he never told us....I think he had issues!?!

    Mainly, enjoy the hobby and remember there's no rush....cheers!
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