I thought I'd pop in and give an update since originally posting. As it turns out I felt a sense of improvement with all suggestions. After improving technique, my entire pre-shave drill, stretching skin I didn't know could stretch I felt I was getting reasonable shaves without hurting myself. It still required at least 2 shaves with the 2nd going across the grain. I decided that getting another razor that was shave ready would satisfy my curiosity of whether or not my blade was sharp enough. I had been taught in boy scouts that the only thing more dangerous than a sharp blade is a dull blade. I returned to whipped dog and got another sight unseen paying 43 bucks for the experiment . . .

I got one of the best shaves I've ever had! I didn't cut myself and I realized that even with one pass it wasn't bad at all. I still continued to do a second pass because my eyesight is waning and I worry that I missed something but there was such a dramatic difference I was shocked. I went back to my very first 10 dollar special that looked fancy to a teenager and found I got a better shave out of that now than my other razors (excluding the newest one) and realized that I was killing my blades with poor stropping. I think I watched too many old movies.

The fact that I COULD get a reasonable shave out of a cheap razor that never gave me anything but grief illustrated that my technique has dramatically improved. I cannot shout loud enough to emphasize how important the properly sharpened blade was. The combination of the new blade and more practice with great advice has led me to the ranks of beginner. I think I was lower than that to start with.

Thank you all. I don't see myself jumping into my own honing since it took me this long to strop without killing my blade. Outside of that I tried every suggestion put to me and found it all contributes to a better shave. Now, if I could keep my excitement down a bit I can probably avoid nicking my self at all. Still happens every few days.