• Beginners' Tips: April 2014

    Hi Guys,

    Thought we could have a little fun with this months tip for the new guys.

    So, are you feeling the pressure??

    We see new guys all the time coming into the wetshaving community putting all kinds of pressure on themselves in every aspect of what we do. The expectation is to get a perfect shave first time out, strop perfectly first time out and be able to hone up a razor to shaving excellence on their first try. This is really putting a lot of pressure on yourself as wetshaving is really a learned art. Every aspect takes a little time and practice and results improve dramatically in most cases when you back off a little, relax and take the pressure off yourselves.

    I know the videos and a lot of the instructional threads out there make things look easy, but there is also a lot of conflicting information as almost everything we do involves our own personal abilities and skill levels. I understand that we have people who have sharpening things their entire lives and stropped knives and done wood carving an all kinds of things. Usually, the one thing in common is that they have not shaved with a straight razor, maintained or honed one. It really is a rare thing when someone can get a really complete and good shave or enjoy a shave from a razor they honed right out of the box. This is not said to discourage anyone, but simply to point out that with less pressure on ourselves, the frustration of a not perfect begging can turn into an adventure that can bring us a level of enjoyment that will last a life time.

    When you attempt to shave the first time, please, just try shaving from one sideburn to the jaw on that side of the face. Use only light pressure and short strokes. Not a negative type pressure from being tentative but a light confident pressure. Keep the blade vertical, but not with the spine on your face or at an angle greater than 30 degrees. Just the width of the spine or two widths of the spine off the face. If you practice holding the razor with light pressure, this will help. If you practice the shaving strokes a few times with out touching the razor to your face, this will help also. Just practicing holding the razor and opening and closing it improves your tactile ability in using the razor and definitely helps when you try using your non dominant hand.

    When you attempt to strop for the first time. Think about rhythm and motion. You want to push and pull the razor up and down the strop keeping the spine and the edge on the strop and when you change directions, you want to roll the razor over on it's spine. Heavy pressure is not your friend and if you lift up on the razor at the end of the stroke, you will dull the razor quickly. Hold the razor by the tang with light pressure and apply light pressure on the strop. Again, tentative or negative type pressure can cause you to nick up your strop. Practice holding the razor and performing the stropping maneuver without touching the razor to the strop a few times and build up your confidence.

    Hope I'm not putting additional pressure on you guys with these tips........

    When you attempt honing, there are all kinds of different pressures that people use. That's why I generally recommend learning to refresh when you start out because with refreshing your are using the lightest pressure and do less damage to a blade while you are learning to keep the blade flat on the stone and getting accustomed to the honing strokes. Weight of the blade pressure is very light and with a little practice, you can get your razor back to shaving comfort quickly. Most people do not have success the first few tries so don't beat yourselves up. Just walk away after a couple of tries and come back at it later. Once you get the refreshing down consistently, applying pressure and more stones should make the task a lot easier for you.

    Whenever you get the opportunity to hang with an experienced member, take it. You will find the learning curve shortened dramatically and if you are having problems in any area of wetshaving, usually someone who has been doing this for a while can spot the problem and help you out pretty quickly.

    Normally, with good equipment, it is not the equipments fault when you are starting out and if you keep the end results in mind, I think you will experience one of the better journey's out there. There just is no other feeling you can get like that sticky smooth feeling after a relaxing straight razor shave or the unique feeling that you get from the daily experience of shaving with a straight razor using a brush and your favorite suds. When you get your first razor honed well and shave with it, it's a feeling like catching a fish on fly that you hand tied.

    May the only pressure you put on yourselves be good pressure and above all, Have Fun!
    Jimbo, onimaru55, lz6 and 29 others like this.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Beginner's Tips-April 2014-Pressure started by Lynn View original post