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ScottGoodman

So, you are having problems with learning to use a straight razor...

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by , 02-07-2012 at 05:01 PM (1214 Views)
I can only hope that this thread will help out. It has been on my mind to post this for a while and wasn't sure if I wanted to "Blog" it or write it here...I may do both in efforts to reach more new shavers. Inform yourself There is a LOT of information out there on "how to shave with a straight razor", but not all of it is good information or the information may not be good for you. While helping a number of new shavers get over a hurdle of some sorts a new shaver has mentioned a video from youtube or information listed here on SRP. Some information on youtube is simply not good, period. Some information here on SRP isn't necessarily the best information in the beginning, but will end up getting cleared up later on down the thread by a more seasoned veteran. My recommendation here is that you pay attention to how long (not necessarily the post count) a person has been at this sport. I say this because many newer shavers are enthusiastic about wanting to help others & their heart is in the right place...but the advice may not be necessarily the best. When in doubt, ask...but don't take the first piece of advice given. We need to use our head for something other than a "hat-rack". Getting started...the goods A person can get into straight razor shaving with quality products at a fair price. The key here is quality, as many issues I have seen is poor quality products. I will be specific and give an example on how my typical recommendations: Badger hair brush: $15-20 Quality shave soap: $10-15 Strop: $25-45 Razor: $30-40 So, yes...you can get into straight razor shaving for $80-120 with QUALITY products. A couple other things that I personally would recommend is a styptic pencil & maybe a block of alum. I stress the quality products simply because many problems arise with the quality of the products with new members. I will start with the brush. You can start with a boar hair brush or synthetic brush, but a badger hair brush can be bought for a fair price, so why skimp? Shave soap is a very important part of the shaving puzzle. You can buy a LOT of different soaps, some shave soaps or creams work better with certain waters (yes, water hardness/softness truly effects your soap) than others. One soap that I have found to work fine in any water type I have encountered is Proraso, it's affordable and a good soap to use as your baseline...there are other soaps that are better and quite a few soaps that are not near as good. A quality strop is as important as any other part of your shaving products. You can find strops ranging from a few bucks to several hundred dollars. Just because a person/seller/company calls it a strop doesn't mean it's a strop. It may "look" like one because of it's shape, but is it? Is it being sold by someone who truly knows how to strop? The key here is smooth leather. The leather can be dyed & often is, but I have seen some so called strops with a sort of paint on them and they aren't worth a darn and don't even justify being "called" a strop. You may happen across a "vintage" strop at a antique store and think you can restore it...more than likely you can't as it's dry rotted due to being stored away for 40+ years. The razor may seem like the wildcard, but if you have done your research you will have come across the "Razors to Avoid". Take that list to heart. For a first razor the classified's/vendors corner is the only place I recommend for a used razor as most are honed. Key thing for you to look at here is that you purchase from someone who stands behind their products. Send the seller a Private Message (PM) and ask questions like how does the razor shave, would you recommend this razor for a new straight razor shaver, and so on. Every seller/vendor I have encountered here on SRP has stood behind their product no matter if it's an actual razor, honing, or whatever. If you purchase a new razor, you must ensure it has been professionally honed. SRD ( www.straightrazordesigns.com ) is the only place that I am aware of that sells every razor as a honed razor. There may be others, but I am not aware of it. If you purchase a razor that is not honed by someone who uses straight razors, then most likely than not...it's not truly "shave ready". Remember this fact: Where a typical knife sharpener stops honing and calls a knife sharp because it shaves hair is where we razor honers literally start on honing a straight razor. I was one of those uninformed people who thought I could just jump in on the honing bandwagon and be good at it because I could sharpen a knife...boy was i WRONG! My last two recommended products of a styptic pencil and alum block are simply recommendations. Lets face it, you will at some point in your shaving nick yourself and the styptic pencil works great. If you have experienced razor-burn with the disposables or DE, then you very well may experience it with a straight and I have found that the alum block helps me a LOT...especially in the summertime. The best piece of advice that I can give to anyone who takes the time to read this is: FIND A MENTOR. I'm not necessarily meaning a person who has a mentor badge on SRP, but a person who lives within driving distance of you who has been at shaving with a straight for 6 months or more. Video's and other on-line information is great, but there is nothing like meeting someone and actually seeing them, then them watching you shave to help you out. Get to a group meeting if you can as there is always a lot of "show-n-tale" of goods as well as learned skills like shaving and honing. Remember a saying that I learned in the Navy: The only stupid question is the one not asked. Thanks for your time and I hope that maybe this little rant may help someone out. God Bless, Scott
amb, vicmaldo, JimBob and 7 others like this.
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  1. jdto's Avatar
    I don't consider a boar brush to be 'skimping', but overall, good advice.
  2. dustinbragg's Avatar
    This has been one of the most usefull blogs I have read as of yet.. I have not even began to shave with a straight, I have been gathering my goods so to speak that way I know when I start there wont be anything but inexperiance holding me back.. Would you happen to know the best way to start finding a mentor in or around Groton CT? Thank you Scott.

    Oh yeah GO Navy Submarines once Submarines twice, Holy jumping Jesus Christ.. HOOYAH.
    ScottGoodman likes this.
  3. ScottGoodman's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by dustinbragg
    This has been one of the most usefull blogs I have read as of yet.. I have not even began to shave with a straight, I have been gathering my goods so to speak that way I know when I start there wont be anything but inexperiance holding me back.. Would you happen to know the best way to start finding a mentor in or around Groton CT? Thank you Scott.

    Oh yeah GO Navy Submarines once Submarines twice, Holy jumping Jesus Christ.. HOOYAH.
    I was stationed in rotton Groton years ago for subschool...old memories for sure.