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Thread: Razor seems dull after 9 shaves

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    Default Razor seems dull after 9 shaves

    Hello,
    Brand new to straight razor shaving. Came into a dubl duck, had it RE-honed, started shaving. It was amazing the first 7 shaves. Now seems like it takes hair, but not a very close shave. Is it possible that improper stropping technique, shave angle of more than 30, other newbie mistakes have already dulled the blade?

    Or maybe not getting a good stropping? I've been running over linen 20 times, then leather 30 times (counting away and back as 1 pass). I'm holding the strop tight, the first few times I was pushing against the leather with the razor, but I've got a good feel of it now, just the weight of the blade on the strop. I've been making two passes, one with the grain and a second across, the past two shaves I've had to clean up with Gillette Fusion.

    Thanks!

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    Senior Member kelbro's Avatar
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    Yes, possibly either one or a combination but it sounds like you have the stropping figured out and I use more than a 30 degree angle with no issues. A good edge on a duck should last more than 9 shaves. Technique takes a while to master. Barber hones were designed for what you are experiencing (a nice one is on the buy/sell hones page for $18). If you can't acquire a known good barber hone, I would suggest buying a 6" translucent Arkansas from Dan's Whetstones. 8-10 laps on that stone will usually bring the edge right back.
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    Hello, if I had to guess I would lean towards it being your stropping.Been shaving since last November so I am no expert on the topic. But it did take me months and months of practice to actually start improving my edges. If your shaves are great the first few shaves off a freshly honed razor and only continue to get harsher it is most definitely your stropping. Even when I thought I had it down pat I would still trash an edge once in a while. Don't let set backs like this take the wind out of your sails. Shaving with a straight take a ridiculous amount of time and effort to actually get comfortable shaves. The rule of thumb seems to be 100 shaves.
    Last edited by yondermountain91; 09-05-2017 at 01:15 PM.
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    Senior Member bluesman7's Avatar
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    My edges dulled almost that quickly when I started. Now I get around a hundred shaves between touch ups using just clean strops daily.

    I blamed my early experience on high shave angle at the time, but it could have been that my stropping was either damaging or ineffectual. Probably a combination of all three. Fortunately I took to honing very quickly.

    The honing aspect was what drew me to straights in the first place. Now I don't do enough of it
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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Could be a couple of things. When people say they are using an angle on the blade of 30 degrees I always wonder if that was measured with a protractor. From personal experience, when I started shaving with a straight razor I thought I was using the 30 degree angle but later found it better to use the idea of 1 - 2 spine widths gap between face and the spine of the blade. Turns out that was a much smaller gap than what my estimated 30 degrees gave. I believe that more gap than necessary leads to more scraping than cutting and is hard on the face and blade edge.

    Stropping could be an issue too. It was for me in the beginning. I now do 40 strokes on linen and 80-100 strokes on leather, a stroke being up and back. The actual stropping technique was hard to get right at the start too. If you technique is right I would try increasing the number of strokes on linen and leather.

    In the beginning I dulled a blade faster than I do now. It takes more time than one would think for it all to come together.

    Bob
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    Senior Member Butzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobH View Post
    I believe that more gap than necessary leads to more scraping than cutting and is hard on the face and blade edge.
    This is what was my issue was in the beginning. It could be stropping too, I'd maybe double what you're doing now for stropping. However, when I was starting out I was always careful to keep the angle more acute on the side of my face, but would give myself some more freedom on the chin without thinking it was a big deal. Turns out, it is.

    Just check and make sure that you're abiding by the 30-degree or 2-spine-width rule all the way from beginning to end of your shave and make sure your stropping technique is sound and your application of stropping is thorough. If that doesn't work, perhaps look into beard prep as this can make a considerable difference on thicker beards.

    Food for thought!
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    Senior Member bluesman7's Avatar
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    Right, 30 degrees is a lot flatter than most people estimate. If you're measuring to the blade center, one spine width would be roughly 24 degrees, and two spine widths would be roughly 40 degrees.

    Edit; Measuring to the center of the blade is what makes sense to me, as that is the plane of the scales and the tool.

    I've never seen anyone who preaches 30 degrees specify where they are measuring the angle.

    If you are counting lying the blade flat to your face as 0 degrees (wrong in my opinion), then the angles would be 16 and 32 respectively assuming a razor with a 16 degree bevel angle.
    Last edited by bluesman7; 09-05-2017 at 03:07 PM.
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    There are a lot of factors effecting the number of shaves you can get between refreshing an edge. Some of these factors are related to the type of steel in the blade, the way it was heat treated/hardened, the way it was ground and the way it was honed. Some of these factors relate to your strop(s) and stropping technique. Some of these factors relate to the sensitivity of your skin and the toughness of your beard. Some of these factors relate to your shaving technique. Thus, everyone will have a different experience.

    While some people might be able to maintain a razor in satisfactory condition for 100 shaves, I tend to touch up my razors on my finishing hone every 5-6 shaves as my tough beard and sensitive face demand a very keen, very smooth edge. I have been unable to maintain the edge I desire with stropping alone for more than a few shaves. If I start to get any tugging whatsoever, I will try a pasted strop. If that does not restore the edge to my satisfaction, off to the finishing hone it goes for a touch-up.

    It is good to get advice from others, but in the end, it is your face and your razor, so do whatever works for you. Just because someone else might be able to get 100 shaves out of a blade with stropping alone does not mean you will be able to do so.

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    Appreciate the feedback and suggestions... I was a little discouraged. Would be awesome to actually shave with someone that knows how to do this. My surviving grandfather is 94 and hasn't used a straight in several decades. Seems like it is probably everything. I should mention that I am shaving my head, lining my beard and shaving my neck. I'll increase the stropping, see if I can get the razor sharper. I'll also keep close watch on the angle and give a little extra time to prep. I just got a badger hair brush, first use this morning - HUGE difference over the ever-ready boar's hair brush that belonged to my great-grandfather. See where this gets me...

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    Senior Member aalbina's Avatar
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    I 've been shaving with a straight off and on for many years and I have never been able to get 100 shaves from a single straight razor. I have a very tough beard and the hairs grow very close together - so the density of my beard is also fairly high. With proper stropping, I can probably get a month out of blade before it needs to hit the touch up hones again. I shave 6 days a week.

    There is a lot of variability in what factors affect the edge - I agree with RayClem. There's a lot of variables here - and I don't think there is a standard number of shaves one can get out of a straight razor.

    Adam
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