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Thread: 50 Shaves In

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    Default 50 Shaves In

    Iím about 50 shaves in with a straight razor, finally taking the plunge after 45 years of traditional wet shaving with brush, soap, and DE razors. Iíve avoided asking the usual newbie questions that have been asked over and over, but took the answers I found here and applied them.

    I have a few observations that those of you who have been shaving for a long time with a straight will probably think to be obvious, but I post them with the hope that they might be helpful to those just starting.

    Most issues are from my technique, not the razor.

    Assuming the razor is properly honed by someone who knows what theyíre doing, and stropped properly, any issues about the razor Ďstickingí or other issues stem from my technique, not the razor. The first one, which I discovered early on is I was making a lather which worked well for DEs, somewhat too thick, and not sufficiently hydrated for a straight razor shave. And the second is something I should know something aboutÖ

    Pressure and angle

    Yes, I know itís 101. In 45 years of traditional wet shaving with a brush, soap, and DE, Iíve helped several of my friends get into traditional wet shaving with a DE. The thing I emphasize to them is a light pressure and maintaining a proper angle. I had to laugh at myself when I discovered the reason my face felt a bit Ďrawí after a couple of shaves with the straights. I discovered that my pressure was a bit too heavy and my angle a bit too steep. Had to laugh.

    A good razor helps

    I started with typical Ďbeginnerísí razors. A Ralph Aust 5/8 from Lynn, and a Livi Grifetto. They were good choices on which to learn the basics. After about a month, I worked up the courage to reach out to Max Sprecher, and Iím fortunate that I was able to get a few of his masterpieces.

    The first time I was able to achieve a comfortable 3-pass shave was with an 8/8 Max Sprecher Spanish Point. Not a Ďbeginnerísí razor, I know, but I had absolutely no problem with it. In fact, the first time I completed a three-pass straight razor shave, and the first near-BBS shave with a straight was with his razors. I know there are other great razors out there, and Iíve only stuck my toe into the vintage world, but his razors have me spoiled. The Robert Williams I was able to get, and the Butch Harner/ggsixgun collaboration are wonderful razors and have given me really good shaves. But the shaves I get with Maxís razors are unsurpassed.

    I can get away with a drier, Ďfluffierí lather with a DE.

    More care is required with a straight, to make sure the lather is properly hydrated so that the glide helps in the shave. Iíve got a ton of Ďartisanalí soaps that work great with the DE, including a few that are heavy tallow soaps. I have to hydrate the heck out of them to have them work well with the straight razor. I much prefer my beloved Italian soaps, especially SMN, XPEC, SV, and Nuŗvia. And Iíve rediscovered Tabac.

    On fear and going slowly

    I used to be too scared even to watch a straight razor video. It just looked so dangerous. Iíve been shaving with Feather blades, both DE and SE, almost exclusively since they were released to the American market, so a few years ago I figured, well, a Feather DX shavette and an AC blade would be a good Ďintroductioní to straight razor shaving. Wrong. Nicks, weepers, and small cuts put me off. I so wish I had started with a good straight.

    I took Lynnís advice from his videos to go slowly, and Obie has been so helpful, as have the posts and wikis here, and after a little while the fear went away. Shave after shave, the Ďfluencyí with the razor increased little by little. Iím nowhere near competent yet, but I can get a really good, near BBS shave with the straight and a little touchup with a DE. At the beginning, it was a partial pass with a straight, and the rest of the shave with a DE, now itís 2 1/2 passes with the straight, and some minor touchup with the DE. Iím in no rush.

    One thing I have to avoid is comparing my beginning straight razor shaves to the really good DE shaves I have been getting almost effortlessly for years. Itís been so long ago that I learned to shave with a DE, but I know there was a learning curve, and my shaves were not optimal. Why should this be different? Patience is indeed a virtue.

    And despite the fear factor, Iíve yet to draw blood, save for a tiny nick on my 2nd shave.

    I like the whole process

    Stropping, in particular, is very cool.

    This community is a wonderful resource

    I have learned so much from the posts, the wikis, the sharing on this community, and I want to express my sincere gratitude again.

    Thanks for listening, and for all your help and support.
    Michael P

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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelPz View Post

    A good razor helps

    I started with typical ‘beginner’s’ razors. A Ralph Aust 5/8 from Lynn, and a Livi Grifetto. They were good choices on which to learn the basics. After about a month, I worked up the courage to reach out to Max Sprecher, and I’m fortunate that I was able to get a few of his masterpieces.

    The first time I was able to achieve a comfortable 3-pass shave was with an 8/8 Max Sprecher Spanish Point. Not a ‘beginner’s’ razor, I know, but I had absolutely no problem with it. In fact, the first time I completed a three-pass straight razor shave, and the first near-BBS shave with a straight was with his razors. I know there are other great razors out there, and I’ve only stuck my toe into the vintage world, but his razors have me spoiled. The Robert Williams I was able to get, and the Butch Harner/ggsixgun collaboration are wonderful razors and have given me really good shaves. But the shaves I get with Max’s razors are unsurpassed.
    I really enjoyed your post and especially the fact that you were able to find most of the info you needed without the need to ask questions that have been asked over and over again by beginners.

    I am going to preface my next comment by saying that I have never used a custom razor. My definition of a good razor, regardless of cost, is one that will take and hold a shave ready edge. That is possible to get with either a low cost beginners razor or a custom razor, I would presume. In my experience I have been able to get near identically good shaves with razors ranging from a 200 year old stubby to a modern TI or Revisor. I hone all my own razors on the same set of Naniwa hones for them all. A good razor, as per my previous definition, is usually the result of the person honing it. I don't like to see beginners get the impression that they have to spend large amounts to get excellent shaves from a straight razor. All this is not a slag on custom razors or the artisans that craft those wonderful straight razors.

    Bob
    After listening to someone talk ever wonder who ties their shoe laces?

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    Senior Member blabbermouth rolodave's Avatar
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    Good post!

    BobH is correct. Poor honing will make the most expensive razor worthless.
    It has to be properly honed.
    If you don't care where you are, you are not lost.

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    A very interesting read. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
    Fact: Opinions are not the same as facts... Well, that's my opinion anyway

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    Good for you, your coming along great. I will add to Bobs comment, got to be careful with remarks that might lead a new guy just starting to think he needs a custom to get a great shave. I,m one of the guys that have almost all my razors are custom, I just like the aesthetics, but they won't shave any better than a 5$ razor that has good steel. Including my Max Sprecher. The best razor I have s a vintage Kinfolks that cost 20$ and it was almost mint, but will take an edge. All things being equal. Every blade you have will take the same edge, if you do your job. Like you say it's technique most of the time. Stay with it and enjoy. Tc
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    I'm 4 months into SR shaving and also came from DEs. So, I am closing in on my 100 shaves and feel like I can now shave with some confidence.

    I think the journey would have been better if I'd stuck to 1 well honed razor, but that's just not how I operate. I've used a number of different razors and am beginning to get capable of honing my own.

    Good observations above. I am also going back through my soaps to see which work better for straights.

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    Thanks for the kind and useful comments.

    A good razor, as per my previous definition, is usually the result of the person honing it. I don't like to see beginners get the impression that they have to spend large amounts to get excellent shaves from a straight razor.
    Bob, thank you for this-I didn't mean to give the impression that one had to have a super-deluxe custom razor to get a good shave.

    I know from many years of DE shaving that I can pick up a vintage Gillette or Hoffritz and with a fresh Feather blade get a wonderful shave. Still, I reach for a BBS-1, Tradere, or other well-crafted razors often because of the aesthetics, the craftsmanship, the feel. I'm sure it's the same with straight razor shaving.

    After some more shaves, I want to learn how to hone properly. I'll still send my customs to a pro, but I think learning to hone will bring a new level of understanding and enjoyment.

    Thanks very much!
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    Michael P

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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelPz View Post
    Thanks for the kind and useful comments.



    Bob, thank you for this-I didn't mean to give the impression that one had to have a super-deluxe custom razor to get a good shave.

    I know from many years of DE shaving that I can pick up a vintage Gillette or Hoffritz and with a fresh Feather blade get a wonderful shave. Still, I reach for a BBS-1, Tradere, or other well-crafted razors often because of the aesthetics, the craftsmanship, the feel. I'm sure it's the same with straight razor shaving.

    After some more shaves, I want to learn how to hone properly. I'll still send my customs to a pro, but I think learning to hone will bring a new level of understanding and enjoyment.

    Thanks very much!
    Yes, I can understand the enjoyment that using well crafted gear can bring, no doubt about that.

    Yes, I am sure learning to hone will bring you a new level of understanding and enjoyment. That and some amount of frustration along the way too. Good luck with that.

    Bob
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    Nice post. My biggest problem is not trying harder to implement the advice/suggestions I've read. Sometimes we know we aren't doing something right, but don't take enough time to correct it.
    Do I shave better than a SR than I did when I first started? Yes.
    Am I happy with the shave I currently get? Noooo
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    This gives me some helpful insight to my first few months I hope. It's nice to see the point of view of someone who isn't quite a seasoned veteran but has some good shaves under his belt.
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