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Thread: Avoiding Nicks and Cuts

  1. #11
    There is no charge for Awesomeness Jimbo's Avatar
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    In my experience, cuts and nicks occur for only a number of reasons.

    First off, as mentioned above, the razor is not sharp enough. When you use a razor that is not sharp enough, it tends to hang up and pull and struggle through the stubble. This in turn leads the shaver to use more pressure than is necessary, or to hack away a bit with the blade, and increase their chance of nicks and cuts.

    Secondly, technique (assuming the blade is shave sharp):

    (a) The direction of the blade as it moves across the skin should be generally perpendicular to the spine. Lateral movement of the blade parallel to the spine should be avoided at all costs, particularly when you first start out. People talk of a scything motion with a straight - I would avoid that to begin with. It is a slightly more advance stroke for slightly more advanced users.

    (b) Blade angle is important - a steep angle will increase the chances of cutting yourself.

    (c) The movement (or lack thereof) of the blade on the skin is also a factor with nicks and cuts. I find it best if the blade is in motion just before it touches the skin, and remain in motion until just after it leaves the skin. A shortish, deft stroke minimises the risk of nicks and cuts - try to avoid stopping to adjust hand or arm positions, or modify or adjust your grip, when the blade is on your face. This is the one that always gets me - I get overconfident and change hand position on the fly, or modify my grip halfway through a stroke, and the next thing I know I have a 3 inch cut. Just take the blade away, do your adjustments for the next stroke, line it up off your face, and then decisively shave that bit. It might seem a bit start/stop to begin with, but pretty soon it becomes second nature, and it starts to become a part of your natural stroke.

    Don't be afraid to develop a "buffing" technique with straights. It might look a bit dangerous, but nothing could be further from the truth. Just lock your elbow and move the razor from the wrist in shortish strokes to start, and progress to a more buffer-y effect as you gain confidence. I can say with absolute honesty that I have never nicked myself while blade buffing. It is on those longer, less controlled strokes that I tend to come undone if not careful.

    (d) Stretching. Stretching is quite vital with straights. This is not just so that you get a close shave. It is also a way to avoid nicks and cuts: a nicely stretched, flat surface will be a lot easier and safer to shave with an open straight edge than a bumpy or loose surface. Again, make sure that the area to be shaved with a particular stroke is well-stretched beforehand, and the stretch held throughout the stroke. Don't go adjusting the stretch halfway through a stroke.

    Anyway, sorry for the verbal diarrhoea. Its just that I have held numerous inquiries into my own cut and nick events and thought I would pass on the results... YMMV

    I'd generally also say that a healthy respect for the blade does not go amiss. Not fear, but respect. It is usually when I start taking my "mastery" for granted that my razors bite me.

    James.
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  3. #12
    Striving for a perfect shave. GeauxLSU's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    Anyway, sorry for the verbal diarrhoea. Its just that I have held numerous inquiries into my own cut and nick events and thought I would pass on the results... YMMV

    James.
    Everything you've said makes perfect sense.
    I strop my razor with my eyes closed.

  4. #13
    At Last, my Arm is Complete Again!! tinkersd's Avatar
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    +1 on all that, I have found the stroke to work out just as you said, the same way you use a paint spray gun, start in motion, address the beard and leave the face while still in motion, that and the blade buffing you talked about works great for me. I am more confident now and do use the scything motion to good effect, but that did take some time and should be considered trying only on the downward part of the learning curve!!
    Small muscle memory takes practice and time so just enjoy the expererience!!!

    Sincerely , tinkersd

  5. #14
    Senior Member jerrybyers's Avatar
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    I'm finding out that you need to be confident with an extra hollow grind.
    ObiDon likes this.

  6. #15
    Luddite ekstrəˌôrdnˈer bharner's Avatar
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    Don't forget to keep the door locked if you have toddlers. My worst cuts have been when the little folk barge in and bump me.
    Oh, and the first time you shave with a too dull razor you will remember why a sharp razor is a safe razor.
    avilam likes this.

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  8. #16
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    I have just started to use a straight razor again, after many years. I am not a complete novice though, I have been researching and been taught when I was younger by my dad. But having said that I am amazed at what I have forgotten. and when it comes to actually shaving I am a novice.I think that it matters that your razor is sharp, beautifully honed and stropped to perfection. But I personally think that none of this matters if you are not giving it your 100 percent concentration. Day dreaming whilst shaving is going to get you cut. I probably think that when I get more used to shaving my face. complacency may just cut me. But what the hell that,s a part of life, those little nicks and cuts
    Omega1975 likes this.

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    Junior Member itlives's Avatar
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    I'm newber than most. I think that gives an "edge" on this topic. One reason I took straight shaving up is too enjoy a task that has to be done (unless you're the uni-bomber). I think life lived in small moments is a life well-lived. Another reason is, as I grow older, I want to take my time doing what most would consider a mundane chore.
    Re-cap- take your time and enjoy.
    I'm glad I found the site, it has been very informative and I've met a local (sorry, forgot his screen name but it's in my intro) that is mentoring me.

  10. #18
    Junior Member tice75's Avatar
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    For me, it's 99% patience, but I agree with some of the prior posts 100% (IE, minimize distractions, use quality products, properly prepare, and re-evaluate if it's not going as desired). I have only used a straight a few times so far, and I've yet to get a cut or a nick. I did get a little bit of razor burn the first time because I went over the same spot a few times too many. I feel like I have to want to shave with a straight and sort of be in that 'zone' so to speak. I have been using DE's religiously since I switched from multi-blade razors about 3+ months ago, and the straight so far has been a once in a while shave. While I did achieve BBS once, it took a long time, hence the patience. I've found that more often than not, I'll shave WTG, a little XTG and ATG, then finish up with a Gillette Adjustable.

    -Steve

  11. #19
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    Like Steve said above, first of all, use quality products. For example, a quality soap does not dry and crackle on your left side while you're not done shaving your right. Unfortunately, my TOBS Lavender does that. I have to re-lather. A good soap does not necessarily mean an expensive one. Even so, it beats - financially speaking too - the foams at the supermarket.

    At first, nicks and cuts are unavoidable. They will happen, no matter how careful you are. Because if you're careful at the angle you're slipping on the motion or viceversa. In time these things will become a second nature, just like changing gears in a manual transmission car. However, casualties can be minimized. My most beautiful cuts - the ones that I still have to show - were the result of the lack of attention paid to the subject at hand. The subject in the right hand at the time being a Filarmonica 7/8 honed to near-perfection by Max. I think I'll take those scars to my grave. And there should be a rule about not letting dumb newbies like myself take hold of such high-end blades just so they can cut their faces to pieces. So go slow, and always watch where the spine of the razor is. That pretty much gives away the angle you're working at.

    Have your blades honed. Until you learn how to properly do that, pay a specialist to do that. It saves you facial features. A bad blade is a definitive source of cuts, technique or no technique.

  12. #20
    Junior Member Bilbo's Avatar
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    In my (short compared to others on this site) experience my biggest cause of cuts are lapse of concentration, hurrying, dull blade and poor lather. My danger spot is usually my chin I think this is due to the amount of changes in angel I have to go through to try and shave closely through the different contours.

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