02-17-2013, 09:26 AM
#1
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
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Thanks to from Lynn Abrams I was made aware of a straight razor meet-up (Saturday 16th February 2013) in St Louis.

What a perfect way for someone like myself (near enough zero straight razor experience, knowledge...) to acquire some real world first-hand experience...

With the wife's blessing (as long as I promised to return home without spending any money of shaving gear) I was able to pop along to this local event -- only a 15 mile drive for me.

When I arrived at the address of the meet-up, which turned out to be a private home (owned by Andrew and his wife), there was about 17 other people already there, looking through straight razors spread across a couple of tables, some of which were for sale (must stay strong, after all I'd just promised the wife no money would leave my wallet on shaving gear), another table was set-up as a honing area -- this is where Lynn Abrams held court and freely shared his knowledge, expertise, on the art of honing straight razors.

Unbeknown to myself, the meet-up was in fact a meet-up of Straight Razor Place members, but honestly it wasn't an issue for myself, a non-member, I was welcomed in.

I did meet a couple of The Shave Nook members there, DonR (driven up from Atlanta GA to be there) and Krisbarger.

When I got there Lynn was talking through, demonstrating on a 1000 Grit water stone, how to correctly reset the bevel on a straight razor blade, and why this step is so vitally important to get right before moving onto honing and polishing the edge of a blade. Unless the blade is in really bad shape Lynn always sets a blade bevel on a 1000 Grit water stone. Lynn also discussed (and showed) a number of factors that can cause problems with setting a correct bevel angle, especially on older razors that have spine damage, uneven bevel setting along the length of a blade and how to go about correct such problems before moving onto setting the bevel...

After working through at least half a dozen razors, correctly setting the bevel on each of them, it was time to move onto honing (and polishing) the edge, but before doing so the razors were passed around so we could look at and feel the newly ground bevel (edge). Lynn's chosen method for testing if the blade edge is correct before moving on to the next step in the process is the "thumb" method/test -- he showed how to correctly and safely use that method/test and described the kind of feedback you should be getting via the pad of your thumb. Now I found this to be very! cool, as I've read about this method (and others), but to have it actually shown, then immediately get to do it, really brings it all together in a way that made perfect sense to me, plus you had the opportunity to ask any question(s) you felt needed further explanation right there and then...

Honing consisted of working through 4000, 8000 and 12000 Grit water stones, after each blade was honed on a particular grit, the blade was passed around for everyone to look at and test (via the thumb method). I did notice some people use the "hair popping" method, nothing wrong with that, as Lynn kept saying (paraphrasing here), "Do whatever works for you, so long as the razor gives you a good shave at the end of the day, that's all that really matters...". It just so happens Lynn personally doesn't put a lot of credence into the the "hair popping" method, but he definitely didn't tell anyone that was doing it, they were wrong for doing so.

Amazing (at least to me) I could really feel the difference of the blade edge after being worked over on each grit. Each time the "bite", "grip", "friction" on the thumb pad was there, but also the edge became smoother and smoother as the blade edge got more and more refined as it moved on from one grit to the next.

Once all the blades had been honed on the 12000 Grit water stone, it was time to move onto the final steps to make them shave ready, stropping.

For stropping Lynn first used a felt strop with Chromium Oxide 0.5 Micron applied to it, then finished up with a leather strop. Wow! did the stropping making a difference to the blade edge, went from (very) smooth to incredibly smooth.

To see first-hand a master craftsman work though a number of blades from bevel setting to shave ready and so openly share his knowledge with those in attendance (including me, a complete newb) was truly worthwhile, a great learning experience, and filled me with new found confidence that I (or anyone) could go away and successfully learn who to correctly hone a straight razor, as long as I was willing to put the time and effort into doing so.

Next stop, buying myself my first straight razor and strop (and most likely a set of honing stones). Truth be told I so nearly broke my promise to the wife and walked out of there with a straight razor and strop, but somehow I managed to stay strong and returned home with the promise intact (Brownie points in the bank to be used later when I'm not so strong).

Before leaving everyone was given a number and a chance to win a Straight Razor Designs shaving soap (10 were on offer), one of two strops, a straight razor and a handful of random samples from the mystery box. I was lucky enough to win one of the shaving soaps, from those left I chose Sandalwood. Once all the prizes had been given out I noticed DonR (who had driven up from Atlanta GA to be there) hadn't won anything, so I handed him the Sandalwood shaving soap and told him he deserved it a lot more than me, especially as he had come such a distance to be there...

Andrew and his wife were great hosts, from opening up their home for the meet-up, to the excellent pulled-pork sandwiches and the so so tasty coffee cake (apologies for making a pig of myself, but I couldn't resist a second slice of that coffee cake, my god it was good).

All in all an excellent few hours and I would attend other such events in a heartbeat (as long as the boss gives me her blessing again).

Edit: Leather strop dummy, not a "lather strop".

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 02-17-2013, 09:33 AM
#2
  • tgutc
  • Senior Member
  • Michigan
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Glad to hear you had a good time. That would be a wonderful chance to learn. Lynn Abrams is awesome. I think it would be neat to meet any of our members also.

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 02-17-2013, 09:34 AM
#3
  • Dave
  • Moderator Emeritus
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Wonderful writeup Mike.

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 02-17-2013, 09:36 AM
#4
  • beartrap
  • Resident Цирюльник
  • Southern California
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Jealous! I'd enjoy such an even very much. Looks like you had great time, what a way to spend a weekend Smile

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 02-17-2013, 11:38 AM
#5
  • Hanzo
  • Senior Member
  • Oakland, California
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Nice report, enjoyed it. Thanks

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 02-17-2013, 11:46 AM
#6
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Mike, thanks for the update!

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 02-17-2013, 11:59 AM
#7
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Looks like you really enjoyed the meeting Mike, I look forward to your next step into the world of straight razor shaving.

Jamie

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 02-17-2013, 03:52 PM
#8
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
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Gents, thanks for the feedback, much appreciated Smile

I did remember to take one photo while there...

[Image: ifZ2gfV.jpg]

Lynn Abrams demonstrating single stone honing with a Coticule



And last night I found this video of Lynn on YouTube demonstrating the same single stone honing with a Coticule method, very! cool if you ask me, well worth a watch...



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 02-17-2013, 07:29 PM
#9
  • geezer
  • Senior Member
  • Menomonie, Western WI
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mike, Thank you for the well written rundown. The info you passed on is valid and should be understood by those who would wish to hone razors.
~Richard

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 02-17-2013, 07:46 PM
#10
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Mike, sounds like you had a good time and had some knowledge kicked down to you in the ways of the straight razor. Thanks for sharing.

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 02-17-2013, 07:48 PM
#11
  • Kavik79
  • Active Member
  • Albany, NY - USA
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thanks for the write up, sounds like it was a fun and informative time Biggrin

Thanks for a quick link to the vid too

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 02-18-2013, 08:26 PM
#12
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Great write up, thanks for sharing. I met Lynn at The Great Shave last fall in Chicago, very helpful.

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 02-19-2013, 07:52 AM
#13
  • DonR
  • Junior Member
  • Cobb County Georgia
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Mike,
Nice report. For me I enjoyed the meet-up. I had perfect driving weather from and to Atlanta, so the drive was really enjoyable. I was able to stop at some Antique stores along the way and score a couple of straights that got some attention at the meet. Thanks for the Sandalwood Shave soap. Saturday night when I stopped, I was able to enjoy a nice shave with that soap and my freshly honed Boker Red Injun. As always any effort put into getting to these events is always rewarded with meeting other shaving enthusiasts, new knowledge, and just a great time in general. Here is another shout out to Andrew and his wife for hosting this event.

By the way that Coffee Cake (Swedish Crumb Cake) came from Federhofer's Bakery.

http://www.federhofersbakery.com

I grew up about 2 blocks from there and no trip to St. Louis would be complete without stopping by and stocking up on their pastries. Glad everyone enjoyed.

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 02-19-2013, 08:36 AM
#14
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
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(02-19-2013, 07:52 AM)DonR Wrote: Nice report. For me I enjoyed the meet-up. I had perfect driving weather from and to Atlanta, so the drive was really enjoyable...

By the way that Coffee Cake (Swedish Crumb Cake) came from Federhofer's Bakery.

http://www.federhofersbakery.com

I grew up about 2 blocks from there and no trip to St. Louis would be complete without stopping by and stocking up on their pastries. Glad everyone enjoyed.

Hi Don

Was good to meet you in person, and good to hear you had a safe journey back home.

Looking at a map I see I live less than 10 miles from Federhofer's Bakery Aaaaa Though I'm wondering why my wife never told me about it, granted she doesn't like pastries, but she knows I LOVE! them...

I now know where I will be going most Saturday mornings from now on Biggrin

Take care, Mike

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 02-19-2013, 08:45 AM
#15
  • DonR
  • Junior Member
  • Cobb County Georgia
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Mike,
If I still lived within 10 miles of that place, I'd be over 200 lbs. Be careful they have an awesome selection of goods to temp you with. Their Gooey Butter Cake is 2nd to none.

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 02-19-2013, 11:06 AM
#16
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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Even I, living in Wisconsin have had their Gooey Butter Cake. Emmmmm good.

Mike, that was an excellent write-up and I'm so glad you had a good time, met nice folks, and learned something in the process.

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 02-19-2013, 06:25 PM
#17
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It was an awesome time! Lynn knows his stuff. One of the many things I love about the wet shaving community is the friends and all the guys wanting to help others on their shaving journey! Lynn has helped me a couple of times and now I am honing my own, and have even started others on the journey. That is what it is all about! Thanks for the write up Mike enjoyed hanging out and talking to you!

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 02-21-2013, 03:51 AM
#18
  • DoubleB
  • Active Member
  • Zeeland, The Netherlands
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Nice write-up Mike. I enjoyed reading! Good to hear you had a great time and met very nice people!

I'll be waiting for you to pick up a straight and show us your progress in the SOTD Smile

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 02-21-2013, 12:07 PM
#19
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
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(02-21-2013, 03:51 AM)DoubleB Wrote: I'll be waiting for you to pick up a straight and show us your progress in the SOTD Smile

Hi Robbin

My (first world) problem is, at the beginning of this year I promised myself I would aim to build up a (small) Simpsons shaving brush rotation, assuming I'm lucky enough to have the funds to do so.

That said, I'm now thinking I'll ask the family to treat me to my first straight razor later this year for my birthday.

Take care, Mike

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