05-30-2013, 06:15 AM
  • R.Shackleford
  • Either I've Lost a Horse or Found a Rope
  • Spring, TX
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So yesterday evening was my first attempt to shave with a SR. I have to say, it felt like I was getting a deep tissue massage by an angry orangutan using broken glass and diesel fuel. It was the most unpleasant shave I've ever had.

Some information about my SR and setup: a Lynn Abrams honed Dovo Spike Point, 2-Band Finest Badger Brush, and COB Shave Cream. I took a super-hot shower pre-shave, had a good lather with the cream, and did my darndest to maintain short WTG strokes.

With that being said, I have a few questions for you pros out there:

1) Applied pressure - how much is too much, and when do you know it's not enough?
2) Positioning - is there a tried and true way to hold the razor? I couldn't seem to find a sweet spot, and I felt very clumsy.
3) Angle - when it's right, how should it feel as I shave? Based on my first shave and how it felt, I'm thinking I'm not getting the angle right.

Also - any tips that you guys might have for me are most welcome. I appreciate your input!

[Image: dttwurw.jpg]

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 05-30-2013, 07:52 AM
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(05-30-2013, 06:15 AM)R.Shackleford Wrote: So yesterday evening was my first attempt to shave with a SR. I have to say, it felt like I was getting a deep tissue massage by an angry orangutan using broken glass and diesel fuel.

It's safe to say it shouldn't feel like that Biggrin
By reading through I would say your shave sounded like it was on par with a lot of straight shaves "first" shave.

To start, it sounds like your using to much pressure.
You have to use a certain amount of pressure but it should be light.
Your grip should be light as well (firm but light). No death grip..

Angle is something you have to play with. Only time and practice can tell you it's right because everybody's a little different.
A good starting point would be 20-30° for WTG, less if your going ATG (ie: 5°). That being said I would advise against going ATG until you are comfortable with the razor.

Prep is key. I'm assuming your a DE shaver, if that's the case you should be able to build a good lather. The difference is your straight razor lather needs to be a little wetter then your typical DE lather.

Just keep working at it, soon it won't feel so strange.

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 05-30-2013, 08:04 AM
  • MickToley
  • Hi, I'm Mike and I'm a shave soap addict
  • Brooklyn, NY
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Good advice from Brian. Try letting the blade do the work, your hand is just there to hold the razor. And I would definitely go for a wetter lather.

10 1,120
 05-30-2013, 08:19 AM
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I agree with all the above (especially prep - I don't use any pre-shave products when I DE shave, but I use the Proraso Pre-Barba when I straight shave). It takes a while. My only other tip: a straight is like a shark, it needs to keep moving. To answer your specific questions:

(1) Virtually no pressure. That's easier said than done, because at first, the only way you'll know you've applied too much pressure will be when it "bites back" but I found that applying too little pressure and getting a crappier shave (but living to fight another day) can be more instructive.

(2) Finding the "right way" to hold the razor is a YMMV thing (i.e. Jerrod from Superior Shave actually holds both the tang and the point), but I kept practicing by just gripping it and doing "shadow" passes. Also, I always remind myself prior to shaving of the old baseball pitching addage: you're throwing an egg - grip it securely but not too hard.

(3) Like answer no 1. you will probably only know that you're angle is too steep (i.e. that the spine is too raised) when it "bites" at first. And also, its more instructive to have too shallow an angle when you're beginning and get a crappy shave than to get too aggressive.

84 1,507
 05-30-2013, 08:58 AM
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It really all depends. The only thing that I'd say is consistancy is the need for a 'good' shave soap! You'll always need a soap the will give you a good lasting slide and cushion .
Pressure and angle is individual. Depend on your skin and blade!
If your using a razor that's as sharp as a 'Feather artist club with a professional blade than you really have to watch the angle and pressure.
I personally find the angle that you use more important than pressure.

5 410
 05-30-2013, 04:46 PM
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Going from a cartridge razor to a straight will be a huge transition and a completely different feel. With the cartridges you usually don't think too much about holding the razor or positioning on your face but the straight requires a lot more guidance and paying attention to how it rests on your face. Patience is key to starting out and don't worry about trying to do a complete switch to a straight as it is more important to get used to the blade and finding the best angle for your particular straight and how it maneuvers. Safety is better than speed when learning the straight. Feel free to use the cartridge to touch up any rough spots.

I too had difficulty learning how best to hold the straight but I use it both with handle/scales inline with the blade (kamisori style) or in the more traditional L-style. It really just takes time to feel comfortable with it regardless of which position you use. Another tip would be to tighten your skin as you shave which helps to smooth out the skin as the blade glides over it. I use my opposite hand to reach over the top of my head to pull the skin on my cheeks upward as I shave downward. You will have to determine what works for you but eventually you won't think about much as it just becomes routine.

It also helps if you can shave with either hand as it offers better positioning and more versatility holding the razor. You can find a lot of information on the web to help out but it will ultimately come down to finding what method(s) work best for you.

As the confidence progresses, so too will the enjoyment. Have fun!

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 06-02-2013, 04:00 PM
  • matloffm
  • Senior Member
  • Culver City, CA
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Stop shaving until you read the material at this link and watch some videos.


1) Applied pressure - how much is too much, and when do you know it's not enough?

If you have not shaved with a single edge razor blade before (DE, SE, Shavette) you will have to learn by doing. Simply put, no pressure of any kind. If you require pressure, something is wrong. The blade is meant to glide over the skin cutting the beard smoothly, you direct where it is to go.

What can cause the blade not to cut? So many things you cannot keep track of them all.
First, you don't mention if you have a strop. The new razor from SRD needs to have the oil wiped off and then stropped, as it says on the included slip of paper. Learning how to strop without dulling the edge takes time. Watch the videos, do it slowly until you get the hang of it. Again, as in shaving, there is no pressure used when you strop. Do not press the edge into the strop this will dull it.

Straights are not as sharp as DE, SE and Shavette blades. They are sharp enough to give you a great shave depending on skill with the blade, maintenance of the edge and the qualities of your face and beard.

Prep with a straight is even more important than for disposable blade razors. The disposable blades are sharp enough to make up for mediocre prep, a straight is not. If you have coarse beard, you should feel the beard relax by the time you finish prep, if not, you have to find a way to achieve this. If your beard is light, then you won't have to work so hard at getting it ready.

The quality of your lather is very important with straights, more so than DEs, etc. Making a proper lather is another learned skill. This one you can practice with out shaving. Lather is critical for all shaving and there are lots of posts about working with different soaps.

2) Positioning - is there a tried and true way to hold the razor? I couldn't seem to find a sweet spot, and I felt very clumsy.

You will feel awkward holding the razor and even placing it on you face (when I was learning I cut myself just trying to bring the blade to my face). You will get better over time. Some even suggest practicing technique with a butter knife. When you read the information on the link above, you will see various ways to hold the razor. What you choose is up to you. There is no one correct way to hold it. I shift how I hold the blade depending on what part of my face and neck I am working on and what kind of pass I am trying to make.

3) Angle - when it's right, how should it feel as I shave? Based on my first shave and how it felt, I'm thinking I'm not getting the angle right.

The angle depends on the characteristics of the razor. Some straight shavers only use one brand of razor or razors with similar grinds to have a consistent angle. How you angle a ¼ hollow grind blade is very different then a full hollow. As a rule of thumb, you can start by placing the blade flat on your face and then lifting it 1 or 2 spine widths and then adjust from there. WTG passes usually take a bigger angle then XTG and ATG is often at a very small angle.

The advice for newbies is to use the straight only on your cheeks and only WTG. Use your current razor to finish the shave and expand as you feel more comfortable with the straight. I would also recommend Lynn's video on straights. It's a big help and you can see how stropping, honing and shaving with a straight is done.

Finally, I recommend you do not change soap or cream or razors looking to correct a problem. You cream is a good brand, stick with it. Learn to get a good lather with it and stay with it until you gain confidence and start to develop muscle memory with the razor. The same with prep. Find a routine that works for you and stay with it. Reduce the number of variables until you are comfortable with the process, then experiment if you like.

Good luck!

19 567
 06-09-2013, 11:18 AM
  • Notary
  • Member
  • Montreal, Quebec
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Well the straight razor shave should not feel as you described it, so temporarily stop and try to discover why it feels wrong. My first suggestion to you is get on the internet and find as many articles as you can about straight razor shaving and read them. I actually started straight razor shaving after about a year of using a double edged razor and after about spending about 6 months reading as much material as I could on straight razors. After you have done your research, I would recommend holding the straight practice shaving, shadow strokes; I believe this will help your mind and body develop the right coordination to get used to the feel of holding and handling the razor.

The next step is the actual shave. When I started shaving I would only shave my cheeks with the grain using a straight razor and finish off my routine with a double edged razor; this went on for several months, until I first got comfortable with holding and handling the blade and secondly, until I became proficient with both hands.

Afterwards, it was a matter of just becoming more at ease and daring with the straight and using it over the entire surface of the face, including the dangers areas, around the nose, under the ears, etc. As you get more comfortable with the blade you will be able to determine on your own all those elements that you asked about: the right amount of applied pressure, the correct position of the blade and the correct angle? All important factors for straight razor shaving, that will instinctively come together as your technique improves.

You cannot plunge into straight razor shaving, in order to provide a rewarding shave experience, it is a learned procedure that requires patience and practice to be perfected.

Happy Shaving. Sam

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 06-17-2013, 09:25 AM
  • R.Shackleford
  • Either I've Lost a Horse or Found a Rope
  • Spring, TX
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An update on my progress:

First off, thank you to everybody that took the time to help a fellow wet-shaver out. I appreciate your tips and feedback.

Since picking up this new shaving method, I've got 10 shaves under my belt. It's not much, I know, but I really am beginning to understand the benefits and enjoyment factors involved with the skill. I am waaaaaay past the broken glass and diesel fuel point, and I am now beginning to achieve closeness and comfort exceeding any result I ever had with the Fusion cartridge. Aaaaa Note: to clear things up, I transitioned directly from the modern multi-blade cartridge to a SR. I know this is not advised by most, but that's just how I decided to go about things. Right now my challenge is finding all the right directions to go on the first pass. It's funny you know, I've had this face my whole life and I find myself very unfamiliar with it. Once the first pass is complete and a lot of the growth is gone, the rest of the shave seems to fall together fairly well. Practice, practice, practice...

One question that comes to mind is regarding lather. After spending time on my second pass, the lather seems to dry out a bit and the blade does not glide as easily. Is this caused by my skin or the shaving cream? Would a pre-shave oil or something of the like remedy this?

Again, thanks so much for the advice.

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 06-17-2013, 09:49 AM
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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I use Prairie Creations Pre Shave Oil before I lather, but the oil or your face have nothing to do with the lather drying out. As was stated above, when building your lather add just a little bit more water than usual. You want a good wet lather when you straight shave.

180 24,725
 06-17-2013, 09:54 AM
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Depending on how long the first pass takes, it may be necessary to add a few drops off water to your lather and remix. When starting out, about a 0.25" or 0.375" long strip of cream should be enough to get a good lather but learning the right amount of water to use can vary between products. Start out with just the wet brush and mix and as the lather builds, it may require a sprinkle of water to achieve a nice, fluffy, dense lather.

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