07-09-2014, 11:44 AM
#1
  • Entasis
  • Atop the Razor's Edge
  • Southern California
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What it is ain't exactly clear (Buffalo Springfield)

Michael (poonjaji) having utterly destroyed my love affair with DE razors…

And if you could see what it's done to me
To lose the DE razor I knew
Could safely lead me to
The shave that I once knew
To learn as we grow old
The secrets of our shaving souls (Moody Blues, Question—shaving rendition)


Given my Cobra Classic razors, and having tried to go back to the DE razors only to be disappointed, I cannot help but wonder if shaving with a rigid blade (like the Feather) and getting results this good, whether I have been missing out all these years by not shaving with a straight razor?

I should be happy as I have reached a point in my shaving where I am truly content and get to focus my energy on other aspects of shaving (e.g. brushes, soaps). It is an enjoyable time for me regarding shaving—the best I have ever encountered in my shaving life. Still, there is a little voice in the corner of my mind occasionally asking whether I need to keep going for what might be an even further ultimate shave satisfaction or have I reached it?

I can't get no shaving satisfaction
'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try (everyone knows this band)


I've achieved shaving satifaction

I know there are other forums out there concentrating on just straights, but Shave Nook is the forum I enjoy reading the most owed to its members. Therefor, I am seeking suggestions from the experienced here as to whether I should start with a shavette? The one I have in mind is the Feather DX with teak scales. Since shavers' state that a shavette and a straight razor are two different shave experiences perhaps delving directly into the world of straight razors might be more prudent? What the Cobra Classic razors have done is reintroduce me back into the realm of handmade goods and again rekindled my appreciation for them.

Although straight razors produced by craftsman like Max Sprecher Customs and others are expensive they appeal to me so that is the direction I would like to head should I pursue the straight razor path. Even if find straight razors are not for me I will have no regrets proudly retaining and displaying such works of arts.

Does this all sound a wee bit too foolish to the experienced or am I on the right path to razor enlightenment? Thanks.

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 07-09-2014, 12:56 PM
#2
  • Obie
  • Senior Member
  • Glendale, Wisconsin
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Entasis,

The straight razor demands patience and perseverance, because there is a learning curve. And it requires time. If you are willing to put in the time and have patience, welcome to the world of straight razor shaving.

At first, the straight razor will feel dull. If it is a quality blade and shave ready, it will be sharp. Now comes learning the skill. You will have the ups and the downs we've all had, but you will get there — and never look back.

You can start with the Feather, if you like. I suggest starting with the traditional straight razor and learn. At first, you need not start with a custom razor. Save it for later. Start with a quality razor, preferably and 4/8 or 5/8 round point that is shave ready. Also, get a good strop, because that is an important element of straight razor shaving.

Get yourself a quality three-inch strop that is not very expensive. Sure, in all likelihood you will nick it. That's why a mid-price strop is good. Remember, you can get a "cheapo" strop, yes, but in most cases, the results will be "cheapo," too.

Watch as many quality straight razor shaving and stropping videos as you can. There are many worthless videos out there; I'll gladly suggest some good ones for you. If interested, please send me a personal message.

Other than that, ask questions. Good luck.

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 07-09-2014, 01:20 PM
#3
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My only suggestion is to acquire a 5/8... 11/16....or 6/8 Solingen hollow ground basic vintage razor that a quality honemeister has put a buttery smooth edge on and stick with it day after day like Badfinger.... I am not in the plastic broken DE blade shavette camp at all.

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 07-09-2014, 02:58 PM
#4
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I started with a few regular straights, but learned my skill on several Feather AC styles. The Kai Captain or Excelia and Feather DX will give you close approximations of a straight without the "hassle" of stropping / honing / etc.

That said, 2 straights will do quite nicely. I agree with the 5/8 to 6/8 and ROUND point assessment. I'd personally get a Soligen full hollow and Sheffield full hollow so you can get a feel for a couple different steels and edges. Two straights also allows for one to always be off getting honed by someone.

As Obie states, this is a SLOW practice to learn. Initially just start out with WTG passes on the cheeks and then shave with a DE as normal. Slowly add in more of your face, most preferably your neck. Nice flat surfaces are easier to learn on than a jawline.

Expect to get cut. It'll happen. A lot. It's how you learn. Eventually you'll get a stupid cut and think to yourself "wow it's been ages since I did something so stupid" and that'll put a smile on your face.

The true key here is patience. Don't shave in a hurry. Don't expect great results on the first day, first week or first month. It's between 3 and 4 months of daily straight shaving that you "get it all sorted out".

Patience.

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 07-09-2014, 03:24 PM
#5
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Just got back from a short vacation where I took along an EJ Ivory handle with Feather blades. It was the first time in nearly 2 yrs that I've used a DE. I used to think I got BBS shaves with them.
Straights proved me wrong. Granted, I felt no stubble. My face was certainly smooth. BBS even. But it didn't last. And somehow it felt different regardless.

Stubble reappeared within a short time. Well short compared to a straight shave which is 14+ hrs later.
And the shave routine with the DE was boring. What all the fuss is made over using them I have no idea. It's a no brainer. Whip it around your face and call it done.
Just gimme' my straights and I'm a happy guy.
My couple hundred DEs are just part of the collection.
Even a "bad" shave off a straight is a better deal for me.

I've been shaved at a shop with a shavette type razor. It was meh. I'd like to have done it myself. I know with my own straights I do a better job but I know my own face which is a factor. So I really can't comment on those type razors.
And I really have no interest in getting one. I love the intimate connection I have with my blades from building them, honing and then using them.

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 07-09-2014, 03:29 PM
#6
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Mark, I now travel with a Merkur travel DE and a Feather AC. The only times I use the DE are when I am places where I am certain I will be interrupted repeatedly like at one of my friends who has 3 young kids. There's no peace and quiet, so a DE still works best there for me. Otherwise it's the Feather all the way.

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 07-09-2014, 03:39 PM
#7
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Yeah, that was the situation I was facing. But at this point I can straight shave as easily and just as fast as a DE. Shower, shave, blow dry ( really to dry my razor) and anything else we do in the bathroom and I'm out in 20 -30 min.
Why I didn't take a straight or two is beyond me. Just stupid I guess.

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 07-10-2014, 08:47 AM
#8
  • Entasis
  • Atop the Razor's Edge
  • Southern California
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Many thanks for the sage advice from all above. I'm not going back to DE razors; my Cobras I'll keep and enjoy, but it's straight razors that I want to try to master. I travel with a disposal and simply toss everything before the flight home (and yes, the shaves are horrid beyond belief, but I rather do this than have a good razor rifled/pilfered by TSA or a baggage handler).

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 07-10-2014, 02:06 PM
#9
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(07-10-2014, 08:47 AM)Entasis Wrote: Many thanks for the sage advice from all above. I'm not going back to DE razors; my Cobras I'll keep and enjoy, but it's straight razors that I want to try to master. I travel with a disposal and simply toss everything before the flight home (and yes, the shaves are horrid beyond belief, but I rather do this than have a good razor rifled/pilfered by TSA or a baggage handler).

For a real travel kit (as in flying somewhere) I carry a Feather AC series razor with blades, an Omega mixed Mighty Midget and a small tinned soap. I'm not going to disposables. 24

I will toss in a DE *if* I feel I will be forced to do fast shaves, but like Mark I can actually get a nice shave done with the Feather AC and get it done quickly. I may end up dumping the DEs altogether pretty soon. The nice thing with the Feather AC for you is it's the same blades as the Cobra.

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 07-10-2014, 03:39 PM
#10
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Enjoy the journey.... I still do everyday even after 7 years doing so.

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 07-11-2014, 08:31 AM
#11
  • Entasis
  • Atop the Razor's Edge
  • Southern California
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(07-10-2014, 02:06 PM)wingdo Wrote: For a real travel kit (as in flying somewhere) I carry a Feather AC series razor with blades, an Omega mixed Mighty Midget and a small tinned soap. I'm not going to disposables. 24

Have you had any issues with TSA traveling with a Feather AC? I do like your traveling setup. There is a reason I travel with disposables given an event I will never forget.

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 07-11-2014, 08:36 AM
#12
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(07-11-2014, 08:31 AM)Entasis Wrote:
(07-10-2014, 02:06 PM)wingdo Wrote: For a real travel kit (as in flying somewhere) I carry a Feather AC series razor with blades, an Omega mixed Mighty Midget and a small tinned soap. I'm not going to disposables. 24

Have you had any issues with TSA traveling with a Feather AC? I do like your traveling setup. There is a reason I travel with disposables given an event I will never forget.

I have not had issue. That said, since I always know where I am going ahead of time, if I am not going to check luggage I ship a pack of Dorco blades to my destination. I have mistakenly packed blades in my travel kit and have never had anyone ask me to get rid of them. I have had the AC itself looked at, but they determine it to not be a "weapon" and move on. I think the blade pack is just something they are not used to seeing so they don't even question it. But again, I will usually ship a box to my destination.

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 07-12-2014, 03:00 AM
#13
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
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Can't add much to what has been said as far as recommended gear is concerned. Whatever straight you get be sure it is shave ready, honed by a pro. Be aware that most factory edges on new production razors have been reported as not quite shave ready. If buying new make sure the seller pro hones it before shipping.

Do not strop your shave ready razor before first use. That will ensure you do not bugger up the blade with poor/nonexistent stropping technique and allow you to feel what a shave ready blade really feels like. When you strop it before your second shave and the blade does not perform as well as the first time you have a hint that your stropping needs works.

Do not expect the end all and be all of shaves to magically happen immediately. Both shaving with a straight and proper stropping seem easy but they are not. Be prepared for a long learning curve measured in months of every day straight shaving. Be prepared to send your straight out for honing more frequently in the beginning as poor shaving technique and poor stropping technique will dull the blade. That is why having 2 straights is often suggested with one in reserve for the times the other is out for honing.

Of the 40 odd straights in my rotation none are customs and only one is new production. I see not difference in shave quality between my vintage blades and the one new production assuming they are both honed to the same level. New or custom is nice but not strictly necessary.

I still use a DE, especially when traveling, and can say my Muhle R41 with a Feather blade can give a straight a run for it's money for closeness and longevity. I still prefer the act of shaving with a straight far more and they are my daily drivers.

If you bump a blade into something, commonly a faucet/tap,or drop it you can damage the blade surprisingly easy. Most damage if not sever is repairable but some not.

If you have the patience to put up with the learning curve and possible pitfalls the end result is a very enjoyable experience. Hope you enjoy it.

Bob

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 07-12-2014, 04:12 AM
#14
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(07-12-2014, 03:00 AM)BobH Wrote: Do not strop your shave ready razor before first use. That will ensure you do not bugger up the blade with poor/nonexistent stropping technique and allow you to feel what a shave ready blade really feels like. When you strop it before your second shave and the blade does not perform as well as the first time you have a hint that your stropping needs works.

Bob

I have my very first two razors and a new strop on the way...thanks for that tip!

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 07-12-2014, 04:33 AM
#15
  • Deuce
  • Just a guy
  • Cave Creek
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Pretty interesting post. Maybe my shaving will include a straight in the future now

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 07-12-2014, 07:18 AM
#16
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
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Don't take getting into straight razor shaving too lightly on the financial side either. A couple of decent shave ready vintage razors and a decent, not top of the line, 3 inch strop will set you back as much or more than a Ikon DLC slant. Later on if and when you decide to get into honing your own a full set of hones and a lapping plate for them will cost you about another $300.00 or so. Definitely not trying to discourage anyone from trying it just go into it eyes wide open. Don't try and go too cheap either as it can lead to a bad experience too and you want to avoid that also.

Bob

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 07-12-2014, 01:19 PM
#17
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I think you can find decent, not top of the line honing kits for far less than $300. That's right about what I spent if not a little less, but Amazon actually has a Norton kit for ~US$130 which includes a flattening stone, a 220/1000 stone and a 4000/8000 stone (not sure who would use 220 but I digress). While Norton's are not "top notch" stones, I do have a 4k/8k norton in my kit.

Back on your topic, yes straights can be expensive if you get caught up in SRAD, man trust me on that one. But I think a nice pair of straights, one good strop and a honing set can last one a lifetime. There are great deals out there on straights, you just need to know what to look for and what to avoid. Asking in this forum is a great place to get advice on what to start with.

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 07-12-2014, 02:15 PM
#18
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
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(07-12-2014, 01:19 PM)wingdo Wrote: I think you can find decent, not top of the line honing kits for far less than $300. That's right about what I spent if not a little less, but Amazon actually has a Norton kit for ~US$130 which includes a flattening stone, a 220/1000 stone and a 4000/8000 stone (not sure who would use 220 but I digress). While Norton's are not "top notch" stones, I do have a 4k/8k norton in my kit.

Back on your topic, yes straights can be expensive if you get caught up in SRAD, man trust me on that one. But I think a nice pair of straights, one good strop and a honing set can last one a lifetime. There are great deals out there on straights, you just need to know what to look for and what to avoid. Asking in this forum is a great place to get advice on what to start with.

I have a DMT 325 for lapping my hones and also for rehabbing blades with chips and so on before setting the bevel on a 1K Naniwa. I would guess a Norton 220 would do that too.

Yea, certainly in the long haul and avoiding SRAD straights can be economical. OTH this is a shaving forum and how many on here have just 1 or 2 of anything shave related?

Needing to know what to look for and what to avoid are the biggest pitfalls for beginners buying vintage straights on that big auction site. They really don't know what to look for or avoid. Even when you think you know you still can get hooped now and again.

Yea, lots of good advice already given on what to start with in this thread. I have seen too many newbies start with too high/unreal expectations of what can immediately be accomplished with a straight. Not take into account realistically what it will cost to keep a razor up and running whether you send it out or hone your own. Not realistically take into account the time, effort and patience needed to get the big payoff, an excellent shave, for the money invested. Mind you that was on another more straight razor oriented forum not this one. People being people I don't think the forum matters too much.

Bob

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 07-12-2014, 03:56 PM
#19
  • Obie
  • Senior Member
  • Glendale, Wisconsin
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Gentlemen,
Forgive me, but there is a little more to proper honing than acquiring a set of hones.
Also, I always suggest newbies wait on honing until they learn something about stropping properly and honing their straight razor shaving skills.
In the beginning, honing should be the last thing on their mind.

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 07-12-2014, 05:25 PM
#20
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(07-12-2014, 03:56 PM)Obie Wrote: Gentlemen,
Forgive me, but there is a little more proper honing than acquiring a set of hones.
Also, I always suggest newbies wait on honing until they learn something about stropping properly and honing their straight razor shaving skills.
In the beginning, honing should be the last thing on their mind.

True enough. I have started with the set I have, but I still need to take a drive up to Obie's to learn what I am not doing right. Time never seems to allow for this.

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