11-16-2014, 09:30 AM
#1
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Hey Guys,

I'm a newbie when it comes to SR shaving. I bought several SRs on a whim because they caught my eye.

The issue that i'm having is that they are all shave ready, but when I watch instructional videos the movements that are made seem so smooth. When I repeat those motions; the razor feels jerky and stutter-y resulting in less than par shaves and blood loss.

I watched a Lynn Abrams video and he recommended that newbies just try to shave the cheek/sideburn area. I've been doing that and can do a decent job cleaning off a flat area with the grain, but against the grain it's jitter city.

Most of my razors are extra hollow or hollow ground. What i'm wondering is should I try with a thicker grind or work on my technique?

Thanks!

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 11-16-2014, 09:43 AM
#2
  • jamesrobson5
  • Chubby Chaser... Big Brush is Best!
  • Sherwood Park AB Canada!
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Work on your technique. When you figure out the blade angle and gain confidence you will get your smooth shaves. Keep with Lynn Abrams advice and use short strokes on your cheeks and you'll get there. It a big learning curve but its great when you get a smooth comfortable shave this way. The coolest part is when you realize that your 5 o'clock shadow shows up late. Good Luck!

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 11-16-2014, 05:19 PM
#3
  • geezer
  • Senior Member
  • Menomonie, Western WI
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If your razor is laid too close to your face, it sticks. About two spine widths see to do it..some plus and minus may be needed.
Not all purchased "Shave Ready" razors are!! Many guys are put off a good shave because of marketing BS.
Send one out to a good hone person and see if there is an improvement.
~Richard
Do a search for "Razor sharpening"
http://shavenook.com/thread-straight-razor-honing

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 11-16-2014, 06:08 PM
#4
  • MikekiM
  • Senior Member
  • Long Island, NY
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There is a delicate balance between pressure that is light enough to be comfortable, yet firm enough to maintain forward momentum. I encourage you to take it slow and let each pass reduce the whiskers and focus on getting a comfortable shave WTG on the flats of your face before doing anything else.

Against the grain is one of the more difficult aspects of straight shaving; the blade must by laser sharp, blade angle must be correct and you must be able to maneuver the blade in the right direction (the last is one of the more challenging aspects as the straight isn't as nimble as a DE, especially for a newbie).

It comes with time and a lot of shaves.

As Richard notes, most razors sold as 'shave ready' simply aren't. Sadly, for someone new to straights, this can be a deal breaker.

Get at least one of your razors honed by a pro.. there are quite a few gents here who can do this for you. Richards link is a good start.

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 11-16-2014, 08:49 PM
#5
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Like Geezer, the first question I would ask is where did you get your razors? As he mentioned, not all straights that vendors consider 'shave ready' truly are - especially if purchased straight from the manufacturer, or stores that merely by them from the manufacturer and put them straight 'on the shelf'.

For example, I've purchased some very well known brands directly from the German manufactures. They are described and sold as shave ready. And yes, they are sharp enough to cut whiskers and shave with - but not very comfortably.

If you obtained the razors from folks on the forum who are known to be good honers, then step two - as others have also said - would be to vary the angle (tilt) of the razor in relation to your skin. Keeping a razor-spine width of space between your skin and the razor spin is a good starting point. From there, try increasing or decreasing the gap by 1-2mm to see if it helps.

Third, as MikekiM metioned, is keeping your pressure light. If the razor is honed properly, you shouldn't need to press the blade against your skin at all. With a razor that is 11/16 or larger, merely making contact with your skin and letting the weight of the razor provide the 'pressure' should be enough. With a razor that is under 11/16, just a hair of pressure may be needed if your beard is course.

And the fourth thing to watch is the angle of the razor in relation to the floor. It should not be perfectly parallel to the floor...

Like ALL blades (chef's knives, utility knives, scissors, swords, surgeon's scalpels, etc.), a straight razor cuts best and most efficiently when 'force' is applied in two directions at once - e.g. pulling it downward (90%) and slicing (10%) (You don't slice a tomato or a steak by merely holding the edge of the knife parallel to the floor and pushing down through the food, right?). If the edge is parallel to the floor and you pull it straight down - e.g. 'snowplowing' - you're not taking advantage of its full potential or comfort. Try holding it so that the tip is a little higher (4-8mm) than the heel, then 'pull' it downward. It's a bit of a 'cheating' method but the angle will introduce a bit 'slicing' motion as the blade contacts each hair.

After several months of practice, when you become really comfortable with a straight, your subconscious/reflexs will take over and you'll actually incorporate a little bit of 'true' slicing motion into your strokes without even realizing it. That is when the shaves will suddenly seem really good - to the point that you'll only need one pass for BBS (with perhaps a few little xtg touch ups in hard to reach places on the neck).

Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

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 11-16-2014, 10:59 PM
#6
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(11-16-2014, 09:30 AM)Starkicker Wrote: Hey Guys,

I'm a newbie when it comes to SR shaving. I bought several SRs on a whim because they caught my eye.

The issue that i'm having is that they are all shave ready, but when I watch instructional videos the movements that are made seem so smooth. When I repeat those motions; the razor feels jerky and stutter-y resulting in less than par shaves and blood loss.

I watched a Lynn Abrams video and he recommended that newbies just try to shave the cheek/sideburn area. I've been doing that and can do a decent job cleaning off a flat area with the grain, but against the grain it's jitter city.

Most of my razors are extra hollow or hollow ground. What i'm wondering is should I try with a thicker grind or work on my technique?

Thanks!

Are you sure the razors are shave ready? New razors usually don't come shave ready.

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 11-17-2014, 05:18 AM
#7
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Work on your technique. Make sure that you have two well-honed razors. Any decent, well-made razor that is truly sharp will shave well. It took me about 60 shaves to believe that I could actually get a very good shave with a straight. The learning curve is much steeper than using a DE razor. Learning to stretch your skin properly, angle of attack with the blade, slick lather, and practice all play a role. Stropping correctly is more important with an extra hollow than with thicker grinds, at least for me.

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 11-17-2014, 05:58 AM
#8
  • MikekiM
  • Senior Member
  • Long Island, NY
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Disappointed in myself for not making mention of stretching.

Can't remember who told me the following, but it elevated the results I was getting tremendously...

If there is a spot on your face you can't get to conveniently and/or comfortably, move the spot. This is most useful on the hollow under-jaw spots. Stretching these spots up onto the flats of the cheeks makes them easy prey.

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 11-17-2014, 07:26 AM
#9
  • schnebbs
  • relapsed brush addict
  • chicago
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lol, when i first read "stretching" i thought to myself "how vigorous does this guy shave?!" i mean, i usually shave after my workouts... not as part of them. Biggrin

but mike's quite correct: stretching is a game changer. it's amazing how you make a spot nice and flat just by craning your neck and pushing/pulling your face a little.

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 11-17-2014, 07:44 AM
#10
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Thanks for all the help guys! Really feeling the love Smile

I bought a few razors from a well known and respected restorer on Reddit. He has "firesales" from time to time and I picked up a few which came to me honed and pre-stropped.

I'll be honest, I do find it a bit awkward to use the straight; I can't seem to get the movements and positions right - I'm trying to understand how to hold the razor so I don't slice myself open - just using popsical sticks (tongue depressors actually) which are hole punched and thumbtacked together as fake straights so I can get a better sense of how to do the face dance with them. I've realized I'm going to have to use my other hand at some point as well.

So far I can do my cheeks fairly well but my neck, jaw and chin are raw and patchy. I can get small patches which are nice and smooth, other patches looks like i've scrapped them raw but missed the stubble.

How do you account for the overall length of the razor? I find I have better control of the razor when using the blade near the heel; but I leave the tip open to slice and dice my ear lobes and neck.

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 11-17-2014, 09:21 AM
#11
  • schnebbs
  • relapsed brush addict
  • chicago
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well, my story is definitely a ymmv situation: i have a beard, and use a straight to keep my neck clean, with a bit of fine tuning around
the sideburns and above the cheek line... and i use more of the front half (tip end) of the blade.

[Image: gtZWpJa.jpg]

your tendency to use the back of the blade is probably a control/stability issue, but as you become more familiar with your blade you'll
probably find that you get a better result the farther out/more of the blade you get in contact with your skin. like everything else worth
doing, it just takes a bit of time to find what works best for you. =)

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 11-17-2014, 10:02 AM
#12
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Stick with it for two months, using nothing but your straights. It is OK to do a final touch up with your DE, at first. Pay very close attention to what you do each time, and concentrate on the last shave's weakest points. The enemy of "good enough" is "better", for now. You will just get razor burn (or worse) until technique improves.

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 11-17-2014, 08:23 PM
#13
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Start with with the grain only. Shave with blade as close to the face as possible and still shave. Prep face with soap and water and a pre shave like Proraso or Noxema. Use short strokes. Almost buffing.

Strop the blade after shaving around 50 laps.

Usually it's technique.

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 11-17-2014, 09:04 PM
#14
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get them honed by a pro honer. be very patient and make small and light strokes. turn on some calm music if u are nervous and close the door while shaving. u don't want anyone pushing and banging when you are shaving. specially with a cut throat in ur hand !

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 11-18-2014, 02:59 AM
#15
  • MikekiM
  • Senior Member
  • Long Island, NY
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LOL... The stretching.

Yes, it can feel awkward at times. Once muscle memory kicks in, it feels more natural and shaves get closer, smoother and less time consuming.

I'm at this for quite a while and still I have revelations. A slight stretch, a turn of the edge or a scythe can completely change how well you clear a spot.

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 11-18-2014, 08:49 AM
#16
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(11-18-2014, 02:59 AM)MikekiM Wrote: LOL... The stretching.

Yes, it can feel awkward at times. Once muscle memory kicks in, it feels more natural and shaves get closer, smoother and less time consuming.

I'm at this for quite a while and still I have revelations. A slight stretch, a turn of the edge or a scythe can completely change how well you clear a spot.

Amen Brother! Angel

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 11-22-2014, 07:21 AM
#17
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Hey Guys,

So, a little bit of an update. I purchased a new SR - a round point this time, I think it's a 5/8 extra hollow. I purchased it "shave ready" just to make sure it was sharp prior to my use.

I was able to shave my sideburns, cheeks and part of my jaw very close. This is the closest shave i've ever had, SR or DE. I found that I had to hold the razor upside down and clamp onto it with my fist around the tang with the scales facing down and the blade facing up with short back and forth strokes. On flat surfaces, getting the angle of attack just right didn't seem to be so bad - well at least when shaving "upwards" which for me is a cross between ATG and XTG.

My neck, chin and area around the mouth was a completely different story. I just couldn't find the correct way to hold and angle the razor so that I could get the 1-2 spine widths angle I needed. I felt like a fake ninja trying to get the SR position just right. I ultimately would just end up holding the blade with both hands, one at the end and one at the tip as I saw Jarrod from TSS do in one of his videos. This has been my 4th whole face shave and my 7th time just attempting to use the SR, so a few questions for you:

1) I was using a new brush, so my lather wasn't as hydrated as it could have been as I was just getting used to the brush. It tended to dry out of my face, but I would manually add water to my face and rub it around my face (even onto already shaven areas). I found this thinner, waterier lather to be easier to shave with - is this common? It seemed to be a tad slicker.

2) Face stretching does help, but face stretching, slippery lathery fingers and a sharp blade make for a bad combination for me. My face looked like I had lost a boxing match.

3) I would repeatedly go over certain areas of my face (under my chin for example) I seemingly have adamantium whiskers; no matter what impliment I use, I can never get those few whiskers clean cut (SR or DE). As I was face stretching, I could see the whiskers I was targetting, and I could see the SR go over it, but no whiskers were being cut. When I inspected the edge of the blade, I could see little bits of stubble (and blood) but those whiskers looked like they hadn't even been touched by the blade; they just stood there mocking me. What is going on here? I wash and wipe the blade after each stroke to get rid of the soap/stubble/blood buildup.

4) My face took a real beating on this shave; I had to go to the alum block after to seal up the nicks - I have never experienced pain like that to date. I'm sure it would qualify as a North Korean method of torture. Will this become common after I use a SR or do the resulting shaves become less aggressive as my technique improves?

Thanks for all the help guys! I was eager to do this shave, I just got one of Jarrod's TSS house brand brushes - a Walnut Silberspitz. I was going to do a write up on it in a little bit once I used it a few more times to give it some honest feedback. My suspicion is that it's made by the people from VP Leonhardy based on the bloom of the brush. For a 20mm knot, it's bloom is absolutely HUGE!

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 11-22-2014, 08:24 AM
#18
  • MikekiM
  • Senior Member
  • Long Island, NY
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Congrats on the new str8t! Sounds like you're taking a leap!!

To be sure, there is no 'correct' way to hold the blade. It's a matter of whatever works. Watch ten guys shave with a straight and you'll likely see thirty or forty different ways to hold it. You're taking the right steps though.. keep trying different things. In my average shave I have no less than six or seven changes in directional approach and grip. And change hands for each side based on the pass.

Dry down is real PITA. It's not always about hydration ratio; some software is just prone to drying quickly. My inventory for DE shaves is different than what I use for straights.

Regarding the slippery fingers... you have an alum block, wet your fingers and take a pass or two over your fingertips with the block before you start. It will help with the grip. Rinse your hands often. The alum effect will linger even after a rinse or four.

Blood buildup after each stroke? Hold on!! This is not good!! I can't help diagnose this without seeing what you're doing, but I am guessing you're using too much pressure, the edge isn't truly shave ready and/or you're using a bad angle. The process is somewhat counter intuitive in so much as you can't muscle the whiskers off. Rather, the lighter the stroke the more successful you will be (and the less irritation and bleeding you'll experience). A truly shave ready edge will melt through whiskers with no pain, not tugging and no pulling, regardless of the direction of the pass.

I would venture a suggestion.. if you're bleeding as much as you're implying you do, quit with the XTG & ATG and concentrate on WTG until you can do it without irritation. You might sacrifice closeness and end up with a SAS (Socially Acceptable Shave) rather than DFS or BBS, but you'll be far more comfortable less likely to need a blood infusion. Get the edges checked. Make sure they are truly shave ready, not just advertised as such. Just sayin' ...

To your question about taking a beating... NO!! This should not be a common result, at ANY stage of experience. Sure, you'll nick yourself from time to time, and if you're not on top of your edges or your angles are off, you'll get some irritation. That said, most straight shaving gents will agree the result is smoother, closer and more comfortable than any other edge. This is certainly the case for me.

Can't comment on your brush selection.. I am a boar-whore.

Stay with it. Dial your passes, pressure and expectations back a little. Get your edges reviewed by someone who shaves with a straight, not just sells them. Send them to me if you want. I'm not high-end honemeister, but I maintain my arsenal of a few dozen straights..all shave ready and smooth. I'll hone it for you and send it back... just cover the postage.

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 11-22-2014, 08:41 AM
#19
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Have you watched the many videos on youtube or on straightrazorplace on shaving with a straight? That's what I did three years ago when I first started with straights.

Forget about the 2 spines width distance to get your angle right. The right angle is the lowest that cuts the whiskers. Going with the grain, you might approach the 2 spines distance, but I even go lower than that WTG.

When you go across the grain, you go much lower and closer to the face with the angle. Against the grain, the blade should be almost flat to the face.

Wet lather is important. I'm constantly re-wetting drying lather when I shave. I start out making lather by using more soap or shave cream on the brush or face than is usually suggested. Really work the soap and water to make a thick lather, not fluffy lather.

Hopefully, you are stropping your razor and also touching it up once the edge starts tugging. Touch up with chromium oxide. It's easy.

I have a variety of brushes, but prefer the tighter smaller knot synthetics. You really don't need to soak a brush. Just flush it with water and flick out the excess.

You can stretch your face by manipulating your face without using hands. Also, dry the hand used to stretch and pull up ( or whatever direction you need) above the wet area, so that you are in a dry catchy area.

As John Dewey would say, straight razor shaving is all about learning by doing...and watching others do it.

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