09-03-2015, 12:23 PM
#1
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Ok, so long story short - I've been double edge shaving for about 10 months now, and have figured out "my shave" and have gotten really comfortable with it.

I'm finally thinking about trying a straight razor - but I'm so overwhelmed with options.

Can you guys help me narrow it down a bit?

I think I want a non-folding Japanese style (I'm not sure what the name is for this) straight razor.
I want to keep it under $100, but I don't want to buy crap that I'll regret.
I don't mind used - and I'm a casual woodworker, so making scales/replacing scales doesn't scare me at all.
I don't mind learning to sharpen - in fact, it's an art I've been meaning to perfect since as I said I'm a casual woodworker and I should really hone my skills (pun intended)

Any suggestions for me within this framework above? I'd love to spend more, but even $100 is a lot for me at this time. That said, I do custom make shave brushes so I might even consider a trade. First though, I need to narrow down my options. I just have no idea what to get!

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 09-03-2015, 02:22 PM
#2
  • Entasis
  • Atop the Razor's Edge
  • Southern California
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I made the mistake of not listening to Obie (a prominent member here) whom told me sage advice and I proceeded the opposite direction. He offered me, at a very reasonable price, a couple of starter straight razors (that could have been resold for the same price). Instead, I chose to purchase an expensive Feather DX so I could make use of existing SE Feather blades that I owned. I recommend against doing as I did as learning straight razor shaving entails actually shaving with real straight razors. I hope Obie chimes in here. I also recommend starting with a folding razor as the scales do aid in establishing proper angles.

Welcome to the world of straight razors...you'll never look back and what you will learn will make shaving with any razor far better than before. Also, prepare to open your wallet when you get hooked. Wink

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 09-03-2015, 07:44 PM
#3
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Agree- look to either pick up a used straight here on the BST or look at Whipped Dog sight unseen deals.

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 09-04-2015, 12:39 AM
#4
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
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I think what you are wanting to buy is a Japanese Kamisori razor. I haven't seen any with wood scales. Also I believe the grind is different on a Kami than a western grind SR.  With a traditional Japanese Kami only one side of the blade is used next to your skin as opposed to a western grind SR where both sides can be used next to your skin. No experience with Kamis just going from what I have read and seen.

Plenty of beginners with experience sharpening knives and chisels have found to their dismay that honing a SR is in a different league. It looks easy but to be able to get a comfortable and sharp edge for shaving takes quite a bit of time to learn. The general advice is to learn to shave with a SR first before attempting to learn how to hone on properly. The learning curve on both is pretty steep and it is best to learn one at a time.

You will need a strop to help maintain your SR by stropping it before each shaving session. So figure that into your start up costs in addition to the cost of a SR. Stropping is a double edged sword. Done well it will help maintain your SR but done poorly will dull your blade and will cut up your strop. Guess which side of the double edged sword most newbies fall on. Been there and done that at the start. It to has a learning curve in order to do it properly.

As a beginner you are likely to dull your SR more frequently because of poor shaving technique and/or poor stropping technique. That is perfectly normal. Just be prepared to have it honed more frequently at the beginning and less often as your skill improve.

Personally, I would get a western grind SR of a well regarded maker from a reputable dealer that supplies them "shave ready". They could be either new or use. I would suggest a 5/8 or 6/8 size blade with a round point as a starter razor. The grind, near wedge, half and quarter hollow or full hollow ground is a matter of personal choice. 

Just telling you this so you don't underestimate the time involved in learning to shave with a SR or the costs involved in getting set up initially. If you buy decent gear at the start and persevere through the learning curves you will likely find it a rewarding shaving experience in the end.

Bob

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 09-04-2015, 06:07 AM
#5
  • geezer
  • Senior Member
  • Menomonie, Western WI
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Listen to Bob!!! Most people drop out because their first razor was bought for cheap or as a "Starter Kit" from a shady supplier.

I would start with a 'consistent' inexpensive soap like VdH, a good blade from the classifieds, and a mid range strop. Figure about 100 USD to 150 USD. You can get by with a lot less but take more chances. Used goods from a flea market or the 'bay are not a good idea for a beginner to straight razor shaving.
Learn to lather properly! Learn to strop properly,Then learn to shave with a straight slowly adding a bit more area bit more each time.
Find a person from the forum near to you and pm them to see if they would mentor you.
~Richard

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 09-04-2015, 07:38 AM
#6
  • Entasis
  • Atop the Razor's Edge
  • Southern California
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Geezer is right too. I'm going to make a suggestion—based on my experience—and I hope the mods here will not delete this post. I started straight razor shaving here at The Shave Nook only because I didn't want to make fool of myself on the forum that truly caters to straight razors shavers: Straight Razor Place (SRP). I would strongly suggest that you do not make the same mistake. You will not leave The Shave Nook as here discussions about the other aspects of shaving are better addressed at The Shave Nook. But, I would start straight shaving at SRP where you can get a mentor (as mentioned), outstanding advice on honing, shaving techniques, and everything related to straight razor shaving. It's an immense wealth of straight shaving knowledge at your disposal. At SRP I have made friends with three of America's premier razor craftsmanship.

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 09-04-2015, 08:20 AM
#7
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
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(09-04-2015, 07:38 AM)Entasis Wrote: Geezer is right too. I'm going to make a suggestion—based on my experience—and I hope the mods here will not delete this post. I started straight razor shaving here at The Shave Nook only because I didn't want to make fool of myself on the forum that truly caters to straight razors shavers: Straight Razor Place (SRP). I would strongly suggest that you do not make the same mistake. You will not leave The Shave Nook as here discussions about the other aspects of shaving are better addressed at The Shave Nook. But, I would start straight shaving at SRP where you can get a mentor (as mentioned), outstanding advice on honing, shaving techniques, and everything related to straight razor shaving. It's an immense wealth of straight shaving knowledge at your disposal. At SRP I have made friends with three of America's premier razor craftsmanship.

That is a very good suggestion. I did the reverse and came here after being on SRP because other aspects of shaving have more coverage here. I think both sites compliment each other and together enhance the overall shaving experience. I don't participate too much here as my main interest is still in SR shaving but I have learned a lot from reading here.

Bob

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 09-04-2015, 09:43 AM
#8
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I would suggest looking at a Ralf Aust from SRD or check in the BST here and I am sure you will find a nice straight that will give you a great shave.

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 09-04-2015, 11:52 AM
#9
  • Obie
  • Senior Member
  • Glendale, Wisconsin
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Entasis, my friend, thank you for the kind words. Yes, I do remember our conversations.

Lonely Raven,

Some gentlemen looking to start with the straight razor think too big and too fancy. I suggest keeping it simple in the beginning. There is plenty of time for custom razors, non-folding Japanese blades and western style folding straights with horn or exotic wood scales and beautifully etched blades. All in good time.

For starters, though, you need a quality but humble straight razor that is shave ready, and a modestly priced but quality strop. Fancy will not teach technique. Practice and research will. Also, I don't believe in sight-unseen straight razor and strop kits; see what you buy. Further, starting on the cheap will give you cheap results — cheap begets cheap. If you can find a mentor, you'll enjoy an even better start.

A new 5/8 Ralf Aust that is shave ready is a good way to go. For a strop, a 3-inch priced around $50 or $60 is a good choice. Don't fear nicking your strop; we all have in the beginning. I know I have. Still, if I were starting out, I would still get a good strop at a reasonable price. Straight razor shaving is process that includes many mistakes in the beginning, and a few accidents, like nicking your strop. On the other hand, you might not nick your strop with a big gash. Small and insignificant nicks on the edges never hurt.

Avoid purchasing your straight razor on eBay until you know something about straights, because you can easily get burned. If you want a vintage razor, the shaving forums have a good variety of shave ready and reasonably priced razors.

Beyond that, watch straight razor shaving and stropping videos. Please remember, there are a lot bad videos out there. Lynn Abrams has a range of quality videos on You Tube. Find them and watch them. Once you have the basics, you can search for other quality videos. Finally, ask questions. Good luck.

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 09-04-2015, 02:17 PM
#10
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I went with a non folding SR first and eventually said I need a more traditional style SR with scales. If I were you I would start with a traditional style SR. Feels much better in the hand and longer blade which is very nice. I am still a novice but I couldn't be happier with my decision to move on from my Japanese style SR to a traditional style. Jerry Stark Razors is what I went with and they are superb razors that come Extremely Shave Ready! You will not be disappointed with a JS razor. However, take your time and find the right razor for you that you can see yourself enjoying for years to come. Good Luck on the journey!

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 09-04-2015, 02:22 PM
#11
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Great read!  I'm not into SR, but this has been educational reading for sure.

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 09-04-2015, 07:23 PM
#12
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Once you have a strop, I'll happily send you a freshly honed, sanitized, and stropped shave ready Gold Dollar razor to try.  

Will it be fancy?  No.
Is it the nicest razor in shavedom? No.
Have I modified it a bit to make it easier to hone? Yes. 
Will it be shave ready? Yes. 
Can you learn to use it just as well as any other straight? Yup. 

Just PM me when you are ready and I'll drop it in the mail. 

The only reason I post this here is in case someone would discourage you against this route.  Feel an open discussion is always better.

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 09-04-2015, 11:23 PM
#13
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That is an outstanding offer by shaverjoe!

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 09-05-2015, 01:43 AM
#14
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
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(09-04-2015, 07:23 PM)shaverjoe Wrote: Once you have a strop, I'll happily send you a freshly honed, sanitized, and stropped shave ready Gold Dollar razor to try.  

Will it be fancy?  No.
Is it the nicest razor in shavedom? No.
Have I modified it a bit to make it easier to hone? Yes. 
Will it be shave ready? Yes. 
Can you learn to use it just as well as any other straight? Yup. 

Just PM me when you are ready and I'll drop it in the mail. 

The only reason I post this here is in case someone would discourage you against this route.  Feel an open discussion is always better.

I think the biggest reason most would not recommend getting a Gold Dollar as a newbie to SR shaving is that they generally need to be physically altered to be useful. You have done that, apparently, but it is far from a beginners ability and knowledge to make those mods. That and they usually come fairly dull. 

Nice offer.

Bob

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 09-05-2015, 11:05 PM
#15
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(09-05-2015, 01:43 AM)BobH Wrote:
(09-04-2015, 07:23 PM)shaverjoe Wrote: Once you have a strop, I'll happily send you a freshly honed, sanitized, and stropped shave ready Gold Dollar razor to try.  

Will it be fancy?  No.
Is it the nicest razor in shavedom? No.
Have I modified it a bit to make it easier to hone? Yes. 
Will it be shave ready? Yes. 
Can you learn to use it just as well as any other straight? Yup. 

Just PM me when you are ready and I'll drop it in the mail. 

The only reason I post this here is in case someone would discourage you against this route.  Feel an open discussion is always better.

I think the biggest reason most would not recommend getting a Gold Dollar as a newbie to SR shaving is that they generally need to be physically altered to be useful. You have done that, apparently, but it is far from a beginners ability and knowledge to make those mods. That and they usually come fairly dull. 

Nice offer.

Bob
Bob-

I certainly agree with you about the GD.  They can be a pain to hone without grinding down the shoulders, etc.  I was simply offering to send the OP a shave ready GD as an avenue for him to try a SR without investing any money in a razor up front.  Once honed, I think a GD provides a nice shave.

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 09-06-2015, 12:31 AM
#16
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
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(09-05-2015, 11:05 PM)shaverjoe Wrote:
(09-05-2015, 01:43 AM)BobH Wrote:
(09-04-2015, 07:23 PM)shaverjoe Wrote: Once you have a strop, I'll happily send you a freshly honed, sanitized, and stropped shave ready Gold Dollar razor to try.  

Will it be fancy?  No.
Is it the nicest razor in shavedom? No.
Have I modified it a bit to make it easier to hone? Yes. 
Will it be shave ready? Yes. 
Can you learn to use it just as well as any other straight? Yup. 

Just PM me when you are ready and I'll drop it in the mail. 

The only reason I post this here is in case someone would discourage you against this route.  Feel an open discussion is always better.

I think the biggest reason most would not recommend getting a Gold Dollar as a newbie to SR shaving is that they generally need to be physically altered to be useful. You have done that, apparently, but it is far from a beginners ability and knowledge to make those mods. That and they usually come fairly dull. 

Nice offer.

Bob
Bob-

I certainly agree with you about the GD.  They can be a pain to hone without grinding down the shoulders, etc.  I was simply offering to send the OP a shave ready GD as an avenue for him to try a SR without investing any money in a razor up front.  Once honed, I think a GD provides a nice shave.

Joe

Like I said that is a nice offer and you have corrected the physical problems normally associated with GD SRs and their ilk. Just pointing out why most would not recommend this class of SR for a beginner is all. If a beginner buys a stock unmodified GD SR their first shaving experience is more than likely to be terrible. I would not want that to put a beginner off shaving with a SR.

Bob

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 09-06-2015, 01:13 AM
#17
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Reminds me of my pocket knives. The one that is really sharp is the best!
Good contributions, a good reading! Thumbup

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 09-06-2015, 05:03 AM
#18
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
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Going to go a little OT since knives and sharpness have been mentioned. For a sharp knife most people don't go too far past 1K on the hones from the little I have read on knife sharpening. The 1K hone is a good start point for a bevel reset on a SR and you progress up from there to around a 12K hone or so. The cutting edge on a SR is far thinner than on a knife, tin foil thin, and much more easily damaged too. It is a different ball game and it is possible to have a sharp edge and an uncomfortable shave. The edge must be sharp for sure but it also must be comfortable to shave with. Knives and SRs serve to very different purposes and require different edges. Sorry, I just get a little twitchy when knives and SRs are mentioned together as it can be misleading to a beginner.

Bob

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 09-06-2015, 03:36 PM
#19
  • geezer
  • Senior Member
  • Menomonie, Western WI
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You have the information! Take the time to digest it! PM a guy if you want to find a source he mentioned.
This is your forum also and we welcome you!
Choice is yours. So enjoy the journey!
~Richard

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 09-06-2015, 08:18 PM
#20
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My Gold Dollars shave as well as every other razor in my drawer. They are made from great steel, have a nice half hollow grind, and if you deal with the heavy heel they hone up great. No reason to pass on a GD. The one in the center is a GD.[Image: 9cc53d1081d2041f235fc11fb32a9b43.jpg]

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