09-22-2017, 01:54 PM
#1
  • Nero
  • Ban Groupthink from Earth
  • le montagne
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When first starting out, how bad is it?
Please let us know your experiences
the good, the bad, the funny, the scary...
the time commitment...
the blood and tears...

thank you!!

I'm in no rush to start, but I am curious about this and I'm sure others are too.

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 09-23-2017, 03:33 AM
#2
  • Sully
  • Super Moderator
  • Cedar Park, Texas
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I did a ton of research, watched a bunch of videos and jumped right in.  I picked up a good starter razor from the BST and started shaving.  I never pushed to get a BBS with a straight, and I knew that initially the shaves were not going to be close shaves and I was okay with that.  

I would stick with razors that have a rounded tip.  Square, French, and spike points can be tricky (and they still are for me) when you are learning.

Give yourself plenty of time to shave, don't rush it.

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 09-23-2017, 10:59 AM
#3
  • Steve56
  • Senior Member
  • Knoxville, TN
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It wasn't bad, the most annoying thing is that in the beginning it takes a long time to shave because you're trying to develop muscle memory for blade angle, speed, learn the stretch, etc. Lather can dry out when you take a while to shave, and it is important that the lather not become sticky. I got an occasional nick or weeper, but I've done as bad or worse in my career with a disposable.

The advantage of course, is that a well-honed straight razor will give you the mildest, closest, most luxurious shave that's possible though you do have a learning curve. My skin is average, but if you have senstive skin a straight razor should be especially good to you once you're comfortable with it.

Cheers, Steve

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 09-23-2017, 12:08 PM
#4
  • Entasis
  • Atop the Razor's Edge
  • Southern California
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Your endeavor, no matter should you decide to just dabble in trying it out or seek to be proficient, will give you a better understanding of shaving overall. You don’t have to spend a lot of money starting out. A well honed straight, be it an inexpensive one or an expensive custom will still give you the same shaving results. There’s a great deal to be learned and your level of proficiency is up to you.

Finding the blade grind, heel and toe configuration, along with blade sizes can only be attained by actually shaving with said configurations—there are a lot of configurations! As mentioned you can watch videos and they do help, but they are no substitute for actually shaving as your face-mapping, skin and other factors will be solely applicable to you.

Just some brief pointers:
  • Don’t fear the blade—respect the blade and you’ll be less likely to cut yourself. You’ll know when you cut yourself as a straight clearly indicates what it is doing while shaving.
  • In order to avoid or reduce cuts, on both your face and strop, follow the edge of the blade with your eyes. That way you’ll know where it’s and what the cutting edge is doing.
  • Straight razor shaving is not about being manly. It’s about your ability to properly handle a cutting edge with the slightest of pressure that there is only enough pressure to shave your beard.
  • Angles are important and keeping them consistent throughout the curvature of face surfaces takes practice and concentration.
The satisfaction that I personally get from straight razor shaving is unmatched by any other shaving means. Having started with a shavette, I do not recommend doing so as they are not the same as a straight.

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 09-23-2017, 03:13 PM
#5
  • Nero
  • Ban Groupthink from Earth
  • le montagne
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Thanks guys, I appreciate your responses!

Don't mind me... I'll just ask stream of consciousness questions.


How many passes do you do? Which directions?

Whose YouTube channel do you like for straight shaves?

Do you switch hands depending on which side of your face is being shaved at the moment, or just your one best hand uses the razor for the whole face?

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 09-23-2017, 03:35 PM
#6
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Not bad at all! I jumped right in, too. I did shed some blood in the beginning, nothing major, just a scratch here and there. It took me two months to be totally comfortable -- and then I started to get BBS shaves. I do three passes, same as with a safety razor: WTG, XTG, ATG. I can shave with my non-dominant hand -- something I've never been able to do with a safety razor -- but rarely feel the need to.

In retrospect, I'd be a little more cautious going in. WTG only and just cheeks at first, then gradually branch out to neck and chin, and gradually move into XTG and ATG. Finish with a safety razor while you're learning. Keep your expectations low in the beginning and, above all, be patient. Once you learn it well, straight shaving is the most precise and gentle way to shave -- and it's a wonderful feeling of accomplishment to have that skill under your belt. @Entasis is right: straights give you a whole new perspective on shaving.

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 09-23-2017, 03:43 PM
#7
  • Steve56
  • Senior Member
  • Knoxville, TN
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Hi Matt,

I do two passes and a touchup; one pass WTG, one pass ATG, then after I rinse and dry my face and wash out the brush, I do a very light ATG pass on my neck dry to pick up any stubble, the neck is my problem area.

It's all about muscle memory so I'm not sure how much the videos really help but Lynn Abrams videos are pretty well liked.

I do not switch hands and don't think it really matters much, but the traditional way is to switch hands I believe. But hey I hone and strop backwards too lol.

Shoot me a PM when you're ready to try, I'll get something together and honed up for you. You will need a strop, Whipped Dog sells a good beginner's strop which you will want because many people cut their first one learning to strop! More muscle memory.

Cheers, Steve

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 09-24-2017, 02:46 AM
#8
  • Lando
  • This deal is getting worse all the time
  • Bellevue, WA
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Straight razor shaving is super fun.  Takes traditional wetshaving to a whole other level of enjoyment.  It's just a matter of practice and reps.  Same goes for stropping.

I think honing is the tricky part.  Trying to duplicate that smooth perfect edge you got from another experienced user.

I don't like shavettes particularly the ac type.  The cuts from those things hurt like heck.  Real straight razor with a nice edge is much smoother and more forgiving.

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 09-24-2017, 03:58 AM
#9
  • Gabe
  • Senior Member
  • Arizona
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Starting is not that bad. You will get a few nicks but these can be minimized with patience.

I do not switch hands. I get a little blind spot on my left cheek below my sideburn. Only on the WTG pass. This is not a big deal to me. You will feel the edge cutting like you do a DE. This tells me my angle.

Finish with a DE. It will avoid further irritation and you will have a great shave while learning.

I do 3 passes.

For a first straight I would recommend a 5/8 to 6/8, preferring the 6/8. With a 6/8, I find it easier to see/find my angle.

I watched the Lynn Abrams videos. I watched more but his stuck with me as being very informative.

Best advice I can give is ... .. Stick with it. It's too easy to give up. The shaves are no where near your DEs. Much more uncomfortable... the list goes on.

At 15 shaves it will be less awkward and painful. Less nicks if any.

The magic number is 30 shaves. At 30 the shaves improve drastically. Not BBS, but comfortable and close. At 30 you will get that feeling that that you can in fact shave with a straight razor. At this number your desire to continue is much greater than your urge to quit. From then on, it only gets bettter.

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 09-24-2017, 01:27 PM
#10
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Depends on how patient you are.  Patience and having fun are key.  It took me ninety plus shaves to become proficient.  I have a coarse beard and sensitive skin.  Having a shaving journal and documenting the experience was very helpful.  Shaving with a straight razor can be very satisfying, there is nothing like it!

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 09-24-2017, 05:06 PM
#11
  • Nero
  • Ban Groupthink from Earth
  • le montagne
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What would be your recommended first razor/specs?

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 09-24-2017, 05:41 PM
#12
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Something sharp. Everything else is, IMO, secondary.  
I would take Steve's kind offer. 
Funny thing about switching hands: I was about to jump into str8 shaving and the whole switching-hand-part kept holding me back. My left hand (non-dominant) has never proven to be reliable. Then I saw a video by a German explaining each stroke in detail and he used only one hand. I thought by following these instructions I should be safe. Got the razor and then never completed a shave using only one hand. Switching hands was simply easier to do.  Shocked

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 09-24-2017, 06:58 PM
#13
  • Gabe
  • Senior Member
  • Arizona
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(09-24-2017, 05:06 PM)Nero Wrote: What would be your recommended first razor/specs?

5/8 or 6/8 is a good place to start.

Most importantly, be sure its shave ready.

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 09-24-2017, 07:02 PM
#14
  • Steve56
  • Senior Member
  • Knoxville, TN
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You don't know what you like until you try different razors, but I would recommend a 6/8-13/16 wide razor any style nose (round, square, French, Spanish..). Here's how different stuff affects the razor. You'll probably end up owning razors of different types just as you enjoy different soaps.

Width - I like 6/8 - 13/16. Narrower is more manueverable but you have to rinse lather off the razor more often. Wider seems to be less manueverable to the point that is a bit more bother to get under the chin. With a 6/8 or larger, I can shave one side of my face, rinse the razor then shave the other side.

Nose styles - Like fins on cars, the shape and size folks like is pretty subjective. Use what you like. I do like my toe muted, a perfectly square tip is very 'pointy' at the edge and can give me an occasional scratch getting into the hollows of my throat.

Grind - Thinly ground full hollows are called 'singing' blades, a masterpiece of advertising. It's more of a gravely sensation, you can feel the edge cut every hair and it will 'ring' as you strop it on a hanging strop. Heavier grind razors are quiet and were often advertised for heavy beards. I don't believe it makes a lot of difference really, I have and enjoy both full hollow and heavy grinds. A large, heavy grind razor like the famous Wade and Butcher wedges are a bit heavy for my tastes though many love the heft.

Blade length - I have a goatee and mustache, and shorter blades are quite a joy. Practically you can really only shave a 'strip' of skin about 1-2" wide at a time so you never really use all of a 75mm edge anyway, which is kind of a normal length.

Shoulders (this is the rear of the blade, the part immediately in front of the tang) - most thinly ground razors will have a stabilizer or thicker area of metal at the rear of the blade to keep it from flexing too much. When you see a shoulderless razor, it's usually a heavier grind and doesn't need the stabilizer. Shoulderless designs can be easier to hone at least until you get the hang of honing.

Tangs - this is the part you hold while shaving, so you should try several different styles to see which fits your hand the best. A straight or nearly straight tang is the most common. A thumb notch is a relief in the bottom of the tang, and makes it narrower. I'm neutral but it dos take a little getting used to stropping it. I suspect a thumb notch is more useful if you're shaving someone else but don't really know. J.A. Henckles razors usually have thinner tangs if that's what you like. Jimps are grooves cut into the top and/or bottom of the tang to improve grip. They are a sign of a more expensive razor because it took more labor to cut them. They don't seem to matter much if you keep the tang dry while shaving - and you should never try to manipulate a straight with soapy hands, keep a barber's towel at ready to wipe off the tang if necessary.

Monkey tail - this is the part that sticks out behind the pivot. Practically they are a finger rest and have gotten longer through the ages. In the early 1800s, it was not uncommon to see no monkey tail at all, and up to 1900 or so they were usually pretty short. After WW 1 they became more like what you'd see on a new razor. I don't know if this was just style, but I suspect that good steel was quite an expensive commodity before the Bessemer process. I don't like short monkey tails, but it doesn't seem to matter to many folks.

Well that should cause you more questions than it answered!  Biggrin

Cheers, Steve

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 09-25-2017, 05:16 AM
#15
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Matt,
After reading this thread I can say you've got some very knowledgeable members on board here!! Great advice, I'd be taking notes. For me I jumped in head first and called Max Sprecher, we talked for two hours about my skin, beard, nationality, face type and everything under the sun. When my razor arrived I had NEVER held a straight razor. I watched several Lynn Abrahms YouTube videos and called him too. My first shave was magical. All those questions Max asked me paid off, it's literally like my razor was made for me, it was... no nicks no weepers and a very close shave. Have fun with it, respect it but have fun. Best of luck.

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 10-04-2017, 06:12 AM
#16
  • Nero
  • Ban Groupthink from Earth
  • le montagne
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Sorry gents, with so much great info, I was having a hard time keeping up last week. So I intended to pay more attention over the weekend but it slipped my mind. I will be back and I just want you to know that I really appreciate all of your responses, it is clear you are all very passionate and knowledgeable on this topic. Cheers to All!

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 10-04-2017, 12:29 PM
#17
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(09-24-2017, 05:06 PM)Nero Wrote: What would be your recommended first razor/specs?


Size and grind don’t matter IMO. It must be shave ready and well made. You can’t go wrong with vintage.

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 10-05-2017, 05:26 PM
#18
  • Steve56
  • Senior Member
  • Knoxville, TN
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Gentlemen I believe some enabling is in order here...

Images of the Le Grelots and Touron-Parisots courtesy of MyCarver.

Cheers, Steve

[Image: JxT0Hzm.jpg]

[Image: FqkKjsU.jpg]

[Image: M4CGGxV.jpg]

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 10-08-2017, 07:02 PM
#19
  • Nero
  • Ban Groupthink from Earth
  • le montagne
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Beautiful razors, Steve!
I am sure I will take you up on your great offer some day Biggrin
Thank you!

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