11-07-2012, 03:01 AM
  • Dave
  • Moderator Emeritus
User Info
This is the thirteenth interview in a series with the artists, authors, craftsmen, and vendors who make wet shaving great. Todays interview is with Bruno from Vintage Scent

Today’s Nook Interview is with Bruno, the owner and operator of VintageScent.com. This is actually my second interview with Bruno. In the first interview,we covered mainly shaving brushes, while this interview will focus largely on straight razor shaving and restoration. Bruno is also an accomplished straight shaver, honemeister, and has restored many pieces of yesteryear back to their former glory. I’d like to thank Bruno once more for answering a few questions about straight razor shaving.

What do you consider the necessary tools for a straight razor shave?

The must have tools are a finishing hone (like a barber hone or a Belgian natural hone), a strop made of real leather and, of course, a properly honed shave-ready straight razor.

Should a new straight shaver start with a shavette or dive directly into a straight razor?

I personally find a straight razor more comfortable and less aggressive than a shavette. I find a shavette feels just like a DE. There's the myth that one will kill himself if he tries to shave with a straight razor. I find it amusing to say the least. No adult male in his right mind would do anything foolish with a cutting tool, like slicing to hurt himself.
However, using a shavette might come in handy by adapting your hand and positioning yours fingers until you are comfortable. You can even pick a shavette without a blade to practice the strokes on your face.

What do you feel is the best starter straight razor for new straight shaver?

Any medium sized straight razors from a reliable source like Germany, France, UK, Sweden, Spain or U.S. 
By medium sized I mean a 5/8'' blade so it's not too big for a newcomer.

Can you explain what numbers like 6/8 and 11/16 mean to someone who's considering straight shaving?

That's the height of the blade from the spine to the edge. Typically a straight razor is 5/8'' or 6/8'', but there are blades smaller and larger than those. It's a question of personal preference.

Bruno, can you explain a few of the different blade types?

Wedge = a blade without any concave grind, like the typical English blades from the XIX century.
Half Hollow = a blade with some stiffness due to a visible concave grind.
Full Hollow = a blade that looks and feels thinner due to the pronounced concave grind. It's very thin that they usually "sing" when stropped - this means that the amount of steel in the blade is so thin that it vibrates, thus making a sound, when it travels the strop.
Point = What's the format of the tip of blade. The round format is more popular because it's safer. There are others: Square, spike, French, Spanish, etc.

One of the keys to shaving with a straight is stropping. How often should a razor be stropped?

Right before every shave. Typically I strop 30 laps in linen and 60 in leather.

If someone picks up an old razor at an antique store or a new razor online , what is the process for getting it shave ready?

First the edge must be built or redone. The coarser stones (1k grit) are meant for that, to rebuild the edge. Putting the blade flat on the stone, we glide it through the stone, edge leading. After some dozens of passes, the edge should become visible. After some more, it should be able to plow some hair. Then it's time to move to the intermediate stone in the 4k grit area. This refines the edge from the previous grit. Then, the finishing stone is around 8k-10k grit. This polishes the edge and gives it smoothness and keenness. After that, strop and shave.

How often should a razor be honed?

I think one only needs a finishing hone to refresh the blade once you feel that the blade won't plow away the hair effortlessly. Once it begins to tug or pull, then it's time to hit the stone. Make 40-50 laps using no pressure, strop and shave.

You do quite a few restores of vintage straight razors. Can you run us through the process for restoring a Straight Razor? 

Before honing a razor, I must be sure that the blade doesn't have any flaws like chips, dents or is warped. Depending on the case, the lower grit stones can take care of most chips, unless they're huge, if that's the case then there's nothing we can do because we can't weld steel to the blade, that would ruin the temper.
Once the blade is normalized, we proceed to the polishing of the blade to give it a nice mirror finished. A good handle is also important to the final look. I personally like horn handle, I think they give a nice touch to a straight razor.

What new straight razor accessories are coming to the Vintage Scent?

I'm constantly looking for straight razors, restoring them and putting them for sale. I don't sell production razors, because I feel that vintage razors are just as good, if not better, than the current production razors. Besides that, having a vintage razor is a collective item. I personally am a fan of the Spanish brand Filarmonica and am a happy owner of some nice NOS pieces.

Do you recommend a straight shaver start out with their whole face or start with a few easy places to shave?

I recommend starting only shaving their cheeks. It's the easiest area and the skin is not as sensitive as the neck, for example. Once the newcomer is more confident, he should proceed to shave the whole are above the jawline. Lastly, he should proceed to the neck area, which is the most difficult to master.

Is there a difference between good lather for a DE and good lather for a straight razor shave? 

I honestly don't know because I don't use DE and never did. I use mostly soaps, but sometimes go for creams. I like my lather to be slightly liquid and not Santa Claus-beard style. When I apply lather I dip the tip of the brush in warm water and keep building on the face until I feel like the lather is not dry and can provide a good glide. As a rule of thumb, once I see the lather becoming slightly shiny, that's the sweet spot.

Again I’d like to thank Bruno for answering a few questions about straight razor shaving. You can find Bruno, a few straight razors, and the ever amazing Semogue brushes at VintageScent.com.. Thank you so very much Bruno.

116 3,804
 11-07-2012, 04:54 AM
User Info
Well done, gentlemen. Almost...almost tempts me to try straight shaving.

48 1,269
 11-07-2012, 06:14 AM
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
User Info
Thanks Dave and Bruno, excellent interview. It is good to have more conversation about the art of straight razor shaving.

182 25,317
 11-07-2012, 06:19 AM
  • Dave
  • Moderator Emeritus
User Info
(11-07-2012, 04:54 AM)kentclark Wrote: Well done, gentlemen. Almost...almost tempts me to try straight shaving.

I'd like to try it again, but my hand isn't steady enough I don't think. I do enjoy looking at some beautiful razors by a few of our members.

116 3,804
 11-07-2012, 06:33 AM
User Info
Thanks, Bruno. I really enjoy straight razor shaving compared to DE shaving, but still enjoy the SEs now and then. Straight razor shaving feels like a marriage of art and science with a dash of meditation. I recommend it to everyone.

21 1,858
 11-07-2012, 07:53 AM
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
User Info
Dave, thank you once again for conducting an excellent! interview Thumbsup

Bruno, thank you for taking the time to enlighten us a little bit on the subject of straight razors Thumbup

Having recently tried for the very first time and greatly enjoyed the experience of shaving with a straight razor, I now look forward to getting my very own first straight razor (fingers-crossed sometime next year) and the tools needed to keep it "shave ready"...

23 1,872
 11-07-2012, 09:12 AM
  • beartrap
  • Resident Цирюльник
  • Southern California
User Info
Very nice, thanks!

88 4,233
 11-07-2012, 09:14 AM
User Info
Good interview. Thanks to both.

224 13,067
 11-07-2012, 09:14 AM
  • freddy
  • Banned
  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
User Info
Gentlemen, thank you for an excellent interview. While straight shaving isn't for me (I did try it a couple of years ago), I am still fascinated by the procedure and think the razors themselves are beautiful.

2 5,000
 11-08-2012, 06:14 AM
  • Leon
  • Active Member
  • Porto, Portugal
User Info
Thank you Dave and the rest of the gentlemen.

It's been fun as always to be interviewed by Dave. I hope by sharing my insights I'll enable some gents to try straight razor shaving.

4 317
 11-08-2012, 05:32 PM
  • wingdo
  • The Dude Abides
  • Florida
User Info
Thanks Bruno. As always you bring a ton of knowledge to our forums.

129 4,000
 11-10-2012, 09:01 PM
User Info
Dave and Bruno, thanks for the excellent interview, lads! Well done.
Bruno, voce tem navalhas muito lindas.

89 21,239
 11-17-2012, 12:17 PM
User Info
Thank you for a great interview and a learning lesson on how to maintain straights.

144 13,930
 11-27-2012, 04:40 AM
  • gijames
  • Mile High Soldier
  • TN, USA
User Info
Great Interview!
Thank you Both for *Part II*

I love to hear folks break down their experiences for me (the lesser experienced) Blush

9 1,684
 11-28-2012, 05:01 AM
User Info
Bruno and Dave, thank your for this informative project.

30 1,271
Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)