11-16-2012, 02:38 PM
#1
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I just completed my first real shave with a straight razor and, despite the line of crimson on my jaw, I'm reasonably happy. I picked up an antique straight last weekend and thought it was sharp enough to use. It didn't nick me, but it didn't do much to the stubble, either.

So I bought a Parker shavette and blades from Bullgoose to see whether the absence of results was from technique or sharpness (turned out to be the latter). It arrived and I had to try it.

My results are nearly as good as with my de razors, even with a slightly shaky hand due to nerves. I assume I will improve with practice and confidence.

Still, the folks here are great and have much more experience than I. Any advice for a newbie to straight shaving?

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 11-16-2012, 03:17 PM
#2
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Plenty of advice I've written about straight razor shaving here.

Go slow and don't get too cocky, but you need to have confidence in your skills to get the best results.

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 11-16-2012, 03:54 PM
#3
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I know nerves can get the better of you considering the blade at your face/neck.. but relax. Tension in your hands , arms, etc. isn't productive. The first tendency is to tense up.. but try not to.
Remember too, skin stretching is important. A taut smooth surface allows the blade to better do its thing. And the fewer curves or angles it encounters the less chance for cuts.
Knowing what the blade is actually doing is difficult at first because you're anxious,, but the blade will give you feed back as to what is happening at the edge. You'll eventually know when the angle is correct,if it's cutting well, and the slight adjustments you'll learn to make as you make a pass.
Try not to make straight passes. A skewed cut or a bit of a sweep is easier and cuts better. Just like you do when slicing a turkey. You don't push straight down,, you sweep the blade a bit. Same here.
Sure,, now I've given you all sorts of things to think about while you're trying to shave!
I'm only trying give a few pointers that will fall in place as you progress. Awareness of what is going on and responding to this feedback will develop over time.
Like any new thing, the first steps are the most difficult as you learn. But the learning process is part of the journey. Holding the razor, when to flip it around to get to another area of your face, are all awkward in the beginning. Trust me,, it'll get easier as all the parts fall into place and some muscle memory takes over.
Remember learning to drive a car? Lots of things to worry about let alone the mechanical aspects of it all. But you did learn to drive didn't you? And now you probably don't even think about it when you drive.
That's straight razor shaving. You get to a point where you just enjoy the ride.
Just my 2 cents.

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 11-16-2012, 04:03 PM
#4
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I actually put down the razor at one point and shook out my arms to relieve tension and made very sure I wasn't using a death grip. I figure the first four or five times will be all about getting comfortable. Then I can really start paying attention to fine detail.

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 11-16-2012, 06:50 PM
#5
  • 2dwgs
  • Member
  • North Carolina
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It's a shame that the antique straight you picked up wasn't quite shave ready. I started my straights journey with a shavette, but very quickly moved on to a regular straight razor, simply because I found the shavette to be incredibly unforgiving (although sharp as the dickens!) The shavette will get you up to speed on learning pressure and angle, but your technique will have to adapt very slightly if you use the shavette for an extended time and then try out a regular straight.

I'd suggest sending your existing blade out for honing while you get your technique down with the shavette, then once you get the honed straight back you can give a truly 'shave ready' straight razor a try to see if you like the feel.

Mycarver's advice is spot on. It will all come naturally in time, you've just got to put some time to learn it is all. Best of luck!

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 11-16-2012, 06:55 PM
#6
  • Kavik79
  • Active Member
  • Albany, NY - USA
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you've already gotten some good advice here. And you're right that it will take a few (dozen) shaves before you get really good, consistent results.

One thing I'd like to add to what others have said...make sure you always keep the blade moving as long as it's touching your skin. If you need to stop for even half a second, to work out the nerves, to adjust your angle, or for any reason at all that the blade needs to pause, take it off your face then start again.

I learned with a square tip, so I got my share of nicks from dragging the tip through my cheek....but aside from that, the easiest way I found to cut myself was by leaving the blade on my face in one spot to long.
May sound like common sense, but even now I find myself doing it once in a while, luckily though my hand is steadier now then it was back then

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 11-16-2012, 06:59 PM
#7
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I've been at this a while now,, but I have to admit,, square tips always seem to bite me more than others. Gimme' a Spanish point and I can whip it around like I'm scything through hay.

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 11-16-2012, 08:30 PM
#8
  • Kavik79
  • Active Member
  • Albany, NY - USA
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I haven't been lucky enough to have a spanish point to try yet. I've got a pile of gold dollars here to play with though, so that's going to be part of the plan for one of them for sure

Normally I'd suggest a nice round point and soft heel to start with, but learning with a feather/shavette first takes away those types of options

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 11-16-2012, 08:48 PM
#9
  • gijames
  • Mile High Soldier
  • TN, USA
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Great to read your progress Matt!
Biggrin

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 11-18-2012, 07:45 AM
#10
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Did my second shave this morning. Steadier hand, no nicks. Beginning to get a feel for angles.

I did notice what I think may be a crucial lesson. There were times I wanted to go one direction, but the razor resisted. So I listened and let the razor go the way it wanted. My results suggest listening to what the razor says may be just as important a part of technique as the basic grips.

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