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Leap of faith: First straight razor setup

Discussion in 'Razors, Scissors, & Personal Grooming' started by The Government, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. The Government

    The Government

    Aug 21, 2009
    I was browsing the forum last night and I caught a wild hair and decided I should probably shave it off. :D

    I was looking through this grooming forum and I realized I have never been truly satisfied with the shave I get from my (old reliable) Gillette Sensor. On a whim, I decided to put a keen edge on the spey blade of a stockman and shave my face with it. It actually worked, so I said to myself, "who am I kidding? I am buying a straight razor." Fast forward to now... and the leap of faith has been made.

    Currently in the mail:

    -A Dovo 6/8" straight razor with a full hollow grind and black synthetic scales.
    -A Simpson Persian 2 Brush
    -A professional style 2" leather strop
    -And finally, I bought some various soaps to try out (one bowl included).

    This should cover everything to get me started right?

    I will report back how everything goes for me. I am planning on using this set-up for shaving as frequently as possible. I get up automatically before dawn, so I have plenty of time for this kind of thing.

    Why not, right?
  2. Gollnick

    Gollnick Musical Director

    Mar 22, 1999
    The razor may or may not come ready to shave with. Otherwise, you've got a brush and soap and a bowl.

    Pre- and after-shave products are really a matter of skin type and preference. It's hard to give much advice in that area except a hot-water wash before and a cold-water rinse afterwards... and I take it you've got hot and cold water.

    So, you should be ready to go.
  3. David Martin

    David Martin

    Apr 7, 2008
    Go for it Gov! I've always enjoyed sharpening and mastering the skill to shave with my straight. You'll learn a few tricks along the way and earn the pride due for it. You can get just as good a shave with a straight as a DE only you mastered the areas along the journey. Let us know how it goes. DM
  4. THG


    May 18, 2008
    I made the same jump (from Sensor to Straight) over a year ago. A straight razor is much, much more difficult to use and maintain. To this day, I don't think I have ever had a satisfactory shave with a straight razor simply because I don't have the skill (and/or equipment) to hone them properly.

    So I eventually went from straights to DEs, and I've been using DEs ever since.

    Hopefully you'll have better luck.
  5. The Government

    The Government

    Aug 21, 2009
    Thanks for the replies guys! I am really looking forward to the overall experience.

    FYI- The company I purchased the goods from advertised that they have all their straight razors professionally sharpened. I really like that, because it will give me a chance to see what a proper razor edge should look like. I am plenty comfortable sharpening knives, and I am hoping to transfer some skill there, but I didn't want to put the first edge on my razor "blind," so to speak.

    Also, there is a question I would like to clear up: What does the term DE imply?

    I am guessing that DE stands for "double edge." Does this term include both modern and traditional razors? My Gillette is the modern type that takes a cartridge refill, as opposed to the traditional blade replacement types.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012
  6. David Martin

    David Martin

    Apr 7, 2008
    It can but mostly here it refers to the traditional type which holds a disposable blade having two opposite cutting edges. DM
  7. David Martin

    David Martin

    Apr 7, 2008
    What type strop and fine stone do you have? Straight razors are the ultimate in conserving landfill space. DM
  8. The Government

    The Government

    Aug 21, 2009
    The strop I am going to use should come in next week. It was made by straight razor designs (I am not sure of the exact leather they use). I am only going to use this strop for straight razors and I will keep it as clean as possible. I also have a diamond loaded strop that I use for knives, but it could also be upgraded.

    I am seriously lacking in the natural stone department. I do have some, but they are not something I would use for this purpose.

    Do you have any favorite stones for straight razor maintenance?

    I was going to wait until I could see the razor's edge before I bought a stone for it... -Just to get an idea of what I had to deal with. (It is coming pre-sharpened)

    Thanks again for the replies!
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012
  9. David Martin

    David Martin

    Apr 7, 2008
    If it comes shave ready stropping on plain leather will work for a while. But you'll convex the edge or simply need to take it to a fine stone at some point for a tune up. A ultra fine Spyderco ceramic and stropping on leather then newspaper will do you. A Belgiun yellow coticule stone is finer, gives a better edge but is pricey. Not to mention somewhat tricky to use. For your use the one ceramic stone should keep your blade razor sharp. Remember to use a Sharpie in determining your razor's edge angle and tape the spine to hit it. Have fun. DM
  10. ConBon


    Jan 17, 2012
    Get a vintage razor hone off of fleabay or from the fleamarket. They are dark and smooth. Do a little research to see what they look like so you buy a real one, and don't end up buying a clogged oilstone on accident :D. They cut really fast for the mirror finish they leave. I use one as a finishing stone on my knves.

    P.S. DE=Safety razor
  11. theblindog


    Jul 7, 2010
    congrats, have a nice shave!
    DE= Double Edge, the razor you put on a safety razor
  12. CWL


    Sep 15, 2002
    Great set-up ... however, you've forgotten one very important item! You'll be needing one of these! (believe me, I know!)

    Alum block;

    or styptic pencil:
  13. jnich67


    Dec 4, 2006
    Be patient. There is some trial and error, but stick with it. Enjoy

  14. theblindog


    Jul 7, 2010
  15. The Government

    The Government

    Aug 21, 2009
    Thanks for all the replies and advice!

    I did the first shave tonight. I think I did an okay job. I can see that I have a lot to learn. The razor really cuts differently at different angles and I am learning how to maneuver it around my face. In time I can see myself getting better.

    The brush and soap is a great combo to have. I will probably rarely use pressurized canister foam anymore, if ever.

    Now I have a few more things on my list to pick up.
  16. David Martin

    David Martin

    Apr 7, 2008
    When shaving with my straight my 1st stroke is downward, 2nd is across on the cheeks. On the neck mostly downward maybe one up. The chin, down and up. In the mustache area across and down and lightly up at the base of the shnoz to cut those few whiskers. I found it necessary to round the tip of my straight as it caused cuts. Getting comfortable at executing the strokes, each at the correct angle is important and shave prep. I take it your straight was shave ready? DM
  17. The Government

    The Government

    Aug 21, 2009
    Yes, it was "shave ready."

    Rather than "testing the waters with my toes," I wanted to jump right in and get started.

    By professional standards, I am sure my first straight shave was sloppy, inefficient, and not as close as it can be.

    I am looking forward to all I have to learn.

    PS- I will admit, the first shave was boarder-line terrifying at times :D. I remember holding the razor up to my neck for the first "neck pass".... I looked in the mirror just before I did it, and thought to myself, "here it goes!":D
  18. David Martin

    David Martin

    Apr 7, 2008
    Good you need to jump in with both feet. Stropping this blade will bring it back to it's original condition perhaps even sharper if done correct. You survived it now learn and keep shaving gaining confidence along the way. You'll make it. DM
  19. The Government

    The Government

    Aug 21, 2009
    Update: I have picked up a few things since my last post.

    After doing a little research, I decided to buy a set of norton stones. 220/1K 4k/8k (lapped on my DMT blue course stone)

    I also got another strop and some .5 Diamond spray.

    That styptic pen has been very useful as well!

    Overall, this straight razor has changed a lot of my shaving routine. I only use it on weekends currently (I don't want to rush myself before work), but even when using my safety razor on weekdays -I have a better understanding of what I am doing. I was never taught about second passes -switching from "with the grain" to "against the grain." I have been looking at the shaving diagrams posted here, and they have been a great help. I am actually paying attention to the direction my facial hairs grow -what spots are more stubborn, etc...

    And the brush... I really cant say enough good things about it as a lathering technique/concept. Sooooo much nicer than that funky chemical foam from the supermarket (which has always dried my face out).

    Thanks again for the help here guys. I'll post again after I do my first sharpening on the norton stones.
  20. unky_gumbi


    Aug 28, 2009
    Aside from the wonderful shave I get from a DE, I don't have the nerve to try a straight:eek:, I would have to say more than half the enjoyment of my shaves come from the lather. With a poor lather shaving is no fun at all:(

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