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Straight razor learning curve

Joined
Jan 24, 2008
Messages
14
I have recently purchased an old straight razor and a strop and plan to give it a try. After reading some posts on this site it appears there are several large learning curves in this method of shaving such as how to keep the razor sharp, extra care in preparing the beard and the actual shaving. I tried if for the first time last night just shaving a small area on the right cheek and neck and it seems I am on the bottom of the curve.
I was wondering what is the average time to get the hang of this art form and is really a closer smoother shave than using modern blades?
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2005
Messages
206
It took me about a month the first time I picked one up. That was all trial and error and blood loss. If I go for a while without shavine it usually takes 3 or 4 shaves to back into it.

ron
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2003
Messages
151
About a month seems right - of dedicated shaving with a straight. Once you've got the motions down of wielding the straight, and know your facial hair pattern, it will give a dramatically closer shave.
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2008
Messages
14
thanks for the replies
I will keep trying it is very scarry holding that open blade to your face for the first time. I also need to work on stropping the blade I don't think I had it as sharp as it should be. the blade seemed to pull the hair out rather than cut it clean. Do you use any special shaving cream or treatment before shaving and does using hot towels make that much differance? Hopefuly I can learn from y'all and I can shorten the learning curve and save some pain and blood.
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2003
Messages
151
How did you hone the blade? If you just stropped it, then it's probably not sharp enough to shave comfortably with. Many guys are honing at the 8K range and higher for a highly-polished, smooth edge. If you need some help getting it honed up, just reply back in the thread, and I'll pass you some additional information. Also can you describe your stropping? Doing it incorrectly can significantly impair the performance.

Beard preparation is critical! Hot towels can definitely improve the shave. Overall, you have to make sure that you've got the whiskers as softened and hydrated as possible to make the shave easier. Use a couple of towels left on your face for 1-2 min. each. Then lather up with your preference of products. I personnaly use a badger hair brush and a lathering soap or cream (not shaving foam or gel from a can).

You can reduce the feeling of pull by adjusting your razor stroke. While moving the blade edge at a perpindicular angle is safest, it will produce more pull. You want to use one or more of these methods: toe-leading, scything motion, or forward-down (horizontal+vertical) motion (this is the one that cut you good if you move more horizontal than vertical).

The nervousness will go away. Just make sure to maintain your concentration and respect for the instrument, and you'll avoid the worst of the blood-letting.
 
Joined
Aug 29, 2007
Messages
108
Go to the straightrazorplace.com. They have all the information you need, and then some. I only shave with a straight razor. Sometimes, it's the best part of the day!
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2008
Messages
14
xChris
i just used the fine stone from my lansky system putting the blade flat on the stone and pulling toward the blade heel to tip however i just found another stone while digging through my stuff that may work better. as far as stropping I laid the blade flat on the strop pulling away from the blade heel to tip using a pollishing compound on the ruff side and just the leather on the smooth side. Stropping is an art that I am working on with my knifes also. I tried a shaving again last night and it was easier you are right the nervousness gets alittle better each time and I will work on the blade angle to help reduce the pulling as i get more comfortable using the open blade.

Gigmaster- thanks for the web site I will check it out

thanks to everyone y'all have been a great help
 
Joined
Nov 22, 2006
Messages
2,640
I have no experience in straight razor shaving, but I've wanted to get into it for a while now. When I have some time to learn the art of bloodletting, I definitely will.:D

However, a year or two ago I was at a very good knife shop, and they told me to spend a few weeks practicing on tomatoes and kiwis. First they said to run the straight razor's edge over the surface of the tomato to practice not cutting into the tomato. Then you spend some serious time "shaving" the tomato by cutting the skin with as little flesh as possible. (hm!) Once you are a master at only getting the dry skin with no flesh at all, you move to a kiwi, which you shave of its beard.

Apparently several weeks of this achieves not only interesting salads, but a much finer touch and very little bloodletting when you start on your face.
 
Joined
Jan 4, 2008
Messages
27
i wanted to get into straight blade shaves a few years back, and so went to a local barber shop to get some tips before buying one... here is what the guy said: 'why you want to do that?? Even I don't use straight blades anymore, i use gillettes in a straight holder... I won't show you how to shave with a straight blade you will cut yourself to the teeth'
so , since you can't argue with an old italian barber.. i just walked away and eventually gave up the idea... my only real motivation for this project was to do away with throwaway blades.
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2003
Messages
1,234
This is part of what I was told, how to practice with a straight razor....

Blow up a balloon and slather it with shaving cream, when you can "shave" all the shaving cream off and not pop the balloon, move on to shaving your face:eek:

needless to say, I have it done by a professional.
 
Joined
Oct 15, 2006
Messages
46
Paying a pro is nice, but once you start learning about cross-contamination, sterilization, bloodborne pathogens and the like, hospitals and Dr.s offices will give you the creeps, let alone a straight razor in a Barber's shop. And there's no way I'd use a straight razor on myself that I hadn't seen personally autoclaved, either; you have no idea how many dorks have nicked themselves on it before it comes to you.

Think about it; body piercers and tattoo artists have been required to use disposable sharps and everything else, as well as strict autoclave and cross-contamination routines for decades. Even at that I'd say only a handful of artists at the very top of their game are doing it right. When was the last time your barber went through multiple pairs of gloves and pulled bagged tools (razor included) right out an autoclave?

No thanks! :thumbdn: :barf:
 
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