Another Shaving Journal....

Discussion in 'Journals and Diaries' started by cameraflier, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. Straight Shaving Log…. Entry #1.

    I got the kit together. A kind B&B’er, global_dev, honed it up and delivered it yesterday. He warned me not to strop it. He vouched that it was shave ready. I admired it. It’s not a beauty. Maybe I’ll restore it someday if my skills improve. But this 4/8 Torrey will be my starter kit while I build some skills and restore something beautiful. This morning I screwed up my courage and gave it a go. I tried two passes, shaving most of my face. This is how it went…

    I did my typical prep. I’ve been shaving with a DE for about a year. A DFS to near BBS has become fairly common. I typically do four passes, aiming for a high standard through gentle patience. Lately I’ve been face lathering Tabac.

    First pass, WTG, dominant hand on same side. I was holding a very shallow blade angle, figuring that I could go steeper as my skills improve and the process requires it. I perceived a shallow angle as a risk adverse approach for shave #1. Right off, it didn’t seem smooth. It wasn’t jumpy, but I expected it to be smoother. I immediately questioned my prep. The drag reminded me of DE shaving with dry lather, only worse. It wasn’t the delicate whipping away of whiskers I dreamt about. I kept at it, and then switched hands for the other side. Left side w/ left hand, WTG, wasn’t as bad as I expected. It took a second to get started, but I was encouraged by my progress. I switched back for my lip and chin. Those weren’t as difficult as I had anticipated.

    My neck…. Ugh, ok… I definitely need to explore pulling-stretching-contortions to flatten things out. That will help immensely as I build blade control. I’m a tall skinny guy, so my jaw line is a very pronounced edge, and my neck lacks any natural flat planes. With a DE, I shave my neck using a lot of Gillette-slide-ish diagonal action. With the straight, practice will tell.

    I did a rinse, and felt lots of hair remaining on my face. I was only planning one pass with the straight today, but here I decided to give it another go. This time XTG, chin to ear. On my neck I tried S-N (that’s XTG for me. My neck grows primarily E-W with a few swirly bits.) I toughed through it. The XTG pass with my non-dominant hand was a challenge. I experienced considerable frustration there. I am not ambidextrous. I need to review some pictures of suggested ways to hold the blade, and practice them. I confused myself a few times. I never thought it would be so tricky to get the angle correct while still being able to see the action in a mirror.

    I rinsed off. I had one minor weeper in the chin-meets-cheek area. No burns or irritated spots. I was disappointed with the quantity of hair that remained attached to my face. Admittedly, I was favoring a mild angle. Still, I was periodically pulling the blade across my finger, uber-gently, to inspect the spent lather for trimmings. I was cutting stuff. I was making progress. But the results are nothing near the one-pass-SAS-or-better I’ve heard so many times. Gotta practice, gotta get the angle right. I took a breath and remained myself that it’s a process, and that I can’t expect much from these first 20 shaves. Patience, and practice will be rewarded. Deep breaths…..

    (I finished by shaving two easy passes with a mild DE, and called it a day. It’s not a perfect shave, but I didn’t expected one. I’m learning. )
  2. great start! did you try shaving your arm hair or ankle hair just to see how sharp/smooth that edge it can be and to get a quick angle lesson? i would lightly strop on your paddle going slow enough that you don't falter.. a good stropping (especially on a pasted surface) can increase the sharpness of an edge pretty well especially after a beginner's session.

    sorry to hear about the drag experience, we all experience that at the beginning learning stages... it won't be as smooth as your favorite DE/blade combo for a while...

    did you notice lather sticking to your blade? i used the edge with just water on my sideburns and it seemed good. i don't like the 0 angle shave.. it doesn't work well for me. I lift the spine, especially on such a small razor, about 15-20 degrees or so.

    i was thinking i should have loaned you a slightly larger time-tested razor for me. i should have now in retrospect.. PM and we'll talk.
  3. The only errors are between the floor and the blade.

    I do have a bald spot on my calf. SWMBO was laughing when she caught me. I did notice the angle dependence. I do see the potential to gracefully sweep away hair. I trust the tool and the excellent honing job.

    I started with a mild and shallow angle, only because I wanted to keep bloodshed to a minimum on this first effort. After all, it was a groggy Monday morning. I fully expect to start dialing it up, sneaking up on the magic angle. From the wisdom I’ve managed to read, I’d rather approach it from the shallow side. (correct?)

    Don’t take my frustration too seriously. I’m learning. This is fun frustration.

  4. strop

    strop Moderator Emeritus

    When you do use a DE, practice with your non-dominant hand. I forced myself to use both hands with DE shaving and I think it has helped in the transition to straight shaving. I know there are many straight users who only use one hand, but if you're going to use both, practice with the DE.
  5. Hey there cameraflier

    Your story is similar to mine... I am a tall skinny guy too and I also have trouble going around the jaw and on the neck with a straight (especially around the Adams apple). I laughed when I read your comments about your confusion with how to hold the razor while shaving your neck - but only because I had the same issue. After a few shaves it doesn't feel so foreign, but I think I shave my neck differently every time (just because I haven't yet discovered anything that feels really natural).

    Keep persevering and the quality of shaves will improve. I'm reasonably happy with my 2 pass straight shaves now but they still take a long time and I beat my face up a bit while doing them! I think blade angle is to blame for that!

    Enjoy the journey and great start to your journal!
  6. For me the first several shaves were tense and frustrating, as I learned the angle, grip, not too much pressure etc. Then one day you just sort of relax into it, and next thing you know you're actually shaving! Then the next day you cut yourself. And so it goes, but you are at the bottom of a steep learning curve, that just requires patience and practice.
  7. Kentos

    Kentos Moderator Emeritus

    Congrats on the first shave! The first shave is always not what you expect after watching countless youtubes. Confidence in taking quick strokes-short or long- will make that blade slice through the whiskers like they weren't even there.

    That contributor badge looks mighty fine too!
  8. Shave #2

    Last night I spent some time with a unrestored and very safe blade. I did a few dry-shaves with it, in the mirror. I played with holding the razor, achieving a good angle, and drawing it against stubble with some confidence in my stroke. I had the house to myself, so I could take my time and get more comfortable with the blade in my hand. I think that helped quite a bit.

    This morning was shave #2. My WTG pass was considerably better. I pulled the blade down with a little more confidence. The trimmings in the lather were noticeably larger. That’s a good sign. I did a far better job at pulling skin around to avoid my jawline. My underchin is still awkward, but I’m working on it. Next time I’ll try looking up more. My XTG was still frustrating.

    Still sub-SAS, but I’m making progress.

    It’s odd. I’m finding there is a momentum required to make a smooth draw across the face. If I can place the razor and get that motion started, I’m usually ok.

    One light nick under my nose. (That’s what I get for talking trash about upper lips yesterday.) It wasn’t a bleeder, but I can still feel it.

    I stropped afterwards today, giving it probably 25 passes each way on a leather paddle, approximating and x-pattern. I suppose stropping will become more important as I take the initial honemeister's polish off this edge.

    Maybe I should change my screen name to "Grasshopper."

    ( edit.... That name is already taken... I just checked. )
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  9. strop

    strop Moderator Emeritus

    At first I tried to place the blade to my face, adjust the angle and then start to make a pass. Recipe for disaster. As you get more experience and certain things seem more natural, it now feels as if I start the razor moving just a fraction before it actually touches skin, so that momentum is there. Feels smoother and no grabbing. I think that is the sensation that is interpreted as a dull razor when we start.

  10. Having read that, it seems perfectly clear.
    Many Thanks.
  11. Wow - well said!

    Congrats cameraflier! You know, it takes a while to get a BBS shave with a straight. Having mastered DE shaving and knowing what you are missing, I think turns many off when they don't get quick results. I just remind myself of how kind of boring DE shaving was becoming for me and push along. 2012, is my year to use a straight and nothing else!

    Note that you might actually start looking for diferent qualitys in your soaps/creams as you go too.
  12. I think this is a great tip. I moved in kind of the opposite direction - I skipped the DE part and went directly to straights and have always used my non-dominant hand. I picked up a DE and tried it a few times and found I was using it with my non dominant hand like a straight!
  13. Great your second shave went smoother. Keep it up and don't give up.
  14. Shave #3

    The good parts:
    • No blood today. I’m fumbling about less. It takes a second or three to transition from one quadrant to another, especially during my changes from strong-weak hand, but overall I’ve improved. My stroke is getting more confident. I still inspect the spent lather, and it’s continually loaded with dead whiskers. I felt a bit bold after two passes (wtg-xtg). So I tried for another pass, xtg but opposite. I was still cutting stuff. No SAS yet, but judging by the accumulated trimmings in the sink, I must be getting better.
    • I kept strop’s comment in mind. Those were good words.
    The other parts:
    • After today’s effort, my skin is left feeling a bit over-shaved. I’m not pink or anything, but I can feel it. If this were an adjustable DE, I’d dial it back one click. Maybe the third pass wasn’t a good idea, but I’m sticking to it. More time with the blade in hand is a good thing. I have some Nivea stashed at work. I can always sneak a dose if my skin continues to complain. Tomorrow is to be decided.
    • During the third pass, the blade seemed to catch more. I suspect it’s poor edge maintenance on my part. When I finished up, I stropped and then tested the edge on my forearm. Results were disappointing. It’ll still sweep hair, but it wasn’t as good as before. I returned to the strop. It’s an older 4-sided paddle I snatched from a California junk shop. Stone, red leather, black leather, and naked leather. (The black stuff flaked off and disintegrated the first time I tried using it, some months back. I now ignore that side.) I gave it ~30 passes on the red, and then ~50 on the leather. Back to the arm…. Some improvement. I shelved it all and packed up for work. I’ll likely return to it this evening, and simply strop for a while. The practice and the blade conditioning couldn’t hurt, right?
    Today’s lesson: Gotta learn to stop better, and more. Edge maintenance is important, and not to be neglected. It’s unfortunate that I’m learning two things at once (shaving and stropping), but I’ll work it out.

    Three shaves down....
    I’m making progress…
  15. I think you're right- practice and blade conditioning isn't going to hurt (unless you cut your strop hehehe). As long as technique is good, it's about impossible to "overstrop" a blade.

    Not sure how you strop the blade, but I typically strop ~20 on fabric, ~50-60 on leather. That's my routine, I bet I could get away with less stropping but it works for me.

    Keep it up, it seems like you're making some progress. You'll be giving expert tips to newbies before you know it.
  16. Ok. I just did 100 laps on the leather. I'll give it a shave in the morning, and report back.

    (I feel like some spaz kid trying to learn how to ride a bike, or swim. Sure, there's nothing to it... unless you can't. Then it's f'n hard. .....)

    Still smiling.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2012
  17. Shave #4

    First blood today. It's a nice vertical cut in the center of my chin. I guess I'm a straight shaver now.

    After face lathering, I did some more stropping. While I've never been one for the full Kyle's Prep routine, I figured I could used this time a as pre-soak for the lather. Beyond the cut, the shave went well. No real changes from yesterday. Everything went just a tad smoother. Three passes today. WTG followed by two opposite XTG. It was encouraging. I feel I'm creeping up on that first straight-only SAS.

    Notable razor burn today. Either I'm getting to caviler with the blade, or this is simply the accumulation of a week's hacking by my inexperienced hand. Probably both.

    I also have my first restoration going. Last night I fit the wedge. I hope to get the pivot pin set tonight, and soon I can get that one honed. I'm curious to restart with a fresh edge, if only to learn how much effect I've had on this one in 4 days of hacking around.

    Happy Thursday...
  18. You're really jumping into it with a restore! Post your restore on the restoration sub forum. You'll get some great feedback there.
  19. Dear Cameraflier, I understand your frustration on various aspects of the shave but to me, it seems you are doing very well. Figuring out how to do the strokes is all part of learning this exciting way of shaving and you will find that it will sort itself out on its own the more you practice. When going XTG, I always found it very awkward to go from chin to ear because the more distance i covered the less in control of the blade I felt on account of the fact that the lower arm can only go so far towards the upper arm. For me, in order to shave my left cheek, it is much easier to hold the razor in my right hand and to pull it from ear to chin. Also for the angle issues, a fellow shaver once told me that it is much easier to uphold a consistent angle if you lock your wrist and do the stroke with your arm than to do the stroke with your wrist. Hope this helps, good luck!
  20. Christian, do you have a hanging strop? or just the paddle?

    i think i'll be around some time this long weekend if you need some help... i know my wife has some plans, but i am sure i will be free for at least a couple hours.

    let me know.

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