Bad First Experience

Discussion in 'General Straight Razor Talk' started by Shaitani, Jul 29, 2009.

  1. I just got a Dovo 5/8", and I tried shaving just under my sideburns. The package the Dovo came in said that it was professionally honed and that it didnt need to be stropped before first use. Since my first strop hasn't arrived yet, I decided to give the razor a try. Before I did, I tried the HHT and it failed miserably. I thought it was strange, but assumed it was because of hair thickness or something.

    After the painful shave, and reading this post:, I'm starting to think that the bad experience isn't because I suck, but because the blade needs rehoning or something.

    The person in that post never really got an answer to what he should do. I was wondering if anyone had an opinion on what might be happening or what I should do.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2009
  2. Before you say anything you regret, don't go trashing the merchant. I recommend you edit the post above. 9 times out of 10, it's a big misunderstanding.

    The HHT isn't always an accurate test. Every time I have tried to do it, success depended more on the angle the hair hit the blade than anything else. I went nuts trying to figure out exactly how many hairs a shave ready blade should split vs. how many it didn't per pass. Then I stopped caring and life was much easier.

    Try cutting your arm hair at the base of the stalk, no trickery. The blade should glide effortlessly across your skin and remove a lot of hair in the process. If it does, then you're probably in good shape.

    Using a straight feels rough and painful the first few (or even few dozen), times. You'd be suprised how dull a sharp blade can be in the hands of a beginner. I know because I was there not too many months ago :lol:.
  3. It wasn't my intention to trash anyone at all, thanks for catching that.

    I will try the arm hair suggestion and report exactly how it cuts.
  4. Luc

    Luc Moderator Emeritus

    +1 on Chris

    My first straight shave wasn't the greatest but the more I use the straight, the more comfortable I get with it. It's not something that you can pick-up and be good at on the first try. If you do, you are very lucky. I did a few straight (real straight) shaves only and it only gets better every time!
  5. Thank you Luc and Chris, I guess it would have been easier for me to just blame the blade instead of focusing on the technique.

    I tried the arm hair thing; with my first quick pass only 60% of the hairs in an area were even cut. When I applied pressure on the second pass it cut the hairs right off without damaging my skin. As for the HHT, I tried every possible angle I could think of, wet and dry hair, both directions of the hair, different kinds of hair. The only time I was able to 'pop' off the hair was when the blade would 'catch' onto a rough part of the hair. Even when it caught onto some part of the hair, some of the time it just split the hair length-wise. Based on the result of my arm hair shave though and what Chris said, it looks I just need to stop focusing on it anyway.

    So if this means that the blade is good and my technique is bad, I must be in for some terrible shaves, because that first one pulled hairs, left razor burn and gave me nicks and I was only cutting a small portion of my face.

    As for shaving techniques, do you guys have any recommendations as to how I know when I'm applying the correct amount of pressure against my face? Also, how slowly/quickly should I make the stroke? I'm assuming the speed is dependent on the pressure. Any thoughts would be helpful.
  6. SiBurning

    SiBurning Steward Contributor

    That sounds like a wickedly sharp blade. I couldn't cut any hairs off my arm. Maybe with Kyle's prep and a really good tallow soap. ;)

    I'm only two months into using a straight, and can sympathize with you. There's a few variables that take getting used to. Since I'm so new, I won't give advice, except to say you're not the only one having trouble and questioning. More like in the majority. Take it easy on yourself and on your face. And take your time.
  7. That's interesting, as non of the above resonates with my admittedly newbish 3 weeks worth of experience with straights.

    I have two straights now, a full hollow Ern, and a wedge French something that I can't really identify. Both of them purchased through the BST here, and both honed to shave ready by the sellers.

    Both of them shave the hair off my arm with 0 pressure. In fact, if I pass them in the air, several mm above my skin, they still cut the hairs at the height where they meet the edge.

    As for the HHT test, I find they do significantly better at it after a good stropping.

    I'm not implying anything about your razor, nor the seller, nor the person who honed it. Just saying that mine do shave my arm hair with absolutely no pressure. In fact even my kitchen knives shave my arm hair with absolutely no pressure immediately after honing.
  8. SiBurning

    SiBurning Steward Contributor

    Strong hair. Two barbers have commented on how strong my hair is.

    I tried a variation on the hanging hair test. I pulled a hair over the blade so that it made a clean angle and dragged it across the full length of the blades. I could drag it along the full length of any blade, several times, including a DE feather. It cut occassionally, but most of the time, it only cut if I applied a little pressure. At times I was surprised how much pressure it took. On some blades, I thought the hair might stretch first.


    BTW, my new (from BST) Wade & Butcher is my goldilocks razor. I finally got my first straight SAS using it tonight for the first time. The others never felt quite right, so I've been trying different ones. Yet another complication or opportunity of straight shaving.

    I just dragged my new straight very lightly across my arm. It cut about three hairs in an inch.

    There's a bunch of threads, especialy in the honing section, where honers argue that this isn't a great test. I only know this thing shaves great, but can't cut my dry arm hairs.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2009
  9. I've been shaving with a straight for almost 30 years and I never was able to get the HHT to work.

    In my experience, new shavers have three problems: angle, pressure and stretching.

    For the angle, try laying the blade flat on your face and then lifting it just a tad, so that the spine is not touching, with a maximum of one spine width of space.

    As for pressure, use no pressure. The edge should just be touching your face.

    Stretching is key. Do what ever type of contorsion you have to do to get a grip on your skin and stretch as much as you can in the direction opposite the stroke. If you find you can't get a good grip because your face is wet/soapy, rub your fingers on an alum block or use a dry washcloth to get a good grip.

    I hope that helps.
  10. Well, I don't know what to tell you. But if you want me to take a look at the blade and touch it up if it doesn't conform to my standards, I would be happy to do so.

    edit: I've been honing for 7 years and have been getting great shaves for all of them. Only this past year have I been able to get the HHT to work. Its a parlor trick IMHO. While it pretty much guarantees a super sharp blade, a super sharp blade is absolutely NOT Necessary. Shaving off an 8k stone is all that is needed. HHT is just icing on the cake, if you can get it to work. Remember, the HHT depends as much on the hair being tested as the edge.
  11. +1 leighton

    I shaved off the 8k side of my norton for many months before trying out pasted strops, and found the HHT MUCH easier after the pastes. However, the improvements on the shave itself were, although noticeable, not prominent. Don't get me wrong, I think pastes are the way to go, but could I live without? easily. Thus "Baby's ass != HHT" necessarily.

    p.s. My razors all cut the hair from my arm with ease, however, I can rarely, if ever cut them mid-stalk (This is probably because my beard hair[used in the HHT usually] is much coarser and thicker than my dainty girlish arm hair)
  12. I have done the pastes, but actually prefer the edge off my thuringan.
    My le grelot will pass any hair test you can throw at it, mid stalk arm, HHT, shave test(the only good test) and even leg hair(ran out of arm hair for a while)

    However, a little wedge razor I have, 5/8 about, fails the HHT, and is a far smoother shaver than the Le Grelot.
  13. Maybe if I keep testing razors on my air the hair will get less girly, anybody like Seinfeld?
  14. Is there a risk of getting stoned to death by angry fans if I say no?
  15. leighton, thank you for the offer, I might take you up on that if I get into the right failure streak. I am glad to hear that "Baby's ass != HHT" though, based on all of your experiences it appears as though the blade might be just fine.

    It seems to be that stropping increases the hair popping abilities of a blade, but what impact does stropping have on the shave exactly? Or is the purpose of stropping to increase the lifetime of the blade until it has to be honed again? I think I'm going to wait until my strop arrives next week before I attempt to shave again.

    "Women do it!"
  16. Thanks for the advice Chimensch, I'll keep what you said in mind for my next shave. The fact that you've never really used HHT and you've been straight razoring for 30 years is another good sign that HHT failure doesn't mean anything.
  17. I think the part that is so confusing about the HHT is exactly what does it mean for mid stalk cutting?
    Does it mean that every hair the edge passes gets cut mid stalk, or just some of them? I've seen plenty of blades that will cut some, but I've never seen a blade that will cut all.

    See, confusing; the HHT is confusing. There is no definition of what it even is :lol:.
  18. I don't think it is possible for a blade to cut all arm hairs mid stalk in one pass.
    As for the HHT, this video shows how it should be done. Blade motionless, bring the hair to the blade, and test multiple areas of the blade. I do at least 3 places, heel, belly and toe, but ONLY as a quick edge test, the only true test is to shave with the bloody thing.

  19. I didn't like the show either.
  20. I've never been able to use the HHT. I also got two brand new straights that were "shave ready" from a vendor and had the same experience. I've since learned that others can also not do the HHT because of their fine hair (Jockeys from SRP says this on one of his vids).
    Personally, I always strop prior to use. I've been at it for close to two months and still only do partial shaves with a straight. I haven't even attempted to do my whole face.
    I guess the moral is, there are far better tests of an edge than the HHT.

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