If I want to try out a straight razor

Discussion in 'General Straight Razor Talk' started by Necator, Oct 20, 2007.

  1. I have been using DE's for about a year, and therefore have a good stock of brushes, creams, DEs etc. If I want to try out straight razors as well, what do I need to get (besides the razor) ? And how much would that set me back ?

  2. A wide dispersal of economic options. You'll get 20 answers from 10 people. My first two answers would be to go with a shave ready razor from a member, not just a razor, a barber hone off ebay, and a strop. My second answer would be to get a paddle strop with .5 paste. I think that is all you really need.

    Option 1 I can see acquiring for about $80-85 dollars without the razor and option 2 for about $45 without the razor.

    There are far cheaper and far more expensive alternatives to this as well.

    In my opinion, razor, hone (or abrasive pasted strop) and a daily strop are the three big components. What you pay for each is up to you. I would recommend a middle of the road approach if you can afford it and I would actually lean towards being more spendy with a strop than any other piece of equipment as all straight users use it everyday with every razor.

    Everyone else will likely disagree completely and have a million better ideas.
  3. I'm actually in the process of writing an interactive (and complete) guide to staight razor shaving in hidden forums, then will make them all visible when complete - but here is section 3 and section 4 from the guide...


    Ok, I want a straight razor, what do I need to get started?

    This part is quite simple.

    1.) A SHAVE READY razor. (See section 4)
    2.) A means of keeping the edge sharp (abrasive pasted strop, barbers hone, or other “finishing hone”)
    3.) A serviceable strop in good condition, ideally with 2 sides, one canvas and one leather.
    4.) A shaving brush to create lather with. (See the review section to help you decide which one would be best for you)
    5.) A top quality shaving cream or shaving soap (See the review section to help you decide which one would be best for you)



    This exists as a separate section to reinforce how important this is. When you buy a new straight razor from an online retailer, or a brick and mortar store, it is almost never shave ready. If the retailer SPECIFICALLY STATES the razor has been honed and made shave ready BY HAND, or has been honed by a “honemeister” then you probably have a shave ready razor, however if the razor has never been opened, and has come straight from the factory – there is a VERY slim chance that the razor will be shave ready. Some will require just a light touch up hone, and others may require up to an hour (or more) of a skilled “honemeisters” touch.


    THE most important key to your success with a straight razor, is starting with a properly honed, keen edge that someone (with ideally years of experience) has both sharpened and test shaved with. Simply buying a new razor, or picking up an ebay razor – is NOT sufficient, and will NOT yield good results. Also, don’t be fooled, honing is NOT easy, hones are quite expensive, and you do not want to start off handicapped – not knowing if your razor is sharp enough. You will have a miserable time attempting to hone your first razor, and you will almost surely fail.


    DO –
    1.) Get your razor (ideally) from someone on the forum who has been around for at least a year, and has a fair amount of posts. This isn’t a “sure bet” but typically individuals who have been around for awhile, and who are relatively active/interested in the hobby are going to be significantly better at both honing, and helping you in your adventure.
    2.) If you are buying new – make sure it has been honed properly. If not – send it out to be honed by someone who has been straight razor shaving for a while.
    3.) Get the best razor that fits your needs, and your budget. Cutting corners, or “cheaping out” will not get you a good razor. Be HIGHLY suspect of a straight razor costing less than $40. The rule of thumb “you get what you pay for” applies to a certain extent – in that the quality of the razor (shave-wise and fit & finish) tends to increase up to about $100 or so. After $100, most of what you are paying for is enhances ascetics, custom features, rare or historical blades, and so on and so forth. This doesn’t mean that you can’t spend $40 on a nice razor on ebay in mint condition, send it out to be honed, and end up with a better shaving razor than a $100 (or more) new or used razor, nonetheless when selecting a razor, typically if it’s going for close to, or more than $100 on ebay, it’s doing so for a reason, and likewise with new razors. Do you need the flashiest razor out there? Heavens no, a plain handled new razor from Thiers Issard, or Dovo for example can be a superb razor for under $100 as well, but – you’ll be more interested, and have more fun/excitement/pleasure using one that speaks to you design wise. Remember, pending you don’t do anything silly with it, a straight razor will be a lifelong tool, and will supply you with a lifetimes worth of shaves. Do it once… do it right.

    DON’T –
    1.) Assume your razor is shave ready.
    2.) Buy your first razor off of ebay, unless it has been honed, and is being sold by a reputable dealer.
    3.) Try to hone your first razor.
    4.) Cheap out on equipment. You don’t need the flashiest things, but you DO want top quality, as a strop, hone and razor will last generations.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2017
  4. As stated above there are many degrees of what is needed. You are the determining factor on what is needed by the degree of which you want to get into Straights.

    You will find that straights are more than just a way to shave in this day and age. They become a way of life (for many). Not to say it's that way for all that get into it. It is for me, a way of doing things. So I have everything I need to get the razor up and shaving. Hones, brushes, strops, paddle strops and such.

    At the moment I have what I consider the base minimum for straight razor shaving...

    Norton 4/8k stone
    Pasted paddle strop with 1.0/0.5 diamond paste
    Bismarck strop
    Brush (altesse silver tip)
    Soaps and or creams

    You already have half the gear so a good strop (not the best as you may kill it in the learning curve), and a hone. I prefer the 4/8k norton as it really is a great stone for the money. A pasted paddle strop can be a great time saver and I'm very glad I got one. The paste is up to you as there two ways to go, Diamond paste and chromium oxide. Diamond cuts faster but chromium oxide is slower but polishes better (smoother edge). Tony Miller makes a great paddle strop and will paste it up how you like.

    Get a strop and a shave ready razor off a member, they can be found for good prices, and see if this is the way for you. I started 6 months ago and I'm hooked, I don't see any end to this way of shaving :biggrin:
  5. To begin you will need
    1. Shave Ready Str8 (i.e. honed by a honemiester) or purchase one from a member here or at SRP
    2. Strop
    3. Techniques to learn str8 shaving.
    4. Learn how to strop

    If you decide to continue within a month or so you will need
    1. Sharpening Stones start (w/ Norton 4k/8k)
    2. Honing skills

    Finally you will need to sell majority of your DE's as you will realize that nothing beats the performance and satisfaction of a str8 shave:wink:
  6. Suzuki

    Suzuki Moderator Emeritus

    In addition to traditional straights, there are disposable blade straights that are an option for the straight curious.

    You can get a Dovo stainless steel Shavette or similar razor for under $30 - these razors use 1/2 of a DE blade (many guys pooh-pooh these razors, but this is what the pros have to use for hygene reasons and they can give a great shave).

    The other option is the Feather - which runs about $100 plus blades, which I think are something like $11 for 15 or 20 blades.

    Going with a disposable blade razor avoids having to buy a strop, stone/hone/pasted hone and lets you concentrate on your shaving technique (admittedly there are differences between the technique used for disposable blade straights and traditional straights, but you can quickly adapt from one to the other).

    I went directly to the traditional straights and don't regret it, but there was a learning curve before I could properly maintain the edges on my razors. I've got both the Shavette and Feather (got very good deals on used ones) and throw them in the mix occasionally just for fun, but think they're both good options for those who want to try a straight without making the financial or time committment required by traditional straights.
  7. Chris,
    I own a Shavette as well and many times it is what I take when I travel. I get most of the straight razor experience but still get to pack light and not bother with stropping while travelling. It is not quite the same of course but makes an inexpensive start to even see if you like this first.

  8. I am in a similar situation. I have been on the edge of buying a straight for a while. No pun intended.

    I have a related question. I noticed on this thread: http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?t=28059 , that Joel wrote that the first set up was best for someone with a thick/heavy beard. As I am in the Slant/Feather camp, how can I find out what sort of straight I should buy for my heavy beard? I usually do three to four passes with a slant & feather. The most I get out of a feather is two shaves (6-8 passes). I often will only use the blade for one shave. Thanks in advance for your advice!
  9. Joel, that is a really great looking guide. I can't wait to see the rest of it. Thank you!
  10. Six to eight passes with a Feather is . . . interesting. You need a 12/8 straight then. Just kidding. A 6/8, 1/2 hollow should cover it fine. I'm really not sure about the whole heavy beard idea. Most beards just need good prep and they all start acting the same. The big problem with heavy beards is the build-up of whiskers that clog a cartridge or even a DE eventually. These problems are overcome with a straight easily. But six to eight passes with a Feather might require a Battle Axe instead of a razor.
  11. I wonder how long one could shave with a shave-ready razor that is just stropped before each shave. If I use a new straight, say, three times a week... ? If the blade gets dull, can I get away with just using a paddle strop and then the regular strop at first?

    I like to know, because if I were to go straight I'd like to spread my expenses in time, first getting the razor and strop, then the paddle strop and only later spend money on hone(s).
  12. I think you could go about 6 months if you knew what you were doing. Its the knowledge part that is the snag in the plan though.
  13. Isn't stropping relatively simple? I've got a book with illustrations and there's some stuff on youtube. Also, my razor store keeper will happily demonstrate it. Should that be sufficient to start out or will I ruin the blade?
  14. Its hard for me to say. If you stay conservative you'll probably do ok. If you think right off the bat that the razor should shave just like a DE you'll probably over-strop and screw up the edge. Go easy and you'll be ok. Keep the strop taught and you should be really good.
  15. Thanks, hopefully Santa will get me that Dovo Special 5/8 tortoise :rolleyes:
  16. Back to the original question. I've traveled this route in the last few months.

    You need:

    1. A razor. This has been covered pretty well already. If you buy one shave-ready from this forum or SRP, you'll spend somewhere from $40 to $100 or more, depending on your budget, your tastes, and what comes up for sale while you're in the market.

    Another option on the razor is to find one you like at an antique store or flea market, and have one of the honemeisters sharpen it for you. Honing is usually around $20, plus shipping.

    2. A strop for daily stropping, and a pasted strop to keep the edge sharp.
    The least-expensive option is a 2-sided paddle strop: one side is pasted for actual sharpening, and the other side is plain for daily stropping. This is all that you really "need".
    Price: $40 to $50.

    Most of us like a hanging strop for daily stropping. The most basic ones cost $30. I have a very nice Dovo, and a bottom-of-the-line strop from Tony Miller. The Dovo is nice. Tony's is nicer. The Dovo does have better hardware on it. That's one of the things you get for the extra money.

    That puts your rock-bottom cost at $80 to $90, or roughly 417 to 469 Danish Krone. Plus shipping costs. And of course the price goes up as you decide to spend a little more, and not get the least-expensive choice. But you've been shaving with a DE for over a year and have a good stock of soaps and creams, so you know all about that. :biggrin:
  17. I think for someone starting out the best bet is a kit from one of the guys here. You'll be getting a razor shave ready and all the basic stuff you need for the best price.

    I think if you catch it before things go too far south you can maintain a razor with pasted strops for a long time. The only thing I find is you'll be stropping more often because sharpening with pasted strops (at least diamond) just doesn't last as long as using a hone like the coticule.
  18. Taz


    +1 Great advice
  19. ouch

    ouch Moderator Contributor

    If you're only interested in "trying it out", then you really need just a bare minimum.

    1)A razor. Old or new, cheap or expensive (one of my best cost $16), as long as it is in ready to shave condition.
    2)A strop. It is needed every time you shave. If you get lucky, you can get a "2nd" or a good basic one pretty cheap.

    Even if you pay more than you thought you'd have to, you can recoup almost all of your outlay if you decide to resell it. If you decide that it's for you, then you can worry about getting a hone or pasted strop.

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