SRMD22's Shave Journal

Discussion in 'Journals and Diaries' started by srmd22, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. Don't know how religious I will be about keeping up with this, but here goes:

    This past Sunday was my first time. I acquired a blade from Whipped Dog about a month and a half back, and had a fit of "what the hell, let's mess around with it today." I've watched all the you tube vids and read the tutorials, so I was prepared from that perspective.

    I lathered up, after a little prorasa pre post, and got to scraping. I used some unscented AoS cream in a custom ceramic scuttle (blanking on the name atm, much loved vendor on this site, I'll post it later).

    Totally forgot to remove the vaseline from the blade, lol.

    So, that led to a funny, sticky first couple of strokes, but I quickly realized my error, and removed the vaseline with a washcloth.

    Now, I have to say, even though this is a honed, shave ready razor from Larry's WD, I had some tugging, and had to apply considerable downward force to get the blade to cut through my stubble. It did not cut like butter, or nearly as smoothly as my Merkur Futur or EJ89. However, it cut, and after about 20 min of playng around with different hand positions and whatnot, I got through wtg and east-west xtg on the cheeks, and mostly wtg, with a little north-south xtg on the neck. Didn't get bbs, but got pretty smooth on the cheeks, dfs maybe, and acceptable, though a bit stubbly on the neck-- but no flesh massacre, and my main goal was really to avoid that.

    Sunday's beard was a day's growth after a bbs the day before with the DE. Let it go to today (Tue), and went at it again, with a little more confidence and aggression. Again with the tugging (note, I still haven't stropped). Growth was longer, and actually a little easier to cut. I found with longer strokes there was less tugging, but again, this was no "the weight of the razor will do the work" experience. I had to apply considerable force, compared to my DE, and also it would be a good bit more then with say a fusion. Not pressure into the skin, but downward force against the beard hair. Ended up with almost bbs on cheeks and mostly dfs on neck. No irritation, one little weeper, couldn't even find the source after rinsing. Used that Billy Jealousy lube this time, so I could see the effects, which was helpful for learning. Still have some rough spots around the angle of the jawbone and neck area, but those are tough tomget for me even with DE's or carts.

    Holding the blade feels a bit awkward, and the neck area is a bit scary and takes a lot of time, but I got the job done. Fortunately I keep a goatee, so I am spared the learning curve on the lips and chin area for now.

    I'm going to strop this thing and see if it doesn't cut a bit smoother (I have been sharpening knives for years, so I am not expecting too much of an issue there, even though I know it is a bit different with a SR).

    Well, there you have it. I jumped in and the water is fine!
  2. I find that most of the tugging comes from timidness, when you get more confident in the strokes your shaves will improve. Stropping should help, I would suggest laying the strop on a counter and doing it that way, less change to roll the edge.

    Larry does put a very nice edge, you I would guess your troubles are technique related at this point.

    Hang in there if does get much better-about 100 shaves.
  3. Alfredo's got it right... way too slow a stroke will feel like tugging, too fast and you'll probably cut some appendage off. Stropping will help, but i think technique's the issue.
  4. bbarton713

    bbarton713 Contributor

    I'm glad that I have a goatee too!
  5. Thanks guys, I definitely did notice better action/less tugging with a more decisive stroke. I think as my confidence grows and technique improves, it'll smooth out.
  6. "Newbie Dull Razor Syndrome" is very common. I had a bad case myself. It goes away with time.

    Just be patient, and a little bit stubborn. It's worth the trouble.
  7. I am actually kind of surprised I haven't come across this syndrome before, in posts or vids, or the tutorial section. It is pretty noticeable. Warning to all noobs: straight edge feels dull the first few times, until you get used to the action!
  8. Well, this is turning out to be a kind of boring, bloodless shave journal. I have had two more shaves with the whipped dog sight unseen, which is actually a "Torrey" whatever that is.

    Thurday I did two passes, got almost bbs on the cheeks and pretty much dfs on the neck. Had some skipping and tugging, but no cuts. Stropped about 30 passes right before shaving, and had done about 20 (suede and smooth sides of the 2in strop, X pattern), after the previous shave. I think the blade needs a bit of work with the Cr02, but I have been to lazy to bother. Maybe tomorrow.

    Today I had some time in the late afternoon, so I got a bit adventurous. Did three passes PLUS touchup, using Nancy Boy preshave oil (first pass only) and Colonal Conks (almond scent, I think) soap. Also, I varied th angle considerably this time. Up to now I have been fearfully, strictly adhereing to the shallowest angle possible to avoid slicing up the face. Today I let the blade angle up to 30 or 40 degrees at times, after seeing several shave experts, like geofatboy, do the same on youtube vids. Miraculously, no cuts. Maybe because the razor is a bit dull, but it IS honed by Larry, so I think it is plenty sharp.

    No doubt, the feel is WAY differnt then the DE. I find I really need to put some elbow grease into it, to overcome the inertia of the first stage of resistance when the blade initially encounters hair. If I don't, it just hangs up thei
    re, and won't move forward. This is regardless of the angle. Need to PUSH a bit to get the blade going. Scary at first, but starting to feel more natural. Particularly awkward at difficult, contoured areas, around the anlgle of the jaw and near wrinkles in my neck. Awkward, but doable, and slowly getting easier as I build up muscle memory.

    I scaped away pretty good there, and was counting on some sinificant irritation, but there was only some brief razor burn, which subsided after a bit of AoS sandlewood after shave balm (which clashed rather unpleasantly with my EdT, but that's another story).

    Couple hous later, no irritation, and a shave very close to what I was getting with the DE, and much better then the Fusion (although with work I can get a pretty good result from the fusion as well).

    I tried a new thing on my neck. I can't really go xtg with the straight, because the blade is too long, as xtg is E-W/W-E toward my Adam's apple, for me. Instead I tried N-S but angled slightly toward the center and sideways, and this got me patches of bbs even on my neck. Frankly, that's about as good as I get with a DE, and this is with even less irritation, so I am pretty happy. I am really optomistic that I will be getting some super results in the coming months, with ths SR.

    Stropping has not been a problem at all, and I have not nicked the whipped dog beginner strop. Probably because I hav some experience sharpening pocket knives and kitchen knives on various stones and sharpening systems, including putting convex edges on some (which is a similar technique to stropping).

    I now want to by a coticule and a nice SR. Can't find what I am looking for though. I want a non hollow grind -- either 1/4 or 1/2 hollow (and I'd like a wedge too, for that matter), with a round or spanish point and nice, non-plastic scales. Bone, horn, maybe wood, whatever. Haven't seen one like this in the Dovo's, TI's or Bokers online. Maybe this combo doesn't exist. Probably just pick up a $150 or so Dovo from The Superior Shave, but I'd rather go more vintage, or find something with the stats I want. I am not loving the noisy full hollow, and I want to try a heavier blade, that will move through the beard with a bit less elbow grease.

    Signing off!
  9. Couple of more shaves under my belt, slow, incremental improvement. Last shave was dfs to bbs on cheeks, a little rough under the jaw and on the neck. I noticed a bit of mild irritation at the gym the next morning, went away after my shower.

    Tonight (Monday) I did 3 passes for the first time, and that last pass worked wonders. DFS to BBS on cheeks, and mostly neck as well, no irritation.

    I keep coming close to slicing myself right in front of my ear, but it hasn't happened-- gotta remember to be careful there, with the initial downward strokes on the side of the face. Looking at some square points, barbers notch and even a spanish point, so... danger ahead, lol. Problem in this area is that when I stretch the skin with the opposite hand, it blocks my view. Seems I have to work around this by scraping a bit off sans stretching, and then I can get a grip to stretch without blocking the view completely.

    Still having trouble getting an ATG pass just under the jaw for BBS there, but this was also the toughest part for me to learn with the DE, and that came with a little time, is all. Also, ATG on neck is E-W and W-E toward center, and I got a few bumps and grooves there. Finding that pass really tricky with the straight, but playing around with a N-S angling a bit E-W seems to be getting me closer and closer.

    Another trouble spot is jawline near goatee/side of chin. Just takes a lot of finesse and wiggling around with different blade angles and arm/hand angles, so there is a learning curve there too. Same with the jawline in general, but I have gotton close to bbs there with some slow, focused effort.

    Still not at the BBS result I get with my Futur or EJ89 and Gillette 7 o'clock super steel, but a lot closer than I was a week ago!

    One other thing...I experimented with headslick and secret shave oil today, just for kicks. Seemed to work ok, but didn't feel as nice as my various soaps and creams and pre-shave oils. Love the Headslick and secret shave oil on my head, but not so much on my face. I also prefer the fusion on my head, although the DE works. But I am hijacking my own thread here...
  10. for your side burns, try turn your head a little so you can see with the opposite eye this may help with blocked vision.
  11. really?? you hadn't heard of this? this is the dreaded thread start that i thought was every pro honer's pain in the @$$. one type of that conversation goes like this...

    "This is my first time ever with a straight and i got pro-honed from one of the favorites, but it's duller than a butter knife and didn't even pass HHT!!"

    choose your own adventure --

    if you stropped before hand -> "Did you strop it yourself before you shaved?" "yeah, nice and good!!"... "you probably rolled the edge" "how do i fix it?" good luck!

    if you didn't strop before hand -> "keep practicing, once you get technique down everything falls into place.." good luck!


    smrd22, when i reread this i think it comes off with tension, but it shouldn't.. no inference to you was made or any hostility at all, just some surprise... but i decided to keep it as is..

    i totally agree with you that it's not as stand until you have experienced trying a straight shave, nor are the interesting approach angles as you mention above. same as stropping... it's not as apparent how impportant that is, unitl after you get a good experience with it..

    as you read some of the newbie posts (not journals) that talk about blade sharpness during the first 3 or so initial attempts, you'll see it comes up very often...

    maybe an add to the learn to straight shave sticky would make sense..
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2012
  12. Nope, I really, really hadn't heard about it, and that is after reading this forum for many, many hours. Not to say the posts are not out there, and I did find some oblique references, as I noted, but I didnt find out about the phenomenon until my first straight shave.

    It really is a wildly different feel then with a DE, and the latter does very little to prepare you for the former.
  13. hopefully you'll work through it... it's probably one of those things that you don't see until after you try..

    i feel like straights have made my DE shaving technique improve...
  14. I few more shaves into it, still in a bit of a rut. Getting bbs on the cheeks, but having trouble with the E-W and W-E thing on the neck. It took me a few months to get BBS on the neck with the DE, though, so I still have high hopes. Even without the BBS, the overall shave is very good.

    Today I was a bit razor burned from yesterdays shave with my new 15/16 wedge. That was my 2nd or 3rd go with this razor. Had a bit of stubble this morning, so I went at it with my whipped dog, which is 5/8 to 11/16 depending on where you measure, and hollow ground. Did two wtg passes, to spare my somewhat burned up face, and got an overall DFS, with the neck and angle of the jaw being a bit courser, as per usual. Btw, I just used an Arko stick, no pre-shave oil, and face lathered rather then the usual bowl. Actually, I prefer it without the pre-shave oil. The blade tends to be a bit sticky from time to time with the oil. (I do prefer the oil with the DE, though; find it a big improvement). In fact, I have to say, the Arko stick gives me just as good a lather as anything else, as far as I can tell, and it is much less of a hassle. Too bad I have 9 bowls of soaps and creams and a super nice DB scuttle, none of which I actually need, lol. No regrets though.

    Overall, I am getting great results on the cheeks. However, it is no better then with the DE at this point. It is a very different feel, in terms of the activity of shaving, with the crunchy sound and scrapey feel, but the end result is about the same. In fact, it is still just a touch smoother at the end of the DE double pass then at the end of the SR double pass. The neck is BBS with the DE, but just ok with the SR at this point. But we're still working on it.

    I must be up to around 12 or so shaves in now.
  15. Let's call this shave #13, yesterday night.

    Used Arko stick and face lather again, no pre shave oil.

    2 passes, WTG and XTG, resulting in BBS on cheeks and DFS on neck, as per my usual, but a little better on neck, and my best shave so far, with minimal irritation. Alum block gave minimal light burning on the neck. Face stayed presentable until pretty much the last few hours.

    I think I am making slow steady improvement, similar to my experience with DE shaving, which currently consistently yields regular BBS with no irritation on two passes, face and neck.

    I'm going to stick with 2 passes for the foreseeable future, with minimal touch up, until I get real good technically.

    Also, I used my 15/16 Sheffield wedge, which gave me a hard time a couple of shaves back. However, I gave it 20 on the linen, 30 on the suedey back if my poor mans, and then 50 on my 1.75 in Hoffritz Prima Rindleder cowhide, and it rocked, so it just needed a good stropping. Just got a new "Big Daddy" 3 in English Bridle from Star Shaving, so that will be fun.

    Soldiering on!
  16. I have had 2 or 3 more shaves since the last post, let's say #'s 13, 14 and 15. Used different soaps, no pre shave oil. All good shaves. Seems to be better when I wait at least a day in between shaves. Two days in a row and I get some razor burn. #15 was Monday, and I only did one pass, and got what I would call a DFS, equal or better then one pass with a fusion (but lots more fun). Also, it was pretty quick, since I didn't worry about touch up, etc. So one pass may not be any smoother then with a cart, but it is equally effective, efficient, and more fun. Therefore, why ever use a cart anymore?

    Tuesday (yesterday) I was in a hurry, and had a flu, so I reached for the EJ89 with a Feather. Did 3 passes, got an effortless BBS all over. My skills are still much better with the DE then with the SR, but the gap is slowly closing, I think.

    Summary: I can regularly get BBS on the face and DFS on the neck with 2 passes of the SR. As long as I skip a day of shaving, there is no irritation. Not really sure how this compares to cartridges, as I am generally an erratic shaver anyway, and often skip days, but I don't think I get irritation from cartridges, even on consecutive days-- BUT, I only do one pass with carts.

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