straight razor for beginners

Discussion in 'General Straight Razor Talk' started by gaseousclay, Aug 17, 2011.

  1. sorry if this has been posted before but i'm wondering if you gents can recommend a decent beginner straight razor that won't break the bank. I was thinking something in the $50-100 range...preferably below $100. I'm still intrigued by shaving with a straight and think I want to have a go at it. Are there other accessories i'll need in addition to the straight? I'm guessing a strop is essential, correct?
  2. Personally, I think the best route is to go to and order their "sight unseen" deal.

    You'll get a straight razor sharpened to shave ready condition, a basic strop, and a soap sample (enough to get you through a few shaves and see if you like it) for $48. In addition to this you'll need a brush, they sell those too starting at about $6-8. If you like it, you'll want some more soap or shaving cream soon too. And that's pretty much it. Eventually you may want to upgrade some or most of this equipment but it's the cheapest and best way to start that I know of.

    I would highly suggest that no matter where you get it, you should get a razor that's been personally sharpened to shave ready condition by someone who knows how. Brand new in-box razors may claim they are shave ready but they generally aren't, at least not to a high enough standard. Other good sources of known-sharp razors are the classified forums here and on If you must have a new blade, I suggest - the owner opens brand new razors and does a final sharpening on them himself before putting them up for sale.

    If you stick with it, you will eventually need to either get a sharpening stone of some sort, or send your razor off for someone else to sharpen it. This is not a frequent need, maybe 2-4 times per year? People advertise the service here in the "services" section of the classifieds and it doesn't cost much.

    A styptic pencil isn't a bad idea, they're like $2-3 at the drugstore and help seal nicks & cuts if you get one. You'll probably want some sort of mug or small bowl for your soap/lather but you can find that around the house.

  3. Yes, you'll need a strop. An inexpensive one will suffice for starters. As far as he razor, I'd get a vintage shave ready razor off BST somewhere in the $35-50 range. You can also check with Larry at whipped dog for one of his starter kits.

    Dive in. No better way to scratch the itch.
  4. Luc

    Luc Moderator Emeritus

  5. i went to ebay and looked for a vintage. (ended up with about 15 of them and a serious A.D. disorder) hones, strops, brushes,,,,oh god the brushes!!!!
    but if i havent already talked you out of it, check the bst here. i'd look for a dovo. get a cheap strop, and learn on it. hopefully it wont get too trashed before you get good at it. then buy a good one.
    good luck to you.
  6. Try a C.V. Heljestrand MK24, it's a 4/8 or 9/16 quarter hollow...I remember it as a nice straight to start with.
    Good Swedish quality and a nice shaver indeed. Price range $30-40.
  7. could someone explain to me the differences in blades? for example, 4/8, 5/8, 6/8 hollow, etc. would a 5/8 hollow be good for a beginner?
  8. Those are the widths of the blade. 4/8 means the blade is 4/8 inch wide from the top of the blade's spine down to the cutting edge. You will see blade widths in 8ths of an inch, and maybe 16ths at times. But, 4/8 isn't converted to 1/2.

    In my opinion, blade width is one of the biggest differences between blade shaving characteristics. Most guys try to get the average 5/8 size blade to start. However, I would buy anything between 4/8 to 6/8 as your first razor.
  9. The sizes above are the blade width. To be honest, anything between 4/8 and 6/8 is fine for a beginner. 5/8 being the most common size made. Hollow refers to the grind. The grind of a razor vary from full hollow to wedge. The first having most of the metal ground out and a wedge being just that with the least metal taken out. I think many of us spent excessive time trying to pick the perfect first straight when in all actuality, they can all shave you well. I'd probably recommend staying away from a full wedge at first because you lose the audible feedback which is healpful when you are learning (hearing the whiskers getting cut). As time goes on you will find a personal preference of your ideal size and grind, but the best way to do that is try different blades.

    To answer your question, a 5/8 hollow is a great starter, but so is a 6/8 hollow or a most other grinds for that matter.

    Hope that helps!

    (Sorry I was typing when Larry was) +1 on his comments.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2011
  10. I have been using a Sextoblade for about a week and really like it, only one cut :lol:

    It uses disposable blades and is fairly cheap.
  11. I agree with all of the above. A 4/8 - 6/8 full or half hollow is a good start. You'll probably get a few more later to try them out out of curiosity and then land on a preference.

    It's all preference you will see. Some really like full hollows, others wedges. Same goes for 4/8 to 8/8.

    What I will add is I would suggest a rounded point. That is the shape of the toe or end of the blade. There are varying styles of toes/points (to further complicate your options) and I think a round point will help you out as a new user. There are square/spike points that have a sharp corner to the toe that can easily cause nicks to those that are inexperienced, and veterans to that matter if they're not careful.
  12. +1, Brent makes a good point. The round point is helpful as you start off. If you end up get a spiked point, you'll want to be extra careful not to "pierce" anything.
  13. There is a lot of really good advice from previous posters so I hesitate to add much. For a beginner 5/8, round-point sounds good to me too. I still consider myself a beginner - I resurrected the electric cos I slipped last weekend. I think the advice of a B/S/T Dovo is great. Unlike most vintages I believe the metal is harder and may take longer before it needs to be honed.

    Clay, why are you getting into straights? If it's strictly for utilitarian or economic reasons get 3 razors, a good strop and soap and don't look back (one to use, one as backup, one to send out, if necessary). If you like the looks of straights and can afford it, then buy everything in sight til you strain the bank account (that's what I did). ADs can be fun. You will get tons of advice and opinions on this.

    Go slow and easy to start with, read and re-read the wikis, get comfortable with your new skill, then tailor the experience to your personal likes, dislikes and moods. I think THAT is the best reason to "go straight" - it can be like graduating from "fast-food" to a high-end brunch buffet at a fine restaurant.
  14. I'm getting into straights because shaving with a DE can get monotonous, and I like a challenge :laugh: I watched a straight razor shaving video on youtube lastnight and it was interesting, intimidating but interesting. I forget the youtube user's name....geofatboy I think - I wonder if he's a member of B&B? Anyway, I had been contemplating a straight razor purchase for some time, but have never pulled the trigger, mainly because I want to avoid another AD. I kinda put a stop to buying tons of DE shaving goodies and have more than I need at the moment, and I have no wish to acquire a ton of straight razor shaving goodies.
  15. Luc

    Luc Moderator Emeritus

  16. Kentos

    Kentos Moderator Emeritus

    If you are prone to AD's, straight shaving is a blessing, or a curse, depending on your point of have been warned :lol:
  17. +1 million. This is the cheapest, fastest way to find out if shaving with a bare blade is right for you.
  18. +2
  19. I got a starter kit from Larry at Whipped Dog. Great deal, Great guy!

Share This Page