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1st Straight Shave - Kind of

Well, for the past couple of weeks, I have been slowly accumulating the appropriate paraphernalia to begin shaving with a straight razor. I poured through the Straight Razor Forum here at B&B and also spent many long hours at SRP doing the necessary research. As with DE shaving, the task of identifying the appropriate and necessary tools can be a little daunting. I am so very glad that this time around I did not have to also worry about acquiring a good brush and soap/cream.

Anyhow, after much deliberation and great advice from many helpful friends, I decided to go with a shave-ready razor.
For those of you who don't already know, this is a used razor that has been cleaned up and sharpened by a master or honemeister. By purchasing a shave-ready razor, you can focus on the technique of straight shaving without having to worry if your razor is appropriately sharp.
Additionally, Scotto was kind enough to gift me with a Tony Miller 4-sided paddle strop (thanks Scotto). With these new items in hand (and a few others :rolleyes:), this A.M. was the first morning that I knew I would have the time to try out the straight.

With some Big Band Jazz playing softly in the background, I began my shave prep this morning. I filled the sink (which contained my shave bowl and brush) with piping hot water while holding a steamy towel to my face and neck. After roughly 3-4 minutes of this, I knocked the excess water out of my Simpson's PJ3 Super and began building my lather of Taylor's Rose shave cream. Upon completion of the lather, with the scent of rose tickling my nose, I laid a nice thick lather up on my face. I then proceeded to strop my straight razor (roughly 30 laps). I then freshened up the lather a bit and picked up the straight, knowing that in the next few minutes I would be assuming the role of either Hero or A-Hole.

Slowly, I started on the right side of my face with the razor in my right hand and shaved N-S from sideburn to jawline and continued toward the midline of my face, stopping at the corner of my mouth. So far so good. There were no arterial squirts of blood and no screaming women and/or children, so I carefully passed the razor to my left hand and completed an identical (or mirrored) swath on the left side of my face. Again, everything went wonderfully. Through the use of skin stretching techniques, I managed to turn the corner around my jawline (on both sides of the face) and shaved down the neck, completing my first ever pass with a straight razor.:thumbup1:
I had originally planned on only completing a N-S pass with the straight, but everything went so well that I rinsed my face and relathered, preparing for pass #2. With the razor back in my right hand, I began the ear-to-chin pass. Again, I went nice and slow. I took my time with the razor so that I maintained the appropriate razor angle and kept my skin taught. Finishing the right side, I moved to the left, shaved down to the neckline and then finished up in the goatee area. At this point in the shave I had managed only one minute weeper and decided that I had tempted fate enough for one day. I rinsed the straight off, grabbed my slant bar and finished off a spectacular shave.

Some interesting things that I noted from this initial experience:
  1. Maintaining the appropriate razor angle is not difficult if you are patient (not scared, but respectfully patient).
  2. The straight pulled a lot more than I expected it would. I KNOW the razor is sharp enough, so I expect this must be the norm. It was not at all unpleasant, simply different that what I had imagined.
  3. The shaving edge of the razor is very delicate. Like an idiot, while giving my razor it's post shave wash, I lightly tapped the edge and put a minute nick in the edge.:eek: I will now get to practice honing.
Overall, this was a very exciting and rewarding experience. I certainly plan on continuing down the straight razor path but do not plan on giving up my DE's. As a bit of a side note, I will be gone on vacation for the next week, but upon my return, I will keep you guys updated on my straight razor progress.


Stjynnkii membörd dummpsjterd
Great job. As you can see from the posts to SRP, most folks don't fare so well on their first attempt. Your knowledge of proper preparation, blade angles, and general shaving technique served you well.
mrob said:
Bravo! I suspect the Big Band music played a huge role in your success!:wink:
Pick the music to match the mood. It only seems fitting for use with a classic item like a Straight or a DE. When I whip out my Fusion it's nothing but Techno!:biggrin:
My friend, you are a brave soul. I toyed with the idea of straights for awhile but came to my senses. Kudos on your shave.
Congratulations! It gets easier with practice. The pulling is most likely from technique and angle. As you get better and experiment you'll learn how to avoid the pulling.

If you've nicked your blade I recommend sending it out and not practicing honing on it at this time. Get an ebay special to pratice with. Honing takes a while to master for most people. And chances are you won't get it near as sharp as when you received it.

Once mastered, the straight shave is the closest shave you can get. Good luck.


Congrats on a great first half shave. Let me tell u this..I tried the straight razor and I still play around with it from time to time. However, the whole mess gets a whole lot more difficult going S-N (against the grain). Sort of like doing Integration instead of Differentiation in Calculus. :biggrin:

The one obstacle I cannot mentally overcome is that tugging feeling I'm getting when I go against the grain. I feel like if I push that blade any harder, I'm going to dig this surgical razor into my neck, bleed to death right there on the floor and die without a finished shave. (an half shaven buffoon is not a pretty picture) :smile:

The N-S strokes always worked fine for me. And my razor was honed by Rik, so I know it was sharp enough. I really want to give it another go around, but I'm just not getting 'the feeling' of being up to it again right now. Maybe a different razor is in order, who knows.

I do know this, that in order to get the same quality shave as I get from my Vision with it's jaws wide open, I would have to put in a LOT of time on the straight blade to get it right.

Best of luck to ya!


Stjynnkii membörd dummpsjterd
Justso said:
Sort of like doing Integration instead of Differentiation in Calculus. :biggrin:

I recall having a calc prof who described it thus- "Is same, only different."
Excellent post, Kyle. Your experience seems to mirror mine. The str8 experience is quite different than a DE. Even with a honemeister-sharpened blade, there is a lot of pulling compared to a DE. Experienced str8 guys will tell you this is not so, but that is because they are used to the sensation. I had a str8 honed personally by Lynn Abrams, and I can tell you that my beard still laughed at it. It was an unpleasant experience shaving, and I bagged the traditional str8.

That being said, I am extremely pleased with the Feather Artist Club (after a rough start). This is way sharper than a traditional str8, and the experience is more DE like.

Good luck, and keep us posted.


Stjynnkii membörd dummpsjterd
I've never gotten a straight as sharp as a DE, and I doubt anyone else has, either. The sensation is totally different, and I enjoy both. I have to treat myself to a straight shave at least once a week, but give up my DE's? No way.
ouch said:
I've never gotten a straight as sharp as a DE, and I doubt anyone else has, either. The sensation is totally different, and I enjoy both. I have to treat myself to a straight shave at least once a week, but give up my DE's? No way.

I gotta disagree with the notion that you can't get a straight as sharp as a DE. Maybe not every DE out there but certainly the run of the mill DE's. As for pulling, a straight properly honed and stropped should not pull when used with proper technique. People forget that DE's/safety razors have a built in guard that forces more or less proper shaving pressure. You're shaving not scraping. People experience pulling when angle is wrong and too much pressure is applied not because straights are not as sharp. In time straight users learn to master the technique hence no pull. Even a sharp razor can give the sensation of pulling when used in the wrong manner.

As an illustration to what I mean read back over the experiences of people who dial their adjustable open all the way. Most of the time they get burn if their not experienced. Their is even some pulling by definition because DE's flex, you just don't notice it because of the geometry of the instrument, but you sure notice the burn and irritation afterward. A straight will behave in a similar manner except when improper angle and too much pressure are applied you can get a pulling sensation but it's not pulling on the hair, it's pulling on your skin. The hairs will easily cleave but the skin surrounding it will tear when this combination exists.

Just my 2 ¢.

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