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99 and Not Out

Dear Straight Shavers

Well, here I am on my journey into the rabbit hole of straight shaving and this morning have clocked up my 99th shave with a straight. One more shave to go before scoring my century.

So far it’s been an interesting 18 months or so. I opened the batting in January 2020 and got off to a pretty rough start. At first I thought the razor wasn’t sharp enough but after a few shaves, I realised it was my technique. Stropping technique was also a factor. However, after 99 shaves I am still not sure what I was doing wrong in the early days with my stropping. I don’t seem to be doing anything all that different but the edges are definitely better these days. I am currently doing 110 passes on the leather before the shave and 10 on the linen straight after, even before I rinse my face. Dry off the razor and 10 passes on the linen then off to dry for a few hours. It seems to work for me. I might try going for less passes and see what happens, but I have found that the standard textbook 60 passes isn’t enough for the edge. Maybe my stropping technique has improved by now.

As far as my shaving technique is going, I have the chin all sorted – no dramas there. I mastered the fool’s pass quite a while ago and all is good there too. Although I still hold the razor with both hands for that extra bit on control. No one handed antics like you see on YouTube! Still struggling with the jaw line though. Just can’t seem to get the right angle and now I have the confidence/technique to start trying the get the razor at different angles. To be fair to myself, however, it’s challenging getting the jaw line BBS with a DE razor also. As the months/years go by it’s getting better.

Still haven’t done much in the way of honing. I have been fiddling about with a couple of Gold Dollars but not making any progress. Getting the bevel set is still a total mystery. I did a posting at my 50th shave and mentioned pretty much the same thing and got a lot of positive feedback but the art of honing and bevel setting in particular is still a mystery. I have tried “The Method” but found the postings confusing and contradictory, and couldn’t get a burr no matter how hard I tried. To be honest, with my life being really time poor, I am happy to send my razors out for the initial honing – will let those balls go through to the keeper. I am able to touch up the blades with my 12k Shapton when they start getting a bit tuggy and can usually get about 12 or so shaves before they need a touch up. Hopefully, as my technique improves the number of shaves between touch ups will increase. But I seem to be able to get them shaving again with no problems – it’s just the bevel setting that seems to be the issue.

Next shave will be number 100! Will try and use the same razor, soap and brush as the first and gosh, what a difference there will be between the two!

As with a lot of other things in life, I have discovered that with straight shaving, you listen to all the advice, read the literature, use it as a guide, but in the end you pretty much end up having to work it out for yourself. It’s all part of the journey and thanks for all the positive comments and advice that I have received from our wonderful wet shaving community, both here on the B&B forum and other social media.

Cheers

Andrew
 

Steve56

Ask me about shaving naked!
Great news Andrew, congratulations.

Yes, you have to learn shaving, stropping, and honing yourself to a good degree because it’s learned muscle memory. You can read about riding a bicycle or playing a piano all you want, but until you develop that eye-hand-brain thing you can neither ride nor play.

But it isn’t hard, it’s just practice.
 
Congratulations @Mouette on your graduation next SR shave.

You are correct about receiving advice and tutorials. It ends up that you always have to learn for yourself to SR shave the way that suits you.

If you haven't already tried, I would suggest that you consider maintaining your shave-ready SR edge using diamond pasted balsa stops. Cheap(er) and easy to learn, if you can follow instructions.
 
Dear Straight Shavers

Well, here I am on my journey into the rabbit hole of straight shaving and this morning have clocked up my 99th shave with a straight. One more shave to go before scoring my century.

So far it’s been an interesting 18 months or so. I opened the batting in January 2020 and got off to a pretty rough start. At first I thought the razor wasn’t sharp enough but after a few shaves, I realised it was my technique. Stropping technique was also a factor. However, after 99 shaves I am still not sure what I was doing wrong in the early days with my stropping. I don’t seem to be doing anything all that different but the edges are definitely better these days. I am currently doing 110 passes on the leather before the shave and 10 on the linen straight after, even before I rinse my face. Dry off the razor and 10 passes on the linen then off to dry for a few hours. It seems to work for me. I might try going for less passes and see what happens, but I have found that the standard textbook 60 passes isn’t enough for the edge. Maybe my stropping technique has improved by now.

As far as my shaving technique is going, I have the chin all sorted – no dramas there. I mastered the fool’s pass quite a while ago and all is good there too. Although I still hold the razor with both hands for that extra bit on control. No one handed antics like you see on YouTube! Still struggling with the jaw line though. Just can’t seem to get the right angle and now I have the confidence/technique to start trying the get the razor at different angles. To be fair to myself, however, it’s challenging getting the jaw line BBS with a DE razor also. As the months/years go by it’s getting better.

Still haven’t done much in the way of honing. I have been fiddling about with a couple of Gold Dollars but not making any progress. Getting the bevel set is still a total mystery. I did a posting at my 50th shave and mentioned pretty much the same thing and got a lot of positive feedback but the art of honing and bevel setting in particular is still a mystery. I have tried “The Method” but found the postings confusing and contradictory, and couldn’t get a burr no matter how hard I tried. To be honest, with my life being really time poor, I am happy to send my razors out for the initial honing – will let those balls go through to the keeper. I am able to touch up the blades with my 12k Shapton when they start getting a bit tuggy and can usually get about 12 or so shaves before they need a touch up. Hopefully, as my technique improves the number of shaves between touch ups will increase. But I seem to be able to get them shaving again with no problems – it’s just the bevel setting that seems to be the issue.

Next shave will be number 100! Will try and use the same razor, soap and brush as the first and gosh, what a difference there will be between the two!

As with a lot of other things in life, I have discovered that with straight shaving, you listen to all the advice, read the literature, use it as a guide, but in the end you pretty much end up having to work it out for yourself. It’s all part of the journey and thanks for all the positive comments and advice that I have received from our wonderful wet shaving community, both here on the B&B forum and other social media.

Cheers

Andrew
Well done Andrew. Successful SR shaving is all trial and error and lots of practice. Same goes for stropping and honing.
 
Congrats! I started about when you did Andrew, and boy am I glad that I stuck with it! I will absolutely agree with your observation regarding reading advice and "how-to's," but in the end you just have to get in there and do it. I, for one, am happy I made the switch to SR shaving. Not only is it enjoyable, it gives me some of the greatest shaves.

While my initial shaves were not "painful," it took me a good long time to do just a one pass shave. My shaves weren't that close either, but I was going for comfort and not cutting myself.
 
Just to share my habits and tools:
>Naniwa S2 12k for refresh, seldom needed
>Diamond pasted balsa progression, full progression when needed (but mostly more frequent just because I want to spend a little time with the razor)
> 60 very light 200k/0.1u diamond balsa laps before each shave
>good quality balsa in 2"x3" (I buy 36" lengths from a local hobby/model railroad store) makes a light, easily-handled, dimensionally-stable balsa strop without needing a backer glued on
>about 10 clean linen and 25 clean leather before each shave
>the used Naniwa Chosera 1000 made bevel setting easier/more effective than the 600 and 1200 diamond plates I had been using. I have never set a Gold Dollar bevel, just resets on vintage razors caught in the wild. I have never gone for a burr. Vintage steel is more precious than freely abundant Chinese steel.
>Skin-stretching and facial movement/contortion flattens out my jawline skin for better shaving. That said, growing some beard over that area satisfies my vanity more effectively.
 
Thanks for all the positive feedback! Looking forward to continuing this journey. I live in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia and Sydney is currently in total lockdown as the virus has just gone berserk. I am currently housebound and working from home. At this time you would think that shaving would be redundant, but actually it's now more important than ever. Trying to keep on top of things and on the front foot (to keep the cricket analogy going) is essential. I haven't used a DE razor for the last fortnight and been shaving solely with straights. I usually have an hour's commute into the city on my bike, but with the lockdown that frees up an hour or so each morning which I can use to spend on my shave. DE razors are good for a quick scrape on the face (albeit with nice soaps, brushes and post shave goodies) whereas I like to take my time with the straights. The last 10 shaves up to my hundredth have seen more improvement than the last 30. Mainly due to the regular practice.

I forgot to mention in my original post that I am currently doing a three pass shave along with pick up time (baby). Have experimented with one, two or three passes (with and without the pickup) but have finally settled on 3 + pickup as getting the best possible shave (DE and straights).

I think I might take rbsecu's advice and have a fiddle about with the pasted balsa strops. Although the idea of jnats as a touch up is also extremely tempting.

It will be a long, long time before I get out of this rabbit hole.

cheers

Andrew
 
Congrats on your journey and your milestone!

Regarding setting bevels, just get yourself an old beater and do as @Steve56 said - just go at it. If you feel like you wearing off too much spine in relation to the edge, just throw a layer of tape on the spine and keep going. You may need to do it a few times to get the hang of it. And watching a few videos will not hurt.

May the next 100 be even better!
 
Congrats on the century mark, Mouette! I have just begun down the path of straight razor shaving, and definitely have a long road ahead. I have been using the balsa pasted followed by leather stropping (no linen) and I definitely can see a difference in the edge. It would be worth a try!
 
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