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A Humble Hello To All!

Hello, all! I'm Larry from Florida, USA. First post.

The first time I entertained the notion of a straight edge in MY hands was about 10 days ago. I tend to be a bit impulsive and I like nice things. I'm struggling to balance on the tight rope of taking it slowly or jumping in. I figured I'd provide a little background since my story is a bit unlike the half-dozen or so other newcomers' threads I've read.

I've been using a safety razor (Merkur) since I started shaving at about 16 years old. I'm 56. My hobbies include amateur watchmaking, carpentry and a few musical instruments. I mention this because the carpentry led me to the hobby of sharpening steel edges. I don't think the learning curve of sharpening will be full of gnashing of teeth. I'm aware that sharpening should be the last thing on my list, and first should be developing muscle memory, technique and just getting comfortable with a straight edge razor. I will focus on the items in green first.

How I'm different from some of the others is that I've been very comfortable with a DE safety razor for decades. The memory of my first shave at my grandparent's house is like yesterday. My grandfather said, "You need to shave." The combination of rite of passage and recognition that I was becoming an adult is a fond memory. He encouraged me to try his safety razor shortly after he saw my expression. I did, and pressed way too hard and cut myself in many places, but quickly recognized that "just let the tool do the work" was the way to go. And it was. His only advice was, "You didn't wash first? You should have." What a knucklehead. The things we learn...... What I would give to see my grandfather again, and if only that technological marvel with the gull wing doors like the Tesla was passed down to me...

I'm rambling, but I can't remember the last time I cut myself. I shave in the shower with bar soap (soap-making is another hobby of mine, and I use my own) and once my face and neck is lathered up, without a mirror, I'm usually finished shaving within 90 seconds or so. I've read that a shavette is a good first purchase to see if one will commit and I understand the rationale of a factory blade in a straight edge package/"ready to shave" point of reference, etc. But despite the benefits of a shavette, I have no desire to buy one. In my experience, manual dexterity has always developed more easily with the first tool I put in my hand. I don't know if moving forward with that notion is foolish or not. The shavette is not a straight edge, I'd be learning one thing, then another and it seems like an extra step. Is that irrational?

For the last 10 days I've been reading threads and watching You Tube videos (mostly Geofatboy) and I feel like it's time.

Reminding everyone that I'm a bit impulsive, I honestly don't know if I'm rationalizing pulling the trigger or asking the forum for permission! My preference would be to buy a 5/8, round nose, carbon steel new straight edge, a brush, soap, and an inexpensive strop and have at it. Maybe a Boker, or Dovo.

Reading threads on this forum humbles me by how friendly, knowledgeable and generous members are with their knowledge. The time that some of you take to respond to newcomers restores my faith in humanity. It truly is a pleasure to learn and be blown away at the same time.

Thanks for taking the time to read. I suppose I'm asking for some advice in purchasing like from whom, in what form (singularly or a kit), and any other small tips you might have. I became aware that you folks actually LISTEN (is that possible on the internet?) and tailor your advice based on the disclosures of the newcomer.

I know that the handsome gentleman rbscebu (but the girls call him another name I don't remember) always asks for location so he can recommend a honemeister, so that's why I said where I am. If there's anything else that I could say to help you nudge me along, just ask. Finally, couched in that long ramble is the question, "Do I need to slow down?" LOL

Thanks, all.
 
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Welcome! I’m currently on my phone so I won’t be typing up anything lengthy for ya, but you’ll get some great advice on this board. There are many different perspectives here and you’ll learn what works best for ya over time.
I’ll say this- when it comes to honing there are 1000 ways to skin a cat. When it comes to shaving, you may initially learn that there are 1000 ways to skin your face, but with both skills, stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with an incredibly fun side of this weird hobby we all love. Ask questions, try different things, learn from your mistakes, and enjoy the process.
 
Why don't you pay it forward and call up Geo with the intent to purchase and let him guide you. By now you probably know everything you need and could just get the razor from him, or some of your kit. Also welcome to B&B!

Re-read slower. Others will have great advise no doubt, but I can't emphisize enough the importance of a well hydrated slippery soap. I wouldn't fool around with home brew unless you are really certain of your own product. Get a know soap that straight users recommend. Geo has a lot of good ones to choose from if you want to get it there. I recommend Baume.be cream and pre-shave gel.
 
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Welcome, @SparkyLB! It sounds to me like you have already made up your mind. If you decide to buy a new Dovo, the Bismarck gets a lot of love on this forum. As a matter of fact, my first straight was a Bismarck which I still own, use and enjoy.

A great way to learn about the different brands and models is to read the last 6 to 12 months of What straight did you use today? Now with PICTURES - https://www.badgerandblade.com/forum/threads/what-straight-did-you-use-today-now-with-pictures.248174/.

If you buy new, I would buy shave ready from a reputable seller like Brad at Maggard Razors, Jared at The Superior Shave or Matt at Griffith Shaving Goods.
 
Jump in. The water is great! The whole process is a lot easier than it looks. Being state side is a major advantage.

It would be interesting to know what whetstones and lapping equipment you currently have for your sharpening.

At any rate you will need a strop and a shave ready razor or two.

Heirloom strops is good value for money. You can safely pick anything from his site that suits your budget. I always advise to get the strop first. Once your razor arrives it will be very tempting to use it but you will quickly hit a dead end without the strop.

A shave ready razor can be had from several sources. The Buy Sell Trade forum on this site is a good place to look. There are currently several nice razors listed there. Alternatively a new or restored razor from somewhere like Griffith would be a good choice. It would be wise to pay extra for the honing service initially. Ask for the razor to be honed without tape on the spine. This will make subsequent maintenance easier.
 
I think this is very nice. All the attributes mentioned in the OP. Not terribly expensive. Thank you all for the welcome. Thank you for the references of Maggard, The Superior Shave and the proprietor from whom this comes, Griffith Shaving Goods. Am I correct in assuming a 6/8, for example compared to a 5/8 would cause the user to hold the blade at a more obtuse (perhaps too severe) angle to the upper lip on a downward pass because of the nose?

That Bismarck is very nice, though it's a 6/8. It appears to this inexperienced browser that the Dovo Straight Razor Diamant is pretty close to a 5/8 equivalent of the Bismarck. I like Boker's The Celebrated, too. The King Cutter is beautiful, and the Damascus Master Cutter ain't too bad either. 🙄 Perhaps I'll buy that one when I win the lottery!

As far as the request for no tape on the spine during honing, I understand the bevel angle would be more acute (a good thing). Would this not mar the spine over time from the 12K stone contact?

@Tomo I have no suitable equipment for a straight razor. I mentioned the sharpening because I sharpen my kitchen knives and my woodworking chisels and planes and my skills have improved. I'm afraid my finest "stone" is a diamond plate of 1000 grit. I've become familiar with the geometry, technique, and methodology behind achieving an edge. I'm thinking the only difference between my carpentry tools and a straight razor is the thickness of the steel! I am hopeful the same rules apply. :smile1: In my ignorance I believe that even though the mission is more critical, and one must be exacting and deliberate in honing, the straight razor's spine is a built-in honing guide.

When the time comes, I'll get a Norton 4000/8000 and a Naniwa 12K grit stone. I'll start with a cheap strop, and once I commit--which I'm confident I will; I'll get a proper strop.

@APBinNCA, I have every intention of buying shaving soap for this endeavor. It's been years since I've used aftershave and I'm looking forward to that too.

 

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rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
@SparkyLB, I see no need to advise you in detail as you appear to have read wisely on what you need. For a first SR you only need to find a 5/8 to 6/8, Dutch (round) point with a half to full hollow grind and a bevel angle of about 17.5° ±1°. Buy whatever suits your fancy and budget. Have it honed (without tape) to shave-ready by the vendor (if recommend on B&B) or a private honemeister (recommend on B&B). If the SR is made by a reputable manufacturer, you will not be disappointed. It's the honing that mostly makes the SR, not the manufacturer.

Don't worry about you honing yet. That can come after you are comfortable with traditional SR shaving, about 30 daily SR shaves or much longer if not daily. What I would recommend is that, from the start, you put together a set of three diamond pasted balsa strops and learn how to use them.
 
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Almost all razors posted on Badger & Blade are between 4/8 and 8/8 with the number of posts for 4/8 and 8/8 being quite small. While I don't have actual stats, I would say the mean is about 6/8 with 5/8 feeling a little smaller than 6/8, and 7/8 a littler larger. For modern razors, 6/8 is very common. For vintage razors 5/8 may be a bit more common than 6/8.

A 6/8 razor is very comfortable. I would not discount the idea of starting with a 6/8. Bottom line is you will not really understand your preferences until you try them. I tend to lean toward 6/8 to 7/8 razors with thicker grinds, but there are exceptions to this. For example, I love my Thiers Issard Basic Black 7/8 that I bought from The Invisible Edge, and I have one old Sheffield 8/8 near wedge that is absolutely fantastic.

If you ever buy a good quality razor that does not quite rock your boat, you can always sell it on the BST forum.
 
Truly, folks. Thanks for the guidance. I feel like I'm well taken care of.

Balsa wood, eh? I made model airplanes from that stuff when I was a child! Light as a feather. I see how that's a suitable substrate for stropping as it's so soft; it probably has some rise trailing the bevel, almost simulating leather. I'm on it!

@rbscebu do you use 3" x 11" (76mm x 280mm) pieces? Also, I see from your postings that you use .5µ, .25µ, and .1µ pastes. I think .5µ = 30K, but what are the equivalents, please for the .25µ and the .1µ pastes?

If I were to buy new from Griffiths and get the "honed at no additional charge" option, would I use it straight out of the coffin? Would a few round trips on .1µ by someone with stropping experience be unwise?

Last question, would it be wise to buy a gold dollar and see if I can put an edge on it with only balsa (just for practice)?

@Frank Shaves are you suggesting that the difference between a 5/8 and a 6/8 is negligible? Is it just preference? Do you recommend one over the other? I had visions of "no room to pull out of the parking spot" with too wide a blade. I hope that analogy works over the interwebs.

@APBinNCA would you tell me a bit about soaps? I see some come from a tube, and some are a puck at the bottom of a mug (or was 20 years ago). Are there other forms? Is the medium the determining factor, or the lather in the bowl the most important; irrespective of the type--or is that too, personal preference. I'm reading one wants a very slick, hydrating, thin coating over the face. Might I have your input?

I think I'll be opening my hot water heater in the garage and turning it up a few degrees. ♨️

Lastly, is the degree of hollow, i.e. 1/4, 1/2, full hollow just a preference thing? I realize the more severe the hollow, the more flexible the edge. What is the relevance of flexibility in the edge?
 
I'm reading one wants a very slick, hydrating, thin coating over the face. Might I have your input?
Yes, that is critical. It is more important than the actual soap you buy. You do need to narrow down what you want, say cream in a bowl or hard soap in a plastic tub, etc. The creams are faster to lather, the soaps can take a little more time or a lot! A lot of the recommended soaps on here are what are called "high structure," meaning santa beard basically. I don't like these, especially for straight shaving, as I can't see what I am doing. On the other end, some are stringy like glue when done correctly. You need to figure that one out before asking for suggestions, I found out the hard when I started and wound up with a bunch of soap I didn't like. Something like Haslinger is an inexpensive, high quality hard soap puck. You need something to put it in, but you can hold it to load your brush. Most of the British creams, like TOBS, are made by the same company so if you go that route, you just play the scent roulette. Superior shave has expensive soaps and many are difficult to load, I would ask before purchasing. Baume.be is a cream, but it is kind of a soft soap. It lathers easily, has little scent and produces the right kind of lather for straight shaving ease. I better stop, narrow down your preferences and make a new thread on the soap forum if you like. Good luck.
 
@Frank Shaves are you suggesting that the difference between a 5/8 and a 6/8 is negligible? Is it just preference? Do you recommend one over the other? I had visions of "no room to pull out of the parking spot" with too wide a blade. I hope that analogy works over the interwebs.

@APBinNCA would you tell me a bit about soaps? I see some come from a tube, and some are a puck at the bottom of a mug (or was 20 years ago). Are there other forms? Is the medium the determining factor, or the lather in the bowl the most important; irrespective of the type--or is that too, personal preference. I'm reading one wants a very slick, hydrating, thin coating over the face. Might I have your input?

I think I'll be opening my hot water heater in the garage and turning it up a few degrees. ♨️

Lastly, is the degree of hollow, i.e. 1/4, 1/2, full hollow just a preference thing? I realize the more severe the hollow, the more flexible the edge. What is the relevance of flexibility in the edge?

Just preference. My rationale for starting your journey with a 6/8 is that it seems to be the middle ground based on hundreds of razors I see people post on Badger & Blade.

If your itch keeps saying "5/8, 5/8 and 5/8", get a 5/8 :). 5/8, 6/8 and 7/8 can all shave great.

Again, personal preference.
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
Truly, folks. Thanks for the guidance. I feel like I'm well taken care of.

Balsa wood, eh? I made model airplanes from that stuff when I was a child! Light as a feather. I see how that's a suitable substrate for stropping as it's so soft; it probably has some rise trailing the bevel, almost simulating leather. I'm on it!

@rbscebu do you use 3" x 11" (76mm x 280mm) pieces? Also, I see from your postings that you use .5µ, .25µ, and .1µ pastes. I think .5µ = 30K, but what are the equivalents, please for the .25µ and the .1µ pastes?

If I were to buy new from Griffiths and get the "honed at no additional charge" option, would I use it straight out of the coffin? Would a few round trips on .1µ by someone with stropping experience be unwise?

Last question, would it be wise to buy a gold dollar and see if I can put an edge on it with only balsa (just for practice)?
....
Lastly, is the degree of hollow, i.e. 1/4, 1/2, full hollow just a preference thing? I realize the more severe the hollow, the more flexible the edge. What is the relevance of flexibility in the edge?
Balsa wood is not used as a substrate. You can read all about it here:

I use 300mm x 75mm (12" x 3") pasted balsa strops.k

0.5μm ~ 25k grit
0.25μm ~ 100k grit
0.1μm ~ 200k grit

If you buy a honed SR from Griffith's, it should be shavable straight out of the box. For an even keener edge, the blade should be put through a full pasted balsa strop progression on 0.5μm, 0.25μm, 0.1μm and 0.1μm hanging.

Diamond pasted balsa does not "put an edge" on a SR. Diamond pasted balsa stropping only further refines an already good shave-ready edge. Gold Dollar SR's and most other new SR's with a factory edge, do not normally come with a good shave-ready edge. They first need to be honed on whetstones and/or lapping films to a good shave-ready edge. Then and only then do you do further refining on diamond pasted balsa strops.

As for the recommend grind for a first SR, the choice is always up to you. Most n00bies to SR shaving say that they prefer half to full hollow grinds. You may find that more or less grind is preferred by you. Why not buy a few different SR's and decide what you prefer?

Why do I have this feeling that @SparkyLB is going to go his own way in SR shaving?
 
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He probably is. There is no sense in trying. 🎸

Thank you again. I have my choices narrowed down to about 6. I think it's going to be a new Thiers Issard Gold Medal 1931 5/8, Full hollow grind, round point. There are a few front runners.

It's been awhile and I've forgotten Forum etiquette. Any further questions will be new threads.
 
Still just a noob to DE shaving but this thread is so interesting and informative I just HAVE to follow.
 
Hello, all! I'm Larry from Florida, USA. First post.

The first time I entertained the notion of a straight edge in MY hands was about 10 days ago. I tend to be a bit impulsive and I like nice things. I'm struggling to balance on the tight rope of taking it slowly or jumping in. I figured I'd provide a little background since my story is a bit unlike the half-dozen or so other newcomers' threads I've read.

I've been using a safety razor (Merkur) since I started shaving at about 16 years old. I'm 56. My hobbies include amateur watchmaking, carpentry and a few musical instruments. I mention this because the carpentry led me to the hobby of sharpening steel edges. I don't think the learning curve of sharpening will be full of gnashing of teeth. I'm aware that sharpening should be the last thing on my list, and first should be developing muscle memory, technique and just getting comfortable with a straight edge razor. I will focus on the items in green first.

How I'm different from some of the others is that I've been very comfortable with a DE safety razor for decades. The memory of my first shave at my grandparent's house is like yesterday. My grandfather said, "You need to shave." The combination of rite of passage and recognition that I was becoming an adult is a fond memory. He encouraged me to try his safety razor shortly after he saw my expression. I did, and pressed way too hard and cut myself in many places, but quickly recognized that "just let the tool do the work" was the way to go. And it was. His only advice was, "You didn't wash first? You should have." What a knucklehead. The things we learn...... What I would give to see my grandfather again, and if only that technological marvel with the gull wing doors like the Tesla was passed down to me...

I'm rambling, but I can't remember the last time I cut myself. I shave in the shower with bar soap (soap-making is another hobby of mine, and I use my own) and once my face and neck is lathered up, without a mirror, I'm usually finished shaving within 90 seconds or so. I've read that a shavette is a good first purchase to see if one will commit and I understand the rationale of a factory blade in a straight edge package/"ready to shave" point of reference, etc. But despite the benefits of a shavette, I have no desire to buy one. In my experience, manual dexterity has always developed more easily with the first tool I put in my hand. I don't know if moving forward with that notion is foolish or not. The shavette is not a straight edge, I'd be learning one thing, then another and it seems like an extra step. Is that irrational?

For the last 10 days I've been reading threads and watching You Tube videos (mostly Geofatboy) and I feel like it's time.

Reminding everyone that I'm a bit impulsive, I honestly don't know if I'm rationalizing pulling the trigger or asking the forum for permission! My preference would be to buy a 5/8, round nose, carbon steel new straight edge, a brush, soap, and an inexpensive strop and have at it. Maybe a Boker, or Dovo.

Reading threads on this forum humbles me by how friendly, knowledgeable and generous members are with their knowledge. The time that some of you take to respond to newcomers restores my faith in humanity. It truly is a pleasure to learn and be blown away at the same time.

Thanks for taking the time to read. I suppose I'm asking for some advice in purchasing like from whom, in what form (singularly or a kit), and any other small tips you might have. I became aware that you folks actually LISTEN (is that possible on the internet?) and tailor your advice based on the disclosures of the newcomer.

I know that the handsome gentleman rbscebu (but the girls call him another name I don't remember) always asks for location so he can recommend a honemeister, so that's why I said where I am. If there's anything else that I could say to help you nudge me along, just ask. Finally, couched in that long ramble is the question, "Do I need to slow down?" LOL

Thanks, all.
Buy a quality razor, good soap, be mindful of your edge angle, and go slow. You’ll be fine, it’s shaving not rocket science. Remember to have fun and enjoy an unhurried shave. Cheers
 
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