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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.
Welcome - I love your avatar!
Welcome to the forum.

As a recommendation for a first straight razor, I would recommend a 5/8 half or quarter hollow razor. Full hollows tend to be less forgiving to the new-comer. Personally, a Thiers Issard 5/8 Special Coiffeur would be a great first straight razor.

Just my opinion with over a decade of experience.
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
Good, solid advice, Possum092. I will remember this!
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?
At first I said to myself, balsa wood IS a substrate in this context. Then I read the .pdf to which you linked. I see now the substrate to which you allude is the backing material to the balsa. Excellent reference, very much appreciated. Thank you.
Thank you, Sherlock40! "I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children." --Bob Dylan
Dylan continues to amaze me, and he’s 80 and still as productive as ever. I saw him a few months ago in Philadelphia. Many of the songs he performed were from his new album which is outstanding. He and his band sounded great. Be sure to see him if you haven’t already on this tour. Here’s a picture I took when I was at the concert with him at the piano during “Every Grain of Sand.”

"Do I need to slow down?"
Just go for it, what may seem like a lot of blood is usually just a few drops!

Seriously though - welcome to the group of "manly shavers".

Nothing to add to the huge amount of advice already given, the guys are always eager to share their knowledge and experience.

Enjoy the journey, at first the learning curve is very steep, but soon enough you find yourself bickering about small details of preference with other members. That's the point of any forum, share and compare experiences.
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