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After a year of straight razor shaving

background ifo.

1. I've been into safety razor shaving for almost a decade. I've experienced more than a couple of hundreds safety razors during that period.
I've tried to experience as many safety razors as I could. As a result, I could narrow down 7 razors for my favorites. All of them are vintages.

2. I dipped my toe into straight razor shaving last year. It has passed more than a year.

3. During that period, I've shaved with straight razor 250 - 300 times. The straight razors I've tried are 15.


somethign I've experienced.

1. I've tried to follow the method faithfully. It proved to be easier than I'd thought. I could restore 5 vintage SR purchased from ebay.

2. I've purchased 5 SR claimed to be finished with Jnat from 4 different sellers. All of them weren't that impressive for me, not as sharp as my SR honed with the method.

3. Shaving with SR is the most fun to use. I rarely reach for my safety razors these days.

4. Maintenance is not a big issue except when I clank my SR against faucet and chip my razor. It's the most annoying thing when shaving with SR.

5. It's too early to judge which razor type suits best for me. but up until now my straight razor shaving doesn't match the comfortness and irritation free shaving my favorite safety razors provide. The time and money I spent on straight razors are so small compared to the ones that I did on safety razors so it is not a fair comparison.

6. To get the most satisfying result from SR seems to be taking more time than I'd thought it would be. but I'm enjoying the process and it is getting better.


That's my observation for now.
 
I've been using a straight for a few years now. Mostly my shaves are as good as a DE, but some days they aren't. I don't bother chasing the perfect shave and figure if I have a spot not as close as I would like, I'll catch it tomorrow.

The method honing works for me and I do like the edges off diamond balsa. My first honing attempt was good but the subsequent ones were better.

I rinse my razors with the spine towards the tap and have never touched the edge on the tap nor the sink. Hope it continues that way.

Good luck with your shaves.
 
@0kewl I am a bit further on than you in the gentlemanly art, having completed over 600 SR daily shaves. I would have thought that by now (your 300 SR shaves) you should be at least matching or even exceeding comfortable and irritation free shaves from "safety" razor shaves.

Keep on learning and developing your SR shaving technique. I'm sure that one day you will regularly exceed the quality of your "safety" razor shaves.
 
Not many go back to DE after coming as far as you have.

With straight razors the edge finish is more important than the razor. The Method is a good place to start honing. It’s easy to master and creates very sharp edges straight out of the gate.

The extreme sharpness of the Method does have it’s downsides. Your margin for error prior to irritation is greatly reduced and the slightest error is severely punished. That’s the trade off. You really don’t need that extra level of sharpness either. Once you are cutting hairs easily, cleanly and flushly without any resistance, you are there. Extra sharpness at this stage doesn’t do anything more for you. It just grabs and bites your skin more easily.

Naturals were an absolute game changer for me in terms of comfort. If you were to pick up a 6x2” black ark from Dan’s I think you would be impressed. The ark edge is very sharp. Just a touch behind diamond in terms of sharpness but miles ahead in terms of comfort. If you are in the states a good ark is easy to find, reliably consistent and great value.

You will notice much more of a difference experimenting with different finishers than you will trying different razors. Straight razors are fun and effective but their biggest advantage to me is comfort.
 
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5. It's too early to judge which razor type suits best for me. but up until now my straight razor shaving doesn't match the comfortness and irritation free shaving my favorite safety razors provide. The time and money I spent on straight razors are so small compared to the ones that I did on safety razors so it is not a fair comparison.

6. To get the most satisfying result from SR seems to be taking more time than I'd thought it would be. but I'm enjoying the process and it is getting better.


That's my observation for now.

What straight razors do you have and could you send me one to hone for you please?
 

steveclarkus

Goose Poop Connoisseur
I’ve been shaving with straight razors for almost four years and expect I’m well over a thousand shaves by now. I’ve always used the Method and see no reason to change. My razors are all honed and need nothing more than a daily trip on .1 balsa and leather. My experience with jnat edges is the same as yours - no better or not as good as a method edge. My edges are as sharp or sharper and are very comfortable. Just keep at it and it will become “just shaving”.
 
If you were to pick up a 6x2” black ark from Dan’s I think you would be impressed. The ark edge is very sharp. Just a touch behind diamond in terms of sharpness but miles ahead in terms of comfort.
I have a fine black ark from Dan's but I'll be damned if I know what to do with it. It seems to offer zero feedback (to my untrained hand). Suppose you took a balsa edged razor and wanted to "put an ark edge on it." How do you typically get there? (If you tell me what the razor was I'll pick my closest approximation in terms of steel to try it out.)
 
Very well put. I have several vintage safety razors and a few new ones, and I very very rarely reach for them anymore.

I thoroughly enjoy the self reliance aspect of safety razors. Most people freak out about the maintenance or about cutting themselves, but with a little confidence, caution, and practice, it really isn't that hard. Good equipment isn't cheap upfront, but theoretically should last a lifetime if maintained.

Glad to hear it works for you!
 
I have a fine black ark from Dan's but I'll be damned if I know what to do with it. It seems to offer zero feedback (to my untrained hand). Suppose you took a balsa edged razor and wanted to "put an ark edge on it." How do you typically get there? (If you tell me what the razor was I'll pick my closest approximation in terms of steel to try it out.)
Arks are very hard. They will work on any razor. I find them very effective even on the super hard TI C135 steel.

Dan’s stones are pretty flat out of the box. Personally I’m anal about flatness so I will lap them further with loose Silicon Carbide powder and WD sandpaper on a granite surface plate. Plenty of people are happy to use them unlapped straight from Dan’s. You can finish anywhere between 600-1000 grit. 600 has more teeth and cutting power. 1000 gets slower and finer. 800 is a happy medium. Arks eat WD very quickly. They will also eat your diamond plate if you give it a chance.

It’s good practice to burnish the surface a little before putting a razor to them. Sharpening a big chisel is perfect for this. This knocks off any high points that might scratch the razor. The more you burnish the more reflective the surface gets. The finish gets finer and the cutting gets slower. I generally keep one side matt for speed and one side polished for the final finish. If you do this you’ve got a nice little one stone progression. If the matt side gets too slow or glassy you just rough it up again with some WD.

I’m not a fan of killing edges between finishers. I say just do 50 laps on the ark and see what it does. There’s no slurry to worry about with these. It’s just splash and go. As a minimum run a chisel or big knife over it before you hone a razor. Oil or soapy water both work as a honing medium. Oil is the traditional choice but soapy water works just as well for me.

With the rise of synthetics I don’t know how much longer they will be mining these for. It’s kind of the golden age of arks right now. You can still get great stones for a reasonable price and they literally last forever. By my calculations a 1 inch thick ark should last for about 7,500 years of regular straight razor honing. They wear extremely slowly. This also means that they don’t dish. The surface geometry is very stable. I suspect this is one reason that the edges are so good.
 

Chan Eil Whiskers

Fumbling about.
After maybe 400 straight razor shaves I tried a FOCS because of reasons. That great experience sucked me back into the DE world.

Not that I'm selling my straights, strops, or stones.

Happy shaves,

Jim
 

Chan Eil Whiskers

Fumbling about.
After maybe 400 straight razor shaves I tried a FOCS because of reasons. That great experience sucked me back into the DE world.

Not that I'm selling my straights, strops, or stones.

Happy shaves,

Jim
 
I have a fine black ark from Dan's but I'll be damned if I know what to do with it. It seems to offer zero feedback (to my untrained hand). Suppose you took a balsa edged razor and wanted to "put an ark edge on it." How do you typically get there? (If you tell me what the razor was I'll pick my closest approximation in terms of steel to try it out.)

Is the surface freshly prepped? If so at what grit? Is it subsequently burnished?

Usually the guidance is to give the razor it a “few” dozen laps, being very careful to not pick up the edge.
 
Is the surface freshly prepped? If so at what grit? Is it subsequently burnished?

Usually the guidance is to give the razor it a “few” dozen laps, being very careful to not pick up the edge.
Thanks ,I'll try just putting some number of careful laps (once I get the thing ready) and see how it goes. Probably with water and trace of shave stick since that seems easy and self-cleaning :p

I'm working on prepping it. After starting with an Atoma (abandoned that quickly) and a few hours with w+d I was hating my life so I broke down and got some SiC. Should have done that straightaway. So far 120 and 220. While messy it's SO much easier to make progress that I can actually see myself persisting to 800/1000.
 
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