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canus's straight razor shave journal

I have decided to start a shaving journal (the idea is not mine, but defend tacoma proposed it and I think it is a splendid idea). Some background about me and my previous shaves.

I am a student of philosophy (for far too long) at the university in the same place were I currently live and the university is my employer (most of my hard earned money goes directly back to my employer -you have to love the irony).

My first shave was electric with the equipment of my dad. It was dry, I didn't like it and when It was my birthday my parents gave me a philips cool shave. I had different models and recently I was fed up with looking for replacement parts (and losing half my day). So I complained and the result was a gift, my first (and only straight razor) a DOVO Inox 41 5/8.

After some reading it became clear that it is not wise to just start, so I search for a book (I like books) in my mother tongue. And I found a quaint barbershop with a nice barber who helped and still helps me along. He named my razor and I bought the Book, Taylor Avocado shaving creme and an Omega badger Havana brush. I also had a Alum block (for other uses and thus started my first three shaves after my shower

Wed 28 july 2010
The first time I put the razor against my skin. I was very careful and the razor felt a bit awkward. But the meeting did not end in bloodshed and my cheeks got there first shave with cold steel.

fri 30 july 2010
The second time a tiny bit more confident and a little less awkward. Again just the cheeks, a bit more and I was modestly satisfied. The girlfriend of my best friend and housemate walked in and said she liked the way I smelled.

sun 1 august 2010
The third time starting with the cheeks and the part beneath my nose. That felt really awkward. The part beneath my mouth and my chin not as good as my cheeks, but no blood (I am save). Got a bit razor burned, but I was satisfied with my lather. I used the aftershave of my friend (It seems a good idea to invest some money in aftershave).
 
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sounds like a great start, i like that you are taking your time and building confidence as you go. unfortunately i can't really help you with the razor burn as it seems to me that just comes with the territory when you start, though i can assure you it will become a thing of the past as you progress and learn your angles and find how little pressure is really needed. know one thing and that is your worst three shaves are behind and you will be surprised how quick you will be making progress. wish i could wave a magic wand and give you a quick 3 months experience but hang in there and you will be rewarded.

Ian
 
Thanks Ian. Yes I had my forth shave and it was a lot better. Yes I need to build the confidence to start shaving my neck and between my neck and chin (don't know when that is going to come, but I hope before the end of this month).
 
Hey there! I'm glad that you decided to journal your straight shaving adventures. I think had I not done the same, I would have quit pretty early in the game. It's very helpful when seeking advice, or a little encouragement when you are feeling down about the whole straight thing.

I really enjoyed reading your post, and I'm very interested to see how things progress for you! Keep posting, and asking questions. It's great to have you along for the ride! :thumbup:
 
thu 5 august 2010 - strop
I went to the shop and bought my first stop (dovo linen and leather), some yellow past and Talor Jermyn street aftershave cream. I had to work, but I had made an appointment so I could come a little late. The barber explained how to strop (and let me repeat the movement with his own razor on an old strop). It was quit enlightening to see someone preform such a feat.

At home I applied the yellow past two times (with a 2 hour interval). I tested on a belt with my kitchen knife. And then the real deal, stropping on my strop with my own knife at a slow pace. The linen side went fine, but not the leather side. Eventually I nicked it a little. I discovered that when I slow down and stop my hand moves back a fraction. So every time I stop I need to lift the knife before I stop and turn.

I went in the bathroom prepared my stuff (bringing knife, towels etc). Filling my improvised lather bowl with hot water from the tap and putting my brush in to soak. After showering I drench a small towel in hot water and make my lather. Two swirls from the tub a bit of water in the bowl and round and round we go. I put a bit more water in than the last time and I think it was better. I will try some more water next time
Wrench the hot towel and put in on my face until it cools off. Lather my face with my brush and start shaving. I applied a little less pressure and shaved my face going a bit further towards my neck and giving a little bit more attention to the part around my mouth (it still feels a bit awkward) and there are still a few little hairs I didn't get after 4 with the grain passes. All or most of my passes are with the grain. The part between my mouth and chin was better than last sunday and the skin feels dry, but it was not the burning sensation of last sunday (so I think the stopping helped in combination with slower movements and less pressure in some parts). It could also be psychological. Well I will see tomorrow (sat) or sunday how my shave will be.

After lathering two more times I removed the excess lather from my face. I applied the aftershave, which has a sent I still don't smell when I smell the tube, but it is a nice sent and not obtrusive.
I don't like strong odours. It reminds me of teenagers (who don't know how much perfume is correct) or the elderly (who forgot how much perfume is the correct amount). And I promised myself when (and if) I reach the ripe old age of 90 I will not use any perfume at all (I don't use an now, so that is at least one promise I can keep).

I fill the basin with cold water soak the towel in the cold water. I wrench the cold towel and apply it to my face until it is a bit warmer. Again no blood (still waiting for my first cut, but I am beginning to belief it will appear when I start shaving my neck. A roommate of mine, who is a medical student, told me to put pressure on my artery if I accidentally made a cut there.

Cleaning my bowl and brush with cold water. Cleaning my razor with hot water. Drying the razor and putting it to dry on a towel over night on my desk. I think I will strop before I shave (like I did today) and try the 30 linen 60 leather approach -J recommended.
 
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@-J thanks for the reply. Yes I hope it is motivational (the people in my immediate surrounding wonder why I wanted to shave with a straight (and not with a safety razor) and I still only have a ill fitting answer. I hope the journal can help with this as well.

@Rick Thanks I hope I will. I look a bit silly at the moment with a beard on my neck and under my chin. Hope the nerve to give myself a good shave will come soon.
 
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Luc

Moderator Emeritus
Good start! Maintaining a journal will give you an idea of the progression also. I used to put an average time in there, when I started I was at ~45 mins and I must be a tiny bit under 20 mins now.

The Dovo strop is a good strop. It's small, narrow but, that's what I used and think it did a very decent job. If you nick your strop, try to get some fine sandpaper (I use 1200) to sand the nicks, just 1 sheet is enough.

I nicked my strop quite a lot, it ain't pretty but I can get some service out of it still.

I didn't use the yellow paste as the leather didn't need conditioning when I got it.

Take your time and this is going to be an awesome journey!
 
@Luc Thanks for the encouragement. I will time my next (great idea). I need to buy some sandpaper tomorrow. It is a little bit on the side. I have taken the advice in my book that "it is your first stop and it will not be a pretty sight after a few month, so it is unwise to attach yourself to your first strop." Loosely translated from the Dutch.
 

Luc

Moderator Emeritus
@Luc Thanks for the encouragement. I will time my next (great idea). I need to buy some sandpaper tomorrow. It is a little bit on the side. I have taken the advice in my book that "it is your first stop and it will not be a pretty sight after a few month, so it is unwise to attach yourself to your first strop." Loosely translated from the Dutch.
Ah, I tried that to attach the strop to my belt. It's not so bad but be very careful if you do so, as always. It works well if you don't have any hooks or anything to attach the strop. I prefer the strop to be attached to the door knob than myself.

Yes, the sandpaper will "fix" the nicks in the strop by smoothing them but the strop won't look pretty afterwards. It doesn't matter much, it will still work.
 
@Luc Sorry my bad translation (It is getting late and I tend to make mistakes easier). I meant attach in a psychological sense of the word, not the physical. I can't hang the strop in the bathroom, so I hang it from my door knob to my room. Just like you do, I presume.
 

Luc

Moderator Emeritus
@Luc Sorry my bad translation (It is getting late and I tend to make mistakes easier). I meant attach in a psychological sense of the word, not the physical. I can't hang the strop in the bathroom, so I hang it from my door knob to my room. Just like you do, I presume.
Ah right, no worries! :001_smile
 
A roommate of mine, who is a medical student, told me to put pressure on my artery if I accidentally made a cut there.
Some fine advice, but something I sincerely doubt will happen! :biggrin1: You are doing a fine job for just starting out! I'm sure by the end of a couple of months your strop will look like a dog's chew toy. It is to be expected as you are still learning. Most of the nicks in my strop happened the same way yours have. Luc gave sound advice regarding the sandpaper, and soon enough it will be a rare occurrence to Nick your strop at all.

Once you are feeling more confident with regards to shaving your neck thaspect should come pretty quickly as well. You are not alone in your reluctance to shave that area. I don't think it is a coincidence that in the 1800's, when straight razors were the only means of shaving that neck beards were in style!

Keep at it friend! Looks like you are progressing fine!
 
A roommate of mine, who is a medical student, told me to put pressure on my artery if I accidentally made a cut there.
Ok...your roommate is joking right? If indeed you were to cut your artery, unless it was a very, very fine, thin cut, I'm not sure pressure would do you much good :lol:

But I agree with J...thats not something I would worry about unless you plan on swiping across your throat with the edge of the blade :tongue_sm

Edit: Now that I think about it...wasn't there a story somewhere of some guy getting saved by a finger in his artery? Oh wait...that was Hollywood Pearl Harbor!
 
From reading your journal it sounds like you've made a good start. Be patient is the best advise I can give you. What feels awkward and uncomfortable now, will become second nature to you.

Enjoy the journey.
 
@-J Thanks for the kind and encouraging words.

@Chris I actually don't think he was joking. I don't think a finger in an artery would help (it would just rupture further).

@Johnmrson I hope it eventually will. I will take it slow so I will not fall away. I started reading some other journals. Some read like horror stories, but with gradually working towards a good ending (I hope).
 
I read a few other journals have pictures (also noticing the different products people use differs from shave to shave). I just have these products (I didn't really use any before, except the wet lubricant for the electric razor (apparently cream, aftershave and lubricant all rolled into one). So here is my setup at the moment. I am thinking about buying a scuttle (my books speaks highly of warm lather). But thats for another day. Just some phone pictures (I am old school and only have b/w negatives with an old SLR-camera :) ).

The first is of my shaving gear and the second one is a zoom of the real tool of the trade.
 
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Did the usual (except the towel in the beginning). But my lather was to moist. I tried using it on my face and it just didn't work. So I started making lather again from the beginning.

I got my first nick just above my upper lip (I didn't feel anything, but a really small patch of blood appeared out of nowhere), so I stop shaving that spot and I applied some Alum van de Gouden Hand for the first time. I went a little further at the edges. I feel a bit dried out (I think I will shave myself wednesday, so my face can cam down.

I touched my face trying to determine the direction the hairs grew. I noticed I still have a small path I systematically miss (but it will be rectified when I will shave again). The right side is smooth (at least fot a WTG pass).

@Rick Thanks for the compliment. Now I just need to know how too use them properly :)
 
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