Cartridge to R41 to Cut-Throat

Discussion in 'General Straight Razor Talk' started by Jakebullet, Dec 10, 2018.

    After shaving with a cartridge razor for 30 years I eventually saw the light last February and went DE.
    I dived straight in and bought a Muhle R41 as my first razor. It was the best shaving decision I’d ever made and after a steep learning curve I’ve been getting amazingly close smooth shaves ever since.
    I wasn’t affected by RAD as I love the razor, it’s my only one and I use it every single day, a match made in heaven.
    Then a couple of weeks ago my girlfriend asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I was thinking aloud when I heard myself say ‘How about a Cut-Throat?’.
    Not sure exactly where this request came from as I was happy with my R41 and had always been pretty terrified of trying a Straight, but I’d recently and randomly watched Anthony Esposito on a Youtube video talking about how the only thing that mattered in a razor was the edge and that even a cheap razor could give a great shave if properly honed.
    So I thought ‘why not?’.
    I’d get my girl to buy me a cheap shave ready razor and give it a go as an experiment. If I liked it I could take it from there and if not, well no great investment would be lost.
    I sourced a honed Gold Dollar for £20 on the Internet but the day I went online to order it the website had gone down never to come up again! If only I’d saved the phone number.
    So I found a London based seller called ‘Shavers Delight’ and messaged the guy there who referred me to their Etsy page.
    With no clue to guide me I liked the look of this 1950’s razor engraved on the tang with Thomas Turner & Co Suffolk Works, Sheffield, priced at £45 shave ready so I took the plunge and ordered it
    A razor with some history appeals to me for some reason and this one is as old as my mother.
    The razor arrived! I took it out of the coffin, it was the first straight id ever touched. I opened it up. Quite beautiful.
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    I looked at myself in the mirror polished 5x8ths blade This thing was scary! The edge was so sharp that it disappeared into infinity, too slim to be detected by my 46 year old eyes.
    It felt strange in my hand as I experimented with holding it to see what felt best. Whenever it got near to my face my heartbeat increased. I was hoping it would just feel natural in my hand but I could tell immediately that even that would have to wait.
    I watched a few more videos to get an idea of how to hold it, strop it, shave with it, hone it etc (thank God for Youtube).
    I’m not especially dexterous with my left hand and the thought of waving this thing around my face with it chilled me up.
    I messaged the guy I bought it from to find out if he used tape on the spine when honing it, he said yes he used 3 pieces. Does this sound normal for an old razor? Will I have to use the same amount when I strop and hone?
    I contemplated how I’d do my first shave. Just cheeks both hands wtg? A full wtg pass? 2 passes? A full two handed 3 pass shave including Atg? Would I finish off each shave with my DE? Or put the DE away completely and vow to only shave with the straight until I mastered it? I’d have to play all of this very much by ear and see how I felt at each stage.
    It took a day to convince my girl that there was no point in making me wait until xmas day to use this thing so I took a very long shower and peeked nervously out from behind the screen at this deathly, curved pale yellow thing from a different century lying in wait with the rest of my shaving gear.
    I took ages in that shower almost scared to turn the water off. Then I manned up, walked to the sink and purposely took my boar brush to a puck of Tabac soap.
    Deep breath then I opened the razor.
    For a few seconds I couldn’t even work out how to hold it then I nervously edged it towards my face mostly unable to even see myself in the mirror. I lightly pulled down and felt it catch the hair. PHEW! Contact had been made and I was still alive. I started to cut downwards and noticed it was quite ‘pully’ so I slightly adjusted the angles looking for a sweeter cut. I’d find a better angle then immediately lose it again but I knew this would take some practice.
    I did my left cheek, jaw, top lip bottom lip, chin etc and most of my neck all with my right hand then nervously switched hands to try the other side.
    Wow the razor in my left hand felt really wobbly and I nearly cut my ear just trying to position it to start cutting. It was waving around a millimetre above my face like a badly flown helicopter trying to land in the wind then PING! It caught the hair and I breathed again. I started to cut. Again it took a lot of concentration and experimentation to find an angle which felt sweet but I persevered. I did my cheek, jaw, top lip, bottom lip, chin but only had a little try on my neck as it felt far from steady. I rinsed off and felt my face. My whiskers were still quite rough but I’d finished my first pass.
    I re-lathered and tried a sideways pass on my left side using my right hand.
    Again, a million miles from close, but I finished all areas including my chin and top lip even cutting upwards on my neck. Then I switched hands to try the same on the right side with my left hand. Again, extremely tense and wobbly. Halfway through it I thought ‘that’s probably enough for today’ so I picked up my R41 and finished pass 2 with that.
    I could tell there was much more left on my face than usual but close hadn’t really been the goal today.
    I re lathered for my ATG pass when I remembered a post from here I’d read in the morning which said that perhaps it was better for beginners to use the straight for the later passes rather than the earlier ones.
    So I put down the R41, picked up the straight again and with my heart beating hard went ATG on my left side with my right hand. I did my neck, face and tried my chin then switched hands and tried ATG with my left hand on my right side. Again very scary and wobbly after a few scrapes of my cheek I almost pushed the razor into my cheek. I was sure I must’ve cut myself and waited for blood to seep through the lather but nothing happened I’d got lucky. I put down the cut-throat and finished up with the R41.
    Had a lovely cold rinse and a splash of Floid Vigoroso.
    Phew what a ride!
    No cuts, no irritation the tip of my nose and ear lobes were still attached and I hadn’t died from heart failure or a lack of breathing,
    Without the intervention of the R41 I would’ve been extremely far from close or smooth but as a first shave I’m just glad to have gotten through it.
    I stropped the thing 50 times each side on a home made strop I use for my pocket knife and put it away.
    I really enjoyed the rush and I’m looking forward to trying to master this crazy thing Im already really looking forward to trying it again tomorrow.
    Thanks for reading!
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
  1. You’ve been bitten. Enjoy the ride.


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  2. Wow. You dove right in.

    I would advise just doing the flat part of both cheeks, perhaps two times WTG, for at least the first week and finishing the rest of the shave with your DE for now.

    After that, start adding in the more difficult areas. You can stop at any time and use the DE. There's no penalty.

    I am admittedly a slow learner, but it was easily 25 or 30 shaves before I began to feel more assured, and I think it wasn't until shave 50-something that I completed two passes of the entire face and neck.

    This morning I finished my 231st straight razor shave, so I'm obviously no where near the most experienced guy, but I now get comfortable shaves without fuss.

    But for me it took time, and I think it pays to go easy at first and build skill as you go. Welcome to the dark side.
     
  3. Congrats on your first straight shave!

    Three pieces of tape on a razor with zero hone wear will almost surely result in a very obtuse, by razor standards, bevel angle. Not necessarily a bad thing for your first few straight shaving experiences, but probably something that you will want to move on from. I'd say to use it a bit and then get it re honed by someone here. Or better yet, buy a second, shave ready razor from the BST so that you will have something to compare to.
     
  4. I’m not a fan of taping spines. It continually changes the bevel and departs from the intended design.


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  5. I enjoyed reading about your experience. I think we can all relate! Keep it up. I think you will find dramatic improvements with each shave, at least towards the beginning of your journey.
     
  6. Great job! It's always hard to get that first shave in, I know i was scared too. Welcome to the club and I look forward to reading more about your progress.

    tact.gif
     
  7. Sounds like an exceptional first shave. All good advice above. Keep at it and it will become just as natural as your R41.
     
  8. Congratulations!
    It will only get better.
    Not sure why the guy honed with 3 layers though. If you are going to attempt to hone yourself I'd stick with 1 layer to maintain blade shape while learning to hone. After that do what you want.
    Might be worth checking the angle to see where its at. Maybe there's a reason he used 3.
     
  9. Thanks for the kind words of encouragement and advice everybody it’s much appreciated.
     
  10. Shave 2 today
    I woke up quite excited to try shave 2 this morning.
    Waving a 60 year old open razor around my face with both hands first thing in the morning has a way of focussing the mind to say the least.
    Yesterday’s first shave was done around 1pm so I had a tough beard and the razor dragged in it quite a bit so I thought I’d try today’s one around 7.30am which was an 18hrs growth with the hope that it would be smoother.
    I lathered up a ton of Proraso Green soap and opened the razor up.
    I felt a bit less afraid of it today but was still being extremely careful.
    I made contact with the hair much more confidently and did my downwards pass with my right hand quite well. It should be noted that ‘quite well’ at this stage meant I was able to shakily remove most of the lather from most of the areas but as for good consistent hair removal I’m pretty far from that. It was a lot less tuggy as I narrowed that angle and it felt smooth and sang loudly but not a great deal of hair being cut.
    Then over to my left hand for my wtg pass.
    I was surprised at the improvement in balance and feel today from my left. Still very shaky and awkward feeling but a big improvement on yesterday.
    On both sides I did a lot better on my chin and upper lip using the toe of the razor and a fine angle.
    Pass 2 xtg was ok ish with my right but very tricky bordering on dangerous again with my left. I made a little vertical cut on my top lip halfway through the pass which prompted me to close the razor and finish the pass with the DE.
    I opened it up again for the atg pass with my right hand.
    Just my cheek and a bit of my neck and jaw then I put it away again and didn’t even try it with my left then I finished the whole thing up with the r41.
    Quite surprised today with the improvement in feel with both hands which I somehow woke up with though still a million miles away from where I want but very enjoyable indeed.
     
  11. I’m not too comfortable with an XTG yet and I think most don’t do one with a straight. That’s the reason I’m still messing with different techniques on the submandibular triangle. I’m now shaving SW to NE on the left and SE to NW on the right. It’s a lot better, but I’m still looking for BBS there.


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  12. Chan Eil Whiskers

    Chan Eil Whiskers Contributor

    Somebody said the goal is to not see blood. Sounds right to me.

    I would advise you to PIF the razor straight away before you acquire all the ADs. You may not be infected with the virus yet, but you will be if you keep that thing in the house.

    It's probably too late, but at least ditch the tape.

    Happy shaves,

    Jim
     
  13. It sounds like you are doing well. Stay focused. As Jim said, a goal of not seeing blood is a good one and eventually you will get better and better shaves. I often say "that's enough for today" if anything feels catchy or off. I'm in for the long haul, and I think each shave is improving my technique, even a very little at a time.
    I too enjoyed reading your first day's experience, keep up the reporting!
    BTW, that is a very nice looking razor!
     
  14. Great stuff!! Keep it up !! just take your time as their is no rush and finishing with you 41 is NOT a bad thing. You will build muscle memory over time and using a straight will become second nature!!

    Welcome to your new obsession!!
     
  15. Congrats, seems it's going fairly well so far.

    It's silly addictive but at times early in the journey can be a little bit frustrating.
    Take your time, read a lot and learn from your (and even better other's) mistakes.

    Oh, and stay away from two threads in straight razors section, this one, and this one.... lol.
    Folks there seem nice and friendly but, be warned, enablers, just one enabler after the other, all of them. :D :D :D
     
  16. Excellent story telling. If you keep the same pace between day one and two you'll be BBS in no time!

    Even after years I still would like to be much better and still feel new. I still tread most wearily, and timidly to go ATG. Reading your story reminds me of my own learning curve. It's good perspective to have.

    I'm looking forward to hearing how your skills evolve.
     
  17. What an awesome story. You captured your emotions quite well in words. Makes me recall my own start with straights which was not long ago.

    Even though I'll never have to shave with a straight for the very first time again, I sometimes think about how I could have done it better. I definitely like the advice that you should do the first WTG pass on your entire face with a DE. I adopted that technique maybe two weeks after starting and it worked well.

    I've also been thinking that perhaps a WTG pass starting at the bottom of your sideburns might not be the best way to start. Unless you have really long sideburns, I think a lot of people find it hard to start there because you can't clearly see what you are doing (at least I couldn't). Maybe WTG starting below ear-lobe level on your cheeks might be better. For me personally, the XTG pass from ear to nose with my dominant hand is my easiest pass. So maybe if I had to do things all over again I would start there. Just random thoughts...
     
  18. Shave 3 today, I used Maca root cream from the body shop and Proraso Green pre shave, face lathered with a boar
    Wtg pass one was a little better again today. I seem to focus a touch more each day as I get more confident by tiny degrees and this time I did quite a bit more skin stretching as I cut downwards. I focussed on each small area a bit better too. Although I’m mostly half blinded by the misty mirror, angle and razor handle I can picture the area on my face I’m cutting in my minds eye if I really concentrate. Whenever it tugged I flattened the blade which smoothed things out and I seemed to cover pretty much all of my right hand side except a few areas of the curve of my chin and jaw and bits of my neck. I don’t seem to remove much hair though is this normal in the early days?
    The left hand side with my left hand was better today too though it takes some getting used to stretching with my right. I’m really forcing myself to persevere with the left hand and it annoys me that it won’t behave as I tell it to. I focussed and pretty much did my whole left side and my neck too. Not as well as I did my right side (which was very far from brilliant too), and still quite shaky, but better than yesterday.
    I re lathered and started pass 2 xtg.
    I started in the usual way but a reply on here made me realise that I could improvise a bit on this pass as it was quite a tricky thing to do compared to a DE. So on my chin I did more of a mix of wtg and xtg and this helped a lot I did my left side with my right hand and for the 1 st time finished my right side with my left hand.
    These two passes took a lot longer than usual so I washed and re lathered halfway through each.
    Feeling good I thought I’d try to see if I could get the whole shave done without cleaning up with my DE so I lathered a third time and went atg on my left side with my right hand. I just took my time and was very careful, again flattening the blade every time I felt it pull. I managed to do most of it including most of my neck and even had a go at my top lip. I had to change my grip quite a bit to try to follow the curves Under my neck and chin and had a little success. The neck and chin are a lot of scary fun!None of it was anywhere near comparable to the closeness of my DE but it was a start and my cheeks were pretty close at the end of it.
    I switched hands and tried the same on my right side with my left hand. Again it felt awkward and a little wobbly especially around my neck and jaw but I completed about 75% of the atg on that side which is a big improvement on my first 2 shaves. Again it was far from close.
    As I rinsed I could tell I’d need to mop up quite heavily with the R41 after all as hardly anywhere was truly smooth but it was fun trying.
    Thanks so much for all the great advice and encouragement, I feel a bit unsteady at times like Bambi especially with my left hand but im loving the journey.
     

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