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Crossing the Straight Divide

I plan on making this thread a kind of diary of my experience and journey through what I am calling the Straight Divide. That is the time before a straight edge razor and the time after.

Today is the first time I have ever put a straight to my face and shaved. (i did once before being really stupid and cut my ear a little, no major blood)

The experience was...wait I am jumping ahead, I should explain a little history, and method first

History
My usual shave is with a Weishi DE and a wilkinson blade. I have been doing this for about 6 years now and have developed a great technique with a nice close shave (although against the grain is not great for me).

Recently I thought I would make the jump into Straight's and bought a vintage blade. This was cleaned up and honed by Oz.

After many weeks of reading/watching/and more reading I took the plunge today and had my first shave.

Tools
  • Omega Badger Brush (grade unknown but does feel soft)
  • Crabtree & Evalyn Nomad soap in a wood container
  • Styptic liquid bottle
  • Proraso
  • Japanese Tea pot as a my shaving mug (hey I like it and it has a nice strainer on the top)
  • Eye Witness Straight (freshly honed by Oz)
  • A printed sheet with step by step instructions (grab the 198kb pdf here) which I need to remember to try and follow
  • Diamond belt paddle strop
  • Crabtree & Evalyn Nomad after shave
  • Inox for oiling the blade
  • paper towels for drying

Technique (well what I should do)
I roughly followed the instructions that I have set out in this PDF and will paste up in my bathroom for daily reminders

Results and thoughts
Shaving with a straight is quite different to DE. The sound of the beard being cut is a little weird at first but very enjoyable. Still have a long long way to go with getting used to moving such a long blade around on my face without cutting myself. I managed to get about 3 cuts from the blade, nothing that Styptic could not stop.
I only shaved my right cheek, a little of the left (had trouble getting the right position) and some of my upper lip (where I started to cut myself). I started to do below my chin but got a little scared since this was after my bad attempt on my upper lip.
Holding the straight is a little confusing but I think I am getting the hang of it
Stropping did not seem to bad (many thanks to Oz for showing me the correct technique). Love the sound the blade makes on the strop.
Sadly I finished the shave off with my DE.

Lessons Learned
  • Straight blades are long and require respect. They will cut you without you knowing if you do not watch them
  • pull the skin taught
  • go slowly and practice shaving my left and right cheeks first
  • Straight edge shaving is fun and great challenge that I will overcome.

Next Time
  • take things slowly (ie change to night shave routine so I have time and not a morning rush)
  • concentrate on getting the shave right on my cheeks
  • will be tomorrow night

PS: Many thanks to all who have helped me to get to this point
 
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I plan on making this thread a kind of diary of my experience and journey through what I am calling the Straight Divide. That is the time before a straight edge razor and the time after.

Today is the first time I have ever put a straight to my face and shaved. (i did once before being really stupid and cut my ear a little, no major blood)

The experience was...wait I am jumping ahead, I should explain a little history, and method first

History
My usual shave is with a Weishi DE and a wilkinson blade. I have been doing this for about 6 years now and have developed a great technique with a nice close shave (although against the grain is not great for me).

Recently I thought I would make the jump into Straight's and bought a vintage blade. This was cleaned up and honed by Oz.

After many weeks of reading/watching/and more reading I took the plunge today and had my first shave.

Tools
  • Omega Badger Brush (grade unknown but does feel soft)
  • Crabtree & Evalyn Nomad soap in a wood container
  • Styptic liquid bottle
  • Proraso
  • Japanese Tea pot as a my shaving mug (hey I like it and it has a nice strainer on the top)
  • Eye Witness Straight (freshly honed by Oz)
  • A printed sheet with step by step instructions (grab the 198kb pdf here) which I need to remember to try and follow
  • Diamond belt paddle strop
  • Crabtree & Evalyn Nomad after shave
  • Inox for oiling the blade
  • paper towels for drying

Technique (well what I should do)
I roughly followed the instructions that I have set out in this PDF and will paste up in my bathroom for daily reminders

Results and thoughts
Shaving with a straight is quite different to DE. The sound of the beard being cut is a little weird at first but very enjoyable. Still have a long long way to go with getting used to moving such a long blade around on my face without cutting myself. I managed to get about 3 cuts from the blade, nothing that Styptic could not stop.
I only shaved my right cheek, a little of the left (had trouble getting the right position) and some of my upper lip (where I started to cut myself). I started to do below my chin but got a little scared since this was after my bad attempt on my upper lip.
Holding the straight is a little confusing but I think I am getting the hang of it
Stropping did not seem to bad (many thanks to Oz for showing me the correct technique). Love the sound the blade makes on the strop.
Sadly I finished the shave off with my DE.

Lessons Learned
  • Straight blades are long and require respect. They will cut you without you knowing if you do not watch them
  • pull the skin taught
  • go slowly and practice shaving my left and right cheeks first
  • Straight edge shaving is fun and great challenge that I will overcome.

Next Time
  • take things slowly (ie change to night shave routine so I have time and not a morning rush)
  • concentrate on getting the shave right on my cheeks
  • will be tomorrow night

PS: Many thanks to all who have helped me to get to this point
Fantastic start Glyn :thumbup: :thumbup1:,

Great gear and nice PDF btw...although I think you will soon find yourself in the precarious position of not need the instructions on the wall :biggrin1:.

Oz is a great guy and although have not had the pleasure of experiencing edges he puts on, I have heard many many great things about it :thumbup:

I also like the Japanese tea pot and don't let anyone else tell you otherwise. I use a Japanese rice bowl for lather myself (a gift from a friend/member here) and it's my favorite bowl.

Straight shaving is definitely more involved (with more gears) than DE...I think more fun and enjoyable too...The learning curve is steeper, but definitely rewarding.

A few recommendations:

  1. Get another blade (a least). The reasons are several fold; (a) you have a backup when you send one for honing, (b) your edges will last longer since you don't use one blade everyday
  2. Don't be afraid to try out different size and grind blades...especially size. As your technique improves, grind becomes less of an issue, imho. Size, however, is a matter of personal preference.
  3. Start learning using your other hand for the other side of your face...watch this video.
  4. Watch pressure and angle - As you mentioned, go slow and be cognizant of your technique...the freedom of blade movement is 180º with str8 shaving (DE has more limited angles you can use, which make it safer too). With this wide angle, your risks go up too...you can more easily cut yourself. If your angle goes off, you will tend to compensate with pressure...So, watch these things carefully.
  5. Have fun exploring
  6. Watch the AD...they will set in, especially SRAD :lol:
 
A great read Zarni, please keep us updated.

I have toyed with doing exactly what you are doing but have been a big chicken so far.

Dumb question follows:

1) Is that Wooden paddle looking thing the strop ? I always thought that a strop was like a leather belt hanging from a door knob.

2) Why do you have 2 of them ?

3) What are those bumps on one side of it ?

Please excuse my ignorance.
 
Keep up the good work, I just finished my second straight shave with better result than the first and looking forward to the next.

I'll be paying attention to your progression, it's fun to read another rookie's experience too :thumbup:
 

Luc

Moderator Emeritus
I plan on making this thread a kind of diary of my experience and journey through what I am calling the Straight Divide. That is the time before a straight edge razor and the time after.

Today is the first time I have ever put a straight to my face and shaved. (i did once before being really stupid and cut my ear a little, no major blood)

The experience was...wait I am jumping ahead, I should explain a little history, and method first

History
My usual shave is with a Weishi DE and a wilkinson blade. I have been doing this for about 6 years now and have developed a great technique with a nice close shave (although against the grain is not great for me).

Recently I thought I would make the jump into Straight's and bought a vintage blade. This was cleaned up and honed by Oz.

After many weeks of reading/watching/and more reading I took the plunge today and had my first shave.

Tools
  • Omega Badger Brush (grade unknown but does feel soft)
  • Crabtree & Evalyn Nomad soap in a wood container
  • Styptic liquid bottle
  • Proraso
  • Japanese Tea pot as a my shaving mug (hey I like it and it has a nice strainer on the top)
  • Eye Witness Straight (freshly honed by Oz)
  • A printed sheet with step by step instructions (grab the 198kb pdf here) which I need to remember to try and follow
  • Diamond belt paddle strop
  • Crabtree & Evalyn Nomad after shave
  • Inox for oiling the blade
  • paper towels for drying

Technique (well what I should do)
I roughly followed the instructions that I have set out in this PDF and will paste up in my bathroom for daily reminders

Results and thoughts
Shaving with a straight is quite different to DE. The sound of the beard being cut is a little weird at first but very enjoyable. Still have a long long way to go with getting used to moving such a long blade around on my face without cutting myself. I managed to get about 3 cuts from the blade, nothing that Styptic could not stop.
I only shaved my right cheek, a little of the left (had trouble getting the right position) and some of my upper lip (where I started to cut myself). I started to do below my chin but got a little scared since this was after my bad attempt on my upper lip.
Holding the straight is a little confusing but I think I am getting the hang of it
Stropping did not seem to bad (many thanks to Oz for showing me the correct technique). Love the sound the blade makes on the strop.
Sadly I finished the shave off with my DE.

Lessons Learned
  • Straight blades are long and require respect. They will cut you without you knowing if you do not watch them
  • pull the skin taught
  • go slowly and practice shaving my left and right cheeks first
  • Straight edge shaving is fun and great challenge that I will overcome.

Next Time
  • take things slowly (ie change to night shave routine so I have time and not a morning rush)
  • concentrate on getting the shave right on my cheeks
  • will be tomorrow night

PS: Many thanks to all who have helped me to get to this point
Excellent work Glyn!!

Did you try using both hands or not yet?

A great read Zarni, please keep us updated.

I have toyed with doing exactly what you are doing but have been a big chicken so far.

Dumb question follows:

1) Is that Wooden paddle looking thing the strop ? I always thought that a strop was like a leather belt hanging from a door knob.

2) Why do you have 2 of them ?

3) What are those bumps on one side of it ?

Please excuse my ignorance.
What I know.

1)Yes, it's a paddle strop. Some use them for traveling, others prefer those than hanging strops. A bit more info here: http://wiki.badgerandblade.com/index.php/Strops

2) Question for Glyn

3) I've never seen one of those.
 
looks like youve the old formulation C&E soap, too!
I would have used the old formulation at one stage but sadly not at the moment. I use the wooden bowel to hold my soap. I buy the soap from C&E by the puck and place it in there. Silly me bought I a different soap to what the label on the container says. I will rectify this once my current puck runs out. I plan on using multiple bowels with the correct names on them.

Fantastic start Glyn :thumbup: :thumbup1:,
A few recommendations:

Get another blade (a least). The reasons are several fold; (a) you have a backup when you send one for honing, (b) your edges will last longer since you don't use one blade everyday
Sorted. I am awaiting Oz to restore my GrandPa's razor which will be my secondary blade. Oz does not think it will have as good a edge as my current. I look forward to the experience of using something so old and used by my (possibly great) Grandpa. I also have a thought to get a double set which I saw a few months ago in a antique shop, if it is a still there.

I had a go at using my left hand to shave my left side but had trouble wielding the blade. May try again tonight.

Dumb question follows:

1) Is that Wooden paddle looking thing the strop ? I always thought that a strop was like a leather belt hanging from a door knob.

2) Why do you have 2 of them ?

3) What are those bumps on one side of it ?

Please excuse my ignorance.
They are not dumb questions and do not ever say a question is dumb.
1) As Luc said. Yes it is a paddle strop, probably over 80 years old. The antique shop I bought the straight in, only had paddle strop's. My bathroom does not really have a great spot for a hanging strop.

2) I only have one strop. The photo has been put together in photoshop after a double exposure. I felt that it would be better to show both sides of the strop in one shot rather than two photos. I can give more of an explanation of how I did this but not in this thread if anyone is interested.

3) The bumps I think maybe an old equivalent of the canvas side of a strop. They could perhaps be used to help pre-strop before the stropping on the other side. I plan on using it this way. I would love to know anymore information, if people know more.

Thanks for all the comments guys.
 
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Good on ya Glyn. Sounds like a good start.
You seem to have a methodical approach so you should improve exponentially.

It's a hunk of steel eh ? I'm sure your cuts were minor but I have to ask
Did you get blood on the blade.? It will rust the edge quickly. Avoid shaving over bleeding areas for the same reason & quickly rinse the blade clean. Blood is of course a saline solution & takes its toll.
btw ~ nice photoshopping :biggrin1:
 
Good on ya Glyn. Sounds like a good start.
You seem to have a methodical approach so you should improve exponentially.

It's a hunk of steel eh ? I'm sure your cuts were minor but I have to ask
Did you get blood on the blade.? It will rust the edge quickly. Avoid shaving over bleeding areas for the same reason & quickly rinse the blade clean. Blood is of course a saline solution & takes its toll.
btw ~ nice photoshopping :biggrin1:
I do not think I got blood on the blade. The cuts were pretty clean. It bleed a little afterwards. Nothing that Styptic could not fix along with a nice layer of Proraso to settle things down.
 
Welcome to the marvelous world of the Straight shave.

Yes, the handling of a straight is a bit odd at first. You'll get used to it. Stick to basic positions at first and you will soon strive for new, less awkward holds as you need them.
Don't put the blade to your face and remove it without moving the blade. This will usually result in a cut.
Don't feel bad about finishing with a DE. You've tried something many people never will. Others have tried it and simply said no.
Once you've done a complete wtg pass, you will find your trouble spots. I suggest setting aside an hour to complete as much of a shave as you're comfortable completing. If you need to finish with a DE, feel free, but ask yourself if you need to or if the blade is intimidating you. Don't fear the blade, but do respect it and plan to learn from it.

Above all, never hurry with a straight. If your grip feels awkward, don't put the razor to your face - adjust it.

I love my straight - it's a perfectly analog blade. There is nothing between the blade and your face. My shaves now sound like buttering bread at a moderate pace. I'm addicted to the atg pass with my straight. A DE will never match that feeling. It's like an itch that I can't scratch with anything else.

Happy Shaves
 

mdunn

Moderator Emeritus
a note on blood on the blade - if you get some on, rinse with cold water instead of hot or it will 'clot' on the blade stick to it, digging little holes of rust until you pick it up next (at least, thats what I heard)
 
Just finished my second shave. What a difference! Still a couple more tiny weepers but nothing ambulance seeking.

I managed to shave a lot more of my face this time. The fear of the blade is subsiding. Having troubles getting the right angle especially under my chin and across the jaw.

I seem to not be following any major direction ie wtg, xtg, atg. I am just happy at the moment to be able to safely move the razor across a certain area.

I managed to shave the left side of my face with my left hand. Took a while to find the correct angle and added a second side mirror to the bathroom helped heaps.

Stropped the razor before and after the shave. Managed a slight nick in the strop:001_huh:

Really love the feeling of the cold metal of the blade (after washing soap off) against my skin.

Lessons Learned
- a second mirror is really useful for the left side
- shaving with the grain is easier at this stage than against
- pull the skin taught. Its a little scary seeing my skin wobble as I move the blade over it
- prep the blade, ie clean oil and strop, before shower as these are better done with dry hands

Keeping a diary is helping me to understand the process and think about it a lot more
 
:w00t: Congrats on finishing a complete pass!

Why do you strop after shaving? I don't... ?
Also, instead of oiling my blade, I just rinse it with 91% rubbing alcohol to displace any residual water. I also wipe the blade on the cheap white Tshirt I wore to sleep in the night before. Much quicker and quieter than running the tap.

Don't worry about small nicks in the strop, especially on the extreme ends.

For the areas that feel very strange, or are protruding like upper lip and chin - you might try holding the razor steady and moving the muscles in your face, or turning your head slightly.

Enjoy :D
 
Looking forward to Shave 3. Will be tonight in about 12 hours. Thought I may rest the face a little and give it time to heal from the 2 previous shaves.
Beard is getting a little itchy in places. I hate having such a long growth (will be 48 hours).

Will not strop after the next shave. Not sure what the point is. Perhaps working on the principle. Always put something back the way you found it.

Will still oil the blade after. Oz the honemeister suggested it and it seems like a good idea. Alcohol will evaporate over time and may not necessarily protect the blade from moisture whilst in my bathroom which heats up and cools down a lot based on showers and room temperature.


For the areas that feel very strange, or are protruding like upper lip and chin - you might try holding the razor steady and moving the muscles in your face, or turning your head slightly.

Enjoy :D
Will try this.
 
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