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Dovo Astrale is here! First time Stropping, first Shave.

My razor and strop arrived a couple days early. Which is quite impressive as I am in Hong Kong and it was shipped across the world from the US! But I digress...

The new Dovo Astrale may have arrived with a bit of blunting. What I mean is the light looks a bit different on the edge closer to the heel. So after watching a several stropping videos to review the basics and set out to strop for the first time. I was so scared and worried about doing something wrong so I went slowly and carefully, paying attention to my form. One question I have is if I should do anything different towards the heel shoulder. I also worry that at the beginning I wasn't holding the strop with enough tension as I still managed to nick it a bit. Also, does anyone go over the engraving at the top? That is several inches but I would stop before reaching it on each lap.

I should have let my beard grow for one more day as I only had really short stubble, but I wanted to give it a try! It felt magical in my hand. Sure enough, I needed a lower angle but if felt so intuitive! A few minutes later I was in love however I was noticing it wasn't shaving very well and the more I chased it the more I knew I was scraping my face. Listerine after the fact confirmed this haha. That's when I decided to figure out what the that glint was all about.

I have an 8k and 12k Shapton stone arriving something soon, possibly tomorrow, but can I maybe fix it with just the strop? Use the linen and the back of the smooth leather side to create a progression? I wish I could get a clear picture because I don't know what I am really talking about. Its just the smallest amount of light that glints off the edge and I don't think its my imagination.

Can't wait to use it again. The shavette was great but the straight razor is just a whole different experience.

-Shawn
 
Hi Shawn,
Welcome to the world of straights! Depending on the source of your razor, it may or may not be in full shave ready condition. Sometimes a seller has professionally honed the razor before sending it to you, but not always. I'd say not in this case if it looks like there is a wire or feather edge on the heel. Pictures help, the 8K and 12K should help, but you want a light touch.
 
Congrats on your new razor! You should consider getting an inexpensive practice razor like a Gold Dollar. Then you can try everything first on the practice razor.
 

RumpleBearskin

Contributor
Edge - Welcome to the world of straights! I started about 2.5 years ago and it is sooooo much fun.

I to started with a Dovo (mine was from West Coast Shaving and I paid extra for it to be honed to "shave ready"). It certainly shaved whiskers, and did so well enough to get me hooked, but it wasn't really shave ready. I sent it to a member on the forum and they put a REAL edge on it. The difference was like night and day and taught me what "sharp" really means.

As for your strop, 99.99998% of straight noobies cut their strop. Most do so repeatedly. That's the rationale for starting with a less expensive strop. And the lettering at the top? I use that section, but my strops have the imprint embossed so there's no flakes or raised areas. If your strop has gold leaf or another "flakeable" substance, of if it has raised areas, then I would not use that section.

Best of luck to you! Some days will go better than others, but stick with it and it will bring you years of satisfaction and enjoyment.
 
Welcome, but be warned. The hole is very deep!

I started with a Dovo BQ 6/8, it was not sharp either and its not just Dovo. All mass produced razors will not be shave ready. Once sharp the Dovo will serve you well, they are great shavers. I must remind you again of the hole, its deep. I can confirm that that you will nick your strop(s), its just something that needs to happen but soon will be forgotten. Nicks can easily be repaired by carefully sanding them out with 2k w/d, cuts are a different story.

Alan mentioned that some days will be better than others, just keep going. Shaving and getting amazing results with straight razor is a fulfilling experience. Enjoy the journey...
 
Your two synthetic stones should be plenty to get your Astrale edge up to shave ready, but you will probably need time to get used to SR honing. Light, light touch!

I am personally a fan of a 50/100/200 diamond pasted balsa strop progression for final polishing and edge maintenance.

Enjoy!

Nicks can easily be repaired by carefully sanding them out with 2k w/d
+1 on sanding out shallow nicks
 
I picked up a Dovo Astrale several months ago and have been shaving with it to good effect. As received from the factory, it had a few microchips near the heel as viewed with a 10x achromatic Hastings triplet loupe. Several dozen laps on a coticule with water (no slurry) did the trick in removing them. Then off to the races with a Solingen red and black pasted paddle strop, followed by plain stropping.

Mind you, this is after nine years of experience honing and shaving with straight razors. Starting out, there are a host of variables that could effect things, stropping, whether or not the razor was received shave-ready, angle of incidence in shaving, etc. You mentioned stropping over the engraving, but you did not mention the dimensions of the strop. Normally, I would never strop over the engraved or impressed part of the strop, but in the case of small paddle and loom strops (8" x 1-5/8" or 200mm x 40mm) I have been known to do it on occasion. Doesn't seem to hurt things, especially if only the spine is passing over the area in question.

As you are in Hong Kong, I cannot recommend a local source for a true 10x achromatic Hastings triplet, but they are really good for detecting micro-chips that will effect the shave. To see them, I view them in profile with the light indirect light source behind the blade. Here's a cheap loupe available in the States that would probably work well: Otto Frei Black 10X Triplet Loupe with 18 mm Diameter Lens, Rubber Grip & Leather Case - https://www.ottofrei.com/Otto-Frei-Black-10X-Triplet-Loupe-with-18-mm-Diameter-Lens-Rubber-Grip-Leather-Case.

As you have an 8k and a 12k synth, it's probably best to use the 8k if there are microchips on the blade. If not, then use the 12k. Honing is an art in itself and takes time. Stropping too. A cheap strop is normally recommended at the start as you risk to cut or nick it in starting out. You can damage the edge both in honing and in stropping, so a light touch in starting out is highly recommended. I would also recommend taping the spine in starting out with honing as a beginner to protect the spine from too much pressure and to ensure more edge contact.

I could go on and on. Others will chime in and may offer quite different advice, not necessarily wrong, and then your head will be spinning and spinning. I tend to suggest based on what you already have, an 8k and a 12k en route as stated. Welcome to the rabbit hole, and good luck!
 
Thanks for the replies everyone! I brought it to a local shop so that the first hone could be done by a professional. I am getting ready to give it a try so I wiped off the oil the used and there are some marks on the spine from the work. It was a brand new razor so I assume the geometry wasn’t off.

I am going to go ahead and shave with it. I want to give them benefit of the doubt but it why would there be marks in these places after honing and why not polished out afterward?

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Just got out of the shower. I refrained from stropping beforehand because I don’t trust my technique and that was included in the service.

I noticed a distinct tug and I couldn’t get as close as I could with my shavette. Those circular marks are also still on the spine so it’s definitely not lint on the blade.

I am a neophyte so I don’t want to jump to any conclusions. But I do feel a bit let down.

On the bright side, after I felt that tug and saw hairs being left behind, I wasn’t stupid enough to chase the ‘closest shave’. I walked away with my face intact, which is a small victory, right? ;)
 
I think I got a better picture, of the marks. And as I reconsider, the shave wasn’t terrible. It was definitely worse before being honed. *shrugs*

This shop is well known in Hong Kong and they sell straight razors as well as all manner of knives. That’s what attracted me to the place but I know they specialize more with the knives.
 

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Oh I see now. I thought they were on the bevel. Sloppy work but not directly relevant to the edge quality.

My rule of thumb here is DO NOT ALLOW ANYONE WHO DOES NOT SHAVE DAILY WITH A STRAIGHT RAZOR, HONE YOUR STRAIGHT RAZOR. Non straight shavers do not understand the level of sharpness desired, or how to achieve it.

If a razor does not treetop arm hair well, then it will probably not shave well. If it does, then it probably will. Treetopping is chopping off the tips of your forearm hairs without touching the skin. Usually the razor is passed 1/4" above the skin and it is expected that it will get at least one or two hairs on every pass. That's a pretty good edge. Not sensational, but pretty good. Sensational would be when the razor lops off the tip of pretty nearly every hair it encounters, with no audible ping or tink sound, and no perceptible disturbance to the hair shaft. This is rare. It is my goal and benchmark but I seldom get there. If it doesn't treetop at all at 1/4" above the skin but it does at 1/8" then it will shave, just not really really well. If it won't treetop at 1/8" then it is probably dull enough that hardly anyone would call it shave-ready. Results can vary slightly, with different hair textures and sweep technique but in general they will give you an idea of how your edge stacks up with the shave-ready standard.

You may be able to shave even if the razor does not treetop at all but will shave at skin level. However, the shave will probably be substandard in closeness and comfort. YMMV.
 

RumpleBearskin

Contributor
Ummmmm ... From what I see in the pictures (or what I think I see), I'm not excited by the honing job. The bevel looks uneven and hazy (rather than polished) to me. And the edge even looks chipped when I zoom the photo.

You mentioned taking it to "a local shop", but don't say what kind of shop. Razor honing is far, far different than "sharpening". A professional sharpening service will not likely get you a shave-ready razor. A professional razor honer will.
 
There is so much feedback in this thread, I want you to know that I appreciate all of your responses. I am amazed at the generosity of heart and the passion that each of you display by spending time on a shaving forum and helping out a newbie such as myself.

One day... when I am proficient with my stones and stropping technique, and competent enough to help others, I will tell newbies about the guys who helped me out and I will pay it forward. In the meantime, thank you for your patience!

A sloppy bevel is something I don't want to touch. I don't want to screw anything up worse. That was the point of taking it to a shop. I couldn't find places locally with information in English and so I did the best I could and brought it to a place selling straight razors. Its called "SCW Cutlery and Hardware" (www.facebook.com/scw1949). It was the *only* place I could find selling straights as all the other places were only selling shavettes. I found one bad hone review on Reddit but it was a couple years old and a lot can change in a couple years so I gave it a try.

I would have preferred to buy the razor from a honemeister. Even better, I first tried to buy a couple used razors from honemeisters who do restorations. I hate buying things from Amazon, especially overseas and I tried messaging a couple guys on Etsy about purchasing a razor through them. But these are guys trying to run side businesses and out of the two I messaged only one bothered to reply and he kindly informed me that shipping was iffy because of the pandemic.

It was after this that I found Badger and Blade :)

I do have some 1000 grit wet/dry sand paper arriving by Tuesday. At that point I can lap my Shapton stones and make sure they are flat. And from there I can run the razor on the 8k and 12k stones myself, as scary as that sounds. I also have some more double edge blades so I can continue to practice my shave. Good plan?

Thanks again!

-Shawn
 
Etsy seems like a terrible place to buy a razor. Unless you enjoy paying an awful lot to someone who doesn't have a clue about razors. First choice should be the BST subforum here on B&B or another shave forum. Buy from a known member so he has a reputation to uphold. That way if it is listed as shave ready, it probably is. Watch closely though because the good deals get snapped up pretty quick.

Next best place to buy a razor is from a vendor that is well known on one or more shaving forum and has a reputation for delivering good edges. You want a shave ready edge but you want a REAL shave ready edge, not an internet shave ready edge.

Finally there is ebay, the wild west of straight razor sales. MOST ebay sellers know nothing about straight razors and do not shave with them but will cheerfully list a razor as shave ready, either out of ignorance or just plain dishonesty. However there are a few, and they are known on the forums. But you can get an idea from the feedback rating and what other stuff he sells and how many sales he has made. Nobody keeps a perfect or near perfect feedback for long if he sells razors claimed to be shave ready that are not.

Before you click on a BUY button, it is a good idea to verify the seller or the razor on a shaving forum. Just don't post a link to a live auction. Buy It Now is okay. A closed auction is okay.
 
I can see irregularities in the edge as well.
The rounding at the heel is terrible and should be softened with W/D paper or it will scratch your strop.
The haze on the bevel could be from the strop so I wouldn't worry about that but the chips are certainly a problem.

Where do you live? Maybe there is someone close.
 
I am in Hong Kong atm, but I hope it is only for another couple weeks, hence my ambivalence about ordering out anymore from the US. Plus it looks like personal shipping, using SF from US --> Hong Kong is about $25 USD each way... :(

I can see irregularities in the edge as well.
The rounding at the heel is terrible and should be softened with W/D paper or it will scratch your strop.
The haze on the bevel could be from the strop so I wouldn't worry about that but the chips are certainly a problem.

Where do you live? Maybe there is someone close.
 
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