What's new

Dull straight, or bad technique?

I got a shavette several months back and have been using it very successfully for awhile. I decided to "upgrade" because I wanted a straight razor and purchased a vintage one from whippeddog.com. I get great smooth shaves with the shavette but can't get a decent shave with the straight at all. I do 2 passes WTG and XTG and maintain a proper angle just like with the shavette.
Is it possible that whipped dog sent me a dull razor? I also noticed on the areas of my face where the hair is thicker (such as my mustach) the straight razor catches and can be hard to cut through.
I tried all the noobie sharpness tests I could find like the "tree top test" and it seems fine but the shave sucks.
Thank you in advance.
 
I know I've have super sharp edges on my straights but when I actually shaved it was lacking. I doubt they test shave with every razor. Could be that it just wasn't 100%. Also if you stropped with wrong technique it could have rolled edge a little. I'm sure if it doesn't get better after a couple shaves whipped dog can help you out. Many possibilities when starting out . Maybe send Larry a message. He always answered me promptly. Good luck
 
I don't have much doubt my stropping technique is probably sloppy and needs work. But when the razor arrived it had a slip of paper that read "this razor is shave ready, do not strop before first shave" so I did not strop it and it did not preform and better on the first shave than the last.
Thank you everyone for all the responses. I'm glad I signed up with this helpful community. I will email Larry.
 
Angles can be a bit different between a shavette and a straight. A straight you want almost flat to your face.

I've not tried one of Larry's edges before, but I've not really heard any complaints on them. Try it again with less angle, and see if that changes anything for you. Don't be scared to contact him either, he is very good to deal with and may have some more pointers as well.

Keep us posted on how it works out for you, I'm sure we can get you there!
 
After emailing Larry I am sure it's just my technique. (Probably lack of stretching being a big part). He got back with me very promptly and was very helpful. Very stand-up guy and highly recommend. I will post his response for anyone with the same questions that may stumble across this thread.

"Even exquisitely honed straight razors are never as sharp as commercially sharpened razors such as Shavettes and DEs. And, I wish this fact were more often mentioned on shaving forums. Since it isn't often mentioned, sometimes it is assumed that straights should be as sharp as Shavettes and other blades.

The fact that the blades aren't as sharp, after learning proper technique, results in a very nice shave. This is because the shave is as close or closer, but not as much skin is removed as with Shavettes and other commercial blades.

Have you read the beard reduction section of my manual? It discusses what I think is the most important shaving technique.

Thanks,
Larry Andreassen"
 
Larry is a top class guy, and to be honest I never gave that a thought. Being the shavettes being much thinner than a straight so yes it could very well be right.
I'm the same as yourself this is new to me, also don't hiccup while you going round your chin as I found out and now have a nice cut.
But just take your time and keep trying, but just alter you technique just a little till you get it right.
 
Actually a straight CAN be as sharp as a throwaway blade, but it is not easy to do, requires extraordinary measures and above all, a blade with the correct geometry and steel of good alloy and heat treating. But yeah for the most part you just have to learn to make an edge that is not quite as keen as your DE blade shavette, still shave. Think multipass. Dont wear your skin out trying to do it all on one pass. Dont scrape. It is tempting to use a larger shave angle, but the standard gap of one spine thickness between spine and face is correct for nearly all straight shave situations. You can add a bit of slide to your stroke, if you are careful. A beginner is well advised to keep the axis of the blade exactly perpendicular to the direction of travel, but pulling it with the heel leading increases cutting power considerably. If your angle, stretching, and pressure are off, you probably will give yourself a nasty slice, though, so be sure of yourself before you try this.

Work on your prep, too. Soften those whiskers. Lubricate that skin.

Stretching in the correct direction is important. The idea is to first of all flatten and tighten the skin so that the razor can skim over it, second to unsheath more of the whisker and stand it up straight.

Ironically when you improve your straight technique, your shavette shave will probably improve as well. Just sayin.

Have a look at the pasted balsa thread. Dont be scared. its just magic. Seriously, this will help keep your edge nice and sharp. If you go all the way back to 1u diamond, and DO IT RIGHT, you can even improve your edge.
 
Larry is correct. An aggressive DE with a hyper blade, like a Feather in a 2011 Muhle R41 will prevail over the sharpest straight blade. Once upon a time I set up the aforementioned DE as described and did a direct comparison against a Boker extra hollow that had just been honed by Alfredo on jnats. Both were crazy sharp; Muhle/Feather was significantly sharper.
My personal tastes lean toward a coticule edge. As keen as it needs to be yet as smooth as a NY politician's promise..
 
i have tried and tried to get my edges identical to a DE blade like a feather and for me it's not possible so i put on the best edge i can and keep the correct angle and angle, stretching and prep are paramount in getting the best smoothest shave, and as stated don't try to do it all in one pass @Slash McCoy has very sound advice.
 
i have tried and tried to get my edges identical to a DE blade like a feather and for me it's not possible so i put on the best edge i can and keep the correct angle and angle, stretching and prep are paramount in getting the best smoothest shave, and as stated don't try to do it all in one pass @Slash McCoy has very sound advice.

TBH I dont think I have ever quite matched a new Feather, either. It is palpably sharper than say a Gillette 7:00 green or an ASR made drugstore blade. Those two are more realistic goals. I shaved with a couple of edges done by others that would have definitely beat a Derby or similar. My own best edges have all come from lapping film with lather, and post finish on a diamond on balsa progression. I dont get a DE sharp edge often, but I have, and I am sure there are other guys who are much more skilled and meticulous than me.
 
After emailing Larry I am sure it's just my technique. (Probably lack of stretching being a big part). He got back with me very promptly and was very helpful. Very stand-up guy and highly recommend. I will post his response for anyone with the same questions that may stumble across this thread.

"Even exquisitely honed straight razors are never as sharp as commercially sharpened razors such as Shavettes and DEs. And, I wish this fact were more often mentioned on shaving forums. Since it isn't often mentioned, sometimes it is assumed that straights should be as sharp as Shavettes and other blades.

The fact that the blades aren't as sharp, after learning proper technique, results in a very nice shave. This is because the shave is as close or closer, but not as much skin is removed as with Shavettes and other commercial blades.

Have you read the beard reduction section of my manual? It discusses what I think is the most important shaving technique.

Thanks,
Larry Andreassen"

First off I think you deserve congratulations for mastering the shavette before straights. I went the other way learning straights first and then shavettes.
You did very well to learn to shave with them first!
They are definitely 2 different tools and require very different techniques for best results. Not better or worse, just different. I cannot offer you any great wisdom that people better than me haven't already given you.
However I would encourage you to stick with it as once you get your technique dialled in a great straight razor shave will leave your face feeling like nothing else can.
Best of luck and keep us posted on your progress!
 
Thank you everyone for the advice. Today was the best shave yet. I took my time stretched the skin much better and used less of an angle. I also tried to add 8n a little bit of the slicing movement until I gave It a little too much and ended up with a slight cut.
It was a good improvement over previous shaves. A couple of you mentioned shave prep which would probably help too. I don't do and pre shave oils or anything, just a hot shower and some Taylor's shave soap.
 
I dont use pre shave oils myself, tried em, didn't like em. YMMV. Used prorasso preshave, felt nice no big difference. I find the pre shave makes a big difference when I dont have a shower first to get the hair hydrated.
If im not showering then scrubbing my face with a face cloth and using the prorasso pre shave or some noxema does a good job of removing oil and softening hair for me. Noxema works really well but my wife doesn't like the cinnamon smell.
 
I tried preshaves and they just were not worth it to me so I just do a hot shower and let my brush soak then work up agood lather on the face and then strop while it's working it's magic and make my first pass WTG then second pass with a combo of XTG and ATG and call it good, I do a third pass when I need to on special occasions.
 
I have recently started investing more time in better prep. I try to work hard to get the courseness out of my chin hair in particular. If I find a spot that the blade hesitates it's back to hot water and working that spot with fresh lather before continuing. The idea is to try to weaken the resistance of the beard as much as possible if you can. But despite my best efforts ATG passes can still be tricky at times...
 
Top Bottom