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First SR shave goes... OK I guess?

I received @rbscebu's PIF’d Titan straight in the mail yesterday after waiting 3 long weeks for it to arrive from the other side of the world. My original plan was to wait for the weekend to try my first straight razor shave so I could take my time, but the temptation was too much and I used it last night.

I used the SR for two WTG passes on my cheeks and the flat area under my chin, then finished with a DE.

Overall it was OK but far from great. No blood or weepers so I’ll count it as a victory. I wouldn’t say it was tuggy, but the whiskers didn’t come off like they weren’t there either, and the blade wanted to chatter across my stubble in some places. Some spots were easier than others and I think this probably has something to do with shave angle? I tried to keep the blade ½ to 1 spine thickness off my skin but as I found out it’s not so easy to do.

By far the part that gave me the most trouble was figuring out how to hold the razor. No matter what I tried it was always at an awkward angle and half the time my arm/elbow was blocking my view of the blade. Shaving blind is not how I imagined starting out. I need to watch some more videos to see how others do it.

Something else I noticed was that the face of the blade would stick to my face sometimes like a suction cup. Is this because the spine was too close? Lather too dry? It took me so long to do one cheek that I had to re-wet my lather for the other one.

After the shave I made sure the razor was dried off perfectly then stropped it on hanging 0.1um pasted balsa. I think I did a pretty good job because the bevel came out super shiny and tree topped arm hairs with a very satisfying pinging sound. I should also note that I shaved with @rbscebu’s edge as I received it to make sure I didn’t mess anything up.

Despite the shave being nothing special, I can’t wait to do it again :thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:
 
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Great write-up, Seelector. I recognise everything you mentioned from my own (still) early experiences with using traditional straights - including the strange compulsion to do it again and do a bit better each time. It is like re-learning how to shave, and there’s something particularly enjoyable about the journey.
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
Congratulations on your first traditional SR shave. It only gets better.

The Titan ACRM-2 T.H.60 you received was protected with Renaissance wax after I honed it for you. The wax on the bevel may have had a bearing on your shave. I have never shaved with a waxed bevel as I always strop before a shave. Now that you have shaved and balsa stropped the blade, there should be no more wax on the bevel. Your next shave might feel different.

The shave angle will become rather intuitive to you as you progress. It can be difficult for beginners as your face consists of curved surfaces. The more you SR shave, the more intuitive it becomes.

As for holding the razor, try whatever you feel comfortable with. There is no right or wrong way to hold a razor. My SR's spend about 60% of the shave opened up 180°. The rest of the time, they are opened up anything from 90° to 270° and I have innumerable holding methods, whatever feels right at the time.

I have found that the T.H.60 gives its closest most comfortable shave when used with the absolute lightest of pressure against the skin and good (but not excessive) skin stretching. Due to its rather obtuse bevel angle, the blade is more forgiving but requires a little more pressure against the whiskers (not the skin) to cut effectively.

Although blood increases the lather slickness, I hope you kept most of it inside your skin 😁.
 
Much of what you've noticed during the maiden voyage isn't operator error nor the razor, it's a whole new way of shaving. You'll be looking out the corner of your eye to get a confident view while keeping the ideal angle, which will change from one area of your face to another but not by many degrees. Much like razor maintenance you'll find sound during shaving is feedback you can use for judgment calls.

The suction might be lather related, I have areas dry out while I'm scraping elsewhere, but take heart this means you're paying a lot of attention to keeping your angle low.

If you hold the razor in the traditional barber's grip of index & long fingers on top between spine and pivot, thumb under those, ring finger on the tang and pinky up you'll probably find it quite versatile.

Keep at it and keep coming back to B&B, there are joys to be had from both👍
 
The Titan ACRM-2 T.H.60 you received was protected with Renaissance wax after I honed it for you. The wax on the bevel may have had a bearing on your shave.
Interesting! That wax must be on there thiiiiin because it looked like completely bare steel to me.

good (but not excessive) skin stretching
I had every intention of skin stretching but with my difficulty in keeping a proper shave angle and holding the razor where I could see it, skin stretching will have to wait until I get better.

this means you're paying a lot of attention to keeping your angle low.
It was low enough that sometimes the spine was sliding along my face with the edge a solid mm or two above the skin 🤣🤣
 
No blood or weepers is a good start. Congratulations.

Did you try using both hands or stick to your dominant hand?

The grip is a personal thing. Most of the time the scales are between 230 to 270 degrees, depends on what part of the face I'm shaving and what razor I'm using. I have found that the balance point changes depending on how open the scales are. Or I could be imagining that.

Let us know how your next shave goes, and good luck. You'll only improve from here.
 
I should clarify... it's not the grip that was giving me trouble, my problem was how to angle my shoulder, elbow, and wrist to put the razor in a good position for shaving. Everything I tried felt awkward and my elbow always seemed to be sticking out in front blocking my view.

Did you try using both hands or stick to your dominant hand?
I tried both hands but ended up mostly using my dominant (right) hand. Upcoming shaves I'm going to make myself use both equally. I don't think this will be too difficult since I use both hands equally to shave my face and head with a DE. If I can shave the back of my head with my left hand where I can't even see it, my face should be easy.
 
Thanks for posting. I really enjoy reading the experiences of new SR shavers.

Consider using very short strokes. That would let you adjust to the contours of your face more easily.

Professionals generally seem to use very short strokes. My guess is that's because longer strokes tend to go better if you have your facial contours memorized.
 
I dunno why some instructional videos out there insist on making straight razor shaving seem so much more complicated than it should be, when it's really not that difficult at all.

The simple fact is that there's no one way to use a cutthroat razor. You use it the way that gives you the best results, which is not necessarily the way they tell you in any number of online instruction films.

To shave effectively, hold the razor in such a way that you can see what you're doing.

Strictly speaking you don't actually have to SEE anything - straight razor shaving is more about muscle-memory and feel than anything else - but you'll get that once you've done a few.

But regardless - when you're starting out, you need to see the razor and see where and how it's cutting, and more importantly, to feel how it's cutting (this is why I say that seeing is not as important as feeling). Don't hold the razor in any way that makes you feel uncomfortable or which you lack confidence in wielding.

Do SHORT. SMOOTH STROKES. They can be as fast, or as slow as you're comfortable with, but keep them SHORT. Half an inch, an inch at most, and then just steadily move across the face.

The better you get at doing this, the faster you'll be able to shave later on.

Tugging and pulling on the stubble with the blade means that the blade is not sharp enough, or has not been stropped enough.

A properly sharpened cutthroat razor should peel the stubble smoothly in one stroke. If it's catching and dragging, then you need to sharpen it up again or re-strop it some more. When stropping, put the weight on the SPINE of the razor, not the blade-edge, otherwise you'll warp the edge and end up with even worse shaves.
 
I don't doubt the quality of the edge, I think it has more to do with being overly careful, which is a good thing when you start. I have also had feedback from razors that I sent out to newbies, that that they experience some tugging. I would not sent out a razor that I have not tested and are satisfied that it shaves great.

For SR shavers that have a bit more experience, we know that your stroke has to be decisive, and your grip firm, without direct pressure on the edge. The very fine line that you can only learn with much more experience is to know when to push through, and when to stop. Pushing through at the wrong time will shed some blood.

One piece of advice that I think seldom gets mentioned is that it is much easier to shave with a straight when your beard is shorter, so when learning, if you don't shave daily, I would recommend to shave with a DE for a first pass, or the day before the SR shave, then switch to the SR. A week old beard takes some effort, regardless of the quality of the edge.
 
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rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
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When stropping, put the weight on the SPINE of the razor, not the blade-edge, otherwise you'll warp the edge and end up with even worse shaves.
That is often not easy for a beginner to do and why I recommend that they hold the strop reasonably tight so there is almost no noticeable deflection when stropping with just the weight of the blade.

My understanding is that @Seelector is not using a normal strop, just his 0.1μm pasted balsa. That should do him until he finds if SR shaving is for him.
 
That is often not easy for a beginner to do and why I recommend that they hold the strop reasonably tight so there is almost no noticeable deflection when stropping with just the weight of the blade.

My understanding is that @Seelector is not using a normal strop, just his 0.1μm pasted balsa. That should do him until he finds if SR shaving is for him.

Just so I hear you correctly and understand: You are suggesting that he not use leather strop at all? Just a treated balsa strop?
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
Just so I hear you correctly and understand: You are suggesting that he not use leather strop at all? Just a treated balsa strop?
I do not suggest that. What I say is that there is nothing wrong with just using a 0.1μm diamond pasted hanging balsa strop for daily maintenance on an edge.

I have SR shaved daily over a month or so with only pasted hanging balsa strop maintenance (no leather) on one SR and found no noticeable difference between that edge and another identical SR that was also stropped on clean leather. (It is handy to have two identical SR's when doing comparison tests.) This comparison was done using the same SR blades that the OP is using.

A leather strop is not essential when daily maintaining with a 0.1μm diamond pasted hanging balsa strop. That being said, I do strop on clean leather before each shave. I enjoy the experience.
 
I do not suggest that. What I say is that there is nothing wrong with just using a 0.1μm diamond pasted hanging balsa strop for daily maintenance on an edge.

I have SR shaved daily over a month or so with only pasted hanging balsa strop maintenance (no leather) on one SR and found no noticeable difference between that edge and another identical SR that was also stropped on clean leather. This comparison was done using the same SR blades that the OP is using.

A leather strop is not essential when daily maintaining with a 0.1μm diamond pasted hanging balsa strop. That being said, I do strop on clean leather before each shave. I enjoy the experience.

Thank you for your explanation.
 
Congrats on your first shave!

Shaving with a straight is different and just takes time to adjust to. Just hang in there, be patient and you will be rewarded.
 
I do not suggest that. What I say is that there is nothing wrong with just using a 0.1μm diamond pasted hanging balsa strop for daily maintenance on an edge.
I know you have explained this before, but I'm not sure where. What is a "hanging balsa strop?" I actually assumed I knew what this must mean, and attached a clip to a long piece of 1/8" by 3" balsa, and hung it on my strop hanger. It did not go well. Later, i saw that that was not what you meant. I think you mean a normal pasted balsa strop, just holding it vertical? But I'm not completely sure. Would you explain exactly what you intend with this phrase?
 
Well done! First shave in the books! Sounds like some things to figure out and adjusting to a new way of doing things. I was tentative and felt a bit awkward when I started. It gets better. Keep at it!
 
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