What's new

Fool's Pass With A Straight Razor - All You Need To Know

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
The information in this post is based on my experience with performing about 800 daily SR fool's passes.

The fool's pass is shaving S - N on the upper lip. It is not a pass for everyone. Most people have whiskers growing about N - S on their upper lip so the fool's pass is considered here to be ATG.

Why do a fool's pass?
  • The challenge. Mastering the fool's pass shows you that you have developed your SR shaving technique to another level.
  • A longer lasting BBS finish on an area of your face that may have the toughest and fastest growing whiskers.
  • To test the condition of your SR's edge. This is probably the ultimate shave test for an edge.
When should you try doing a fool's pass? Many suggest that you don't try a fool's pass until you have about 100 daily SR shaves under your belt. That is about right but it really depends on if you have mastered controlling your straight razor(s). Once you are confident that you have your control, then and only then try a fool's pass.

What you need is a SR with an edge as keen as or better than some of the keenest DE blades out there. How you achieve that SR edge is up to you. You will also need well hydrated whiskers and a very good slick lather on your upper lip.

Everyone face is different so the following may not be the best for you. This is just what I have found when performing a fool's pass.

It is probably best to perform at least a WTG pass on your upper lip before the fool's pass. Then relather your upper lip.

Depending on what is best for your face, stretch the skin of your upper lip. This can be done by pushing your upper lip out with your tongue or stretching your upper lip over your upper teeth.

When starting out with learning the fool's pass, it is probably best to hold the SR with both hands, one hand holding the heel end of the spine and the other holding the toe end of the spine. Then shave S - N by either gently nodding your head or moving your razor or a bit of both. For me, I found it best to keep my head still and move the SR.

In a full stroke S - N, do it with little up and down movements of the blade (like buffing). This will help protect your nose and you will soon get use to it. You will probably have to overlap the areas shaved with each stroke to try and ensure that you get all those pesky little whiskers.

The main thing is to take things slowly and carefully. There is no rush - after all, you are SR shaving.

As your fool's pass skills develop, you will find that you can do it holding the blade with just one hand while your other hand reaches for your cup of tea/coffee to sip between strokes.

Don't be too afraid. When ready, give it a go. You might soon surprise yourself with the skills that you are developing.
 
Great write up. Since I am also learning to hone my own edges and some techniques need refining, this helps. I prefer doing an xtg as well before I take time on the fools pass. It's pretty satisfactory when I am done. No hurry to get that 100% bbs there, am satisfied with an 80% cleanup as I improve gradually
 
You’re braver than I am, @rbscebu. I’ve made a couple attempts at a fools pass back in my DE days and could never make it work, even with a sharp blade. To be fair I never tried it with a feather.

But your post has given me hope that a fools pass is possible! Maybe I’ll try it in a month or two.

Congrats on developing your technique to the point where you’re giving others directions on a fool’s pass. I’m sure it has that name for a reason 😳
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
Great write up. Since I am also learning to hone my own edges and some techniques need refining, this helps. I prefer doing an xtg as well before I take time on the fools pass. It's pretty satisfactory when I am done. No hurry to get that 100% bbs there, am satisfied with an 80% cleanup as I improve gradually
It's a great way to test the results of your honing. Sometimes I compare two SRs by doing a fool's pass with one SR on one half of my upper lip and the other half with the other SR.

This is best done if you have two identical SRs, just each one honed differently. I have doing this lately with two identical SRs comparing a Cnat finish against another type of finish.
 
Thanks! Great timing. I was just about to ask for advice. I've been doing something in-between E-W and S-N on the upper lip for maybe 10 shaves now, and each shave I get closer direction to S-N.

Last night's shave I attempted exactly S-N but it was too tuggy. It moves my skin without cutting the whiskers. If this means the blade isn't sharp enough, then what should I do to improve the edge?
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
....
Last night's shave I attempted exactly S-N but it was too tuggy. It moves my skin without cutting the whiskers. If this means the blade isn't sharp enough, then what should I do to improve the edge?
You need three things; even lighter edge pressure perpendicular against your skin (not lighter pressure against your whiskers) an even flatter shave angle and a keener edge. I don't have a lot of experience in honing, just diamond pasted balsa and a Cnat.

Pop on over to the honing section and get some help there. Just tell them what you have, what you are currently doing and what you are trying to achieve.
 
Nice write up! Definitely need to make sure you have a great familiarity with your soap/tools and a fair number of full 3 pass open blade shaves under your belt.

The small buffing motions definitely make things easier, than trying one long stroke.
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
I didn't attempt my first fool's pass until I was about 3 months into SR shaving and had about 100 daily SR shaves to my name. Even then, I approached the fool's pass with great care. By the time I was getting to about 100 daily fool's passes, after another 3 months, I was becoming reasonably proficient at it. After another 6 months, I was drinking my tea while performing a fool's pass.

Once you master the basics of the fool's pass, you are better than GeoFatboy. He has never been game enough to even try it!
 
Last edited:
Thanks rbscebu - I am quite confident with my fool's passes these days. Don't know what all the fuss is about. There are far more dangerous things out there - bungee jumping, table saws, motorbikes etc

However, it's all about control. I hold my razor with both hands so it doesn't jump and accidently nick myself. Use a good soap of course, but that's about it as far as advice goes.

Just my $0.02

cheers
Andrew
 
Great advice @rbscebu, when I started out learning how to sr shave on a shavette I avoided the fools pass for ages specifically because GeoFatboy would not do it, when I eventually plucked up the courage to try it I found out that those fears were unfounded. In my experience against the grain shaving with any razor is best done after a wtg & an xtg pass, with sr shaving the more wedge shaped the grind the better the razor will perform. However you will still need that razor to be sharp enough for it to be about as effective at cutting as a lightsaber.
 
I've given it a go...it's certainly tricky!
Feels smooth though...

I'm not consistently getting my razor sharp enough yet to do it without tugging.
 
I rarely do a fools pass, so I am not very good at it. I do occasionally do one (or a partial one) to see just how sharp I honed the razor. I do not profess to be a master honer. I can straighten out a mild frown, hone mild smiles the entire length of the blade, and my edges are at least decent. I've found that some razors I just cannot get very sharp. There's only a few. One is a frederick reynolds that is the bane of my existence. It seems others share this summation of frederick reynolds. I have another couple of other razors that I can get good results and a comfortable DFS with, but they struggle with BBS or a fools pass. Most of my razors do quite well and will comfortably shave BBS as tested by rubbing a cotton ball ATG. There are a couple that I just can't get that sharp.
 
I started straight shaving to get the best possible result.
I could go atg on the upper lip with a cartridge, then with a DE, so I would’ve considered it a failing on my part if I couldn’t do it with a straight.
It took a while to learn it.
The shape of the area curves like a ball from the centre outwards,and downwards from the nose like a quarter sphere.
The hair there is very thick, dense and coarse. The skin is also very fleshy. It’s definitely a challenge with any shaving system.
But once mastered, the straight is the best tool for the job by miles, at least for me.
The blade has to be super sharp or it just won’t cut here.
As @rbscebu quite rightly says, it’s a great test of edge sharpness.
 
Thanks! Great timing. I was just about to ask for advice. I've been doing something in-between E-W and S-N on the upper lip for maybe 10 shaves now, and each shave I get closer direction to S-N.

Last night's shave I attempted exactly S-N but it was too tuggy. It moves my skin without cutting the whiskers. If this means the blade isn't sharp enough, then what should I do to improve the edge?

This topic is subjective to a person's beard growth pattern. My whiskers grow from N at an angle down both SW and SE. So for me, West to East or vice versa stroke is all that is needed.

If the whiskers above your lip grow straight down, the fools pass might be for you to consider. I don't need to take the risk and accomplishment of the fool's pass has no bearing on my Straight razor skills.

Some do it, others don't. It's not mandatory and for me, it's not worth the risk personally.
 
The information in this post is based on my experience with performing about 800 daily SR fool's passes.

The fool's pass is shaving S - N on the upper lip. It is not a pass for everyone. Most people have whiskers growing about N - S on their upper lip so the fool's pass is considered here to be ATG.

Why do a fool's pass?
  • The challenge. Mastering the fool's pass shows you that you have developed your SR shaving technique to another level.
  • A longer lasting BBS finish on an area of your face that may have the toughest and fastest growing whiskers.
  • To test the condition of your SR's edge. This is probably the ultimate shave test for an edge.
When should you try doing a fool's pass? Many suggest that you don't try a fool's pass until you have about 100 daily SR shaves under your belt. That is about right but it really depends on if you have mastered controlling your straight razor(s). Once you are confident that you have your control, then and only then try a fool's pass.

What you need is a SR with an edge as keen as or better than some of the keenest DE blades out there. How you achieve that SR edge is up to you. You will also need well hydrated whiskers and a very good slick lather on your upper lip.

Everyone face is different so the following may not be the best for you. This is just what I have found when performing a fool's pass.

It is probably best to perform at least a WTG pass on your upper lip before the fool's pass. Then relather your upper lip.

Depending on what is best for your face, stretch the skin of your upper lip. This can be done by pushing your upper lip out with your tongue or stretching your upper lip over your upper teeth.

When starting out with learning the fool's pass, it is probably best to hold the SR with both hands, one hand holding the heel end of the spine and the other holding the toe end of the spine. Then shave S - N by either gently nodding your head or moving your razor or a bit of both. For me, I found it best to keep my head still and move the SR.

In a full stroke S - N, do it with little up and down movements of the blade (like buffing). This will help protect your nose and you will soon get use to it. You will probably have to overlap the areas shaved with each stroke to try and ensure that you get all those pesky little whiskers.

The main thing is to take things slowly and carefully. There is no rush - after all, you are SR shaving.

As your fool's pass skills develop, you will find that you can do it holding the blade with just one hand while your other hand reaches for your cup of tea/coffee to sip between strokes.

Don't be too afraid. When ready, give it a go. You might soon surprise yourself with the skills that you are developing.
I am doing daily S-N upper lip shaving with SR on a daily basis since years . Love the slick feeling afterwards, and enjoy executing one of the arguably most difficult SR moves with routine.
@rbscebu: I suggest however to refer to this in future as “coup de maître” instead of “fools pass”. It does it more justice imho
 
I admire you guys with the talent to pull off the ATG in the mustache area…..I simply do a N-S WTG and then a XTG from center out, followed by me getting the very corner of the safety razor, or tip of a straight right under my nose with an upward angle for cleanup. Works well for me.
 
I am doing daily S-N upper lip shaving with SR on a daily basis since years . Love the slick feeling afterwards, and enjoy executing one of the arguably most difficult SR moves with routine.
@rbscebu: I suggest however to refer to this in future as “coup de maître” instead of “fools pass”. It does it more justice imho
Yes I too infinitely prefer ‘The Masters Pass’.
 
I am struggling a little doing the fool's pass with extra hollow ground razors. These stiffer ground razors e.g. from TI seem to handle it really well.
These thinner, more flexible razor do usually not leave anything worth removing after a two pass shave.
Sometimes I only do a fool's pass right under the nose, and come in at an angle from both sides to get an across pass.
If I use a coticule edge I can compensate by using more pressure and more buffing and skip the fool's pass.
 
Top Bottom