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

Thanks for the writeup on this. I never knew what a Fool's Pass was, but have been doing it for awhile. I don't do it if using smaller blades, but use the technique you describe, using both hands with larger blades. I keep my head still and use both hands and push the blade up S to N. It was kind of tender going for awhile as I had a moustache for 50 years and took it off finally around a year ago. It really is imperative to have a very sharp blade. i haven't learned to hone yet even though I have all the stones I could need. And never tried a pasted balsa strop. Don't even know where to get one.
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
@pwheeler, pasted balsa strops cannot be just bought. You need to put together your own. How to make and use them is given in Annex II of the Traditional SR Shaving Instructions:
 
@pwheeler, pasted balsa strops cannot be just bought. You need to put together your own. How to make and use them is given in Annex II of the Traditional SR Shaving Instructions:
Thanks! I'll look into that.
 
I did a fools pass on my very first straight razor shave just because I thought that's what you were supposed to do in a 3 pass shave. That was with a Dovo Best Quality (cough) with a factory edge.
I don't remember exactly how it went but that in itself means there was no major drama, I only knew it was one of the more tricky maneuvers.
As others have mentioned I find it easier with a wedge and maybe I was spoiled early days with a W&B I had just restored with, I think, a 12k shapton edge.
I used to hold the blade with both hands and nod my way through it but now do it one handed with a very slight SW - NE on LHS and vice-versa while skin streatching at the side of the chin with an open mouth.
 
Once you get a good fool's pass under your belt...you cannot look back.
BBS on the upper lip become an obsession. I feel the same for my soul
patch (area below the the lower lip).
 
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 wasn't suppose to try that on my first SR shave? Oops! I managed to not cut myself much at all through that shave but I remember ATG was tricky.
 

Ravenonrock

I shaved the pig
In my early days of SR shaving I experimented with ATG passes, including the Fools Pass…pass. Soon to realize my preference was often a single WTG pass, close and comfortable and a fair indicator of edge sharpness. I highly encourage finding out what gives each their best shave.
 
Sure, that's all well and good, and easy for you to say!! That was a good instructional. Great advice of going WTG first--IMO a prerequisite to any ATG pass, fool's or otherwise.

As Clint Eastwood said, "It's good for a man to know his limitations." If and when I try it, I'll let you know. At this time, I am not comfortable with that sabre facing my septum. I get mental images of zombie clips. No pun intended.
 
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Personal tip from my experience - and please do not take this as prescription, because so much of this is about what you feel comfortable with - but I've long found anything needing fine precision, I like to use the heel for because my fingers are right there controlling it with the smallest movements.

Just a thought, I tend to do everything on upper lip with mostly the heel because of this.

So for anyone - if you feel comfortable with the heel, perhaps try focusing on it in this area.
 
Personal tip from my experience - and please do not take this as prescription, because so much of this is about what you feel comfortable with - but I've long found anything needing fine precision, I like to use the heel for because my fingers are right there controlling it with the smallest movements.

Just a thought, I tend to do everything on upper lip with mostly the heel because of this.

So for anyone - if you feel comfortable with the heel, perhaps try focusing on it in this area.

You are 100% correct in my opinion. The heel of the straight razor is crucial in these delicate areas to include corners of the mouth. And as an aside, people new to honing need to take note: Do not neglect the heel and toe of your razors when setting the bevel and throughout your progression.

Excellent advice.
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
Personal tip from my experience - and please do not take this as prescription, because so much of this is about what you feel comfortable with - but I've long found anything needing fine precision, I like to use the heel for because my fingers are right there controlling it with the smallest movements.

Just a thought, I tend to do everything on upper lip with mostly the heel because of this.

So for anyone - if you feel comfortable with the heel, perhaps try focusing on it in this area.
I also concur with your advice, particularly for those starting out on their initial fool's passes, although I have never done that.

When I started, I knew no better and just used any part along the edge. I still do that now with my daily fool's pass. I use to hold the blade at both ends but now, with experience and a laser sharp edge, I just hold it normally with one hand. Not recommended for the inexperienced.
 
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