What's new

Getting Started with a Straight

So the reason I moved to wet shaving back in 2002/3 was because I was sick of buying more plastic crud every couple of weeks to lug home and then throw away. I bought a brush, some soap, a razor and a tuck of blades and haven't looked back.

Obviously, to me anyway, really reducing my footprint would involve a straight, a strop, and the kit I already have. I have always baulked at this because the maintenance seemed a bit of a nightmare (I really do not want to go down the honing rabbit hole).

However, after chatting to @APBinNCA in this thread about Artist Club blades (which I was considering as a no-maintenance option), he prompted me to look at honing options closer to home, here in New Zealand - and it turns out there are at least a couple of reasonably priced (and presumably competent) options.

So, now I am thinking "why not just get a straight, and a strop, and let someone else worry about honing it every once in a while?" That seems like a plan, right?

I've been looking at shave ready straights locally, and there are a few options, but I've also compulsively read these boards so I know that for my first straight, a shave ready vintage is probably a smart choice. Not a huge invesment, and will allow me to work out whether I actually enjoy this type of shave, after which I can pick up something fancier if it sticks.

So, finally, my questions. I've found a couple of vendors on ebay and etsy selling shave ready vintage straights. Should I just trust them and jump in, or should I look around more? Are there any recommended sellers on either platform that are regard as trustworthy by B&B'ers? Would opening a WTB on BST here be a better idea (assuming there are members in NZ (or AU) that could help?

Basically, in my sheltered part of the world, what is the best approach to a first straight and strop to get me going without too much drama?

Thanks for reading my screed... :)
 
Last edited:
We are running on parallel tracks thousands of miles away! I started looking at vintage Japanese razors on ebay a few days/12hrs ago. There are symmetrical grind razors on there that look really nice and the blades are shorter which is why I was looking. The two things that are keeping my finger off the buy button are honing and shipping cost. The honing can be done here, but I have to pay more shipping to the honer plus their cost. It's adding up to more than I want to spend on a gamble. I wonder if the shipping is more reasonable for you? Then you could test out your chosen local honer's competence. I am not liking what I see on Etsy at all, most don't look like competent sellers for something you want shave ready nor being able to accurately describe what they are selling. Plus all the adverts for cheap garbage.
 
There is a lot of garbage that you have to wade through, no doubt. But there does seem to be a couple of genuine listings... One of the things I am ignorant about is honing with tape: is that a good or a bad thing in a listing?

And no, sadly, I am at the very bottom of the world, so postage here from just about anywhere is generally exorbitant. :(
 
What’s your budget?

I can get a brand new, shave ready Dovo locally for 200 NZD, which seems reasonable to me. I was imagining I'd spend less than that on a restored vintage, but I don't have a specific budget. I don't really know enough about the field at this point...
 
I can get a brand new, shave ready Dovo locally for 200 NZD, which seems reasonable to me. I was imagining I'd spend less than that on a restored vintage, but I don't have a specific budget. I don't really know enough about the field at this point...
@rbscebu currently has a PIF on for a shave ready SR. Last time I checked there were no takers. There are a few rules but it looks like a good deal.
 
Greetings! I am from Malaysia and I get most of my vintage straight razors and strops from the US. Of the few Ebay sellers I bought from...only 1 stand out with really shave ready edges and no issues razors. His strops are very affordable too and includes the thick slick leather with poly and cotton too. The shipping is the best and can be combined. I have since bought 2 straight and 1 strop from this seller. Try look up Dukecityshaving
It's an auction/buy it now site...
I'm aiming for another razor and even perhaps another Strop... 😆
 
Great offer from @JaggardJ. The Gold Dollar is a perfectly adequate razor.

I would also suggest you investigate a set of diamond pasted balsa strops. These will help to lengthen the time between having the razor honed. There are rumours that with persistent use, a razor might never have to touch an hone again.

You will also need a leather strop. I made my own with kangaroo skin bought of an Aussie seller on ebay (postage to Ireland was ridiculous, and with free post in Australia, I arranged for collection from an AU address back when we could travel).
 
Good stuff. If you get the bug and want a vintage, the rule of thumb is only buy a razor off someone who shaves with one regularly. "Shave ready" is a buzz term on the internet, and most of the time the sellers are using it without a clue what it actually means.
 
What shall I say?

Except that you must be a stronger man than me if you can resist the temptation to try honing your own razor(s) for long.

It often starts with a single 12,000 grit stone.
Just about right to maintain a razor’s edge almost indefinitely.

And then you want a finer grit to get a smoother edge, and a coarser grit to save you some work if the edge has minor nicks, and then you want to try your hand at restoring an old razor, and before you know it you’ll have a full set (1000, 3000, 5000, 8000, 12,000, 20,000 grit).


Welcome to the club.
We all suffer the same affliction it seems…
 

Slash McCoy

I freehand dog rockets
So the reason I moved to wet shaving back in 2002/3 was because I was sick of buying more plastic crud every couple of weeks to lug home and then throw away. I bought a brush, some soap, a razor and a tuck of blades and haven't looked back.

Obviously, to me anyway, really reducing my footprint would involve a straight, a strop, and the kit I already have. I have always baulked at this because the maintenance seemed a bit of a nightmare (I really do not want to go down the honing rabbit hole).

However, after chatting to @APBinNCA in this thread about Artist Club blades (which I was considering as a no-maintenance option), he prompted me to look at honing options closer to home, here in New Zealand - and it turns out there are at least a couple of reasonably priced (and presumably competent) options.

So, now I am thinking "why not just get a straight, and a strop, and let someone else worry about honing it every once in a while?" That seems like a plan, right?

I've been looking at shave ready straights locally, and there are a few options, but I've also compulsively read these boards so I know that for my first straight, a shave ready vintage is probably a smart choice. Not a huge invesment, and will allow me to work out whether I actually enjoy this type of shave, after which I can pick up something fancier if it sticks.

So, finally, my questions. I've found a couple of vendors on ebay and etsy selling shave ready vintage straights. Should I just trust them and jump in, or should I look around more? Are there any recommended sellers on either platform that are regard as trustworthy by B&B'ers? Would opening a WTB on BST here be a better idea (assuming there are members in NZ (or AU) that could help?

Basically, in my sheltered part of the world, what is the best approach to a first straight and strop to get me going without too much drama?

Thanks for reading my screed... :)
Nobody who does not shave with a straight razor every day can be considered competent to hone one. Period. You have to shave with your own edges to develop skill at honing razors. So, NO, DO NOT TRUST ANYBODY ON EBAY OR ETSY, unless they are verified members of the community. They should be members of one or more straight shaving forums, or at least recommended by several long standing and respected members. It is a small world. Everybody knows everyone else, or at least knows someone who knows a particular person.

A lot of "shave ready" offerings on those venues are not even close. A lot of sellers do not even understand the concept of a shave ready edge. Many are women, who do not shave their faces, and wouldn't have a clue. The rest are men with beards or who shave with multiblade cartridges. They simply do not know. Some do realize that their shave ready razors are not actually shave ready, and lie about it, because buyers want shave ready razors, especially beginners. Some few do shave with a straight razor but their standards for sharpness are pretty low.

I wouldn't buy a SINGLE THING on Etsy. Just me. YMMV. Mostly overpriced garbage, very few exceptions.

On fleabay, if you insist on searching "in the wild" for a shave ready razor, look for sellers who move a lot of razors listed as shave ready, and have perfect or near perfect feedback scores. You can post questions about individual sellers. You can also post links to "Buy It Now" listings, or closed auction listings, but not live auctions, for obvious reasons.

Yeah BST is a good place to find a decent vintage razor that is shave ready. Reputations are at stake, so nobody is going to sell a piece of crap with a crappy edge and call it a shave ready razor. The only problem is you have to pounce quick, on a good deal. There are guys who watch that forum like a hawk, and snap up the real goodies at crazy low prices, and leave the not so hot deals gathering dust.

There are members here from Australia and New Zealand. You will probably hook up with some in short order. I understand shipping to NZ or Oz from the US or many other countries with a lot of straight shavers can be a real deal breaker, so buying from a local will definitely be the way to go, if possible. You may have to be very patient.

Meanwhile, since you at least understand what a shave ready edge's performance should be like, you might think about honing your own. A film and balsa setup can be put together for I think probably under $100 USD. You should be able to get balsa at a hobby shop. Diamond paste on ebay shipped cheap or free. Thick acrylic might or might not be hard to source where you are, but you could always glue 6 layers of 1/4" or so together. You don't glue acrylic so much as solvent weld it. A few drops of pure acetone or better yet Methyl Ethyl Ketone will do the trick. Youtube is your friend. Lapping film should ship cheaply. A member could resell pieces instead of whole sheets, in an ordinary letter envelope. Two pieces each grit would get you started. You could set the bevel on locally bought sandpaper from your nearest auto body supply shop. You will want maybe 600, 1000, and 2000 grit. From there you could proceed with just 9µ, 3µ, and 1µ film, then the three stage balsa progression of .5µ, .25µ, and .1µ for a very very VERY sharp edge indeed, if you are good at following directions with absolute perfection. See this thread:
Newbie Honing Compendium | Badger & Blade

Most beginners achieve usable results on the first go, and better than professional results by the second time at bat. It isn't a way to learn honing. It is a way to immediately DO honing, bypassing all that time consuming learning stuff. Learn later. Do now. Get the results, then broaden your horizons after you have created some insane edges first. Otherwise it can take months or even years to learn to hone well, and you will spend a lot more money, and honing "well" is sort of relative, and subjective. Just remember, BEVEL BEVEL BEVEL. There can be no shave ready edge until a good bevel has been well and truly set. This, no matter what style of honing you choose to use. Or learn.
 

Slash McCoy

I freehand dog rockets
I can get a brand new, shave ready Dovo locally for 200 NZD, which seems reasonable to me. I was imagining I'd spend less than that on a restored vintage, but I don't have a specific budget. I don't really know enough about the field at this point...
There are Dovos, and there are Dovos. I like the Dovo Bismarck and similar models using the same blank. I have no time for the notorious Dovo "Best Quality" or other entry level Dovos. YMMV but I would hold out for a Bismarck. Great razor.
 

Slash McCoy

I freehand dog rockets
There is a lot of garbage that you have to wade through, no doubt. But there does seem to be a couple of genuine listings... One of the things I am ignorant about is honing with tape: is that a good or a bad thing in a listing?

And no, sadly, I am at the very bottom of the world, so postage here from just about anywhere is generally exorbitant. :(
If the honer honed with tape because he just always hones with tape, I call it a bad thing. However, it is common, and often the expected thing, and considered normal by many shavers. If he hones with tape because the razor in question actually needs to be honed with tape, it is a good thing. If he hones with or without, depending on what the end user prefers, then that is a good thing, except then you, the end user, need to decide. I would very much recommend "without", unless it is a full wedge razor or a vintage that is worn very thin but still has a lot of width, IOW, has a very acute bevel angle.
 
Great decision to get a straight! Unfortunately, I live in the US and cannot advise you about NZ. I will, however, say that there is something to be said for being self-sufficient.

I first bought a Feather AC thinking I could not be bothered with all this honing and stropping. Then I dove head first into the deep end.

My advise would be to first get a good quality razor from a reputable seller who is known to sell shave-ready razors, and to maintain the edge on this razor using diamond paste on balsa and/or a 12k synthetic stone or film. And then see if and what develops.

I just paid 23 USD to have a razor shipped from Japan to the US. Perhaps Japan could be a good source of equipment for you.
 
Start off with buying one shave ready SR from a reputable dealer and a leather strop; you’re in the game. Don’t waste a ton on a fancy blade or strop; pretty doesn’t matter instead focus on technique. If you enjoy the shaves after a few months, then invest in fancier kit or just keep on with what you own. Look at all the posts of fancy SRs posted in the pics sections with absolutely zero signs of actually being used or even getting cream on them😂 for fear they will rust.
 
Top Bottom