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HD Quality shave

<<Doing my happy dance>>

For the last couple days, I am getting the best shaves ever and have surpassed the quality shave I got from my HD. Honestly, I didn't think straight shaving could beat that thing, but it does. I started with a straight a few months ago, but have only been using daily (without the HD as a crutch) for the last month or so.

There's a few things that came together for me.

This simply takes time and patience (and a lot of styptic). Figuring out where to put the blade, the right angle, what to do with my hands, how to keep both eyes on my face. I find that if I cover one eye with my hand or something, I loose too much depth of field, and it gets a bit unnerving. There were a couple strokes that took a while for me to figure out like XTG on cheeks, ATG on the neck. Take your time figuring this stuff out. You cant rush it without getting yourself into a lot of trouble.

I started with a Puma, then got a TI, then a Dovo stainless, then a WAPI and most recently a Trapp sheffield (which is freakin awesome). There are some things I have found that I like. First the tang/jimps. For me, I have found that I like a thicker tang as it allows for better control and gives me a better feel for the blade angle. The TI is a great razor but has a very narrow tang and I need to be a bit more careful with it. I don't like the Wapi at all only because of the steel scales. Totally out of balance. I will replace the scales at some point but for now, its sitting in the drawer. The bottom line is that it takes more than one razor to figure out what is going to work for you. The Sheffield is just wonderful, but it has all the things I like.

I started with a Dovo strop and completely destroyed it. Its a very good idea to get the cheapest thing you can lay your hands on for a strop in the first month. You WILL mess it up. I also picked up a Thiers Issard travel 2 sided paddle strop. Ya'll need one of these. It's very small and light weight, plus I CroOx'd one side and its perfect. I tried my hand at making a paddle strop but found that I need to know a bit more about leather to get the right amount of draw when stropping. I have since moved to a Tony Miller 3" latigo. It's perfect.

Hones and Sharpening
This is the main source of all of my trouble. I started out with one shaver (the Puma) that was sharpened by Leighton for me, but after a single shave I managed to screw it up while stropping (using my first Dovo strop). Aside from that I had several other badly sharpened blades. I got a Norton 4000/8000 and dove in. Absolutely clueless, all I managed to do was rub some steel off my razors - but did no damage - just wasnt getting the results i was looking for. I picked up a Naniwa 1000 and it was quickly apparent that I had never set the bevel which is why nothing I did made any difference. Using the 1000 I get the blade to the point where it's sharp, then I go to the 4k then 8k. At this point I found that the shaves got a LOT better, however I was still a good bit raw afterward. Then I got the TI paddle with the CroOx and it got WAY better. The last thing I did was to get a 4 sided pasted paddle strop from Tony Miller and put 3, 1, .5, .25 micron pastes on. OH MY GOD. That was it.

It's taken a while but it has been well worth it. I am having more fun just messing around with all the variables to see what works and what doesn't. I am probably going about it all wrong, but for me learning is all about the journey. There are many new razors and things to try, but it's been a blast so far.
I just started shaving with straight razors. I already had my 2nd shave with my straight and it was OK.
I have some of the problems you already tackled. Getting the right angle and how to hold the razor properly in different parts of my face is particulalry diffucult.
But your post puts some hope in me that I will once get a good and smooth shave with my straight razor.
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