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Hollow vs Wedge: Make or Break Difference?

I know, I know - Joel addressed this in his most recent straight shaving video - he doesn't believe that you need a stiff razor to get a good shave if you have a tough beard. However, he does say that he has a wicked sharp edge on that Kron Punkt. Let's bring this down a level to those of us who can't put the ridiculously sharp edge on a razor that he can.

I have this Dovo Special. I seem to remember that, when I first received it, it shaved well (but I was a total newb, and overall, the shaves weren't great). However, subsequent shaves went downhill fast. Tugging being the main problem. I recently got some hones (Spyderco Medium, Fine, and Ultra Fine) and tried to re-hone it, hoping I could get back to smooth shaves. I started with Medium, and worked up to the ultra fine. Probably overkill, but I wanted to be SURE that I was doing enough. It was an improvement, but still not as good as even the first shave.

At this point, I feel like pointing out that I am not surprised by this. I expected my honing to be inferior, and I expected my technique to be lacking as well.

However, there's this Wostenholm Whipped Dog on my shelf, too. That sucker mows through my beard effortlessly. I haven't re-honed it since I got it; only stropping. I've used it about as much as my Dovo, but it cuts way better. It also took a slice out of my cheek, but that was my fault. I digress...

Herein lies the question: Have I simply wrecked the edge on the Dovo, or is it possible that, with my limited edge maintenance skills, I'm better off with the wedge? Should I spend the $20 or so to have the Dovo expertly honed and give it another shot, or sell it and stop my losses?
 
From my experience, first and foremost, the razor edge must be sharp.
Secondly, there is an advantage to a full hollow ground razor. The curve, allows an air space between the lathered face and the blade. Sometimes, a wedge is prone to sticking to the face.

Other than this, I think the weight of a blade has more effect on closeness.
Weight can be achieved by a heavy spine or a wider blade in either the wedge style or the hollow ground style of razor.

It sounds to me as if your Dovo needs rehoning. Thousands of men use a Dovo razor and get a great daily shave.
 
Either a full hollow or a wedge needs a sharp edge, tuned to your taste. Both will become dull with use and, of course, not shave so well as they become dull. Full hollows tend to be a little easier to hone - less metal to remove.

While I have and use all different grinds, my preference is for extra hollow ground razors. I find the shaves to be more comfortable. This was not, however, always the case. Until I really got the hang of shaving with a straight, stiffer razors compensated for my lack of technique.
 
When your shaving your beard doesn't see the grind or the size or the weight it only sees the very edge of the razor. If those factors are improving your outcome there are other reasons contributing relating to your technique. However either way your edge needs to be equally sharp no matter the type of razor.
 
Re-honing a wedge is no easier than re-honing a full hollow, so I don't think a wedge will solve your honing issues.

Sounds like the Dovo need a tune-up, and may not have been as keen as the Whipped Dog to begin with. With proper honing, however it should be equally capable of a very fine edge. You should consider sending it to Larry, since you like the edge he put on your Wosty.
 
Until I really got the hang of shaving with a straight, stiffer razors compensated for my lack of technique.

This is consistent with my experience. I'm confident that a skilled shaver can put a great edge on, and get a great shave with, an extra hollow ground razor. For me, right now, I'm doing better with the stiffer razor.

I think I'm going to end up selling the Dovo for now, and later down the road, buying an extra hollow that's a little bit nicer when I feel more confident in my technique.
 
A thicker grind makes your face conform to the razor while a thinner grind conforms to your face. Don't be surprised one day when your favorite razor turns out to be a wispy extra hollow. As your shaving and honing skills improve you may find that a thinner grind will cut thru your tough beard without a problem and may in fact give you the closest shave possible.

Red
 
A thicker grind makes your face conform to the razor while a thinner grind conforms to your face. Don't be surprised one day when your favorite razor turns out to be a wispy extra hollow. As your shaving and honing skills improve you may find that a thinner grind will cut thru your tough beard without a problem and may in fact give you the closest shave possible.

Red

+1

That’s a great description.

You are more likely to get razor burn if you make your face conform to the razor.
 
You are more likely to get razor burn if you make your face conform to the razor.

I believe that, in principal. In practice, however, my wedge requires less work to remove more hair, so it's irritating me the least (though neither are bad). I totally agree with the science behind a hollow, but it requires two things I can't provide (very good technique and a very, very sharp edge).

I'm already on the fence about straight shaving. I get great DE shaves now that I've started shaving with a straight, and it takes me more work to get passable shaves with a straight. It's fun, but time consuming. I don't always have that time in the mornings. It might become a Saturday thing for me.
 
I´ve had it expained to me that a wedge keeps a sharper edge longer than a hollow one. So it could be that your hollow straight simply gone dull before your wedge str8.
 
A thicker grind makes your face conform to the razor while a thinner grind conforms to your face. Don't be surprised one day when your favorite razor turns out to be a wispy extra hollow. As your shaving and honing skills improve you may find that a thinner grind will cut thru your tough beard without a problem and may in fact give you the closest shave possible.

Red

Sounds like an old barbers tale. You are manipulating your face and skin as you shave, A razor isn't going to change the contours of your face and no hollow grind will bend or deforn enough to match contours of your face.
 
I would stick with it, i still use the de on those rare occasions where i don't have time once you figure out how to get that edge the way you want it you will have truly outstanding shaves.
 
Sounds like an old barbers tale. You are manipulating your face and skin as you shave, A razor isn't going to change the contours of your face and no hollow grind will bend or deforn enough to match contours of your face.
Correct. Seems to me it's all a moot point once you start stretching your skin.
 
I think that wedge blades are more forgiving in terms of technique, which is why you seem to prefer them now. There's no shame in using wedges, there are many fantastic blades out there. Use it for a few months, then send that full hollow out to a honemeister and once it's scary sharp, start using that exclusively for a few months. Compare/contrast your experiences, and most importantly, have fun! :biggrin:
 
I believe that, in principal. In practice, however, my wedge requires less work to remove more hair, so it's irritating me the least (though neither are bad). I totally agree with the science behind a hollow, but it requires two things I can't provide (very good technique and a very, very sharp edge).

I'm already on the fence about straight shaving. I get great DE shaves now that I've started shaving with a straight, and it takes me more work to get passable shaves with a straight. It's fun, but time consuming. I don't always have that time in the mornings. It might become a Saturday thing for me.

You have to decide what you prefer, DE or straight. My only advice to you is that I didn't really improve my technique until I fully committed to the straight, put down the DE and stuck it out for several weeks. Now, I rarely use a DE and consistently get better shaves than anything else I've tried. Using a straight once a week won't give you enough practice to improve, IMO. YMMV, of course.
 
Using a straight once a week won't give you enough practice to improve, IMO. YMMV, of course.

I suppose, to an extent, you're right. However, don't you think straight shaving a couple times a week can get me to the point where I can do it fast enough to make it a work-week routine?

I tend to hope so.
 
Well, everyone is different so I can only relate my experience to you. I started out with them and like a lot of people, kind of tore my face up. I fell into a routine where I would use a straight for a couple of days and then go back to a DE. Then I wouldn't use a straight for a week or so. This went on for a couple of months. I finally realized I wasn't making much progress so I just kind of gritted my teeth and decided I was going to use a straight for at least 2 weeks without interruption no matter what. In the second week, it all came together and I haven't looked back.

But that is me, I'm kind of an impatient person. I wasn't able to use a straight once or twice a week and wait for the gradual improvement. I wanted to know if it was for me or not right away. Sometimes I think it would've been better not to find out, I'm up to about 20 razors now with no let up in the SRAD!

Good luck, either way you decide to go.
 
One small thing people haven't mentioned is stropping technique. Once i developed a good stropping technique, I stropped the hell out of some of my older full hollow razors and started getting superlative shaves. Also, a quick stropping style run over newspaper for a good number of passes really touches up a blade nicely. Like professorchaos above, i have found myself migrating back to a more hollow grind once my shaving technique has improved. A big wedge is fun to break out from time to time simply because it puts a smile on my face to shave with something that big and wicked. Just my $.02.
 
One small thing people haven't mentioned is stropping technique. Once i developed a good stropping technique, I stropped the hell out of some of my older full hollow razors and started getting superlative shaves.

+1

Stropping technique is VERY important and often overlooked by new straight shavers.
 
This is a engrossing thread. Many interesting point.

Personally I think the main difference between a full hollow and a wedge is momentum. Those who've ever tried to chop a tree with a light hatchet vs a big axe, know what I mean. Although on a much smaller and lighter scale, I believe similar principles apply to razors of different weight. A wedge won't easily deviate from it course, once you've set if in motion. It travels it's path, regardless the user succeeds to angle it correctly, regardless he applies a nice scything motion or not. On the other end of the spectrum we have the 4/8 full hollow (I know there is such a thing like a 3/8, but let's stay serious, shall we?). Such a light razor shifts direction at the blink of an eye. Allow the shaving angle to be a bit of, and it'll skate right over the whisker, or - ATG - even hang up on it.
When we talk about minor edge deterioration, the condition of thing we would remedy with a touch-up, I do believe a lighter razor will show the signs earlier.

The fact that these heavier razors tend to be less responsive to finer nuances in shaving technique, also explains why most starters find them easier to use. While many seasoned shavers love how a lighter full hollow razor listens to technical precision.

I would like to second the advice to shave exclusively with a straight razor for a prolonged period.

Kind regards,
Bart.
 
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