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My first straight razor shave... A miracle in the making (aka what not to do)

After reading the other "first shave" thread, I thought I'd give some insight into my own experience with the Dovo Deux after what was an unexpectedly long wait for my first SR shave. Definitely not recommending my process to others... but all are welcome to a laugh at or with me...

Prior Planning Prevents **** Poor Performance (sometimes)

Always keen to be a good boy scout (dib dib dib) I have gone ahead and read and watched whatever I could find about SR shaving (yes, @rbscebu, including the beginner's bible :001_005:)in preparation for the big day. Unfortunately that was about 6 weeks ago, meaning I currently remember absolutely nothing and for religious reasons I was not able to review any of the material (I'm a long practicing "she'll-be-right-ist".) And so that is where we begin our tale, woefully uninformed, with a shiny toy in hand and no inclination to fix the situation.

While One Hones, The Other Moans

My untrained and unexperienced eye determined that the factory finished bevel was straight and true, no need to go to resort to drastic measures I thought, let's break out the Kitayama 8000 and get this baby sharp and mustard. No problem, just a few back and forth here, some stropping on Autosol loaded denim, a bit more on my special blend CrOx strop and a finish on clean leather, badabang badabing, we'll be chopping the beard in a few minutes!

No.

We were not chopping anything, in any minutes.

What a finicky pain in the arse! The aim was for a true HHT-5 here, I can consistently get my 14C28N pocket knife to a HHT-3 which push-cuts paper towel and so expected the finer blade (with a built in angle guide) to be a piece of cake. Whether it was imperfections in the bevel, technique, equipment or what, I could not get the bastard thing to do what I wanted and this is where the hero of the story enters what can only be described as mortal peril. The wife comes to supervise.

See, as a matter of principal, I have not shaved while waiting for the SR to arrive, that's six weeks, and the missus ain't too keen on my furry presentation at the best of times... I have an "interesting" growth pattern. Dear reader, imagine Amish wisps along the cheeks and sideburns, fluffy, fun and daggy. A void of blackened steel wool for a goatee so thick and abrasive that it leaves road rash on any drunkenly consumed meal or woman unlucky enough to show me any affection. And to top it off, what I would call a display of hobo-chic in the neck region, every type of hair, in every direction, at every time. It's a bloody mess and the boss has had enough.

"You've been ****-farting about all morning with this, just get rid of the bloody beard - I can't do this anymore, I've been googling divorce lawyers."

I look over at my daughter, who bursts into tears at the sight of me for the 12th time this week.

Okay, maybe she has a point. We're at a HHT-3, although it's not as smooth push-cutting as the pocket knife, but surely it can't go too far wrong....

Just Badger and Blade, Right?

So into the bathroom I trot on goes the hot water and let's get cracking. Oh wait, I need a towel. Here's that **** poor planning again, I dig through the dirty hamper and find a semi-dry flannel. It looks clean, ergo, it is clean. Wet, wet, wet, splash, splash, dab. Nice and soaked and drippy. The bench top and all it's accoutrement are already saturated - I did not get away with this either. Ah ****, where is the shaving cream? Out in the bedroom, back to the bench, now I've dripped on the carpet, but I'm too far gone to care and this has already taken two hours longer than planned. So I lather up a brush and paste it on my face. I do remember the importance of using more lather than I think is necessary and go right ahead and plaster it everywhere. At some point I get a feeling of needing to blow my nose and assume I'm harbouring an enormous booger, I push one finger to the opposite nostril and snort. A spray of white fluffy foam squirts across the sink, bench, floor, pants. Okay, maybe that's enough lather.

Let's go, it's time! I decide to start on my left cheek as it feels the most natural. I place the blade along my face at the top of the lather line and start scraping down. Did I pull the skin like I was told to? Nope, forgot. Did I set an angle like I was supposed to? Nope, forgot. Did I pay attention to the grain direction? Nope, forgot. It was a purely instinctual motion of chopping down the forest and it was bloody magical! Swathes of fur magically split from skin to blade, a satisfying "SCRRRRRRRR" of fine metal on beard and just like that, 4 inches of beard was gone.

This SR stuff is for chumps! How easy is this?!

No Hablas Español?

It now becomes important to note that the SR I'm using has a Spanish point. Every guide I've read has been very explicit about these not being recommended for beginners. I cannot imagine why.....

Amped up on my newfound shaving mastery, with all the confidence that only an exceedingly incompetent novice can have, it was time to shave this sideburn and do it with speed and style! Let's do it in one fell stroke and get this shave over and done with. Now for those unaware, people have varying degrees of earlobe attached-ness. There is a little bit of skin connecting the lobe to the face which juts out on a slightly different angle to the jaw-line. Interestingly my SR also as a little jutting piece in the form of a Spanish point which overlaps perfectly with the lobe-attacher when striking straight down along the sideburn. My lobes used to be a medium level of attached. Used to be.

And here we come crashing down to earth, blood and momentary panic which quickly becomes annoyance. At least the blade was sharp enough that it didn't hurt. I do the Homer Simpson toilet paper trick. It's not really working but it will get me through. And from here on out, it becomes slow, steady and careful. A timely lesson in humility.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who's the Dumbest of them All?

And so here we are, as you might've guessed the rest of the shave was much less exciting. But I really struggled with the right hand side of my face, whether it was an awkward angle or latent fear for my other lobe-attacher, I could not get a comfortable and smooth stroke going. Until I stopped looking in the mirror. I am not sure if this is a known phenomenon, but as soon as I just "felt" the shave it was immediately simpler and felt natural again.

Again the Spanish point was trying to cause problems, but even that felt like it was safer in a way. Instead of relying on the mirror, I spent more of my focus feeling where the different parts of the razor were and felt like I had more control. This might be something everyone knows, or it might just be a crutch of sorts because I'm new, but for anyone who hasn't tried turfing the mirror, I recommend it.

The Good, the Bad and the Bloodstained

At the end of it all, given there were no more major incidents, I'd say the experience was a success. The Spanish point proved it's worth when shaving my philtrum and around my nostrils. It was the simplest part of the entire shave by a country mile and without the tip I imagine would've felt clumsy and frustrated trying to find the angles. There was another small nick at the side of my mouth, another Spanish victim, but it was so small that it is not even noticeable now.

I did however end up with a fair few "micro-dots" of blood. Whether this is shaving too close, or the SR not being sharp enough I'm not sure, but I'm sure it will improve with better technique in all areas. The razor was noticeably less comfortable in the second-half of the shave and I wished I had the strop in the bathroom, I'll certainly have it handy in future, but I am also keeping in mind I was shaving a six-week beard, so it may have been a heavier workload for the razor than what will be typical.

As I was reaching for the towel to finish drying off, my adult came in to check on me. I needn't tell you about the mess and reaction, but as she walked in the door, she paused, flicked the light switch and asked, "Wouldn't this be easier with the lights on?"

Yes, I'm an idiot.
 
Where's the fun in getting it 100% right the first time?

You just did what all real men do, glance at the instructions to get the general idea, and when things go wrong, go back and read carefully.

To me it sounds like a better than expected outcome for a first try. It will get a lot better with practise.

Nice read, thank you I enjoyed that!
 
Call me a wuss if you like, but I tame all my Spanish and square points by dragging them lightly across a glass surface a few times at 45 degree angle. Makes them a lot more user friendly, and you can't see the difference. It also still allows you to get into the corners easily, as only a fraction of the bity bit is tamed.
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
@blinkybill, congratulations on your first traditional straight razor shave, even if you didn't keep all the blood in.

Pointy sharp Spanish points are also good for shaving inside of nostrils and ear canals 😁. Don't try that until about your 3rd or 4th SR shave when you are an expert in the gentlemanly art.

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My one half serious cut also liberated my lobe a little. I never felt it cutting either and it was definitely a warning to be aware exactly where the toe of the razor is before moving.
 
@blinkybill

2 lessons learned here....
bone up on youtube videos with straight razor shaving. Works well with me.
use a shaver to remove the beard. Then shave with a razor. It makes a tremendous difference.

Also, read up on my experience with my first straight razor shave last night posted in this forum. Based on your title... it looks like you were "inspired". Ahem...
Second straight razor shave just took place tonight. And I never shave on back-to-back days.
 
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Until I stopped looking in the mirror. I am not sure if this is a known phenomenon, but as soon as I just "felt" the shave it was immediately simpler and felt natural again.
To my absolute shock and horror, my wife closes her eyes when driving through tight spaces at speed.

I close my eyes a bit while shaving too. You really can tune into the pressure and feel better like that. I certainly wasn’t doing it on my first shave though.

Well done! Excellent write up!
 
To my absolute shock and horror, my wife closes her eyes when driving through tight spaces at speed.

I close my eyes a bit while shaving too. You really can tune into the pressure and feel better like that. I certainly wasn’t doing it on my first shave though.

Well done! Excellent write up!

Using the force while shaving. Hmmm.... that gives me an idea for my next shave.
 
I cut my earlobe once as well. Took ages to stop bleeding.

A couple of things that might help. Start trying to be ambidextrous now, when you are first learning. It will pay dividends later when it becomes easier.

Also, a factory Dovo is quite likely not shave ready, and possibly so much so that an 8k hone won’t put it right. IMO your next step should be seeking out a certified shave ready straight (maybe without the Spanish point) and comparing the edge. If there is a noticeable difference you will have yourself a benchmark to aim for when you hone the Dovo.
 
G'day All,

Apologies for the radio silence, it has been a long weekend down under and the usual family intrusions.... err, I mean "events", have kept me busy.

Glad to hear that the lobe peril is commonplace and practically a rite of passage, I certainly feel like one of the tribe....

Disco, yes heavily "inspired" but thought my tale of light-hearted idiocy might make a few people smile. You know what they say about the sincerity of imitation. :)

@Legion I'm obviously far from having my eye in when it comes to SRs given I'm at the novice end of the journey, but from what I know of general craftsmanship I think I scored a winner with the replacement. Have attached a few pics in the imgur link at the end of post that can be compared to the other dud that I sent back or you can offer your opinion on.

Having said that, I wasn't about to rely on the out of box sharpness. I used an imgur link rather than just directly uploading photos so I could include an HHT video. Audio should be included, though it usually auto-mutes for me so you'll need to manually unmute. This is the level I'm shaving with, still got a few bleeding spots and I'm assuming that is shaving technique/taking the tops off the wounds from the first shave, but always grateful for everyone's opinion or advice.

It is absolutely true that I have no point of reference, though. I have never interacted with other sharpeners and have been self taught, so I am very enthused about the idea of getting an understanding of the top line sharpness to compare/aspire to. Do you know of anyone/anywhere in WA that I'll be able to get a hold of a true "shave ready" blade?

(going to pretend the third whittle was on purpose...)
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
.... Do you know of anyone/anywhere in WA that I'll be able to get a hold of a true "shave ready" blade?
....
I had a similar problem starting traditional straight razor shaving when in the Philippines. I don't know of any reputable honemeisters in the black swan State, although there should be some. You are fortunate in that postage to your nextdoor neighbour is the same as posting anywhere in the country.


What I did in the Philippines was buy a cheap $2 Chinese stainless steel shavette and a tuck of DE blades. I used this to compare against my self-honed SR's.
 
That might make the most sense - so far I've kept true to my "one and only SR" pledge (been too busy to get to antique stores...) and am not too keen on the idea of sending it off.

There is a bloke who runs a sharpening service over the other side of the highway and has a stall at the local market, but he uses a Tormek (which makes sense if you're sharpening large volumes of kitchen/pocket/bush knives) so I'm not sure how developed his "fine touch" would be.

I think it was you that pointed out to me that guys who come from knives run into typical "knife-guy" problems when transitioning to honing SRs....
 
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