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My Straight Shaving Journey

I started out with my Yankee Cutlery razor and NY Selective strop, since my Crown Razor Co. straight is still being shipped back from a honing by Ray-Man. Now, it was supposedly only used once so i didn't strop it, especially since my cheapie strop has some wrinkling right in the middle.

My standard shave prep consists of a hot shower and a face scrub. However, instead of lather and shaving in the shower, I stepped out to shave in front of my sink. I built up some Cella lather on my face and went to work, thinking I'd have some small capability after reading everyone's posts and watching videos on Youtube.

ARGH. Guess I was wrong. The edge felt very sharp, but barely looked and felt like it was cutting hair. Really, the most efficient cutting angle turned out to be approximately 45 degrees - extremely high, I know. And I can tell you, I could definitely feel it scraping the crap out of my skin. Anyway, after 1 WTG pass across my entire face, I gave myself a cool rinse and revealed 4 nicks on my skin, all around my mouth and chin. While my skin was still wet, I rubbed my alum block on my skin and felt and incredible amount of irritation. Honestly, it was the worst I'd ever felt in my life; every inch of skin I shave just burned and burned. Well, at least it stopped the bleeding. So, i made myself suck it up and splashed some witch hazel and a little after shave balm

Crappy shave too, btw, very small beard reduction, just left my stubble feeling really sharp. Lots of pulling on my my facial hair no matter what angle. I also didn't like the lightness, having been used to my long handled Merkur's weight. The razor really felt like skipping with each stroke. I really want to graduate to straight shaving, maybe I should jump to a larger blade, with a wedge grind and see if it makes any difference.

Was it not sharp enough? Did the edge need to be stropped? I'll try to give it 100 laps on the leather just to be sure and give it a few days. If that doesn't turn out well, maybe I'll send it to Ambrose and have him work his magic on the edge.


I'll have a Tony Miller 3" red latigo/smooth cotton strop with a practice strop coming in the near future, as well was a $5 Crown Razor Co. antique mall special honed courtesy of Ray Habyan. I'll give that a shot too, before making any decisions...... except I've already sort of decided to try and find a barber hone, since they look so cool.
 
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could have been a number of things, it sounds like this may have been your first straight shave. if so congratulations on your first straight shave :thumbup:.

straights have a lot of feedback compaired to a DE, and you may have to apply pressure to a straight when shaving (though this is something you will want to ease into learning). A 45 degree angle does not sound way to big actually depends on the razor and your preference, i shaved at about that angle with my first dovo but i changed that with my new razor. as a general rule of thumb you always want to strop right before shaving because it realigns the razor edge and knocks off any burrs or corrosion on the edge. My first few shaves were not so grand either a lot of skipping and worrying about slicing body parts off if i messed up, skipping can be from a razor not being sharp enough, not enough beard prep, or not applying enough pressure when you shave. btw that is not a full list i am sure there a lot more reasons these just seem likely.

do a hanging hair test on the blade to test if it is sharp, definitely strop before every use and above all else do not get discouraged. straights have a bit of a learning curve but they are fun.

hope that helped
 
It definitely does not pass the hanging hair test.




And yes, it's my first straight shave done myself. I've had several shavette shaves while vacationing in the Philippines since it was all so cheap, and a nice way to spend some time with the family.
 
i would see about having someone put an edge on it for you, got a shave ready straight that most certainly was a questionable description. that razor has yet to see a hone and has yet to see my face again (maybe one day if i decide it is worth throwing an edge on). learning is a bit delicate already, might as well start with a sharp edge.

one of my razors did not pass the hanging hair test but i could still get a decent shave out if it, as long as i can pop hairs off my arm with it i will give it a try.
 
Well, it was originally honed by Ambrose (who tossed in a complimentar touch up for cost of shipping), bought by another member and used for a single shave, and now it's mine. I'll give it a good stropping, and see how things go over the next coming days, and then switch to another razor and give that a try.

It'll take hairs off my arm with some effort/pressure, and light scraping of skin cells.
 
Before sending the razor back out to Ambrose's capable hands, I decided to give things another go just for a little practice. So, I went for broke. 100 laps on the leather. Superlather with an Arko shave stick and some Proraso.

This time felt much, much smoother. No razor burn and no new nicks, just reopened a couple on my chin. Still irritated though, but all around my mouth, and not my cheeks. This was even after deciding not to waste my lather and going for a second XTG pass. And it started to feel quite a bit closer, even.... acceptable.
 

Luc

Moderator Emeritus
That's good!

It's amazing on how that strop fix the blade. You might not need as much laps next time but a few extra laps are always good!
 
I hope what my razors really need are a good honing and stropping. I've got one coming back in the mail, so I should be able to try again by Thursday.
 
Well, it was originally honed by Ambrose (who tossed in a complimentar touch up for cost of shipping), bought by another member and used for a single shave, and now it's mine. I'll give it a good stropping, and see how things go over the next coming days, and then switch to another razor and give that a try.

It'll take hairs off my arm with some effort/pressure, and light scraping of skin cells.

Klarion,
Just to set the record straight here, Ambrose is an accomplished honester. His reputation for providing A+ honing service is well known. That being said, I doubt very seriously that he or any other professional honesters would deliver a product that could be considered sub-par to one of their clients. Reputatons are developed, especially in this field, over honing many different and complex razors.

It seems to me that the issue you are experiencing with your razor was put there between the time the guy you bought it from opened up the package, when he received it from Ambrose, and the time you got it. One thing I can guarantee you is that the razor didn't arrive dull.

So here is some advice to consider when your Crown Razor arrives. This razor was the 122nd razor I honed in the last 3 months. It sharpened up very well and the test shave was very smooth and comfortable. It passed every test during each step, including the HHT. The razor will arrive oiled and ready to shave with.

DO NOT try doing any test on the razor or stropping it before shaving with it. The only thing you should do is remove the oil from the blade and shave. I am convinced that the TNT, TPT, HHT, popping arm hair, etc. These tests mean nothing to someone inexperienced and, quite frankly, are all used by experienced honesters to produce a finished product. You can be assured that your razor has passed all of these tests before you receive it, since these are part of the honesters toolbox.

Following these instructions will let you experience what a really sharp and smooth shave feels like. After your first shave, you can do what you want to the blade. Just be advised that the only test that counts is the shave itself.

I would certainly take Ambrose up on his offer to look at your other blade, perhaps he can tell you what might have happened to it.

Enjoy!

Ray
 
Just to add in here I dont know Ray-man but I wouldn't doubt it that he hones a very nice high grade edge. I would vouch for leighton or Ray-mans edge any day both are top notch people.

I just wanted to make the offer because I never touched up that particular razor after it was resold. I make this offer sometimes to make sure the new user gets a fresh start.

This sort of thing tends to happen sometimes when users are new to straights. With a little time and some improvement on techniques on stropping and shaving. One would be surprised at how dull ones technique makes a razor seem not sharp enough. Im not trying to offend anyone, Im only saying this because this happened to me when I first started out.

In fact my first straight shave looked like I got in to it with a cat then that cat threw me into a thorn brush. Either way with a little patience you are in for some really nice enjoyable shaves.

DO NOT try doing any test on the razor or stropping it before shaving with it. The only thing you should do is remove the oil from the blade and shave. I am convinced that the TNT, TPT, HHT, popping arm hair, etc. These tests mean nothing to someone inexperienced and, quite frankly, are all used by experienced honesters to produce a finished product. You can be assured that your razor has passed all of these tests before you receive it, since these are part of the honesters toolbox.
I also agree with this 100%, Ive had people ruin their new edge by running it on their nail before they even used it.
 
Thanks for the comments, both to you Ray and Ambrose. I really do appreciate the insight on what may have happened to when Ambrose last saw the razor, and when it first touched my skin. It's absolutely certain I have poor technique, what with the two tries and all. I was also very tentative with the shave, afraid to place any pressure at all both times.

Any thoughts to how many shaves I might be able to wait out before stropping and almost assuredly messing up the edge a little bit?
 
It took me at least 6 months of straight shaving before I started to get good consistent shaves. Over time you'll develop a good feel for pressure, edge angles and what techniques work and which don't on your face. Stick with it, it's totally worth it! When I started practicing a slight scything motion, my shaves got much better.

As long as your stropping technique is solid and you're careful with your edge, it should last for a good amount of shaves. I can recommend a pasted strop for touch ups, that's what I use.

I can vouch for Ambrose's honing skills. I was very happy with the edge on a razor I bought from him.
 
So my Crown razor was waiting for me today, and I chose to forego my morning's shave and take my time with the straight after work. I carefully wiped the oil off the blade, using a very light stropping motion on a towel for the edge. And let me tell you guys, the difference in shave quality between #2, and today's (#3), is like night and day. Instead of showering, I used a nice hot towel for about 5 minutes with a bit of Proraso rubbed in for extra softening power. I swirled my boar brush into my trusty Cella tub and got to work whipping up a lather onto my face.

First pass on the neck: turned my chin, pulled my skin down towards my collar, and began with a few upward strokes from the base of my neck towards my jaw. The edge felt buttery smooth against my face, just gliding through my whiskers. Nice. Using the length of the blade to finish my neck up to my jawbone, I switched to my cheeks. Again, the blade jsut seemed to glide on my face. Sideburns came out well, even as I shared the workload between both my right and left hands. Using the Jockeys method on my upper lip, I took 6 little strokes and basically wiped off my facial hair. No tugging at all, like I'd experienced initially. Similar story with my chin. Short strokes with the grain of my beard growth - quick, but confident.

After finishing, I gave a warm rinse and then a cold splash of water. A tentative rub of my alum block proved to be very low on the irritation scale, just a bit on my chin and a portion under my right jaw that's always been a difficult shave. "Wowsers" is all I can say. It was only a single WTG pass, but in terms of closeness, as close (or closer) than a single pass would get me with my reliable old Merkur.

Thanks for the hone, Ray. I really do appreciate it, as well as the care you gave my razor in shipping it back to me.

It really did seem like something had happened to my previous razor's edge between when Ambrose sold it and my first shave experience. I'm grateful for Ambrose's offer for a touch up, and will be greatly looking forward to using it again (obviously I took him up on his offer). If you're reading this, could you tell me if I somehow messed the blade up during my initial shaves? You know, assuming you take a look at it.







Thanks for the encouragement, SLippy. What kind of paste do you use? Diamond, Chromium Oxide, maybe Dovo White?
 
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It really did seem like something had happened to my previous razor's edge between when Ambrose sold it and my first shave experience. I'm grateful for Ambrose's offer for a touch up, and will be greatly looking forward to using it again (obviously I took him up on his offer). If you're reading this, could you tell me if I somehow messed the blade up during my initial shaves? You know, assuming you take a look at it.
Ill take a look at it but and see whats going on. The thing is I never touched that razor after it was resold to you. Although I did make the free touch up offer it was not sent to me. Hence I cannot vouch for an edge that was used then passed on. I am glad to help out and touch it up for you, that way you get a fresh new edge. C&S razors are known to be great shavers!! It sounds like everything is going well and falling right into place for you with your shaves. :biggrin:
 
Ill take a look at it but and see whats going on. The thing is I never touched that razor after it was resold to you. Although I did make the free touch up offer it was not sent to me. Hence I cannot vouch for an edge that was used then passed on.
Oh I know, and I know it's all my fault. I should've just sent it right away, instead of farting around, since I actually wasn't doing anything with it.


It sounds like everything is going well and falling right into place for you with your shaves. :biggrin:
I definitely hope so, I really want to like straight shaving.






Tony Miller 4 sided paddle with diamond pastes is a good way to go :wink:
Nice. Guess I'll "make do" with the old Latigo/Cotton hanging strop. I didn't even see a paddle strop available this week, do they need to be called in special? Does it have all the flavors of Cotton/Linen/Latigo/Horsehide?
 
Thanks for the support, guys.

Fourth shave tonight:


Same WTG pass, mostly straight down on my face, collar to chin/jaw on my throat. Everything cut neatly, but slowly..... I'm certain my lather is just atouch dry. Feeling so good, I decided on the ol' nose to ear pass. Mistake. I started on my upper lip - no problem there. I give the razor a nice warm rise, then place my blade to start on my chin. And, immediately, I feel a sting. The sting of my incompetence. Now I have a 3/4" reminder to be more careful. The rest of my shave went without fanfare, no new nicks, or repoening of old ones. Getting better, but my face does feel like it has a bit of razor burn all over. Too soon for an XTG pass, methinks?

At least my styptic finally saw its first use. Even beginning with a DE, and my previous straight shaves, my alum block had been sufficient to quell any nicks or weepers.
 
Here's the way to tell if your lather is too dry. When you fill the blade, with lather, after several strokes, put the blade under running water. If the lather doesn't rinse off completely, then the lather is too dry. If that's the case, then just dip the tip of your brush in water and mix the lather again and retest. After a while, you will be able to tell when the lather is wet enough. You can always have the lather a little wet. It doesn't seem to hurt anything, a little dry does though. Usually a little dry will cause razor drag which will cause razor burn.

When you do the ATG on the side of your face, always start the pass about 1/2 " to the side of your mouth. Never start at your mouth. But then you might have just figured that out.

Enjoy!

Ray
 
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