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New to forum, introduction, and a little advice would be appreciated

First post, I have been lurking for a few weeks now.



My entry into the wet shaving world came a few years back when my father gave me a Christmas gift of a Merkur 23C safety razor and a badger hair shaving brush. He gave me a brief tutorial and told me to pick up some shaving soap.



I ended up going to Walmart and picked up a tub of Van Der Hagen shave soap, despite many uses, most of the tub is still intact.



I have to admit that I did not love shaving with the safety razor, I found it difficult to get a close shave and I tended to cut up my face pretty fiercely. I wound up going back to the cartridge razors, but I kept using the shave soap and shave brush. I never admitted this to my father.



I actually love shave soaps, to me they are miles ahead of the drug store shaving gels that are available. Even the dirt cheap Van Der Hagen. Eventually I started dabbling in aftershaves as well, which was something I never used when I was a cartridge shaver, I think that the reason I never used them was because I hated the way they smelled and they didn’t add anything to the shaving process for me, so I never bothered. That is, until I discovered higher end aftershaves, I tried the Floris 89 aftershave balm and fell in love with it, I ended up buying their aftershave splash and their cologne. Now, one of my favorite things is pairing shave soaps with aftershaves and colognes (and by the way, cologne was never something I liked either until I started dabbling with higher quality stuff). I know that getting excited about shave soap, aftershave, and cologne might seem a little silly when it should be the shaving that gets one excited. It is kind of like getting excited about brands of gasoline when the fun should be the car itself or driving, but whatever aspect we enjoy about a hobby differs for every person.



Even though I love shave soap more than gels and creams, I will admit that one thing I’ve never gotten great at is getting it to a stiff lather, I always either wind up with too thin of a lather, or an acceptable lather but not enough of it. Perhaps if anybody has any suggestions on this, I would love to hear your comments!



I did eventually go back to the safety razor and I found more success by using a much lighter touch, only using a blade for a maximum of 3 shaves, and for some reason, I tend to cut my chin less if I shave down as opposed to the received wisdom of shaving the chin upwards. I still cut myself occasionally and it is because of this I tend to shave infrequently as it isn’t a particularly pleasant process for me.



After a bit of thought, I began to think that perhaps my problem with my chin is that I can’t get the perfect angle, which is why I began to consider buying a straight edge razor, which is something I would be in complete control of. I also loved the idea of buying a tool that will last several lifetimes if cared for properly.



So, after years of thinking about it, as straight razors are a hefty investment, I finally pulled the trigger on it a couple of weeks ago. I chose a Dovo PRIMA (45850), it is a carbon steel 1.2210 with gold-plated accents, full hollow grind, round point with biconcave profile and ribbed tang, 5/8” blade width, and African cowhorn scales and I bought it directly from Dovo online (I did not get the upcharge honing service as their website said their razors ship “shave ready”). It is a gorgeous instrument. I also bought an Illinois 127 strop to go with it along with the appropriate dressing.



My first try with it wasn’t great, I cut myself pretty significantly (nothing that sent me to the doctor for stitches or anything like that, but I will probably have a scar on my cheek from it), and it was a truly painful experience that left me with a very un-close shave. After doing some analysis, I determined that I was holding the blade at too steep of an angle and the short strokes that are used with cartridge and safety razor shaving are not appropriate for straight razor shaving.



So, I adjusted my shaving angle and changed to longer, smoother strokes, subsequent shaves resulted in less cuts, although I still got a few. But, it remained a painful process that did not yield the super close shave that straight razor shaving is famous for. It simply feels like the razor rips at my hairs.



I read about the test to see if the razor will cut a hair mid air and mine will not (at least, not in the middle, there are a few spots towards the ends that will but inconsistently). So, while I am willing to admit that the issue might be my technique as I’ve only shaved with the straight razor a total of four times now, but I’m leaning towards the possibility the razor might be dull. I have stropped between every use, and this is another possibility I’m willing to explore, that I’m not stropping correctly.



So, I guess at the end of my lengthy introduction, I am soliciting a little advice here. Does it sound like my razor needs to be honed, or do you think I still need to work on my technique? If you think it probably needs to be honed, do you have any suggestions on where I should send the razor to get that service?



I have to say that this forum is fantastic, I have learned more about shaving in the past few weeks by lurking that I ever imagined possible.



Thanks in advance!
 
Welcome to B&B and to a wonderful world of great advice. And speaking of some advice I would suggest a couple of things if you haven't done so already. I would suggest that you get to know your personal beard growth. Meaning, does your beard grown in one direction on one side of your neck but in an opposite direction on the other side? Does it grow sideways a little on one cheek but upwards in another? Getting familiar with beard growth patterns may help you to map out your shaves accordingly. Going against the grain or with the grain on the first pass, etc.

The second thing that I would suggest is experimenting with making a proper lather. Too fluffy a lather may look good in pictures here on the forum, but a thinner, slicker lather is really the goal for a smoother and more comfortable shave.

Lastly, pay attention to pressure. Meaning, less pressure against the face, allowing your razor of choice to cut your whiskers is key to a more comfortable shave with less irritation.

I could go on and on and on after over a decade of experience with both DE and Straight razor shaving. But I'll keep it short.

Welcome and I wish you years of enjoyable shaves.
 
I don't know if it is helpful at all, but here are pictures of the razor, and my face post shave with my new razor.
 

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rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
@HV_Medic, your location would help us with advising you. You need some guidance in the gentlemanly art of straight razor (SR) shaving, so here it is.

It is rare for a SR to be truly shave-ready directly from a manufacturer. Before you do any more SR shaves, you should send it out to be professionally honed. Once your location is known, we should be able to recommend an experienced honemeister to you. Make sure that he hones it without tape. Cost should be about USD 20 to 30 plus shipping both ways.

While your SR is away, practice lathering. When starting in the gentlemanly art, you should use a fairly wet lather. This will provide you with plenty of slickness and better allow you to feel the blade's edge on your skin.

Map your whiskers. What this means is learn what direction the whiskers grow out of your skin. This direction will change for many parts of your face. This is best done be feel. The direction of shaving is generally referred to as; with the grain (WTG), across the grain (XTG) and against the grain (ATG).

Your first few weeks of shaving will take some time. Allow at least 30 minutes or more for each of these first shaves. As your skills and technique develop, this required time will reduce.

Now, when your get your SR back from the honemeister, you can start shaving with it. Do not strop the SR before your first shave. The honemeister will have stropped it before returning it to you. Your inexperienced stropping may be detrimental to the edge.

Face preparation before your shave is most important. Wash you face thoroughly with bath soap and warm water, working the soap well in to remove all the oils on and around your whiskers. Then rinse your face thoroughly so that it really is squeaky clean. Leave your face wet.

Apply your rather wet lather. Basically, the wetter the better, almost dripping off your face. As your technique develops, you can start to gradually use a thicker lather until you find what is best for you.

For your first few shaves, just shave WTG. Don't forget to stretch your skin. As your technique develops, you can add an XTG or two and later an ATG.

You have probably watched some SR shaving on YouTube. There are a few things on YouTube that are not correct. One is forget that 30° thing for blade angle. With a truly shave-ready edge, your blade angle should be about ½ to 1 spine thickness off your face, about 9° to 18°. The sharper the edge, the flatter the angle.

Use the lightest pressure of edge against the skin as you can, just enough to remove the lather. Don't worry about removing your whiskers, they will come off automatically with the lather. It may sound and feel counterintuitive but the lighter the pressure, the closer and more comfortable your shave will be.

The most important advice I can give you while SR shaving is concentrate and learn from each SR shave.

It is import to, if you can, shave daily. This will more quickly develop your technique and help your skin become accustomed to SR shaving. Within about 30 daily SR shaves you will probably be wishing that you started SR shaving in your teens.

After your shave, rinse your blade well and wipe it dry with toilet paper, paying particular attention to try and wick any moisture out of the pivot pin area. If the SR is not going to be used for a few (2 or 3) days or more, oil the blade to reduce the likelihood of oxidation.

Before your second and all subsequent shaves, strop your blade on a clean (not pasted) leather strop. Wipe any oil off the blade first with toilet paper. If any oil is left on the bevel, don't worry, it will not be too detrimental to the leather. Hold the strop taut and strop with a pressure of just the weight of the blade. There should be almost no noticeable deflection in the strop while stropping. (YouTube is also wrong here.) Stropping is not done to sharpen the edge. The purpose of stropping is to gently realign any deflected steel at the edge that may have been deformed in the previous shave and to remove any surface oxidation on the bevel/edge. About 50 laps (forward and back is one lap) should be plenty.

With proper stropping technique, correct blade angle and pressure, your SR should not need rehoning until after about 50 to 100 shaves.

If you never want to need to have your SR honed again, look into using diamond pasted balsa strops.

The above is but a short summary of what will assist you in your SR journey. If you have any problems or questions, feel free to ask in the SR section of B&B. No question is too trivial or silly. We are happy to respond to all.
 
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Well you get top marks for enthusiasm! There aren’t too many guys that decided to start straight razor shaving because they got cut up too bad with a DE.

My advise would be to get proficient with the DE first. You will learn a lot about your beard map, pressure, prep and general shave technique from the DE.

You will need to get the SR sharpened before you take the training wheels off and start straight razor shaving. It should not be pulling like that. Eventually you will need to learn to hone your own. Learning to shave and learning to hone at the same time is difficult but it can be done. If you choose to go that way, read up on The Method in the newbie compendium. It’s probably the easiest and cheapest way to start honing. Straight razor shaving is great but the edge needs to be in top condition.

There are lots of good videos on my both DE and SR shaving on YouTube. There’s only so much you can explain in words. Geo Fat Boy got me started with both.
 

rbscebu

Girls call me Makaluod
I'll disagree with @Tomo above. I started SR shaving directly from wet shaving with carts, rather than go through DE shaving first. I am glad I did as I was able to enjoy SR shaving sooner.

The only downside to not DE shaving first is that I am still scared whenever I rarely shave with a "safety" razor. I cannot see the blade's edge on my skin 😱.
 
I'll disagree with @Tomo above. I started SR shaving directly from wet shaving with carts, rather than go through DE shaving first. I am glad I did as I was able to enjoy SR shaving sooner.

The only downside to not DE shaving first is that I am still scared whenever I rarely shave with a "safety" razor. I cannot see the blade's edge on my skin 😱.
Each to their own. It sounds like the first attempts aren’t going so well. In this case a gentler learning curve may be beneficial. I’m not convinced that chicks dig scars quite as much as you think they do.
 
I know I will get tomatoes thrown at me for this, but Maggards has nice Artist Club straight razors for about 20 bucks. This gives you something to use while your razor is away getting honed. I would recommend the Kai PINK mild blades, it is really hard to get cut with these. I know everybody says shavettes are harder to master than real straights, but with an Artist Club razor you are getting a much safer setup than half DE. I am kind of fed up with DE razors right now and have a fresh blade loaded in my Feather Kamisori for tomorrow...
 
@HV_Medic, your location would help us with advising you. You need some guidance in the gentlemanly art of straight razor (SR) shaving, so here it is.

It is rare for a SR to be truly shave-ready directly from a manufacturer. Before you do any more SR shaves, you should send it out to be professionally honed. Once your location is known, we should be able to recommend an experienced honemeister to you. Make sure that he hones it without tape. Cost should be about USD 20 to 30 plus shipping both ways.

While your SR is away, practice lathering. When starting in the gentlemanly art, you should use a fairly wet lather. This will provide you with plenty of slickness and better allow you to feel the blade's edge on your skin.

Map your whiskers. What this means is learn what direction the whiskers grow out of your skin. This direction will change for many parts of your face. This is best done be feel. The direction of shaving is generally referred to as; with the grain (WTG), across the grain (XTG) and against the grain (ATG).

Your first few weeks of shaving will take some time. Allow at least 30 minutes or more for each of these first shaves. As your skills and technique develop, this required time will reduce.

Now, when your get your SR back from the honemeister, you can start shaving with it. Do not strop the SR before your first shave. The honemeister will have stropped it before returning it to you. Your inexperienced stropping may be detrimental to the edge.

Face preparation before your shave is most important. Wash you face thoroughly with bath soap and warm water, working the soap well in to remove all the oils on and around your whiskers. Then rinse your face thoroughly so that it really is squeaky clean. Leave your face wet.

Apply your rather wet lather. Basically, the wetter the better, almost dripping off your face. As your technique develops, you can start to gradually use a thicker lather until you find what is best for you.

For your first few shaves, just shave WTG. Don't forget to stretch your skin. As your technique develops, you can add an XTG or two and later an ATG.

You have probably watched some SR shaving on YouTube. There are a few things on YouTube that are not correct. One is forget that 30° thing for blade angle. With a truly shave-ready edge, your blade angle should be about ½ to 1 spine thickness off your face, about 9° to 18°. The sharper the edge, the flatter the angle.

Use the lightest pressure of edge against the skin as you can, just enough to remove the lather. Don't worry about removing your whiskers, they will come off automatically with the lather. It may sound and feel counterintuitive but the lighter the pressure, the closer and more comfortable your shave will be.

The most important advice I can give you while SR shaving is concentrate and learn from each SR shave.

It is import to, if you can, shave daily. This will more quickly develop your technique and help your skin become accustomed to SR shaving. Within about 30 daily SR shaves you will probably be wishing that you started SR shaving in your teens.

After your shave, rinse your blade well and wipe it dry with toilet paper, paying particular attention to try and wick any moisture out of the pivot pin area. If the SR is not going to be used for a few (2 or 3) days or more, oil the blade to reduce the likelihood of oxidation.

Before your second and all subsequent shaves, strop your blade on a clean (not pasted) leather strop. Wipe any oil off the blade first with toilet paper. If any oil is left on the bevel, don't worry, it will not be too detrimental to the leather. Hold the strop taut and strop with a pressure of just the weight of the blade. There should be almost no noticeable deflection in the strop while stropping. (YouTube is also wrong here.) Stropping is not done to sharpen the edge. The purpose of stropping is to gently realign any deflected steel at the edge that may have been deformed in the previous shave and to remove any surface oxidation on the bevel/edge. About 50 laps (forward and back is one lap) should be plenty.

With proper stropping technique, correct blade angle and pressure, your SR should not need rehoning until after about 50 to 100 shaves.

If you never want to need to have your SR honed again, look into using diamond pasted balsa strops.

The above is but a short summary of what will assist you in your SR journey. If you have any problems or questions, feel free to ask in the SR section of B&B. No question is too trivial or silly. We are happy to respond to all.
I live in the Hudson Valley in New York State. Thanks for the advice, I appreciate you taking the time to write a detailed reply.
 
Welcome to B&B. Between rbscebu, Tomo and APBinNCA I think things have been covered. If I can condense it so I feel like I'm doing something useful rather than just thieving anyone else's glory :

- It's a nice razor, but sounds like it isn't sharp enough - most of the Dovos I've used have come through another dealer who puts a good edge on it : I've heard the factory edge may not be so great (which makes sense if they're trying to charge more for a service). A longer replaceable blade (AC or TSS3) in a shavette will give you the feel for a good edge, as will a reference edge from someone known and respected. When you get the urge to try honing, films are a much cheaper way to start than stones - but that's a whole new hobby (the pages on this site are highly recommended).

- A shallow angle is best - with a good edge the spine shouldn't need to be more than about a spine width from the skin. Long or short strokes will be what works best for you.

- It's worth getting the hang of WTG before branching out into XTG and ATG (with/across/against the grain).

- It takes time, but it'll feel like no time at all before you're clocking up 30, 100 and more straight razor shaves.

I went from DE through shavettes to solid blade straights after over 30 years in the cartridge wilderness, and much of the above is based on things I didn't do (at first) - for example I piled into XTG with a cheap shavette before I knew what I was doing, which didn't go well.

Hope my ignorance has been as valuable as others' wisdom. Welcome to the site.
 
Welcome aboard!

I have two suggestions:
1. Read through the WiKi which has a ton of useful advice.
2. Check in with the guys on the straights forums.
 
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