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New To Straight Razors

Hello all,

Long time lurker, first time poster. I have been wet shaving for some time now, and started off with a DE. While I love my every day shaves with the Feather AS-D2, I am always looking for something new. I have a Feather Artist Club SS Japanese style razor, and that is also a fun shave, but I have always wanted to get a traditional straight razor. I purchased one from an online vendor, a relatively cheap one that was not sharp (wont brand shame them, because customer service was great). They offered to have it professionally honed, and I am still waiting to receive it. My question is, should I stop spinning my wheels on trying inexpensive stuff, and make the jump to a new Dovo or something? I know a lot of you suggest vintage/restored, but I kind of want to have my own keepsake. If I purchase the Dovo brand new, I am assuming it will need to be honed then, correct? I don't want to get in to honing my own blade, but I have no problem taking care of my blade by stropping and such between hones. Any recommendations on a good quality starting point would be appreciated. Since I have been using DE razors and the Feather, I have several brushes, soaps, etc. I am just looking for a good quality new straight razor and a strop.
 
You’ll get a lot of different replies. I started out cheap but soon found myself with more pricey stuff so I would advocate a buy once, cry once approach to a razor or two and brush. As far as strips, that’s where I’d go with an entry level one because you will slice it up a bit as you learn. Once you stop doing that buy a higher end piece of leather. Then experiment with quality soaps and get a good brush.
 
If you're set on a Dovo I'd get one from a vendor who will hone it for you and stand behind the product. Dovos are pretty but they occasionally have geometry issues. A good one will be very good. There are vendors (Griffith Shave Goods comes to mind) who have a decent stock of both new and vintage restores, and Matt will hone any razor he sells to you. You should be able to find a razor that makes you happy and works as advertised right off the bat without breaking the bank.
 
Thank you for the suggestion. I did plan on getting it honed somewhere that specializes in the craft. I guess I am not set on a Dovo, but I like how they look, and I know they are a good company. Ralf Aust look nice as well. Additionally, I looked at a Grimm Blades butcher, but that razor isn't exactly entry level, and from what I have seen on these forums, that company has had issues in the past. Dovo just seems like a nice reputable brand, and I am already familiar with the German designed Merkur DE razors. Any straight razor suggestions are more than welcome. Shaving is certainly a hobby of mine, so I do like to collect different pieces of kit. This will be my first quality straight razor, but probably not my last if that makes sense.
 
Dovo is okay if you avoid their entry level garbage. I like the Dovo Bismarck. My Gold Dollars get the most use, just because, well, Gold Dollar. I like getting excellent shaves from razors that the hoity toity hoi polloi nattering nabobs of negativity vehemently scorn with extreme prejudice. It's fun to rub their noses in my $4 shave. I also like a good American vintage now and then.

There are a lot of self professed experts out there. Stick with guys who are known and respected in the community, who have reputations to uphold, that can only be upheld by deed and not by word.
 
Straight razor shaving and honing go hand in hand. If you’re not interested in the upkeep don’t bother with straight razors. In this case a shavette would be more appropriate. The Feather Artist Club models get good reviews. They have a longer blades than a DE’s and the blade edges are rounded making them less aggressive.

Your first razor is unlikely to be a future heirloom. You will practice on this razor. You will make mistakes and you will fix them again. The razor will have a tough life and this will eventually show it in it’s condition. That’s just the way it is. Use it, try not to abuse it too much and move on to something else once you’ve figured it all out. It will last for a few years but don’t expect 50 years from your first razor.

If you are really set on straight razor shaving I recommend the following. Get a modern production razor of known quality that has been professionally honed to start with. A good quality modern razor is replaceable, the blade will be straight and it will be free of geometry issues. By getting it professionally honed, ideally by a member here, you can be confident the the tool is sound. Specifically ask for it to be honed without tape. A razor like this is the easiest to learn on and maintain. Ralf Aust, Thiers Issard and Dovo Bismarck are pretty safe bets. If you go with a used model you will be taking a gamble. There are plenty of gems in the used market and even more lemons. In time you will learn what to look for. In the beginning its best to play it safe to avoid disappointment and frustration.

Honing a razor with good geometry is not hard. It does not need to be expensive. A set of lapping film and a custom cut acrylic block will get you started for next to nothing. There are detailed instructions on how to use this system in the newbie compendium. This setup will also make an excellent foundation to build on if you later choose to get into natural finishers. For slightly more money you can make some diamond pasted balsa strops. I would encourage you to get these at the start. With a full set of tools you will be able to get yourself out of trouble rather than always sending razors out for honing (time and money). If you can follow instructions you are virtually guaranteed to get excellent results from The Method system. Too sharp for some but great to learn on.

Good luck!
 
@Leobambino your location often dictates what you have readily available, particularly honemiesters. I had no one available to hone my initial SR's when in the Philippines so had to lean to sharpen my own while learning to SR shave. This is not recommended, but it can be done. Fortunately, I discovered the B&B Method to hone with my initial SR. That worked for me.

As for "cheap" SR's that work, they can be found in the USD 10 to USD 30 range but they will require to be properly honed before you get a decent shave from them. My first real SR was a Titan ACMR-2 T.H.60 for under USD 30. I like timber scales.

When buying a new SR, it depends very much on the vendor as to the quality of the edge that you will receive. Some are know here on B&N to supply SR's with great edges, some can be hit or miss (many manufacturers) and other just fail.

Price is no guarantee of a good SR or one with a great edge. A proper professional honing should be about USD 25 to USD 30 plus shipping.

Once you get an SR with a great edge, you can maintain that great edge indefinitely (and even improve it) without ever have it honed on rock or films again with the use of diamond pasted balsa stroping. This will only work if the blade has been honed without tape and has not been stropped on a pasted hanging cloth or leather strop.

The choice is yours and welcome to the gentlemanly art of straight razor shaving.
 
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Tomo,

I appreciate your response, but I am a little unsettled about it. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I have both a feather SS folding and non folding. I also have four, yes four legit straight razors from a company that are being honed because they were not sharp. I think that how you presented the idea of straight razor shaving is more or less poor. If I do not have the desire to use stones and the like, that does not mean I wont enjoy it. Do you never order a pizza out, or do you think you can make it better yourself? How about a steak? I am more than willing to pay for honing services from someone who mastered their craft rather than me trying to get an edge with stones for no reason. Lets be reasonable and suggest something instead of being high and mighty because I may pay for someone else to sharpen my blade. Furthermore, if it is my money that I am spending, what is it to you if I decide to ship my razors off to someone who knows what they are doing, or if I try and probably fail to get an edge? Lets be reasonable people, some people want the activity without the upkeep. I do not think that is a bad thing considering we are all sitting on a website devoted to razors.
 
The Feather AC razors are good - really good IMO - but a real straight is nicer.

Wait until you get your razors back and see how you get on with them. Might give you some ideas about the kind of razor you like before you shell out for a new one. Or maybe one of these is already your perfect razor.
 
Thanks Mcblade. I am not anticipating much, they are naked armors. Their customer service was top notch though. I like to collect, and all of the ones that I purchased from them were not in good shape. Their CS is top notch, and they gave me free honing. They also respond in a quick manner which I appreciate. They may, and I think will be a good starter blade. But at the same time, I know that a Dovo or Ralf Aust are going to be better, which was the basis to my initial question.
 
Tomo,

Follow up. I am sorry that I may have jumped the gun on my response. I appreciate the feedback. I simply do not have a desire to hone at this point. I do not think that should limit me, and I think paying someone for a craft is more than well worth it. Different strokes for different folks I suppose. Thank you for the suggestions!
 
Thank you for the suggestion. I did plan on getting it honed somewhere that specializes in the craft. I guess I am not set on a Dovo, but I like how they look, and I know they are a good company. Ralf Aust look nice as well. Additionally, I looked at a Grimm Blades butcher, but that razor isn't exactly entry level, and from what I have seen on these forums, that company has had issues in the past. Dovo just seems like a nice reputable brand, and I am already familiar with the German designed Merkur DE razors. Any straight razor suggestions are more than welcome. Shaving is certainly a hobby of mine, so I do like to collect different pieces of kit. This will be my first quality straight razor, but probably not my last if that makes sense.
If you’re interested in a Ralf Aust check out Maggard’s. I think he has a good selection of them and Brad will hone any razor you choose. His reputation is good.
 
I guess this would be a good place to post, but for my collection, is anyone interested in honing a blades grim butcher for me? I would obviously pay, but I would like to add it to my collection. Not a daily driver at this moment, but I am fond of the Wade & Butcher designs. Grim blades look sharp (no pun intended) too. If anyone is interested, please let me know. I am sure we could work something out.
 
Naked Armour Razors (NAR) do not make their razors. They sell rebadged equipment generally with a high (like 100% markup) compared to what you would pay by buying direct. However, as you say, NAR have given you great customer service. That counts, particularly for someone starting out.

Most of NAR's gear can also be sourced on AliExpress for about half the price. You just have to put up with slower shipping and poorer customer service.
 
I guess this would be a good place to post, but for my collection, is anyone interested in honing a blades grim butcher for me? I would obviously pay, but I would like to add it to my collection. Not a daily driver at this moment, but I am fond of the Wade & Butcher designs. Grim blades look sharp (no pun intended) too. If anyone is interested, please let me know. I am sure we could work something out.
Contact @Doc226. He may be willing to hone it for you. He also has a very good reputation on B&B for his quality work.
 
Tomo,

I appreciate your response, but I am a little unsettled about it. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I have both a feather SS folding and non folding. I also have four, yes four legit straight razors from a company that are being honed because they were not sharp. I think that how you presented the idea of straight razor shaving is more or less poor. If I do not have the desire to use stones and the like, that does not mean I wont enjoy it. Do you never order a pizza out, or do you think you can make it better yourself? How about a steak? I am more than willing to pay for honing services from someone who mastered their craft rather than me trying to get an edge with stones for no reason. Lets be reasonable and suggest something instead of being high and mighty because I may pay for someone else to sharpen my blade. Furthermore, if it is my money that I am spending, what is it to you if I decide to ship my razors off to someone who knows what they are doing, or if I try and probably fail to get an edge? Lets be reasonable people, some people want the activity without the upkeep. I do not think that is a bad thing considering we are all sitting on a website devoted to razors.

Its really all in what you want. You want a few Straights to throw in the rotation with DE razors once in a while, or you only shave 10 times a month or so? You can get by with no rocks and no stress in learning to hone to begin with. You want to become a daily SR shaver? Many of us find a touch up honing on a finishing stone gives a noticeably better edge after only 20-30 shaves. Sure you can go further. But especially starting out, you will begin to notice tugging after a month of daily SR shaves on a razor. If you want to send it out and pay $30 ever month or two, then proceed. If that sounds like a hassle, then time to come up with another maintenance plan. That’s either honing or the diamond pasted balsa strop.
 
Thanks, all. This has certainly been an eye opening experience. I appreciate all the feedback, and look forward to learning and chatting with you all. This community is exactly what I was looking for, and I am glad I joined. I hope I can be in a position to pass advice to others down the road. In the mean time, please excuse my dumb comments and hasty remarks. I, just like my face with a new blade, will learn in time.
 
Tomo,

Follow up. I am sorry that I may have jumped the gun on my response. I appreciate the feedback. I simply do not have a desire to hone at this point. I do not think that should limit me, and I think paying someone for a craft is more than well worth it. Different strokes for different folks I suppose. Thank you for the suggestions!
No need to apologize. I have my opinions and you will have yours. No problem. You can take my advise or ignore it. It’s entirely up to you. I will not have any hard feelings.

If you have four razors you might not even have any down time waiting for them to come back from honing. If you had a couple of seven day sets even better.

My point, which I could have explained better, is that honing is such a regular and integral part of straight razor use that you should at least consider learning to do it yourself. I touch up my razors once or twice a week to make sure that they are always at their best. Others do daily maintenance on diamond pasted balsa strops which is super easy and keeps them going indefinitely. For me this maintenance schedule is too frequent for professional honing to be practical. You may be different and you may also have access to a good local going service which I do not.
 
Tomo/rbscebu,

Thanks for the information. I guess I still have quite a bit to learn. Balsa stropping could be something that I can pick up a little later down the road. As for now, the SR's that I have/want to have will not be daily shavers. As indicated earlier, I have four NA razors, and I thought they would be a good entry point in learning technique and proper maintenance. When I had them in my possession, (prior to sending back for honing), they felt like they were nice quality.

Not to hijack the post any further, but does anyone have experience with Grimm blades? I like the way they look, but my searches on B&B seem to show a lack of disinterest, or a lack of acceptance to them more or less. I would like to add an American made to my collection eventually, even if it is not my go to for an every day shave. Looking at the butcher specifically. I am aware this is not a beginner friendly blade, but I am okay with purchasing it, getting it honed properly, and waiting for that day to arrive to test my skills with. All the other SR's that I would most likely use often are in the 5/8 6/8 category.
 
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