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njt's shave journey v2

njtnjt

Contributor
Howdy Guys -

This is my second time around this bend in the road. I had 20 or so shaves on a straight when I put it down a year ago. Too much bad health news in the family disturbed my mind. The journey is a challenge and I did not have the mental energy to expend on shaving. We now live with those health challenges and take it a day at a time. I had my first vacation in a long time this past week. Out of the blue the desire to pickup where I left off came to me. I wished that I had brought my straight kit with me to Florida... I had an inkling before we left to bring it. I decided to see if it was a passing thought. It wasn't, so I spent some of the evening down time looking over the current blogs and visiting some videos to refresh my knowledge of the craft.

One new (to me) and most important piece of guidance I picked up from reading was that I had been shaving at too steep an angle. Someone recently posted pictures of what the angle of the blade should look like on the skin. I am a commercial photographer by trade - so visuals speak louder than words sometimes. The light went off in my head and I was encouraged to try again. I am sure I was giving myself a rash and dulling my blade most of the time.

Returning home last night I retrieved my kit from storage. I saddle soaped the poor mans strop and put it aside. I had put vaseline on all 3 of the blades I own before storing them. I carefully wiped and dunked the GD and the Bengal in alcohol. I stropped the Bengal 50 times this morning. It had just been honed by Alfredo before I put it away. It did not even have one shave on it. I tested both blades with the HHT test to make sure there was no degradation of the edges while they sat. They both passed just fine. Here in New Hampshire it is pretty dry most of the year. Good for electronics and storing things.

This morning I took my time. I always shave after the shower. I was a bit nervous. One thing I had never dealt with was shaving left handed. I was determined to give it a try.

The routine essentials;

50 passes on the leather strop
Shower
Pre-shave oil - Taconic organic unscented oil
Brush - Saville Row silver tip
Cella shave soap
Razor - Bengal (honed by Alfredo) shave #1

post-shave
Jason's vitamin E moisturizing cream
Cologne; Creed Original Vetiver
25 passes on the leather strop

One of my strengths and weaknesses is diving in with both feet. A weakness if I am not totally prepared. I decided up-front to only shave my cheeks. The challenge would be doing the left side with my left hand which I had never attempted before.

I was very conscious of using a much shallower blade angle and this made all the difference to me. I had some muscle memory with my right hand so I just kept going. Everything went smoothly with the right cheek so I decided to do a bit of my neck, then the lip area, then the chin... you know where I am going with this.

The left hand part of the journey was much slower. I had to figure out how to hold it, what it looked like in the mirror for visual reference, and how to get the angles I needed to reach everything. I succeeded for the most part. I went slowly and only placed the blade to my face when I was 100% sure of what I was doing and where I was going to make a pass.

All in all, it was a success. I shaved my entire face, missing a couple small areas which I decided to clean up with my DE. I gave myself a patch of razor rash about the size of a nickel on the left hand side of the mustache area. My left hand does not yet have a good feel so I am sure I applied some pressure or too much angle here without realizing it.

Thanks to everyone on this board who keep the journals and questions rolling. I did a lot of reading which helped me remember all the essential steps and procedures.

My next steps are to get the left hand coordinated. Then comes some edge maintenance tools. But that is down the road.

As an aside, I saw several barbers down in the Delray Beach, Florida area who advertised as giving straight razor shaves. I would have liked to have gone and had that done but not without good references from someone here on the board. I would like to have the experience someday of a nice haircut and a proper shave. I start to relax just thinking about it.
 
I am happy for you that you returned to the path to straights once again. I will be reading with interest.

*Subscribed*

Frank
 

rockviper

Moderator Emeritus
Congratulations! I am also a "v2" straight shaver.

Good stuff on starting out using both hands. I'm still a right-hand-only shaver and I think that I'm "locked in" to that mode, as now I am approaching the semi-magic 500 shaves.
 

njtnjt

Contributor
I am happy for you that you returned to the path to straights once again. I will be reading with interest.

*Subscribed*

Frank
Hi Frank,

Your journal was one of the watering holes I used to get up to speed again. Hope you and your wife had an excellent ceremony today at church.

Thanks again,

Nick
 

njtnjt

Contributor
Congratulations! I am also a "v2" straight shaver.

Good stuff on starting out using both hands. I'm still a right-hand-only shaver and I think that I'm "locked in" to that mode, as now I am approaching the semi-magic 500 shaves.
I was afraid that if I didn't start out using the left hand today that I wouldn't ever give it a try. It was very slow and awkward but others on the board have stated that it gets much easier with a couple dozen shaves. What's a couple dozen shaves??

Thank you for your journal too. I read it quite a bit over vacation.
 
Hi Frank,

Your journal was one of the watering holes I used to get up to speed again. Hope you and your wife had an excellent ceremony today at church.

Thanks again,

Nick

Thank you Nick. We sure did and we're all set for 30 more years. She said "I do" again ...... lucky me.

Frank
 

njtnjt

Contributor
Shave #2

The routine essentials;

60 passes on the leather strop
Shower
Pre-shave oil - Taconic organic unscented oil
Brush - Saville Row silver tip
Cella shave soap
Razor - Bengal (honed by Alfredo)

post-shave
Jason's vitamin E moisturizing cream
Cologne; Creed Original Vetiver
25 passes on the leather strop

I am happy to report that the left hand seems to be twice as coordinated today. Not to say it was easy or fast but just that I did not feel completely useless with it.

I went an extra 10 laps on the strop. Seems like the experts are doing more stropping not less. I may be the slowest stropper in the Universe.

Overall the shave was a bit better today. I'm not trying to go for the gold in terms of closeness. I just want to be safe and have a nice smooth, comfortable shave. They have both exceeded my expectations. Though not as close as my DE - they are surprisingly good overall. I focused on a shallow razor angle and very light, short strokes.

I was able to make better passes on my chin today. Just getting used to the feel and knowing that I can do it safely.

I'm not sure about my shave cream mixing abilities yet. I have used Cella for several years and read how I need to keep the mixture looser and a bit more watery. This journey is still very fresh. I will be keeping an eye on the slickness of the later.
 
Sounds like a great second shave. Don't for get to stretch your skin with your off hand. And if you move the razor to shave a different part of your face, consider whether that off hand should move too to get a better stretch. I still have to remind myself to do that every now and again.

As far as comparisons to DE results, patience, patience, patience, and you'll get there. Just takes a bit of time without the safety bar training wheels. lol
 

njtnjt

Contributor
Thank you for the reminder Larry. I have not mentioned it but I am using my off hand to stretch the skin where I can. I have a small angular face without a lot of extra looseness so I am figuring out where I can stretch. It is always a benefit when I can get a bit of a stretch going:)
 
Great second shave!!! :thumbup:

Stretching is definitely important, since there isn't the bar there to do it for you, as there is in the DE.
 

njtnjt

Contributor
Shave #3

The routine essentials;

60 passes on the leather strop
Shower
Pre-shave oil - none today - the beard felt soft and I wanted to gauge any difference in feel
Brush - Saville Row silver tip
Cella shave soap
Razor - Bengal (honed by Alfredo)
Scuttle - Dirty Bird

post-shave
Jason's vitamin E moisturizing cream
Cologne; Creed Original Vetiver
20 passes on the leather strop

Howdy Guys,

Everything is coming along nicely. Very close shave today. I didn't use the the pre-shave oil. I didn't feel a difference so I might not use it anymore. I bought it to use in the winter to help moisturize my skin. Up here in New Hampshaaaa it can get very dry during the dark, cold months. I wonder if the really close shave is my technique coming along or the elimination of the shave oil; or both?

Brought out my shave scuttle today. The shave cream gets cold sitting for a half hour while I carefully maneuver the knife around my face. Sure was nice having warm cella to shave with today.

I am aware that my face has felt a bit "tight" after shaving the past two days. I'm not sure why. Maybe my skin is getting used to the new routine. I don't have any razor rash. I think part of the reason may be the length of time that the soap is on my face. It is taking me anywhere from a half to 3/4 of an hour for a complete shave. A long time for soap to be sitting there.

I am still going very slowly and as gently as I can manage with the spine almost on my face. The approach is working out real fine.

I am starting to think about touch-ups now. I have a pasted balsa strop. After reading it seems that method does not get a lot of love. I am considering trying film for touch-ups. Maybe some 1um?? Those in the know - please chime in!

I have a new razor on the way. I have 3 razors now. One of them is a Torrey that I am hesitant to use. It looks like a 3/8 and the blade has a smile. That leaves me with a Gold Dollar, which I liked the last time I used it, and the Bengal which is treating me well so far. So I was SURE that I needed at least ONE more razor in the collection. I popped on a 5/8 vintage Le Grelot p. hospital "special coiffeur" made in Theirs France. Itlooks like a 3/4 hollow. Most of you know what this razor is about. With all the rave reviews I am looking forward to trying it out for a while to see how it works for me. It is supposed to be shave ready. I will give it the hht test and see for myself. Hopefully Friday or Saturday.

Thank you for reading!
 
Last edited:

njtnjt

Contributor
I'm going to answer my own question about the tightness in my face. I realized my forehead was pretty tight too ... and I don't shave that! It's because my skin dries out after a shower. I am used to putting moisturizer on right after a quick(er) shave. Very glad it's not because I am shaving too close or rubbing myself raw with the razor.
 

njtnjt

Contributor
Shave #4

The routine essentials;

60 passes on the leather strop
Shower
Wet face, heat up shave scuttle
Brush - Saville Row silver tip
Cella shave soap
Razor - Bengal (honed by Alfredo)
Scuttle - Dirty Bird

post-shave
Moisturizer; Jason's vitamin E moisturizing cream
Cologne; Creed Original Vetiver
25 passes on the leather strop

I had the shave of my life yesterday. Didn't realize it till later in the evening when my beard hadn't grown back in as usual. Woke up this morning with 5 o'clock shadow. I am just doing WTG passes, blade buffing very short strokes as I go and getting great results. Cella shave soap is doing it for me:)

This morning the left hand side of my neck was slightly irritated. I had a difficult time getting my angles so went over it a couple times. That must have been the reason. I am still going very slow and very light on the pressure. The auditory feedback with my Bengal is really great. I am starting to understand the angles a bit better. Here on the steep end of the learning curve we progress by leaps and bounds every day.

Next mission is to decide pasted strop or film for touch-ups when needed. Any good recommendations on this???

Thanks for reading!
 

Shave_Rat

Moderator Emeritus
pasted strops are a bit more popular than film, but I think film is easier and cheaper since you don't need another strop and you only have to lay the blade perfectly flat on perfectly flat film. Less margin for error than a strop. I've also read that pasted strops will eventually round the bevel a bit so the next actual honing you have to go back to bevel reset.
 
Sounds like you are doing fine Nicholas. You have an excellent choice of soaps as well, Cella is one of my favorite.

Keep up the good work.

Frank
 

njtnjt

Contributor
pasted strops are a bit more popular than film, but I think film is easier and cheaper since you don't need another strop and you only have to lay the blade perfectly flat on perfectly flat film. Less margin for error than a strop. I've also read that pasted strops will eventually round the bevel a bit so the next actual honing you have to go back to bevel reset.
I can see that happening with a strop. I put the question to the honing forum too. Someone said 3um then 1um paper for edge maintenance. 3um seems like too coarse a paper just to bring the edge back. What do you think? I have no idea what I am doing!

Another gent said to use a rock because that was how the edge got there in the first place. That makes sense to me too. Maybe all I need is a Naniwa 12,000 superstone......

So many choices.
 

Shave_Rat

Moderator Emeritus
I've never researched or used film, so 3um vs 1um is like using quantum mechanics to me. lol

I touch mine up using jnats, but that's another big learning curve. lol
 
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