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Sotiris' straight razor journal

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, I started shaving with a Straight Razor and I decided to log some thoughts here, so as to have a record of my progress.

The idea to try an SR came to me around August. I am not an impulse buyer, quite the contrary. I always let these ideas sink in and if they still bug me after some time, only then do I make the purchase. On November 19th I placed an order at the UK store The Invisible Edge for a Ralf Aust 6/8 round point with African Blackwood scales, one of the store-branded strops and a jar of Chromox. I chose this vendor because they ship the razors at a shave-ready state.

Between the Black Friday and the lockdown throughout the EU, the order took 2.5 weeks to arrive. I was super happy to receive it yesterday!

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On to the shave:

SR Shave #1:

  • Razor: Ralf Aust 6/8
  • Brush: Tony Forsyth Tuxedo
  • Soap: Mitchell's Wool Fat
  • ASL: Floid Vigoroso

  • Method: 2 WTG passes
  • Result: Not the closest shave I ever had. I got a small cut below the lower lip while moving the razor towards the chin area. Note to self: When holding a razor, either shave with it or put it away from the face!

Notes:
  1. The shaves take longer and although I love MWF the lather is not stable long enough. Switch to Tabac for the learning period.
  2. If you think your angle is shallow, go shallower. Once you are in the proper range the shave is super smooth and mild.
  3. The vendor proved to be an excellent choice. That edge feels fantastic. I asked him about his method and he emailed me back saying that he usually finishes on chromox and then on the strop. If he hones the razor, it's just a regular Naniwa progression. This makes me super happy, because I already have a Naniwa 12k at hand.
  4. I am extremely happy I got to try SR shaving! :)
 
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SR Shave #2:

  • Razor: Ralf Aust 6/8
  • Brush: Semogue 620
  • Soap: Tabac
  • ASL: Floid Vigoroso

  • Method: 1st pass WTG, 2nd ATG on the neck and XTG om the rest of the face
  • Result: Definitely SAS, bordeline DFS. Zero irritation and excellent post-shave feel.

Notes:
  1. I probably stropped OKish, since I couldn't feel any difference from yesterday's edge.
  2. I managed to nick my strop on the upper edge. Nothing serious though.
  3. Less adrenaline and shaky hands than yesterday.
  4. Tabac is great for the task.
  5. If you think your lather is wet enough, add more water. Seriously, I thought I had my lathering skills sorted but I was proven wrong. Once I got the lather right, the shave felt even milder.
  6. I am amazed! Two shaves in and I am completely into it! :)
 
SR Shave #3:

  • Razor: Ralf Aust 6/8
  • Brush: Semogue 1800
  • Soap: Tabac
  • ASL: Floid Vigoroso

  • Method: 1st pass WTG, 2nd ATG on the neck and left cheek and XTG on the rest of the face
  • Result: SAS. A couple of minor nicks. Other than that no irritation.
  • Satisfaction: 7/10

Notes:

  1. I gave my strop a couple more nicks. I used some 6k and 12k grit foam pads to remove them. I'm glad it is not an expensive one. Perhaps, it would have been better if it was a wider one so as to avoid x-strokes.
  2. I felt more comfortable with the razor at hand, but struggled with the lather. Totally my fault. Because of the lather drying out, there were areas that I felt some hesitation from the razor when going ATG in areas with tougher stubble. I am not sure if it is my stropping, too. The razor still feels sharp.
  3. Still got a long way to go, still a happy camper.
  4. After the shave I paid a lot of attention to my stropping. Up to now I couldn't count passes, because I concentrated on action of stropping. Today I counted 20 passes on the canvas and lost count at around 50 passes on the leather. I bet I did more than 70 but I cannot tell for sure. In the end, I attempted my noob version of the HHT. It would cut hair all along the edge. I guess the razor is still in proper condition.
 
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SR Shave #4:

  • Pre-shave: Warm water and Geo F Trumper Eucris Skin Food
  • Razor: Ralf Aust 6/8
  • Brush: Simpsons Chubby 1 Super
  • Soap: Tabac
  • ASL: Floid Vigoroso

  • Method: 1st pass WTG, 2nd ATG on the neck and left cheek and XTG on the rest of the face, touch ups ATG on the neck and chin.
  • Result: Almost DFS. A small nick on the chin. Other than that no irritation.
  • Satisfaction: 10/10

Notes:

  1. Pre-shave stropping: 50 laps on leather. Post-shave stropping: 20 laps on canvas, 50+ laps on leather.
  2. Adding a bit of pre-shave made a difference in the comfort during the shave.
  3. Best shave so far. The razor still feels super sharp and comfortable.
  4. I used my scuttle just to keep the brush warm and it added a bit more luxury to the shaving ritual.
  5. I put my DEs in storage. Not much else to add.
 
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If you think your lather is wet enough, add more water. Seriously, I thought I had my lathering skills sorted but I was proven wrong. Once I got the lather right, the shave felt even milder.
Well said! I've been finding this to be true with DE shaving as well. I keep having to tell myself, more water, more water.
 
Well said! I've been finding this to be true with DE shaving as well. I keep having to tell myself, more water, more water.
+1

Likewise! My DE lathers are always on the thin and slick side, especially since most of my preferred razors are in the mild to mid-aggressive range (34c, New LC, Progress). I think that my problem was that I became so used to MWF that I overloaded the brush next day with Tabac and added water thinking the two behave similarly. I am a creature of habit and it takes me a couple of shaves or more to get (re-)accustomed to my gear after a change.
 
SR Shave #5:

  • Pre-shave: Warm water and Geo F Trumper Eucris Skin Food
  • Razor: Ralf Aust 6/8
  • Brush: Simpsons Chubby 1 Super
  • Soap: Tabac
  • Scuttle: SWK xl
  • ASL: Floid Vigoroso

  • Method: 1st pass WTG, 2nd XTG/ATG on the neck, cheeks and part of the chin and XTG on the rest of the face, 3rd ATG on the neck and chin.
  • Result: DFS, with parts being BBS. I still lose my attention from time to time. Today I did a small nick on the nose. Other than that no irritation and excellent port-shave feel.
  • Satisfaction: 10/10

Notes:

  1. Pre-shave stropping: 50 laps on leather. Post-shave stropping: 20 laps on canvas, 60 laps on leather. I continue putting new nicks on the strop.
  2. Going XTG on the upper neck is difficult for me, at least at the current state of my technique. I followed an XTG/ATG direction for the second pass so as to reduce the stubble and went on fully ATG for a 3rd pass on the neck.
  3. The razor's edge still feels great if not better. Like DE blades, it seems to have mellowed out a bit after 4 shaves and I really liked it today. I am amazed at the excellent state that my skin in after the shave.
  4. I find it more difficult to shave efficiently the right side of the face, mainly because my left hand is weaker and this shows when I perform the XTG and ATG passes.
  5. I can see the difference in my technique and confidence every day.
  6. Mind the tougher spots and the end of the razor. Carving the nose and ears hurts :D
  7. I think I will continue with the scuttle.
 
I continue putting new nicks on the strop.
This happens to all of us for at least the first 6 months to a year.

Try to keep the spine on the strop at all times, even as you flip the razor. Remember, it is not a race. Take your time stropping.

An Illinois 127 is a great bargain strop to get started with for under $40.
 
This happens to all of us for at least the first 6 months to a year.

Try to keep the spine on the strop at all times, even as you flip the razor. Remember, it is not a race. Take your time stropping.

An Illinois 127 is a great bargain strop to get started with for under $40.
Indeed I get carried away and increase the speed. To make things worse, I even managed to cut a slice of one edge later in this afternoon.

Minding the tension, the flatness of the strop and the razor, plus doing x-strokes is probably too much for me at the moment. The strop is now down to ~25cm usable length. This will suffice until a replacement arrives. Thankfully, my current one was an affordable one (29€) and there is still the canvas side that I can use with chromox.

Unfortunately, I live in the EU so the strop you mention is not an option given the delivery times and customs expenses. I am thinking of a wide paddle strop so as to remove the need for x-strokes and not having to bother about the strop remaining flat.
 
Indeed I get carried away and increase the speed. To make things worse, I even managed to cut a slice of one edge later in this afternoon.

Minding the tension, the flatness of the strop and the razor, plus doing x-strokes is probably too much for me at the moment. The strop is now down to ~25cm usable length. This will suffice until a replacement arrives. Thankfully, my current one was an affordable one (29€) and there is still the canvas side that I can use with chromox.

Unfortunately, I live in the EU so the strop you mention is not an option given the delivery times and customs expenses. I am thinking of a wide paddle strop so as to remove the need for x-strokes and not having to bother about the strop remaining flat.
+1, excellent choice
 
SR Shave #5:

  • Pre-shave: Warm water and Geo F Trumper Eucris Skin Food
  • Razor: Ralf Aust 6/8
  • Brush: Simpsons Chubby 1 Super
  • Soap: Tabac
  • Scuttle: SWK xl
  • ASL: Floid Vigoroso

  • Method: 1st pass WTG, 2nd XTG/ATG on the neck, cheeks and part of the chin and XTG on the rest of the face, 3rd ATG on the neck and chin.
  • Result: DFS, with parts being BBS. I still lose my attention from time to time. Today I did a small nick on the nose. Other than that no irritation and excellent port-shave feel.
  • Satisfaction: 10/10

Notes:

  1. Pre-shave stropping: 50 laps on leather. Post-shave stropping: 20 laps on canvas, 60 laps on leather. I continue putting new nicks on the strop.
  2. Going XTG on the upper neck is difficult for me, at least at the current state of my technique. I followed an XTG/ATG direction for the second pass so as to reduce the stubble and went on fully ATG for a 3rd pass on the neck.
  3. The razor's edge still feels great if not better. Like DE blades, it seems to have mellowed out a bit after 4 shaves and I really liked it today. I am amazed at the excellent state that my skin in after the shave.
  4. I find it more difficult to shave efficiently the right side of the face, mainly because my left hand is weaker and this shows when I perform the XTG and ATG passes.
  5. I can see the difference in my technique and confidence every day.
  6. Mind the tougher spots and the end of the razor. Carving the nose and ears hurts :D
  7. I think I will continue with the scuttle.
Pre-shave stropping: 50 laps on leather. Post-shave stropping: 20 laps on canvas, 60 laps on leather. I continue putting new nicks on the strop.
I concentrate very hard on stropping SLOWLY. You can sand down nicks and cuts with sandpaper and smoothen out bad spots, everybody does it. I am using the strop pictured a bovine. I also use two horse and another bovine. I use a cotton, polyester, and linen fires hose as well. The slower you strop the quicker you will advance. I don’t Knick anymore, just the odd touch onto the leather by not completing the stroke properly.
 

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I concentrate very hard on stropping SLOWLY. You can sand down nicks and cuts with sandpaper and smoothen out bad spots, everybody does it. I am using the strop pictured a bovine. I also use two horse and another bovine. I use a cotton, polyester, and linen fires hose as well. The slower you strop the quicker you will advance. I don’t Knick anymore, just the odd touch onto the leather by not completing the stroke properly.
Thank you for the input! :)

My strop has a similar cut like the one yours has on the left in the middle. Luckily mine is near the end of the strop. So you say I can sand it down and continue using it? That's excellent news! What sandpaper grits would you recommend for the task?
 
Thank you for the input! :)

My strop has a similar cut like the one yours has on the left in the middle. Luckily mine is near the end of the strop. So you say I can sand it down and continue using it? That's excellent news! What sandpaper grits would you recommend for the task?
I used 220 on the roughest spots. I used 400 and 600 to smooth it out. I used these grits because I had them around. If you had higher grits they would work as well. There was a noticeable improvement in smoothness after the sanding. The strop feels quite nice although a little ugly with scars. I also reversed it to put the big chunk out of the way a little better.
 
I spent some time sanding the nicks down. I have quite a few sandpapers and foam pads ranging from 320 to 12k grit. After the treatment, there is still a mark in the sliced area but the whole strop is smooth once again. Today I took my time both for stropping and shaving...

SR Shave #6:

  • Pre-shave: Warm water and Geo F Trumper Eucris Skin Food
  • Razor: Ralf Aust 6/8
  • Brushes: Semogue 1460 and Tony Forsyth Tuxedo
  • Soap: MWF
  • ASL: Floid Vigoroso

  • Method: 3 full passes, 1st pass WTG, 2nd XTG/ATG on the neck, cheeks and part of the chin and XTG on the rest of the face, 3rd ATG on the neck and chin and XTG in the upper lip area.
  • Result: Rivalling my DE shaves, DFS to BBS or what I usually call (as I somewhat dislike these acronyms) a very close shave! No blood, no irritation and excellent port-shave feel.
  • Satisfaction: 10/10

Notes:

  1. Pre-shave stropping: probably more than 100 laps on leather. Most of them were performed yesterday afternoon and resulted in the aforementioned slice on the strop. I did an extra 30 right before the shave. Post-shave stropping: 20 laps on canvas, 60 laps on leather. No new nicks on the strop.
  2. Today I wanted some scrub and I also missed shaving with MWF. I started with my 1460 and while the lather I built was nice, it dissipated by the end of the 1st pass. I reloaded a bit more, but once again it was quickly gone. To remedy that, I switched to my tuxedo, loaded it for 6-7 seconds, added water and ended up with a super slick and thin layer of lather on the face. I finished the shave and got yet again my best result up to now.
  3. The razor's edge still feels great and the shave was comfortable. but I sensed some hesitation today, especially towards the heel. During the last pass, it felt great again, though I am not sure if it was due to stubble reduction from the previous passes or the better slickness of the lather I made with the synthetic brush. The result doesn't justify my judgement though, as I got a very close, irritation-free shave.
  4. I need to work on my technique on the right part of the mouth and chin area. Some moves feel awkward.
  5. I lapped my 12k Naniwa yesterday using 320, 600 and 1200 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper on a thick piece of glass.
 
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