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Straight Razor Interview - Legion


"To Wiki or Not To Wiki, That's The Question".
Staff member
This week, Legion agreed to be interviewed. I'm quite happy as I now him a bit better. This is part of the interviews that we are doing at the moment! As always, if you have further questions for David, please, post in here and enjoy! :thumbup1:

Who are you? / Where are you located?
My name is David and I have recently relocated to Melbourne, Australia. Home of the hipster coffee shop.

How do you take your coffee?
White, with two, and usually in a cardboard cup while walking somewhere.

What happened that made you seek a better shave, or if the chicken came before the egg, how did you find B&B?
Well I think I might be one of the few people around here who had no real problem with the shave they were getting. That's not to say it was particularly good. I just didn't know any better and I thought the shave you got off a Mach 3 was as good as it was going to get.

What prompted me to get into proper wet shaving was the love for all things vintage. I like vintage clothes, motorbikes, watches, pocket knives. I write old fashioned letters with a fountain pen. Old school shaving just seemed like a natural thing to do. I went onto ebay to see what was out there, and was surprised by the variety and how little I knew about it all. I started doing some research, found B&B, and the rest, as they say...

What was it that held your interest?
Ah, then the AD's got me. Once I tried one type of razor I had to try the next to see if it was any better. These forums are a dangerous place if you have a collectors nature. Every time I would log in I would read about some different razor that was absolutely THE BEST, and I had to try it and see for myself. Then a few razors turned into a collection and I was trapped.

If i remember from your posts, you started with DE's before switching to straights; What did you start with?
Yes. That first razor I bought was a 1940's style Gillette Super Speed. If I'd known then what I know know I probably would have stopped with that one. Safety razors don't come much better than that humble razor.

Shave Cream & Soaps? what did you find that worked well from those initial trials?
I started with cream and I felt like that was easier for me to lather than hard soap. It probably didn't help that I had the worlds cheapest badger brush, and the knot was about 50% less dense than a quality one. My first creams were Crabtree & Evelyn and Proraso. Both are strong performers, although I use hard soaps most of the time now.

Where did you get your first straight razor? was it shave ready?
I got it off ebay. A restored Case Red Imp. It was claimed to be shave ready, but you know what? I never had the guts to try it. I bought it, held it for a while and then put it away in a draw. It was another few years before I actually decided I needed to man up and actually use a straight razor for real. I did a swap for a different one, a B. Worth & Sons 5/8 with a round point, from a member here I trust, and yes, it was shave ready.

Very quickly I got into restoring vintage razors and built a rotation of several razors which I fixed up myself. I have still never had time to go back to that Red Imp. I must dig it out...

Determination is key with shaving with a straight, how did you push through the Month + of sub par shaves? did you know there was a light at the end of the tunnel?

My stubbornness knows no limits. If something is hard to do that just makes it more interesting to me. If I had just picked up the straight razor and given myself a BBS shave the first time I probably would have gotten bored. I liked that it was challenging to do well, and then came new challenges of restoration. Learning to clean the blades, make scales and pins, hone... Always something new to learn and keep me interested.

Now my favorite question... if you were stranded on a desert island and could only choose:
3 razors:
  • My Invicta 5/8. I don't know what it is with the steel in that razor but it just takes a fantastic edge.
  • Maybe a travel shorty for when I am building my escape raft and I need to conserve weight. Probably the Bengall one I made.
  • And a big heavy wedge. In case of pirates.

2 brushes:
I like my restored brushes with TGN finest knots. They perform as well as any of the expensive new brushes I have tried, but have the added bonus of being in a vintage handle, and therefore personalised and unique. I guess I would take a 22mm knotted brush, that's my favourite size, and a 18mm travel sized one for the raft.

3 soaps:
My go-to's are L'Occitane Cade, DR Harris Arlington and the Euro Palmolive with tallow.

2 creams:
I like C&E Sienna and GFT cream by Trumper.

3 colognes:
I'm not a huge cologne wearer, but if Ginger or Mary Ann were on the island I might use some DKNY Be Delicious. If it was just Lovey Howell there then I'd maybe try some Shulton Old Spice? Worth a shot. Can't be too picky on a desert island.

3 Aftershaves:
I really like Proraso AS. The white one without the alcohol. That's all I ever use. Great stuff.

What is your strop preference and what is your stropping regime?
I make all my own strops now, but I started with a home made paddle strop, and then bought a second hand Tony Miller hanging strop. This was a good strop to learn with because it taught me what a quality strop should feel like. I just wish I had not cut it up so much. I've bought a couple of others since then, but just out of curiosity to try different leathers. Now I strop almost exclusively on vegetable tanned kangaroo leather, 50 laps. For me it has the perfect draw and tight grain to give me awesome edge alignment.

I don't get too hung up on the linen component. I have a separate linen strop which I give a quick hit before and after, but I don't think it improves the edge much. It is more for the cleaning and drying effects.

What is your honing set up for ebay specials?
My honing set up is embarrassingly basic compared to a lot of peoples around here. I use a King 800 grit to set the bevel, then a Norton 4k/8k, a C12k, and finish with CrO on balsa. It's a pretty inexpensive system, but I know it so well now, and it always gives my a hair popping edge.

Recently I have done some trades with a couple of members, and have gotten some different coticules to try. I'll let you know how that goes once I have had some more time to play.

Most of the vintage razors I buy are in pretty rough shape. One of the things that appeals to me about using vintage razors is the feeling that I have saved an ugly duckling, unloved razor from the scrap heap. I leave the shiny NOS razors for the other guys. This presents some interesting challenges sometimes when you are honing, getting past pitting, and what have you. But when it works out it is much more satisfying for me.

how often and what's your method for touching up your straights? favorite finish?
Most commonly I'll do about 5-10 laps on a CrO loaded balsa bench strop. This rarely fails to put the edge back. To be honest though, I hone enough razors for myself and other people which I have to shave test, not many of my razors get a chance to get too blunt. I like the sharpness I can get off CrO, and it seems smoother on my skin than diamond paste.

Are you currently reading a book? or perhaps even better; what book will you be reading next?
I always have a bunch of books waiting in my “read me” pile. I seem to collect them way faster than I can read them. At the moment I am reading a book called Going Postal by Nathan Millward. It is about the authors adventures when he buys himself a postie bike (In Australia mail carriers ride Honda 110cc “posties”. They get auctioned off when they have done a certain number of km's, and are bought by poor students and farmers to bash around their paddocks.) and rides it around the world from Sydney to his home in England with no preparation at all. It's the kind of crazy thing I always find inspirational.

Next in the pile, Big Sur by Jack Kerouac. I'm going to LA and San Francisco later in the year, so that pushed it up in the waiting list.

Favorite Movie or two?
Man, I can't answer that. I used to work for a film archive and I have always been a big film buff. I couldn't really decide on just one or two.

Let's say The Godfather and The Blues Brothers. They are two movies I never get tired of, no matter how many times I watch them.

With what fictional/historical character do you most identify?
I would say Yossarian in the novel Catch 22. "To Yossarian, the idea of pennants as prizes was absurd. No money went with them, no class privileges. Like Olympic medals and tennis trophies, all they signified was that the owner had done something of no benefit to anyone more capably than everyone else."

Do you have any motto's, sayings, or quotes to live by?
Well I'd like to say something inspiration, like fortune favours the bold, or something like that... Unfortunately the quote which seems most appropriate to my life is by Charles Bukowski,

"My ambition is handicapped by laziness."

What has been the best advice you've gotten from a member at B&B?
Go slow. It's not a race.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new at this, what would it be?
Take hype with a grain of salt. When you get large numbers of guys together, discussing anything technical with lots of choices, there is always a tendency for people to follow trends and create “super products” that become the must-have items for a while. Sometimes these items are better. Most of the time these items are just ones that have worked well for one or two vocal members, and they have managed to start a feeding frenzy. This drives up demand and price, but it still doesn't make the product any better than it was, or what you are already using. If you are getting good results from the set-up you have, stick with it and resist the temptation to follow the herd. You'll save a lot of time and money.







Once Luc censored it & did some heavy editing this interview came out real nice.
Man, it was a lot of dirt in the first draft :blink: :tongue_sm

Big Sur always makes me sad, but it's one great book!

Nice getting to know you a bit better!
Thanks for the interview gent's! Nice to get to know the man behind the strop better.

Let me know when you're in LA maybe we can arrange a get together.
David, outstanding interview! :thumbup:

I'd like to think the NW over here in the US knows a thing or two about hipster coffee too :biggrin:

you've got great photography skills! who's making your scales and where did you find the strop?


Staff member
David, outstanding interview! :thumbup:

I'd like to think the NW over here in the US knows a thing or two about hipster coffee too :biggrin:

you've got great photography skills! who's making your scales and where did you find the strop?

Thanks everyone! It was fun!

Josh, I made the scales, and the strop is one of the MooRoo's I make. I need to keep busy, and it is very satisfying when you can use tools and equipment you make yourself. That is one of the fun parts about straight razor shaving.
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Enjoyed the interview. David thanks for your contributions here on the various forums, especially the straight razor forums. I find your Roo strops intriguing, I think you are on to something there.

Q: So you have never been bitten by HAD? Or is there another explanation for your hone setup. Not disparaging, sounds like you have good setup which gives repeatable results.


Staff member
Enjoyed the interview. David thanks for your contributions here on the various forums, especially the straight razor forums. I find your Roo strops intriguing, I think you are on to something there.

Q: So you have never been bitten by HAD? Or is there another explanation for your hone setup. Not disparaging, sounds like you have good setup which gives repeatable results.

Yeah, HAD is something I have tried hard to avoid. Initially I bought the stones I mentioned based on their price, but with practice I found they were quite capable of taking an ebay special right through to shave ready +, so... I just didn't see the point of buying more.

Lately I have been teetering on the edge of HAD, and I have become interested in coticules and other naturals. The last two cotis I was able to trade for strops, so that helps... but I think SWMBO's patience will wear thin very quickly when a different rock arrives in the mail each day. :laugh:
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