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Terrible First Time out with a Straight (Need help!; thanks.)

Was so excited when my first straight arrived in the mail yesterday, a generous PIF from one of the fellas on these boards (plpenn) which included a leather strop, balsa, abrasives, oil and even some shaving cream. Another generous fellow honed it for me. But when I went to use it, the experience was terrible.

Having become quite good with DEs, had hoped this transition would be easy. No such luck. Obviously I'm doing something wrong. No problem shaving with an R41 plus Feather or a Futur set to 6, but the straight pulled and tugged like crazy. Was not able to make any real progress before giving up and loading a DE in ignominious defeat.

Please let me know some of the things that might have gone wrong. Had watched geofatboy's videos; he sure made it look easy. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.
 

ouch

Stjynnkii membörd dummpsjterd
It can take a while to figure out the angle of attack and the amount of pressure you need. Start slow with the sideburns and cheeks, then try to add a bit more real estate at a time.
 
Give it a year to figure out most of the technique issues. There will be ups and downs but that is what makes the whole process so satisfying.
 

ouch

Stjynnkii membörd dummpsjterd
A lot of folks will tell you to start with the straight and finish with a DE while you get the hang of things. I'd suggest doing a first pass with a DE and then trying the straight. It's easier for you to feel the edge gliding across your skin when it's relatively smoothshaven.

Give it time.
 
I was so far off the mark, it felt like I need to give up and get some feedback before trying again. Is there anything I might try differently?
 
It can take a while to figure out the angle of attack and the amount of pressure you need. Start slow with the sideburns and cheeks, then try to add a bit more real estate at a time.

+1

This is what I did. I really wanted to like a traditional straight but I just never could get past the tugging. I tried several edges off of several rocks before I gave up. I really dig the Sextoblades. They have the feel of a straight (a little lighter) but the crazy sharpness of a SE and a no mant. blade that lasts close to a month.
 
A lot of folks will tell you to start with the straight and finish with a DE while you get the hang of things. I'd suggest doing a first pass with a DE and then trying the straight. It's easier for you to feel the edge gliding across your skin when it's relatively smoothshaven.

Give it time.
I could not agree more, make your first 10 shaves with a straight only WTG and after a WTG pass with a DE. This will allow you to figure out angles, pressure, hold, etc, etc without actually having to cut much hair.
 
If it pulls, it's not sharp enough. No matter how bad your technique (and really it's not that hard) a truelly sharp blade will not pull. Cut you yes, pull no.
 
A lot of folks will tell you to start with the straight and finish with a DE while you get the hang of things. I'd suggest doing a first pass with a DE and then trying the straight. It's easier for you to feel the edge gliding across your skin when it's relatively smoothshaven.

Give it time.

This. I debated this advice for a long time in my head, but after thinking about it and playing around with different things, I too, think this is the best advice. Instead of feeling any tugging you feel how a straight is supposed to cut and can focus more on the position and location of the blade rather than the pressure needed to cut. Yes, you do need to apply some pressure (not force) for the straight to cut. You have to guide it, let's say. Not just move it about. When you're trying to learn 11 things at once, it can be overwhelming and confusing. So, eliminate some. Start with a DE, then play with the straight.
 
I'm relatively new to straights as well and I've notice when my hair is at a two days growth or more I get a lot of tugging also. "Ouch's" advice about doing a first pass with a DE is a good idea.

Technique is a huge part of it as well as others have stated.

Just give it some time and stick with it. You'll appreciate it that much more in the end!
 
If it pulls, it's not sharp enough. No matter how bad your technique (and really it's not that hard) a truelly sharp blade will not pull. Cut you yes, pull no.

If he is using the wrong blade angle, it will not matter how sharp his blade is. Blades do tug if you use too steep of an angle.

Great advice so far. I always tell people to start with the spine against the cheek, and start bringing the blade down in a cutting motion as you very slowly start to raise the spine off the skin. As you continue with this, the blade will at some point start to cut nicely and that is the angle you want to use for your entire shave.

Best of luck!

Edit: By the way, almost every beginner thinks his straight isn't sharp enough. I felt the same way. The odds are it isn't the blade however.
 
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Usi9ng a straight does indeed take practice, and lots of it. When I first started with them it was terrible. There were all kinds of cuts, nicks, irritation and lots of razor burn. But I stayed with it, and now a couple of years down the road the shaves are great.

So if the desire to use a straight is really there, just stay with it and things will improve. Just go slow and work on the easy parts at first, you'll know when its time to move onto the harder parts to shave.
 

Kentos

Wiped out at 25
If you tentatively drag a razor slowly across your beard it will pull. You may need to speed up your stoke a bit.
 
+1 what most folks are saying. Give the straight 100 shaves sir, then walk away if it still isn't for you. That's what the experts say and I believe them based on personal experience. I've executed 31 straight shaves or so and just 2 of them have been without blood. Do I love it? Yes! Fast learning curve? No sir. Real slow. This is a skill with significant rewards, once mastered. Better shaves than my DE (and I still love my DE). But straights are the big deal. Hang in there Parallax. Keeping a straight journal really helps, I strongly recommend it.
 

Slash McCoy

I freehand dog rockets
Don't forget to stretch the skin.

As quickly as you can possibly manage it, wean yourself away from the DE. It will speed the learning process. Sort of like when your father took away your training wheels. Go for two WTG passes only, for the first couple of weeks. Two WTG passes can deliver a very nice shave.

Once you are certain that you have angle and pressure nailed, begin incorporating a sliding motion into your stroke. Pull or push the razor along its axis as you move the razor through your beard. This helps to increase its cutting power. Think of it this way... when you cut a tomato, do you push the knife straight down through it? You could, if the knife were dreadfully sharp, but it is easier if you draw the knife back as you push down. The caveat is that if your angle is too high, not only will the blade cut hair better but it will also cut face better. Or actually worse, since facecutting, unlike whisker cutting, is not desireable.
 
Thanks for all the advice, men. Met up with one of our shaving brethren today; someone I met on these boards. Showed him my straight which he tested on his arm hair and said is more than sharp enough. He showed me how to strop it and also gave me some tips on shaving with it.

Later, after date night with SWMBO, we came home and I lathered up. Was able to make some progress with the straight. Did not attempt the neck at all; just the cheeks, chin and mustache area. Was able to run WTG with some effort, going very slowly, with little irritation and no cuts. Then I ran ATG on my chin and under my nose. The result is fantastic and I surprised myself in that I could do it at all.

So things are coming along. The straight is way more different from a DE than I expected and I guess that blew me off the dime this morning. Thanks to everyone for their advice and also to Jake (Captain Coconut) for his shave-brotherhood and in person expert guidance.
 
A lot of folks will tell you to start with the straight and finish with a DE while you get the hang of things. I'd suggest doing a first pass with a DE and then trying the straight. It's easier for you to feel the edge gliding across your skin when it's relatively smoothshaven.

Give it time.

Thats a pretty good idea i will need to try that. I have been starting with the straight and making 2 passes and going pack and cleaning up with the DE, my chin gives me some problems I can tell it will be a while till I master it.
 
Make sure you are prepping your beard. Hot shower, hot towels, letting the lather really work into your whiskers. In my experience DEs are alot more forgiving of poor beard prep as compared to straights.
 
That's advice I'm going to take. Beard prep is important; I've experienced that. But as I got better and better with the DE, it became something that could be easily overcome. Now I need to get serious about it again.

Today's shave was another step forward. Managed to go WTG over my entire face and neck. Ran ATG under my nose and on my chin; then cut myself trying to do the right cheek -- a nice slice but no big deal. That's when I gave up for the day and finished with my Futur. Felt really good for the third shave. Discovered that the angle of attack has to be far more muted than with a safety razor. There's a long way to go and learning will take time. But I feel myself making progress.
 
Showed him my straight which he tested on his arm hair and said is more than sharp enough. He showed me how to strop it and also gave me some tips on shaving with it.
Sharp enough? I don't like the sound of that.

If you are still having trouble send me the razor, I'll sterilize it and shave with it and let you know if the razor is "shave ready". I will then make it shave ready for you and re sterilize it and send it back to you.

This is really the only way to know for sure. PM me if you are interested.
 
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