This page was created from Joel's Interactive Guide to Straight Razor Shaving and can be discussed in this thread.
What is a shave ready razor?
This exists as a separate section to reinforce how important this is. When you buy a new straight razor from an online retailer, or a brick and mortar store, it is almost never shave ready. If the retailer SPECIFICALLY STATES the razor has been honed and made shave ready BY HAND, or has been honed by a honemeister then you probably have a shave ready razor, however if the razor has never been opened, and has come straight from the factory, there is a VERY slim chance that the razor will be shave ready. Some will require just a light touch up hone, and others may require up to an hour (or more) of a skilled Honemeister touch.
THE most important key to your success with a straight razor, is starting with a properly honed, keen edge that someone (with ideally years of experience) has both sharpened and test shaved with. Simply buying a new razor, or picking up an eBay razor, is NOT sufficient, and will NOT yield good results. Also, don't be fooled, honing is NOT easy, hones are quite expensive, and you do not want to start off handicapped, not knowing if your razor is sharp enough. You will have a miserable time attempting to hone your first razor, and you will almost surely fail.
- Get your razor (ideally) from someone on the forum who has been around for at least a year, and has a fair amount of posts. This isn't a sure bet but typically individuals who have been around for awhile, and who are relatively active/interested in the hobby are going to be significantly better at both honing, and helping you in your adventure.
- If you are buying new, make sure it has been honed properly. If not, send it out to be honed by someone who has been straight razor shaving for a while.
- Get the best razor that fits your needs, and your budget. Cutting corners, or "cheaping out" will not get you a good razor. Be HIGHLY suspect of a straight razor costing less than $40. The rule of thumb "you get what you pay for" applies to a certain extent in that the quality of the razor (shave-wise and fit & finish) tends to increase up to about $100 or so. After $100, most of what you are paying for is enhances aesthetics, custom features, rare or historical blades, and so on and so forth. This doesn't mean that you can't spend $40 on a nice razor on eBay in mint condition, send it out to be honed, and end up with a better shaving razor than a $100 (or more) new or used razor, nonetheless when selecting a razor, typically if it's going for close to, or more than $100 on eBay, it's doing so for a reason, and likewise with new razors. Do you need the flashiest razor out there? Heavens no! A plain handled new razor from Thiers Issard, or Dovo for example can be a superb razor for under $100 as well, but you'll be more interested and have more fun/excitement/pleasure using one that speaks to you design wise. Remember, pending you don't do anything silly with it, a straight razor will be a lifelong tool, and will supply you with a lifetimes worth of shaves. Do it once! Do it right!
- Assume your razor is shave ready.
- Buy your first razor off of eBay, unless it has been honed, and is being sold by a reputable dealer.
- Try to hone your first razor.
- Cheap out on equipment. You don't need the flashiest things, but you DO want top quality, as a strop, hone and razor will last generations.