beginner experiment

chti_lolo

Well-Known Member
Hi,
Let me introduce myself. I'm Laurent and live in France and I'm a total beginner in straight razor stuff.I've have been a DE shaver for quite a long time now, and since some months use more and more frequently a DOVO shavette. So,I thought, it was time for me to enter the straight razor world.
After looking for information on many forums (B&B, Straight Razor Place, SMF , Coupe-chou club....), I decided to buy a shave ready straight razor and some essential equipments. As I have not found in my area a retailer who sells shave ready razors, I ordered overseas some days ago a DOVO tortoise 5/8, a hanging strop , a paddle strop , 0.5 micron diamond spay and chromium oxyde paste. The kind person who sells me the razor tells me that with good stropping and using diamond spray on felt when the razor starts to pull a little, I could keep it shave ready for quite a long time. But sooner or later, I have to send my razor to a professional honer or to do it myself. I have done some new research, and found this site. I was immediately seduced by the approach of using one single and natural hone for most maintenance on the razor and the quality of the documentation I can find on this site.
I thought of an experiment : I can hone myself a new factory honed with a coticule and compare the result with my future new professionaly honed razor . So what kind of razor and what kind of coticule, do you think will be well adapted to this beginner experiment?
Laurent ( sorry for my bad english, but I'm french)
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
Your English is excellent. Welcome to Coticule.be To be perfectly honest, I think you'd be better served to work on learning to shave prior to working on honing. There are several new skills that you are going to be developing.

1)Making lather
2)Stropping
3)Shaving with a straight razor
4)Minor maintenance (as you said, some pastes or something similar)

I would recommend waiting to add another skill until at least the first 3 of the 4 are no longer new, unmastered skills. I would recommend getting 2 razors though.

I hope you enjoy your time here.
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
Bienvenu à Coticule.be,

Votre Anglaise est meilleure que ma Français.
Paul a raison. Apprendre l'affûtage des resoirs avant d'apprendre l'utilisation, sera difficile.

But if you insist on trying, we will do our best to help you anyway.
Most people who decide to adopt a straight razor for shaving are of the strongminded type anyway, and they're usually in the habit of neglecting good advice, when they had someting else in mind.;) That is a quality I like in a person.

For the factory razor you're planning to hone yourself, I would opt for a full hollow ground 6/8" wide blade. Full hollow, because thin blades tend to gain sharpness without much problems. 6/8" because a wider blade is a bit easier to keep steady on the hone. If you want to buy a new one, go for Thiers Issard (d' origine française), or the German brand Revisor.
I'm reluctant to advice Dovo, because a lot of their entry-level models are a bit warped. That is not a malfunction, but it makes sharpening a more difficult task.
If both options are too expensive for you, let me know, because there are cheaper possibilities. But they require a trustworthy seller, as to where you can buy both brands I've named without worrying about anything.

As to sellecting a Coticule for your needs, that shouldn't be much of a problem. Just contact Ardennes Coticule and inquire about a 4cm x 15cm hone. Tell them you will be using the hone for razor sharpening. (Their French is excellent, by the way)

Wether you will succees with this experiment, depends a lot on your dexterity.

Kind regards,
Bart.
 

chti_lolo

Well-Known Member
Thanks to all for your good advice,
As a quite long time wetshaver, I've mastered lathering technique so I'm not really the total beginner I told you.
But you are right about shaving. A year ago, I tried the Dovo shavette, considering it will be easy for a long time DE shaver like me. I was wrong and after a big cut, I left my Shavette alone for 6 months. Now, I've got pretty good results with it, so I'm going to do the same mistake with my new straight ! :blush: and I was also certainly underestimated the difficulty of stropping.
Bart, I would also go for a TI razor as a second razor ( for a different reason, because I'm french) but locally I can't find easily 6/8 razor. I don't want to spend too much because it will be the razor I will learn to hone on but I realized that it should be a good shaver and a razor that can be easily honed by a newbie. So all suggestions are welcome.
As for the coticule, I have looked on ardennes-cotticule, and I think I can afford a 5cm*15cm standard or selected grade considering that this stone can be a substitute to 2 or more japanese hones . Is this a good size choice? I have also visited the coticule vault, and I saw that coticules can behave in very different manners. I was pretty interessed by the like "la veinette" stone N° 10 because it has 2 different side (BBW and coticule) and the appealing performances described in your review. Again, is it a good choice for a beginner? and does that kind of stone still available? are stone coming out ardennes-coticule alredy lapped?
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
I think a 5cm X 15cm stone is an excellent size. Bart will have a better frame of reference to tell you what stones would be best. However, I've had good success with La Petite Blanche and La Grosse Blanche. Ardennes is still mining and producing stones, and they have been providing excellent service. Contact them, and they will take care of you :thumbup:
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
I really think that a width of 4 cm is sufficient. 5 or more doesn't do any harm, but I don't see the benefit. I would rather have one of 2.5cm longer than a wider one. The price difference between 4 and 5 cm is 30EUR or more.
Keep in mind that Ardennes can barely keep up with production and are usually limited on stock. If you give them some freedom in size, they have a wider selection to choose from.

I can't give you any advice about a particular layer. I personally get great edges off all of them. I would avoid extremely soft Coticules for honing razors, because they loose so much slurry while honing on them, which interferes with the final parts of the process.

La Veinette is an excellent choice, but I don't know anything about Ardennes stock, so I can't tell you if they have them available right now.

Kind regards,
Bart.
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
Hello and welcome from me also :)

Good advice so far IMHO, as always from the kind folk here, I would not learn to hone on an expensive TI razior, I would buy something a little more cost effective myself, such as a double arrow, these however do come as new with a few issues for the learner, namely there is an issue with the shoulder that interferes with a good honing stroke, the blade has a slight smile making the honing stroke slightly harder, and the scales are absolutely crap.

If you were to buy one and send it to me I would be very happy to correct the blade issues for you, free of any charge of course, I have done so with a few and the result is a razor thats costs very little, and is quite easy to hone, takes a good shaving edge, and if it is spoiled as you learn, or worn out, then no tears need to be shed :thumbup:

Simply send me an english p.m as my french is terrible ..lol and we can sort it out Mon Ami.

Oh and by the way, I have a shavette, cruel and spiteful contraption, a proper straight once mastered is a beautiful joy to use.

My best regards
Ralfson (Dr)
 

chti_lolo

Well-Known Member
Again thanks to all,
Bart, I also thought that a narrower and longer stone may be more efficient but I didn't know what was the limit. It seems to be 4cm and not 5cm. As soon as I get my new razor and decide to go on straight shaving "lol", I will contact people at ardennes-coticule to get my own wetstone and follow the advice to give them more freedom in the choice.
Ralphson, thanks you very much for your kind offer.
I have seen a TI "le Dandy" 5/8 at a local retailer for less than 60 Euros, is this a good value for a razor to start honing on?
I have time to choose my second straight as I think I will follow your general advice to focus first of all on my shaving and stropping technique. I hope my new Dovo Tortoise will be more forgiving than my shavette!
 

Matt

Well-Known Member
Salut, Laurent. :)

If I may drop in my two pennies. As for quality / price ratio I guess hardly anything can beat a Wapienica, it's quite decent steel, and the price is a killer, around €13. These are Polish NOS that are still around, I could get you one and send if you were interested. Mind you, this is quite a hefty shaver, just around 1/4 ground and with its metal scales the weight is considerable. Because of the grind it will also take a somewhat wider bevel when honing, but there's always Unicot to save you :) Also, at this price it won't hurt to screw something up during the learning process, so you might save your TI's for better days :)

I'm willing to help if you need one.

regards,
Matt
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
I would go for the wapi or DA
IMHO you will damage the TI using it as a learning tool, also the extra quality will be lost on you until you have mastered shaving with a straight
Just my 2 centimes :thumbup:

My warmest wishes with your future success
Ralfson (Dr)
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
tat2Ralfy said:
I would go for the wapi or DA
IMHO you will damage the TI using it as a learning tool, also the extra quality will be lost on you until you have mastered shaving with a straight
Just my 2 centimes :thumbup:

My warmest wishes with your future success
Ralfson (Dr)
Respectfully, I have to disagree.

It typical forum advice that I keep reading in every thread on the Planet about learning how to sharpen razors.
It seems that most guys just keep repeating it for good form, but I truly wonder how many ever "damaged" the first razor they honed.

I will tell you my personal experience: I bought a Dovo when I decided to take the straight razor route for shaving. It was not the second cheapest I could buy at that store, about 80EUR is I recall. I learned to shave with that straight razor and after about 2 months it didn't shave anymore as well as it should. I touched it up with a loom strop, loaded with Dovo red paste, which worked for a couple of times. Eventually I bought a Coticule and a BBW.
There was almost no information available about the actual use of these hones. I copied methods for synthetic hones that didn't work on mine. I tried thick slurry, thin slurry, not slurry, the BBW in many variations, and lots of stropping on the red paste. Somehow I always ended up getting the same mediocre edge, that got me trough one or 2 shaves, but the razor was clearly not as keen as it used to be. I finally found guidance and ended up buying a DMT-E to include into my honing trials. I managed to get my first edges that matched the original state of the razor. That was about 6 months ofter buying it. I had bought one other razor, a slightly rusted "Pearson & Co" from Ebay, that needed restoration. It took me 2 months to get that job done.
All in all, it's fair to say that I completely learned my honing basics on that one Dovo. And it's equally fair to say that it took a lot of trial and error. I still have that Dovo. If anyone insists I'll post a picture. The spine caries hone wear, but nothing outrageous, and I can still sell the razor as a 5/8", which is the original width. Maybe direct comparison with a new one would reveal some reduction in width, but not enough to call it a 4/8" or a 9/16".

If I didn't ruin that razor, without all the guidance and knowledge available today, why would anyone else? This website exists the better part of a year. So far one gentlemen managed to put severe hone wear on a razor, and the razor still could be saved to shave well, albeit not without help (which was and is available for free). Before starting this website, I was very active at StraightRazorpPlace, and I still occasionally post on Badger&Blade and on WetShavingWorld. The only thread I ever recall where someone posted a razor that was "hurt" during the learning period, was the one mentioned right here on Coticule.be. But I keep reading that same advice: buy a cheap razor of Ebay, get a Wapi, or a Double Arrow, or something else that may pose sharpening challenges... But by all means, don't buy a starter razor from one of the established brands!!!!! You might ruin it." I'm sorry, but I don't see the point of that advice, and I don't even see the need for it either. What's wrong with learning how to hone a nice blade, with a grind and steel that will easily take a good edge. Does that mean that Wapis and Double Arrows and others can't be good shavers? Anyone who knows me a bit, knows that I am a passionate defender of these razors.
But give yourself a break and take your first sharpening steps on a razor that doesn't have a poor balance for learning a good honing and stropping stroke, doesn't have issues with the shoulder not clearing the hone, doesn't have steel that needs to honed till its very limit before it provides an agreeable shave, does not pose a special bevel-setting challenge, etc... The mere fact that the razor has a substantial financial value will possibly help to respect it and enter the right state of mind for good honing success.

That is my advice for anyone who wants to start learning how to sharpen straight razors. And I believe it would save many people a lot of frustration. Yes you can ruin a razor with hones, but not if you are able to follow advice and think before you do.

I still vouch for a 6/8 full hollow ground razor, in new condition from a trusted brand, or in mint condition from a source with the highest reputation.



Kindest regards,
Bart.
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
Ah yes you are of course quite correct again my dear Sherlock :thumbup:

Such is my mind at the moment that I forget we have here most comprehensive knowledge base for the new honer to learn from, of course the chances of damaging the blade are very minimal.

I can only offer my sincere apologise, and of course change my previous advice BUY THE T.I.! it will last you a lifetime, and once you have mastered honing it will repay with the smoothest closest shaves you could wish for.

My kindest Regards
Ralfson (Dr)
 

Matt

Well-Known Member
Bart said:
All in all, it's fair to say that I completely learned my honing basics on that one Dovo. And it's equally fair to say that it took a lot of trial and error. I still have that Dovo. If anyone insists I'll post a picture. The spine caries hone wear, but nothing outrageous (...)
I'm interested. Not that I want to check you in any way, but you often stated that you don't pay too much attention to spine wear. I was actually wondering why is that and how your spine wear looks like. I'd be glad if you found a moment for it.

kind regards,
Matt
 

maro

Well-Known Member
Bart said:
(...) So far one gentlemen managed to put severe hone wear on a razor, and the razor still could be saved to shave well, albeit not without help (which was and is available for free). (...) The only thread I ever recall where someone posted a razor that was "hurt" during the learning period, was the one mentioned right here on Coticule.be.
Would it be me? :blush:
My Mum kept telling me everyone was unique but I'm not sure I should be proud of this particular distinguishing feature. :lol:
 

Rosco

Well-Known Member
chti_lolo said:
I have seen a TI "le Dandy" 5/8 at a local retailer for less than 60 Euros, is this a good value for a razor to start honing on?
I have time to choose my second straight as I think I will follow your general advice to focus first of all on my shaving and stropping technique. I hope my new Dovo Tortoise will be more forgiving than my shavette!
I would like to help boost your confidence by saying that if you can shave with a shavette, then shaving with a straight is a piece of cake. I learned on a shavette before investing in a proper straight, strop etc. I think that's the only reason anyone would buy one of those things, in order to get a feel for whether you would be willing to stick with using a straight before investing any real money. I took two good sized chunks out of my face with that shavette. I think I can probably attribute every major bleeder I have given myself to that shavette. Definately 90% of them. Then I bought a straight. I still cut myself occasionaly for a while, but not as deep, not as much blood, no chunks missing. The straight gives you a bit of warning before giving you a nick. The shavette just devours your face if you get it a bit wrong. Took me a while to gain confidence in using a straight, as the shavette had left me with more of a fear of the blade than the healthy respect that you should have for it.
Anyway. If you can use a shavette, you can sure as hell use a straight.

The debate over what to learn on is one I don't have an answer for, but I think my experience might help you make a choice.
When I was learning how to hone, I followed the typical forum advice and bought a few wapis and a few vintage blades from ebay. The ebay blades were not from the more sought after brands, but seemed to have a little hone wear which was fairly even , no frowns chips or toe heavy hone wear. I think the wapis and the vintages cost around £10 each.
Almost all of these razors had warped blades. Some had smiling edges. The vintages needed some serious edge repair.
The stadard advice was to learn the basic x-stroke first, then move on to the rolling-x etc. A basic x-stroke would not give me a decent edge on any of my blades. I had to learn the more difficult variations from the get go. It wasn't an easy beginning but by the time a managed to sharpen one of these blades, I could sharpen them all, and no edge has been a serious problem since. I'm not saying it just clicked and a ran into no more problems, but I didn't get stuck for days at a time after the initial steep learning curve.
The plus side of all this is that I had cheap blades which I knew could be decent shavers, but I wasn't afraid to ruin them, so I could try anything I felt like on them. This included setting the bevel on a DMT 1200 which was a bad idea at the time. My honing stroke was heavy and uneven and weighted more towards the spine. The blade has the marks to prove this. I Think the biggest problem in honing is the same as in learning to shave with a straight. It is finding that healthy level of repect for what you are doing without being afraid of it. For me, I think I may have been too afraid of ruining a more expensive razor to do the experimentation I found necessary to succeed in honing. The flip side of that coin is that the more expensive blade would have probably been easier to learn on and therefor I would have been less likely to ruin it in the first place.

What was I saying? :confused:
Ah, f$%k it. I'll just stop there.

I hope at least some of that made sense. :huh:
 

chti_lolo

Well-Known Member
I really enjoy the discussion. Your advice are very precious. I have ordered my shave ready Dovo Tortoise after reading some good reviews of this not very expensive but good shaver razor. So now, what I want is a razor which can be easily:D honed on a coticule. I prefer spending some more money on a razor (even if I may damage it a bit) which will be more easily honed than learning on a more difficult razor.
I didn't know the brand Revizor and after visiting their website , I found this nice looking razor
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
( is this one of these you thought about Bart ?), I have also contacted Thiers-Issard for a full hollow, 6/8 razor which I can't find it locally. It might be a good idea for a christmas gift in advance.
As soon as I will begin my honing trip, I'll go back to you as I'm sure that your wise advise will help me a lot and make me spare time
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
Yes that Revisor has exactly the specifications I was recommending.

Kind regards,
Bart.
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
Matt said:
Bart said:
All in all, it's fair to say that I completely learned my honing basics on that one Dovo. And it's equally fair to say that it took a lot of trial and error. I still have that Dovo. If anyone insists I'll post a picture. The spine caries hone wear, but nothing outrageous (...)
I'm interested. Not that I want to check you in any way, but you often stated that you don't pay too much attention to spine wear. I was actually wondering why is that and how your spine wear looks like. I'd be glad if you found a moment for it.

kind regards,
Matt



Kind regards,
Bart.
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
I Gotta say this… by all means practice honing with a new razor from a respected brand… But for goodness sake, not with a valuable, vintage, collectible piece!!!... please?:cry:
 
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