So you want to be a straight razor shaver...Unorthadox method.

rattlerviper

Active Member
So you have decided you want to shave with a straight razor? Good welcome to the club! I', going to tell you about my method of changing over that has worked for myself and 2 other gents that I have helped convert.

First your going to need some equipment. The equipment you will need for my method is a razor, strop, balsa strop and some way to lather your face or some non-lathering shave stuff. We will start with the piece your probably most excited about, the razor. Where should you get it? Well it's up to you, but hunting down old razors is a huge part of this hobby. I recommend you buy a razor either from the classified section in this forum or one of the other forums or EBAY. Buying razors off of ebay you can potentially be ripped off however getting a good razor from the bay is part of the excitement of shaving with a straight, as most people here will attest one razor become 10 fairly quickly. If you are planning to buy your first razor on Ebay, don't go by your own inexperienced judgment. Instead, start a thread on Coticule.be, with a public request to be pointed to a few good razors that are up for bidding on Ebay. You'll be surprised by the help you'll receive.

We will assume now that you have razor in hand from whatever source you choose to purchase it. STOP. Don't even try to shave with that bad boy. It needs to be honed and made shave ready. Take advantage of the free sharpening service here or send it out to be professionally honed. Now if your going to pay for it there are people that will charge you ten bucks and others that will charge you more. What do I recommend? Take advantage of the free service for having one razor sharpened or have Ray (straight razor sharp) sharpen it. The price on his website right now is listed at 10 dollars, he's a respected member of this and the other razor forums and he will put a coticule edge on it for you. There are other sharpening services out there but whether you choose the free service here or Ray's you will end up with a coticule sharpened razor...And that's why you are on this forum right? Pack it up in a sturdy container and send your razor off and wait. Meanwhile you have some other stuff to buy.

Your going to need a strop. Purchase a good one but not a expensive one. Plan to spend forty dollars or a bit more to get you a good strop. Do your research and buy the one you want, but make sure it's good quality. Why not buy a expensive one? You may nick or even cut it. You might not, but why spend 100 bucks on one you might nick because you are learning? Watch some videos and read some on how to use it. Be careful when using it until you get some muscle memory going and slowly speed up when it feels 100% natural.

Purchase or make a balsa strop. It will enable you to touch up a slightly less than shaving sharp razor yourself easily and quickly. No hones for you yet! You don't want to be learning how to hone and learning how to shave and wondering whether your shaving technique is bad or you are unable to hone, so make or buy a balsa strop. Tons of info out there on it if you want to make one. They can be purchased for something like 12 to 16 bucks.

Are you already a wet shaver? If you are continue using whatever method and materials you currently use. If not I am going to recommend you use a brushless cream to learn with. You can buy a brush and all sorts of scented soaps and cream later on once you know How to shave with your straight. If you use a brushless cream you can be 100% sure that it's not your lathering technique that is causing you problems. Lucky Tiger Brand, Cremo Cream whatever your choice is buy a quality one (or two) and with proper face prep (once again plenty of info out there) you will be just fine. I love my boar brush and soaps, but learning to use them takes a few tries.

Now you have everything you need, your razor has been sharpened. You have watched videos and read how to shave with your razor. So do it! Work to get a little better everyday. Work on those problem areas. Run your hands over your face on a regular basis and get to know your beard growth. And when you have done your best and really tried working on your problem areas...And it's date night or your 10th anniversary or whatever your big night is...Grab another razor, double edge or whatever you used before picking up a straight and touch up that problem area or two. Don't do it every time you shave, but a occasional touch up for a important event in your life isn't gonna hurt a thing. Heresy I know. You have read that once you start shaving with a straight razor and learning to use it that touching another razor is counter productive. I just don't see how touching up once in awhile why you are learning to use a straight razor is harmful. But like I said only do it occasionally.

So that's how I did it the first time I switched to a straight razor years ago, and what I am going through now coming back to the glorious straight razor. It's also worked for a couple of my friends. If I made this post on another forum I would probably be ridiculed, but I have confidence (even as a newbie here) that this forum embraces that different methods can and do work. Anyways guys enjoy those shaves!
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
Ridiculed? You should be comended, wonderful straight forward approach that obviously works, I myself didn't shave at all before using straights, I was a designer stubble type of guy, not because I wanted to look like Don Johnson mind you, simply because shaving left me sore, cost too much money, and was a chore I genuinely disliked, I then found myself strangely drawn to straights, and with nothing else to use I took the plunge, I only cut myself every day for the first few months... Lol and now truly enjoy every shave.

My warmest regards old chap
Ralfson (Dr)
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
That is a nice post. There are some caveats, notable in the "how do I get a serviceable straight razor" department. If I may make a small suggestion?
[note]If you are planning to buy your first razor on Ebay, don't go by your own inexperienced judgment. Instead, start a thread on Coticule.be, with a public request to be pointed to a few good razors that are up for bidding on Ebay. You'll be surprised by the help you'll receive.[/note]

The strop is currently a problem. There does not seem to be a very cheap option on the current market that offers a good strop. Second hand strops are very difficult to assess. Even experienced guys usually have to wait till it arrives to see what they got. Often they require some form of refurbishing. There might be a solution to this problem in the future, as I received word form a gifted strop maker that he's working on the problem. In the mean time the only reasonably cost-effective solution for a good strop is, to my knowledge, the Dovo strops. With a strong recommendation to spend the 10 bucks extra for the "Russian leather" quality. It also comes with a better linen.

And concerning lather: I have no doubt that the brushless creams actually work. It's a valid option. But I believe that many guys feel for the idea of shaving with a straight razor because of the artisan appeal. Using a good brush is an integral part of that artisan aspect. I don't think that I would have sticked with it, should I have started with a Shavette (a type of straight razor holder that accepts half of a disposable blade) and a brushless cream, even though that are technically excellent suggestions: brushless cream works and a Shavette always has a sharp blade. But both lack the atmosphere of the real deal. It's impossible to explain, but I believe any seasoned straight razor shaver will confirm that statement.

The guys we've seen to come and go after a while, usually started only for their "bad-ass" notion about straight razor shaving. But that is something that wears off after a while. If they haven't discovered the true rewards of it by then, they usually don't stick with it. Which is find of course. Straight razor doesn't necessarily need to be for everyone in today's world.

These are just some additional remarks. I like the general idea of your post.:thumbup:
Kind regards,
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
I started with a shavette, unforgiving contraptions IMHO, and a slightly bad ass appeal to it all, but my view point has matured into an appreciation of skills and beautiful equipment :thumbup:

And I am still "growing" in many areas too

Best regards
Ralfson (Dr)
 

rattlerviper

Active Member
Bart said:
That is a nice post. There are some caveats, notable in the "how do I get a serviceable straight razor" department. If I may make a small suggestion?
[note]If you are planning to buy your first razor on Ebay, don't go by your own inexperienced judgment. Instead, start a thread on Coticule.be, with a public request to be pointed to a few good razors that are up for bidding on Ebay. You'll be surprised by the help you'll receive.[/note]

The strop is currently a problem. There does not seem to be a very cheap option on the current market that offers a good strop. Second hand strops are very difficult to assess. Even experienced guys usually have to wait till it arrives to see what they got. Often they require some form of refurbishing. There might be a solution to this problem in the future, as I received word form a gifted strop maker that he's working on the problem. In the mean time the only reasonably cost-effective solution for a good strop is, to my knowledge, the Dovo strops. With a strong recommendation to spend the 10 bucks extra for the "Russian leather" quality. It also comes with a better linen.

And concerning lather: I have no doubt that the brushless creams actually work. It's a valid option. But I believe that many guys feel for the idea of shaving with a straight razor because of the artisan appeal. Using a good brush is an integral part of that artisan aspect. I don't think that I would have sticked with it, should I have started with a Shavette (a type of straight razor holder that accepts half of a disposable blade) and a brushless cream, even though that are technically excellent suggestions: brushless cream works and a Shavette always has a sharp blade. But both lack the atmosphere of the real deal. It's impossible to explain, but I believe any seasoned straight razor shaver will confirm that statement.

The guys we've seen to come and go after a while, usually started only for their "bad-ass" notion about straight razor shaving. But that is something that wears off after a while. If they haven't discovered the true rewards of it by then, they usually don't stick with it. Which is find of course. Straight razor doesn't necessarily need to be for everyone in today's world.

These are just some additional remarks. I like the general idea of your post.:thumbup:
Kind regards,
Bart I changed my post to indicate making a post here rather than sending a PM to someone. I also updated the price of the strop after having a look around on the web. My strop cost 30 bucks something like 8 or 9 years ago. Seems prices have gone up and quality on my strop has gone down from having read the reviews. You gentlemen seem to use the linen side a lot. I have only used it to try to bring back a edge that isn't quite sharp. I am wondering if the quality of my linen is poor because I wouldn't say it gave me a smoother edge.
As for using brushes, soaps and creams I agree with you that they are part of the "artisan" aspect of shaving with a straight. However I wish the when I first began I had tried a brushless cream. I know now that my sloppy drippy suds did little to help my shave. I am a firm believer at trying to get one thing right at a time when possible and eliminating other possible causes of failure. Though if someone is ready to truly jump in with both feet I would not discourage them, to the contrary I would encourage that as well.

Wait people take up shaving with a straight for a "bad-ass" image? I took it up because I thought it a gentleman's pursuit. Much like flyfishing vs baitfishing (clearly the straight razor is flyfishing).

tat2Ralfy said:
I started with a shavette, unforgiving contraptions IMHO, and a slightly bad ass appeal to it all, but my view point has matured into an appreciation of skills and beautiful equipment :thumbup:

And I am still "growing" in many areas too

Best regards
Ralfson (Dr)
If I tried shaving with a shavette I am sure I would end up in the ER getting stitches or bleeding to death. I purchased one and never tried it once I saw what it really was.

And yes Ralfson I am sure that on another forum (no need to mention which one) I would have been ridiculed. I was quite sure it wouldn't happen here. Everyone here seems accepting, friendly and helpful. In this wonderful forum I have found a place where I feel comfortable posting and trying to get involved.

Cheers
Charlie
 
G

Guest

Interesting article. Setting aside the fact that recommending to not get a hone in the forum of site dedicated to one type of hone is somewhat idiosyncratic - albeit it perfectly sound advice, of course - there are a couple of issues I have with this article:
  1. [li]I would not recommend buying from eBay (or any other auction site) at all. There are several forums that offer BST sections in one shape or other, and they are usually tightly policed, and all ads are peer reviewed. Chances of scoring an outstanding deal are slim these days, but at least you will, in all likelihood, purchase a serviceable razor for decent money. Additionally, purchasing there will mostly eliminate the problem with professional honing. [/li]
    [li]Professional honing is another issue. Honing plus shipping easily amounts to USD 20 or more. Well, a Dovo "Best Quality" is around USD 60 - do the maths. Unless you have the wherewithal to restore razors yourself, auction sites are not an option, and certainly not for a beginner. I have a Pumi in my possession that was purchased by someone I consider extremely knowledgeable - and I did not
    Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
    , either.[/li]
    [li]My main concern is "become 10 fairly quickly". Yes, it happens. It is still wrong. When I started, I was quickly convinced - call me gullible if you will - by the usual suspects that I need MOAR!!! razors. W-R-O-N-G! What a beginner needs is not more but less. Seriously. Master one tool first, then move on to the next. I wonder how many razors are idling around in cupboards, having been put there by people who believe that more kit would reduce the learning challenge to zero. It does not. It makes things harder. All you will achieve is add more variables to an already complex equation.[/li]
Here is
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
- might be worth double checking. ;)

Regards,
Robin
 

deighaingeal

Well-Known Member
rattlerviper said:
Much like flyfishing vs baitfishing (clearly the straight razor is flyfishing).
Much agreed and can be just as expensive if you don't follow the advise of the greater good.
Heck I still have people approaching me for a custom rod with no specs for performance, but rather a budget.
 

rattlerviper

Active Member
BlueDun said:
rattlerviper said:
Much like flyfishing vs baitfishing (clearly the straight razor is flyfishing).
You're a flyfisher, buddy ?
Yes I am. Though right now I am stuck fishing for Bass with hair poppers instead of my beloved trout and steelhead because of where I live. When I turned 19 I moved to Missoula Montana because of the flyfishing there. How I ended up in Arizona I am no longer sure.

Sorry it took so long to respond but I was stuck reading the forum on my phone and it wouldn't let me post for some reason.
 

rattlerviper

Active Member
BeBerlin said:
Interesting article. Setting aside the fact that recommending to not get a hone in the forum of site dedicated to one type of hone is somewhat idiosyncratic - albeit it perfectly sound advice, of course - there are a couple of issues I have with this article:
  1. [li]I would not recommend buying from eBay (or any other auction site) at all. There are several forums that offer BST sections in one shape or other, and they are usually tightly policed, and all ads are peer reviewed. Chances of scoring an outstanding deal are slim these days, but at least you will, in all likelihood, purchase a serviceable razor for decent money. Additionally, purchasing there will mostly eliminate the problem with professional honing. [/li]
    [li]Professional honing is another issue. Honing plus shipping easily amounts to USD 20 or more. Well, a Dovo "Best Quality" is around USD 60 - do the maths. Unless you have the wherewithal to restore razors yourself, auction sites are not an option, and certainly not for a beginner. I have a Pumi in my possession that was purchased by someone I consider extremely knowledgeable - and I did not
    Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
    , either.[/li]
    [li]My main concern is "become 10 fairly quickly". Yes, it happens. It is still wrong. When I started, I was quickly convinced - call me gullible if you will - by the usual suspects that I need MOAR!!! razors. W-R-O-N-G! What a beginner needs is not more but less. Seriously. Master one tool first, then move on to the next. I wonder how many razors are idling around in cupboards, having been put there by people who believe that more kit would reduce the learning challenge to zero. It does not. It makes things harder. All you will achieve is add more variables to an already complex equation.[/li]
Here is
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
- might be worth double checking. ;)

Regards,
Robin
Where can I get a Dovo best for $60 US? For one that was honed the cheapest I could find was $97. I really might considering buying a new one for $60.

I am not a argumentative person, life is too short for that. Suffice it to say I believe both the method you posted and the method I posted will both work. Some people may want a simple tool to shave with and some may be drawn to collectible items with a history to serve the same purpose.

And as far as getting taken on Ebay...I jumped in with no ones help when I first started using a straight (before B&B existed I believe) and have never received a razor that was in a significantly different position than I thought it to be. I have been taken a few times on other items on Ebay though. Whether your buying though Ebay or one of the classifieds you are at the mercy of the integrity of the seller, and if that bothers you it would be best to avoid the situation. If your worried about losing the money then you should definitely purchase new from a reliable vendor.

Cheers
Charlie
 

altshaver

Well-Known Member
rattlerviper said:
Where can I get a Dovo best for $60 US? For one that was honed the cheapest I could find was $97. I really might considering buying a new one for $60.
Dovo Best Quality razors are usually in the $70-$80 dollar range from most retailers. The Superior Shave used to sell them for around $66 honed before Dovo gave them a Raise or Die ultimatum. A few years ago, you could get them for $50. All in all, though, they are probably the best option for beginners. Revisor also sells some razors for decent prices as well.
 
G

Guest

rattlerviper said:
Where can I get a Dovo best for $60 US?
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
. As far as "every Dovo has to be taken to a professional honer first" is concerned, I would like to quote the guys on the German forums: "Bollocks!". Yes, they can be refined to "connoisseur sharpness", but they will shave out of the box.

As for using brushless creams: Yes, it can be done, but the idea is to drive the suds into the hair follicles. The only efficient way of doing that is to use a brush.

And on second thoughts, I would also challenge the "buy a cheap strop" argument you made. Because I know of no USD 40 strops worth buying. I would recommend getting an SRD strop, because they deliver good value for money, are readily available, and because you can replace individual parts should they get broken or no longer fit your requirements (
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
).

rattlerviper said:
I am not a argumentative person, life is too short for that. Suffice it to say I believe both the method you posted and the method I posted will both work.
That is an interesting definition of discussion. I am a very argumentative person myself, albeit in the "if you put it down in writing, it had better be correct" sense - because life is too short for debatable information when proper information can be obtained. I therefore believe that it does not suffice at all.

rattlerviper said:
Some people may want a simple tool to shave with and some may be drawn to collectible items with a history to serve the same purpose.
That is correct, but beside the point. A beginner picking up 10 razors will in all likelihood not be buying collectible razors but - check the beginner sections in various forums - cheaply "restored" (as in metal polish, Dremel, microfibre cloth) eBay razors. Whether that person himself finds these worth collecting is another matter entirely, but they are not collectibles in the proper sense of the word. Renunciation of instincts is something I believe should be advocated far more than hoarding, not least because - as stated previously - a random collection of razors will not make learning easier in the slightest.

rattlerviper said:
And as far as getting taken on Ebay...I jumped in with no ones help when I first started using a straight (before B&B existed I believe) and have never received a razor that was in a significantly different position than I thought it to be.
I must be doing something horribly wrong then. I have bought about 20 razors on eBay. 10 I had to send back, once using PayPal's dispute settlement. Even one
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
had massive microchipping and
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
. It still is a nice razor, but not a collectible any more. I am quite certain that a good number of members here could share similar experiences.

Regards,
Robin
 
G

Guest

rattlerviper said:
Where can I get a Dovo best for $60 US?
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
. As far as "every Dovo has to be taken to a professional honer first" is concerned, I would like to quote the guys on the German forums: "Bollocks!". Yes, they can be refined to "connoisseur sharpness", but they will shave out of the box.

As for using brushless creams: Yes, it can be done, but the idea is to drive the suds into the hair follicles. The only efficient way of doing that is to use a brush.

And on second thoughts, I would also challenge the "buy a cheap strop" argument you made. Because I know of no USD 40 strops worth buying. I would recommend getting an SRD strop, because they deliver good value for money, are readily available, and because you can replace individual parts should they get broken or no longer fit your requirements (
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
).

rattlerviper said:
I am not a argumentative person, life is too short for that. Suffice it to say I believe both the method you posted and the method I posted will both work.
That is an interesting definition of discussion. I am a very argumentative person myself, albeit in the "if you put it down in writing, it had better be correct" sense - because life is too short for debatable information when proper information can be obtained. I therefore believe that it does not suffice at all.

rattlerviper said:
Some people may want a simple tool to shave with and some may be drawn to collectible items with a history to serve the same purpose.
That is correct, but beside the point. A beginner picking up 10 razors will in all likelihood not be buying collectible razors but - check the beginner sections in various forums - cheaply "restored" (as in metal polish, Dremel, microfibre cloth) eBay razors. Whether that person himself finds these worth collecting is another matter entirely, but they are not collectibles in the proper sense of the word. Renunciation of instincts is something I believe should be advocated far more than hoarding, not least because - as stated previously - a random collection of razors will not make learning easier in the slightest.

rattlerviper said:
And as far as getting taken on Ebay...I jumped in with no ones help when I first started using a straight (before B&B existed I believe) and have never received a razor that was in a significantly different position than I thought it to be.
I must be doing something horribly wrong then. I have bought about 20 razors on eBay. 10 I had to send back, once using PayPal's dispute settlement. Even one
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
had massive microchipping and
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
. It still is a nice razor, but not a collectible any more. I am quite certain that a good number of members here could share similar experiences.

Regards,
Robin
 
G

Guest

rattlerviper said:
Where can I get a Dovo best for $60 US?
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
. As far as "every Dovo has to be taken to a professional honer first" is concerned, I would like to quote the guys on the German forums: "Bollocks!". Yes, they can be refined to "connoisseur sharpness", but they will shave out of the box.

As for using brushless creams: Yes, it can be done, but the idea is to drive the suds into the hair follicles. The only efficient way of doing that is to use a brush.

And on second thoughts, I would also challenge the "buy a cheap strop" argument you made. Because I know of no USD 40 strops worth buying. I would recommend getting an SRD strop, because they deliver good value for money, are readily available, and because you can replace individual parts should they get broken or no longer fit your requirements (
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
).

rattlerviper said:
I am not a argumentative person, life is too short for that. Suffice it to say I believe both the method you posted and the method I posted will both work.
That is an interesting definition of discussion. I am a very argumentative person myself, albeit in the "if you put it down in writing, it had better be correct" sense - because life is too short for debatable information when proper information can be obtained. I therefore believe that it does not suffice at all.

rattlerviper said:
Some people may want a simple tool to shave with and some may be drawn to collectible items with a history to serve the same purpose.
That is correct, but beside the point. A beginner picking up 10 razors will in all likelihood not be buying collectible razors but - check the beginner sections in various forums - cheaply "restored" (as in metal polish, Dremel, microfibre cloth) eBay razors. Whether that person himself finds these worth collecting is another matter entirely, but they are not collectibles in the proper sense of the word. Renunciation of instincts is something I believe should be advocated far more than hoarding, not least because - as stated previously - a random collection of razors will not make learning easier in the slightest.

rattlerviper said:
And as far as getting taken on Ebay...I jumped in with no ones help when I first started using a straight (before B&B existed I believe) and have never received a razor that was in a significantly different position than I thought it to be.
I must be doing something horribly wrong then. I have bought about 20 razors on eBay. 10 I had to send back, once using PayPal's dispute settlement. Even one
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
had massive microchipping and
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
. It still is a nice razor, but not a collectible any more. I am quite certain that a good number of members here could share similar experiences.

Regards,
Robin
 

altshaver

Well-Known Member
That has to be the best price I have seen on a quality straight razor in a long time. I bet that is a sale price on the razor. Thanks for the link!
 

rattlerviper

Active Member
Yes that is a truly great sale price on a new dovo. However you German gents must have faces of chiseled Escher stone! I'm not saying when I got my dovo it wouldn't cut whiskers (it most certainly would) but it gave me a terrible case of razor burn. In all fairness I have quite sensitive skin so I might not be average in that respect.

The strop I use daily is a Illinois strop and can be had for forty dollars. In all fairness it is at least 8 years old (I don't remember exactly when I purchased it, and as with all products quality can change. Recent reviews seem quite bad. I can attest to the fact that the leather side performs it's intended purpose, but the linen side is most likely shat. Just the other day I sanded the lined and treated it with Dovo paste and it seems perhaps a bit better.

I still contend a new person can indeed purchase a razor from ebay and with some advice from experienced people come out fine. I never encouraged someone to end up with 10 razors before learning to shave with a straight. If that is the way I made it sound I apologize, doing that is simply silly. I do however believe few people will stop at one or two razors AFTER they know how to use the tool.

Also after receiving my coti and playing with it a bit I don't know that I would discourage a new user from buying a stone. Touching up with just water is easy. Though not as easy as using a balsa strop.

As far as using a brush and soap go...that was the most difficult part of making the switch so many years ago for me. Finding the right amount of water to use was truly difficult (this is all before my knowledge of the forums...heck they may not have even existed). All told it took a few months to get using a brush down for me, while after 3 weeks of using the straight razor my shaves were great, smooth, irritation free and nicks only very occasionally. I had help from a wife who went through barber school though. She had me "shave" ballons and only when I could do it without popping them did she move me on to the next steps. Too bad they don't teach how to use a shave brush instead of a lather machine.

We don't have to agree to disagree...But I agree with myself that we disagree on some points :lol:
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
This site doesn't utilize PM functionality anymore. Under the "Machine Room", go to "member list", select the member you want to email, and type-adilly... email :thumbup:
 

rattlerviper

Active Member
richmondesi said:
This site doesn't utilize PM functionality anymore. Under the "Machine Room", go to "member list", select the member you want to email, and type-adilly... email :thumbup:
Thank you!
 
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