Darxus

Straight razor shaving again

Straight razor shaving again

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2009-09-29
It is exceedingly easy to screw up a perfectly well honed razor edge by stropping badly - pressing too hard or leaving too much slack.

It's been a couple years since I tried straight razor shaving. It kind of took me this long to get all the tools back together after moving, partially due to demotivational difficulty achieving appropriate sharpness.

My sharpness problems started when I, shaking water off the blade, whacked the edge on my faucet. Yes, very sad. Tiny ding, but enough. I got a hone, and honed it out, but never got a decent shave out of it after.

My strop was in really rough shape from water damage and neglect. I initially thought it wasn't recoverable. But then I tried. I scrubbed it and soaked it a couple times. It was very dry. Lots of (extra virgin) olive oil seems to have done the trick. Putting olive oil on a strop is apparently one of those things where most of the internet says you absolutely can't do that, except for a few people who have been doing it for years and it turns out it's just fine. And lots of smoothing / flattening with a glass bottle, which is a neat trick.

I re-honed my razor, stropped it, then butchered my face. Well to the extent you can use the term "butchered" without any blood. Very blunt, very painfully scraping. If you're shaving with any kind of razor, and thinking "Should the scraping be that loud?" or "Should it be tugging on every hair that hard?", the answer is "No. STOP DOING THAT TO YOUR FACE, and properly sharpen or replace your freaking blade, you fool."

Then I watched this video on stropping (again?), and realized that due to the mess my strop was, I was almost certainly pressing my blade too hard into the strop (to keep the edge in contact with the leather), causing the leather to deform around the blade, and destroying my edge.

So I honed and stropped again with this in mind, verified that hair effortlessly dry-shaved off my forearm, and I even kind of passed the hanging hair test, and then shaved, and it went fine.

And it'll be better once I finish recovering the linen part of my strop (mostly bleaching), get my strop a little flatter, and spend more time stropping.

I still don't recommend straight razors for reasonable people, but I'm very happy to be back to it.


Looks like I never posted exactly what I bought. I got the cheapest Dovo carbon (non-stainless) steel straight razor I could find.
Dovo 38-350 5/8" half hollow ground: $65
Illinois Razor Strop 2.5" X 23": $29
Shipping: $6

My hone is a Norton 4000/8000 combo waterstone.

I'm still using Barbasol Beard Buster (Soothing Aloe) shaving cream. Which lasts many more shaves than the gels without causing nearly as much clogging of multi-blade razors.

I can easily recommend all of these items (if you're unreasonable enough to think a straight razor sounds fun). I may eventually upgrade to a razor with a nicer handle, and a 3" wide strop, but that's purely for luxury.
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