Once more into the breach

Use a straight. You know it makes sense.
bernards66
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Once more into the breach

Post by bernards66 » Sat May 02, 2009 7:23 pm

Sigh...here we go again. Some of you may remember my last run-in with open razors. Just couldn't get with them, dotcha know? My major beef, other than that I knew that if I got into them I'd eventually have to come to grips with pricey hones, weird pastes, and the rest, was the pulling. Damn, but those suckers pulled a lot. Wasn't comfortable with it. 45 years of nice smooth cuts with a DE made me pretty intolerant of all this pulling and tugging. Two of the razors I had then ( both T-Is ) had been expertly honed, BUT, I'd attempted to strop them, and I've always wondered, in the back of my mind, whether I might have queered the edges doing that. So, anyway, now I have four straights lent to me by xChris, and I'm just going to use each one once, with no lame stropping, just to see, one more time, where they are really at. Here is the order in which he suggested I try them:
1) Torrey ( half hollow ground, USA )
2) B. Worth & Sons ( half hollow ground, England )
3) Henckels ( full hollow ground, carbon steel, Germany )
4) John Jay ( full hollow ground, USA )

Frankly, I'm not overly optimistic, as even the Feather AC pulled more than I really liked ( although considerably less ), but I'm doing this to see for sure, and at the least, to put that nagging question about the last time to rest. Then too, with the DE blade situation the way it is, I figure it's possible that I may have to consider this option at some point.
Regards,
Gordon

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Post by Dave_D » Sat May 02, 2009 7:30 pm

Go Gordon!

My respect for giving it another shot. xChris has a great rep, if any straight is going to do the trick it would be one of his.

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Post by JimR » Sat May 02, 2009 8:10 pm

Excellent! Good Luck!

But Gordon, I totally understand your feelings. My first few shaves were pretty close to intolerable with regards to pulling. However, over the past couple of months I've found that, rather than the razors, it was ME that was the problem.

My angles were bad, and my patience too thin, and eventually, as I found my way with the razors, the pulling (while never ceasing entirely) became much more of a gentle reminder that yes, I was indeed shaving. I quite enjoy straight shaving now, and find it much more engaging that DE shaving was. Yes, I said WAS.
:lol:

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Post by bernards66 » Sat May 02, 2009 8:28 pm

Well, we'll see. I said at the time that I assumed that eventually one would just get used to it, as one does with many things. I tried every conscievable angle at the time, so I don't think that that's it. I got relatively okay shaves, no real irritation, and no niks, but it just wasn't a very pleasant or satisfactory experiance. The Feather AC was considerably better in that regard, but there are other issues that come with that set-up. Personally, I think it's much easier to transition to a straight from crappy shaves with a cartridge, than it is to transition from years of excellent shaves with a DE. Still, I want to see if these razors, untouched by me, are at all smoother then the ones I used before.
Regards,
Gordon

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Post by StGeorge » Sat May 02, 2009 9:17 pm

I'm watching with interest Gordon as I have the same issues as you with straights. I have temporarily suspended my straight foray while I decide on a hone to attempt to get my straights shave ready. I haven't given up yet but I'm still to be convinced that I can get a decent comfortable shave from one. I've managed one reasonable attempt so far before I dulled the edge so its been a frustrating experience for me. I think I need to get a Norton 4/8K to practice on.
Tony

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Post by bernards66 » Sat May 02, 2009 9:37 pm

Tony, Well, there is always the honing issue looming in the future if one continues with straights. Thing is, the ones I used before were honed by highly experianced....er....honers? So, UNLESS I screwed them up with inept stropping, presumably they were about as good as it gets. But that's a big part of what I want to see here; did I, in fact, knock the edge off of the ones I had before? If not, if that's just 'how they are', then I doubt that I'm interested, baring the dissappearance of all DE and injector blades that I'll use ( which, unfortunately seems like a possibility, as I'm pretty picky ). So, I'll report in as I go along.
Regards,
Gordon

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Post by StGeorge » Sat May 02, 2009 9:48 pm

bernards66 wrote:Tony, Well, there is always the honing issue looming in the future if one continues with straights. Thing is, the ones I used before were honed by highly experianced....er....honers? So, UNLESS I screwed them up with inept stropping, presumably they were about as good as it gets. But that's a big part of what I want to see here; did I, in fact, knock the edge off of the ones I had before? If not, if that's just 'how they are', then I doubt that I'm interested, baring the dissappearance of all DE and injector blades that I'll use ( which, unfortunately seems like a possibility, as I'm pretty picky ). So, I'll report in as I go along.
Regards,
Gordon
I too had a razor from a recommended "honemeister" and I think I must have dulled the edge. I have watched some video's of guys using straights and it appears that they have no problem getting a decent close shave. This gives me some hope that I can do it but I've yet to experience any straight which can even approach the sharpness of a DE, shave ready or not.
Tony

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Post by bernards66 » Sat May 02, 2009 9:58 pm

Tony, Well, it's not possible to make them as sharp as a commercial DE blade, partially, I suppose, because they are much thicker, and you can't use steel so hard that it can't be hand honed, nor can you use coatings etc. But, some gents get very good shaves with them, unquestionably. Even the shaves I got weren't bad, and in another few weeks probably would have been quite good. But all that pulling and tugging I was getting made them unpleasant to use. That was really my biggest complaint.
Regards,
Gordon

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Post by StGeorge » Sat May 02, 2009 10:10 pm

Gordon, the pulling has always been the issue with myself as well. This is why I always veer towards the sharpest DE blades. Some DE blades pull uncomfortably for me, notably Merkurs and Derby's. I originally looked elsewhere from cartridges for this very same reason (amongst others). Trying to shave 2 days growth with any cartridge was pure torture for me. This was unfortunate because I couldn't use them everyday on account of the razor burn on my neck. DE blades seem to be the best solution for me but I'd really like to crack the straight if I can.
Tony

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Post by bernards66 » Sat May 02, 2009 10:30 pm

Tony, I hear you, Merkur and Derby DE blades don't do it for me either. As I mentioned, one of my fears is that in awhile I won't be able to get DE blades that are acceptable to me. There's no denying that open razors have a great deal of attraction in terms of aesthetics and tradition. There are so many gorgeous specimens that were made...and are still being made by T-I and Dovo. All the variations in the steels used, the widths, the scales, the detailing....it's easy to see how gents get hooked not only on using them, but on collecting them as well. But, believe it or not, and in spite of my love of traditional things, at the end of the day there is a large jigger of pragmatism in my make-up as well ( or maybe it's just laziness...chuckle ). No matter how hoary, the product still has to work well, and without too much hassle or discomfort. And, of course, I don't do change well, lol. Pens are another example. I love the motif of fountain pens; so many beautifully crafted ones, and I respect the gents who use them daily. But I couldn't make the adjustment. I'd been using quality ball point pens since the sixth grade, and I'm more comfortable with them.
Regards,
Gordon

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Post by mparker762 » Sat May 02, 2009 10:52 pm

The "tugging" should be no more than you'd get just rubbing your hand against your face. But it may not be like that at first just because the technique is so different from a DE and a lot has to go right to get a great shave. Stropping is a big one, and hopefully this new experiment will improve your odds.

Maintaining the edge of a razor is not as difficult as you would think from reading the forums. The reason honing is discussed so much is partly because it's both expensive and difficult. Pasted strops are easy to use and don't have the multitude of agonizingly expensive options that must be discussed ad nauseum.

The linen side of your strop will help keep the edge sharp all by itself, but IMO the real trick for easy edge maintenance is to use a really mild polish that will keep the edge smooth and sharp, yet is mild enough to be used every day. This allows you to put it on your daily strop so you don't need a separate sharpening strop, and your razor is maintained every day at the exact same sharpness. The Dovo white paste (which is a very finely ground chalk in a liquid carrier) performs this function nicely, but my personal favorite is the white polish bar from the hardware store (I use http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/d ... mber=96780) which I believe is also chalk only with a waxy carrier and much cheaper than the Dovo product ($4 gets you a lifetime supply). I thought chrome oxide was the bees knees for years, but once I discovered this stuff I stopped using both CrOx and diamond...

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Post by drmoss_ca » Sun May 03, 2009 3:34 am

Are you using that on the linen, Michael? If so it is rather like the way I have used TI paste (but that has diamond in as well).

Gordon, if it pulls, drop the spine towards your skin to lower the angle of attack. There will be more sensation of the shaving going on than with a DE, but it would be a waste to get shaved and not have known about it, no?

Chris
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Post by xChris » Sun May 03, 2009 7:30 am

Dave_D wrote:Go Gordon!

My respect for giving it another shot. xChris has a great rep, if any straight is going to do the trick it would be one of his.
bernards66 wrote:Well, we'll see. I said at the time that I assumed that eventually one would just get used to it, as one does with many things. I tried every conscievable angle at the time, so I don't think that that's it. I got relatively okay shaves, no real irritation, and no niks, but it just wasn't a very pleasant or satisfactory experiance. The Feather AC was considerably better in that regard, but there are other issues that come with that set-up. Personally, I think it's much easier to transition to a straight from crappy shaves with a cartridge, than it is to transition from years of excellent shaves with a DE. Still, I want to see if these razors, untouched by me, are at all smoother then the ones I used before.
Ooh, that added some pressure! (ha ha)

I must admit that I am much more of a lurker than a professor on the forums. Usually, someone or many have posted whatever I could have added to a thread/conversation.

I don't claim to be a honemeister, but I do get good edges on my razors that I use to shave. However, there is obviously some subjectivity in that. I have used razors honed by others that are identified as honemeisters, and I believe that I get comparable edges. I should think about some sort of peer review to see where I stand though.

For the record, I touched up each of the razors that Gordon identified on a lapped Spyderco UF, followed by linen and leather of a Dovo "Best Russian Leather" strop.

Gordon--
One thing I think that is sometimes missed when transitioning from DE to open razor, is the speed of the cutting stroke. Make the strokes short 1/2 to 1 inch long, and move slightly faster than you move the DE. I belive that a lack of velocity of the cutting edge is another reason for blades snagging, stuttering, and stalling for newcomers. As discussed before on the forums, you've got to overcome friction and additional surface area of an open razor; this leads to why DE blades feel sharper than open razors.
Chris

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Post by mparker762 » Sun May 03, 2009 8:15 am

drmoss_ca wrote:Are you using that on the linen, Michael? If so it is rather like the way I have used TI paste (but that has diamond in as well).
Yes this is on the linen. The hardware store stick looks a bit like the TI stick, but it's much finer. I'm not really sure what the grit rating is, or even if it really has one since I suspect that whatever is in it is very soft and frangible. But it leaves one helluva edge, and is mild enough that I don't worry about putting it on my daily strop. I've read some claims that it's actually Linde "A" polish (0.3 micron frangible), but that stuff is several orders of magnitude more expensive per oz than this stick so I'm doubtful. But Linde "A" is also a great polish in this application if you've got it around.

I've got a couple of paddle strops with leather on one side and linen on the other, and this is my preferred stropping platform nowadays. The first one was special request item from Tony Miller, and I've made a couple more since then. One of them has a little bit of this white bar on it, and experimenting over a period of weeks indicates that about 30 laps will slowly improve sharpness, and 20 laps will keep it sharp. I've also taken razors that were in need of a touch-up and a few hundred laps on this paddle brings them back to shaving shape. This works on hanging strops too but I've just become so enamored with the linen paddles lately.

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Post by bernards66 » Sun May 03, 2009 8:47 am

Chris, Okay, will do. I never use strokes longer than about an inch with a DE anyway, and I always move pretty briskly. In other words, I cut with a DE the way most probably cut with a straight. Still, I will be especially mindful of these things as I try them out. Thanks again for the opportunity.
Regards,
Gordon

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Post by loueedacat1 » Sun May 03, 2009 11:40 am

definitely use shorter strokes. higher velocity is probably right too, but focus on the shorter strokes and let the velocity find itself. I don't want you slice your cheek off trying increase your velocity because if you do that you probably won't even try the other cheek. :shock:

But good luck with this! If you convert to straights, I'll use GFT soaps every day for a month in a row just to show solidarity.

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Post by xChris » Sun May 03, 2009 3:52 pm

Gordon,

That makes sense since you've got extensive DE experience, and at least some open razor experience. However, with many coming to it initially, I get the sense that they're too tentative with the razor. They slow down for fear of a severe cut -- scarring, bleeding out, and wind up with poor results or the very cut that they were dreading.
Chris

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Post by ichabod » Mon May 04, 2009 9:31 am

A couple of observations from the point of view of being, what – an experienced beginner at this point?

The point about speed of the blade is an interesting one. I’ve noticed the pulling becoming less of a problem over time, and one big element of that is probably the confidence with which I now wield the blade. The pulling still happens, but only on my toughest stubble areas and not as badly.

Most of the detailed straight razor related discussions on the shaving sites seem to be about honing. I actually think stropping is the more essential art. Nobody is going to come to your house each morning and strop your blade for you (well, I doubt it anyway), but it has to be done and it has to be done correctly. Most of the time you see anyone stropping in a movie they do it horrendously, with a loose strop and with a technique that’d turn a razor into an apple corer. So – having 4 razors to try without having to strop them is an excellent way to jump in with both feet.
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Post by gsgo » Mon May 04, 2009 10:01 am

Gordon,

Best of luck with picking up the straight.

After more than a few passes with a straight these past few weeks I have put my straight project on hold. No real damage done, about five cuts and some minor irritation but it just isn't working for me at this time.

Additionally, my DE shaves have never been better and the smarter one is wondering when I might cut my lips off with the straight.

So it's to the back of the cupboard with my blades and strop until the desire returns.

Cheers,
Good shaving,

Gary

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Post by EL Alamein » Mon May 04, 2009 7:13 pm

Gordon, I'm pulling for you (no pun intended!). Best of luck and I can't wait to hear how you do. Remember light strokes, no pressure. Use a steep angle.

Chris

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