Stropping taking "away" and edge?

Use a straight. You know it makes sense.
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Gibbs
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Stropping taking "away" and edge?

Post by Gibbs » Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:51 pm

Is it possible that either bad stropping technique, or even perhaps a poorly made strop can reverse what you might have done to a straight in the honing department? Sometimes I think that my razors are a bit better until I strop them. I am using a 3" wide Big Daddy strop, like this one -> http://shop.starshaving.com/3-Big-Daddy ... p-0003.htm and I'm not promoting the strop or website, merely putting up a link so I don't have to cut and paste so much material and one can see for themselves the pictures.

I have started shaving with DE razors and find the sofness and sharpness esquisite. Until about end of June I was shaving entirely with a straight, and have some very nice straight razors. However, I find myself trying a straight and almost always finishing with the DE razors, especially when I have a Personna Medical Prep blade in them. One of the smoothest CLOSEST shaves I have ever gotten. Period.

So I am wondering if I am lacking in getting the razor sufficiently sharp in honing or if I am perhaps killing my edge with my strop. Either way it would be nice to get the stragiht as keen as some of these DE blades I have, or is that asking something of an impossibility?
Vern

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Post by EL Alamein » Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:07 pm

Hey Vern (sorry, I couldn't resist), yes you can get straights as sharp as DE's IMHO. Research with electron microscopes seems to confirm this as well per the Verhoven paper. However, that said, you need different skills with a straight because it is held differently and the angle is maintained through the holding technique and must be maintained during the execution of the stroke. DE's IMHO are easier in this regard because of their geometry and construction.

As for stropping ruining an edge - yes it can ruin an edge depending on how you're stropping. Newbies do it all the time. Without actually seeing what you're doing up close I can't form an opinion on it. If those strops come covered in some sort of abrasive and it turns out to be a bad abrasive then perhaps that's a contributor. However, I haven't really come across such a thing yet so I find it a remote possibility. More than likely it's your honing technique.

Perhaps you over hone and the blade feels really sharp when it comes off the stones only to have the wire edge come off when stropping. What do you use to hone? Do you follow up with stropping on linen then leather? There's a myriad of possibilities here. I generally find that once a good bevel is set and polished you really have to work hard at dulling the edge on a plain strop.

Chris

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Post by bernards66 » Sun Sep 11, 2011 11:57 pm

Vern, Well, I probably shouldn't stick my oar in the water and Chris definately has way more information on the subject than I do. I can only share my personal experiance. I've been shaving with DEs for decades but twice since I've been on this forum I have tried out a considerable number of straights, many of which were honed by gents who are regarded as highly skilled at honing. So, okay...perhaps I ruined some of the edges with inept stropping but one batch of straights I tried I skipped stropping altogether in order to avoid that possibility. But it didn't matter what I did, how I held the razor or at what angle, the prep, or anything else, the experiance remained basically the same....the blade seemed to pull, even on strokes with the grain ( although the second pass was always a bit smoother ). I finally concluded that I was simply too used to the super smoothness of a top quality DE blade to make the shift. I have nothing to back this up other than my personal experiance but I believe that it is not possible to get a straight blade as sharp as the very thin DE blades that are made of very hard alloyed steel with state of the art multiple coatings. Or, perhaps they can, with enough skill, be made as sharp but they still lack the smoothing out effect of the coatings. In any case I could not get used to that 'pulling' or 'dragging' sensation. In passing, I must note, however, that I never got any significent skin irritation but I just couldn't get comfortable with the feeling of it.
Regards,
Gordon

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Gibbs
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Post by Gibbs » Mon Sep 12, 2011 2:57 am

Gordon, I know what you mean. I had been shaving with a straights and some pretty nice ones too, Wacker, Revisor, GOTTA 120, etc. Those were new, and still nearly so. When I tried an Med Prep Personna in one of my TTO Gillettes I had bought at an antique store I couldn't believe how super smooth was the blade across my face. I had to actually feel if there was whiskers being removed. I have a razor that holds half of a DE blade and I get that same kind of smooth shave with it as well, although I have to shave like a straight... more devoted.

I use a couple of barber hones, Swaty and Emerald Green stone, along with a stone in a green felt bag (dual grits 00 Frictionite), and I have a 1000, 4000 and 8000 whet stone along with a 13K Chinese stone that seems very good in respect to the hardness, etc. I can get them where they are tolerable to use for shaving, but I never get them super smooth like the DE. I have a Personna with 7 marks on it, meaning I have shaved 7 times with double passes all times in the drawer. Even on a used 7 times DE it is still smoother than a first time straight, so I thought perhaps I was doing something in the strop end.

I also made a strop of plywood 4" wide with balsa wood on one side and that yellow "Sham Wow" stuff on the other side. I put Green Chromium Oxide on the one side with the balsa wood and it seemed to really make the Wacker a lot smoother for shaving. However, if I strop it, that seems to kind of go away. Perhaps I am not getting the fine edge I need to at the honing edge and really never achieving as sharp as it should be. The coating, though, would be the clincher for keeping things very smooth.
Vern

I was born with nothing and I've managed to keep most of it.

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Post by Peterz116 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:20 am

Hi Vern,

I'm looking forward to the answers you'll be getting. I'm also very fond of the extremely smooth Persona blades and I have the same straight razor issues. I think I'm able to get them very sharp on the hones (coticule finishing) but after the canvas and leather it seems to go downhill. It still pops arm hair easily but tugs and pulls on the face. I'm also wondering what i'm doing wrong.
Can be a bit frustrating from time to time...

Best regards,
Peter

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Gibbs
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Post by Gibbs » Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:00 am

I've even sent off my brand new DOVO 6/8 to Mr. Abrams to hone up (honemeister) and still does not shave close to the smoothness of those DE blades. I have a "modified" straight edge, which uses 1/2 of a DE blade broken in half. I've used that and shaved well with it. So my angle is right and the pressure, etc, but the DE insert razor shave was reminiscent of the DE in the Gillette or Merkur FUTUR razors. Now I have a couple of single edge razors, GEM and they have the sound of the straight and remind me more of the straight than DE but even they are 10 X smoother in the shave. A few of my straights are "Extra Hollow" ground, so they should provide closer to the feel of the DE blades, and I like them a bit better, but even they have the issues of tugging a bit.
Vern

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Post by EL Alamein » Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:31 am

Vern, the only thing I can say at this point is that you should work on your technique for lathering and shaving. Make sure your beard is prepped correctly and your lather stiff yet moist.

I've been at this for a few decades now and I don't experience anything like what you're describing. Dr. Moss says it's because I'm used to the sensation of straights, I am not so sure. From my earliest days I vividly remember thinking that they were just as sharp as the commerical blades.

I know beard prep plays a big role for me. I always washed my face prior to shaving until the last few years. When I was doing that I often compared the sensations between straights and commercial blades and I really couldn't tell all that much difference between them. The little difference there was I chalked up to technique because it wasn't consistant. When I didn't wash I felt a big difference between the two methods - straights pulled more because they had no coatings on their edges which reduce friction while slicing through unsoftened whiskers.

Using shaving soap and working my lather into my beard these days I get just about the same results as washing my face prior to shaving. The benefit to lathering with soap and not washing prior is less wear and irritation on my skin because I only soap once. Doing this well prepares the whiskers to be easily sliced, even with a naked edge. This is the secret to why barbers can shave a customer with a traditional straight and it be so comfortable the patron falls asleep whilst it's going on. If they can do it, you can too.

Chris

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Post by drmoss_ca » Mon Sep 12, 2011 2:44 pm

The other thing that reduces any pulling sensation is to drop the spine quite close to the skin. Makes a huge difference.

Chris
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Post by SmallTank » Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:02 pm

YMMV..point of a straight razor is..its great for the environment..nothing to throw away..1 blade could last you 100yrs
Gibbs wrote:I've even sent off my brand new DOVO 6/8 to Mr. Abrams to hone up (honemeister) and still does not shave close to the smoothness of those DE blades. I have a "modified" straight edge, which uses 1/2 of a DE blade broken in half. I've used that and shaved well with it. So my angle is right and the pressure, etc, but the DE insert razor shave was reminiscent of the DE in the Gillette or Merkur FUTUR razors. Now I have a couple of single edge razors, GEM and they have the sound of the straight and remind me more of the straight than DE but even they are 10 X smoother in the shave. A few of my straights are "Extra Hollow" ground, so they should provide closer to the feel of the DE blades, and I like them a bit better, but even they have the issues of tugging a bit.

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Gibbs
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Post by Gibbs » Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:56 pm

Chris (aka El Alamein), Thanks for the info on the soap, but, I think I need to set a baseline here as to my past. I started shaving with brush and mug back in 1968 with a Fatboy DE razor, and then I bought an adjustable Schick injector around 1971-72. I thought the injector was quite the thing. Later on I abandoned them for electric, then back to wet shaving with 2 and 4 blade affairs and finally, back last Feb to Straight razors. I've always been an advocate of shaving with brush mug and soap. I've been doing it for many years. My best brush is a silver-tip badger hair 18mm set in an elephant ivory handle. I also have a 24 mm brush knot I set in a handle myself. This is also a silver-tip badger brush from China. I prefer them to boar brushes, and yes, I wash my face with a very hot wash cloth some time before lathering up. I use circular swirl motion on my face with the brush and use a scuttle that keeps the brush and lather hot when putting on my face. Nothing like the feel of hot lather going on your face. So I do use fairly good beard preparation.

Tonight I used one of my Super Adjustables, a 1982 (C-2) set on 7 and a Pol silver (Russian) blade. Nice shave, but I still like the smoothness and longer life of my U.S. Personna Medical Prep blades.

Newest razor I've shaved with in my Heribert Wacker 5/8 Spanish Point I got on my birthday back in the first part of June. The oldest razor I have ever used is a Ramapo Co, razor, made in Jersey City in 1854. Nice shave off of it too, BTW. Imagine, a razor that shaved folks around the Civil War era, and probably even in WW1 as well. Newest DE razor is a brand new gold Merkur FUTUR, and I like it quite a bit.

I've shaved with a Geo. Wostenholm& Sons, DOVO, Wacker, Revisor (I have 3), GOTTA 120, Imperial, Grah & Plumacher, Wade & Butcher, Hammond, J.A. Henckels, Oxford-Germania, and a few others in the line of straight razors. Some are quite old, and just a few are nearly new. Only razor I don't have in straight is one of Stainless Steel like the HESS or others. DOVO makes a Stainless Ice Tempered as a few others. Harder to sharpen, but I understand they hold their edge a bit longer.

I have a few razor to choose from (too many), but I keep being drawn back to the DE merely because of the exquisite feel and closeness of shave. So close that even now after my evening shave, the skin feels as smooth as, well, baby butt. LOL
Last edited by Gibbs on Thu Nov 24, 2011 10:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
Vern

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Post by pinklather » Thu Nov 24, 2011 7:42 am

Hi Vern,

I'm not a DE authority, but Sham (hi_bud_gl) once posted that the DE should be able to exceed the keenness of the str8 due to edge coatings available to them.

Should you want some help w/ honing, let me know - no cost other than return postage.

Once controversial technique you could try is the newspaper final stropping on the surface of a hard stone. The experienced 'honemeisters' may view this as heresy, but I've had great results from it.

2 sheets of newspaper covering the stone (I'm sure any hard, flat surface like a plate of glass would do). Anywhere from 20-70 stropping strokes, with no more pressure than you'd used to touch your fingernail to your eye.

On the hanging strop dulling edges - I did it alot. I was horrible at stropping. What I did find was that if the keenness had dropped after using leather, I'd go back to canvas/linen, do 100-200 strokes, then back to leather, being sure to keep the lightest pressure that would keep both spine and edge in contact. If you have trouble staying light on the touch, increase the tension in the strop and continue. I also had trouble staying light with the higher-draw resistance leathers, such as latigo or the Illinois series of cowhides.

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Post by Obie » Fri Nov 25, 2011 10:34 am

Gentlemen,
Yes, from what I have read, and from experience, I find what the double edge has over the straight is the blade coating, as my friend Sham notes in his old post. Also the double edge is more maneuverable, which is an enormous help for newcomers to the world of traditional shaving.

Can the straight razor match the sharpness of the double edge remains a controversy. Views on both sides of the discussion are strong enough to muck things up more. On the other hand, I settle on the notion that the blades are equally sharp in their distinctive way, and that to match the double edge the straight needs an exceptionally sharp edge in exceptionally skilled hands.
Obie Yadgar
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Post by Gssixgun » Fri Nov 25, 2011 12:45 pm

What the DE does with coatings, the Straight Razor shaver does with a strop...
Honing only gets you part of the way there, "Stropping really is King" when it comes to how that edge feels on the face..
If you are not Burnishing in the edge with your stropping then you are never going to get that best edge that many of us brag about...

The Straight Razor also has the advantage of allowing more "Tweaking" then all other forms of shaving. From the hone, to the strop, to the grind, to the angle, the smile, and even the stroke, you have ultimate decision on all that...
The problem is, it takes time, you have to invest that time to tweak your own shave to get that "Ultimate Comfort and Closeness"

Want to make the Newspaper stropping really sing??? take a #2 pencil and color some X's on the paper...
Always Very Respectfully

Glen

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Post by matt321 » Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:58 pm

Gssixgun wrote:Want to make the Newspaper stropping really sing??? take a #2 pencil and color some X's on the paper...
Bwahahahah! Prepare to die whiskers! 8)

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Post by brothers » Fri Nov 25, 2011 7:06 pm

I alternate every day between a few of my favorite DE and injector razors and an equal number of straight razors. I've come to like this routine a lot, and I don't want to miss out on any of my favorites from both lists. Long story short, I've identified the DE blades I like best, and I've chosen the straight razors I like and have slowly and surely improved my honing/stropping tools and techniques. Recently I noticed that I couldn't tell the difference (on one day in particular) between the quality of the shave, and had to think about which razor I'd used that day, and it was a SR that had given me a nearly identical quality of shave that had been provided the day before by one of the DE/inj razors. That made me very happy.
Gary

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