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Thread: An old newbie

  1. #1
    Senior Member PaulKidd's Avatar
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    Aug 2010
    Sonoma County, California
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    Default An old newbie

    I'm new to this site, so I hope that this is OK.

    Even though I've been shaving with a straight razor for
    45 years (on and off), I feel like a newbie since I
    discovered this site. So much information, and thank
    you for that!

    When I was in high school (class of '63), I got one
    lesson on straight razor shaving from my grandfather
    before he died. I didn't learn much, but the whole
    process fascinated me.

    Armed with this one lesson (no internet then), I began
    the journey. But now I know how much I don't know!

    I've been using equipment and techniques which I have
    inherited/learned/acquired over the years, and getting
    what I thought were pretty good shaves. I never got
    any more lessons, I never sought advice, and I never
    realized (until recently) that there is a community of
    folks dedicated to the art of straight razor shaving!

    For the last 16 years I've been living on a remote
    South Pacific island (Lifuka Island, Kingdom of Tonga),
    and I think that I'm the only person in this small country
    who shaves with anything other than a Chinese knock-
    off disposable razor. So...not much "help" or comraderie
    here. that I know how much I DON't know,
    I have a few questions, which I hope one of the mentors
    will answer.

    My equipment: a "Super Bismarck" razor, an Illinois
    Razor Strop Company "Imperial Russian" strop (treated
    with shaving soap on the linen side, and neatsfoot oil
    on the leather), a "Swaty 3 Line" razor hone and a
    translucent (hard?) Arkansas stone.

    I've been maintaining the razor by first honing using
    the Swaty stone, and then polishing with the Arkansas

    After reading all the wonderful information available on
    this site, I've decided to "start all over". I've ordered
    a whole new set of equipment: a Boker "King Cutter"
    razor, a Norton 4k/8k stone, a 3" latigo strop, a new
    "silvertip" shaving brush, and a couple of different
    "primo" shaving soaps and aftershaves.

    Please tell me if I'm on the right track. Questions:

    1) Have I been caring for the razor properly? How do
    I fit the Norton 4k/8k into what I already have?

    2) Should I send the new Boker razor to a pro to be
    sharpened before I "mess with it"?

    3) I will be visiting the Santa Rosa, California, area
    soon. Is there a "mentor" in that area that I might
    contact and request some "re-training"?

    I would appreciate any and all information and

    Malo Aupito (that's Tongan for "Thank you very much"),

    Paul Kidd

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    RazorBack (08-07-2010)

  3. #2
    Senior Member AlanII's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
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    Hi and welcome. I've never used the Arkansas, so take my words with a pinch of salt until someone who has chips in but the consensus seems to be that they're not a fine finisher, the Swaty is probably the better of the two for that, many rate them very highly. Your new Norton would replace the Arkansas and, though the 8k will give a good shave, a barber's hone such as you have, generally gets it better IME. As to sending your Boker out, it's hard to say really. Normally I'd say yes but you've obviously been getting good edges or at least ones that you're happy with. Some of the guys here are scarily good at putting an edge on a razor and it's very useful to have a benchmark to aim at, it was for me. So I guess I'm saying yes, but. Sorry about that. Anyway once again, welcome and enjoy your stay.

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    PaulKidd (08-07-2010)

  5. #3
    Senior newbie learning EVERY DAY!!! RazorBack's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    The Netherlands
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    Your story comes close to mine, except for the lack of a Grandfather (who could have taught me) AND no internet either, so nobody to learn from.

    Now, at the age of 44, i decided to turn to straight razor shaving once again, with the help of this forum AND it's members who are very willing and helpful. LOTS (if not EVERYTHING) to learn here; you'll see

    Welcome to the forum!!



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    PaulKidd (08-07-2010)

  7. #4
    Modern Day Peasant Nightblade's Avatar
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    May 2010
    Denver Rocky Mtn. High Rent,Colorado
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    Smile Welcome to SRP !

    First off Welcome to SRP. I'm pretty new here myself,but....Please do not get rid of your old kit please ! And hold off on buying anything.You got some nice stuff there and if anything is in not so good shape,it can be refurbished. Send your razor to Straight razor designs for shave ready honing and or restoration if needed.There are also plenty of others on this sight who do honing as well,but I honestly don't know them too well yet so no offense to the others.Although Gsixxgunn might be able to help you as I've been reading good stuff about his honing.Sorry if I did not spell that handle right sir.Read the wiki section here and soak up as much info as you can. If you have been doing this off and on for 45 years,you'll pick stuff up quick I'm guessing. As for your Swaty hone.Again ,keep it.They are getting hard to come buy and unless your going to get into Fine honing,that Swaty is all your going to really need to keep your edge. There are some good articles on Swaty hones in here.Wish I could provide some links,but I'm still learning my way around this extensive shaving universe.Also look up Chimenches 30yr. shaving anniversary video,very informative and cool to watch.I personally don't put anything on my strop anywhere except rubbing my palm into the leather side of my russian strop.That seems to be the best old school way to do it.Some guys like to treat their strops,again though... read up and soak up info. Welcome again and good luck and good shave to you m8te.
    Last edited by Nightblade; 08-07-2010 at 09:19 AM.

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    PaulKidd (08-07-2010)

  9. #5
    At this point in time... gssixgun's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    North Idaho Redoubt
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    You should read my first posts they are very similar to yours...

    First off welcome to SRP glad to have you aboard...

    When I started back in 81 I was pointed toward this unknown white chunk of stone 7x2x1 that back then cost me $105... I was taught how to maintain the two lonely straight razors I had on that stone, and Paul that is what I did... I didn't know any better, and I got pretty darn good shaves from it all...

    That stone is a Translucent Arkansas, I guess a very fine one, and yes it will polish quite well, when used correctlty...
    To maintain an already sharp razor you need very very little, in fact the Swaty or the Arkie will do it, if you do your part... BUT you find this place and start reading and the AD's (Acquisition Disorders) hit and you start buying stuff not a bad thing, but you a no longer just maintaining razors, so at that point you need more and more...
    Just keep it in the back of your mind that you don't really need all this stuff but dang it is a fun hobby now...

    The new kit you ordered is a great start have fun and please feel free to ask all the questions you want, trust me you will have them, but at least you have a ton of real shaving knowledge under our belt to fall back on...

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    PaulKidd (08-07-2010)

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