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Thread: Shave angle

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    Senior Member MikeT's Avatar
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    Default Shave angle

    Good morning gentleman,
    Another thread got me thinking.
    I've had inconsistent results with the number of shaves that I get from my blades.
    Even within the same shave feeling as though they don't shave as well as the first cuts.
    If I'm cutting at too high of an angle, can it fold the edge over? I think yes. And so I adjust. Yet still seem to lose edge quick, even with pro-honed blades.
    Also, how to avoid high, scraping angle under the nose..?
    These sound like such newbie questions, hehehe
    I'm trying to go back and revisit topics that I never fully understood before I moved onto more advanced topics in the past...
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    Breaking HAD Speedster's Avatar
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    Using too high of a shave angle definitely shortens the life of an edge, but I do not believe it's forceful enough to roll the edge as with poor stropping technique. However, if you were using such a high angle (> 30 degrees), you would likely notice a bit of skin irritation I would think and/or an increase in cuts/nicks. Took me the longest time to learn to flatten out the razor's angle on the lower portion of my neck. My neck is very sensitive and reveals redness when scraped instead of properly shaved.

    As for under the nose, I use a scooping motion starting out at an initially high angle and quickly flattening it out as I move away from my nostrils. You can use your off hand to squish or otherwise move your schnoz out of the way as best you can. Mine is pretty big, and I'm having no issues.

    FWIW, I've never noticed the sharpness of any of my 16 or so razors deteriorate over the course of a single shave. This makes me wonder what's going on with those particular blades.
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    As for under the nose practicing a pencil grip and buffering helped me. As my hands got more dexterous I Also incorporated the scoop motion mentioned by speedster. It took a bit to realize it's the same motion I use when shaping up my sideburns. Just had to get used to an angel switch. Hope that helps there as losing your nose is tough for your future look.

    About edge I can't really say I'm a total noobie there and couldn't begin an educated guess.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth outback's Avatar
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    Does this go for all types of grinds, Mike.?

    How coarse is your beard.?

    Maybe your over honing, but you did say pro honed, as well.

    Try stroppin the blade after lathering each time, barbers were always good for that.

    What's your prep routine.?

    A foil edge is the only time I've had that type of problem.
    Mike

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    High angles is bad for my edge and skin. I keep the blade way closer to flat, just up enough to provide a slight air gap.
    Stropping is as important or maybe more important than shaving technique when it comes to edge retention.
    Under my nose most often come in from the side. I cannot go against the grain there, my skin won’t allow that, and if I’m shaving several days growth I go with the down scoop and then across..
    Another thought on why you might tend to go with a high angle could be another element is off. Wet lather, low pressure, low angle, tight skin are my key elements. As I age the effort to hold and stretch my skin becomes far more important.
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    Okay cool, these suggestions are all helpful.
    I think my angle is too high, as well as my stropping technique probably needs work.
    The company that made my strop sent it bent, and I never got the bend out. Let me see, I'll pay attention to all those factors and I'm sure there will be improvements.
    Thank you for the info.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeT View Post
    Okay cool, these suggestions are all helpful.
    I think my angle is too high, as well as my stropping technique probably needs work.
    The company that made my strop sent it bent, and I never got the bend out. Let me see, I'll pay attention to all those factors and I'm sure there will be improvements.
    Thank you for the info.
    Dude if its bent and too late to send back get another. It has become more and more evident to me that the strop is second to only the razor. And that puts it above my brush, bowl, cream, hones, lights, arm, and hand in regards to equipment condition.
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    Welcome back Mike. I've missed your thought provoking posts.

    So here is my take on the high angle/irritation problem.
    A sharpened razor has very tiny, microscopic saw teeth. If the razor is stropped correctly then the teeth are all in a perfect straight line like a rip hand saw.
    This gives you a nice clean cut of the hair.
    When you shave at an angle above 30 degrees (maybe 25 degrees, but that is a whole different discussion) the lateral forces on the blade move the teeth
    out of line and cause them to flare out to the side. The essentially turns your razor with rip saw teeth into a razor with crosscut saw teeth with teeth that are to the right and or left of the bevel centerline. The next flat stroke you take, you will drag those flared teeth across your skin causing micro abrasion.

    So strop the razor after you do a high angle cut and realign the teeth.

    I use the hand saw example because the fastest way to mess up the teeth set on a handsaw is to use the handsaw on its side. Sideway use of a rip handsaw will pull rip saw teeth out of line causing them to flare upwards. Sideway use of a crosscut handsaw will cause the bottom teeth to move to center and continued use will cause the bottom teeth to flare upwards. (Sneaky trick to turn a crosscut set saw into a rip cut set saw for free).

    In either case, razor or saw, the correction is to reset the teeth back to the proper position. For a razor that means stropping, for a saw that means a saw set. Luckily stropping a razor only takes a few seconds as opposed to the time it takes to set a saw.

    And now you know why carpenters will go out of there way to make sure that when they use a saw, the saw blade is always in the vertical plane.
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    Senior Member MikeT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theoman View Post
    ... ...And that puts it above my brush, bowl, cream, hones, lights, arm, and hand in regards to equipment condition.
    I'm finally really getting it. Nice! Second to blade is way more important than I had previously maintained. Thank you for the perspective!

    Quote Originally Posted by criswilson10 View Post
    Welcome back Mike. I've missed your thought provoking posts.

    So here is my take on the high angle/irritation problem.
    ... ... ...
    And now you know why carpenters will go out of there way to make sure that when they use a saw, the saw blade is always in the vertical plane.
    That is perhaps the best description I've ever read. It really allowed me to see the picture clearly. This makes great sense!
    Ugh! I'm surprised my skin wasn't even more irritated, but nothing usually irritates my skin at all, I could shave with toothpaste and I'd be fine.. (perhaps an exaggeration)
    ***I have had inconsistent results with honing. And I attributed it my low skill level even though I've practiced considerably. I also have had inconsistent results with pro-honed blades.
    I now think that it is not any one extreme. It is a combination of factors and adding emphasis and importance to "stropping" and "blade angle" will likely give me much more quality and consistency.
    For me this feels groundbreaking!
    Thank you for the good words of welcome and wisdom. Much appreciated!
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    Quote Originally Posted by criswilson10 View Post
    Welcome back Mike. I've missed your thought provoking posts.

    So here is my take on the high angle/irritation problem.
    A sharpened razor has very tiny, microscopic saw teeth. If the razor is stropped correctly then the teeth are all in a perfect straight line like a rip hand saw.
    This gives you a nice clean cut of the hair.
    When you shave at an angle above 30 degrees (maybe 25 degrees, but that is a whole different discussion) the lateral forces on the blade move the teeth
    out of line and cause them to flare out to the side. The essentially turns your razor with rip saw teeth into a razor with crosscut saw teeth with teeth that are to the right and or left of the bevel centerline. The next flat stroke you take, you will drag those flared teeth across your skin causing micro abrasion.

    So strop the razor after you do a high angle cut and realign the teeth.

    I use the hand saw example because the fastest way to mess up the teeth set on a handsaw is to use the handsaw on its side. Sideway use of a rip handsaw will pull rip saw teeth out of line causing them to flare upwards.
    Very nice explananation and one of the reasons that I never gave much credence to safety razor “steep shaving” theories.
    To me that is not beard shaving, that is beard scraping.
    But to each his own...

    My straight shaving mental picture is a serrated bread knife.
    And similar to a bread knife, where you don’t get best results by merely pressing downwards, I found that I get closer and more comfortable shaves with straight razors by combining the vertical blade movement with an ever so slight sideways movement.
    Obviously, an excessive amount can do harm, but it does fit nicely with the sawtooth picture - be it a saw or a serrated bread knife.

    There is not much talk about this sideways movement, but for me it works quite nicely.


    B
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