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Thread: Shave #10 with straight

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    Default Shave #10 with straight

    Back when this Covid-19 thing started I decided to try Straight razor shaving. I've been using a DE saftey for a bit over 3 years.

    The first shave was a bit awkward as I wear glasses or 1 contact lens for up close vision. It was just hard to get the sight lines in view. In this shave I used a new Dovo Bismark that was honed before shipping by Classic Shaving. After a bunch or videos I jumped in and used the strop from the package I purchased.
    I decided it was easier without my glasses as I can see with a bit of blur. I should know my face right?

    I decided to only go WTG on this attempt. First was how the heck do I hold this thing. After what seemed forever I took the first swipe from right ear NS. OK I was surprised that I did not cut my face anywhere in this first swipe. I finished the right side cheek and neck and went to the left side. What the heck now I really can't see. I struggled along and finished up that side. Oh and remember the no blood thing that I mentioned above? I had several sweepers on both sides of face and neck.

    I cleaned all the gear and stroped the blade again. I went to the living room to show my wife. She said it looked as though I got in a fight with a cat. These guys bleed forever.

    So after 8 more shaves ( I normally shave every 2-3 days or longer) my skill and handling of the blade improved a bit. Although still awkward. In these shaves I experimented with XTG and ATG. Each shave seemed a little better. In this time I also bought an old blade from here and ordered a new Dovo BERGISCHER LWE (Mountain Lion) that was factory sealed.
    I used both the Antique and The new Dovo. Out of the tin the Dovo seemed very sharp. I took it to the strop for 25 laps on both side. I really liked the new Dovo's weight and balance. In these shaves I had plenty of cuts some that the next shave still had a scar.

    So to Shave 10.
    I lathered up and I ran the Mountain Lion 50 laps on the strop each side. Being a bit more at ease I did 3 seperate passes, lathering up each time. I think I was getting cocky as I had zero nicks with the first two passed. ATG still seems awkward but I pressed on and got very close to BBS With only a few weepers.

    A few things I noticed:
    1 I find it hard to believe that after shaving since I was 15 (43 years) that I still did not get everything BBS. I had a few patches with real close stubble.

    2 After all the reading that a new blade must be honed, I think this new Dovo is fine.
    I may find in time that I am wrong, but for now I think I will use the Mountain Lion as my go to.

  2. #2
    Senior Member blabbermouth RezDog's Avatar
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    The new razors are hit and miss, more miss seems the experience of those that hone for others. It’s nice to hear when someone gets lucky. It’s also nice to hear that you are catching on. It is not rocket science but it does require paying attention and practise. Happy shaves!
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    Congratulations..!!!

    Sounds like your picking up on things pretty quickly.

    Getting your muscle memory down, will take some time.

    Mapping your face, and proper skin stretching, goes a long way, in this game. Take your time, learn what grip your most comfortable with, even if its your own. Most will say, its best to learn to shave with both hands. Where there's guys like me, that only shave with our dominant hand, and adapt our own grip, to what's comfortable to us.

    A small tip...keep your angle low, and only enough pressure, to shave the lather. Should take care of those weepers.

    Shave on..!!
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    Sounds like your already shaving better than me.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth nessmuck's Avatar
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    Aftah 100 shaves...then report back. By then....muscle memory is in its infant stage and starting to develope...and one has a wee bit of confidence.
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    The force is strong in this one...

    You are getting it! BBS is not something I worry about. Nobody notices anyway! I go a single WTG pass and I am quite satisfied with my shaves. The Bismarck and the BL are both nice razors so you picked a couple of good ones. Make sure you always stretch the skin properly, and keep the shave angle nice and shallow. Soon, cuts will be a rare occurrence and your face will feel great after shaving. Do you have a styptic pencil? That's pretty old school but it still works great to stop bleeding and disinfect small cuts.

    The next thing you will probably want to learn is how to maintain your nice sharp edges. Me, I use a progression of three balsa strops. I glue 1/4" thick balsa to 3/4" x 3" x 12" cast acrylic plate from TAP Plastics. Three acrylic plates, three pieces of balsa. 3M spray adhesive works fine. Spray it on kind of medium heavy to acrylic and balsa, let it dry to just tacky, then stick them together, flip them balsa down onto a flat surface, and pile some weight on the back of the acrylic for a few hours. This stabilizes the balsa which otherwise would warp and swell and shrink. Then I lap the balsa on a whole sheet of sandpaper glued flat and tight onto a flat surface, first 220 grit then 400 grit. No need to go any finer. A toothbrush or a bronze bristle gun cleaning brush is good for clearing the sandpaper when it loads up. Once it is lapped, I wipe it down carefully with a clean tshirt, and apply diamond paste, starting with the finest and ending with the coarsest. You must always be very careful to not contaminate a finer balsa with a coarser abrasive! A little paranoia here is beneficial. .5u, (half micron) .25u, and .1u is the normal progression. About a half a pinto bean size bit for the initial treatment is more than enough. You do not want a coating. The idea is to rub it into the grain of the balsa. So just dot it around, smear it and rub it in with your fingers, then wipe the balsa down so there is no excess. Wipe the finest first. This will take your edge from 12k or 1u level into the star trek zone. Feedback is not very reliable with this medium so just go about 50 laps on each, maybe 100 or more on the .5u if the edge is not fresh off the stone or film. Wipe the blade carefully and wash hands between stages.

    Sounds like a lot of work, huh? That is just because you have to begin by bridging the huge jump between the typical 12k finishing stone to 200k diamond. Once you got your phaser sharp edge, you can maintain it by going 40 or 50 laps after every shave on ONLY the .1u balsa, then stropping on your regular clean leather strop before the next shave. Done right, you will soon forget what a dull edge feels like. The .5u and .25u can give you a harsh feeling edge. The .1u gets it extremely sharp but still buttery smooth shaving, as long as you keep your angle down so the spine is nearly dragging on the face, and you stretch diligently.

    On the balsa, even though it is technically honing, think stropping, because you always lead with the spine. I like to add a pull stroke every 5 or 10 laps, and lately I am liking what I get when I finish with very short X strokes. Pressure needs to be very light, and in fact I recommend holding the balsa vertically, end up, so the entire weight of the razor does not bear on the balsa. Always hold it in hand, and keep the contact very light. This, and the fact that the diamond is deeply embedded in the balsa and not rolling around on the surface, gives a very nice scratch pattern, much finer than you would expect from diamond paste.

    The balsa usually needs a refresh after about 30 uses. I use about two BB's worth of paste. If it is too much that is okay, the tshirt rub gets it off. After a half dozen or so refreshes, the balsa might be so loaded up with swarf that it needs lapping again. Start with 120 or 150 grit because this time the sandpaper will load up quickly and heavily.

    Some guys use CrOx on balsa, or on leather or cloth. The result is nowhere near that of properly set up diamond on balsa but it is better than nothing. You can also get yourself a nice finishing stone like a Naniwa 12k, or an acrylic plate just like what I described above, and some 1u lapping film. These media are usually used when the edge seems to be getting dull, which might be after a couple dozen shaves or might be after 50, 60, or even more shaves, depending on various factors. Some guys on this forum have gone over 100 shaves. Your stropping will make a lot of difference so really try to get your stropping game together.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrescentCityRazors View Post
    The force is strong in this one...

    You are getting it! BBS is not something I worry about. Nobody notices anyway! I go a single WTG pass and I am quite satisfied with my shaves. The Bismarck and the BL are both nice razors so you picked a couple of good ones. Make sure you always stretch the skin properly, and keep the shave angle nice and shallow. Soon, cuts will be a rare occurrence and your face will feel great after shaving. Do you have a styptic pencil? That's pretty old school but it still works great to stop bleeding and disinfect small cuts.

    The next thing you will probably want to learn is how to maintain your nice sharp edges. Me, I use a progression of three balsa strops. I glue 1/4" thick balsa to 3/4" x 3" x 12" cast acrylic plate from TAP Plastics. Three acrylic plates, three pieces of balsa. 3M spray adhesive works fine. Spray it on kind of medium heavy to acrylic and balsa, let it dry to just tacky, then stick them together, flip them balsa down onto a flat surface, and pile some weight on the back of the acrylic for a few hours. This stabilizes the balsa which otherwise would warp and swell and shrink. Then I lap the balsa on a whole sheet of sandpaper glued flat and tight onto a flat surface, first 220 grit then 400 grit. No need to go any finer. A toothbrush or a bronze bristle gun cleaning brush is good for clearing the sandpaper when it loads up. Once it is lapped, I wipe it down carefully with a clean tshirt, and apply diamond paste, starting with the finest and ending with the coarsest. You must always be very careful to not contaminate a finer balsa with a coarser abrasive! A little paranoia here is beneficial. .5u, (half micron) .25u, and .1u is the normal progression. About a half a pinto bean size bit for the initial treatment is more than enough. You do not want a coating. The idea is to rub it into the grain of the balsa. So just dot it around, smear it and rub it in with your fingers, then wipe the balsa down so there is no excess. Wipe the finest first. This will take your edge from 12k or 1u level into the star trek zone. Feedback is not very reliable with this medium so just go about 50 laps on each, maybe 100 or more on the .5u if the edge is not fresh off the stone or film. Wipe the blade carefully and wash hands between stages.

    Sounds like a lot of work, huh? That is just because you have to begin by bridging the huge jump between the typical 12k finishing stone to 200k diamond. Once you got your phaser sharp edge, you can maintain it by going 40 or 50 laps after every shave on ONLY the .1u balsa, then stropping on your regular clean leather strop before the next shave. Done right, you will soon forget what a dull edge feels like. The .5u and .25u can give you a harsh feeling edge. The .1u gets it extremely sharp but still buttery smooth shaving, as long as you keep your angle down so the spine is nearly dragging on the face, and you stretch diligently.

    On the balsa, even though it is technically honing, think stropping, because you always lead with the spine. I like to add a pull stroke every 5 or 10 laps, and lately I am liking what I get when I finish with very short X strokes. Pressure needs to be very light, and in fact I recommend holding the balsa vertically, end up, so the entire weight of the razor does not bear on the balsa. Always hold it in hand, and keep the contact very light. This, and the fact that the diamond is deeply embedded in the balsa and not rolling around on the surface, gives a very nice scratch pattern, much finer than you would expect from diamond paste.

    The balsa usually needs a refresh after about 30 uses. I use about two BB's worth of paste. If it is too much that is okay, the tshirt rub gets it off. After a half dozen or so refreshes, the balsa might be so loaded up with swarf that it needs lapping again. Start with 120 or 150 grit because this time the sandpaper will load up quickly and heavily.

    Some guys use CrOx on balsa, or on leather or cloth. The result is nowhere near that of properly set up diamond on balsa but it is better than nothing. You can also get yourself a nice finishing stone like a Naniwa 12k, or an acrylic plate just like what I described above, and some 1u lapping film. These media are usually used when the edge seems to be getting dull, which might be after a couple dozen shaves or might be after 50, 60, or even more shaves, depending on various factors. Some guys on this forum have gone over 100 shaves. Your stropping will make a lot of difference so really try to get your stropping game together.
    Wow, thanks. I think I can handle that. I reread that X2 and think I understand what you are saying.

    Is the cast acrylic plate to keep the balsa wood from warping and twisting?

    I did just buy an old barbers hone and a
    3" X 8" STANDARD ILR Razor Hone 12-15k.
    This hobbie/necessity gets expensive fast. I should have a rope to get out of the rabbit hole.Name:  80130176-B3CC-4FC3-BAED-5B7737568989.jpg
Views: 97
Size:  61.2 KB

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    Home of the Mysterious Symbol CrescentCityRazors's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jkrezdorn View Post
    Wow, thanks. I think I can handle that. I reread that X2 and think I understand what you are saying.

    Is the cast acrylic plate to keep the balsa wood from warping and twisting?

    I did just buy an old barbers hone and a
    3" X 8" STANDARD ILR Razor Hone 12-15k.
    This hobbie/necessity gets expensive fast. I should have a rope to get out of the rabbit hole.Name:  80130176-B3CC-4FC3-BAED-5B7737568989.jpg
Views: 97
Size:  61.2 KB
    Yes, to stabilize the balsa, which otherwise would warp and swell. But also to make it easier to hold without your fingertips being in the path of the razor. Holding the balsa in hand is a key element for success with this method. Or THE Method, as I call it.

    Film is a lot cheaper than rocks. But the most expensive way to do this thing is to skip back and forth and buy a little of everything. I know plenty of guys who have a selection of coticules, a selection of thuris, Charnleys, Cnats, Jnats, Arkies, a big pile of various slurry stones, a full set each of Shaptons and Naniwas, all the Nortons, a Bear Moo setup, Sharp Pebbles, Kings, no-names, barber hones, and various types of films. Because why? Couldn't stick with just one method. Always chasing the dragon. So instead of $50 worth of honing stuff they end up with $5k worth of honing stuff. So if I were you I would right now start figuring out how you want to spend the rest of your life but hopefully not the rest of your money on honing. Then stick with that program. The pasted balsa works well as a post finish and a maintainer over pretty much any honing method except maybe trying to finish on 8k Nortons or barber hones, in which case you would need to add a fourth balsa to fill the gap. Maybe 1u diamond paste.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jkrezdorn View Post
    Back when this Covid-19 thing started I decided to try Straight razor shaving. I've been using a DE saftey for a bit over 3 years.

    The first shave was a bit awkward as I wear glasses or 1 contact lens for up close vision. It was just hard to get the sight lines in view. In this shave I used a new Dovo Bismark that was honed before shipping by Classic Shaving.

    I decided it was easier without my glasses as I can see with a bit of blur. I should know my face right?

    I decided to only go WTG on this attempt. First was how the heck do I hold this thing.
    What the heck now I really can't see. I struggled along and finished up that side. Oh and remember the no blood thing that I mentioned above? I had several sweepers on both sides of face and neck.

    I cleaned all the gear and stroped the blade again. I went to the living room to show my wife. She said it looked as though I got in a fight with a cat. These guys bleed forever.

    In this time I also bought an old blade from here and ordered a new Dovo BERGISCHER LWE (Mountain Lion) that was factory sealed.
    I used both the Antique and The new Dovo. Out of the tin the Dovo seemed very sharp. I took it to the strop for 25 laps on both side. I really liked the new Dovo's weight and balance. In these shaves I had plenty of cuts some that the next shave still had a scar.

    So to Shave 10.
    I lathered up and I ran the Mountain Lion 50 laps on the strop each side. Being a bit more at ease I did 3 seperate passes, lathering up each time. I think I was getting cocky as I had zero nicks with the first two passed. ATG still seems awkward but I pressed on and got very close to BBS With only a few weepers.

    A few things I noticed:
    1 I find it hard to believe that after shaving since I was 15 (43 years) that I still did not get everything BBS. I had a few patches with real close stubble.

    2 After all the reading that a new blade must be honed, I think this new Dovo is fine.
    I may find in time that I am wrong, but for now I think I will use the Mountain Lion as my go to.

    Allow me to be frank, as I want you to avoid a few traps and misconceptions that a novice easily can stumble into.
    Luckily, you have come to a website, supported by many knowledgeable members, that may be better suited to provide assistance than any other website that I know of.


    Like many of us, I came to straight shaving via DE shaving. It teaches you a few things here and there, but it is by no means an entry course into straight shaving, as there are just too many aspects that have to be newly learned.

    While you can reasonably master a shave with a safety razor after a month of daily shaving, with a straight razor that will take much longer. Not only will you have to become proficient with shaving with a straight razor, you will need to become proficient in stropping and most likely, unless you plan on having someone hone the razors for you, honing.
    That is a tall order, as a small mistake in any of the above processes can ruin an otherwise perfect shave.

    That you bought a Dovo Bismarck and Dovo Bergischer Lwe did not make things easier. As attractive these blades are, their rhombus-shaped profile has a fairly sharp edge on each side of the blade that makes stropping and honing more difficult.
    On one extreme you risk scratching the strop or abrading the blade on the hone, on the other extreme you train yourself to use an unnecessarily steep, possibly inconsistent, angle to avoid damaging the strop or blade.
    In a nutshell, Bismarck style blades need more experience to strop and hone.

    Dovo has a bit of a mixed reputation among straight shavers. The company, which has recently filed for bankruptcy protection, has a long history, but has also seen some slide in quality and their products are not shave-ready and need honing according to some members. This is an ongoing debate as, like many aspects of straight shaving, this is ultimately a subjective assessment. One shaver’s hellish sharp razor is another shaver’s butterknife.

    Regarding the second razor you bought, “Bergischer Lwe” means nothing like “mountain lion” (that would be “Berglwe” in German).
    Solingen lies in a region of Germany that is called “Bergisches Land” (hilly land) and as this razor was meant to be one of Dovo’s premium razors, they gave it the royal “Lwe” (lion) attribute.

    To perfect my technique, I would consider a fairly inexpensive quality razor, either a new, round point 5/8 or (if you must) 6/8 like a Ralf Aust, or a reconditioned round point razor of the same size. They are fairly inexpensive, easy to strop, hone, and shave with and if you should make the same mistakes that most of us made, quite forgiving and it won’t break the bank if you make a mistake that requires a setting a new edge.
    My venerable Aust 5/8 is still around, survived all my shaving, stropping and honing mistakes quite well and still shaves as well as my other razors.

    The concept of WTG, XTG, and ATG is just that, a concept.
    One’s particular (direction of) growth of facial hair dictates which way the blade should glide across the face.
    In my case, I have several corners where the theoretical concept will not work and most of my strokes have some XTG element in them. Do not become a slave to the academic purity of the WTG, XTG and ATG concept, use it as guidance and adapt it as your beard growth dictates.


    If you find it hard to believe that after 15 years of (dry, wet, cartridge??) shaving and 3 years shaving with a safety razor you did not get a BBS shave on straight shave number 10 you have to become more patient.
    First of all, BBS is just another concept that is open to interpretation. After many years of almost daily straight shaving my idea of a BBS has evolved and if my definition of what is achievable in a shave has moved, so will it for other shavers. Again, like many aspects of traditional wet shaving it’s all rather subjective and eludes a clear, verifiable definition.
    You will sometimes hear 100 shaves to become proficient straight razor, but that is only to become as proficient with a straight razor as with a DE razor.

    Having to wear glasses or contact lenses is a bit of a disadvantage that will, however, become easier to deal with when you develop the feel for you face. I can still shave without glasses, but even for us who do there may be a few moments during a shave where you have to guide the blade by memory without a clear view of the area that you are shaving.

    And yes, you may end up a few times looking like you have been trying to strangle a cat, but trust me we all did at one stage.

    It’s all a journey and once you have reached a stage of proficiency the journey does not end there. Noticeable progress in shaving, stropping and honing techniques will slow down, but if you persevere you may eventually reach a level where your straight shave will surpass what you can achieve with a safety razor.
    On the way, be prepared for a few moments where you ask yourself whether it’s all worth it, or whether you should go back.

    I believe it is, but what matters is patience and perseverance.

    Good luck on you journey.


    And one last thing: don’t believe everything that people will tell you (including me ).
    Like many things on the Internet, some opinions and suggestions are just blatant nonsense, some may work for a few but will not work for all, and some is universally proven, generally accepted.
    Visit several sites, get a feel which sites are able to provide better guidance and have a more open-minded community, and develop a feel for what straight shavers have reached a broad consensus on.
    These may be the snippets of information that may be worth trying.


    B.
    Last edited by beluga; 05-02-2020 at 08:25 AM. Reason: typo

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  11. #10
    Home of the Mysterious Symbol CrescentCityRazors's Avatar
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    I may be the minority, but I find that the Bismarck style blades are particularly easy to hone, strop, and use, and I always have, since acquiring my very first vintage Bismarck back when I had far less knowledge or experience with honing.or even stropping. Well, YMMV I guess. I do agree that absolute adherence to perfect WTG/XTG/ATG thing is not really feasible in the real world. Sometimes you just have to go with as close to the desired direction as your facial topography allows. Not a biggie. As long as it is in the ballpark, good enough.
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