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  1. #1
    The Assyrian Obie's Avatar
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    Default Honing the Left Hand

    Gentlemen,

    I am right handed but have shaved left/right from the first day, thanks to my shave guru Lynn, whose style and technique I wisely emulated.

    With my left hand weaker than the right, I tried to improve its dexterity by using it more and more in my daily activity: for instance, stirring that pot of chili, turning the door knob, or just reaching for things in general.

    Since both my thumbs are banged up somewhat, especially the left, for a time I was forced to switch back to my double edge, using the right hand only. Sadly, I also realized that my left hand could no longer handle the straight and I felt uncomfortable shaving straight strictly with my right hand.

    Knowing the end of my straight razor shaving had come, I was compelled to sell my four straight razors with much pain. Even my chewed up strop went. Why not have someone else enjoy my straight razors, I felt, since I myself no longer could.

    Never one to give up on anything worthwhile, however, I knew I had to get back to shaving with a straight razor. Something had to be done. But what? The answer lay in the way I used my left hand that put less demand on my thumb. It is amazing how much we rely on the thumb. Still, I had to compensate for its weakness by using the other fingers more wisely. I did this with both hands, though more so with the left. I kept working at it with the tenacity of a shark.

    It has been a while and I am up to 12 razors, all of which are rotated, and cared for. It is a modest collection, but it is mine. I still use both hands to shave straight. What's more, the left hand continuously gets a lot more use than before the straight razor.

    Gentlemen, some things in life are non-negotiable: like humanity and integrity. Like never forgetting who you are and where you come from. Like friendship. Like a glass of wine. Like an open mind. Like a good conversation.

    Like a good shave with a straight razor, using technique that fits the performer best. In my case, using both hands and keeping each individual hand well honed.

    Regards,
    Obie

  2. #2
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    Well done mate

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    Obie (11-07-2009)

  4. #3
    Hones/Honing/Master Barber avatar1999's Avatar
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    Obie,

    Great story! I use both my hands to straight shave as well. It just felt like the natural thing to do even on my first straight shave. I could tell that my right hand needed practice (I'm left handed) but gradually it has come "up to par."

    You're truly an inspiration and I am so glad you are here on this forum!

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    Obie (11-08-2009)

  6. #4
    Senior Member blabbermouth JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    Obie, would it be indiscreet to ask what happened to your thumbs ? Back in '77 I nearly lost four fingers on my left hand. Crushed a couple of knuckles but thank God a co-worker got a bar in between the iron that had my hand pinned before it nested and took them off. I get shivers whenever I think about it. Took awhile but I got the dexterity back.
    Be careful how you treat people on your way up, you may meet them again on your way back down.

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    Member PaulX608's Avatar
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    On 03JUL1979, while helping my mother clear a field behind our house, I fell under the Bush Hog. For those not familiar with said piece of equipment, it's a large mower pulled behind a tractor capable of cutting down just about anything through which you can drive your tractor. Upon looking up from the ground and seeing the spinning blade above me, I instictively put my left arm in front of my face. I lost most of my ulna, three of my carpal bones, and broke my radius in several pieces. Through several surgeries, I was able to keep my arm and have some use of the hand but I can't hold a razor with it. I really commend your dedication to overcoming your obstacle. I'm always inspired by stories like yours, and it makes me very thankful that I got to keep my arm and do what I can. One handed shaving works well for me. Although some of the positions into which I contort would likely look funny to most of you guys.

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  10. #6
    The Assyrian Obie's Avatar
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    Default Honing the Left Hand

    Gentlemen,

    Thank you for your thoughts.

    And my dear Jimmy, I can't exactly pinpoint when, but sometime in my life I must have done something harmful to my hands. Whether it happened in Vietnam, or in my youth when I did some boxing, I don't know. Maybe I hoisted too many scotches and martinis in my youth, who knows?

    The hand doctor, naturally, was non-committal about the cause. Well, it could have been caused by a hand injury or by something else. Now that's about as satisfying an answer as trying to predict what dreams you'll have tonight.

    In time the joints in my thumbs, especially the left, developed some major degeneration, which led to a bad case of arthritis. I don't mean to give the impression that my hands are twisted into claws or anything like that. No Boris Karloff horror movie stuff here. Beyond a few aches and pains brought on by age, my hands generally are in good shape. It's the bloody thumbs, especially the left, that are banged up and cause me major pain.

    A while back, when I had to stop shaving with a straight razor, I had reached a point when my left thumb prevented me from holding even a cup of coffee. Trying to put on my pants was like a slapstick comedy routine. I had to wear a thumb brace all the time. It was bad. I not only had to be careful at the gym, but also when performing routine movements — all it took was a little twist and pow!

    Well, this was not a good situation, I told myself. Fortunately by continuously honing my left hand for my straight razor shave, I had gained enough dexterity with it that it was almost as good as the right. Further, I began working on methods that would put less pressure on my thumbs. That still is the case.

    For instance, instead of reaching into the fridge and taking a carton of milk out with one hand, now I use both. Rather than wrapping one hand around a glass of water, which would put high pressure on a thumb, now I grab the glass with both hands.

    Straight razors put definite pressure on the thumbs. I am fully aware of this when shaving. To prevent further injury, I try to maintain as light a pressure on the thumbs as possible. When shaving up on the neck, for example, I bend my thumbs in certain ways to reduce pressure. So far it's working. Also, it helps me stay fully aware and focused on what I'm doing.

    Every time I shave, I let the thumbs know who's in charge.

    Regards,
    Obie
    Last edited by Obie; 11-08-2009 at 03:26 AM.

  11. #7
    Senior Member blabbermouth JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear that Obie but keep on keeping on. I have had joint problems from time to time . In my forties I discovered Glucosamine sulfate and it really has helped a great deal.
    Be careful how you treat people on your way up, you may meet them again on your way back down.

  12. #8
    The Assyrian Obie's Avatar
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    Default Honing the Left Hand

    My dear Jimmy,

    Thanks for the encouragement. Thanks also for suggesting Glucosamine sulfate. I had used it some time ago. Perhaps it's time to start again.

    Regards,
    Obie

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    Senior Member hornm's Avatar
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    Default Finger fitness

    Obie. There's some videos out there called Finger Fitness. I bought them when I was taking bass lessions to help improve co-ordination & dexterity in my hands. The vids were pretty cheap at the time (although rather corny to watch) but may be something that could help restore some dexterity back to your hands/thumbs. You could probably find them on amazon. I'm no MD so it' just a thought. Wait. Found a link HandHealth | Maximize the Physical Capabilities of Your Hands Check it out. You never know.

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    They call me Mr Bear. Stubear's Avatar
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    Hi Obie,

    Glad you managed to overcome the problem! It just goes to show what can be done if you keep at it...!

    When I was much younger my father got very bad arthritis, in fact so bad that we had to sell the car and get one with power steering just so he could drive. It stopped him playing guitar, one of his great loves and one he passed on to me. Fortunately he's recovered from it and he can play again, which makes for very enjoyable father/son jamming sessions! It turned out that the silver coloured fillings he had were responsible as they contained mercury. When he had them removed and switched to the white ceramic ones the arthritis cleared up.

    I'm glad you're back in the straight razor saddle and I hope that you stay well!

    All the best,

    Stuart

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    Obie (11-09-2009)

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