Straight Razor and Shavette Guide for Newbies

Discussion in 'Straight Razors' started by Trigger, Aug 27, 2019.

  1. Trigger

    Trigger Double Jedi Knight

    I have just completed 100 shavette and 100 traditional straight razors shaves and wanted to share my knowledge that may help those who are new to shavette or traditional straight razor shaving.
    Against conventional wisdom, I started out with one of the most difficult shavettes to use and that was the Dovo Shavette. I figured that if I could tame this beast, then I would have the skills and confidence to use a traditional straight razor. For some reason, this klutz had an unforseen gift from God to have a steady hand and very little fear from using my Dovo shavette so that my first day was a successful one pass, bloodless shave. I knew at that moment that I could do this. My 16th shavette shave included my first headshave with this razor and it was successful as well, such that I ordered my first Dovo straight razor from SRD. I was fortunate from the beginning that I never cut myself badly so as not to be discouraged. At approximately 50 straight shaves, I joined this forum on Dec 21, 2018 and continued my journey to 200 straight shaves, consisting of 100 shavette and 100 traditional straight shaves. The following are my tips for those who want to enter straight shaving:
    1. If the startup costs and the maintenance of a straight is a concern, then start with a shavette. I like Dovo, but others are less expensive and can run between 15 to 25 dollars, excluding the blades.
    2. If you decide to go head on to straights, then my recommendation is to get a 5/8 round point. I would recommend a Dovo or a Böker for a first razor. Get the Dovo Best Quality or the least expensive Böker model. Also, buy an inexpensive strop because you will cut it up when you first learn to strop.
    3. Look at some of the shaving videos on YouTube to help you learn to shave with a straight razor. I recommend Geofatboy, Eric Latta's Adventures inWetshaving and Nick Shaves. There are other videos too numerous to mention.
    4. Lathering is very important. With practice, you will get the right water/soap mixture. I prefer a slightly more water with lather than most, but you need to find out what works for your face. Take your time. Slow, deliberate strokes will minimize your risk of mishaps. Don't put pressure on the blade, just enough for the razor to glide across the face and neck. Starting out, I would suggest straightshaving on weekends and nights so you are not in a hurry. As you get more proficient with straight shaving, you will get quicker.
    5. Map your face. In other words, know the direction your beard grows so that your first shaving pass is in the direction of beard growth. You do this so that you will not have any irritation. Get proficient with first pass before you go to an against the grain second pass. In the beginning, clean up the shave with your normal razor, until you are ready to do your entire face doing 2 passes. Eventually, you will not need your normal razor to clean up.
    6. Be open to different ways to shave your face to get a nice smooth shave. Also, shave according to what is needed for the day. In other words, do I really need a BBS, DFS or an in between smooth shave (IBSS) that's between DFS and BBS?
    7. No matter how many straight razor shaves you have, don't get so comfortable that you lose your focus because you will cut yourself.
    Go in with the attitude of enjoying straight razor shaving from the very start and that cuts, nicks, weeps and irritation will not keep you from being a select few men who straight razor shave.
    Finally, rest assure that there will be Keithmax, Primotenore and myself and others to answer any questions about straightshaving. We are in the 30DC forum of TSD. Also, the rest of the nonstraightshaving 30 day crew will be cheering you on as well. Good luck and happy shaving!
    PS Shaving with a shavette is different from a straight in that with a shavette it will not forgive your mistakes in regard to technique. Watch your angle of attack and land the blade flat, then lift until you are cutting hair. Peace.
    SDK, SRQShaver, Karl G and 10 others like this.
  2. Trigger

    Trigger Double Jedi Knight

    To all those TSD members that are experienced in shavette/straight razor shaving, please share any knowledge, tips, etc to help the newbies. I will continue to add my thoughts as well. Thank you very much!
  3. brit

    brit in a box

    awesome sir..will follow along..
    Karl G, Hembree and Trigger like this.
  4. Keithmax

    Keithmax Breeds Pet Rocks

    Here is my biggest tip for open blade shaving:

    If you are in a hurry put down the straight and pick up a DE.

    If a spouse, child or pet may burst in the door during your shave put down the straight and pick up a DE.

    If you are not focused put down the straight and pick up a DE.

    If the edge does not feel right put down the straight and pick up a DE.

    If something feels a miss put down the straight and pick up a DE.

    It does not have to be a DE but can be any razor you have confidence in.

    My second tip:

    It is OK to just start with your cheeks and finish with another razor. Then go a little farther each day with the straights while finishing with a DE. Before you know it you will be using only the straight.
  5. Trigger

    Trigger Double Jedi Knight

    Thanks Keith for your input!
  6. Edison Carter

    Edison Carter Well-Known Member

    You will knick your first strop, don't spend too much.
  7. Trigger

    Trigger Double Jedi Knight

    That's so true, Bill!
  8. Chuck Naill

    Chuck Naill Well-Known Member

    Great advice has already been given. :signs021:

    I am pleased I started with a Feather SS shavette because it taught me to focus on technique since I knew the blade was more than adequate. Starting with a SR and stones is another way to go, but I think it will lead to thinking sharpness is the primary consideration rather than both technique and sharpness are essential.

    It's perhaps not essential, but if you are going to use a proper SR, learn to hone them for yourself. Films, Coticules, Thuringians and diamond pasted balsa are readily available for those whose primary interest is sharpening to shave rather than having a honing hobby.

    Learn to use both hands.

    Use well hydrated lather

    Learn to roll the shoulder of the blade in your fingers around facial curves
  9. Trigger

    Trigger Double Jedi Knight

    Chuck, thanks for your input!
    Hembree and brit like this.
  10. Spyder

    Spyder Well-Known Member

    Do not overlook this. I know there are those here (@DaltonGang ) that have no problem shaving one handed, however if you can master two handed shaving, I feel you’ll be more efficient.

    Also take care of your tools:
    - keep your razor(s) sharp. There’s nothing worse than a dull razor.
    - dry your razors; paying close attention to inside the scales and tang.
    -strop your razor after drying of to remove unseen, microscopic gunk from the bevel
    -apply a light coat of mineral oil to keep corrosion away.
    Karl G, Primotenore, Hembree and 3 others like this.
  11. DaltonGang

    DaltonGang Ol' Itchy Whiskers

    Haaa, it's not that i dont want to learn, just not on my face. I've drawn enough blood just learning with my right hand. Old saying: "If it isn't broken, dont fix it".
    Karl G, Primotenore, Hembree and 4 others like this.
  12. Trigger

    Trigger Double Jedi Knight

    Thanks for your imput, Spyder!
    Yes, it is important to try to use your non-dominant hand when straight razor/shavette shaving because you can see the angles better.
    Hembree, Edison Carter and brit like this.
  13. Trigger

    Trigger Double Jedi Knight

    I completely understand. However, let me say that I am one of the most klutziest people on the face of the earth and quite frankly, I didn't think I could straight shave, let alone doing it with 2 hands. I have nerve damage in my left hand due to it going through pane glass that my 3 fingers always felt numb. My mobiliy in that hand was also affected. The combo of weight training and using my non-dominant left hand to straight shave improved the feeling and coordination of it. Now, I realize everyone is different, but let me offer a suggestion. If and when you want to use your non-dominant hand to straight shave, then practice the shaving moves and angles with a butter knife. Lather your face like you are going to shave and use your non-dominant hand to shave the cheek and neck on your non-dominant side with the grain. Then with your non dominant hand go against the grain on your dominant cheek and neck side. At the end, you would have shaved your entire face using your non-dominant hand correctly. You do this exercise for 7 days straight and I bet you will feel comfortable using a straight with your non-dominant hand and will be able to switch hands appropriately for a nice shave.
    PLANofMAN, Karl G, BlueShaver and 4 others like this.
  14. Spyder

    Spyder Well-Known Member

    I think @Keithmax is also a one gander. These guys have been with a str8 for a long time and their routine is ingrained. Besides @DaltonGang os too old and ornery to change :D
  15. DaltonGang

    DaltonGang Ol' Itchy Whiskers

    Only 55, you young whipper snapper. :yoda
    Karl G, Edison Carter, brit and 2 others like this.
  16. Trigger

    Trigger Double Jedi Knight

    You are a young kid. Lol! I am 64 and started straight shaving at 63.
    MaineYooper, Karl G, brit and 3 others like this.
  17. Chuck Naill

    Chuck Naill Well-Known Member

    It’s true you can teach an old dog new tricks. ;)
    brit, Hembree and Trigger like this.
  18. jgreenepa

    jgreenepa Nasal Barbarian

    I admire all who use a straight! Unfortunately, I will never be one of them. At my age I'm content to enjoy my DE's and SE's, which I have been introduced to on this forum. I have a slight Parkinsonian tremor in my hands, which a DE or SE is forgiving of, but would end up doing horrible damage to my face and hate to think about my head. Kudos to all of you using straights!

    Enjoy your shaves,

  19. Trigger

    Trigger Double Jedi Knight

    Jeff, I am sorry about your condition and that you aren't able to use straights. However, shaving with a DE razor is still an old tried and true method. Peace to you!
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2019
  20. Hembree

    Hembree Not as pretty smelling

    Excellent thread with a lot of just good basic information! Thanks for starting this one Joe.
    brit and Trigger like this.

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