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Any of you guys use straight razors?  RSS feed

 
Ray Cover
Posts: 132
Location: Missouri
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I have been using a straight razor for a while. This last generation of cartridge razors have gotten stupidly expensive for a throw away item. It got to the point that a new pack of replacement cartridges were more than I was willing to pay. I had a growing desire to move myself farther away from throw away products so I switched to a straight razor. It didn't really save me any money in the short term because this actually led me to collect a few razors but I will never have to buy another razor or razor cartridge as long as I live.... and I can get enough saves out of a puck of shave soap to replace several aerosol cans of shave cream, and much much less ends up in the land fill.

You can get set up fairly decently to start using a straight razor for around $100 bucks even better for around $150.... and never have to buy anything again shaving related beyond an occasional puck of soap. Of course if you go high end you can spend a ton of money but you can get quality products and buy used and have a good life long shaving kit for a decent price.

Here is the way I went about it.
-Used razor strop in good shape $30
-Puck of shaving soap $5-$10
-Boar brush new $15
-Use KeenKutter razor in great shape $25 shipped off ebay ( I had to hone this myself to make it shave ready)
-Used Henkels Twin razor of ebay for $17 shipped (I had to rescale and hone)

Total investment $97

If you do not have a razor hone or a hone appropriate for razors you will need to get one. You can gt a nice antique barbers hone of ebay for usually around $25-$30

I know that sounds like a lot of money up front for a shaving kit but I can shave for the rest of my life with this and never toss another cartridge or old blade in the trash.

Yes as I said. This has led to a small collection and a restoration hobby so one can argue that I didn't save any money. But every razor I buy I purchase that the low end of what its worth and I do any restorations myself. I can sell every razor in my collection for more than I paid for it.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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For those who aren't quite brave enough to shave with a straight razor my husband swears by the good old safety razor. Very durable and blades are much less expensive than modern cartridge blades, and last more than a week per blade for someone with a small beard (not shaving entire face).
 
Ray Cover
Posts: 132
Location: Missouri
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There is a bit of a learning curve to using a straight razor for sure. Your likely to nick yourself the first few times and it takes a few times to learn the technique well enough to get a really good shave. But now that I have it down I don't think I would ever go back even if they gave cartridge razors away. I used to hate to shave but now I actually enjoy it. There is almost something zen like about it. Very relaxing.

There are a lot of guys using the double edge safety razors who really like them. Using one of those also reduces the trash for sure.

Ray
 
tel jetson
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I shave maybe once a year. when I do, I use a straight razor. because I do it so rarely, it takes me twenty minutes or so, but it's fun.

both of my razors belonged to my grandfather, so I didn't have to buy them. for a strop, I use a piece of leather I cut out of an old suit cover that was headed for the landfill. I did have to buy a very fine whetstone. my dad bought me a shave brush and mug that he found in an antique store for cheap.

my girlfriend uses a safety razor for her legs and armpits. says it works great. seems silly to me, but she doesn't like hair.
 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
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Nice post Ray. Did you teach yourself proper honing and stropping? How was the learning curve? I've been hesitant to buy a razor off Ebay, as i'd like to at least start with a good edge while i'm learning how to maintain it.
I've been on the double sided safety razors for a while now, but even they add up. I'm ready to take the plunge.
So many things to sharpen, I've just started to get a grasp on the scythe...
 
tel jetson
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Kari Gunnlaugsson wrote:I've been on the double sided safety razors for a while now, but even they add up.


they last a lot longer if they are cleaned and dried completely after each use. my friend regularly gets a year out of one blade.
 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
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Huh...mine last about four or five shaves, but i usually let things slide for a few weeks in between so that's a month or two...

They're also just not as cool, are they?
 
tel jetson
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Kari Gunnlaugsson wrote: Huh...mine last about four or five shaves, but i usually let things slide for a few weeks in between so that's a month or two...

They're also just not as cool, are they?


there may be substantial variation in quality. I've never used them, so I can't say.

as far as cool factor... the important part is to not use a disposable or electric razor. beyond that, it's a matter of taste. my dad's old Mercur safety razor was pretty badass, though he claims to have no recollection of it. the straight razor I use is pretty great, too.
 
Thea Olsen
Posts: 95
Location: suburbs of Chicago USDA zone 5b
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My husband loves his straight razor. When he does use a modern razor, he complains that it gives him razor burn.
 
Ray Cover
Posts: 132
Location: Missouri
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Kari Gunnlaugsson wrote: Nice post Ray. Did you teach yourself proper honing and stropping? How was the learning curve? I've been hesitant to buy a razor off Ebay, as i'd like to at least start with a good edge while i'm learning how to maintain it.
I've been on the double sided safety razors for a while now, but even they add up. I'm ready to take the plunge.
So many things to sharpen, I've just started to get a grasp on the scythe...


Hey Kari, For me sharpening/honing was the largest learning curve. I grew up sharpening things but a razor needs such a keener edge than a knife or they will pull the whiskers which gets uncomfortable. That part of it took me a while to really get the hang of. Part of what helped me in that area was getting my hands on a a good super fine grit finishing hone. I could not afford a Belgian coticule or an Escher stone (a few hundred dollars) so I bought one of the Gray chinese natural hones with a slurry stone. Those are supposed to be int eh 12K grit range. I think I got mine for about $16 or $18 or so. Its not fancy and doesn't come with all the respect of the expensive stones but it does a good job for me. I did pretty much teach myself with a lot of guidance and trouble shooting from the guys at Straight Razor Place.

As far as buying one off ebay, you do have to be careful. There are a lot of scam artist on there who use poor photography to hide dings in the edge and such. If I they don't have a good clear pic where I can see any flaws in the blade I pass on the auction. Scales can be easily replaced if your even a little handy with tools and sandpaper but if the blade is wore beyond use or has nicks in the edge you don't want it as a user. I am also a member on a razor forum called Straight Razor Place. A while back they had a couple threads going on how to spot damaged razors in ebay auctions and what to look for when buying an ebay razor. They also have a decent list in their archives on which brands to avoid due to poor quality. If you really want to try a straight razor I would go there an really educate yourself before buying one from ebay. Another good option is to buy one form one of the members classified there. Those guys are always horse trading razors and they all use their stock so a razor from that classified is a safe bet.
 
Ray Cover
Posts: 132
Location: Missouri
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Thea Olsen wrote:My husband loves his straight razor. When he does use a modern razor, he complains that it gives him razor burn.


Funny you mentioned that. I also stopped getting razor burn when I switched to a straight razor.
 
tel jetson
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there's a paste that can be applied to a strop to take the place of a hone. fine diamond dust is involved. paste on one side of the strop, the other side left alone for actual stropping. never tried it myself, but I read good reviews once upon a time. might reduce the price of getting set up a bit.
 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
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That's quite the razor site, thanks. They're serious. I'll do some homework there and then start looking for a blade. There's some sixty to eighty dollar new stuff online, but it's hard to know if it's crap or not.

How often do you need to hone, or will it go for quite a while just on stropping?

I am starting to build up quite an assortment of Victorian affectations, I may have to be cut off after this before it gets out of hand. Oops that's a bad idiom to use, hopefully the razor doesn't cut anything off
 
Leila Rich
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Here's a razor thread; no idea if it's relevant though... http://www.permies.com/t/8458/frugality/Months-Out-One-Razor#77010
 
Ray Cover
Posts: 132
Location: Missouri
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Kari,

I generally can get 12-15 shaves out of a blade between touch up honings before it starts to tug. At that point just a little touch up (5-10 strokes) on the finishing hone brings it back to life. Some guys get more. I shave my face totally clean and I have a VERY stiff rigid beard. A guy who left a beard and mustache or had softer hair to cut may get twice that many shaves between edge touch ups.

You do have to strop between every shave. I usually strop about a 100-150 strokes after a honing and usually about 50-60 strokes between shaves.

Once you have the bevel set and a good hone established it becomes a matter of maintenance. Once everything is right there should not be a need to do a full re-hone unless it got dropped or something and damaged the edge.

Ray
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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tel jetson wrote:
Kari Gunnlaugsson wrote:I've been on the double sided safety razors for a while now, but even they add up.


they last a lot longer if they are cleaned and dried completely after each use. my friend regularly gets a year out of one blade.


That's impressive, does he resharpen them?
 
tel jetson
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he washes them off real well, then drags them against a towel to dry them. looking at the link Ludi posted, giving them a strop of some sort might work even better.

I recently gave him a pack of safety razor blades to try instead of disposables from the dollar store. it could be a couple of years before he gets around to trying them, though.
 
Fred Morgan
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I only shave with the fancy 3 blade razers which seem to last me for months. I only shave when coming out of a shower, with a little bit of soap, and I only shave maybe once or twice a week (usually when the beard starts to itch or I have to meet with people for business) One razor seems to last for months for me. A straight razor might be a good idea since I would assume they would cut through long whiskers better, I know that I can get one here in Costa Rica since the barbers use them. I might give it a try.
 
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