Shave'n Stuff

David's picture

Some days, I take a look in the mirror and think, 'Sheesh! I sure could use a shave.' . Back in the day I'd dampen up my skin, spray some shaving foam into my palms, and smear it on my face. I then reach for the disposable razor, and with a few easy strokes, my face was stubble free. Nothing to it. At least for a few shavings, because after that, the razor would start pulling, instead of cutting. An easy fix. Toss that one in the trash, and reach for a new one. But good golly are them little razors ever expensive! And it was this, that had me looking for an alternative.

My first thought was to just let my facial hair grow and trim it short with scissors when needed. Of course that thought didn't last but a minute. My facial hair is thin and patchy. Definitely not something I'd like to sport, and be proud of. As far as an electric razor goes, well, not only do they not shave close enough, but they also need electricity. This goes against my goals of homesteading. This just leaves one other avenue .... the straight razor!

So there I went. Pursuing the time honored tool of the barbers trade. Straight razors were used for decades before the safety razor came on the scene. The safety razor's edge (pun intended) was that it took less skill to use safely, and did not need to be maintained as with a straight razor. This was all true but, the straight razors still provided a superior shave. How do I know? I know because I shave with a straight razor.

It hasn't been too long. Not quite a year yet, anyway. But I'll tell you, I'd never go back to disposables. The first time I put my razor to my face was scary. I won't lie. I was never taught to use a straight razor, so it was pretty new. How much pressure do I put? What angle do I hold it? How many cuts am I going to get? I had asked these questions to the guy in the mirror, but he was no help at all. Only one way to find out now, and away I went. I can proudly tell you, from that day to this, I have yet to nick my face. A little extra care and caution, and anybody can do it.

Of course blade maintenance comes along with a straight razor. I've looked on getting a strop, but they are quite spendy. But what I already had was a good leather belt. I looped the end around a door knob, pulled it taught, and started running the razor over the hide. Here again, was a first for me. I read up on it a little before hand, and just took it easy. You see these guys on a movie just a slinging that blade across the leather at lightning speeds. Yeah, uhh, that wasn't me. Once I felt I had a good handle on it, I did try and pick up the pace though. Ok, so it was a bit soon for that because I ended up lacing into my nice leather belt a few times. I'm sure I'll pick up the speed down the road (pun intended again).

Well, stropping worked out for a good while, but then it didn't seem to be sharpening up no matter how much I stropped. I knew it needed to be honed, but I didn't want to have to send it out to get serviced. I wanted to do it myself. I don't have any honing stones, and found that they were a bit expensive as well as hard to come by. So I did what I normally do, and looked for an alternative. And what I ended up trying was (if you are a master straight razor sharpener, you might want to close your eyes on this) a simple honing rod used for sharpening kitchen knives. It is a ceramic honing rod, so that's good. As with the strop, I took this nice and easy.

Now, I can get it to shaving sharp, no problem. But I know it can get sharper. Either it's my crude implements, or my lack of skill, or both, but I can't seem to get it scary sharp. Maybe with more practice I'll be able to get the edge I desire.

The razor itself, took me a while to acquire. You can find straight razors at your typical department stores, but they are meant to be thrown away once they get dull. All my research pointed me to Sheffield Steel razors. You can get these brand new, but like always, I'm on a budget and these things are expensive. There was only one place I knew I'd be able to find a quality razor, and that was at antique stores. They are really not that hard to find at antique stores, but to find one without any nicks in the blade is a true challenge. I think it took us around a year to find one. Funny, the day I found this one, I had found a second. So I chose the better of the two. The scales on the one I chose are actually pretty terrible, but the blade is what counts, and I got the better of the two in that category. It even came with an old case to boot! A $20 purchase well spent!

Oh, and lastly, I went ahead and taken to the shaving brush and soap as well. No more cans of foam for me.

Here are a few pictures of my razor. Enjoy!