Let it never be said that I like doing things the easy way. Hours hunched over a whetstone and a shredded face can attest to that, my friends. Nevertheless, it’s worth every drip, every pint of blood, sweat, or (admittedly) tears, to shave with a straight razor.
Ever since I started shaving, swiping away that feather-like fluff from the top of my lip, I’ve endeavored to do it the old-fashioned way. In more recent years, I’d become accustomed to shaving with what is known as a shavette; basically a straight razor that uses disposable blades. Nevertheless, it never felt quite authentic enough to satisfy my desires.
Cutting The Cost Of A Cut Throat
I always believed that straight razor shaving was something of a luxury. It seemed like one of those golden pastimes that a student or recent graduate cannot even dream to afford, not, at least, until he overcomes the infestation of debt. However, I’m far too impatient, too eager to slash myself to ribbons, to wait that long.
After extensive perusal of Google, I stumbled upon the Straight Razor Place, an essential resource for both novice and expert alike. Hours spent there reading up on blade forms, techniques, and ancillary equipment (all knowledge requisite in the pursuit of a fine razor) led me to approach Whipped Dog, a company that restores and sells a variety of vintage straight razors. Their range is vast, hosting a variety of elegant blades. However, what caught my eye was the budget choice – for a measly $30, including international shipping, comes a shave-ready vintage razor. Although labelled as flawed and therefore sold at a discount, I found it to be without any defects. Although it wasn’t quite shave-ready when I gave it a try, requiring a slight touch-up, it was a great find nevertheless!
Alternatively, I discovered a local from my birthplace, Nottingham. The Razor Guy UK who supplies budget razors, honed and ready to remove ears, for a petty £25. A top chap, he’s more than happy to provide advice on the steps required in maintaining that pant-wetting sharpness, as well as offering fantastic after-sales service. After that, it’s merely a matter of obtaining a leather strop and getting to grips with the art of keeping that razor fighting-fit.
Strops come in various shapes and sizes, from wooden paddles to the more characteristic lengths of leather. Although it boils down to personal preference, it’s recommended that a novice begins with the classic leather strop for learning the technique. After all, while it’s easy to learn bad habits, they can take a lifetime to amend.
Granted, there is a learning curve in both technique and maintenance of the blade. It needs a good strop before each shave, otherwise it dulls and rips your face off, rather than merely slicing it. Despite a few setbacks, shaving is now a white-knuckle ride that makes me feel like a macho manly-man. Ahem. Yet the adventure continues, and there is much for me to discover. Stay tuned for updates as I explore the intricacies of the tonsorial art. The numerous mistakes I make along the way are sure to be entertainment enough.