Today I am back to my straight razors. I plan to use nothing but straights for the rest of the month. I decided to do this partly to work on my shaving skills without having to fall back on the crutch of a safety razor and partly to work on my honing abilities. I just received some lapping film yesterday and am now working on the honing of my razors. Honing a straight razor is, at best, a difficult thing to do properly. It requires an entirely different honing process than the one used to hone knives and when it is done improperly you can end up with something that has more in common with a sharp letter opener than a razor, it will have a cutting edge, but won’t be truly capable of shaving a human face. Working entirely with straight razors allows me to test my freshly honed razors and to work on my shaving technique all at the same time.
For today I decided to use my Robeson ShurEdge 4/8 quarter hollow. This was my first straight razor and as such holds a special place in my heart. I set the bevel on this razor using a fairly course stone and then went to my lapping film. I have been told that trying to hone a wedge or even a quarter hollow on lapping film is extremely difficult, but I gave it a go anyway. The honing took forever and was not very fun, but it resulted in an edge that shaved hair off of my forearm. I finished up by stropping the blade across my chromium oxide pasted balsa strop followed by the linen and leather strop. I cleaned the blade and then got ready to shave. I chose gear that I knew would work well without difficulty. I used the Muhle HJM 41-P-3H tortoise shell boar brush because its rough bristles work quickly and efficiently with soap I paired it up with RazoRock Napoleon’s Violet. The RazoRock was my first real shaving soap, it is extremely easy to lather and stays nice and wet no matter how long it takes me to shave.
I took my time in the shower while my brush soaked and then took a deep breath and tried not to imagine all of the many ways that this shave could go wrong. The RazoRock loaded up just as quickly and easily as I remembered and created an incredibly rich and creamy lather. The razor slid smoothly and easily across my face, but just did not cut closely or smoothly. After two passes, one with the grain and one against the grain, I ended up without much to show for it. The edge was obviously smooth, but also just as obviously not honed well enough. I ended up pulling out my Union Cutlery 5/8 full hollow to finish up the job. The shave left me with little irritation and soft skin (thanks in large part to the RazoRock), but it was also a pretty big let down. I knew that trying to hone a wedge type razor on lapping film would be difficult, but I was also hoping that I would still be able to pull it off. Sadly, that was not the case. I’ll have to send it off for a professional honing, and in the mean time I will work on honing my full hollow and extra hollow straights. This whole thing is a learning process and I am fully prepared for some bumps in the road. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.
Razor: Robeson ShurEdge 4/8 and Union Cutlery 5/8
Brush: Muhle HJM 41-P-3H tortoise shell boar brush
Soap: RazoRock Napoleon’s Violet
Muhle HJM 41-P-3H tortoise shell boar brush:
RazoRock Napoleon’s Violet: