It Kindly Worked:

After picking up this tip off the Wet Shavers Round Table's last show, I thought I would give this a try and see how well or even if it would work to help someone who is new to straight razor shaving. I personally don't need them myself but I figured someone new would like to know about it. It kindly did work but with these particular binder clips (medium sized), it's a bit cumbersome during the shave so I went ahead and took them off and finished up my shave. In my humble opinion, the miniature binder clips would work best if you want to try this. For me personally, I think it's just best to go ahead and just shave without them on your straight razor because making mistakes is part of learning how to use a straight razor. Of course this is just my opinion. What you decide to do is really up to you and your personal preference:


Sweet Tea With Lemon:

Today's shave was blissful and it was also a true BBS shave yet again. It's also "Take Charge Monday" which means that I'll be using at least one Soap Commander product of some kind and today, I needed some "refreshment". The scent of this soap is phenomenal which is a mixture of orange pekoe cut black tea that's been sweetened sugar and a slice of lemon was added. There's no matching aftershave for this soap, but their integrity balm is perfect for it:


Purpose:

Today is Soap Commander & DE Sunday and the shave was phenomenal to say the least. First, I started off with a hot shower using their "Vision" scented bath bar which was a real eye opener and very refreshing. After that, I got a true BBS shave with that legendary bay rum scent which is also phenomenal. It smells exactly like someone opened up a fresh bottle of white rum and added fresh bay leaves to it along with a little hint of clove to give it some spice:


Sacre' Bleu:

Today's shave was great and it's very comfortable. But I have to hit the stones this evening because my stropping routine did little to help the pulling and tugging. Plus I had to make an extra pass to get cleaned up which I don't like doing because it causes me irritation when I do. But thankfully this soap has excellent performance and today's lather was perfect. In fact it saved today's shave. So this evening, I'll be doing a little honing on my straight razors. The scent of the soap matches the aftershave splash you see in the photo perfectly and is even stronger than the original is:


Stropping Routine Completed:

Normally, I perform a full stropping routine every Wednesday but I forgot this past week due to my mom's sudden and insanely fast health crisis this past week. Taking care of my mom is top priority to me which is still on going. She was released from the hospital today, but is still on the weak side. Basically I have a philosophy when it comes to straight razors, keep them sharp which is basically what I have been doing all of this time. I perform a full stropping routine once a week whether they need it or not and more often than not, they do need it because I shave almost daily with a straight razor except on Sundays or like yesterday's shave when I was in a bit of a rush and needed to get going. So that means I perform a full stropping routine every 5 or 6 shaves or once a week. Usually I use my Norton 4/8K combo stone once a month whether it's needed or not. I can go longer than that if I wanted to, but I prefer to keep them sharp at all times rather than wait until they start to pull and tug even after a full stropping routine was performed. Some people would suggest that approach which will work just as well. Other people would prefer and often recommend that you "kill the edge" by running the blade across an ordinary drinking glass and start from scratch which will also work fine, but it's really not necessary to do that every time in my humble opinion. But I do understand why they do recommend doing that which involves confidence and peace of mind. That's the reasoning behind this because people often forget and repeat stuff when they really didn't need to and usually a complete disaster results from it. So by killing the edge and starting from scratch, this insures and guarantees that the straight razor will be truly shave ready just in case you've laid the razor down some where and forgot whether you honed it or not. But since I've not had to send out my Gold Dollar straight razors to be professionally re-honed since this past May, I think I have proved that it's really not necessary to reset the bevel on a straight razor every time. But that's also why we say "your mileage may vary" every other sentence in the traditional wet shaving hobby:


I've pretty much decided to keep Norton's honing stones in the picture and intend to get a Naniwa Chosera 600 grit stone for setting bevels and a ILR 10 to 12K finishing stone in the near future. And if my situation works out, I'll get all of the Norton water stones separately. The Suehiro stones are pretty sweet but they're expensive as well. Their 10K water stone is around $150 dollars and the 20K is around $230 dollars which is pretty much a budget killer in my current situation. My friend uses them to finish his customer's straight razors. He uses Japanese natural stones or what we call "jnats", in the wet shaving hobby. They're past being expensive to say the least. So far the most expensive one that I've personally seen is $300 dollars on the web. So for me, synthetic water stones would be my first choice. More reasons as to why in a later blog post.

Eh+

Today's shave was great and comfortable. Not quite a true BBS shave that I have been getting, but it's extremely comfortable and close which is really all I wanted today. Ever since I quit chasing the true BBS, I started getting them on a frequent basis. I'm also getting low on the Eh+ as well. For those who haven't used this soap by now, the scent is a maple syrup, vanilla and nutmeg. I'm also running low on the Clubman Classic Vanilla which pairs with this soap along with a few other PAA soaps that I have:


RazoRock Classic:

Today's shave was great and I got a true BBS shave but unfortunately, my 37C slant took a dump. The bearing that's located around the knob is now wedged inside the handle and I can't get it out, but that's ok because it gives me an excuse to look at other DE safety razors such as the Merkur Futur. The reason I used a DE safety razor today is because I needed a fast shave. My mom is in the hospital with a bacterial blood virus and I've got to run a few errands and take her a few things. So this was my last shave with the Merkur 37C slant bar razor:


Dang it I says.

Tiki's Volcano:

Today's shave was great and yet another true BBS shave. This soap's name does NOT do it justice when it comes to lather in fact it's insane and the scent is awesome. It has a sweet tropical fruit type of scent to it and for some reason, Tiki Bar's "Walk the plank" aftershave balm goes perfectly with it. I need to stock up on some aftershave balms from Tiki Bar:




Kilted Tiki:

Today's shave was great and very refreshing. The Kilted Tiki is an awesome soap. If you like the smell of scotch whiskey and peat moss, then this is your soap. In fact scotch whiskey is actually one of the ingredients. Today's shave was also yet another true BBS shave as well. I've been on a roll with my straight razor shaving:


Gusto:

Today's shave was epic. Between my Gold Dollar 66 straight razor being impossibly sharp and yet ultra smooth and the performance and post shave feel of this soap being phenomenal, there was no way I could not get a true BBS which I'm happy to say that I did. Here lately it seems like I get a better shave with a straight razor than I do with a DE safety razor. The only side effect that there is to using this soap is that it makes you crave raspberry pink lemonade which is the scent of this soap and it's also epic. If you can't smell this soap, you have a sinus problem. I also decided to call Monday's shaves "Take Charge Mondays". Arko is a great cream and they're terribly inexpensive, however I feel that they are simply not for me so I will be giving those creams to my dad:


Soap Commander's Endurance:

Today is Soap Commander & DE Sunday's and for today's shave I decided to use "Endurance" which was my first ever shave soap from Soap Commander. The scent is a tribute to the original 1938 Shulton Company's "Old Spice" which is a lot better than what's available today. This soap will always be in my rotation as long as they continue to produce it. My shave today was and ultra fine shave but not quite a true BBS but still a really solid shave. My moustache area was a true BBS and the rest was pretty smooth except for the area to the left of my Adam's Apple. For some reason, I couldn't get that area clean today. The chin area was also good but not quite as good as I normally get with a straight razor:


^ Normally you would see this on my counter but my Mother is in the process of cleaning my bathroom so I had to use my laundry hamper to take the photo for today's shave.

PAA's C.a.D:

Today's shave was great and destined to become a true classic. I also got another true BBS shave as well which is always a good thing. As you can see, I am running low on the Fine American Blend aftershave. Once it runs out it will NOT be re-stocked in my rotation. It's a good aftershave and obviously I like it because I do use it on a regular basis but in my humble opinion as a hobby distiller, it can be much better if these aftershave splashes were aged. On some days when I open this bottle, I get just the scent itself with a little hint of the alcohol. On other days, I get nothing but the scent of the alcohol which is pretty strong and over powering. Now there's 2 ways you can fix this. You can either age the aftershave for several weeks, or you can filter the alcohol through a carbon filtering system which should remove most of the harshness of the alcohol or even both would be recommended. So PAA's matching aftershave/cologne will be this one's replacement:


Fine's Platinum is the same way and I'm also getting low on it. So PAA's "Al Fin" will be it's replacement. So for me PAA's aftershave splashes and colognes are going to be in my rotation more often. Tiki Bar and Soap Commander's balms will used more frequently as well.


Relief and Refreshment:

Well I just finished some of my yard work up today and I needed some relief and I also needed some refreshment as well. So I just finished showering using one of my personal favorite scented bath bars which is "Vision". It has a nice cooling and very refreshing feel to it and it lathers like a beast and rinses cleanly. I plan on trying some more of their bath bars and I also want to try some of Tiki Bar's bath bars as well:


And thanks to Soap Commander's "Gusto" scent line, I'm now hooked on this very refreshing beverage shown below. Their "Gusto" scent is a raspberry pink lemonade scent:


I'm curious as to what they have coming out next.


Pasted Strop Time:

One of the questions that gets asked a lot is and I quote: "How often do I strop, and what do I do when it starts to pull and tug during a shave? To answer the first part you strop on the smooth leather ONLY before each shave and if you're new to straight razors, you don't want to do no more than 50 round trips until you get more experienced at stropping. Now for the second part of that question. After roughly around 5 to 7 shaves I perform a full touch up on my strops shown below using the green chromium oxide paste. The first strop that I use is the pasted 8 by 3 inch balsa wood strop and I do 15 round trips and you lead with the spine when you strop no matter which strop you use because you don't want to take a chance on digging into your strop:


After I finish with the pasted balsa wood strop, I go to my 3 inch black latigo hanging strop and I start with the pasted nylon webbing side and I do 10 round trips:


Next up I take an ordinary micro fiber cloth that you can get any where and I wipe the blade off and then I go to the clean nylon webbing side and I do 15 round trips:


Once again I wipe the blade off and I go to the rough leather side and I perform 25 round trips and no more than that on the scrub leather. This cleans and polishes the razor's edge:


Next I wipe the blade off again with a micro fiber cloth and I take my fingers and rub them across the smooth leather to kindly give it a bit of lube from the oils contained in your skin and it also warms up the leather a bit which does make stropping a little easier and then I perform 50 round trips which should make the razor much smoother and a lot more comfortable to use:


Stropping gets easier as you gain experience. If you are new to straight razors, do NOT try to perform more than 50 round trips on the smooth leather until you gain more experience because there's a good chance that you will roll the razor and ruin the edge by over stropping it due to that initial learning curve. I've kindly just stuck to 50 round trips on the smooth leather only before each shave. But that's just me and what I'm comfortable with as always in the wet shaving world, your mileage may vary. So do what ever works for you that you feel comfortable with. But I do recommend just 50 round trips on the smooth leather only before each shave.


PAA's Cucumber:

Today's shave was great and very refreshing. I also got yet another true BBS shave. However this time around the razor wasn't as smooth as I would've liked it to be. In fact it tugged and pulled a little bit so I had to perform a touch up with the pasted balsa wood strop and my hanging strops which has already been done, hence the later post than normal. So my Gold Dollar 66 should be much smoother and a lot more comfortable to use the next time around:


RazoRock's Don Marco:

Today's shave was great. First I started off with a hot shower using Soap Commander's Vision scented bath bar which was phenomenal and the cooling sensation really woke me up and the peppermint oil used in the bath bar done a fantastic job of clearing up my sinuses to. Next I got one of the absolute best straight razor shaves I've ever had in my life and all I did was change the order of my passes. For the first pass, I went across the grain on my cheeks, chin and moustache areas while I went against the grain on my neck area. For my second pass I repeated this very same pass again. For my third pass, I went with the grain and done a little J hooking with razor on my neck area which resulted in a true BBS shave:


My entire shave lasted only 15 minutes which pretty much tells me that I'm exactly right where I need to be in terms of getting an extremely good straight razor shave.


Tiki Bar's "The Captain":

Today's shave was great. It was also a true BBS. between the smell of fresh cherry pipe tobacco and the scent of the Aqua Velva ice blue, I'm really enjoying this post shave. I also made a decision about rotation last night. From here on out, I will be sticking to the following brands of soaps. Soap Commander, Tiki Bar/Steam Bath, RazoRock, PAA/Crown King these will always be in my rotation they work best for me and my skin type. So once the others I have are gone, they will not be replaced. I'll also be looking at some aftershaves and honing stones in the near future as well:


Tiki's 1920's Barber shoppe

Today is Tiki Bar Tuesdays and I felt like using the classic "1920's Barber shoppe" scent which is a fresh talcum powder type of scent and it's NOT your typical barbershop scent which is a very good thing. Pinaud's Clubman aftershave compliments this soap's scent perfectly. Today's shave was also extremely good and smooth mainly because I just got through performing a full touch up on the strops with pastes and Tiki Bar has always been a top notch performing soap:


I need to add more of Tiki Bar's soaps to my collection.

Arko Cool & PAA's Tombstone:

Today's shave was great and a friend of my dubbed it Moneyless Mondays. Most people who don't work on the weekends usually return to work on Mondays broke after paying their bills and what not. I was also feeling a little dangerous, so I used PAA's Tombstone aftershave today:


Full Tilt Vision:

Today is Soap Commander & DE Sunday and I decided to go with their Vision scent which very refreshing and it's also my top performing shave soap. I also decided to use the Vision scented bath bar and make it a full tilt Vision scented Soap Commander Sunday. It was an epic shower and shave and it was also a true BBS which I've been getting alot of BBS shaves as of late. I guess it's where I don't chase the BBS shave and in doing so, I get one:


Crown King's Sacre' Bleu:

Today's shave was great. I also got a true BBS in 2 passes and 1 touch up on my neck and I was good to go. This soap is fantastic. Once I bloomed the scent, my entire bathroom smelled exactly like I had left 10 bottles of Aqua Velva opened all night in there which was fabulous. That was my only problem with Aqua Velva's scent, it wasn't strong enough and faded rather quickly. This soap has a much stronger scent which I love. During the shave, my straight razor had no trouble gliding across my beard which is really good. No nicks, cuts or weepers so it's got plenty of cushioning ability. The post shave feel is where this soap shines. Not overly slick, and my skin feels moist and it's soft as a baby's behind and after a shave, that's amazing. It reminds me of HTGAM's 2.0 formula when it was first released in terms of performance:


It's extremely easy to load. I got this with only 3 swirls, but I like to overload the brush to make sure I have enough product to build a good lather:


Lather pretty much exploded and kept going when I added a tad more water. It also had a yogurt type consistency to it which is awesome and what I like:


The lather also has plenty of staying power as well. This was taken after I allowed the soap to sit for 10 minutes which I timed with a countdown timer:


This soap also rinses very cleanly as well. No residue was left behind:


All and all I would give this soap 6 out of 5 stars. The price is spot on, it's easy to get and as you have seen, the performance is solid in every area possible. I'm really looking forward to trying out one of their brushes.


Mail Call:

Today's mail call is from Crown King Shaving and it's incredible. The scent is an exact match to Aqua Velva's classic ice blue aftershave and it's called "sacre'bleu" which will be used in tomorrow's shave. It was also delivered earlier than the ETA that was given to which is very unusual to say the least. The post office is pretty close when it comes to Eta's given but they're usually late and after a major holiday, it's "don't ask, don't tell" as far I'm concerned:


As usual the package comes sealed for nuclear war which is always a good thing considering how the post office treats packages sometimes:


The business cards, stickers and receipt is a pretty cool touch:


This right here I'm especially proud of. You don't see the "Made in the USA" on a lot of stuff anymore with the exception to soaps. That's what I love about Artisan made soaps:


It's a pretty clean ingredients list and the container is 4 ounce container which is perfect for me and is about the half the size of PAA's large tins which is 8 ounces:


This puck of soap will last me a really long time now that I have 31 soaps (including this one). I can call it quits when it comes to soaps but nah, I'm having too much fun doing this.


PAA/Crown King Fridays:

Today's shave was perfect and it was also a true BBS. I have zero stubble left even in my trouble spots. I believe I've also found the perfect technique that works best for my skin and I've also pretty much hit my stride when it comes to straight razors in general. It's been months since I've had to send a razor out to be re-honed and now that I've taken the initiative on learning how to hone, I believe that my shaving costs have just went to zero. My shaves are now free in terms of "costs per shave". It gets that way once you get around 7 or more soaps. But with all of these artisan soap makers, you won't be able to stop buying shaving soaps. I now have a total of 31 shaving soaps which is a month's worth of daily shaves which I now do:


RazoRock Thursdays:

Today's shave was great and it's also a true classic. After what happened yesterday, I decided to let RazoRock have Thursdays from here on out. I also nailed it on the stones again. I only did 15 round trips on my Norton 4/8K combo stone. I did 10 round trips on the 4K side and 5 round trips on the 8K side. After that I followed up with 5 round trips on the pasted Balsa Wood strop and then I done only 5 round trips on the pasted side of the nylon webbing on my hanging strop followed by my routine stropping method. I also changed up my shave routine in terms of passes. I only do an across the grain pass on my cheeks and if it's getting close to that time for a touch up, I'll do another across the grain pass in the opposite direction


The scent on this soap is great. It's an Italian Citrus based scent and there's other versions of this soap call double X and Single X. Those soaps have the exact same scent but in different scent strengths with this one being the strongest.

TTFFC's Extinguish:

Today's shave was great. First I started off with a hot shower using the legendary Soap Commander's "Vision" scented bath bar which is bliss full and beyond epic in terms of performance then I pulled out the old double open comb from PAA with my favorite blades shown below and used Through The Fire Fine Craft's Extinguish shave soap which has a very good menthol chill to it that does NOT effect the scent which is a raspberry gelato scent and then I finished it off with the legendary Aqua Velva Classic ice blue aftershave which goes with this soap almost perfectly. I still didn't get as close as I could with a straight razor, but it's still a great and comfortable shave:


This bath bar is amazing and is quickly becoming a favorite. If you have not tried the artisan's bath bars that make your shaving soap, shame on you because you're missing out on some the best bath soaps you will ever use:


I'll definitely be adding some more bath bars to my collection.

Mail Call Coming:

Well I bit the bullet on another shaving soap. I decided to give it a try mainly because it's a new formula and company and I can't wait to see what they come out with in the future. I'm also interested to see if they plan on coming out with a new razor:


Kilted Tiki:

Today's shave was great and very comfortable. Those leather wipes I got yesterday were great and made a huge difference in both the strop and the performance of the strop in a very good way. Today is also Tiki Bar Tuesdays. I've got more of these soaps than I do with any other brand. I still haven't assigned all of the other days yet but so far it's looking like it will be PAA on Thursdays, RazoRock on Fridays, Soap Commander on Sundays and I have Wednesdays and Saturdays left open for the other stuff I have at the moment. It'll depend on wether or not I get another brand or more than one soap of that brand:


24 Hours Later:

Yesterday I bought and I used these wipes on both of my strops and all I can say after using them is wow. I saw No adverse effects at all after using them. In fact the draw got better after using them and soft is not the word for it either:


While stropping my razor, I got incredible feedback and the draw was much smoother compared to what it normally is. It's like the strop had just got broken in basically which is where you'll get the sweetest and most comfortable shave you'll ever have which is what I'm looking for after stropping:


And soft isn't the word for it either. While my larger strop is much softer now, my much smaller travel strop is even softer and when I ran my fingers across the smaller strop, it was much smoother than it used to be:


I can call this a successful technique after seeing the results 24 hours later. I only plan on using these leather wipes every 4 to 6 months to keep my strops in great condition and I'll also apply it to any new strops I get in the future.

An Old Strop Secret:

Over time, all leather strops tend to either cup, crack and peel and eventually fade even though they're kept in doors and out of direct sunlight. So what can you do to protect and condition your leather strops to keep from doing this? Well you can use a few items on the web such as strop dressings and oils, but the cheapest I've seen it was around $8 dollars + shipping and it does nothing to clean the leather. So let me fill you in on an alternative that not only cleans but also conditions and protects any leather from harmful UV rays and keeps the natural moisture in your leather strop and it can be found at any Walmart for a shade less than $5 dollars:


To give you guys a clue as to how well this stuff works, I use to go to a lot of antique car shows back in the day before I became disabled. At one of those shows a saw a 1938 Model A Ford with the original leather seats that came in the car and they were perfect and almost looked brand new. Now you're are talking about an antique car that uses no car cover, and it's black which means ultra hot interiors and these seats still look brand new 77 years later after they were built. The guy that owns the car says that these wipes is all he has and will use period on these original seats. So I'm pretty confident that these will have no problem protecting and conditioning your strops. You just simply take 1 wipe per leather strop and rub it down really good and let it air dry over night:


Here's what it looks like after you've used these wipes on the strop:


This is a great alternative instead of using just half the equation and unlike the strop oils and dressings that you see all over the web, this stuff is specifically formulated for ALL forms of leather and will do no harm to your strop. Tomorrow, I will post up a results photo before my shave when I first use my strop.

Soap Commander Week:

Final Day: Today's shave was straight up clean and fresh with no scent involved. This soap is awesome. It was like I was shaving with yogurt today and zero dissipation which was really cool. That no menthol version of the integrity balm is awesome and very soothing. It's kindly like a truly unscented shaving lotion which is phenomenal in terms of performance. There's no sticky or greasy feeling and it's great for sensitive skin:


Sundays has been deemed Soap Commander & DE Sunday. Other days haven't assigned just yet but I have also deemed Tuesday as Tiki Bar Tuesdays. The reason I'm doing this is because I've got so many soaps and creams now that it would take me a while to get through all of them if I didn't do a mini rotation. I've got 7 of Soap Commander's soaps, 8 of Tiki Bar's soaps, 3 tubes of Arko's creams, 6 of PAA's soaps which is about to be 5 because I'm about done with a tin. That's 24 soaps in those 3 lines alone and that does NOT count the other pucks of soap I have either. I have 1 of Catie's bubbles, 1 of Barrister & Mann's soaps, 3 of RazoRock's, 1 of Through The Fire Fine Craft, 1 from Maggard Razors and I'm looking at soaps from Mickey Lee Soapworks, Shaver Heaven, as well as a few more from Soap Commander, Tiki Bar, and PAA. I have 31 different soaps.

Soap Commander Week:

Day 6: Today's shave was extremely good. This is their "Confidence" scented soap which has a sweet honey with patchouli with a bit of musk that seems to calm the sweetness of the honey down and balances the scent perfectly. Today's shave was also only a 2 pass shave and zero touch ups with the exception to my moustache area. My new strop has made a world of a difference in my straight razor shaves. Tomorrow is DE Sunday and is also permanently known as Soap Commander Sunday. I also plan to assign other brands for specific days. That way I can use all of my soaps and creams more often:


This is a very nice semi-sweet smelling scent and is quickly becoming a personal favorite.

Pastes are In:

Well I retract my previous statements about chromium oxide pastes and went ahead and added it to the inside of my nylon webbing and after the true BBS shave I got this morning, I determined that anyone who recommends NOT doing this with a strop is a quack in my humble opinion:


I also decided to try a new picture setting and it's awesome on here. It took a shade longer to load up but it looks much better. This the 8 MM setting:


I'm thinking about going higher on the settings but I have to check face book first to see how long it takes for them to be loaded up. On my blog the 8 mm is fine and doesn't take a long time to load up. The highest image settings my camera can go is 16 mm.

TTFFC Mixed & The Black Diamond:

Today's shave was great. I decided to go with Maria Arman's Through The Fire Fine Craft  so I grabbed my mixed soap  container. I a...