Stone Storage:

I've got so many water stones now that I needed something to store them in. So earlier tonight, I grabbed a small plastic tote from Walmart to store my stones in. I also plan on adding a couple more stones here pretty soon:

I was a little reluctant to put my soft Arkansas oil stone in there since it's stored in a very nice wooden box but I figured why not:

My next couple of stones will be synthetics. I need to rebuild my lower to mid range back up & there's a strong possibility that I might toss out what's left of my Norton 4/8K combo stone. That's if I don't get a certain razor I found on EBay first which I've always wanted.

Ike & The 100:

Today's shave ended up being great. Today I was craving something unique but refreshing. So I grabbed my sample of Strike Gold Shave that was made by Jennifer Mason Marting who is a really sweet lady & their "Ike" scented soap. The scent is almost an exact match of the classic Skin Bracer aftershave scent which is still available & awesome. Speaking of Skin Bracer, that's what I finished today's shave off with:

The wedge got tossed out today. I made 2 strokes with it & nothing happened. So I bread knifed it & put it in the garbage then I re lathered and grabbed my Gold Dollar 100 and it was like a night & day difference for the better. I ended up being squeaky clean after 3 passes & a couple of spots got touched up. I did see a spot or 2 of blood from where I mowed off a couple of bumps but other than that, my shave was pretty much blood & cut free. And the previous shaves have been totally blood free. I've also had no irritation and have not been getting much of a burn from my alcohol based aftershaves either which is always a good thing. The best part is the fact that I know how to hone a razor & will always have a shave ready blade with zero chances of having a dud or bad blade. So I guess I can call this an end to having bad shaves at this point.

Honing Time for the Wedge!

Earlier today I thought I would test my wedge with my shave & not good was an understatement. So I rinsed it off, wiped it down & killed the edge on one of my stones and finished my shave with my Gold Dollar 100 which was an ultra fine shave. So lets get started:

First I soaked my stones. The Norton 8K slab that I have left is on its last leg. My Suehiro mighty mini sounds like an Alka-Seltzer tablet when it gets soaked and I also threw my Apache Strata in there to soak as well. It tends to be a really thirsty stone:

I reversed the progression & started with my diamond plate which creates a 600 grit slurry. The wedge needed A LOT of work at this level. I like to have never got that bevel set:

Next I went to the 1K side of my mighty mini and spent quite a bit time here as well. Lots of uneven wear & took quite a while to get it where I wanted but I eventually got it there:

Once I got to the 3K side of of my mighty mini it was like gold. Everything fell into place and the razor started to progress a lot more quickly:

I pretty much did the same thing on my Norton 8K slab that I have left. In truth it's more like a 6.5K with slurry and a 5K with just plain water but it does finish nicely & leaves a very nice polished haze to the edge but I need something that produces a much better edge for my mid range stones:

Next up was the Apache Strata & spent a little bit a time here but not as much as I did on my other stones. I don't finish on this stone but it does make for a great mid range stone and really produces a highly polished edge. This stone doesn't produce a lot of slurry with the diamond plate:

But it sure does produce a lot of slurry with the 1K side of my mighty mini. It also likes a little extra water when using the mighty mini because it's a very thirsty stone:

After I got done with the Apache Strata I went ahead & repeated the process on my Shoubandini Japanese natural water stone:

After I spent some extra time on the Jnat I went straight to my fire hose & performed 10 round trips which should more than wake up this razor. It don't take much:

Next I went to the scrub leather & did 5 round trips to clean up the edge:

Then I finished off with 10 round trips on the smooth leather:

If this doesn't fix this razor, then the razor is getting tossed out. I can't & won't spent anymore time on it & I won't allow someone else to try to hone it either. Sometimes you get a bad razor you can't do nothing about except to toss it. So this will be the last time I hone this razor.

Vision & The Wedge/100:

Today's shave ended up being great. Today I went with my all time favorite brand Soap Commander and my favorite matching set, Vision which is an Aqua, Amber & Mint scent and has an extremely nice chilling effect even though there's no menthol in the soap. And to finish off today's shave, I went with Aqua Velva ice blue aftershave & Soap Commander's Vision scented aftershave balm which adds a tiny bit of menthol to the equation & really puts the post shave feel over the top: 

Sadly the wedge didn't quite turn out right at all. Half way through the first pass, I took the wedge to my fire hose strop & that still wasn't quite enough so after the first pass was completed, I switched to my Gold Dollar 100 that I recently got from Anthony Esposito and it was definitely the right choice. It mowed my stubble off with no issues and the edge was even better than before:

The first shave with the 100 was great but it was also fresh off the stones & I didn't strop it before the first use. But after the first shave I did take the 100 to my fire hose strop for 5 rounds to clean off the edge a bit then I followed that up with 10 round trips on the smooth leather side of my strop. It was stupid smooth & even better than before. After this shave I only did 1 round trip on the fire hose strop & 11 on the smooth leather strop. This will pretty much keep the edge going for at least 38 more shaves if not more before it needs to go onto the stones again. I probably won't need to use my fire hose strop on the 100 for quite a while after this and will probably just use my scrub leather to clean off the edge after my next shave.

Mountain Man & The Black Diamond:

Today's shave was phenomenal. I got to craving a cologne scent so I went with Stirling Soaps and their classic Mountain Man scent which is Stirling's take on Creed's Silver Mountain Water Cologne scent which is extremely expensive. Thankfully Stirling's is just as strong & rich and won't set you back as much as Creed will. And to finish off today's shave, I paired it with Pinaud's Clubman aftershave. It seems to pair extremely well with Stirling's Mountain man but it's not an exact match though:

The Black Diamond was phenomenal. I hit it out of the park with this specific edge but I may have gotten it a tiny bit too sharp so I will be checking out some Belgium Coticules here pretty soon. I'm also going to be looking at something special for my natural water stones which I will let you know about when the time comes. I want it to be a surprise.

Honing Time! Vintage Razors Only:

After shaving with my new Gold Dollar 200, I decided to take my Vintage razors to the stones. No need to mess with the Gold Dollar 200, it only has 1 shave on it and is a long ways off before needing to be re honed and I more than likely won't do a full progression when that time comes. I've also decided to take a look a Norton water stones again only this time, I will be going with the full sized versions instead of the combo stones like I did the first time around. I also decided to stick with my friend Anthony Esposito's honing method as well. There's no need to spend all day honing razors even though it's therapeutic & relaxing:

First I soaked my Suehiro 1/3K combo stone which I've pretty much have dedicated it to being a Nagura slurry stone on a full time basis & my Norton 8K water stone:

Basically I created a slurry with both sides of my Suehiro followed by a slurry with my diamond plate and I did 40/40, 20/20, 10/10, 5/5 seconds worth of half strokes followed by 10 clean up strokes with the first slurry. After that I reduced that to 20/20, 10/10, 5/5 seconds worth of half strokes followed by 10 round trip clean up strokes. I repeated this process with my Apache Strata & Shoubandini Japanese water stones:

I also hit the fire hose strop 10 round trips with both razors between each stone and just before finishing on my leather strop:

After finishing with fire hose strop, I did 5 round trips on the scrub leather & 10 round trips on the smooth leather side of my strop which is on its last leg:

So basically I'm looking at getting a new set of stones & leather strop when I get paid again. The reason I'm leaning back towards the Norton water stones is because of their width. I love my Naniwa Chosera 600 grit stone but it does make for an interesting situation sometimes when it comes to honing. So let the research begin. I sure do wish that Best Sharpening Stones didn't quit stocking Shapton glass stones. That would have been sweet if they hadn't.

C.a.D. & The 200:

Today's shave was great if not perfect. After a nice hot shower, I decided to go with Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements and their modern day classic, C.a.D. which is a much stronger version of a certain canned shave foam scent from the 1970's & 1980's which has to remain nameless. And to finish off today's shave, I went with the matching aftershave splash which is in it's own library when it comes to both scent strength & longevity. PAA's aftershaves usually last between 18 & 24 hours:

And this freshly honed Gold Dollar 200 was perfect. Anthony done an amazing job as usual with the edge of this razor. I was squeaky clean after 3.5 passes with no irritation and/or weepers of any kind. There wasn't any blood at all even with the small bumps. Like I stated earlier it was perfect. I did end up having to do an extra half pass on my neck area to get it where I wanted it. And as far as using it, it was like riding bike. I had no issues at all using this straight razor.

Mail Call: Gold Dollar 200 Razor:

Today's mail call is from my friend Anthony Esposito and it's awesome. I have missed the straight razor world pretty bad as of late & needed to get back into it. And now that I've paid off my truck, I can afford more shaving gear. The decision to return to straight razors was made for me by Gillette when they decided to go back up on their cartridges again. I simply can't afford $25 dollars for 4 cartridges that might give me around 1 month's worth of shaves if I'm lucky & I'm not in that regard. My Edwin Jagger DE 89 taking a crap on me after 4.5 years was the other reason. Unless I screw up these razors, they will pretty much last a life time:

Pay Pal made it stupid easy for me. Anthony is extremely quick to ship which is nothing unusual. I did have to wait an extra day due to the weather which was fine because it worked out perfectly for me. I shave every 2 or 3 days and when this arrived I put it to use:

In the past I had issues with Pay Pal but now that they've streamlined their account verifying process & got rid of a few people, I've been enjoying their services and things have become a lot easier. Now onto looking at some other straight razors & to check out some brand new BBQ grills.

Honor & The 42C:

This morning's shave was excellent. After a nice hot shower & hot cup of coffee, I went with Soap Commander and quite possibly one of their best scents of all time, Honor which is their take on a barbershop scent. It's some where between the classic version of Fine's American Blend & Phoenix Artisan Accoutrement's C.a.D. scented soap. A lot of people tell me that it's extremely close to Mike's Natural Soaps Barbershop scented soap. I never used that brand and/or scent so I wouldn't know. And to finish off this morning's shave I went with the matching aftershave balm which adds a soothing touch of menthol to the already incredible post shave feel: 

I went a little easy on building a lather today but still got more than enough which is about normal with Soap Commander and that's a really good thing:

The Merkur 42C (1904 classic closed comb) razor was excellent and if I didn't know better, I would swear that the Gillette Silver Blue blades were made for it. I'm not quite as slick as black ice in some spots but it sure was close & comfortable and I got almost no irritation after 3 passes. There was a spot or 2 that seemed slightly irritated but those will always get that way no matter what I do because they're my usual trouble spots. I also just got word this morning that Anthony has shipped my brand new Gold Dollar straight razor with a Japanese natural water stone edge on it. He tends to favor the Ozuku Mizu Asagi natural water stone.

TTFFC Mixed & The 42C:

Today's shave was great. I got to craving Through The Fire Fine Craft soaps by Maria Arman so I grabbed my mixed soap container which tends to pair very well with Pinaud's Clubman which is what I finished today's shave off with:

Oh this was the first time that I used Maria's soap in a scuttle like this and the lather was flat out epic. Maria has since changed the name of her soaps & since I'm getting low, I plan on stocking up here pretty soon. Right now I'm on a hardware kick specifically straight razors:

The 42C was great but I can definitely tell that it's almost time for a new blade. I've not decided on whether or not I'll be putting one in today or not because I just ordered a Gold Dollar 66 from Anthony Esposito. He told me that it may be Wednesday before he can get it out to me because of the weather that they're about to get in the North East. I'm also having to say good bye to a stone supplier known as Best Sharpening Stones. They've decided to stop carrying the regular sized Shapton Glass stones & go with the smaller ones which is not good at all.

Stone Storage:

I've got so many water stones now that I needed something to store them in. So earlier tonight, I grabbed a small plastic tote from Wal...