Mail Call Coming:

It's been overdue, but I finally placed an order for some more products from Soap Commander. I would also like to take the time to wish them a happy 22nd wedding anniversary and hope that they have many more years together:

This is the screen shot you get when you place an order with Soap Commander:

Now what I ordered will be a bit of a surprise:

Today is also the last day you can order from the website for the next couple of weeks or so as they celebrate their anniversary and move into a lovely new house which is awesome. You will still be able to buy their products through other online retailers until they get things back up and running. I'm so excited that I can't stand it.

Honing Routine Established:

Well I just got through watching a friend's YouTube video on setting a bevel, which in my opinion along with other people's is the "meat and potatoes" of honing. If that bevel is not set which I've experienced first hand from someone "who claimed they could hone" and really couldn't, that razor will not hold an edge no matter what you do to it. That person who made that claim, hasn't been active since March of this year:

Step one, Flattening: this is all that I have at the moment but I will be investing in a much better and cheaper set up which is an Upside down floor tile from either a Home Depot or Lowe's hardware store and some 220 grit silicone carbide (also known as SIC powder) made into a paste. The Norton Flattening stone that you see below is pretty good if you flatten your stones before soaking them. I also got lucky because mine laid perfectly flat on the table when I first opened it:

Step 2 Bevel set and refinement: This is where it all begins. I don't have the correct stone for setting a bevel at the moment which I am planning on correcting the first chance I get. But the best stone to start with in my opinion is Naniwa's Chosera/Professional Series 600 grit stone. Now you can set a bevel with a 1K stone, but it will take a little bit longer. And for the 600 grit stone I do approximately 40 back and forth strokes which is known as half circles on each side. Basically I just work the razor back and forth and count to 40. Then I flip the razor over and repeat this process only this time I do 20 half circles on each side. Then I repeat again doing 10 half circles, then 5 more half circles on each side. The next step is what I call clean up strokes which is 5 round trips back and forth or full circles on the stone. Once that is done, I use my jeweler's loupe and then I wet my thumb nail and using only the weight of the blade I gently run it across my thumb nail and look to see if it's trying to dig into my thumb nail which it should be. If it's not, then I'll do around 10 more half circles or back and forth strokes on each side until that bevel starts to grab.

Step 4 Edge Refinement: Once again I don't have the right stone for this at the moment, but the next stone should be a 1K grit stone. What kind you use is really up to you and your budget and what stones you like. The ONLY difference from the process listed above is that I only do 20 back and forth strokes on each side using the weight of the blade ONLY then I do 10 half circles on each side followed by 5 half circles on each side then I do my clean up strokes which is 5 round trips. Next I then switch to the stone you see below which is the Norton 4/8K combo stone and repeat the same process that's listed above. Once I'm done with that, I would recommend using a finishing stone. What kind you choose will be up to you and what you like, and what you're willing to spend:

Step 5: Green pasted Balsa Wood strop: Now this is what I've been doing for quite a while now and has yielded fabulous results. I do 15 round trips and I use a green Chromium Oxide crayon:

Final step: Stropping routine: This strop has been great but it's time to upgrade my hanging strop. I'm getting a 3 inch black latigo strop with D rings. And if you've read my previous blog posts, then you'll know what my stropping routine is:

So far I plan on getting a Naniwa Chosera 600 grit stone and a Norton 1K stone. I'm still looking at various Jnats for a finishing stone.

Hitting the Stones Again:

Yesterday, I tried a popular method with my Norton 4/8K combo stone called the "CIRCLE METHOD". Not only did it NOT WORK for me, it was a complete disaster. I had to repeat my stropping routine just to salvage my shave this morning. So I went back and watched the YouTube video closely and basically it was definitely NOT ME OR THE RAZOR. This method simply does not work. So I went back to the way I first tried using this stone along with a little extra time on the 8K side of the stone and I'll soon see how I did tomorrow when I shave. Honing is a lot of work and it took a long time to get all 3 of my razors done:

The circle method involves lay the blade flat like so, but I didn't do that this time. This time I done back and forth half strokes:

I got a really good slurry right away and the last time I got this, the shaves were epic. But we'll soon see when I shave tomorrow:

Next I went the 8K side and used the same technique:

This side takes a tad bit longer to get a slurry going but that's normal because it's a much smoother stone compared to the other side:

Next I went back to the 4K side and repeated the entire process from start to finish:

After I finished up back on the 8K side, I performed 15 round trips on my 3 by 8 inch pasted balsa wood strop:

Then I followed up with my normal stropping routine:

My stropping routine is as follows. 10 round trips on the pasted linen. 15 round trips on the clean linen. 25 round trips on the scrub leather and then I done 50 round trips on the Smooth leather. How I did on these razors will be determined tomorrow when I shave.

Mail Call Coming Soon:

Well yesterday I decided to sell my Russian made Mosin Nagant M91/30 and cleaned it up. Today, I sold that gun back to the people I bought it from and made a deposit into both my account and my mom's account. There were several reasons behind this decision. The first was that I had a 25 minute drive one way just to buy ammo. And to make matters worse, that was the only place I could get ammo for this rifle within a 50 mile radius and if I went online and bought the ammo, that $13 dollar box of ammo would cost me more to ship it than the ammo does. The second problem is that the rifle didn't really fit me at all. It was heavy and very cumbersome. I have a lot of hills and uneven terrain and really need something light weight. The last straw came when I drove to the nearest public firing range. It was a half hour drive one way from where I pick up my mail. And they want $100 dollars per year to use that specific firing range. So basically the rifle became impractical and had to go. So here within the next 48 hours, I will be be adding some more of Soap Commander's products to my rotation:

Tiki Bar's The Captain:

Today's shave was extremely good, but really fast. Tiki Bar is one of my top soap brands of all time and they often share the spotlight with Soap Commander's products about 95% of the time. So since I have a limited amount of time today, I'm using my blog to post my S.O.T.D. The scent of this soap is incredible. It smells like you've just opened a fresh bag of cherry pipe tobacco. And to go with the sweetness of this soap's scent, I used Aqua Velva's Classic Ice Blue which goes with a lot of my soaps. This shave was not only a 2 pass BBS, but it was comfortable and a true BBS:

If you don't have this soap in your collection, shame on you.

Still Looking at Stones:

I've been looking at various honing stones at various suppliers all over the Internet. I've pretty much decided on what I want based upon what I like and can afford at this time. But as it stands, I have to wait a little bit before I can buy another stone. So far I've settled on a Nubatama 1K stone and a Naniwa Chosera/professional series 600 grit stone. I am also looking at various "Jnats and Cnats" as well. The Cnats are not too bad at all in terms of price, but getting them here will be slightly problematic due to shipping which is to be expected. The Jnats are extremely expensive and also have the same problems with shipping depending on where and who you get them from which the same can be said about the Cnats in terms of shipping. Even though I'm getting really great results with the Norton 4/8K combo stone, I feel that it's not enough for me now and past time for me to step up my game in terms of honing. So until I can get a couple more stones here, I'll be using my Merkur 37 slant a little more often while I add honing stones to my collection. Not to worry I'll still be using my straight razors on a regular basis:

Disinfecting Straights:

Now that I'm back to using straight razors again after last Wednesday's nasty cut, I thought I'd take the time to show you how to use Barbicide on straight razors without fully submerging them. I use the mouth of the Barbicide jar as a razor stand to keep the scales dry and to make sure that the scales remain dry:

And to make sure the entire cutting surface comes in contact with the Barbicide, I use a little extra water when I mix up a batch:

I can't stress enough that the pins and scales MUST remain dry because if they don't, that razor will rust out. Remember if you take care of your equipment, it will take care of you.

Looking at Strops:

This has been a great little hanging strop and it's still a great hanging strop. I bought it off of a friend for $15 dollars after he had honed my razors for me some time back when I was still in my learning curve and it has been a really good solid performing strop. But it does take me a lot longer because it's not as wide as my straight razors are and I've been having to strop half of the razor, and then repeating the process on the other half of the razor each time. So I've been looking all over the web at various strops including the ones at Straight Razor Designs. I might not like the "elitists" and their attitude towards "inexpensive products" like this fabulous strop below, but I do know a good product when I see one. I also found a "fire hose" linen strop that looks pretty cool over on etsy. I also went back to Shave The Man Face Book group. If I get ANY b.s. or drama, I won't hesitate to hit the block button period. It's just shaving so relax and enjoy:

The beauty of this strop other than being inexpensive is the fact that it's held up and performed a lot better than my paddle stropping system did. That modular paddle strop turned out to be a $90 dollar mistake on my part.

An Epic Shower & Pre-shave:

Well after a really long and hard day of doing yard work and staying epically busy, I like to take a nice hot shower and unwind after cooling off and it really helps with sore aching muscles. I also like to shower before I shave. Today, I already shaved before getting started on the yard work which I didn't get done till sunset. So I went ahead and tried the products below and it was EPIC. Soap Commander's "Vision" bath bar is bliss full and has a very nice chill to it that's very refreshing. Old Spice's Polar shampoo is also bliss full. If you live in a very hot climate and want something that will leave you feeling cool for a long period of time, get these 2 products shown below:

When you apply the shampoo, allow it to sit for about 30 seconds before rinsing, and you will have a very nice cool head for hours after using the shampoo. I need to get me another bar of Vision. The one I have is just about gone. This is some very good stuff right here, wow.

Sticking with DE's:

A friend of mine strongly suggested that I stay away from straight razors for a while and let my cut heal up. So I'll be sticking with my Edwin Jagger DE 89 for a while until things heal up. The safety razor you see below along with the blades are going to be used for a while. Even though I feel confident that I can shave around it, I think it would be a wise decision to stay away from a straight razor for about another week or so. My cut is healing very nicely, but it still has a ways to go:

Flattening Stone Secret:

This morning, I was dreading using this monster to flatten my Norton 4/8K combo stone. So I went ahead and drew my grid as usual only this time, the Norton 4/8K stone was BONE DRY. It hadn't been soaked or anything since the last use and it blew me away this morning. I was done flattening both sides of my stone in less than 2 minutes. If I had soaked the stone prior to flattening, it would have taken at least 10 to 15 minutes easy, even if I had let the thing dry for about 2 hours. So for those that use a flattening stone of any kind, flatten them under cold water when they're BEFORE SOAKING THEM:

I was very impressed this morning with this flattening stone.

Retiring the Vintage:

After today's bad cut and the fact that this blade often struggles a little bit to remove my barbed wire type of beard, I have decided to retire my Vintage to cold storage. It's had a very good run but unlike my Gold Dollar straight razors, I have to make 3 or even 4 passes to get a clean shave. That's too many passes for my sensitive skin. I still love this razor and I do intend to keep this razor because how often will I come across a Vintage 4/8's straight razor that was made in Sheffield, England. So this razor is now in cold storage. If this razor was around 5/8's or even 6/8's, it would still be in the rotation. I like the wider blades because they have enough weight behind them to make using a straight razor effortless. My Gold Dollar straight razors are around 11/16's of an inch wide which is slightly bigger than a 6/8's straight razor by roughly around 1/16th of inch:

The razor is truly shave ready. And it will remove hair, but it's mainly geared toward new comers who are still in there initial learning curve, which I've done passed long ago. Plus my beard needs the heavier weight because it's gotten so tough that I often compare it to barbed wire.

A Bad Cut Today:

Below is a photo of the cut I got earlier today. It was pretty nasty to say the least. I also had a really tough time trying to get it to quit bleeding. A friend of mine also got a nasty cut today nearly in the same spot, only much lower. He was trying to rush his shave because he had a ton of stuff to do. My cut was a result of it being the last bit of a soap from the tin which had zero slickness to it. That happens with ALL shaving soaps and creams no matter who makes it. When you get to the last bit of a soap or cream, go ahead and toss it and re-order that soap or cream that you just finished off. I've got 1 more tin of soap that may not have enough in it for a shave and tomorrow's shave will probably be with a DE safety razor tomorrow due to this cut:

It happens to all of us. And I'm pretty sure that 90% of us who wet shave, know that it's bound to happen at one point or another no matter what you use. My cut was bad enough to get stitches.

End of an Era:

Well today's shave didn't go to well for me at all do to what you see below. It's PAA's "The Beach" with the old RazoRock label and old 1.5 formula. The last shave of a tin is always the worst for some reason, plus my vintage razor doesn't have enough weight behind it for my barbed wire type of beard. I also called it quits with "Shave the Man" Face Book group. One of my friends also cut himself when he tried to rush his shave today and he normally puts up a video on a daily basis, but couldn't today because he had too much to do. I had 2 members of that group talk down to me like a rookie which I promptly stopped. You don't tell someone how to wet shave after they've been doing it for nearly 2 years and you DON'T tell someone how to use straight razors after they've been using them for 70+ days. They even went as far as to tell me to watch my friend's videos when I've been subscribed to his YouTube channel since day 1 and I've also got 8 other channel subscriptions to go with it. That FB group was no longer fun, and the fact that I had 2 members try to tell me how to shave and talk down to me as if I was new, when it's obvious that I'm NOT new to the hobby at all and the fact that I'm getting into honing my own straight razors pretty much proves my point. There's no need to stay somewhere when it's no longer fun:

This old 1.5 formula was good, but it's no where near as good as what they have available now in my humble opinion in terms of slickness and cushioning ability. I definitely like the current 2.5 formula better than the old formula. The tin has been placed in storage since it's now a collector's item and no longer available with this specific label.

1K Lather Review:

This particular soap rocks and continues to impress me each and every time I use it. The scent is very pleasing and it's also a very balanced and well rounded scent. The 2 top notes that you will get is Licorice and Anise and they go very well together in this soap. Anise is a pretty common spice that can be found in a lot of Asian style cooking and cuisine and it brings a lot of flavor and brings out the scent in vegetables when cooking. I know this because I use to do a lot of Asian style cooking. This spice can be found at various local markets around the globe. This soap has a much better scent than Proraso's blue formula does. Proraso blue was over powering and like it was missing something to me. This 1K soap is not missing anything. And unlike Proraso blue this soap does NOT dry your skin out either. The post shave was very good. It's a slightly slick post shave and the skin feels like it's still wet after shaving with this soap. The cushioning ability is also really good. I had more than enough protection through out the entire shave. And in terms of lathering and performance, see for yourself:

I have a habbit of over loading the brush, but I would rather over load it than not have enough to shave with. Soap is cheap especially when you have as much as I do which is over 30 different soaps now. Once you get that many and start using them in a rotation of some kind, it's rare to see a finished tub of soap. I've got some that are well over a year old now that seen a lot of heavy use for weeks on end and it looks like I've not even touched some of them:

After I built the lather, I let sit for exactly 10 minutes to test its staying power and it didn't disappoint me at all. In fact it performed better than I thought it would:

It also rinsed cleanly from my shave gear as well:

All in all I would give this soap 5 out of 5 stars.

Tiki Bar Mail Call:

Today's mail call is from Tiki Bar Soaps out of Tuscaloosa, AL and let me tell you that they're incredible. That windy city has fresh type of scent to it like it just finished raining in downtown Chicago and I love it. The bath bars are for my mom and they're both equally incredible. The large one has a fresh tropical fruit scent which is Tiki Bar Soap's main theme which is what attracted me to them. I'm very pleased and tickled to death with this mail call:

And for you Duck Dynasty fans, this packaging shown below is perfect for you guys:

"Duck tape" Duck Dynasty is a pretty clever and cool idea: 

And I really love hand written notes. It makes it more personal. I don't know how she finds the time to do this:

Thank you Amanda Stott and I will enjoy using this soap.

PAA's 1K:

Today's shave was great. Fine's Platinum blend aftershave seems to also go extremely well with this soap. The more I use this soap, the more I'm impressed with it:

Adding More Brushes:

Well it's time to add some new brushes to my collection. These 2 brushes that you see are the ONLY ones that I have at the moment. This decision came about after I bought my dad a synthetic and smaller version of my Omega 10049 Boar hair brush and it was one of the softest brushes I've ever seen in wet shaving. I've had an old cheap William's shave brush that didn't last but a week and I've also tried the Van Der Hagen brush that comes with that little shave kit you can buy at various retailers around the country. The stand is the ONLY thing left out of that entire kit which was too bad because that was a really nice apothecary shave mug too. That brush only lasted 2 weeks and that was after I attempted to use the hot glue gun to fix it which turned out to be a bad idea. So I upgraded to Edwin Jagger's brushes which turned out to be a expensive mistake. I think I spent around $50 dollars for one of their synthetic knots and I also tried their $25 dollar brushes as well. Not good was a huge understatement at that time. The reason I say this is because it was well over a year ago and synthetic brush makers have stepped up their game since then. I've also noticed that the artisan brush market really took off over the past year as well which I'm also considering and is currently a favorite choice at the moment. So far Omega has been a really awesome brush line and a lot of people really seem to love them especially their synthetics. I really can't afford a Savile Row badger brush at the moment plus I've still got to get a few more honing stones just yet, so I really don't know when I'll be getting a new brush. Plus after I finish buying my honing stones, I'll be taking a break from buying any more shaving gear or soaps for a while. The main reason is because I want to start saving up my money for some much needed outdoor equipment:

Cucumber Lather Review:

For today's shave I used this soap and let me tell you that the shave was epic. So while I normally face lather, I also like to do a bowl lather to show how well a soap or cream performs. Here lately I really haven't been doing that to much so I'll be getting back into that. So let's start with PAA's Cucumber. The first impression is always the scent. Whether the soap is cold or has been bloomed, is another story in of itself but this one is straight up cucumber which seems a bit on the mild side before blooming. Once it's been bloomed at the temps that are listed on the back of the tin, the scent explodes. My entire bathroom smelled like someone had been slicing cucumbers in there for the past half hour which was incredible. The slickness of this soap is past epic. I had to use my alum block just to be able to grip my shaving gear that I used today. The post shave felt extremely slick and fresh with a little hint of a cooling effect to it and my skin felt like it was moist and still wet from my shave which I really loved. The cushioning ability was also epic. I didn't even need my alum block for this shave. And in terms of lather performance, see for yourself. The 1st photo below was the final results:

At first, I thought I over loaded the brush a little bit but it turned out really well because I ended up using a tad too much water this time around. Mainly due to the fact that I normally don't bowl lather:

After I finish building a lather, I let it sit for about 10 minutes to test the staying power of the lather. This one done extremely well and held up a lot longer than I was expecting it to. This little test helps determine whether a soap will last during a shave and whether or not you'd have to rebuild a lather between passes which I don't like if I have to just that:

Another thing I look for is how clean a soap rinses from your shaving gear and whether or not a residue is left behind. Tiki Bar and PAA's shaving soaps ALWAYS give me ultra clean results while the others tend to leave a tiny bit of residue behind but it's easily removed with minimal effort while these 2 brands are pretty much effortless:

All in all I am extremely pleased with the performance of this soap. I also decided to keep it in my rotation on a permanent basis but not just because of performance which was a huge factor, but due to the fact that there's not much out there in terms of cucumber scented products that are available and that's true to the vegetable. A lot of people who make cucumber scented products, tend to add stuff to it that's really not necessary with the exception to cucumber and melon based scents. A minimum amount of menthol would be great with this soap but in my humble opinion, it would ruin this soap's scent. I give this soap 5 out of 5 stars.

PAA's Cucumber:

Today is the start of my PAA binge if you will and man oh man what a shave, wow. This soap is becoming a permanent addition to my shave cave as long as it's being made. The scent just explodes once it has been bloomed and it's extremely slick too:

My New Coffee Cup:

Yesterday my mom and I were in Walmart looking for a power strip to use for one of our air conditioning window units when she surprised me with this. And it's hilarious. To keep myself in check and from cussing, I'll use catch phrases like this one on the cup or the word "titties" if something goes wrong:

Tiki Bar's "Kilted Tiki" :

Today's shave was great. I can officially confirm that I nailed it with the Norton 4/8K stone. For those that haven't tried this soap, shame on you. Instead of ordinary distilled water, the owner takes actual scotch whiskey and boils the alcohol off which results in killer soap. It's a scotch whiskey scented soap without the alcohol. This is the owner's favorite soap to make and I can see why she loves to make it. Wow what a soap:

Mail Call:

Today's Mail call is from PAA and it's epic. Fran you've out done yourself with this soap, wow. It's straight up cucumber with a little hint of sweetness. If I didn't know better, I'd swear someone just sliced a cucumber up. I'll know more come Sunday after I bloom the scent and shave with it when I start PAA week. The other item I ordered was PAA's alum block. That rubber band will make a HUGE difference when I use it:

RazoRock Classic:

Today's shave was epic to say the least and it was also my fastest. I was done in 10 minutes. I nailed it on the stones in a big way, wow what a shave. I only needed 2 passes and that was it. I didn't even have to make any touch ups or anything and I got a really smooth and true BBS. 10 minutes to shave and another 5 to clean up my shave cave which is my fastest clean up time as well:

Messing With the Stones:

After this morning's shave, I decided to mess around a little bit with the stones and try a friend's technique and under the glass, it looks like it worked. I won't really know how well it worked until tomorrow's shave. The technique is really simple. What you do is take some cheap black electrical tape and put it on the spine of the razor while you hone. Now you will have to change the tape but it creates a micro edge that I saw in my jeweler's loupe:

My Norton 4/8K combo stone was soaked for 15 minutes which is what I normally do:

The plastic case that the Norton water stones come in doubles as a stone holder which is awesome because I still have a few stones to get before my set up is complete:

The slurry that developed while I was honing came up a little quicker than normal and I did have to stop a few times and reinstall the tape:

After I finished with 4K side of the stone, I went ahead and drew a grid on the stone for flattening later on. This ensures that your stone will perfectly flat for your next honing session. I performed the same procedure on all 3 of my razors:

Next I tried the same technique with the 8K side of the stone and the slurry came up a little bit quicker as well on this stone:

Now this is where my technique changed as compared to the last time I performed a touch up on this stone. I didn't go back to the 4K side of the stone, like I did the last time. The reason for this is because I want to see if this makes a difference or not and I also felt that these razors really didn't need a full touch up like they did the last time:

Here is the flattening results for the 4K and this time around, I used the kitchen sink instead of the bathroom sink and it made flattening these stones almost effortless. It's still NOT as good as the sic powder method which is effortless:

Here's the 8K side results:

And here's where a dish drying rack comes in handy when it comes to letting your stones air dry:

The experiment didn't end with the stones. I found my .5 micron diamond spray that came with my modular paddle stropping system. So I decided to try BOTH of the diamond spray and green chromium oxide paste on my 3 inch by 8 inch balsa wood strop. With just the green chromium oxide paste, it was equal to using a 30K stone. I performed 10 round trips with all 3 razors:

After that, I performed my usual stropping routine which includes 10 round trips on lightly pasted linen (green chromium oxide paste only) which was done before I used my hanging strop for the first time. Next I performed 15 round trips on the clean linen side. Then I performed 25 round trips on the rough leather side and then I performed 50 round trips on the smooth leather side. Basically I don't do "X" strokes. What I do is half of the razor counting every other stroke and then I repeat with the other half of the razor:

Tomorrow's shave should tell me at how well I did with this method of touch up. If I don't like it, I'll go back to the first method I used and lose the electrical tape. That's what I love about using a honing stone. I will NEVER have to buy another razor blade ever again and I do NOT have to worry about getting a bad blade either which has happened before. These water stones pretty much eliminate that and my shaving costs are now virtually free at this point if I don't buy anymore razors or soaps.

The Comfort Knot Brush:

This brush has just became my all time favorite shave brush  in my entire collection. The lather this beast builds is unreal and since it&#...