Fortitude & The Hawk:

This morning's shave was phenomenal. Soap Commander is an awesome soap and their "Fortitude" scent is amazing. You have an aged hay, aged tobacco and dark rum scent. And paired with my Old Spice aftershave splash (not pictured because I added it the last minute) and I also paired it with Soap Commander's "purpose" which is a sweetened bay rum scent:

The hawk had no problem mowing through my 2 day old beard. Due to the bad shave I got yesterday, about 90% of my beard was left behind and I had another full day's worth of beard growth on top of that. I ended up getting a squeaky clean post shave in just 3 passes.

Grape Soda & The 209:

Today's shave was horrible. If it wasn't for Catie's Bubbles and their ultra slick soap, I wouldn't have a face right now. More on that in another post. This "Knee High to a Grape" is a seasonal soap and has a grape soda scent. And to sooth my half way shaved face, I used my "go to" aftershave splash, Aqua Velva classic ice blue splash:

The 209 was fresh off the stones and it was terrible. I have put this razor on the stones more times than I care to count and this coming April will make 2 years of straight razor shaving and July will make 2 years of honing and I know it's not any of the techniques I use to hone or my shaving techniques either. It's this specific razor that gives me problems. And this is not the 1st one I've had of this specific manufacturer either. I've had numerous razors from their various brands that wouldn't take an edge or hold one and I've not seen one where you didn't have trim the heel or the toe to get the razor to sit flat on the stones either.

209 Honing Session:

Earlier today, my 209 didn't perform as well as I would have liked. So decided to use my friend Dr. Matt Robins' Coticule technique which is really fast and provides a nice and smooth comfortable edge that has no trouble removing some tough beard growth. So let's get started:

First thing I did was kill the edge by using the back of my 600 grit diamond plate. You can use the stone itself which also works and also removes any burr that may be on the edge:

Next I turned the water on low and I did small "X" strokes until the razor gets sticky and struggles to go across the stone with what's left of my Norton 8K. This razor was worse than expected because normally you would get that sticky feeling in roughly 40 round trips or less. This time it took 60 round trips before it felt sticky:

Next I turned up the water a little bit and did another set of X strokes. This time around it only took 40 round trips before it got sticky:

Next I did 10 round trips on the clean side of the nylon webbing on my strop:

Next I grabbed my Shapton 12K and did the same thing with it that I did with my Norton 8K. This was the first time that I've ever used this technique with my Shapton 12K and I was very impressed with its performance. It took 60 small "X" strokes before it got extremely sticky and basically got stuck to the stone like it was glued to it:

Next I turned up the water and repeated what I had just did. This time it took only 40 small "X" strokes before the razor acted like glue and stuck to the stone which is when you are suppose to stop. This Shapton 12K is awesome with this technique:

Next I did 20 round trips on the .5 pasted side of my strop. Normally if this was a Vintage or Premium razor, this would only be half of this amount at the most probably not even that:

And being extremely careful so I don't end up getting stitches, I wiped down the razor to remove any excess paste so I don't contaminate the smooth leather side of my strop:

Next I rubbed the strop down until it felt very warm to the touch:

Then I did 40 round trips on the smooth leather side of my strop:

I'm really looking forward to the next time I use this razor to see how well it shaves. In the past, I got nice smooth buttery edges with this technique using only the Norton 8K. This time a Shapton M5 12,000 grit finisher was used which has already proven to have a very nice and comfortable edge using my old technique. It takes longer to photograph, write this blog post, and to clean up my stones than it does to hone this razor with this specific technique. That's how fast it is.

Mail Call:

Today's mail call is from my friend Sly Diabo. I've been meaning to try Soap Smooth for a while now and just never really got around to it. I like the scent of Cranberries and this soap nailed it. So tomorrow I will be using this soap. I'll be sending a couple of things to Sly for him to try out here pretty soon. This is one of the things I enjoy about the wet shaving hobby:

it came in pretty quick:

I would have used this soap today, but I already shaved when I got this in today. Thanks Sly Diabo. I will hook you up with some Through The Fire Fine Craft soap once I get paid which will be here in about a week give or take a little.

Reflection & The 209:

Today's shave was great. After a hot shower, I went with Soap Commander and their reflection scented soap which has an incredible Oakmoss & Amber scent to it. And to finish off the shave, I went with Barbasol Brisk aftershave:

The 209 did good but I can tell that it needs to be re honed already and it wasn't that long ago when I re honed it. I'm not a fan of these razors anymore after owning 4 of them. So this one is getting retired the moment I get any decent vintage razors.

10 Shaves Max Per Blade:

Well ladies and gentlemen, it's confirmed that 10 multi pass shaves is my limit on a Feather Professional injector style blade. I am extremely pleased that I got that many shaves on one of these blades. The first and second passes were great. But the blade fell real quickly on the 3rd pass today and started to tug and pull something fierce. Good thing that was my clean up pass and it really didn't clean up my neck area too good either on that pass. So I ended up going over my neck area for a total of 3.5 passes. Stropping these blades for me seems to defeat the purpose in my humble opinion and to be honest, I would probably only get 2 or 3 more shaves max out of these blades if I did strop them. So I am happy to get just 10 multi pass shaves out of a single blade:

In terms of costs using these blades, they're pretty low. In fact they're lower than some DE blades that are available right now. So let's do a little bit of math here. I paid $12.50 for a single pack of these blades over at Amazon. So 10 shaves X 20 blades = 200 multi pass shaves. So 2 packs of these blades is over a 1 years worth of daily shaving. So lets do some more math here. $12.50 divided by 200 = $.06 cents per shave. And now that I have a really good finishing stone and have went back to using a .5 pasted strop, my shaves with a straight razor are now free because I only have to buy a straight razor that one time only but where's the fun in that.

C.O. Bigelow & The Hawk (#10):

Today's shave was good. C.O. Bigelow and their Menthol & Eucalyptus scented shave cream was what the doctor ordered this morning and it always delivers top shelf performance. And to add another blast of menthol to clear up my sinuses, I paired it with Skin Bracer:

The hawk didn't do too hot this morning. The 1st and 2nd pass was great, but the blade fell pretty quickly after that which will be detailed in another blog post. I put a new blade in the Hawk just now which is still more than I've ever gotten out of a DE blade.

Pipe Smoke & The 209:

This morning's shave was excellent. You can't go wrong with Uncle Jon's soaps and his pipe smoke is nothing short of phenomenal and is one of my favorites. And to finish off the shave, I paired it with my usual aftershave when I don't have the matching splash:

The 209 did great but I had to hit the pasted strop again after I finished the shave. I'll be doing an EBay search to see what I can find in terms of Vintage and many searches have already yielded some fruit. My 209 is only good for 60 shaves max before having to hit the stones with it again and yet I see people with premium and vintage razors going much longer before having to be re honed. My friend Keith V. Johnson has given me some killer advice on what to use for looking at edges. He recommended a Fuji Film 4X photo Loupe which I'll be looking at later.

Gillette Platinum Final Thoughts:

Well I'm now finished with my longevity test. These Gillette Platinum DE blades are great blades, but I still stand by my original statement. These are a shade below the Polsilver DE blades in both comfort and longevity. 3 multi pass shaves in the DE 89 and only 2 multi pass shaves in the doc. I got 4 in the doc and 5 in the DE 89 out of the Polsilvers:

I won't be buying anymore of these blades unless I get another DE razor which isn't happening. Apart from Vintage straight razors, the only thing I will be getting is a handle for my Hawk single edge razor and I might get another strop here pretty soon. That's if I'm lucky. I've got extra bills this coming month and probably won't be able to buy much.

WTF York Peppermint Patty & DE 89:

This morning's shave was awesome. Wet The Face soaps are awesome and this York Peppermint Patty scent is perfect. It matches the candy bar exactly. And to add even more chill to this shave I paired it with my usual Aqua Velva ice blue after shave:

Oh it's a lather monster :

All in all the DE 89 done a fantastic job. These blades get even better after the first use. I got a squeaky clean post shave feel that literally resembles an ice rink. I still agree with my 1st statement that these Gillette Platinum blades are a shade below the Polsilvers in terms of comfort and after this morning's shave, I have a feeling that 3 multi pass shaves per blade is all I'm going to get.

Pumpkin 3.14 & The Hawk (#9) :

Prep: Hot shower:
Brush: Omega 10049 Professional Boar
Razor: RazoRock Black Hawk
Blade: Feather Professional 9th shave
Soap: Phoenix Artisan Accoutrement's Pumpkin 3.14 (pumpkin pie scent)
Aftershave: Phoenix Artisan Accoutrement's Autumn Factory (pumpkin pie scent)
1st pass: With the grain
2nd pass: Against the grain
3rd pass: Across the grain :

Today's shave was excellent. There's nothing like a hot relaxing shower and shave and it's even better with a soap that has the scent of a favorite dessert, pumpkin pie. During the shave, the blade still performed like it did the very first day I put it in the razor. With my DE safety razors, I would have already been on my 3rd blade by now and I would be hitting the clean fabric side of my strop right about now. If this blade goes 3 more shaves, it will have out performed my straight razor in slight terms of longevity. I usually have to hit the pasted strop every 12 shaves with my 209 straight razor. Now I seriously doubt that this specific blade will last for more than 60 shaves.

Le Pettit Chypre & The 209:

Oh my is all I can say about this morning's shave. I needed a Barrister & Mann fix this morning so after a nice hot shower, I went with their "Le Petit Chypre" soap which has an amazing cypress wood scent. And to finish it off, I paired it with the witchhazel based matching aftershave which has a very nice soothing effect to it:

The 209 was excellent if not perfect this morning. I got a very nice and smooth post shave after just 2 passes and a touch up pass on both my neck and moustache areas. This might be the best straight razor shave I've had in a long time and I have to say that it's due to the .5 pasted strop. If anyone tells you that it's harsh and doesn't make a difference, tell them to hush because it does make a huge difference in my humble opinion as a 2 year straight razor user. My shaves have gotten better since I switched to finishing on a Shapton M5 12,000 grit stone and started using a .5 pasted strop.

8 Shaves & Counting:

I am totally blown away by this RazoRock Black Hawk SE razor. First thing that caught my eye was its low price point of $24.95 + shipping at that time. Unfortunately they had some unexpected manufacturing costs and there will be a price increase on the next batch but still, well worth that price and more in my humble opinion. And after getting a post shave that resembles an "ice rink" with just 3 passes on the 1st shave with it, I was totally impressed and hooked on this razor. Now here I am 8 shaves later on the very first blade that I put in the razor and it's still going strong. That is really cool:

I also tried a heavier handle on this razor and it made it even better which is the only drawback to this razor, its weight. The finish is great on my specific razor but it was known up front that there could be flaws in the finish before it went on sell. So far my best shave with it is when I put my Edwin Jagger DE 89 handle on the razor. It was like it was made for it. If given the chance, I would buy this razor again without blinking an eye and apart from my Shapton 12K stone, this has been one of my best purchases for 2016. If these blades can go past 60 multi pass shaves on each blade, then they will out last my Gold Dollar 209 straight razor which is the longest I've went on it without having to re hone the razor. Basically longevity is what got me into wet shaving, and I have found it.

WTF/TTFFC Mixed soap & The Hawk:

Today's shave was great. I first started out with what was left of my Wet The Face vanilla & tobacco scented soap which is phenomenal. Unfortunately I did not have enough left to build a lather, so I whipped out my Through The Fire Fine Craft mixed soap container to finish my shave and I paired it with good old Clubman which seems to go extremely well with both scents:

Here's the lid to my TTFFC mixed soap container:

The hawk performed extremely well. I now have a squeaky clean post shave feel after 3 passes. I'm blown away by the performance of the hawk and these blades in particular. Another blog post to follow with some more details about this razor and these blades.

C.O. Bigelow & The Hawk (#7):

Today's shave was very refreshing and very satisfying. I was craving C.O. Bigelow and their Menthol & Eucalyptus scent was what the doctor ordered because I was having an allergy flare up. This stuff is great for sinus troubles, allergies, and colds. And to add a cooling blast of epic proportions, I paired it with good old Skin Bracer:

The hawk is still going on it's first blade and today's shave was #7 which is mind blowing because I usually burn through blades pretty quick and these are acting like my straight razor basically. I've also talked to a few friends who own this razor and the Mongoose and they pick this one over the Mongoose. The first thing I hear is that loading a blade is problematic in the Mongoose and I've been told that they have to wiggle the base plate to get the blade seated properly. That's not and issue at all with the hawk. They also say the blade exposure and angle is much easier to get with the hawk. After shaving with it for about a week, I think it's one of the best razors I ever bought.

Blood Work Was Good:

2 weeks ago, I got a call after some blood work was done saying that my LDH levels was elevated and that it could be nothing but it also could have been an aggressive form of cancer. That scared me and the nurse practitioner especially considering my track record. So she ordered more blood work which was done today. Everything is fine. They just called and said that my LDH levels were back to normal and that everything was good:

Things like this scare me especially after having gone through an epic battle with cancer that nearly killed me which I still feel the effects to this day. But to get a phone call no sooner than I get home that everything is fine, was indeed a sweet relief.

Resolution & The Hawk (#6):

Today's shave was excellent. Soap Commander and their "Resolution" scent is simply amazing. You have the fresh Frasier Fir scent combined with the bitterness of the Mistletoe plant and to pull it all together you also have a semi sweet cranberry scent. And to add a little chill to the fresh cut sweet Christmas Tree scent to this shave, I paired it with Aqua Velva ice blue aftershave:

The hawk was very good today and a little fatter than normal because I put my Edwin Jagger DE 89 handle on it before shaving and let me tell you, it made a huge difference in the shave feel while I was shaving. My DE 89 weighs slightly more than the hawk does and the added extra weight helped in the glide department. This was also #6 on this Feather Professional blade which is very impressive to me because normally with a DE blade, I'd be looking at switching out the blade for a second time depending on which DE blade I'm using.

Armada & The 209:

Today's shave was great. Maria Arman's Through The Fire Fine Craft soaps are simply amazing and her Armada scent is fantastic. How can you go wrong with a Vintage Old Spice scent and to finish of the shave I paired with my 2004 Old Spice splash and Soap Commander's Endurance aftershave balm which is also a Vintage Old Spice scent:

The 209 was excellent. I wasn't comfortable with just 5 round trips on the pasted strop with this specific razor because it tends to favor more time on the stones and strops. So I went back and did 30 round trips on the pasted strop and then I did 60 round trips on the smooth leather. It put a nice polish on the razor's edge. And this morning before the shave I did 10 more round trips on the smooth leather. The edge was super comfortable and I now have a squeaky clean post shave with only 3 passes and a single touch up on the bottom of my chin. Ladies and gentlemen, you don't know what you are missing by not using a pasted strop of some kind.

Gillette Platinums & The DE 89:

Well it's official. These blades are a "hair's breath" below the Polsilver DE blades. Gillette Platinum blades are excellent and really smooth in the DE 89. No tugging or pulling and no irritation after a 3 pass shave either which is a good thing because they pulled the plug on the Polsilvers:

The only test that's left now is the longevity test. If I can get around 4 or 5 shaves out of these blades, I will be happy. That's kindly why I got into wet shaving. Money aside, I wanted something that would remove my beard and last longer than 2 shaves without having regrets about shaving like I did with the Gillette Fusion Proglide cartridges. They have a new one out that has a lubrication strip before and after the blades called Prosheild which I have zero interest in unless I have to use them for medical reasons which would take too long to list.

24 Hours Later:

Well as most of you know, I applied .5 chromium oxide paste to the nylon webbing of my strop. Here's how it looks after it has dried. Yesterday roughly about 12 hours after applying it, I took a clean section of the cotton terry cloth that I used yesterday to smooth out the paste and wiped the excess off. I should have turned the flash off because it made the strop look like I have more paste on it than it actually does. Only a thin coat is needed:

Since my razor wasn't in really bad shape, I only did 5 round trips on the pasted strop. If it's a premium or vintage carbon steel razor 5 round trips is all that's needed and if it's stainless steel, 8 round trips is all that's needed. You don't want it too sharp to the point where you can't use it, you want it to where it takes off the hair comfortably with the least amount of irritation possible:

Under the loupe I could see a little bit of improvement but not a lot. The edge has a bit more polish to it than it did and like I stated earlier, my razor wasn't in bad shape at all and was still pretty keen. If anything, the pasted strop woke it up even more. I'll no more when I shave with it tomorrow.

Pipe Smoke & The DE 89:

Today's shave was really sweet. Uncle Jon's soaps are amazing and his Pipe Smoke scent is nothing short of phenomenal. You have a cherry pipe tobacco, vanilla and spice type of scent combined with an unreal post shave feel. And to finish off this shave I paired it with my "go to" aftershave Aqua Velva classic ice blue:

The DE 89 was excellent. I got a squeaky clean post shave feel with just 3 passes and no touch ups. These Gillette Platinum blades are excellent. Another thing I noticed in the Face Book groups today was that Shaver Heaven has announced that they will be ceasing operations which is sad because from I hear they were fantastic soaps and had excellent customer service. I never got around to try their soaps and I have to wait until I get paid before I can order anything which is not for another 16 days. So they'll be long gone before I can order their soaps.

Gillette Platinum Blades:

Friday I bought these Gillette Platinum blades and so far I'm loving them. Polsilvers are still my number one choice for DE blades but if you haven't heard, P&G Europe decided to discontinue the Polsilver DE blades effective 8/1/2016. So they will slowly be phased out over the next 2 years which is a mistake in my opinion and from what I was told, this isn't the first time they've done this either. So I have to find another blade that's either equal or comes close to them. So enter the Gillette Platinum DE blades. The 1st impression is apart from the name on the pack itself, they have the same packaging as the silver blues do:

Nearly similar as the silver blues in terms of packaging and the numbers on the blade:

Unlike the Kmart version I bought earlier this year, these are made in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Kmart version I bought earlier this year was made in Brazil and had totally different packaging:

In the doc these blades were very good. 3 super comfortable passes that were smooth and effortless and there was no tugging or pulling at all. I've got to try them in the DE 89 next:

In terms of both comfort and beard removal they are extremely close :

^ I would put the Polsilvers an eyelash above the Gillette Platinum blades. They're that close. Next up will be the longevity test to see how long they last. Plus there's also more Gillette blades I want to try along with some more Russian blades that I've not tried yet.

Latha Limon & The Doc:

Today's shave was great and very refreshing. Barrister & Mann is an excellent soap and their "Latha Limon" is a very nice refreshing and bright scent of lemon, organge and rose which really makes the lemon pop. And to put the icing on the cake, I finished off the shave with Aqua Velva classic ice blue aftershave which gives it a really nice and refreshing chill:

The doc was extremely good today and these blades are excellent. I will do another blog post with more info on these blades. I should have held off before buying a bulk pack of Astra greens because there's been a couple that have out done them.

Pasting a Strop:

There's 2 ways to get a 30K edge. You can either spend $300+ dollars each on a few synthetic stones, or you can do what I did and spend $5.95+ shipping and get this .5 chromium oxide paste and apply it to a strop. There's also various forms of this media in sprays, sticks and crayons. For years I heard that this was harsh and after shaving off a friend's Arkansas oil stone edge followed by a .5 chrox pasted strop, I realized that was a false statement and ordered some:

These little sample scoops that came with my WTF sample kit came in handy. You apply a nice even thin coat. Remember that a little bit goes a long way and that you don't need much:

This is how it should look after you have spread it evenly along the strop and here's a little tip. Take a spray bottle and lightly spray a little bit of water while spreading the paste along the fabric side of your strop. It will keep the paste from drying out and make it easier to spread. Don't use water if you are applying it to leather. That specific tip is for fabric strops only :

Next I took a cotton terry cloth and wiped the strop down to spread it a little bit more and to even out the coating of the paste. As you can see it's a messy deal but it cleans up easy with soap and water:

Here's how it looks after wiping it down and making sure that it's even along the strop:

^ Now I have to let this dry for a minimum of 24 hours before using it. And since I just got some new DE blades in, it will get 48 hours of total drying time and I will wipe it down again in 24 hours to remove the excess that might be left behind. I personally don't think it will take that long considering that it's still pretty warm here and as you can see in the photo, it's already drying pretty quickly. I'm also looking at the diamond sprays and another strop over at Straight Razor Designs. I seen a really nice fabric strop over there that I want to use other pastes and sprays on.

Mail Call:

Today's mail call is from Maggard Razors and I'm really stoked about it as well:

As usual it came really fast. I ordered it on Friday and here it is in my hands on Monday:

This was only $5.95 and it's equal to 30K grit :

I've heard a lot about these specific blades and have heard that they're similar to the Polsilvers which we'll see here in a few minutes after I get done writing this post:

All in all I'm very pleased with this mail call and couldn't be happier.

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&#...