Confidence & The Black Diamond:

Today's shave was great. Today is also Sunday and that means Soap Commander Sunday is in full effect. So I went with Carrie's least favorite, "Confidence". I'm guessing it's because of the patchouli contained in the scent. The scent is overly sweet honey, musk, and patchouli. The sweet honey comes through the entire scent while the musk and patchouli calm the sweetness down but still allows the honey to come through and balance the scent. And to finish off this shave, I paired with the matching aftershave balm:


The black diamond was great and I did get another "ice rink" post shave feel, but I should have stopped at 2 passes. I got a tiny bit of razor burn which has almost cleared up now thanks to the matching aftershave balm which has a tiny bit of menthol. I may not shave tomorrow and if I do, don't be alarmed if I don't post it. I'm taking a week off from blogging to keep from getting burned out. Some of the people I watch on YouTube often take breaks to just enjoy the hobby which is what I'll be doing this week. I may also take some time away next week as I turn 40 years of age this coming Sunday. So take care and God bless. I will return again soon.

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 also went ahead and downloaded her new label and applied it to the lid of the container and scotch taped it. I do plan on getting some more of her soaps when I can. And to finish off this shave, I paired it with good old Clubman:


The black diamond was great. I managed to get an "ice rink" post shave feel in just 3 passes and I only had to touch up just one tiny spot which I got the 1st time around. I took a friend of mine, Mike Baker's advice about just using the toe more for tight areas, nooks and crannies and I'm happy to say that it worked perfectly. I'm now dialed in to where I can get an "ice rink" post shave feel at will if I have the desire to do so.Thanks for the tip Mike Baker, it helped tremendously.

Turkish Bath & The Doc:

This morning's shave was great. I was craving a barbershop type of scent so I grabbed Jeeves of Hudson Street and their Turkish Bath scented soap which has a 1920's style barbershop scent with a heavy top note of premium pipe tobacco. And to finish off this shave, I went with Stirling Soap's Barbershop scented splash to add a touch of sweetness to the scent. Oh before I forget, Jeeves of Hudson Street now has alcohol based matching aftershaves to go with their soaps which is awesome. So if you are looking to get a full matching set, you now can:


The doc was great. I managed to get an "ice rink" post shave feel in 3 passes. I also am trying something different as well. After each shave, I've been stropping the blades of my Gillette Fusion Proshield and so far, I'm up to 13 shaves with it. Yes that's what I said, 13. After each shave with it, I go in the opposite direction than I would when shaving 5 times only on a cotton terry towel and it has worked with the Gillette Fusion Proshield and my straight razors as well. So I'm going to see if it works with my DE safety razors. I don't see why it wouldn't. The Gillette Fusion Proshield is for back & travel use ONLY and I have no intentions of giving up the DE's or straights anytime soon.

Pipe Smoke & The Slim:

This morning's shave was outstanding and very refreshing. I decided to go with Uncle Jon's Soap and his Pipe Smoke scented soap which has a phenomenal scent of premium pipe tobacco, vanilla and spices. And to add even more refreshment to this shave, I paired it with my usual "go to" aftershave splash, Aqua Velva classic ice blue :


The old Gillette Slim has delivered yet another "ice rink" post shave feel that's as close as one of Gillette's cartridges specifically the new Proshield carts. I first started with setting #6 and did my with the grain pass which took down most of my beard. Then I cranked it up to its maximum setting of #9 and did an against the grain pass. After that I turned it down to setting #2 and did and across the grain pass on my cheeks and a with the grain pass on my neck area. That pretty much finished my beard off and the best part was that I didn't get any burn from my aftershave splash.

High Jump 47 & The 38C:

This morning's shave was great. I went with Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements and their High Jump 47 scented soap. The scent is a Masculine Citrus Cologne type of scent or at least that's what I get. And to finish off this shave, I paired it with good old Clubman aftershave splash:


The 38C was great. I managed to get a squeaky clean post shave feel in 3 passes which is just about normal for me with a mild razor like this one is. It's not like my German 37 or my Gillette Slim adjustable is which is pretty much a 2 pass or less razor. If I do 3 passes with the slim, it's as close as a cartridge razor gets which says a lot.

Feather Blades Are Back:

I paid my uncle a visit today and since he's flying out to South Dakota on a permanent basis, he gave me what was left of the Feather blades that I got him quite some time ago which is really cool. The timing couldn't have been better because I'm already down to the last pack that I got from him about 2 weeks ago. There's about 50 to 60 blades left:


The reason he gave them to me is because he's flying out there and that they've changed the rules a bit here recently and he wouldn't be allowed to take them on the plane except as "checked baggage only" and he won't be doing that. So he gave them to me instead.

Honor & The Black Diamond:

Today's shave was great. I was craving a Barbershop scented soap so I went with Soap Commander and their fabulous "Honor" scented soap which is somewhere between PAA's C.a.D. and Fine's American Blend. Think of pairing the 2 together. And to finish off the shave, I went with the matching aftershave balm which adds a touch of menthol to the post shave feel:


The black diamond was great. I went back to the Apache Strata & the Shoubandini and done some more refinement using some subtle "X" strokes and it worked extremely well. I ended up getting a squeaky clean post shave in just 2.5 passes which is about normal for me.

Renewal & The Black Diamond:

This morning's shave was great. It's been a few days since I've posted a shave of the day, but I still shaved over the last few days which I will be blogging about here shortly. I was craving Soap Commander today so I grabbed their "Renewal" scented soap along with my RazoRock Plissoft which is still amazing as it was a year ago when I bought it. The scent of this soap is a "floral fougere" so I paired it with some Brut aftershave splash along with Soap Commander's matching aftershave balm which adds a tiny bit of menthol to the already epic post shave feel:


The Black Diamond straight razor was awesome. I managed to get a really clean post shave feel in 3.5 passes. My neck area gave me a lot of grief this morning so I went ahead and did an extra half pass to get it cleaned up better than it was after 3 passes. So later on when I'm financially able, I will be looking at getting some smiling straight razors. That's what they were designed for, tight spaces and curved surfaces such as the neck area and jaw line.

Vision & The German 37:

Today's shave was great. After a nice, hot and relaxing shower, I went with Soap Commander and my personal favorite soap of all time, Vision. The scent is mint, aqua and amber and while there's no menthol in the soap itself, you still get a chill from the mint. And to finish off this shave I applied Aqua Velva ice blue aftershave splash and then the Vision aftershave balm which does have menthol and puts the post shave feel over the top:


Speaking of post shave feel, the German 37 was really good but it was definitely time for a new blade. It grabbed a bump on my "money pass" and I ended up grabbing the styptic pencil rather quickly. Usually when the DE blade starts to tug and pull or worse grab, I switch out the blade immediately. This time I put a Perma-Sharp in the German 37. I ended up getting an "ice rink" post shave feel in just 2.5 passes but it wasn't too comfortable due to the blade being worn out.

Le Petit Chypre & The Doc:

Today's shave was great. Good old Barrister & Mann and their Le Petit Chypre soaps is one of my favorites. The scent is Oak Moss & Cyprus wood. And to finish off this shave, I paired it with the matching aftershave splash which is Witch Hazel based and adds a touch of menthol to the already incredible post shave feel:


The doc was great but I did have to switch out the blade for a fresh one after I finished. I got another "ice rink" post shave feel after 3 passes. 4 shaves ladies and gentlemen on 1 Feather blade. In the past, it was much less than that and they've definitely changed the stones they use to sharpen their blade with. They're no where near as harsh as they use to be.


Turkish Bath & The Black Diamond:

Man oh man what a great shave. Today I went with Jeeves of Hudson Street and their Turkish Bath scented soap which has a 1920's era barbershop scent with a top note of premium pipe tobacco and it's awesome. And to finish off this epic shave, I paired it with Stirling Soap's Barbershop scented aftershave splash which has a touch of sweetness to it:


The black diamond was epic. I hit a grand slam with the edge of this razor. I got another "ice rink" post shave feel in just 3 passes and one spot had to be touched which is about normal. This was possibly my best shave with a straight razor.

366 & The Slim:

Today's shave was extremely good. KShave Worx makes some great soaps and this 366 scented soap is no exception. The post shave feel of this cherry almond scented soap is awesome. Unfortunately it was a limited edition soap that celebrated their 1 year anniversary and is no longer available. But they have many more choices available which is a good thing:


The Slim was excellent. I now know which setting to begin with and when to turn the setting down. Today I started with it on setting #5 which did knock down the majority of my beard but not all of it. And I did crank it up to #9 for my neck area and then back down to #1 for the 3rd pass but that wasn't enough so I cranked it back up to #9 to do some touch ups. I figure maybe 1 or 2 more multi pass shaves and I'll have this razor dialed in. This razor is awesome and I love how flexible it is. All the way up to #9 for a heavy beard growth and/or tough beard then all the way down to 1 for extremely irritated and/or sensitive skin and beginners who are just getting started.

Latha Limon & The Black Diamond:

Today's shave ended up being great. More on that in a moment. Today I decided go with good old Barrister & Mann and their "Latha Limon" scented soap. I also decided to go with my RazoRock Plissoft synthetic brush since today makes1 year since I bought it. The scent of this soap is lemon, orange and rose which you would think these wouldn't go together. But surprisingly the rose and orange really make the lemon pop. And to finish off today's shave, I paired it with Stirling Soap's Glacial Lemon Chill aftershave balm:


The black diamond was decent at best. So after 2 passes, I switched to my back up razor which is my Gillette Fusion Proshield. It's a cartridge razor that was designed by a wet shaver so please no B.S. or hate mail about it. After I finished my shave, I went ahead and stropped the black diamond and then I went back to both the Apache Strata and my Shoubandini Jnat. So it should be really good considering I did 2 sessions on each stone using my friend Anthony Esposito's technique. So everything turned out great.

Apache Strata Honing Session:

After my shave this morning, I accidentally ruined the edge when I closed my razor. It happens from time to time but the good thing is that it allowed me to get more time in with my newly acquired Apache Strata. So lets get started. After I used Anthony Esposito's technique and reset the bevel, I built a slurry and did roughly about 20 subtle "X" strokes. After that I rinsed the stone off and went back to Anthony's technique with just plain water. I did the usual 20/20, 10/10, 5/5 and 10 round trips to clean up the edge a bit. After that I took some 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper and cleaned the stone off under some warm running water. I then went back to the stone numerous times and kept going until the razor got extremely sticky using Anthony's technique in combination with some "X" strokes. But when I did go back to Anthony's technique I cut it down to 10/10, 5/5 and 10 round trips instead of the usual:


This specific stone works better with no slurry and very light pressure as opposed to using the weight of the blade and a slurry. The reason I say this is because the longer I spent honing with clean water and using a little pressure, the razor became extremely sticky and wouldn't hardly move across the Apache Strata. That's what happens when you've gotten all that you are going to get from a natural stone. With synthetic stones the razor does the exact opposite. So we will see how tomorrow's shave goes. I have a feeling that I will be liking the results.

C.O. Bigelow & The Black Diamond:

This morning's shave was great. Today I went with C.O. Bigelow and their Menthol & Eucalyptus scented cream (Proraso green). And to finish off this morning's shave, I paired it with Barbasol Brisk aftershave splash. I also decided to use my RazoRock Plissoft since I've not used it in quite some time which was really awesome. I love the fact that I don't have to wait for my brush to finish soaking before a shave:


The Black Diamond was great but I think I screwed up the edge on it when I closed it after my shave which is fine because it will give me more time to play with the Apache Strata. Honing razors is addictive as addictive can be. But other than that, it was a great 2.5 pass shave.

Influence & The 42C:

Today's shave was extremely good and very rich. I was craving Soap Commander pretty bad today so after a nice hot and relaxing shower, I grabbed the very rich scent of "Influence". The scent has very rich premium pipe tobacco scent combined with a very fresh cherry and a full bodied and very rich black tea. And to finish it off today's shave, I went with the matching aftershave balm:


The 42C was perfect. I was squeaky clean after 2.5 passes. I'm pretty much sold onto sticking with Feather DE blades as my go to blade. My post shaves are too good to ignore. Now I will keep using the other blades that I have but the first chance I get, I getting a bulk pack of Feather blades. They just work best for me.


High Jump 47 & The Black Diamond:

Today's shave was excellent. Good old Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements has always delivered top shelf performance and their High Jump 47 is no exception. To my nose the scent is a light but masculine fresh citrus cologne type of scent which is fantastic. And to finish off this shave, I paired it with Aqua Velva's aftershave balm:


This black diamond was perfect. This has to be one of the sweetest edges I've ever put on a razor. I got another "ice rink" post shave feel in just 2.5 passes. It's not often I nail the edge with a new water stone the first time I hone on it but it's really sweet when you do.

Apache Strata 1st Impressions:

So far I'm liking this finishing stone. So lets get started in the details:


In terms of slurry it's not hard to produce a slurry which is what I did first using Anthony Esposito's technique. It produces a milky white slurry that's some where between medium to medium/slow in terms of cutting speed with a slurry :


After that I did Dr. Matt's ILR technique and the razor got pretty sticky relatively slow even when I turned the water up a little bit more:


Once I got done with Dr. Matt's ILR technique, I went back to Anthony Esposito's technique and then the razor broke free on the very last clean up stroke:


After that, I did my usual stropping routine which I mentioned in the previous blog post:


Under the loupe, I saw a light haze with very minimal scratches in terms of the finish. Not that it really matters about that because historically, my best shaves have come from edges that looked rough under loupe in terms hazing and scratches. Tomorrow's shave will tell the story. As with any stone, you must spend some time getting to know the stone and shaving to see what works best for you. Once in a while you will get lucky with the first use but it doesn't happen often. I also found that this specific stone is very thirsty. I soaked it for about 10 minutes and after I finished using it, I noticed it was dry about 15 to 20 minutes later.

Epic Honing Session:

After my last shave with it, I knew that it was time for my Black Diamond straight razor to either be re honed or at the very least, touched up. So I decided to go ahead and use my friend Anthony Esposito's technique shown in this specific video and go through my entire progression. Here's video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLdFspGGAHw . I won't post photos of my entire progression after each use to keep the post at a minimum but my progression is as follows: Naniwa Professional 600, Suehiro 1/3K mini combo stone, Norton 8K, Shapton 12K and I finished on my newly acquired Apache Strata:


First thing I did was kill the edge:


After doing my full progression which I mentioned earlier, I did my usual stropping routine of 6 round trips on the rough/suede leather and 12 round trips on the smooth leather:


How it shaves tomorrow will tell a story. I'm hoping I did well but since this is my first time finishing on the Apache Strata, it wouldn't surprise me if I had to go back and re finish the razor either.

Turkish Bath & The Tech:

Tonight's shave was great. I decided to go with Jeeves of Hudson Street and his "Turkish Bath" scented soap which an incredible 1920's style Barbershop scent with a top note of a premium pipe tobacco. And to add a little bit more sweetness, I finished it off with Stirling Soap's Barbershop scented aftershave splash:


The Gillette Tech was mild but effective. I managed to get pretty close in just 2 passes but it's no where near as close as my other DE safety razors are after 2 passes. If I had used a Perma-Sharp blade instead of a Feather DE blade in this razor, I would probably be looking at 4 passes to get an ice rink post shave feel and my skin can't handle that many passes. But I can see it being used as a daily razor with little to no irritation for just 1 to 2 passes.

Mail Call!

Today's mail call is from Terry over at http://naturalhones.com/ and it's awesome! I've been wanting this specific stone for the last 3 years since I started using straight razors. My first experience with this stone was from Billy T. He finished my 1st straight on this specific stone and it was awesome. The 2nd time around was on a Gold Dollar 66 by Anthony Esposito. I had no stones at that time and was green as green can be and that edge lasted for 60 shaves in a row and all I did was strop it. The 1st detail I noticed was the name is engraved on the bottom:


I ordered it on Friday which cost me $99 U.S. Dollars shipped and it was shipped on Saturday and I got it today which was really sweet:


It was sealed for nuclear which is a good thing considering how the mail is about handling the packages. Sometimes I wonder if the Post Office took took much medication:


The size is 5 inches long by 2 5/8's inches wide by 3/4's of inch thick it weighs about a pound give or take a little. It fits in the hand perfectly. So Dr. Matt's under low running water ILR/Coticule technique would be easy to do with this stone:


Terry saved me a lot and I do mean a lot of grief by lapping this stone. It's ultra smooth and there's no scratches in the top and the corners have been beveled:


All in all I'm very happy with this stone and I'm really happy with the service I got. After I shave tonight, I'll go ahead and put this stone to the test. My black diamond needs to be re honed. It's still sharp but it tends to be on the tuggy side of things and it also tries to catch in my trouble spots even with a light touch. Plus it also tends to make my eyes water a little bit. So I'll be doing some honing here in a bit.

The Gillette Slim:

Gillette you ought to be ashamed of yourselves for getting rid of this fantastic razor. Shame on you Gillette. As many of you know, I picked this razor up along with a gold Gillette Ball end tech for almost nothing. So after about a 2 hour soak in Barbicide, you can see how well this razor cleaned up. The tech cleaned up just as good if not a shade better. This is my new favorite blade & razor combo:


The sweet spot for me is setting number 5. For my 1st pass, that's what I started with. It was extremely comfortable and I just about couldn't feel the blade at all. So for my 2nd pass which was against the grain, I cranked the razor all the way to setting #9. It was still extremely comfortable but I could feel the blade a lot more and it basically took everything off with the exception of my neck area which is about normal. So I turned the razor down to setting #1 and did an across the grain pass. I couldn't feel the blade at all. It felt like I was shaving with a butter knife. The post shave feel was as close as a Gillette Fusion Proshield only with NO razor burn and there was NO sensitivity either. There's only 1 other razor that I have that can get this close and that would be Phoenix Artisan Accoutrement's Double Open Comb DE safety razor. I can now add the Gillette Slim to the guaranteed B.B.S. DE razor category. So if you don't have a Gillette Slim in your collection, get one as soon as possible. You are missing out on an excellent razor.

Honor & The Gillette Slim:

Today's shave was phenomenal. It's also Sunday which means Soap Commander Sunday is in full effect. So after a nice hot and relaxing shower, I went with their "Honor" scent which is between Phoenix Artisan Accoutrement's C.a.D and Fine's American Blend Barbershop scents. And I finished this shave off with the matching aftershave balm which adds a hint of menthol to the post shave feel:


Speaking of post shave feel, I have to do another blog post about the razor. This without a doubt the best shave I've ever gotten with a DE safety razor. I got as close as a cartridge gets only with no razor burn and no sensitivity either like you get with a cartridge. Wow what a shave. I can now see why people love the Vintage Gillette Slim razor.

Antique Shop Score:

Today I got lucky at a local antique shop. I managed to pick up a Gold Gillette Ball End Tech for less than $8 dollars (yes that's what I said) and I also managed to get a Gillette Adjustable for around $12 dollars. Another surprise that I got was that this specific booth where I got these also had a 20% off sale going. They're getting bath in Barbicide as we speak:


Normally you would be looking at a lot more than this just for the Tech much less both of these fine razors. This pretty much completes my DE safety razor collection.

TTFFC Mixed & The Black Diamond:

Today's shave was pretty good. The soap kept me from getting cut more than I did. More on that in a bit. I was craving Through The Fire Fine Craft by Maria Arman, so I grabbed my mixed soap container. The dominating scent is the "play it again Sam" which was a ginger and lime scent. And to finish off today's shave, I paired it with good old Clubman: 


The black diamond was okay today. It is starting to tug and pull a little bit and it did get me on the right side of my moustache area just above the corner of my mouth. So the timing of me ordering the Apache Strata couldn't have been better. I got word that it was shipped this morning. That is the stone that I got 60 shaves off of a single hone when I was new. So a much sharper edge will be a much better choice for me.

Apache Strata Ordered:

This has been coming for the last 3 years. I have just ordered an Apache Strata natural stone. I've already gotten a taste of the edges this stone can provide and I'm really looking forward to it as well. The 1st encounter was from Bill Tsugranes from where I had rolled the 1st edge on my 1st straight razor. The edge was awesome. The second encounter was from Anthony Esposito and that edge was even more amazing and it lasted 60 days on a Gold Dollar 66 and I had no stones at all at that time and I only had roughly around 70 straight razor shaves under my belt at that point which was just before my muscle memory had kicked in. So for an edge to last that long with someone new, is very impressive. I also remember how sharp and keen the edges were as well:


This stone cost me $99 U.S. Dollars and had free shipping. This will be fun. I love my Japanese natural stone (Shoubandini Type 100), but it can be a bit of a pill to nail the edge with it. This stone right here is a spray and go stone and really doesn't need a slurry to develop the edge. How sharp you want it, depends on how much time you spend on this stone. So we'll see what kind of edges I get with it. That's beauty about honing. All of us can use the exact same method and stones, but everyone of us will get completely different results.

Renewal & The 38C:

This morning's shave was great. I did shave last night, but was too tired to post it up and I wanted to enjoy it by myself instead of sharing it in a blog post. So after a nice hot and relaxing shower, I went with Soap Commander and their "Renewal" scent which has an incredible floral fougere scent. And to finish off this shave, I paired it with Brut aftershave then the matching aftershave balm:


The 38C didn't have a lot to take down due to last night's shave but I was squeaky clean after 2 passes. Still no signs of the Feather blade slowing down which is a good thing. The other blades that I have here would already be slowing down if not replaced. That's the trouble of having a tough beard that grows really fast. I'm also still looking at stones to. If I can swing it and if it's not sold out, I will try and buy a new water stone today. I'll reveal what it is when and/or if I can get it.

C.a.D. & The Tech:

Today's shave was great. Today I went with Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements  and their modern day classic, C.a.D.  scent. The scent is a m...