Monday, January 2, 2012

Is My Straight Razor Sharp Enough to Shave With?

Q: Geo, thanks for all the great videos. I recently bought a new Dovo 5/8 carbon blade straight razor and paid the extra to have it retailer honed. I was surprised to find it dull as it dragged across my face the first time I used it. It also failed the hair test when you drop a long hair over the blade to see if it will cut it. I read that super sharp blades can drag if too much pressure is applied or the wrong angle is used. But the fact it wouldn't snip a piece of hair dropped over the blade leads me to believe it's dull. Should I take it to get sharpened again or is there something about a new straight razor I don't know? Thank you. 
A: If it doesn't pass the HHT/Hanging Hair Test, it may not be sharp enough to easily remove whiskers from your face. I test my straight razors by shaving the hair from the inside of my forearm, not at the base of the hair where it meets the skin, but midway on the hair shaft. If it removes those hairs 1/2 way easily, then it should be shave ready for your face. 
Keep in mind that your beard/face prep must be spot-on as well because it's much easier to remove properly hydrated and lubricated whiskers than improperly prepared whiskers. 
I like owning a Feather replaceable blade Straight and Japanese style razor not only because they are excellent in design and shave provided, but also because of the fact that I use the Feather Professional Blade as a standard as which to judge the sharpness of my traditional style Straight razors. The Feather blades (right out of the blade dispenser) will remove the forearm hair at the midway point with no problem whatsoever. The ultimate test is always how it performs when you apply it to your face.

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