caleb31 what are your thoughts regarding Livi's razors, performance wise?
(This post was last modified: 10-01-2016, 04:58 PM by caleb31.)
(09-30-2016, 05:48 PM)lloydrm Wrote: caleb31 what are your thoughts regarding Livi's razors, performance wise?
They seem to be very highly tempered .there are a lot of fans of his I am friends with, as I do not own one I cannot speak from my own experience here other than to say I would like to own a few eventually.

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(This post was last modified: 12-22-2016, 08:45 PM by caleb31. Edit Reason: The latest from Mastro livi on using strop pastes. )

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(This post was last modified: 02-18-2017, 03:05 AM by caleb31. Edit Reason: Mastro livi and an introduction to using hones. )

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This reply is a little late, but here's my 2 cents:

do i need to know how to hone to use a straight?
No, but if you don't learn to at least touch-up your straight, you'll have to have 2-3 straights at the minimum and send out your duller razors to a pro for touch-ups.
When you first start with straights, you'll dull them quite a lot (and you may not even realize that you have dulled them). Misuse, bad stropping, etc will dull your blade. When you get better, your blades will last months, if not years without needing more than a minor touch-up.

do i need to buy stones, etc?

Not NEED! I'd recommend at least getting a decent finisher (get a synthetic). You can even start with some lapping film. I don't like pastes, but some guys like them.

If you get bitten with the honing bug, you'll want to buy some hones. If you start buying antique store blades, then you'll need a complete progression from bevel setters to finishers. I'd suggest Chosera hones, or lapping film. Lapping film is pretty cheap, as long as you're not going to be honing dozens of blades.

do i need to own several straights and rotate their use?

No. If your technique is great, one blade is all you'll need. In this case, you'll need something to touch-up the edge.

what exactly is the prep involved each time?

Prep is similar to other razors. The biggest difference is having to strop before (and after) the shave. I usually do at least 30 strokes on linen followed by 60 strokes on leather before the shave and something similar after it.

One suggestion is to try a slightly more slick lather (rather than a firm, thick lather). Slip is more important than cushion when shaving with straights.

what are good straights to buy?

Pretty much any well-honed vintage blade. 5/8 - 6/8" to start with. Some people like very large blades, but they're more unwieldy. There are also pretty nice new blades, but they're not as good a deal as the vintage ones.

Get your first straights from a recognized. experienced honer.

what do the sizes mean i.e. 5/8, 6/8?

Those are the width of the blade from the spine (thick end) to the edge. Blades can be very small in width (3/8-4/8"), to very large 1"+.

Again, I'd suggest sticking to around 6/8" to start with. They're easy to strop and are nimble. Big blades give the impression of power, and some newbies like them, but I think that's due to the weight compensating in some part for dulled edges.

do i need to anchor a strop to the wall?

Ideally, you'd anchor the strop to a firm support. That's usually the wall for most people. The main thing is to find a comfortable height for the strop. Watch some videos on this. I'd suggest looking for Lynn Abrams' videos on YouTube.

Is this really complicated or is it simpler than i think?

In some ways, straight shaving is the simplest form of shaving. The razors are uncomplicated and very 'primal'. However, technique takes a long time to hone (pun intended).

You'll read online that it may take a year or so to really get good at straight shaving, and that's true. Your shaves will be poor to start with, and then will rapidly improve over the first couple of weeks. You'll think you have it nailed down in about a month or two. However, after a year or two you'll realize that your shaves improved steadily for the first year or more before you really 'figured' it out.


Remember that this is a skill. It's sort of like learning an instrument or any other skill. It takes some equipment to start with, but mostly it takes time and effort to get really good at it.

It's okay to just move to a safety razor if your shave is not going well. Don't push it. You'll work it out over time.

All the best!
- Yohann
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(09-30-2016, 05:48 PM)lloydrm Wrote: caleb31 what are your thoughts regarding Livi's razors, performance wise?

I have had two Livi's, as well as razors from other makers (Zowada, Chandler, etc).

Livi's razors are pretty nice. They take and hold excellent edges. I dislike the spine work, as it can damage strops. I even have a special strop for my customs with spine work. Really, the best custom razors I've had have been from Josh Earl and Brian Brown - they were simple, looked great, and shaved brilliantly. No, they weren't extravagantly designed or worked, but they did their main job well.

That being said, I have only kept one custom straight - a damascus from Livi.
- Yohann
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Northern Arizona
Here is my 2 cents:
Advice for Newbie Straight Razor Users
Razor care
1. Be careful they are sharp
2. Protect the edge when not in use - don't drop it, bang it against the faucet etc.
3. Don't ever put a wet razor away (dry the blade, dry the inside of the scales) and store it in a dry environment.
4. Don't handle a razor with wet hands.
5. If the razor is dropped or falls off of something, do not try to catch it. The replacement of a broken razor is cheaper than an ER visit or an ambulance ride.
6. Dry the razor, rinse under hot water and wipe dry with TP, also make sure the inside of the scales are dry. Fold TP and run it through the scales several times. Keep the razor open for an hour resting on a dry towel. Then, close the razor slowly so the edge never contacts the scales. ALWAYS do this to prevent rust.
7. Before mailing to the next member please rub down the blade with alcohol. It sanitizes, but more importantly, it dries any moisture.

When you shave
1. Use less pressure than you think is needed.
2. Use a shallower angle than you think is needed.
3. Do not be concerned with speed. If you are taking so long your lather dries out, just re-lather.
4. Be concerned with being comfortable while putting an insanely sharp blade you your face, not speed. Needless to say, don't try straight shaving for the first time when you are late for work.
5. Stretch the skin taught. Tight skin resists cuts. Loose floppy skin invites cuts. Dry your fingertips or use the tip of a dry washcloth to get a better grip on wet skin.
6. Tricky areas can often be shaven more easily by actually pulling the skin onto a flatter area of the face, particularly on the chin, which is the venue for probably 3/4 of the shaving cuts you will give yourself.
7. Make shaving faces. Use your facial muscles to tighten or flatten skin, or to pull against the pull of your fingertips. Pull your nose up or to the side to get upper lip.
8. Don't keep telling yourself it's sharp enough if it's not, put it down and use a different razor. Contact Dan to have the razor sharpened.
9. Start with your sideburns, don't be afraid to finish with a DE or whatever your previous method is.
10. Lather up, and use a butter knife to practice "shaving" the lather off your face. This trick works in helping you coordinate those tricky spots, off hand shaving, etc. without fear of injury.
11. A good initial shave angle is where you have a gap between spine and skin equal to the thickness of the spine. This is typically 21 to 25 degrees, significantly tighter than the 30 degrees suggested by many sources.
12. If you need a higher angle or more pressure to make a razor shave, it is probably not as sharp as it should be.
13. Don't worry about getting a perfect shave. Just concentrate on surviving the shave with minimal blood loss, minimal irritation. Closeness will come with experience.
14. Don't worry how close your shave is and, unless you are real brave, don't try your entire face at first. Do cheeks to jaw bone first, then the neck, the mustache and chin. If you only accomplish a couple of parts of a full shave while you have the box, that's a success. It takes a couple of weeks/months before it will become second nature. Be patient, don't go too fast and invest in a Styptic Pen from your local drug store. Most of all be patient with yourself!

When you receive the razors and before you send it to the next member or back to me for honing please do a sharpness test.
A good sharpness test to perform on receiving a razor is the treetopping test. Pass the razor 1/4" above the skin of your forearm. You should see at least one or two hair tips severed and laying on the blade. This indicates a reasonably sharp edge. If several hairs are treetopped, and this occurs silently with no perceptible snapback, you have a razor that is almost impossibly magically science fiction sharp. If you have to reduce the pass height to 1/8" to get treetopping, then it is marginally sharp,

Follow these guidelines please.
1. When you strop your razor, you should have a firm enough hold on the shank to control it, but there shouldn't be any grip on the scales, unless you intend to break the scales.
2. Any time you strop a razor; the spine of the razor MUST be lying against the strop every time the edge touches the strop. If the spine isn’t touching while you are stropping, you are ruining the bevel angle and could damage your fine edge.
3. Strop 30 passes on leather after your shave
4. Strop 30 passes on the cloth side followed by 60 passes on leather before your shave.
5. Stropping should look like this:
“Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.
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The outcome of any shave depends on multiple conditions.

Here is how I go about it.

First step.
Wash my face with plenty of warm water while rubbing the whiskers across the grain until after the water and rubbing has perceivably softened the feel of the whiskers.

Hot to warm towel/large cloth wetted well and used to wipe off all dirt or soil,rinse the cloth clean and hold over heavy whisker areas to continue the softening effect.

Rinse face again with water, take brush out of soak in the mug and build a wet lather.

Go to my razor ,take the razor to the linen strop,do 25 to 30 laps.

Go to the leather strop.
Do 30 to 50 laps paying attention to the evenness of sound and felt feedback on both the up the strop lap and the return lap.

Return to the brush.
Re wet the lather .

Shave with the grain keeping a steady ,gentle stretch at all times.

Complete first pass.

Rinse the face and reapply a fresh lather.

(Here you may decide to go at it differently )
For myself I go across the grain for the most part ,stretch,keep the blade fairly flat.

Rinse the face,inspect for closeness of the shave ,decide if I wish a closer shave.
If so,re lather,go either across the grain again or go against the grain (if your face can handle this ! )
Stretch well and at all times.
Keep the spine within one spine width of the face or even flatter.
Use short measured strokes at all times and all passes.

Post shave.

Wipe the razor dry and inspect for moisture, strop on your linen 10 laps.
Leave to air dry (outside of the bathroom ) or tuck into a wool razor roll . (If a daily driver blade)

Rinse face well with cool to cold water only going with the grain if you touch your face (cloth or hands)

After this you are free to do as you like (or I am rather)

Cheers !

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