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My Old-Timey Shaving Odyssey

Shangas

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,115
Location
Melbourne, Australia
Hi Mike,

Adjustable razors have a little dial below the razor-head, as you already know. Turning the dial determines how tightly or loosely the blade is held in the razor-head. This determines the type of shave you're going to get. It allows the blade to flex and bend, or to stay stiffly in place, depending on how tightly it's held in the razor-head. I've never actually used an adjustable safety before, but that's what it does, or so I understand.

Stropping does *NOT* sharpen your razor. Stropping smooths off the edge of the razor to prevent curling, burrs and cuts. You can use any leather so long as it's smooth and free from any bumps and irregularities. These would affect the smoothness of the blade-edge.
 

Jish1969

Familiar Face
Messages
95
Location
Buffalo, NY
My razor isn't a Gillette Tech then, since it is only a one-piece. The bottom of the handle twists and the top open up in a bi-fold manner; there is no model name on mine, so I had just assumed it was the more common Tech. I will take pics later, maybe someone can identify it for me...

EDIT: After a google search I figured out that my Gillette is a Super Speed from between about 1948-50.
 
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1930artdeco

Practically Family
Messages
656
Location
oakland
This might seem like a dumb question, but I just bought some Poraso soap so do I need a bowl to put it in to lather it up?

Thanks,

Mike
 

Gin&Tonics

Practically Family
Messages
899
Location
The outer frontier
This might seem like a dumb question, but I just bought some Poraso soap so do I need a bowl to put it in to lather it up?

Thanks,

Mike

The proraso soap I saw was sold in a small palm dish with a lid. From my understanding you simply lather it right in its little dish. No fuss, no muss. If your soap was packaged differently, say, wrapped in wax paper or something, then you would need a mug, scuttle or bowl to use. I just use a small palm sized bowl for mine and it seems to work quite well.

You do have a shave brush of some kind, right? If not, you should pick up a good quality badger hair brush.
 

1930artdeco

Practically Family
Messages
656
Location
oakland
The one I have (boar I think) I got at walgreens or some pharmacy like that some time ago. I just didn't want to add water to the soap in its dish and watch it dissolve before my eyes. I just need to clean the razor and reread the order of things to do.

Mike
 

jkingrph

Practically Family
Messages
846
Location
Jacksonville, Tx, West Monroe, La.
The proraso soap I saw was sold in a small palm dish with a lid. From my understanding you simply lather it right in its little dish. No fuss, no muss. If your soap was packaged differently, say, wrapped in wax paper or something, then you would need a mug, scuttle or bowl to use. I just use a small palm sized bowl for mine and it seems to work quite well.

You do have a shave brush of some kind, right? If not, you should pick up a good quality badger hair brush.

I have one of the "little palm" bowls of Proraso you mentioned. I either load my brush from it and then make my lather in a bowl or directly on my face, using a brush. IMHO if you lather directly in the soap bowl you will waste soap.
 

Gin&Tonics

Practically Family
Messages
899
Location
The outer frontier
I have one of the "little palm" bowls of Proraso you mentioned. I either load my brush from it and then make my lather in a bowl or directly on my face, using a brush. IMHO if you lather directly in the soap bowl you will waste soap.

How do you load your brush, exactly? What I always do with my Williams soap is soak the brush thoroughly, then whisk it over the soap in the bowl at high speed with circular motions to make the lather. I wasn't aware you could use soap in any other way. I'm very new at this, so I love to hear different techniques!
 

DeaconKC

One Too Many
Messages
1,643
Location
Heber Springs, AR
A trick i use when traveling is to let the brush soak, then actually squirt the paste soap like Proraso into the end of the brush itself. I then face lather. Not the ideal method, but if you don't have a bowl handy, it works. Also, when traveling get an old prescription bottle and drill some holes in each end. it makes a very effective brush container.
 

Michaelshane

One Too Many
Messages
1,928
Location
Land of Enchantment
c8adae98.jpg
 

jkingrph

Practically Family
Messages
846
Location
Jacksonville, Tx, West Monroe, La.
How do you load your brush, exactly? What I always do with my Williams soap is soak the brush thoroughly, then whisk it over the soap in the bowl at high speed with circular motions to make the lather. I wasn't aware you could use soap in any other way. I'm very new at this, so I love to hear different techniques!
GO over to badgerand blade.com and there is a wealth of information. That's where I learned the techniques.

As for loading the brush, I soak it in hot water for a couple of minutes, shake it out and then swirl it on top of the soap cake until you can see some soap in the bristles. If you are using a cream in a tube it is recommended that you squeeze out an amount about the size of a shelled almond, for creams in a tub, I use a spatula and dip out a little dab like that. You can stick the brush into a tub of cream but you will probably get a lot more than you need and some of them are quite expensive.

After loading the brush, proceed to make lather, either swirl it around directly on the face or in a bowl. Either way you may need to add water. If face lathering I just dip the tip of the brush into warm water, if lathering in a bowl, just get some in your hand and add to bowl, don't add too much too fast or your lather may get soupy. It's not an exact process but more a learned art.

Good luck and have fun!
 

Shangas

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,115
Location
Melbourne, Australia
How do you load your brush, exactly? What I always do with my Williams soap is soak the brush thoroughly, then whisk it over the soap in the bowl at high speed with circular motions to make the lather. I wasn't aware you could use soap in any other way. I'm very new at this, so I love to hear different techniques!

There are several ways to lather.

1). Scoop soft soap/cream into a bowl. Add water. Whisk thoroughly until lather is created. I don't like this method. It's really hit-and-miss. If you don't get the cream/water ratio right, you end up with aerated slop that just landslides off your face.

2). Lathering on the puck. Soak brush. Lather directly onto a puck of shaving-soap. This works when you keep the soap in a specific container. Such as it's original tub, a shaving mug, or the soap-dish in the top of a scuttle.

3). Lathering in the palm. Build up lather on the puck, then transfer to your hand and keep lathering with the brush...not the cleanest way to do it.

4). Lathering on the face. Much like lathering on the palm, in my experience, equally messy.

My two preferable methods are lathering on the puck, or lathering in my scuttle, either followed by thorough lathering on the face, once the base-lather has been created to my satisfaction. By then, most of the excess water has gone, so you don't have to worry about it running down your chin, and you're left with really nice facial-lather.

5). There's also inverted puck-lathering. I'm not too sure *how* this one is necessarily better than the others...you don't need much soap to generate lather, anyway...but you soak your brush and start puck-lathering, with the puck of shaving-soap in a dedicated mug. Then you flip the whole operation upside down and keep lathering. It forces the lather deeper into the brush and creates more lather. What the benefit of this is, I'm not sure. You don't need *that* much lather to do a three-pass shave. Unless of course you're doing your head, face, armpits, chest, arms, legs, back, and the family fruit-basket...
 
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gdc

One of the Regulars
Messages
107
Location
Kansas
I've really enjoyed reading this thread and wanted to contribute.

For the first twenty five years of my shaving life I used a variety of disposables and Edge shaving cream. I never gave it much thought but hated shaving. Ingrown hairs were a problem.

Ten years ago, I bought a 1958 Gillette Superspeed, a cake of Williams soap and a boar brush. After some adjustment to my technique I made the commitment to shaving this way and didn't change anything until I saw this thread a few weeks ago. Thanks to the experience gleaned here I switched to a badger brush (a garage sale find from years ago I had forgotten about) and Van Der Hagen soap. I am getting much better lather and only the occasional minor cut.

Since I've been using the Gillette the ingrown hairs are in the distant past. The Superspeed is the only DE razor I've tried and have never had the reason to look further.
 

Gin&Tonics

Practically Family
Messages
899
Location
The outer frontier
I've really enjoyed reading this thread and wanted to contribute.

For the first twenty five years of my shaving life I used a variety of disposables and Edge shaving cream. I never gave it much thought but hated shaving. Ingrown hairs were a problem.

Ten years ago, I bought a 1958 Gillette Superspeed, a cake of Williams soap and a boar brush. After some adjustment to my technique I made the commitment to shaving this way and didn't change anything until I saw this thread a few weeks ago. Thanks to the experience gleaned here I switched to a badger brush (a garage sale find from years ago I had forgotten about) and Van Der Hagen soap. I am getting much better lather and only the occasional minor cut.

Since I've been using the Gillette the ingrown hairs are in the distant past. The Superspeed is the only DE razor I've tried and have never had the reason to look further.

Hey GDC! It sounds like you had an almost identical experience to mine (Right down to the Williams Soap and boar brush, in fact!) I used to use that Edge crap with a Gillette Sensor Excell and I always hated shaving too! I didn't have ingrown hairs really, but it was always painful and unpleasant and seemed to invariably involve cuts and burn, as well as discomfort afterwards. Now that I've started shaving with the old school brush, soap and safety razor, as well as the all important aftershave balm finish, my face has never felt so good!

I'm pleased this thread seems to be so popular! Thanks to everyone for contributing and keep em coming!
 

gdc

One of the Regulars
Messages
107
Location
Kansas
Can someone recommend a good aftershave? My skin gets dry and I should nourish it after a good shave. I'm hoping for something available at Target, Wal Mart, etc.....

G&T, the Van Der Hagen makes a much better lather than the Williams. I fill the cup with hot water and put the brush in before my shower. It lathers up nicely right in the cup. With the Williams this method is best but the lather is thinner and tends to dry too fast. That was my experience anyway.
 

Doomstein

One of the Regulars
Messages
165
Location
Tampa FL
My razor isn't a Gillette Tech then, since it is only a one-piece. The bottom of the handle twists and the top open up in a bi-fold manner; there is no model name on mine, so I had just assumed it was the more common Tech. I will take pics later, maybe someone can identify it for me...

EDIT: After a google search I figured out that my Gillette is a Super Speed from between about 1948-50.

The Superspeed is a legendary razor which saw almost 40 years of service, from 1947 to 1986. It really is one of the best razors ever made.

As for identification, that's actually really really easy. On the bottom of the razor's floorplate, there'll be a number and a letter, that will tell you what year and production quater the razor was made by finding them on this chart:

http://wiki.badgerandblade.com/US_Gillette_Dating_Information

If there's NO letter or number down there, then it was produced between 1947 and 1949 (1950 is when they started the number/letter code system). So in that case an exact date for those three years is impossible.
 
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Feraud

Bartender
Messages
17,193
Location
Hardlucksville, NY
3). Lathering in the palm. Build up lather on the puck, then transfer to your hand and keep lathering with the brush...not the cleanest way to do it.

I recently switched to this method when using tube creams ( I love Speick shaving cream) with very satisfactory results.
In terms of mess, being in the bathroom anyway is not much of an issue to run your hand under the tap to rinse. For whatever reason whether is be the shape of the hand with it's creases and ridges but I get a decent lather with this technique.

I'd recommend this to anyone who is new to old school shaving. The shaving mug is one less purchase a new guy has to worry about.
 

Feraud

Bartender
Messages
17,193
Location
Hardlucksville, NY
Of course. I have two and am trying to not acquire more! I don't want to make an enemy of the little lady. ;) She bravely suffers through enough of my hobbies and I can at least not overwhelm the bathroom with shaving supplies!
 

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