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Old 05-19-2019, 12:51 PM   #1
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Shaving and splitting hairs

I read a little bit online, and sometimes come away confused. People talk about getting their knives "shaving sharp" and capable of "splitting hairs." Is this the Honest to Dog truth, or is is just colorful hyperbolic writing style?

Just about any of my knives, when I'm done sharpening them, is capable of scraping hair off my arm. But it's not nearly as nice a shave as my fancy Russian or Japanese razor blades. How about you other guys? Are your edges honestly sharp enough to get a comfortable shave? Good enough for a bit of manscaping?

And what about "splitting hairs?" None of my edges can cut through a hair that's just being held at one end. I just now played around with a brand new razor blade, and it works sometimes.

Can anyone do these things with the knives that they carry for real work? Or are these just parlor tricks that make a blade unsuitable for real work? Do I need to up my game? Enquiring minds want to know.
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Old 05-19-2019, 02:19 PM   #2
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I'm not a blade expert but my thought is we're better off shaving with a tool designed for the job. If you consider the old barbers straight razor, probably made of a softer alloy than my CRKT. The edge designed so it could be sharpened/tuned up on the old strop...
I'd bet you could get a suitable edge on a pocket knife but don't know if the geometry is the best for your manscaping project? I'm not sure how involved of a project you're planning? Maybe practice up some with the shave cream on a balloon? Wouldn't want to find out it was a bad idea on anything of a more sensitive nature right :-)
...JMO
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Old 05-19-2019, 03:09 PM   #3
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I hone and shave with straight razors (SRs)and there really is no comparison. You hit a key word, scraping. I can remove hair from my arm with most knives , but a well honed straight razor will remove arm hair mid-hair without coming anywhere near your skin. It's one of the tests to see if you have enough of a bevel to hone to a "shave ready" edge. The cutting edge of SRs is very thin and delicate, and the strop is used only after a series of stones to align, clean and smooth the edge some. They are used pre shave and post shave.

When I shave with one of my razors, I can't feel the edge. It is so sharp it just rides on the lather and water and mows the whiskers off. Compared to modern razor blades, the shave is much closer and smoother. Here are some of my favorites. Most of mine are from the late 1800s or early 1900s and most are Sheffield carbon steel or similar German steel (Solingen) that is tempered very hard. Under magnification, the edge appears perfect, with all the polishing stria (lines) very fine and perfectly aligned.

Could you shave with a sharp knife, yes, but it would be more scrape than shave and not very comfortable.
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Old 05-19-2019, 03:43 PM   #4
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You're a braver sole then I Bigdog. I cut myself every now and then with my Schick extreme 3. I'd hate to think of the damage I'd do with one of those babies. A "manscaping" project like Rusty is planning (we don't any more details and you get a pass on the pics for this one too Rusty)? For some of us maybe a safety razor is really a better option?
Fine looking blades Bigdog :-)
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Old 05-19-2019, 03:50 PM   #5
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Thank you cousinmark! I've been doing it for about 10 years. I bought my first 30 years ago, tried a few times and retired it to the gun safe. Then the internet came along and made it much easier (and introduced me to a bunch of enablers on a forum, much like the folks on this one).
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Old 05-19-2019, 07:44 PM   #6
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I've been straight razor shaving for a few years, and you don't want a knife to have the 16-18 degree edge angle that makes a razor shave well. That makes the edge less resistant to bending against stuff stiffer than wet hair, and abrading the fine angle on stuff less smooth than soapy skin. Likewise, don't mow you lawn with an axe, or take on firewood with a scalpel.

Bigdog, that W&B is lovely!
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Old 05-19-2019, 10:35 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Bigdog View Post
I bought my first 30 years ago, tried a few times and retired it to the gn safe. Then the internet came along and made it much easier
Some day I want give it a shot.
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Old 05-20-2019, 06:42 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by RustyIron View Post
Some day I want give it a shot.
The best forum group to read/join/lurk/learn and be "enabled" is Sharp Razor Palace: https://sharprazorpalace.com
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:26 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by cousinmark View Post
You're a braver sole then I Bigdog. I cut myself every now and then with my Schick extreme 3. I'd hate to think of the damage I'd do with one of those babies. A "manscaping" project like Rusty is planning (we don't any more details and you get a pass on the pics for this one too Rusty)? For some of us maybe a safety razor is really a better option?
Fine looking blades Bigdog :-)
The problem with razors like the Schick Eextreme 3, and any other cartridge razor, is that you have to actually apply pressure when you shave. If you don't want to try a straight razor, you might consider a double edge razor, with a blade like the Astra SP to start. Great shave, better than a cartridge razor and much less expensive. With a double edge razor, you let the razor do the work, no pressure.
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Old 05-20-2019, 05:00 PM   #10
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While you can scrap off week old growth with a fresh 21 degree (DAMHIKT), stropped edge, it will NEVER replace a straight razor. As someone mentioned, you wouldn’t take an EDK knife to <17 deg for edge life, even with some of the great powder steels out there today. Edge retention would suck in real life. The guys showing shaving hairs, 1) have hair, and 2) are focused on the wrong outcome.
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