Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions fall into several categories. Click on the appropriate category below for those questions and answers:


What is Straight Razor Palace - and how do I use it?

What is Straight Razor Palace?

Straight Razor Palace, also known as SRP, is the original and oldest online community devoted to straight razor shaving. SRP has over 40,000 members with 1.4 million posts.  Having started out as a Yahoo! group in November 2000, SRP has since grown into the most comprehensive source for all things relating to straight razors, and their use. It sports the most experienced, dedicated, and focussed group of gentlemen worldwide in its sector. It also offers a host of informational resources.

Why should I join SRP?

As a member, you can benefit a lot more from the site. For example, you can introduce yourself in the Beginner's Section of the forum and ask to be supported by a mentor on line or who may live close enough for a personal visit. You can also buy good shaving utensils sold by members at reasonable prices in our member's only classifieds . Or participate in our Contests and Giveaways held each month, in which you can win straight shaving equipment.

  What informational resources does SRP offer?

  1. The Straight Razor Palace Forum is SRP's core. It is where its members meet and discuss everything relating to straight razors, and things relating to them. Take a moment and introduce yourself there Member Introductions . SRP prides itself of being the most gentlemanly shaving community, and in this spirit, we have joined some of our most experienced members in a user group called Mentors. Should you require personal assistance, they will be pleased to support you in your first steps.
  2. These Frequently Asked Questions ("FAQ") are a document you should read under any circumstances. It contains answers to most of the questions you will find yourself confronted with. Furthermore, it has links and pointers to related and further reading should you require more in depth information about a specific topic.
  3. One of the easiest ways to get help when you are stuck is our Chat section. It will give you access to a group of people known as Chat Crazies.They are online most of the time. Sometimes, it will take you a few moments to get an answer as people are away from their keyboards. But you will typically get an answer within less than 15 minutes.
  4. When the time has come to get your first equipment, you should spend some quality time with our Library (also known as the Wiki, of which this FAQ is a part). It contains a Beginner's GuideShopping list For beginners, First straight Razor Shave

  1. Last, our Classifieds are usually a safe, and good way to shop. In this area, members offer (usually used) items of good quality. You can also find members who will repair, restore, or otherwise enhance your existing straight razors for a reasonable fee. In a similar fashion, our Vendor's Corner gives you access to offers by commercial vendors who sometimes offer attractive packages for our members.

Veteran Badges

If you have served in the military and would like to have a veteran badge displayed next to your screen name, please contact gugi letting us know where and when you have served and you will receive the badge. This information will not be shared with anybody outside the site administrators.

SRP, RAD, HAD - what do these acronyms and abbreviations mean?

Please refer to the growing list of acronyms and abbreviations we have compiled for you.

Before you begin

Is straight razor shaving really rocket science?

We believe that some people on this site have gone way overboard on the technical issues of shaving! Straight razor shaving is not rocket science![1] While you may even encounter the occasional discussion about the micron size on newspaper, this is nothing that will likely affect your shaving experience at all.

The bottom line is, at least for your first razor whether new or used, you should make sure it is truly shave ready by having it hand honed by an expert. Shave readiness is the actual crucial factor which can make or break your shaving experience and will show you what sharp truly means. We have seen many new users give up on straight razor shaving because they tried to start with a razor that was not really shave ready, which resulted in painful and inadequate shaves.

Starting with straight shaving

What is the minimal setup for shaving with straight razors?

The very minimal setup will consist of the following:

  • a truly Shave Ready straight razor;
  • shaving soap or cream as a alternative to shaving foam, as quality soaps or creams will provide much better lubrication, moisturising, and protection from nicks and ingrown hairs;
  • a shaving brush, preferably a badger hair one;
  • and a (leather) strop. You will need the strop to maintain the edge of your razor.

Additional equipment may include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • some means of honing your razor once the strop does not provide a sufficiently keen edge anymore.

Where can I obtain this equipment?

Please refer to our Shopping List For Beginners which is part of the Beginner's Guide

I am on a tight budget. Can I still get a working shaving setup?

Yes, you probably can. We have collected some less expensive options for beginners in the article Buying a Straight Razor on A Budget

What makes a good starter razor?

Size = 5/8 to 6/8

Grind = Full hollow This advancement in razor hollowing technology allows for easier maintenance of the razor. Full hollow ground razors are just as effective for shaving as any other grind.

Rounded or blunted point A spike point is more likely to cause trouble for the new learner than any of the other kinds of points due to spikes' silent efficiency in filleting the skin. A shaver needs to pay absolute attention to where all parts of the blade edge from tip to heel is on their face.

Common misconceptions and mistakes

I inherited/bought/found a straight razor - how much is it worth?

We believe that there is no point to give appraisals as everybody values razors differently. Also, those who are quickest to put numbers are usually the least knowledgeable about razors. Last, there is a huge hype factor attached to many razors so their free market value can fluctuate by factors of 2 to 3 back and forth depending on the demand and supply.

What is "a good razor"? What is "the best razor"?

There are many razors out in the market, and the choice can be confusing for a beginner. There are, however, many variables that contribute to the overall characteristics of a razor: Grind, steel, point, balance and all sorts of things play into people's preference of razors.[2] Additionally, razors are hand made, and therefore, characteristics can vary even within the range of a single model. Other factors that contribute to the shaving experience can, and most likely will, be your level of experience, your manual dexterity, or even the products you use for face preparation. Some people like certain brands based solely on looks. Hence they pay obscene amounts of money for certain razors. Add to that a demand that is significantly higher than the supply available, and you might begin to understand why there can be no "best razor".

As far as good razors are concerned, there are some hard factors to consider:

  • How does a razor perform on the hones?[3]
  • Do other razors of the same model perform consistently well? This might be difficult when passing a judgement on vintage Solingen razors which often came from small manufacturers which produced only a small number of a model.

Ultimately, though, the decision is yours, and yours alone. Whether a razor performs well for you depends on too many variables to pass a final, all encompassing judgement. For further information, please confer the entry on Buying Razors.

Is the razor I got (or plan to get) really shave ready?

There seems to be a lot of confusion on what shave ready means to vendors, and what a truly shave ready razor means to an experienced shaver. Shave ready according to a vendor (generally concerning new razors) are razors that have been mechanically sharpened (generally on a waterstone type wheel) and then hand honed on a stone of some sort.

So if it is brand new and says "shave ready" why is it not really shave ready??

The reason for this is most probably due to the cost of the man hours required to make a razor truly shave ready for our purposes. The cost of workmanship would drive the razor prices up and prevent a company from being as competitive in the marketplace with another company that does not spend this time and energy on finishing, and yet can still call their razors shave ready. These razors are sharp of course, and you could shave with them, so don’t think that you are getting ripped off or lied too.

The difference between a factory shave ready razor and a razor that has been honed by an expert is the experience level, time, techniques as well as equipment spent honing. The fact that their honing is done by hand with no machine grinding makes a very large difference in the final edge, and of course the closer detail to the edge that can be observed while hand honing.

The shave from an expertly honed razor will be a much more comfortable, close, and smooth shave than a factory sharpened new razor, which means you will get little or no pulling of your facial hair and less razor burn, as well as a marker for the time when you start honing for yourself.

How to get a truly shave ready Razor?

When buying a razor, make sure that it has been honed by a reputable honer. This will make your learning curve easier. This option generally cost less money than a factory new razor which is not really shave ready according to our high standards. Straight Razor Palace also has a Classifieds where it is possible to buy a used and/or refurbished razor that is usually hand honed and is shave ready. This will allow the new shaver to get a quality straight razor that is really ready to shave with.

I bought a professionally honed, new razor - but it does not pass the Hanging Hair Test!!

Please be advised that the only test for shave ready razors is the shave test. All other tests, Sharpness Tests Explained , are meant for testing the sharpness of a razor's edge during the honing process. To repeat, none of these tests are meant to tell you whether your (new) razor is shave ready except the shave test. The article, Hanging Hair Test, From Trick To Probing Method , explains the proper use of this test in great detail. Still, the HHT is the subject of much controversy, and definitely not an appropriate method for a beginner to test the shave readiness of a blade.

I bought a professionally honed, new razor that I believe not to be shave ready - where can I complain about the vendor?

SRP has excellent relations with several vendors. We appreciate their offering our members goods and services. Additionally, their contributions help keep the site alive. Therefore, we have a zero tolerance policy for any attempts at slandering a vendor. If you believe that a product or service you received does not match its standard, you should always try to settle the issue with the vendor. SRP cannot - and will not - interfere in contractual matters between our members and third parties, including but not limited to vendors.

Will shaving with a straight razor save me money?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. Consider that disposable cartridges cost $2-$3 and need to be replaced every week or two. This means $20-$30 every 2-3 months, which is the average time between honing of a straight razors. Honing services seem to be around $15-20, so it may be somewhat cheaper. In order to save money you should touch up your razor (using a pasted strop or a finishing hone).

How much are you spending on shaving right now?

Comparing straight razor shaving costs with cartridge razor shaving costs:

Straight razor
Cartridge razor
New straight razor
New cartridge razor handle
New strop
New cartridge blades per year
Sharpening service / method per year



How long will it take for the straight razor shaver to be saving money from the time he starts shaving with the straight exclusively compared to exclusively shaving with a cartridge razor? Assuming that he or she shaves with the same frequency using either kind of razor:

  • $75 + $50 + ($30 x years) = $10 + ($100 x years)
  • years = 1.6

By the above assumptions, you will be saving money in one year and 8 months. The more you shave, the faster you'll be saving money. If you only shave once a week, or only trim your beard, it may be 4 or 5 years before you're saving money (assuming inflation on the cost of cartridges, but flat cost for sharpening method). If you prefer to buy cheap old stuff, you can save even more with the straight over the cartridge method. With a $10 eBay special, a $30 B/S/T or household item strop as opposed to buying used cartridges (eww) you will be saving money with the straight method in a matter of weeks

You can argue that brushes, soaps, oil etc are used by a higher percentage of straight users as cartridge users, but it really isn't necessary. My first week of straight shaving was only with hot water, shampoo, and fingers. The rest is extra based on knowledge of what works better and preference

Face preparation

Coldwater Shave

For some shavers hot lather and hot water cause irritations. Using lukewarm, tepid or cold water are viable alternatives to lather prep. Depending on the level of irritation or discomfort from using hot water and/or the various ingredients in the soap/cream less than hot to ice cold water can alleviate many levels of irritation. Besides sensitivity to ingredients shavers that have other skin problems like acne or Rosacea have benefited greatly from 'coldwater' shaves.


Buying razors

General information on razor manufacturers

Which razors are considered good?

While the quality of a shave is highly subjective, there is a certain consensus amongst the members of SRP that razors listed in the article Good Straight Razor Brands will usually deliver good shaves. Forum members are always welcome to ask any questions, on the forum, they may have about any razor they are considering purchasing.

Which razors are considered bad?

While the quality of a shave is highly subjective, there is a certain consensus amongst the members of SRP that razors listed in the article Brands Of Straight Razors To Avoid will usually not deliver good shaves.

Are Gold Dollar razors any good?

Apparently, they can be made to shave, but are not in general high quality razors.

Since SRP is a site dedicated to the art of straight razor shaving and getting the best shave possible (not about getting the cheapest shave that is still somewhat acceptable), we have decided to close the discussion of these razors into one thread.[4]

Are Zeepk products any good?

We believe both their razors and strops to be worthless junk, and therefore warrant an extra entry in this FAQ. Brands Of Straight Razors To Avoid has a more detailed explanation.

Buying on eBay and other auction sites

How do I search for quality razors on eBay?

Here are two examples of search strings from our forums. They exclude unwanted results.

  • straight razor -zeepk -kamisori -masterusa -master -knives -knife -kriegar -Shavette -100 -rz -mu -gift -giftset -pocket -CHANGEABLE -DISPOSABLE -New -DURHAM -DUPLEX[5]
  • straight razor -(master, masterusa, kriegar, zeepk, krieger, mib, disposable, "barber knife", raze-tac, 440, G77, G110, G109, stylist, sweeney, gift, "new red", "new white", "new black", KAMISORI, durham, strap, changeable,"vintage style", wig, hybrid, tomahawk)[6]
How do I exclude certain sellers?

Under the section labelled "From Sellers", mark the middle selection to chose "From specific sellers" in the drop down menu select "exclude" then you can copy and paster the user names into the box to totally ignore that seller from showing up in your results.[7]

How do I keep certain words from showing up in my search results?

The section "Exclude these words" allows you to do just that, just leave a space between them. An alternative method for excluding words is: If you are searching from the search bar, you can exclude words by using the - symbol as in "-zeepk". [8]

How do I search for an item that can have different spellings?

If there are more than one spelling of a word, and you want to search, you can enclose the different spellings in ( ) to list both. In the following example, "straight razor" and "str8 razor" would both show up: "(straight, str8) razor".[9]

What do the numbers 5/8, 6/8, 11/16 mean in reference to razors?

This is the width of the blade in inches which is the main factor in how 'large' a razor feels. It is measured from the edge to generally the spine (some manufacturers measure to the inside of the spine, some to the outside).

What is the point of a barber's notch?

  1. The most commonly given answer is: The notch assists in opening the straight razor.[10] These and many more reasons are quoted, but none as of this point have been proven.
  2. Other answers include:
    1. The notch is a proof mark for superior steel.
    2. The notch is a proof mark that the razor is for barbers
    3. The notch is used to shave around obstacles on the customer's face.
    4. The notch allows one hand opening, for example, by catching the notch on a breast pocket.
    5. The notch is just a cosmetic flair

    3.  We also have not been able to positively prove that it was ever even called a "Barber's Notch" the search continues for some pre-1970's Factory reference to that name...So far we have found "Hollow Point" and "Hollow Notch" used in the older advertising..

What is a singing blade?

A singing blade is an extra hollow ground blade with the blade between the belly and the spine being ground very thin. They will give a "zing" sound when they are stropped and sometimes while shaving. This takes a very high quality of steel to make these. Full hollow is not ground as thin as the singing. Singing blades are the thinnest and full wedges are the thickest. [11]

Strops & Stropping

How many passes should I use?

Because of the variables in this question, there is no definite answer. There appears to be some consensus that 30 to 60 passes on a leather strop will yield optimum results.[12]

What speed should I use when stropping?

Too slow a speed has been shown to be ineffective when stropping.[13] More important than speed is the smoothness of the stroke, and to make sure that you never apply too much pressure while stropping. A nice, light, smooth stropping stroke is the best. Your stropping speed will increase naturally with experience. Keep in mind that razor stropping it is not race, and that just a smooth, steady rhythm seems to be the consensus.

What is draw?

Draw is the suction sensation that can occur between some razors and some strops during the action of stropping. The degree of draw is often gauged by experienced users to help determine the qualities of both the strop and the particular razor's edge that is being stropped.

I have nicked my strop - how do I repair it?

See the section Strop Treatment And Repair

Illinois Strops

What do the numbers on Illinois strops mean?

The model numbers mostly refer to size differences except for the No.127/827.

In the "modern" line up the No.206 is quite small, maybe 1 3/4" or 2" wide. The No.835 is next in line and maybe 2 1/4" wide. The No.127 and No.827 are both 2 1/2" wide and about 24" long. No.127 is the typical Illinois top grain cowhide, the No.827 is called their Russian strop and uses the reverse side of the leather instead of the outer surface. The No.361 is a more traditionally styled model without the handle.

There are many other model numbers that were used years ago and frequently turn up on ebay.

Why do Illinois strops have a horse head if they are made from cow hide?

This is probably just tradition. Back in the day almost every strop was horse hide, so it is probably just a hold over. Tony Miller used to use an embossed horse head logo on his first strops, too, before switching to the oval logo stamps he uses now.

There are a few barber supply places on the web representing the Illinois strops as horse hide but Fromm International's (Illinois Strops) own promotional material says cowhide for all of the models.

Hones & honing

What hone(s) do I need?

This is arguably the most frequently asked question. The general consensus is that there is no general consensus. We have tried to compile the most useful answers in the article What Hones, Pastes, Sprays Do I Need You should read this article before acquiring any hone(s). It also contains a list of other abrasive materials (including strop pastes and sprays).

What hones can be used to sharpen straight razors?

That will depend on the task at hand. Hones roughly fall into three categories: Bevel-Setting In Theory And Practice sharpening, and polishing. See What Hones, Pastes or Sprays Do I Need. Also, see Pyramid Honing Using Norton Hones

Are there any hones that I shouldn't use on my razors?

That will depend on the task at hand. If unsure, you should try to find an answer in the Honing Section Of SRP Forum  Failing that, you should post your question there, giving as much detail about your razor and the hone in question to help other members identify your potential problems.

Why do certain razors require more or less honing than others?

There are a number of reasons this why some razors require more honing than others[14]:

  1. The material that your razor is made from will determine how much hand honing is required and how long your edge will remain sharp. Stainless steel for instance takes more work to achieve the same sharpness as carbon steel, but will also stay sharper longer.
  2. Also it has been mentioned that if a razor has more of a wedge shape (less hollowing) it will generally require more honing to achieve the same sharpness as a razor that has been partially or fully hollowed. This is due to the amount of metal that must be removed to achieve that perfect edge.
  3. If a razor has a dull edge then it will take a LOT of work just to set a bevel,  Setting A bevel In Theory And Practice and get the razor to a level of knife sharpness. Razors with chips in the edge and/or corroded steel could take a lot of work before you even reach the good steel that will take a quality edge.

What other factors influence the edge of the blade?

The ability to take an edge and keep it is the result of the type of metal used to make the blade and the process used in manufacture. Simple steels with few alloying elements rely solely on the formation of iron carbides for their hardness. Steels with more alloying elements require a more complicated hardening process at different heats for different amounts of time.

So it can be down to the quality and care taken with the manufacture of my blade?

Yes. The temperatures at which the blade is tempered range from 430 - 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Tempering is a softening process which also makes the metal tougher. Hardened steel that is not tempered is very brittle and not tough at all. Tempering can be done in a toaster oven, a low temperature kiln, or in a forge - be it gas or coal. Tempering can also be done in a lead bath as the temperature of molten lead is 600 degrees Fahrenheit. The end result of all this is a blade that can take an edge and stay sharp due to a variety of factors.

What is a honemeister

A honemeister is a person who is highly skilled at honing.

I keep hearing about a pyramid - what is it?

A honing scheme, usually involving hones produced by Norton. See Pyramid Honing Guide With Norton Hones

How long do I need to hone my razor?

Until you have established shave readiness, i.e. when you are happy with the shave it gives you. Sharpness Tests Explained should give you an idea when that is actually the case.

What is breadknifing?

Breadknifing is the term used to describe running the edge of your straight (in a sawing or bread cutting motion) across a hone (i.e. the blade is held perpendicular to the hone). It is used to quickly take out chips / damage on the edge. It is a restoration method to quickly take out damage not a 'honing' method.[15]

What is back honing?

Honing a razor with the edge trailing rather than edge leading is a back hone pass. A stropping motion. A reverse honing pass.[16]

What is overhoning?

Overhoning is the act of degrading a razor edge's keenness with excessive honing. An overhoned razor may exhibit a wire edge which can be seen with the naked eye under bright light. Making a few backhoning strokes is a quick and easy way to correct an overhoned edge. See Overhoning

What is a bevel?

A bevel is an inclined surface which meets another surface, so the bevels of a straight razor are the slanted surfaces near the cutting edge on either side of the razor. When a razor rests on a flat surface, a properly formed bevel will make flush contact with the surface. When a bevel is being set, the razor is honed so that each bevel on either side meets the other at the edge of the razor. When the bevels are properly formed, it is common practice to refer to them as one set bevel. In straight razor parlance, bevel can often refer to both bevels at once, depending on the context. When the bevel (referring to both bevels as one) is set, the razor should be sharp enough to shave arm hairs, but not smooth enough to comfortably shave your beard.

What is a double bevel?

The idea is that you hone a razor with your finish hone using traditional techniques. Then, you add a couple layers of tape to the back. Then, hone it very lightly once again, with your finish hone. The tape increases the honing bevel angle by a couple of degrees, giving the finish hone a fresh edge to work on.[17]

What is a convex bevel?

A convex bevel is a curved bevel.

When a blade is honed on a strop loaded with some sort of abrasive compound, the cutting bevel becomes arc-shaped (or "convexed"). An experiment was undertaken by gssixgun of SRP to test this,[18] but was aborted due to boredom.[19]. At that time he reported no changes in his shaves according to the methods of the experiment.

How long will a razor stay sharp?

There are too many variables involved to give a definite answer (quality of razor steel, stropping and shaving techniques, etc.). The general consensus seems to be that a shave ready razor will, if regularly stropped on plain leather, shave comfortably for at least a few dozen shaves. After that, it will require resharpening.[20]

Should I tape the spine of the razor?

This topic has been debated many times, and there does not seem to be a general consensus. However, if the spine of your razor has plating or engraving, you may want to protect it with electrical tape for all the bench hones. The tape also has the potential to protect the blade back itself from being scratched by the hone.[21]. Keep in mind that you will need to tape the razor in exactly the same way as the first time when honing it again. A more detailed technical information can be found here; Taping The Spine

Are there any videos of honing?

We have collected some videos from the web. See Honing Videos

How do you get more of an edge from honing?

For those of us using the Norton 4K/8K synthetic stone, and getting a razor to the point of nice shaving, but want just a little better shave, you can use a polishing stone (e.g. an Escher or Coticule) and obtain a really super finished edge. In these situations, it is recommended that you do 3-5 strokes on the Norton 8K followed by 10-15 strokes on the polishing stone. You may have to repeat this routine a couple of times, but the results are usually worth it. You should strop and test shave with each rotation to see where you are at. Remember, this rotation is after the Pyramid Honing Guide      [22]

SRP management

Is there a list of members of the management team available?

The list of current moderators and administrators can be found at [1]

Moderators: Tasks and responsibilities?

The moderators (short form: "mods") are users of the site who are granted access to the posts and threads of all members for the purpose of moderating discussion similar to Wikipedia Arbitration and also keeping the forum clean neutralising Spam and Spam Bots. Because they have access to all posts and threads in their area of responsibility, new moderators are promoted after a unanimous decision by the current site management. Moderators also answer users' concerns about the forum, general questions, as well as responding to specific complaints.[23]

Common privileges of moderators include: deleting, merging, moving, and splitting of posts and threads; closing, renaming, a thread or threads; banning, unbanning, warning the members; or adding, editing, removing the polls of threads.[24]

The moderators work as a team, especially in relation to warnings, banning, and un-banning, of members. No one individual mod or senior Mod takes these drastic measures lightly, or individually. Except in the case of spammers, they are crushed liked the bugs they are, when seen....

Mentors: Tasks and responsibilities?

Mentorship refers to a developmental relationship in which a more experienced person helps a less experienced person, referred to as a protégé, apprentice, mentoree, or (person) being mentored, develop in a specified capacity.[25] A "mentor" at SRP is "a trusted adviser." We see the role of the SRP adviser precisely in that term. He or she uses the title to welcome newcomers, encourage them, point them in the right direction, hold their hands, if necessary, and, of course, share his or her own experience with them. The title does not necessarily mean the Mentor is an expert in every element of wet shaving with a straight or double edge razor.

What is a ban?

On the internet, a block is a technical measure intended to restrict access to information or resources. A blocked user may have certain privileges revoked, such as the ability to publish content or communicate with other users, or they may be completely unable to access the service in question. Blocks can apply to individual user accounts or ranges of IP addresses. In most cases, individual services and websites set their own blocking policies, and a block issued by one will not apply on any others.[26]

Most online communication tools, including chat software and social networking sites, allow users to block other users from contacting them. Such a block normally has no effect on the subject's access to any other part of the service.[27]


  1. 20081122 07:42:42 CEST markavery: We've gone way overboard on the technical stuff on shaving! It's not rocket science damnit!!! There is a thread where the poster wants to know micron size on newspaper! Shees!
  2. treydampier in
  3. gssixgun: "I believe an exceptional shaver is determined on the hones, not the face... Let me explain, Dubl Ducks are exceptional razors, why??? very simple "If there is no damage to a DD then it will take a nice, smooth, even, edge, very consistently" Does it matter whether it is "your" cup of tea on "your" face??? no it does not, the edge is still nice, even, and smooth, period... Obviously there are more exceptional razors out there, I was only using the DD brand as a well known example..."
  14. For a more detailed explanation, cf. Why certain razors require more or less honing than others
  15. rsrick in
  16. hoglahoo in
  17. Tim Zowada: Thoughts on Two Bevel Honing
  21. Tim Zowada: The Care and Feeding of your Zowada Damascus Razor
  22. Lynn Abrams: