What to Consider Before Straight Razor Purchase

Straight Razors from Dovo in Solingen, Germany are known for their outstanding steel quality and excellence. They are an alternative when you want the ultimate in closeness. This style of shaving is not for the novice, and takes extra care, preparation and time. The advantage is a closeness of shave not typically experienced from other razors, no blade replacement costs, experiencing something different and the enjoyment of the process. When properly cared for a straight razor can last for generations.

Parts of a Straight Razor

*** A message from DOVO STAHLWAREN: Straight razors leaving our company are always ready for shave, they are honed and stropped and pass the so called ‘Hair Test’ giving evidence of ultimate cutting. Then all razors are carefully wrapped, boxed and sealed to guarantee our workmanship. ***

Therefore, Em believes there should be no need to hone a new razor, especially as honing can cause more harm than good by inexperienced hands. Start out with the daily strop that is intended to re-align the edge and does not have sharpening properties. Only strop before use and never after use. For mild sharpening and maintenance check out a less aggressive paste that is applied to a separate strop - then the blade is stropped in the same method that is used for daily stropping. When the edge starts to get too dull and needs more aggressive maintenance the user can move into a coarser paste, learn the art of honing or send it out to a professional. With proper care your new razor will give you years of service.


Did you know? Straight razors are still assembled by hand. One of the frequently asked questions Em's Place receives in regard to DOVO straight razors is "are they shave ready" when purchased? The response from the representative is: "Straight razors leaving our company are always ready for the shave. They are honed, stropped and pass the so called ‘Hair Test’ giving evidence of ultimate cutting. Then all razors are carefully wrapped, boxed and sealed. There is a misconception that shave ready means you don't need to strop before use, and it is important to know that any straight razor should be stropped before each and every shave which is a normal part of the process. Therefore, in addition to the straight razor a user also needs a strop. We have to guarantee for our workmanship and when a merchant sells originally boxed and sealed DOVO razors you and your customer can be sure that they are ready for the daily strop and shave.

In addition, straight razors are on backlog. From the time a merchant places a straight razor order it can take six to nine months until ready to ship from the DOVO factory." The biggest challenge DOVO faces in order to keep up with demand is the availability of component parts. Merkur/DOVO serves over 80 countries around the world.

FAQ: First time purchasers:

What is the difference between a carbon blade and a stainless steel blade - Carbon steel is more flexible and easier to sharpen but doesn't hold the edge as long as stainless. Because carbon is more flexible it can provide an even closer shave. Stainless steel is a little harder to sharpen and holds an edge longer. Carbon will rust very quickly if not kept completely dry between use. Even though stainless steel can corrode if kept wet for extended time, it is easier to care for. Because carbon steel is easier to put an edge on, it is sometimes recommended for the beginner, however be sure to dry it off completely after use. For extended storage a light coating of fine grade machine oil (for example sewing machine oil) can be used.

What does "ground" mean: - The three main grounds talked about are the half hollow, full hollow and extra hollow blades. The major difference is the degree of flexibility that each ground provides with the half hollow being the least flexible, and the extra hollow being the most flexible, and the full hollow being in-between. The more flexible the blade, the more experienced the user should be because the risk of nicks are greater.

What about the blade width - The normal blade width is 5/8". Blades that are narrower than that are more firm and less flexible. Blades that are wider than that are thinner and more flexible. Therefore, the wider, thinner and more flexible blades are better suited for an experienced user. In addition, the wider and more flexible blades are more difficult to use under the nose or in hard to reach areas.

Where should someone new to straight razors start - When selecting a blade the main considerations are blade ground, blade width and razor care. A half hollow to full hollow in 5/8" or less would be the better place to start. Because the more hollow the ground, coupled with the more wider the blade, means maximum flexibility. While a wider and more flexible edge can make for the ultimate in closeness, it also takes an experienced straight razor shaver to reduce risks of undue injury. With the narrower and less hollow blade ground it is easier to see, and to know, where the blade edge is actually going to shave. In other words, as you go up in width and degree of ground hollowness, it is more difficult to know where the blade edge will actually cut - this is because the edge has much more flex, thereby making for more difficulty in the shave. Therefore until you gain some experience you may want to stay away from, or re-think, starting with a 6/8" extra hollow ground carbon blade razor for example.

What else is needed to start - A strop to refresh and sharpen the blade before daily use and a strop paste/fat for priming a new strop. When selecting a strop the wide model is easier for starting out as the blade will not need to be stropped in a diagonal "X" pattern. This will be adequate for many shaves, and more supplies can be acquired later as desired or needed.

With patience and practice you can enjoy some of the closest shaves possible.

Dovo Solingen Straight Razors Brochure Picture
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Additional information about straight razors:
~ Straight Razor General Use Information
~ Strop use and care


Straight Razor Disclaimer and Notice: Straight razors are sharp and cuts can occur. Educate yourself and start by shaving small, easy to reach areas first and exercise caution. The use of a straight razor, or any shaving product, is at the user's own risk. Em's Place, Inc. assumes no liability or responsibility for any person using razors, blades or any other shaving or sharp products. Always keep these instruments out of the reach of children and pets.