Category Archives: Ask ASR

Ask ASR: Where Should I Buy a Shave Ready Razor from?

Q: Who sells shave ready razors? Why don’t you have any razors for sale?


If we look at the straight razor retailer market as a whole, you will find that in fact, very few retailers have the ability, nor do they offer shave ready straight razors. While they may be advertised as sharp, there is a difference between factory sharpened and shave ready. The wet shaving community defines shave ready as at a minimum sharpened on an 8k stone by a skilled hand. A factory edge may or may not be at this point, but the edge can be much better. A few retailers either sharpen their own razors in-house or send it out to someone for sharpening. The rest simply rely upon the factory which is hit or miss. In the case of Fromm and that other brand whose name escapes me (also from Solingen, but not Dovo) the result is disastrous.

Simply perusing the internet, you’ll find that the biggest names don’t offer shave ready razors. I am willing to surmise that most Americans buy their razor from Art of Shaving, the Knife Center, or their local cutlery store. Then, they try to shave with it, find out that the edge is mediocre and learning to shave with a straight razor is hard, and quit. The good news is that there are still a few stores out there who advertise shave ready razors. If your in the market for a new razor, Classic Shaving, Straight Razor Designs, Hart Steel, and Vintage Blades LLC all advertise shave ready razors. In the EU, you have The Invisible Edge and Rasurpur. Doing a google search reveals that Classic Edge also offers shave ready razors. That said, I’ve never heard of them until just now. Of course, they can’t spell professionally, but I’ll cut them some slack for at least offering the service. And that is all the retailers in the US I know about.

Now, if your in the market for a vintage razor, there are several people selling shave ready vintage blades. That said, I have no personal experience with any of them. As for why I don’t have any razors listed on this website, its because I sell my restored straight razors through Razor Emporium. In addition, there are always the for sale sections of straight razor forums.

Related Q: Do I need to buy a shave ready razor?

This answer is more nuanced. If you can help it, I highly suggest buying a shave ready razor. Learning to shave with a straight razor is hard enough. You shouldn’t have to wonder if your blade is sharp enough. Buying shave ready will eliminate that variable from the equation. Now, that said, the truth is that Dovo and Thiers Issard try to make sure their razors are shave ready from the factory, finishing their razors by hand on wetstones.

While they may do their best, they are still mass manufacturing straight razors. Mistakes happen. In addition, while the razor may be shave ready from the factory and packed in oil, it could be months or years before the razor finally gets to your door. Keep in mind that they have to be shipped over a large ocean filled with salt water. Not the most hospitable environment for your straight razor.

While the journey seems perilous modern technology and transport is at hand to make sure the razors survive the trip in their original condition. Nothing can be done about a razor being in storage for two years, the edge is not likely to be as good as when it was fresh. But for the most part, its unlikely you’ll get such a razor. In addition, the razor should still be sharp.

If you have questions about whether your new razor should be sharpened, we’ve answered that.

For the most part, Dovo, TI, and Wacker razors are sharp enough to shave. I personally would refinish the edge, but I’ve got a lot of stones and skill at my disposal. Yet, that should not dissuade you from purchasing a non-shave ready Dovo, TI, or Wacker (you shouldn’t buy a non-shave ready Fromm or Mehaz or Gold Dollar or anything from Pakistan) (actually you shouldn’t buy anything from Pakistan).

If you do buy a non-shave ready razor, the worst case scenario is that the razor was sharp, but not quite shave ready. You got to use it a couple of times. And now you know what the difference between shave ready and not really is. This is actually a good benchmark to have as you now know when you need to re-sharpen the razor.

Of course, if you can find the same razor for the same price and shave ready, buy that razor. There shouldn’t be any question. But if the price difference is more than $20 (cost of our re-honing and two way shipping), then you might want to weigh your options.

Ask ASR: Should I Sharpen my New Razor?

Q: I have a new razor from Dovo/Thiers Issard/Wacker. It wasn’t advertised as “shave ready.” Do I need to sharpen it before I use it?

A: Like most things in life, the answer isn’t cut and dry. In the ideal situation, the razor would come to you shave ready. Some retailers do some extra steps to ensure the razor is sharp enough to shave before selling it to you, others rely upon the factory edge. This post is for those who have a factory edge.

Unfortunately, today’s manufacturers do not put a lot of effort into polishing the edge of their razors. After setting the bevel on a grindstone like wheel, the razor is quickly polished and finished right before being shipped out. You can see this in one of Dovo’s manufacturing videos. The end result for you is that the razor may or may not be comfortable to shave with. The edge isn’t close to our standards, but its shave-able.

So, what should you do? Assuming you already have the razor in your possession, I say try it first. Try to shave a small area before attempting a full shave. If you get satisfactory results, continue shaving for a few times and then ship it off to us for professional honing. This way, you’ll have both experience with a straight razor, immediate gratification, and a benchmark to determine when your razor is dulling. If the test patch isn’t comfortable, then finish up with your DE or cartridge and send us the razor. I recommend trying it because mailing a razor two ways takes about a week of just transit time.

Ask ASR: Stainless Steel Rusting

Q: Help! My stainless steel razor is rusting! I thought it was rust proof.


A: Ted,

It is a common misconception that stainless steel means rust proof. Stainless steel will rust just like carbon steel. To get truly rust proof steel, you would have to add so much chromium that you lose all the benefits of steel. For example, very common stainless steels have very little carbon and a lot of chromium and other elements which inhibit rust. However, these steels will not take an edge. We’ve written an article about what makes a razor sharp. We suggest you read it.

Stainless steel simply “stains less.” Meaning it is more resistant to rust, but not rust proof. Steel is simply iron melded with carbon. Razors are made from heat treated steel. Stainless steel is just carbon steel with chromium added. The chromium won’t prevent rust, it just retards the rust. Therefore, you need to take just as much care for your stainless steel razor as you would your carbon steel razor.

Ask ASR: Taping a Straight Razor Spine for Honing

Q: Is taping the spine with electrical tape ever beneficial or recommended?

A: We prefer to not use tape if we don’t have to. However, in some situations, tape is recommended. The spine of the razor acts as a honing guide, controlling the angle of the cutting edge’s bevel. If the razor’s spine is too far damaged or uneven, taping the spine can alleviate some of the unevenness.
Tape also proves its usefulness for wedges. Wedges were not designed to be honed with the spine on the stone (note: this conclusion is disputed). Adding tape to the spine acts as a honing guide for your wedge. It also makes the bevel smaller.
If you do use tape, make sure it is evenly distributed (see picture) and you use a high quality tape. Happy Honing!

Ask ASR: What is a Honemeister?

Q: Dear ASR,


I haven’t heard of this term before I came across your website.  It is not defined in any of the online dictionaries.  A google search just links to the same two places.  What exactly does the term mean and why do you use it?

A: Dissecting the term, the word is the combination of two words: hone & meister. Hone refers to the sharpening stones we all use to put a fine edge on our tools, knives, and razors (hence the term honing, meaning to hone (sharpen)). Meister is a German word and translates literally into master. Wikipedia defines the term “meister” in the English language as: “A person referred to as “Meister” is one who has extensive theoretical knowledge and practical skills in his profession, business, or some other kind of work or activity.” Thus, in the English language, a hone-meister would be one with extensive theoretical knowledge and practical skills regarding sharpening stones, honing, sharpening, edge repair, and straight razors.

We didn’t hear the term until the advent of the internet.  Before the shaving forums became extremely popular, the term was either nonexistent or used extremely rarely. In fact, the term honing wasn’t thrown around much back then either; it was still called sharpening. Consequently, we think the best definition of honemeister is provided by Badger & Blade: someone who sharpens straight razors professionally (edited for grammar)(link no longer working). There is no international or national accreditation or certification for hone-meisters. Consequently, anyone can hang out their shingle and call themselves a hone-meister. Simply put, the term is a word of art and is otherwise meaningless aside from denoting someone who sharpens & hones straight razors professionally or semi-professionally.  We hone & sharpen professionally, and so we use the term.  Until the English language comes up with a better term, everyone is going to use the term hone-meister.