It's time somebody said this. YouTube and shaving forums can ruin your shaving pleasure. Read that again. I mean it.
I recognise that shaving forums have done more to introduce men and women to the wonderful world of wet-shaving. That's a good thing. The wet-shaving community are also a fine and distinguished part of humanity.
So, what justification could there be for my viewpoint? Let me explain.
Imagine loving to drive your car. Living for the open road, crunching the miles, listening to your tyres humming on the asphalt. Imagine if it was also necessary to maintain your car yourself, change your own tyres. Imagine having to buy lots of expensive tools so that you can maintain your car? Imagine that.
Ok, imagine that you've never eaten bread. Imagine that. You've never tasted it, smelt it. But, you have heard a lot about bread. Everyone talks about it. All your online friends rave about this bread stuff. So, you buy the ingredients and watch all the bread making videos. Then, while you watch the videos, you make your own bread. Wow. It's simple!
Some time later you think that your bread is ready and you take it out of the oven. You can't wait to taste this bread. You do, and you think it's great! In fact, you think it's the best bread in the whole wide world. You are the king of bread.
Trouble is you've not developed a taste for the finer points of bread. Perhaps you're not as good a bread baker as you might think. Perhaps, you'd enjoy bread baked by others more.
Perhaps you've had a burning ambition to play the violin. It arrives in the mail and you set off playing it. Passing cats love your music. Sadly, people don't share your enthusiasm. How were you to know that you have to tune it?
Ok, enough parables. My worry is this. I think that there is a pressure on new straight razor shavers to learn to hone and maintain their own razors. It's no longer enough to buy a well set up razor and learn to shave with it. It's not enough to strop your razor. No, now a beginner has to buy a set of hones and set bevels too.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting for one moment that people shouldn't hone their own razors. There is a danger though, if people start down this path before they really get to know the straight razor. It's really important to build experience of how a straight razor feels when it's well set up and how to recognise when it's giving off peak-performance.
A straight razor should not be harsh or aggressive. It shouldn't feel anything other than smooth.
Your razor should feel smooth. Terry Thomas smooth.
Honing a razor well is a skill. Our grandfathers and great grandfathers knew this. This is why, even when hones were available for purchase, most people took their razors to barbers when they needed honing.
I'm sorry, but watching YouTube videos on honing is just that. There's nothing wrong with them, but in reality, they can only take you so far.
Now, if you're a beginner, don't feel under pressure to learn how to hone. Don't feel that it's a necessary part of enjoying your razor. It's more important to love to shave with your straight razor. Don't feel pressured because that's what everyone else (seems) to be doing.
Your face, your razor your rules. But just enjoy your razor.