How to Grip Your Straight Razor

In this article, we’ll cover the basic grips used for shaving with a straight razor. This is a starting point for developing your own comfort and style in handling your new razor, and is not an exhaustive list.

Keep our Anatomy of a Straight Razor graphic handy if you need help keeping your tangs and spines sorted.


Remember that the tang and spine are the safest place to grip the razor. Never hold a razor by the scales! The pivot can always come loose and holding only the scales may cause the razor to swing open or shut unexpectedly. Finally, always close the razor before setting it down. This protects the razor from incidental damage, and nobody needs an open razor blade lying around.

In all of the grips described below, your pressure should be relaxed but firm like a handshake. Keep your wrist straight (straight lines are stable lines) and avoid unnecessary movements. Relax, and initiate movements with your shoulder, following through with the wrist. Do not push or move the razor with your fingers.

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1. Basic Grip

This is the starting point for most straight shavers. With the razor’s scales opened 270 degrees and the edge down, grip the tang with two fingers in front of the scales, two behind, and your thumb underneath. This allows you to apply pressure on the tang but also the scales between your fingers, giving maximum control and balance.

2. Pinch Grip

From the basic grip, simply roll the razor between your fingers until the thumb and forefinger pinch the sides of the tang, rather than the top and bottom. This grip is great for upward, against-the-grain strokes on the face.

3. Reverse/Push Grip

Grip the tang with thumb on the spine. This grip is more advanced but is especially useful for barbers shaving other people, and leg shavers. Pushing the blade away from you can be difficult while you build muscle memory, but this will allow you to shave in more comfortable positions and in the direction of hair growth more easily.

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Experiment with variations of these grips to suit your hands, razor, and the surface you’re shaving. Remember, this is not an exhaustive list and there is no right way to grip the razor, just whatever works for you! If you’ve tried using a straight razor before, what grips do you find useful? When do you use them? Let us know in the comments below ↓↓↓

The Myth of the "Beginner" Straight Razor

“Which straight razor would you recommend for a beginner?”

Our recommendation is to start with a quality straight razor which is guaranteed shave-ready...

This is perhaps the most frequently asked question we receive, and one we address by saying: there’s no such thing as a “beginner razor”.
This answer reflects the goal set for all of our customers: we want to help you find the last razor you will ever need. Our recommendation is to start with a quality straight razor which is guaranteed shave-ready that will last a lifetime. All other considerations including point shape, size, and length, and on and on for 10,000 forum pages are secondary. A straight razor is a lifetime investment, so go with your gut and get the one that looks and feels right to you. That razor is the only one with which you will enjoy practicing your shaving skills and take pride in using day after day. Because straight shaving is a skill you will need to practice, you should choose the straight razor that you’ll be excited about using! Making the investment for a quality razor as someone who is new to straight shaving is safer, shortens the learning curve, and saves you money in the long term. After that, it’s just about enjoying your shave.

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Buying quality assures that your razor will be sharper, and therefore safer to use. A sharp blade cuts through hair smoothly, predictably, and reliably with little effort. A dull blade might pull, tug, snag, or require additional pressure to cut hair. Imagine applying more pressure to your face with a dull blade, snagging on tough hair. You push a little harder and the razor suddenly snaps free… Hopefully it’s traveling in a safe direction when you overcorrect out of reflex. Need we say more?

The Learning Curve

Straight shaving can seem awfully complicated. One way to learn a new, complicated skill more effectively is to break it down into smaller, simpler, more manageable tasks. Crawl, then walk, then run.

Buying a quality razor from a reputable manufacturer allows you to feel what “shave-ready” really means from the start. It also spares you the uncertainty of manufacturer defect and leaves fewer variables to consider when a shave doesn’t go well. For example, if your razor is sharp but you’re still experiencing pulling/irritation, then we know you should look at your shave prep: has the hair had enough time with moisture to soften? Is your shave lather too dry? If your razor was shave-ready but suddenly isn’t, you might have damaged the edge with improper stropping or hitting it on the faucet.

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These are all problems that can be figured out. To fix manufacturing defects like faulty grinds and bevel angles, which are hard to notice much less fix, you’ll need special tools and skills. Improper heat treatment or a ruined temper is practically invisible until you attempt to hone the razor, and cannot be repaired at all. Buying quality allows you to focus on the things you can control, like prep and shaving technique.

Save Money

Buying a quality razor from a reputable manufacturer allows you to feel what “shave-ready” really means from the start

Simply put, quality razors are easier to use, they shave better, the edges are sharper and last longer thanks to proper heat treatment and handling, and they last forever. They cost more upfront, however. The price tag can be hard to swallow, but what you are paying for is craftsmanship and materials. Cutting corners on production costs to make a razor more affordable typically result in something that won’t shave at all.

If you are the type of person who likes to “test the waters” by trying the cheapest version of something before investing in a more quality option, understand that your experience with a cheaply-made razor will not be comparable to one made by skilled craftspeople. Sooner rather than later you’ll have to pay for it to be sharpened, or replaced with a better razor because it couldn’t be sharpened to begin with. In the long run, the more expensive razor will require less maintenance, be easier to fix when something goes wrong, and will last longer than a cheaper alternative.

Story time: I learned to drive in a beat-up manual transmission vehicle that was barely road-worthy and had all kinds of problems. But (and this is the important part) it was cheap! A “perfect first car”, according to my dad. And since I didn’t have anything to compare it to… well, I honestly thought I was just a bad driver. It wasn’t until years later, when I had the opportunity to drive a stick shift in decent condition, that I realized it might not have been my fault driving that clunker was such a pain. Learning to drive on a broken-down piece of junk had also taught me a lot of bad habits which then had to be unlearned when I was finally able to upgrade. All this to say: it would have spared us all a lot of time, money, and inconvenience if we’d been willing to spend a little more on the front end.

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Final Thoughts

We may be straight razor enthusiasts to our core, but we can appreciate why they might not be for everyone. If you find yourself disinterested, don’t fret or throw the razor in the trash! You can always keep it tucked away in a drawer or proudly on display as a work of functional art until you feel the urge to try again. If you are secure in your decision to move on, consider gifting it to a friend or selling it online! A quality straight razor holds value and will be snatched up by straight shavers more eager than yourself.

Now, if you find you’ve caught the razor bug and you want to upgrade to something custom, go for it! Your old razor will be ready for you in the event you want to revisit it, or you can pass it on to another budding enthusiast when the time is right.

What is Aftershave?

We seek to provide our customers with the highest-quality products and the knowledge and skills to use them. To that end, we are proud to introduce our new Executive Aftershave Tonic & Aftershave Balm as part of our new Executive Shave Essentials line.

What is Aftershave?

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Shaving can be a pretty brutal process for your skin. Even a comfortable shave removes some dermis, exposing it to the elements and leaving it vulnerable to minor skin infections that cause razor burn and razor bumps. A quality aftershave soothes the skin post-shave and protects against infection, resulting in a more comfortable shave.


Aftershave tonics come in liquid form and are sprayed or splashed onto the skin. These can go by many names "aftershave tonic", "aftershave splash" or just "aftershave". They are typically made with a high concentration of alcohol to disinfect and create a cooling sensation as they evaporate. However, too much alcohol can be irritating and dry out your skin. For this reason, we recommend choosing an aftershave tonic with a lower concentration of alcohol and following up with an aftershave balm to moisturize.

Now let's examine how an aftershave balm differs from an aftershave tonic. Aftershave balms look and feel more like lotion. They containt ingredients to protect and moisturize the skin post-shave. A balm will have less alcohol content and therefore be gentler and less drying on the skin. Some aftershave balms can be used alone, though we recommend using them in conjunction with a traditional aftershave tonic for best results.


Our warm & invigorating Executive Aftershave Tonic tones and protects skin from razor burn and irritation. Formulated using witch hazel, natural essential oils, a minimum amount of alcohol (as an emulsifier), and aloe extract, this aftershave tonic cleanses without the burn of traditional, alcohol-based aftershaves and is gentler for sensitive skin.

To use, shake well and dispense 3-4 sprays of the tonic onto palm. Rub hands together and apply to shaved area. Allow to evaporate.


Our Executive Aftershave Balm tones and protects skin from razor burn and irritation. Formulated with witch hazel, aloe vera, essential oils, and vitamin E, this post-shave balm cleanses and protects without the burn of traditional, alcohol-based aftershaves and is better for sensitive skin.

To use, dispense dime-sized amount of product onto palm. Rub hands together and apply to shaved area. Remove any excess with a moist towel. For best results, we recommend applying the Executive Aftershave Balm after using the Tonic.


Citrus Bay Scent Handmade in Portland, OR 3.3 oz. Crafted from high quality, natural ingredients Formulated to warm & invigorate while soothing and protecting the skin Spray pump nozzle for easy dispensing Shatter-proof bottle Ingredients: Water, Witch Hazel, SD Alcohol, Glycerin, Essential Oil Blend, Aloe Extract


Citrus Bay Scent Handmade in Porltand, OR 3.3 oz. Crafted from high quality, natural ingredients Formulated to warm & invigorate while soothing and protecting the skin Easy-pour, shatter-proof bottle Ingredients: Water, Witch Hazel, Aloe Vera Liquid, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Sulfite, Avocado Oil, Rice Bran Oil, BTMS-50, Glycerin, Stearyl Alcohol, Oat Extract, DL Penthenol, Essential Oil Blend, Optiphen, Buckthorn Extract, Vitamin E

The Executive Aftershave Tonic & Aftershave Balm work together to soothe, tone, and protect skin post-shave, no matter what blade you’re using! 

Portland Razor Pro : Bronze Certification

We are proud to introduce this educational series for professionals interested in using Portland Razor Co. straight razors! This series will help you get the most out of your conventional straight razor, improve the quality of your services, and help you stand out.

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"Straight Razor", "Cutthroat Razor", "Open Razor", "Conventional Straight Razor", "Folding Razor", whatever you call it, you have probably heard that these razors are illegal to use in barbershops in the United States. In most cases, this is not true. Just like clippers and shears, there are rules for HOW to use them to keep you and your clients safe. If you are a licensed barber or stylist looking to take the leap, our free course is here to help! Read on for full details.

Our Bronze Certification is completely free and packed with useful information for new and veteran barbers alike. We believe straight razor shaving to be at the heart of traditional barbering, so we are very excited for the opportunity to contribute to its resurgence in the American barbershop.

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Unfortunately, we have heard from many hair professionals that instruction on the use of traditional straight razors is not widely available. We want our customers to have a great experience with their razors, so we developed our own series of courses to help barbers further their understanding of these traditional tools. Topics discussed in the Bronze Certification include, but are not limited to:

  • Straight Razor Anatomy
  • Strop Anatomy
  • Safe Handling of the Razor
  • Special Care Considerations
  • Stropping
  • Honing // When to hone, who can hone
  • Sanitation

Licensed professionals are expected to perform due diligence and check with their local health authority for specific guidelines and regulations controlling the use of straight razors before using them in a licensed facility.

To become Bronze Certified, read through the information document and take the online exam. After you submit the exam, we will review and contact you within 5-7 business days with your results.
Again, the Bronze Certification is completely FREE. Even if you do not intend to take the test, the free info document contains a wealth of knowledge that will help you get the most out of your razor.

We know that you expect a lot from your tools. Good tools are an investment in yourself, your best work, and your clients’ satisfaction. We believe that conventional straight razors are superior to disposables in every way, and want you and your clients to have the best possible experience with our product. Whatever your experience level--novice or expert--we strongly recommend you read the free intro document and take the test if you want to get the most out of your straight razor. Take care of your tools, and they will take care of you!

December & January Impact | Outside In

For the months of December & January, we are donating proceeds from Honing Services to Outside In, a Portland-based non-profit helping homeless youth and other marginalized people move towards improved health and self sufficiency.

There are an estimated 1,500-2,000 homeless youth in Oregon. These young people experience homelessness for a  variety of reasons including family poverty, violence, mental and physical illness in their families, sexual minority issues, unemployment, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. Without a home or medical care, these young people are forced into difficult lives and on average must be independent a full decade before their peers. Outside In, with its team of trained medical professionals and volunteer network, works tirelessly to step in and change the life path of these at-risk youth for the better. They offer a wide array of services including: housing, education, employment, counseling, medical care, healthy meals, and safety off the streets.

From Outside In:
For 49 years, Outside In has been a grassroots social justice organization supporting disenfranchised members of the Portland community.  Our mission is to help homeless youth and other marginalized people move towards improved health and self-sufficiency.

We are...

  • Service providers and advocates.
  • Experts in understanding adolescents.
  • A Federally Qualified Health Center.
  • A licensed Mental Health Agency.
  • Leaders in serving LGBTQ youth.

How It Works

Portland Razor Co. will donateº $10 from each Straight Razor Honing Service sold during the month of December 2017 and January 2018, in support of OutsideIn. These donations will continue through the end of January. We hope to aid those in need as much as we can and thank you for your support.

If you would like to make a donation on your own accord, you can donate directly to Outside In here.


ºIncludes sales to Portland Razor Co. retail and web customers, and authorized retailers. No portion of the purchase price is tax deductible.