How To Hold A Straight Razor

How to Hold a Straight Razor

In this article with will talking about the straight edge razor. We covered how to hone and strop a straight razor earlier but today we will talk about how to hold a straight razor.

The straight razor is arguably the most iconic barber shop tool that every on thinks of when the topic of men’s shaving or when the topic of wet shave is brought up.

It doesn’t matter if you are using a shavette or a traditional straight razor. This article will help everyone.  

A straight razor can also be referred to as a cut-throat razor or an open razor. Using one is just plain awesome. Most of your friends probably don’t use one on a regular basis or have never even held one.

Only seen them in movies. We will be discussing how to hold a straight razor, razor safety, anatomy of a straight edge. How to actually shave with one.

So hold on tight we will by the end of this article you will have a good understanding of how to navigate your way around your straight edge razor.

Here is a quick basic chart to get your self acquainted with the parts and names of a straight edge. 


Lets talk a little bit about safety. The first question may people what who are wanting to start using a straight edge razor is. Is a straight razor dangerous?

If you think about it what are you really doing? You are holding and moving a razor sharp blade over your face and neck.

But isn’t that what shaving is anyway? Not as bad as one might think.

If done correctly you will have an amazing shaving experience and keep up the shaving tradition that your grandfather and his father had. I know this tool can look very intimidating.

But it’s really not that bad.

First off remember to always have dry hands when handling your straight edge. You don’t want it to slip when you are shaving. Also remember to keep it closed when not in use.

Take your time.

Especially if you are just starting out. Do not use a straight edge if you are in a hurry. If you feel a tug or pull in any way. Stop.

That’s when accidents happen.

If this should happen, be sure to check out my article most common injuries of shaving.

Now, shaving with one of these things is just as dangerous as with a multiple blade, and if you do end up cutting your self it’s no worse than with a regular blade.

Remember to be relaxed and do not apply much pressure. Let the weight of the blade do the work for you.  

How To Shave With A Straight Razor

Now lets talk about the shave its self. If you find yourself asking what angle do I hold a straight razor?

Be sure to hold it at a 30 degree angle.

Learning how to hold a straight razor will take some time but with practice it will become second nature.

How many passes you choose to do with a straight edge is no different than when you would use a disposable or a double edge razor. If you like a single pass that’s fine.

It gets the job done and is kind of a good once over.

Although, If you choose to do a three pass shave and get a really close shave, that’s fine as well. It’s really up to you. If you are new to shaving and what to know.

Do you shave up or down with a straight razor? To answer your question, both. If you want the closes shave you can get. Basically, a close shave can be broken down into three passes.

One thing to keep in mind is that it’s not about facial hair removal so much as it is facial hair reduction.  When shaving you want to use small even strokes. Need I remind you, you do not need to apply very much pressure. 

On the first pass always shave with the grain. The grain is the way your hair naturally grow. You are moving the razor down your face. On the second pass, after you re lather your face with shaving soap.

Move the blade across your face. For the third pass re-lather your face and neck with shaving soap and shave against the grain.

Take special care when shaving the neck, the skin in the neck is thin and more prone to cuts. Using a three-pass system will get you the closest shave you can.

Remember to keep your face well lubricated when your are shaving and in between passes. The use of pre-shaving oil is very much encouraged. 

Now that we have a good idea of how to shave with a straight edge, lets talk about how you even go about holding the darn thing.

It is advised to start using both hands right off the bat. Left had for the left side of your face and the right hand for the right side of your face.

Remember when I said to go slow? Well it’s even more prevalent when you are using your non dominant hand to shave.

If you take your time and pay very close attention, you should be fine. Now we will discuss how to hold a straight razor. There are many grips and We will focus on a few main grips here.

Overall keep the pressure relaxed, but firm.

You have control over it but you are not holding on to it super tight it at all. Don’t use your fingers, use your wrist. Short little strokes with the blade are what you should be doing.

Not a single stroke from start to finish.

With all any grip you wish to try never hold the blade at a slicing angle. Also do not hold it by the scale. The blade close on your fingers and you will get a cut.

You aren’t actually holding the blade I can understand why someone would confuse it if they are new to learning how to hold a straight razor. If you wish think of think of it like a sword,

The blade of the sword goes in the sheath, when it’s not in use. It does not go in the handle.  

Basic Grips

So now we are going to go over some of the basic grips when we are learning how to hold a straight razor

The basic grip is the 1st grip we will go over when are learning how to hold a straight razor.

This is the most basic and a great starting point for everyone who is new at straight razor shaving. Remember the graph of the razor with it’s different names? You will want to reference that as we continue.  

Open your razor to about 90 degrees. With the edge down. Your pointer and middle finger are going to be over the shank, and your thumb will be on the bottom.

Then with your ring finger on the tang. If you so wish you can also put your pinky over the tang as well. This will aid in your control over the blade.

The 2nd grip is called pinch grip. It is actually easy to switch from the basic grip into the pinch grip. This grip is great when you are shaving against the grain in an upwards fashion.

To do this you must move your razor between your fingers pinch the tang.  If it helps, you might think of it as an upside down basic grip.

The 3rd grip we will bring to your attention is the push grip.  This grip is a little more advance then the other two. You have the blade at a 180 degree angle. The tang should be in the scale of the straight razor.

Place your thumb on the shank. Your pointer finger griping around the bottom of the shank as close to the blade as you feel comfortable. 

The rest of your fingers and thumb should be griping the scale for control. This is the one I use when I am going against the grain.


That should be enough to get you started while you are learning how to hold a straight razor. We covered some different names of a straight razor, safe handling of the razor both in general and how to shave with a straight razor safely.

We also went over some basic grips to get you started.  Remember you are the one doing the shaving, so all these grips are a good starting off point.

You may have to adjust your grip slightly or make major alterations to get a close and safe shave. Not everyone’s face is the same so a certain grip might work well for your friend but not for you.  Happy Shaving.