Can you shave with a pocket knife?

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In this blog post, I will look into the use of a pocket knife for shaving your beard and body hair. Some men use a sharp pocket knife to shave and I have collected the information from their experiences.

Can you shave with a pocket knife?

Yes, you can shave with a pocket knife. Make sure that the knife is clean and sharp, and hold the blade at the correct angle. Before starting, hydrate your face with warm water. You can reduce the risks of cuts if you focus on short and controlled strokes.  

Can you shave with a pocket knife? 1

Please keep on reading, as I will share with you the various aspects and some of the safest methods of using a pocket knife to shave. I will compare the use of a pocket knife to a straight razor and contrast it with other modern methods like electric razors and shavers. 

A pocket knife gives you a closer shave

Shaving with a pocket knife requires a lot of patience, practice, and preparation. When you use a pocket knife, you get a very close shave. John Rivera, Master Barber at The Art of Shaving’s Barber Spa in NYC says that when you apply pressure at a specific angle, your straight razor will reach closer and deeper to your hair follicles with each stroke.

Be patient and pay extra attention when shaving with a pocket knife

A pocket knife shave takes some time, much more time than an electric shave or cartridge ones. You will have to spend at least fifteen minutes while using a pocket knife. John Rivera also suggests that those who are not ready to spend enough time and effort to re-learn the skill of shaving with this equipment should not use it.

Proper practice helps a healthier pocket knife shave:

Rivera says that if you grasp your razor too straight it can tear your stubble. If you hold it too slant, it can cut your skin. He suggests you take the first pass at a steep angle, from above your cheek close to your ear.

He advises that each of your passes must be balanced and short without bumps and jolts. He warns against starting a new stroke from any of your prominent facial features like your jaw or chin. He suggests applying a minimum pressure at these points.

He says that holding your nose up will taut your upper lip for a smooth painless stroke and that it is important to always shave your neck along the grain. Rivera stresses to never stroke at an area that has no shaving cream. The pattern of hair growth varies from individual to individual, he further explains.

Preparation before a pocket knife shave is very important:

A hot shower is really helpful in opening your pores and softening your beards. Wrapping a hot towel, soaked in hot water against your face, legs or chest is also helpful. Make sure you hold it firmly until it cools down.

As for a pre-shave product, you must use natural, chemical-free and paraben-free oil. Go for camellia, coconut, olive, jojoba or sunflower oil for the best results. Apply with your fingers, but if using a brush, first soak it in hot water for a couple of minutes or more, to help soften its bristles.

Shaving soaps are also a healthy option as they are made out of glycerine mixture, natural fat and natural vegetable oil. Always avoid cheap shaving foams and gels as they can damage your sensitive skin. Make sure your shaving cream has organic coconut or jojoba oil. 

Movement of the shaving brush before starting a pocket knife shave is another important aspect. Move it in small circular motions, and cover the entire area thoroughly. Don’t leave even a single hair dry. 

Important things to check in your pocket knife:

Before beginning to shave your hair with a pocket knife, you must consider the following factors:

  • Check the condition of the steel: You must check the steel’s condition carefully. Make sure there is no dust or rust on the blade. Remember that a pocket knife with good temper sharpens much better than poor-quality metals.
  • Check the temper: How do I check the temper of the blade of my pocket knife? Catch the point of its blade under your thumbnail. Now let it slip off quickly. See if it creates a clear ring, this means it is well-tempered, if it doesn’t, then it means that it is unevenly tempered.
  • Hollowing: Pocket knives come with varying degrees of hollowing. A blade with ten to fifteen degrees angle is ideal for shaving, fifteen to twenty degrees are meant for slicing, twenty-five to thirty degrees is used for domestic purposes and thirty-five to forty degrees is good for chopping things. 
  • Modern pocket knives are ground with a hollow. Hollowing makes a concave on each side of the blade of your pocket knife. If you are a beginner, the full concave is not recommended for you, as it is the sharpest edge when it comes in contact with your hard beard, it can bend, spring and cut your skin, you will have to hold it very flat on your face.
  • Consider the dimensions of the blade. For the easiest and most convenient control, never select a pocket knife with a blade that’s too wide or too long.  The ideal length is five to fifteen centimeters or two to six inches and the ideal width is 5/8, as it follows the contours of your face more closely than wider blades.
  • Also, consider the blade point. Pocket knives come with either sharp or rounded points. Rounded point is the safest option as sharp ones have more tendency to cause cuts and nicks on your skin.
  • Weight of the blade: Finally, before picking a pocket knife, you must consider the weight of the blade. John Rivera explains that the mass of your blade will determine the necessary pressure you will have to apply for shaving your hair. If your blade is lightweight, more pressure will be needed and if it is heavyweight less pressure will be needed.

Frequently Asked Questions:

● How to sharpen your pocket knife?

If you observe the blade of your pocket knife under a microscope, you will notice that it is composed of several teeth that resemble saw teeth. Whenever your pocket knife becomes dull, the teeth found on its blade edge become irregular and point in different directions.  Sharpening the pocket knife is a process of restoring the original direction of these teeth.

To hone the blade of your pocket knife, first of all, wipe your whetstone and then lubricate it with oil, cold water or lather. These lubricants help protect the blade of your pocket knife against heat damage. Prefer ceramic barber hones as they are not as coarse as Norton whetstones.

To give the blade of your pocket knife the proper sharpness it needs, lay the stone flat with the higher grit count. You must stroke the blade at least ten times in each of its directions. Now test the sharpness of the blade by slowly dragging it on your fingernail.

Never continue to sharpen a well-honed pocket knife, or you will damage its blade. Your pocket knife will stay well-honed for at least six or eight weeks. You must strop the blade after each shave to maintain its sharpness until it needs honing again. 

● How to strop the blade of your pocket knife?

Stropping is a process in pocket knife sharpening that realigns its blade’s cutting edge by removing any excess steel. It polishes and smoothens the blade of your pocket knife to give you a comfortable and healthy shave. A sharp and well-maintained pocket knife reduces the risks of cuts, burns, nicks, irritation, and tears.

Point the sharp edge away from you. To avoid a rounded blade, pull the strop tightly. Stroke the blade towards yourself, while still holding it against the strop. 

Always apply very light pressure. Don’t lift the blade at all. You will need at least thirty strokes, fifteen for each side. 

How to clean and store your pocket knife after every shave?

If the blade of your pocket knife is unhygienic, you are exposed to various harmful infections. You must follow these steps carefully while guarding your pocket knife against bacteria.

  • Hot water: Always use piping-hot water to rinse your pocket knife after every shave, to sterilize the blade and kill all the bacteria that have built upon it.
  • Aftershave: Sprinkle some witch hazel aftershave onto the blade of your pocket knife after you have rinsed it clean. This will kill any extra bacteria within a few seconds.
  • Rinse it once more with boiling water before storing it upright.
  • Dry the blade with cotton or toilet paper.
  • Never store your pocket knife in your shower room if it is not made from rust-free metal, as moisture and dampness will cause rust. Both your backpack and your shower room are hotbeds for germs. Store it in a well-ventilated and fully dry place.

Final remarks

To conclude this blog post, I would say YES you can shave with a well-maintained and clean pocket knife.