What Is Shave Ready
Updated: May 27, 2018
When shopping online for your next straight razor purchase, you might have noticed that some stores offer their straight razors "shave ready" or "factory honed". If you are new to straight razors this can be very confusing.
A "shave ready" straight razor means that it has been honed after it has left the factory or manufacturer. The vendor that sells straight razors usually has a "honemeister", a professional person that sharpens razors. The honemeister sharpens the razors for the vendor so they can be used straight out of the box, without the need to strop for the first shave. The edge put on a shave ready razor is also finished on a much higher grit by the use of ceramic or natural stones. Sometimes they are finalized with a high grit paste or spray (ex. chromium oxide, diamond spray, etc).
Straight razors that have been honed at the factory are called 'factory honed'. Does that make them 'shave ready'? Several websites will tell you that a factory honed straight razor just needs a simple stropping before use, but in fact, on the contrary, they do require professional honing to make the razor cut smoothly and sharply. So in fact, "factory honed" razors are not truly shave ready. Sometimes you do get a few straight razors that could work. Are you going to get a great shave? Probably not. It is not a reliable and consistent razor edge. Most razors that come from the factory will need a professional honing service. I've honed my fair share of new production razors, such as Dovo, Boker, Thiers Issard, and others. From my extensive experience, the average edge on a properly honed razor will last anywhere from only 2 to 6 months (depending on many variables such as beard type, frequency of shaving per week, stropping and shaving technique, etc). So in fact, most of these factory and manufactured razors are not professionally shave ready "out of the box" and are not likely to be capable of cutting a single hair (See below for the "HHT" aka the Hanging Hair Test). After honing literally thousands of razors, I would estimate that out of 1000 razors, I have had to hone every single one to get them shave ready and up to their true potential.
If you are new into the world of straight shaving I definitely recommend having your razor professionally honed, or for you to buy it 'shave ready', if offered.