Sunday, June 26, 2016

20 Questions with BrushnSoapnBlade

Rick DeWeese produces the weekly Brush N Soap N Blade Podcast.  If you haven’t given it a listen, you should check it out.  Hailing from South Carolina, Rick is passionate about his interests (wet shaving is obviously one of them) and it definitely comes through in an emphatic and entertaining way on the show.  

For Rick, it started by getting a brush and soap as a present.  He picked up a Gillette DE from an antique shop for about $8, got some Wilkinson blades from the local Walmart and he hasn’t turned back.

Rick is outspoken against the ‘can of goo’; a champion of the cost effective ‘salsa bowl’ (he expands a little on this later); and generally a promoter of all things wet shaving.   He doesn’t currently host any other podcasts.  But BrushnSoapnBlade is enough.  Among being active with the Boy Scouts (which Rick discusses here), work, and family, his schedule doesn’t seem to leave him with much time for more podcasting.

As with his show, I found that was Rick funny, entertaining, and someone who had a lot of interesting things to say.  So, I was excited to have him participate in this round of “20 Questions with BrushnSoapnBlade.”  

1.  How old are you?
50ish in actual age…somewhere in my 30s mentally. (Although my wife would say about 7!)

2.  What do you do for a living? 
I have spent 30 years in the maintenance industry. I started out as a wrench turner working shift work and moved my way up to a site maintenance management position. I then moved over to do something completely different. Specifically I help departments in the company institute progress initiatives. Seems to fit my personality well.

3.  What’s your favorite type of music?
Probably Country because I can hear and understand the words and they tell a story. But I also really like classic Rock. But then I also like classical, oh and Jazz…and I really appreciate good Acapella. Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m a tad eclectic!

4. What was the last good movie you saw?
I’m a fan of the Marvel movies. It helps that I grew up with the comic books. I’m also a big fan of classic John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart movies. Westerns with a clear Good vs Evil theme are good….so throw in Star Wars, Harry Potter…Yeah I’m a mess.
            All time favorite movie, The Quiet Man with John Wayne.
5.  What other hobbies do you have apart from wet shaving?
Ok, that’s not fair! But here is a partial list: Podcasting, Fountain pens, Knifes, Firearms, Ham Radio, Axes, Gardening, Landscaping, Boats, Reading, Leatherwork, Beer and Wine making, Cooking, Bread making….that’s what I can think of just looking around the room. I’ll have more next week.

Ultimately I have this insatiable desire to learn…about everything. Part of the learning is doing. So when I stumble upon something that I am interested in, I dive in and try things, practice, work with it. Because of doing this for many years…well I have a lot of info crammed into my head at this point.

I like to think of myself as a Renaissance man!

Homemade Beer: One of Many Interests
6.  You dedicate a lot of time to the Boy Scouts of America, how long have you been active with the organization?
My older son got into Scouts in 5th grade. I joined with him. He’s now in his third year of college. So it’s been a while.

So why? When I was growing up my Mom wanted me to get involved in Scouts. She thought she was doing the right thing, and instinctively she was. However, she knew nothing about Scouts. Not her fault, just reality. So, I joined a Webelos patrol in a Cub Scout den. It was in the Fall and before I knew it someone handed me a pinewood derby kit. They said you make a car with it and then we race them.

So I went home, and since Mom didn’t know anything about these types of things, I did my best (Cub Scout motto by the way). When the race day came, my vehicle (it was not a car by any stretch!) did not do well. The other boys laughed and teased mercilessly. (Normal behavior for that age boy) However, the adult leaders allowed it. They did not use it as a teachable moment to talk about grace in winning, kindness, courtesy, etc. (parts of the Boy Scout Law). Anyhow, after that I had enough and quit. I lasted 3 months.

When my son got interested I joined to ensure that he, and any other boys in the Cub Scout den, would have a better environment than I did. I have been a Bear Den Leader, an Assistant Cub Master, a Webelos Den Leader, A Pack Trainer, an Assistant Scout Master and now a Scout Master.

When I see things going South as to the way the boys treat each other the first question that I ask them is: “What part of the Scout Law is that behavior not following?” It’s become a Troop joke, but it has been highly effective and I have a Troop that I am proud of.

So yes, I dedicate time to it, but I’m planting seeds into the minds of young men who will be here after I am gone. They are the legacy of us all and thus the time is well spent.

7. Does your love of wet shaving cross over into Scouting?
Absolutely. Every camping trip I take wet shaving gear. I do not hide it and shave out in the open. They ask questions. They look. They listen.

Adult leaders (from other Troops) stop by, ask questions etc. I try to evangelize everywhere I go. The biggest draw are straight razors because, well they look dangerous (and cool)!

Active with the Boy Scouts of America Since His Eldest Son was in 5th Grade: "They are the legacy of us all and thus the time is well spent."
8. What was the first razor that you recall shaving with?
The first shave I ever had was with a Norelco electric. Don’t remember what I used, other than the electric until I was in the Navy. Then it was a can of goo and a disposable razor. Once I got out I found I had gotten into the habit of shaving in the shower. So, disposable razor, water and bar soap.

9. How did you learn to shave/Who taught you how to shave?
No one. Picked it up on my own.

This of course is something that the Wet Shaving community is fixing. But, the act of shaving kind of got relegated to the privacy of a bathroom….with the door closed.

There was a time that in movies, wet shaving was the norm. There was one movie where Cary Grant (I believe) did a shaving scene in a train station bathroom. This was considered normal! Then it fell out of popularity. In some cases the person buying razors for young men is their mother. The father has been taken out of the picture in some cases. The passing of “manly acts” has diminished. Kind of sad.

The good news is that we are bringing it back. Shaving is coming back into movies. Facebook posts show Dads teaching their boys how to shave. How to make fires. How to chop wood. So there is hope!

10. How long have you been into traditional wet shaving?
Ok, so this is hard for me to answer….I was shaving with a disposable two blade razor and bar soap in the shower for 25 years. During that time, I received a brush, soap and Trac II handle set. I would use this from time to time. (The soap wasn’t very good and I knew nothing about lathering) Of course, there wasn’t an interest that could be used to connect people and allow the Wet Shaving community to exist.

So with that said it’s been about 3 or 4 years that I have been wet shaving using “traditional methods”. I’m also an advocate of hybrid approaches. If I had my way, the goo in a can would be rarely used. In other words, a better shave can be had with traditional soap and a brush. The hydration is far superior.

11. Razor of choice: Double Edge, Straight razor, shavette?
They all have their place. I rotate around all the time. Keeps variety going.  So I’ll put it this way….My favorite SE is a VC1 Valet Autostrop. This is the closest thing to a straight razor on a stick that I’ve ever experienced. With the Feather spineless SE blade, it’s about perfect.

My favorite DE is the Gillette Fatboy. It’s “meaty”, it’s got some substantial heft to it. It’s also adjustable! This with a feather or KAI DE blade is really a good combination. However, I have also found that the Gillette Silver Blues are spectacular for me in this razor.

My favorite straight razor is an old Case razor that someone gave me. I like because it was my first straight razor and it is thin. It started off thin and after years or sharpening, it’s a bit thinner. I like that I can get under my nose easily with it. It has a rounded end and I like that. I don’t have to worry or think about any point.

Shavette? Ok, to be honest when I first started I hated shavettes. I was convinced that these things “were like the ex-wife’s lawyer trying to get every drop of blood out of you!”. I made the mistake of thinking that I would use one of these to gain experience before trying a straight razor. Wrong! Get the straight razor and gain experience, then use a shavette. I think it would work better. So at this point I have been able, for the first time, get a weeks’ worth of shaves on a shavette without loss of blood! I like them, but I have limited experience.

Rick noted that, in retrospect, he probably would have used a straight razor first before going with a shavette.

12. How would you finish this sentence? The thing I love about traditional wet shaving is ____
Wet shaving provides me the opportunity to stop the chaos in my life for a moment and concentrate on a simple thing, the act of shaving.

Wet shaving allows me to set a tone for the day. A good shave = a good day. And I have a good shave every day.

In general it allows me to reset my attitude every morning. I’ve had a great shave, I’m ready for the day, bring it on! Or, “I just got a BBS shave with a straight razor! What you got?”

Since I try to start every day with a great shave, from that point on, it’s up to me to have a good day. If I don’t have a good day, it’s my fault!

13.  How many passes do you do?
I typically do three passes with a touchup. So, with the grain (sort of)…straight down. Cross grain, ear to nose. Against the grain (sort of)…straight up. I then touch up with another pass cross grain under jaw line / neck.

14. Favorite kind of brush: Badger, Boar, Horse Hair, or Synthetic?
Favorite brushes are Semogue Boar brushes 830 or 1305 - same knot just different handle. Inexpensive, work great.

15. What is your prep routine?
Turn on the water in the sink and let it warm up. When the water is warm, throw a $1.50 plastic salsa bowl in the sink and fill it with hot water. Drop in a brush to soak. Jump in the shower. Pretty basic, pretty simple. Very effective.

Mentioned Many Times in the Podcast: The Infamous Salsa Bowl.

16. What advice would you give to someone getting into traditional wet shaving?
Get a brush (I recommend Semogue boar - good value, don’t stink) a cheap $1.50 plastic salsa bowl at Walmart and a cream in a tube. (Maggards or West Coast Shaving have a great variety) Take the salsa bowl and rough up the interior with 60 or 80 grit sandpaper. Learn how to soak a brush for 5 minutes, put an almond size dollop of cream in the salsa bowl, and make a lather.

Swirl the soap around to distribute it well in the bowl and then add a teaspoon of hot water and lather. (My take 2 teaspoons but you have to start somewhere).

You can do this with a cartridge razor and get nice shaves. Don’t sweat learning everything at once. Get the lather stuff down first. It may take a while. (If you have issues, you may not be putting enough pressure on your brush through the entire process, or you have hard water - buy a bottle of distilled water if you suspect this)

Once you have the lather part conquered, move to a DE or SE razor. Doesn’t matter which, but get one that you like the look of. One that you are willing to “Learn”. Then get different blades for it. (I suggest for this as they are the only place I know of to buy individual blades at decent prices) The razor and blade combination, in addition to your technique are unique to you. What works for you may not work for me and vice versa. This is the magic of wet shaving (as well as the misery of asking advice on the forums).

17. How did you get into podcasting?
I did a podcasting demonstration for a college class once. I’ve always been told I have a “radio” voice. I was on a wet shaving forum back when and someone asked if there was a podcast about wet shaving…..the answer was no. I thought, hack I can do that! So I did. I started out with a microphone and a computer. I was the first one out of the box, so I can say that I was officially the first wet shaving podcast in the world! (Kind of neat!)

18. How long does it take for you to record and edit an episode of the BrushnSoapnBlade podcast?
I’ve tried doing it all at once at the end of the podcast week. That didn’t work well because I would forget stuff. I tried to record segments in my “Studio” in the morning but that was taking too much time. I ended up recording the SOTD segments in my truck (the Mobile Studio) on my way to work.

This is close enough to the experience of the shave that I can recall things and maintain a level of “passion” that I believe is important to making something people can listen to. So my drive to work takes 30 minutes and I usually get in 4 to 5 segments this way. The time is masked though because I’m there driving anyhow.

All week long, I’ll be on Facebook or Twitter and keep an eye out for things that I am interested in for the podcast. I’ll save these for later. I’ll record these on Wednesday night. This usually takes an hour or so.

Getting all the files sorted out, treated for decent audio, etc takes about an hour or two. It’s really been better since I upgraded my computer. It used to take 3 to 4 hours doing this. I’ll do the intro and throw things in order with bumper music, outro music, etc. and this all takes about 30 minutes.

Converting to Mp3, writing the blog post, Publishing and setting release time / date take 30 minutes.

All in all, my wife knows where I am on Wednesday nights!         

Rick in the "Mobile Studio"
19. You’ve had a few interviews on the show.  Can listeners expect more of these from you down the line?
I love doing the interviews. But coordinating someone else's time and my time to correspond so that it can work is really difficult. I have great respect for folks that do interviews just from the logistics point of view.

I would love to do more of them but my current workload really doesn’t make it doable.

20. Why should listeners tune in to BrushnSoapnBlade?
Well that’s a good question. First response is “I have no idea”.

Upon reflection, I try to sample and experience a lot of stuff. Sometimes it gets difficult because most of it I buy myself, so there is a budget issue. With this, and the fact that I am self-funded, I don’t have a dog in the fight so to speak. I will tell you the truth as I see it. If I find that something is crap, I’ll tell you it’s crap. I don’t make any money off of this. It’s just something that I do.

If someone sends me something, I try to tell people that ahead of time. I don’t expect it or rely on it so I’ll tell you what I think.

I don’t spend any time on forums. I find them to be very enthused about pushing a point of view or a set of vendors / advertisers. I don’t think they treat people fairly all the time if there is a differing opinion.

I won’t tell someone they are wrong. If they tell me that they get a great shave with a spoon and a bar of soap, great! I want to know about it because it’s interesting but I’m not going to take issue with it. If someone likes a blade that doesn’t work for me, ok. I’m happy that they found something that works for them, but it still may not work for me.

As I’ve said on many episodes, wet shaving has many variables. All these combinations have to work with you and for you in order to experience a “great” shave. That’s part of the fun and experimentation that makes the hobby fun.

I’ll tell you about my experiences as best I can. It might pique your interest in something that you’ve never tried. It might lead you to something you wondered about. Take the old spice cream for example, what is the difference between the P&G formula and the Shulton formula? Well, that was an episode not too long ago.

I am almost always upbeat. I start the day with a great shave every day and it sets the tone for me daily. I do in fact look forward to shaving, every day!

Have you checked out Rick on BrushnSoapnBlade?  Please leave a comment below; let us know what you think of the show. But if you haven’t, head over to to check out his blog and podcast.  

You can also find and connect with Rick on Facebook, as BrushnBlade on Twitter or Instagram, email at, or by calling the show’s Wet Shaving Hotline on GoogleVoice at: (864) 372-6234.

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