Shaving with a shovel

A Russian tabloid features the story of Nizhny Novgorod Alexander Karpenko, who taught himself to shave with a shovel (also a hatchet and a pair of scissors), inspired by his grandad's stories of shaving with a shovel in wartime.

(via Neatorama)



  1. They confiscate your razor when there’s a war on? I’ve been using a straight razor for years now, and it’s still working. Not that big, either. Plenty easy to take with you into the field. Sounds like granddad just wanted to shave with a shovel to prove he could, and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

    1. Maybe his grandpa was in the army during WWII.  They all got shovels, I doubt they gave you a nice toiletries kit.

    1. Really? What else was in the running? I figure it would mostly be rifle butts, bayonets, and spades, right? I’d choose spade out of those three.

      1. The book “All Quiet on the Western Front” discusses the alternatives at some length, judging the sharpened spade/entrenching tool to be the best.

        While maybe a soldier could lose his razor, or even leave it behind to save on weight, I’d imagine spade shaving was simply a stunt to show how sharp one’s weaponized entrenching tool was.

  2. I think I’ll stick to my Gillette slim-handle adjustable (the kind James Bond used in Gold Finger), Derby blades, Michell’s Wool Fat shaving soap, Omega boar hair brush, Nivea after shave balm and Pinaud Virgin Island Bay Rum after shave.

  3. I misread the title as “shaving with a towel.” I must say I find the truth to be significantly less interesting. As per usual.

  4. Those of you wondering why he didn’t use a razor should read up on the Siege of Leningrad and the Battle of Stalingrad.  Totally brutal conditions, especially in Leningrad.  876 day siege (yes almost 3 *years*) of a large city.  Needless to say, towards the end there wasn’t much food, fuel, or anything left.

    “During the first year of the siege, the city survived five food reductions: two reductions in September 1941, one in October 1941, and two reductions in November 1941. The latter reduced the daily food consumption to 250 grams daily for manual workers and 125 grams for other civilians. Reports of cannibalism began to appear in the winter of 1941–1942, after all birds, rats and pets were eaten by survivors.”

    125 grams.  About 4 *ounces* of food per day

    Stalingrad wasn’t much better: “So great were Soviet losses that at times, the life expectancy of a newly arrived soldier was less than a day, and the life expectancy of a Soviet officer was three days.”

  5. I, for one, like to use a high-carbon German steel shovel but with a Japanese-inspired fine edge. The patina is lovely.

  6. I’ll see your fancy-pants shaving shit and raise you one Norelco electric razor.  The stuff people choose to be snobs about kills me, but I bet your face is smoooooth!

  7. I’m reminded of “Alas, Babylon”, with Randy shaving with a machete.

    I’m also reminded that I need to re-read that book. Been too long.

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