Seeking the ideal compromise between closeness and comfort, I have previously found two passes -- generally with grain, then against grain -- to be the best starting point for knocking down my beard.
Another refinement I recommend is to make all razors strokes oblique; that is, stroking with the blade edge slightly off perpendicular to the stroke direction. As I've written many times, this slightly increases the functional, effective sharpness of the blade as well as the capacity of the razor.
Additional shaving-stroke refinements that I use and recommend include the following:
- Use an anti-raking stroke pattern; that is, stroking from the lathered area into the shaved area, rather than stroking from the just-shaved area into the lather as one would rake a lawn
- Make the strokes short and slow
- Settings 1-3 are for those with sensitive skin or light beard
- Settings 4-6 are for those with normal beard or skin
- Setting 7-9 are for those with thick, heavy beards