Guide: How to Strop a Straight Razor
If your using a high quality straight razor, and not a disposable one, you know that it can last you forever. Not just your kids could use it, but your great grand kids, as long as you take proper care of it.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can just abuse the heck out of it, there is a certain amount of maintenance that goes into your shaving tools, not just to keep them from deteriorating, but to keep them cutting sharp and giving you the shave you’ve come to expect to get by using a straight, as opposed to disposable razors.
This maintenance includes sharpening, which should be done ever so often, but your primary chore is actually going to be stropping. This is pretty easy to do, but to get a comfortable, and effective shave, you’ll have to do this every time prior to pressing steel to flesh.
Stropping and How to Maintain Your Blade
Step 1: Your strop should have a loop on it. This isn’t just to hang it somewhere when your not using it, you actually should hang it up on a hook somewhere in your bathroom, perhaps a drawer, so that you don’t have to worry about balancing the weight as you use your free hand to angle the strop.
Step 2: Stropping is just like using a honing rod when you are smoothing out a knife. Depending on when you decide to strop, you’ll use the leather side of the strop, or the canvas side. If its immediately after you finish honing, use the leather side of the strop. However if its between shaves, start off your stropping by using the canvas side, and then midway through swap over to the leather side.
Step 3: Pull the strop tight using the handle. If your strop is too loose, the edge will be dull after the process is finished, to avoid rounded edges which require more honing, everything has to be tight.
Step 4: Now hold the shank of the razor with your dominant hand and lay it flat on the furthest end of the strop from you. Here, we want the edge of the blade to trail when we are stropping, unlike the honing process where the edge leads. This means when you push the blade away from you, the edge points at you, and vis versa when you are pulling the razor towards you.
Step 5: Now, repeat the process, pull (edge points away), push (edge points towards you). You always want the heel of the blade to lead the point.
Step 6: Repeat this process for about 20 strokes in both directions, which is a total of 40 strokes. Do this slowly if your a beginner, and as you learn how to properly stroke. However, you can eventually develop some speed, this process shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds after you get the hang of it.