A sharp edge is essential to a good shave
So now you have the straight razor but how do you keep it sharp in between shaves!? You need to strop (str-ahp) it in between every shave. This resets your edge for your next shave. It’s suggested to wait 24 hours between stropping and shaving to allow the edge enough time to reform. Do I wait every time? No, but I usually do – no one’s perfect. Some people strop before shaving too, it’s all personal preference when it comes to straight shaving!
What is a strop?
There are many different kinds of strops. I prefer to use 100% leather, I feel it gives the best performance of the materials offered. I also suggest strops with dual sides, one for blade warm up, then the leather to set the edge. This is the strop I make and use.
So, how do you strop?
You may want to prepare your strop. There is a lot of good information here. (If you buy a strop from me, it comes pretreated with Neatsfoot oil)
Secure your strop:
You need to have a stationary place to attach your strop to. I use my towel bar, don’t use a door knob, etc, they move and you’ll get an uneven edge – which you don’t want.
So, here’s a diagram and .gif of stropping best practices. When going up make sure the tang is away from you, when coming back, make sure the tang is toward you. 1 lap = up and back down.
Alrighty, let’s strop, shall we?
1. Hold the strop by the D ring, or whatever attachment you have on your strop – if you don’t have an attachment, I suggest holding it about 4 inches from the bottom to get a good grip
2. Hold the strop in a straight line, doesn’t have to be extremely taut, but it does need to be straight, some beginners place their strops on the counter top to learn how to flip the blade back and forth before learning how to strop freely
3. Open the razor 180 degrees this will make it easy to roll along the strop. Hold the tang of the razor between your forefinger and thumb so that you have a good grip that you can flip the razor back and forth with. Without a good grip, you’ll lack the ability to stop evenly. Place the razor evenly along bottom of the strop with the tang away from you and move upward, then flip the blade over, and pull toward yourself.
4. Blade pressure is key to the entire process. Too much and you’ll roll the edge, too little and nothing will happen. I wish I had a tried and true way to accomplish this, but it’s all trial and error. You’ll learn what works for you and your blade as you go, try and try again
Start by doing 40-60 laps on the strop, some people will add more. I typically do around 70 laps. This helps remove build up and other things that aren’t good for your razor. My breakdown looks like this:
20-30 laps on the firehose linen
40-50 laps on the leather
You can change this to however many times you want. It’s all personal preference and almost like meditation after a while.
Oh no, issues!
You tried and it didn’t work, why?
Uneven Feel: This happened because the razor didn’t make even contact with the strop. You’ll need to make sure you’re holding the razor evenly along the stro
Dull Harsh Edge: Happens if you haven’t stropped enough, don’t strop often enough, or your contact with the strop isn’t good
Rolled Edge: Too much pressure, you’ll need to let up on the razor and not push the edge down into the strop, this causes a rolling of the edge
These can all be fixed by restropping usually, so try again. It takes time to learn, but it’s an valuable skill to have! Just keep perfecting your technique for what works for you and you’ll have it down in no time!