Did you know that a razor blade gets dull after 2-3 uses? Constant stropping helps restore the edge, but how often does it need attention?
The technique involved in resharpening a razor seems to be lost on most shavers. It’s also not a problem you encounter until the end of an overly expensive cartridge.
If you want to keep your razor sharp and your skin nicks-free, learn to strop a razor in this article.
If you’re serious about shaving, a straight razor is the only way to go. The advantage of a straight razor over traditional disposable razors is that it allows for a closer shave as well as more versatility. To use a straight razor, you need to keep it incredibly sharp. That’s why it is essential to use the best razor strop before shaving.
You can’t get the best shave possible without acquiring the best strop. A strop gives your razor a final polish by removing any leftover micro-scratches and sharpening it to perfection because they are long strips of leather or fabric that you rub your razor on using oil or some other lubricant.
To learn more, check: Does leather sharpen razor?
Strops come in three varieties: straight, paddle, and loom. Straight strops are common among all. Straight strops have a simple design but are still quite effective in delivering a smooth and straight edge. They usually consist of a strap that you hang on your wall. While the paddle strop has leather attached to the paddle, the loom strap has leather that wraps the wooden paddle firmly.
The strop should almost be set up at a 45 degrees angle to the table. Hold your strop like it points downward but towards you.
Your hands will always be close to the strop, so your anchor point must be sturdy. It becomes difficult to use if it’s too close to you.
However, if it’s too far, you will have difficulty holding onto the leather as well as it drooping down and potentially cutting into the leather. One good option is the towel bar or door handle in your bathroom.
You can use a paddle or loom strop. To use it, first lay one end on a sturdy surface. Grab the handle and lift your strop to a 30-degree angle. Make sure to hold it in place while you use the other hand to pull your razor blade through.
Place the razor strop on the strop’s surface, making sure the strop is in a position where you can easily reach over it with your arm extended. Open the handles of the straight razor, holding them securely so no pressure is put on the blade or spine. Just hold it by the shank. Place the edge and spine down against one side of the strop.
With the blade’s spine turned away, and the edge facing you, drag your razor along the strop: away from you. Light pressure is required. You should lift the blade slightly so it’s in contact with the leather at a slight angle.
When you’ve reached the end of the strop, flip the razor over to continue stropping. Flip it so the spine now points towards you.
Make sure your blade is in contact with the strop while you roll the razor downwards, towards you, with your fingers. Once you’ve learned how to do this technique quickly and efficiently, you’ll be able to finish stropping your razors in no time.
When you reach the end of the strop, flip the razor and repeat the stropping process in reverse. From here, continue to pass your razor up and down on the leather strop for 10-15 more strokes.
You’ll need to use an X-shaped pattern to sharpen a blade that isn’t wide enough to cover the entire length of the strop. Move the razor up, down, and across the strop to sharpen the entire blade. As you push it upwards, move the blade towards your right, then towards your left when you bring it back.
As we read in The Public Health Journal, a good rule of thumb is to strop your razor after you shave, but only if you’re using a straight razor. If you’re using an electric razor, then it’s not necessary to strop it. Just give it a rinse under warm water and swab it with a towel to ensure it is completely dry.
If you are using a straight razor, though, here’s how to strop:
First, rinse the blade in warm tap water until all shaving cream has been removed. Remove excess water by shaking off the razor and strop it to maintain a sharp edge.
Flip your leather strop to its cloth side and gently pull the strop across the edge of your razor’s blades. It’s best to avoid using a leather strop after shaving. Using this side can cause metal shavings to embed in your strop, which will roughen it and make leather less effective.
Place your razor face down on the strop to ensure a smooth, clean, and sharp edge. The spine of the razor, which is opposite the edge, should be facing away from you. The blade’s tip should be at an angle of 15 degrees or less during the stroke.
Carefully shave the first side of the blade, then flip it over and do the other. Slide the blade downwards with its spine side facing towards you. You want to avoid getting nicks in your strop, which will scratch your razor for smooth gliding.
The answer is a resounding “yes!” The idea of using a belt as a strop might initially seem strange. After all, we associate belts with holding up our pants or cinching in our waist—not sharpening blades! But belts are made of leather and have enough give to be used as strops.
The main challenge with using a belt instead of a strop is that they tend to be thicker than strops, so they can’t be folded over like standard strops. You’ll need to find some way of securing the belt around your workbench or table so that it’s stable when you’re using it.
Learn more: What does stropping a razor do?
It’s a question that comes up often in the sharpening community, and for good reason. There are a lot of opinions about how to do it. Some people swear by 20 degrees; others say 15 degrees will give you the best results. Besides, stropping a razor blade at 30-45 degrees also gives efficient results, as mentioned in Popular Science.
The rough side of a strop is for sharpening your blade, while the smooth side is for polishing it. You can use both sides of your strop to ensure a properly-honed edge on your knife or razor.
Make sure you have a good strop. You need a tool that will help you get the job done right. So, find strops at any hardware store for a few bucks, and they’ll last for years if you take care of them.
Know that stropping is an art form, so don’t try to rush through it. Take your time and focus on what you’re doing with each blade stroke against the leather strop; this will pay off in the long run.
Hi, I’m Theo, and I started Shaving Parlour to help men everywhere get the best shave of their lives. Check out my popular guides on Safety Razors, Shaving Cream, Shaving Brushes, Beard Oil, and more!