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What Does Stropping a Razor Do?

What Does Stropping a Razor Do?

Have you ever noticed that there is always a dull spot on your skin after shaving? The reality is that there are several razors and blades on the market. However, none can provide you with the closest shave without irritation.

Unfortunately, the average person does not have time to relax in a barber chair for 30 minutes for a proper shave. The solution to the problem above is to invest in an effective and precise safety razor. You can use it anytime, anywhere, and with ease!

However, what do you do if your razor has lost its sharpness after several uses? Can you strop your razor? Let’s find out!

Does Stropping Really Work?

What does stropping a razor do? Is it effective? Undoubtedly, yes but to an extent!

Stropping a razor will not magically sharpen your blades. However, it removes small burrs and smooths the edges and surfaces of the blade.

Stropping a straight razor or any other shaving blade will noticeably improve the quality of the shave. While it does not sharpen a dull blade, it removes microscopic imperfections from the razor’s cutting edge.

Doing this results in a more luxurious shave every time and helps prevent nicks and cuts along your skin. Thus, improving its performance considerably.

What Is the Difference Between Stropping and Honing?

Whether you are new to shaving with a straight razor or an experienced shaver, we know the process can be overwhelming. Your razor tools need maintenance, and maintaining a sharp edge on an old-school straight razor is a skill. The first and most common method is stropping. The second option is honing, which is a rare method.

Stropping

Stropping is a process that polishes the blade, removing microscopic imperfections and keeping it as sharp as when you purchased it. Also, stropping can make honing unnecessary for quite a while.

Besides, stropping cleans the blade. When you strop before every shave, you remove dirt and prepare the blade for a nice shave. In addition, stropping will prevent rust from forming on your razor blades.

Stropping is a crucial step in maintaining a straight razor. Without it, your blade will become dull, and you’ll have to perform the entire honing process again. The best razor strop can lengthen the time between honing and keep you shaving for years.

Honing

Sharpening your razor is the most important part of maintaining it, and honing is the process of using abrasives to sharpen the blade. It removes microscopic teeth from the blade’s edge that were barely visible before, creating a smooth, polished edge for a close shave.

This process will require more attention than stropping because you work with finer grits. However, your razor will be sharper than before when you are finished!

In most cases, an honing machine creates a razor’s “working edge.” However, if you are cutting costs, you can use certain tools (we will discuss next) and hone your razor easily!

What Tools Do You Need to Strop Your Razor?

Strop

Strops are an essential accessory for any straight razor shaver. A top-quality strop helps you keep your blade’s edge sharp and ready for use by slowly drawing it through the leather surface until it becomes smooth. You can use a strop to sharpen both edges before shaving or just one side if you shave in two directions.

Leather strops work the best, but newspaper and vinyl can achieve the same results. Before purchasing a strop, there are many types of this tool that you can consider:

Loom Strop

This old-school leather strop is composed of a piece of leather stretched around a special mechanism and held in place by a handle. While only a few makers are left in the world, the leather strop can be an invaluable tool for polishing, sharpening, and restoring blades. Generally, a loom strop is comparatively costly and demands quality skills to use it for stropping your razor.

Bench Strop

The Bench Strop is a great choice for the beginner or anyone on a budget. It’s made from solid wood and high-quality leather attached to a flat surface. This strop is designed to give you maximum control and works well with abrasive pastes, oils, and even creams. Ideally, you should invest in bench strop before purchasing other stropping tools.

Hanging Strop

A hanging strop is a common material that hangs on a doorknob or hook. Stropping is done by pulling the leather across the rough surface with firm pressure.

Moreover, you can’t beat a hanging strop for storage and ease of use. These strops are simple. Although they require some practice to master, they are easy to use as you can easily adapt to their tightness.

 

Paddle Strop

The paddle strop is a variation on the bench strop, with a rectangular wooden block set in a slotted holder. Instead of holding the strop with two hands while stropping, you can comfortably hold it with one hand to reach more easily across the edge of your knife. It is, indeed, very useful for detailed work.

You’ll come across these strop types, but how do you strop a razor? Learn more here.

What Tools Make Honing Easier?

Films and Stones

With so many options, picking a stone that works best in a certain application can be difficult. Plenty of good stones/films are available on the market, but you need to ensure they will work well for years to come. The common types of honing materials are as follow:

Synthetic Water Stones

Man-made stones are perfect for beginners and professionals alike. They are widely available, have consistent results, and are a great choice for inexpensive honing.

The synthetic water stones come in a variety of grit sizes, including:

  • 1000 grit – demands 75% of your time, best for bevel setting
  • 4000 grit – demands 15% of your time, best for developing cutting edge
  • 8000 grit – demands 10% of your time, best for developing shaving edge

Clean water is a requirement for all types of stones/films. Use a spray bottle, cup, or sink full of water to keep the stone well-lubricated and remove grit buildup.

Natural Stones

These sharpening stones do not have grit ratings and require more advanced honing skill sets. These products are directly taken from nature, which makes them special and unique.

Lapping Films

These are some of the most affordable honing tools on the market. Lapping films come in a wide range of grits, and these films have high durability.

How Often Do You Need to Strop a Razor?

It all comes down to the type of razor you use. For some razors, stropping is recommended after every use. However, others only need it once a week or monthly.

As we read in Milady’s Standard Professional Barbering, many factors determine how often you should strop your razor. One of the main ones is the type of razor you use. A straight razor and a disposable will have different needs due to the materials they are made of and their potential uses.

Another factor is how often you shave. It is because the more you shave and the longer it takes, the more likely you are to dull or damage your blade and need to strop it more often.

So, you can strop your razor before every shave. You’ll find that stropping a straight razor will give your razor a new edge, so it stays sharper for longer.

How to Keep Your Straight Razor Sharp?

It’s no secret that proper maintenance is important when using a straight razor, according to Popular Science. Unfortunately, it can be quite a hassle to maintain this specific tool while shaving.

However, if you want to save yourself the extra cost of replacements and repairs later down the road, it is well worth taking the time to maintain your straight razor properly at the end of each shave.

If you want to prevent damage to your razor and prolong its life, it is important to dry it properly after use. Doing this will also help prevent rust and discoloration, which can dull the blade prematurely.

Wipe down the razor completely with a microfiber towel after shaving, and allow it to air dry in an area with minimal humidity. Never store the blade in a damp place, as moisture can cause damage.

While at it, squirt a drop or two of mineral oil on your blade for added protection against rust and oxidation. Don’t forget to apply the oil to the folding mechanism. Doing this will keep it in good working order for years to come!

Is the Shave Test Important?

The Shave Test is extremely important, especially with higher grit stones. If the razor shaves poorly after finishing on stone (8000 grit or higher), then your previous step was probably not adequately prepared.

Wrap Up

Stropping is a process that improves the cutting edge of a razor by realigning its fibers. Doing this ensures that your blade cuts smoothly and as close to the skin as possible. With proper use, you can also prolong the sharpness of your razor.