Shaving is a daily task for all the men of the world. For most of the world disposable cartridge razors are the preferred choice. But for the elite few man shaving is not just a quick part of their daily routine, but rather an enjoyable nearly therapeutic event. Those men that know the value of a good shave use the straight razor. The maintenance and care that goes into the shave and the shaving tool is time well spent.
One crucial part of using a straight razor is keeping the blade sharp and clean. This allows every shave to be as sharp and close as possible. To properly maintain your straight razor a leather strop is one of your most important utensils. A leather strop when used properly with or without a strop paste can even out the chips and uneven edges of the blade.
What is a Strop?
A strop is a surface that is used after the finest stone, for the final stage of sharpening. A strop is technically a device, commonly a strip of leather that is used for sharpening razor blades. Usually combined with a honing compound and a strop paste, a strop can be used to restore and polish your blade. Strop can turn your dull blade into a smooth and sharp edge blade ready to give the closest shave. Stropping reduces the hone lines and loss of material caused by grounding on stone, keeping your blade whole and crack-free.
A strop can be made of many materials but most common choices are leather. Whether it is a suede or smooth leathers, or technically known as flesh side and grain side. Usually mounted to a rigid base or a flexible setup like a leather and linen razor strop.
How to use a strop?
To strop your straight razor, you do not always need a compound. Strop pastes come in much handier when used with craft knives and handheld blades. To properly strop your blade, there are few things to keep in mind:
- Keep your blade at up to a 45-degree angle.
- Lead with the spine and push up.
- Never mix two compounds on one side
- Stick to two-sided leather strops.
- Go easy on the pressure.
- DO NOT use the cutting edge of the blade as this will cut the leather.
Advantages of Leather Strops
While strops are made from many materials, leather provides the best outcomes without causing much damage to the blade. A high-quality leather strop features leather on one side and a heavy linen on the other. What does a leather strop do for you and your blade? The benefits of leather strops are many.
- Keep blade sharp and ready to give you a great shave
- Avoid the punishment on the blade caused by grounding
- Reduce the costs of maintenance
- Eliminate the irritation and cuts caused by a dull blade
- Keep your money in your pocket.
If you do choose to use a compound, it will build up after time on the strop. The clean the muck of your strop you can scrape it off or sand it down. This will give let your blade make more contact with the leather and compound in future uses.
When you think the leather is no longer taking the compound and the surface is not flat, it is best to sand down the unevenness with a 80-120 grit sand paper.
One of the finest tools in the arsenal of a straight razor owner is the strop. It keeps your money in your pocket and your blade always keeps yours blade in top shape. Why is stropping so important? Well, the truth is a dull blade can cause more damage and irritation to the skin and make shaving a much more difficult task.