How To Strop A Straight Razor
Updated: May 27, 2018
Stropping a razor is a fine art developed by repeated practice. The aim in stropping is to smooth and shape the razor’s edge into a keen cutting implement. After being honed, the razor seldom needs any stropping on the canvas. Instead, the honed razor is stropped directly over the surface of the leather strop. The time to use the canvas strop is when the razor develops a worn edge from continued use. The effect of the canvas strop is similar to mild honing.
THE TECHNIQUE OF STROPPING
Hold the end of the strop firmly in the left hand so it cannot sag. Hold it close to the side, and as high as it is comfortable. Take razor in right hand, well up in the hand. Hold the razor so that the first finger is on the shank, the second finger is on the handle and the thumb rests slightly on both parts. At the same time, the first finger of the right hand rests at the edge of the strop. Turning the razor. Place the razor on the strop, turning it with fingers and thumb. Practice the turning action until it is mastered.
In stropping the razor, use a long diagonal stroke with even pressure from the heel to the point.
Note: The direction of the razor in stropping is the reverse of that used in honing.
Start the stroke at the top edge of the strop closest to the swivel
Draw the razor perfectly flat, with back leading, straight over the surface of strop. Bear just heavy enough on the strop to feel the razor draw. Do not worry about speed. This will come with continued practice.
When the first stroke is completed, turn the razor on the back of the blade by rolling it in the fingers without turning the hand. Now draw the razor away from you, towards the swivel, thus completing the second stroke in stropping.
Final testing of razor on moistened tip of thumb prior to shaving
Touch the razor edge lightly and note the reaction. A dull edge produces no drawing feeling. A razor that has the proper cutting edge tends to stick to the thumb and will not slide along it.
If the razor edge produces a rough, disagreeable sound upon testing, it indicates that the cutting edge is still coarse. To correct this condition, additional finishing on the leather strop is necessary. Should the razor edge yield a smooth feeling upon testing, finish it again on the canvas strop, followed by a few more strokes on the leather strop.
Care of strops
A leather strop becomes better or worse according to the care it is given. Do not fold a strop, but keep it suspended, attached to a swivel, or laid flat. When a leather strop appears rough, it needs a hand finish to make it smooth. Various types of strop dressings are available for the purpose of cleaning and conditioning the leather side of the strop. A canvas strop needs a daily hand finish to keep it in good condition. Accumulated grit is removed from a canvas strop by rubbing it with lather. To remove imbedded dirt from a leather strop, the leather strop is softened with lather and then rubbed with a pumice stone. After drying the strop is again rubbed with a dry pumice stone until smooth. After cleaning and drying a fresh application of strop dressing is applied to maintain the supple nature of the leather.
The above information has been taken from the Standard Textbook of Professional Barber-Styling. Copyright 1938, 54, 59, 77, 83, Milady Publishing Company, Tarrytown, NY. To protect the publisher’s copyright the information above is a paraphrased version of the actual text.