Strop etiquette

Discussion in 'Strops/Stropping' started by steelwindmachine, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. I had read a really great article on stropping, but I lost it among the massive amounts of information I've been trying to absorb before wielding a straight. I am nearing my 50th DE shave, have Larry's Sight Unseen razor and Poor Man's strop kit, along with a shave ready Russian and AB Anderson straights. I've been waiting for a stress free moment to take any of them to my face.

    I haven't, but intend to practice stropping, but, I am curious to know the "why" behind stropping a freshly honed shave ready razor, if at all. I've had some people suggest to just shave with them right out of the drawer so I can readily develop a feel for what "shave ready" feels like before touching the blade to a strop.

    Also, do you strop after the shave and/or before the next shave, both? How do you know if you've done too little stropping or too much?
  2. professorchaos

    professorchaos Moderator Emeritus

    Smooth it out - it definitely improves the edge and can address what, if any, harshness remains from the honing process.
  3. Mike H

    Mike H Moderator Emeritus

    Some vendors like Whippeddog will say to use the razor he sends you without stropping for the first shave. This eliminates any variables caused by poor stropping. Larry will have honed and stropped the razor before sending it to you. After the first shave the razor will need to be stropped before the next shave.

    Stropping like Henry said, improves the edge. I strop about 20 laps on linen and 30 laps on plain leather after every shave, and 60 laps on plain leather before every shave.
  4. Price

    Price Steward Contributor

    I would hope that whoever honed your razor for you would have stropped it up as a final test, since he most likely would have given it a test shave, so I'd recommend not stropping first. That's simply because rolling the edge is a common faux pas for an inexperienced stropper, so you might ruin your edge and not even know it. You get lousy shaves, and never know why. Better to get the feel for what the edge should be before you take a chance on hosing it up.

    I strop before & after. Before to smooth the edge, and after to make sure there's no residual debris or moisture. I don't think there is such a thing as stropping "too much". I usually do 20 on buffed & 50 on smooth before I shave, but that will vary some depending on the razor. there is no hard & fast "right" answer, just go trial & error. Pick a number, then if your shave feels a little rough, add 5 or 10 laps next time. Eventually you'll find your comfort level.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012
  5. ouch

    ouch Moderator Contributor

    What Mike said.

    If not stropping a newbie's new blade is "conventional" wisdom, it's not because it's a superior methodology. It's because the newbie is likely to undo the previous work performed on the edge. A few bad strokes on the strop and the edge is no longer the one provided to you by the seller.

    Once you've mastered the basics, and certainly after or even during your first shave, you'll want to strop. Stropping is good. Should you strop after a shave or before the next one? I do both. An edge should be considered a living, breathing thing. It will change even if left alone, and the blade should be stropped before each shave and between passes.
  6. I appreciate the advice. It seems apparent that:

    1. As a newbie, I need to start my first straight shave without stropping so I can develop a sense of what a fresh edge feels like before I mess with it.

    2. After completing #1, when I start to feel the edge change it is likely time to strop, and,

    3. Strop a bit before and after each shave for several laps and feel how the blade reacts once I put it to face.

    Fortunately, I have 3 shave ready razors to learn on.

    Next thing I'm curious about is the hanging vs. paddle vs. bridge type strops...
  7. Kentos

    Kentos Moderator Emeritus

    Yes to all, except strop in between every subsequent shave after you first. Think of stropping as sharpness maintenance.
  8. Price

    Price Steward Contributor

    Really more a personal preference than anything else. I like long smooth strokes, so I prefer hanging strops. The commercially available paddle strops are relatively short (10-12" vs. 17-19" for a hanging strop). Plus, the wealth of choices available for hanging strops simply isn't there for paddles. Shorter strokes are a little less prone to error, though, and a paddle stays consistently flat on its own, so you may want to go that route to start. It's really whatever you feel most comfortable with.
  9. Laying the strop on a hard backing helps slow convexing the edge. This will eventually happen w/ a straight because we strop so much and the strop has some give to it. Prolonging this I think helps the straight cut better. So, when I see this happening I take it to the stone and shape it up (straighten the bevel). possum
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012
  10. hokahay

    hokahay Contributor

    I am still wet behind the ears, but I am a cronic googler and I came across this bit:

    "STROPPING TECHNIQUE: Strop only before shaving, after the edge could 'grow' for at least 24 hours, burt preferably 48 hours. If you strop the edge immediately after shaving, the misaligned microserrations behave as a burr, which will break off and penetrate the leather, which will turn into sandpaper"

    I don't know anything about any of this and I imagine that at some point it's just splitting hairs. Is this something to worry about?
  11. I'm not so sure the metal grows while the razor is sitting on a shelf. Plastic deformation or movement. Also, we don't had the author here telling us what he meant in his statements. Possum
  12. I thought this had been debunked in the past...

    I used one razor for about 6 months before I bought my second of what would be many straight razors with no problem.

    Barbers use to use one razor on multiple customers a day without issue also.

  13. I'm relatively new at this myself and stropping proved a steeper learning curve for me than shaving. I dulled my razor a couple times to the point where it was unusable and I needed the balsa to bring it back. I found that laying my poor man strop on the edge of a table or dresser helped a great deal for the first five or six weeks. So you can get a bit of the feel of a paddle strop that way.

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