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Hamon Pere Stropping Compounds

I bought a box of these on a flea market for a few quid. No complaints about the price then! They come in attractive little boxes, like a matchbox, with a waxed paper wrapper, each one individually labelled. It looks very old fasioned, I like it!

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It has kept in perfect condition, however old, perhaps due to the "formulation antiseptique". This, along with the fact that a stick of compounds lasts for ages, is why I gave it 10 for durability. Smells like crayons though...

The red paste "Composition Zeolithe" (No. 1) is intended, as far as my wife can translate the french, to level the blade of the razor- to set the bevel I assume. It is to be applied to the wooden side of the strop. For this purpose I made a paddle strop with leather on only one side, from a thick piece of Yew wood (which seems to have no risk of ever warping):

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It doesn't stick very well to the wood, so perhaps I should have used a softer wood like balsa. Or maybe poke tiny dents in it with an awl, then reapply the paste. It gives the impression of being a very coarse grit, 2K (japanese) at the finest. However, the razor comes off it capable of splitting hairs. I think it would take a long time to straighten out a really messed up bevel on this, the instructions say to use it only for 6 or 7 strokes, and then to strop well on the blue side. Perhaps it would work if the blade were only a wee bit ovalled from use on the leather side.

The blue side stuck to the leather really well:

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Stropping on this side for a while easily gets the edge shaving sharp, but does not produce a really smooth edge. I think the grit is around 5-6K, but will produce a shaving sharp edge much more easily than that grit waterstone would. I still feel that the edge could do with further smoothing out, but it is perfectly useable.

I think that this is intended to do the job of a hone, but be easier to use. I hink it's a bit of a compromise really- you can get a better edge from a coarse and fine waterstone with a bit of work, and teh aterstone will get a really abused razor working. Despite the really coarse paste, I don't think this stuff is up to much other than keeping a razor in working order for a while without needing a hone.

Perhaps this would be a handy thing to give to a beginner- if I could find a way of making the red paste stick to the wood, I might make up one if a friend shows an interest in using a straight. With a tuned up junk shop razor, and a homemade hanging strop, they could start having fun with a straight and keep going for a while before needing a hone, for very little expense. They would have to understand that eventually they will need to learn to use a hone though, as I feel this is an imperfect substitute. The only benefit is that you could use this drunk with your eyes shut, and get a shaving edge. Honing takes a little more skill and care, but gives more satisfactory results.
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