Could you strop a DE razor blade?

Weird I know, but I thought if you could put a sharp edge back on a straight razor, why couldn't you re-sharpen a DE razor blade with a strop? I could be possible, right? Just run the blade lightly over the leather strop to put a new edge on the razor blade. I know DE safety razor blades are supossed to be chucked after use, but if you could sharpen one DE blade edge a 100 times with a strop before chucking it out, imagin that would work out to a fraction of a cent for each shave, basicaly a box of 200 Derby's would last you a lifetime.
 
My grandfather used to have a piece of wood shaped like a cigar. The wood had a longitudinal slot in the end to hold the razor blade. He would hone and strop the blade before shaving. I have no idea how many times he did that, but I was impressed..
 
It certainly is possible and has been done; the sharpening devices I've seen – such as this one – seem to date to the first half of the last century. You're right, of course: The whole point of the safety razor, not least from a business point of view, was to use disposable blades; the blades were (and are) supposed to be so cheap that stropping them was not worth the trouble. However, people can't resist the idea that they're saving money, and hence, I imagine, these machines. Watch one in motion here. Whether they work, however, and whether anyone has used one recently, I can't say.
 
The early Gillette blades had 'No Stropping, No Honing ' printed on the paper wrappers. Meaning that it was not necessary. I have read in the Krumholz book that blades could be mailed back to the company for sharpening in the very early days. I have seen glass concave shaped safety razor blade hones for sale on ebay recently. I prefer buying Feathers by the hundred :wink:
 
My brother says he used to sharpen his with a drinking glass. Run it back and forth inside the glass, the curvature of the glass put a good edge on it. He swears he could use one blade for a year. My brother always was a cheap bastard. Might be a liar too, for all I know...
 

ouch

Moderator Emeritus
The problem with stropping is that the blade would have to lay flat on the leather. If you do that, the opposite edge of the blade would effectively be doing a leading edge stroke- right into your nice strop! Lifting the blade off the strop at an angle would only serve to round off the edge.
 
Hi;

There are curved glass blade sharpeners on eBay pretty frequently. The idea is that you wet the glass and put the blade on the inside of the curve and move it back and forth about a dozen times on each side. These may have been effective when blades were carbon steel, using one now would remove the coating on the edge of the blade and make it even less effective. Also, earlier blades were thicker than those now and would have probably been easier to sharpen and strop. The cost of blades make it not worthwhile to squeeze another shave out of a blade, even of one these things worked.

BobS
 
Glass razor blade hones and Twin-plex blade stroppers pop up on eBay all the time. They more or less worked somewhat with the old carbon steel blades of the era and could extend the life of the old blades.

They are regarded as unsuitable for honing of todays coated stainless steel blades which are cheaply acquired in bulk purchases.

My grandfather had one of the twin-plex blade stroppers that he used for decades. They produce a servicable edge on a carbon steel blade, but today the twin-plex's are little more than a curiosity. In their heyday, they were valuable in stretching out the service life of a razor blade --important during the depression of the 30's when costly blades could be reused, and during the war years where subsequent war-time shortages due to rationing led to reuse.

I doubt that they could put an edge that would be comparable to todays blades, and probably wouldn't do well stropping todays harder, gummy-ier stainless steels. This topic comes up from time to time; it's a nice bit of nostalgia that modern blade technology has left behind.

-- John Gehman
 

rtaylor61

Moderator Emeritus
Weird I know, but I thought if you could put a sharp edge back on a straight razor, why couldn't you re-sharpen a DE razor blade with a strop? I could be possible, right? Just run the blade lightly over the leather strop to put a new edge on the razor blade. I know DE safety razor blades are supossed to be chucked after use, but if you could sharpen one DE blade edge a 100 times with a strop before chucking it out, imagin that would work out to a fraction of a cent for each shave, basicaly a box of 200 Derby's would last you a lifetime.
First of all, stropping is not the same as sharpening. It is a re-aligning of the edge. Just think of the edge of a razor as having "teeth". When you shave, the whiskers, by virtue of their tensile strength, wreak havoc with the alignment of the teeth, splaying them out in different directions, much like your shaving brush after applying lather. Stropping puts things back in order.

The big question is why would you worry about saving .25 cents when you are using the savings to shave your face? I just don't see it worth it.

Randy
 
you'll save less than twenty dollars in two years. just turn the lights off when you leave the room and you can achieve the same thing far easier and have the benefit of fresh blades!!
 
Here's a link to a site with about a million different stops for safety razor blades. The guy who put up this site is a collector. Take a minute and take a look at his collection.

I suspect that if one started using one of these, it might very well prove to be addictive. Something else to start collecting.

http://user.tninet.se/~uqv930t/engindex.html
 
Stropping did work with the old carbon steel DE blades. The metal in today's DE blades is different and doesn't respond as well to stropping.
 
Hi - I have a couple of devices for stropping DE blades and they do indeed work. You can see one on my ebay shop at the moment - I tried it out and - surprise! it did put the edge back on an old DE blade. The other one I have is like twin set of rollers as pictured by the previous reply. :c6:
 
No. I have even tried sharpening a razor blade on a red Alabama sharpening stone to no avail. The factory makes them as sharp as they practically can (or dare to) and once they are done they should be disposed of properly. The price of a good DE blade is so low one should not hesitate to replace a dull blade.

There is "hand-stropping," which is where you used to strop a new blade gently against the palm of your hand. It did not really sharpen the blade, but removed any metal shavings that may have clung to the edge of a new blade. It is no longer recommended by blade manufacturers. If you wish to try it, please research how it was done, as I do not wish for anyone to slash their palm open trying to figure it out. There is a good YouTube video on it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ogq4wfpT7hc
 
Last edited:
Wow! Old thread but I sometimes strop my Astra against by fourarm. Don't think my blades last longer but I belive the finest "gunk" won't come off with just hot water rince.
 
I've got a DE honer that came with Great Grandpap's Big Fellow and as been noted in earlier posts no good on modern blades for the same reason folks are discouraged from considering stainless steel straight razors,they will not take a honing once dull(in the case of straights they will never be as good).
My honer sees action if I happen to be working with NOS vintage carbon or surgical steel blades and that's mainly due to my whiskers eat CS/SS blades like candy and the only way to get a a vintage blade to make the minimum 3-4 days I get with a modern blade is to hone the blade after day 2.
 
Stropping did work with the old carbon steel DE blades. The metal in today's DE blades is different and doesn't respond as well to stropping.
+1 ... not only that, but modern blades have coatings like Platinum, Titanium, Ceramic, etc. You wouldn't be able to replace these at home.
 
Top