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How often to strop?

Today was my first shave with a straight. It was far more successful than I expected. Apart from a light finish ATG pass with a Gillette New, I did the whole shave with a square point from whippeddog.

Now I always had the impression that a straight needed to be stropped after/before each shave, but I just watched a geofatboy video in which he recommends stropping about every five shaves or when the razor feels like it is tugging.

So I am here to canvas opinions. I have a fairly heavy beard if that makes any difference.

Thanks in advance.
 

David

B&B’s Champion Corn Shucker
I've not seen his videos but I'm surprised he said that.
I strop before every shave. Some guys like to strop after...that's fine too.
If you're on a trip or something and packing light I can see going a couple shaves without stropping. Not saying it can't be done, but I think you'll find the shaves are much better after a good stropping. Plus it's fun. :thumbup1:
And congrats on your first straight shave!
 
I agree with David. Before every shave is the way to go. I also strop after every shave. I think that is probably more about razor and edge maintenance, but prior to each shave is all about shaving performance.
 
Over the past four years, I've moved towards less and less stropping. For the past year or so, it's only been after the shave. ~5-10 light laps on cotton/linen (mostly to dry the edge, remove debris), followed by ~30 laps leather with a little pressure (slick horse shell likes this). Recently, I saw a video where an alleged honing guru only advocates using ~10 laps leather, once in a while.

Current trend on the forums seems to be for a lot of stropping. Starting out, it might be worthwhile to try a less is more approach, especially as one risks to roll the edge at this stage. For example, whatever your base recommendation might be, you might try halving that or even quartering it prior to the first pass. Then strop it again like this prior to the second pass and see if this helps or hurts things.
 

David

B&B’s Champion Corn Shucker
Alum, I think you could be right. Strop count is something I've never really tested/studied. I started out doing 40/60 linen leather then backed that off to 30/60 and just settled there. I think I could get by with less, it's just a part of the hobby that I enjoy so I've stuck with it.
10 laps every once and a while......not for me.
 
Others will say that it is all about the sound and the feel, and I don't doubt it, although I still don't have such a gift. Lessened or increased strop count may also have to do with how low or high on the stone feeding chain we've reached, relatively speaking. For example, I've successfully shaved off a 1k/6k JIS synth combo stone, but that entailed a lot of linen/leather laps afterwards to create what was effectively a secondary (rounded) bevel. Off some of the more esoteric finishing stones, a less-is-more approach may be needed. As I recall, the guy advocating just 10 laps, once in a while, was finishing on a "30k" Shapton, or something like that.
 
If you are coticule crazy (like me) I think plenty of laps coming off the stones is a good idea. I look at my first trip to the linen after honing as more a continuation of honing. After that it doesn't take nearly as much to maintain that edge, but I am a strop hog. I usually give it about 40 linen 40 leather after a shave and then 60 leather preshave. I have ZERO evidence that this is good bad or otherwise. I like to strop, my edges stay in good shape so I have at it.
 

David

B&B’s Champion Corn Shucker
I looked around for a couple minutes and saw a video of his where he said 8-10 laps on paste when the razor is tugging. After stropping on Chrox he (without wiping the blade) goes to clean cotton then leather. Is this the video we're talking about?
I don't consider this guy a guru....he's more of a salesman, like Mike the knife guy. Good times.
 
I looked around for a couple minutes and saw a video of his where he said 8-10 laps on paste when the razor is tugging. After stropping on Chrox he (without wiping the blade) goes to clean cotton then leather. Is this the video we're talking about?
I don't consider this guy a guru....he's more of a salesman, like Mike the knife guy. Good times.

You got that right. That is not a path I would follow at all, but whatever works for you works for you. That sounds like a ruined cotton strop in short order. I am not much of a fan of cotton strops to begin with except to paste up and use on knives. I am a real flax linen guy.
 
I looked around for a couple minutes and saw a video of his where he said 8-10 laps on paste when the razor is tugging. After stropping on Chrox he (without wiping the blade) goes to clean cotton then leather. Is this the video we're talking about?
I don't consider this guy a guru....he's more of a salesman, like Mike the knife guy. Good times.

Yes, I think we're talking about the same guy, "an alleged guru" as written by me. Still, I found his comments interesting, as I have been using 5-10/30 lap counts and wondering about cutting this down even further. One thing I noticed about his stropping was that he lifts the blade off the leather prior to the stroke; then the blade is sort of set down running for the pass. He tends to be dismissed here, and I don't follow his method, but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt for now.

When I started out here, a general recommendation seemed to be 40 laps linen followed by 60 laps leather before shaving, then 20 laps linen followed by 30 laps leather after shaving. Given that I was holding the shank improperly and nicking my strop's edge on occasion, I was probably rolling the edge too and doing more damage than good with all that stropping. So what I am suggesting for a beginner is that the strop count be lessened from the start. Try something like 5 laps linen to 15 laps leather before the first pass and see how it goes. Then another 5 laps linen to 15 laps leather before the second pass to see if there's an improvement. And finally, another 5 laps linen to 15 laps leather after shaving, more or less to remove debris from the edge and dry it. If one repeats that cycle, one arrives at 15 lap linen to 45 lap leather count in total, which seems moderate--i.e., it then could be expanded or contracted as needed.

Lot of variables, like stropping surface area, pressure, sag, and how the shank is gripped with the thumb and forefinger, and each person hopefully arrives at the method that works for him. But I think that that alleged honing guru had a point when he said that all those high lap counts that are advocated on the forums risk to round the edge, if not create a rounded bevel.
 
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I have been trending toward more stropping, not less. I started with just 50 leather before shaving.
Now I do 25 linen, followed by 50 leather before and 50 linen, followed by 25 leather after. I
 
I strop every single shave, before or after, whichever I have the time for. More often than not I strop after the shave as it also helps to remove any excess moisture from the blade before putting it back in the rack. Generally I do either a 35/70 Canvas/Leather or a 40/80 Canvas/Leather depending on the razor and how many shaves I have since touching up the edge. The further I get from the touch up honing the more laps I may have to do as I have a very thick and rough growth on my face and that can take a toll on the edge fairly quick sometimes.
 
I do a pre and post stropping, no much just a quick 20/40 on linen/leather for a pre shave and 10/20 post and that seems to work, the pre stropping ensures the blade has any issues on the edge from storage addressed and the post stropping dries off the micro droplets of water and addresses the blade.
 
I have been straight razor shaving for about 5-10 years. I usually stropped about 20 times on leather before the shave. So many people have said 50-100 on linen and leather. Some before and after the shave. After trying it and seeing no appreciable difference I decided to ask the manufacturers. Both Dovo and Theirs- issard said every couple of shaves with ten laps is sufficient. It seems to work for me. But, my beard hair is not the thickest.
 
“Both Dovo and Theirs- issard said every couple of shaves with ten laps is sufficient. It seems to work for me. But, my beard hair is not the thickest.”

And that is the problem, no two of us are using the exact same razor, honed the same way, stropping on the same linen and leather strops with the same technique, pressure and doing the same number of laps.

To say nothing about shave prep, soap, skin and beard type and shaving technique.

Stropping is your last chance to polish the bevels and create the most pristine and keen shaving edge, before you put the edge to your face.

Generally, you should strop on Clean Linen post shaving to dry and clean the bevels and edge, remove water, soap, skin and blood and polish the bevel and edge, and again prior to stropping on your pristine leather and impart the final finish, just prior to shaving.

If the razor is properly honed, and proper stropping technique is used, stropping can keep you shaving for a long time. You do need to perfect your technique then develop a stropping technique/routine that works for you and master it.

The quality and cleanliness of your strops will affect the quality of the edges they can produce. Buy a quality strop, if new, preferably from a maker that sells replacement strops, should they become damaged. You can buy a quality strop for about $50.

Stropping is way, way under rated.
 
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once every few shaves but i use a different method at the end of each shave to be sure the blade is clean and dry. where stropping on the cloth strop at the end would do that
 
Well for starters. I stope it to the East. Then I strope it to the West. Then I stope it with the woman that I love the best. We be stroping.

Clarence George Carter 1986
 
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