What's new
  • Guest
    As per our long standing policy of not permitting medical advice on the forum - all threads concerning the Coronavirus will be locked.
    For more info on the coronavirus please see the link below:
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

How To Use a Pasted Balsa Strop

Here is my standard after-shave routine using a 0.1um diamond pasted balsa strop:
  1. Wipe clean and dry razor
  2. 10 x regular light laps on hanging stop
  3. 4 x short X laps, two left to right and two right to left
  4. Repeat steps 2 & 3
  5. End-for-end the balsa strop
  6. Repeat steps 2 & 3
  7. Repeat steps 2 & 3 again
  8. Wipe blade clean (I use a piece of moist chamois)
One of my SR's is very hard, coming in at about 68 RHC. With that blade, I increase the laps in step 2 to 15 laps. All my other blades have a hardness in the 59 to 63 RHC range.

I still strop on hanging clean leather before each shave. Generally about 50 to 60 very light laps.

This method keeps my edges at perfection, and dare I say they still actually improve with use?
 
My Titan ACRO measured 67.7 RBC. Have never experienced anything like it. Not easy to hone (in fact very hard) but once there, holds a wicked edge. I only have one and may have just been lucky to get this result.

IMG_20200505_133207.jpg
Not cheap at about USD 70. They have other ACRO blades for cheaper but not as hard.
 
67.7 RBC = 67.7 RHC
I have a couple of Thiers Issard Carbonsong steel blades. While not as hard as your razor, I have noted the same thing as you have: they are difficult to hone, but hold their edge longer than softer blades. Thus, in the long run, the honing effort is similar.
 
Can anyone please enlighten me on where to buy diamond paste/compound 0.1um in the EU? :mad3: :confused1
Edit> or on any Chinese website, I can only find up to 0.25 on pastes sold on AlieXpress.
 
Mostly I have Kent, but they don't do .1u and I think my big syringe of .1u is from techdiamondtools and I think I have some from Ted Pella. I am in the .U.S. though.

I like the Kent because it is in 20g mini-tubs instead of syringes. And very economical, FWIW. Kent has a presence on Amazon.com. A tub is about $13.80 or thereabouts and that much will last a lifetime. If Amazon shipping is too high you might reach out directly to www.kentsupplies.com and see what you can work out on a package deal, all the grits you might ever use, in one shipment. They don't have .1u so you will still needd to source that. The .1u is very important as it mellows out the harshness of the .5u and .25u grits.
 
@macintoshBR @Slash McCoy
Thanks!

techdiamondtools sells the 0.1 on Amazon at $25 delivered and THK has the best prices at $7 shipped for a big tub, but hasn't got the 0.1 in catalogue.
I sent them a message, let's see if they can source it.
 
@Slash McCoy and @rbscebu - guys, this will probably sound dumb, but forgive me, as I really don't know much about this. So, my first ever SR should be arriving in about 2 weeks or so time. It's an artisan piece, from a small Austrian shop, called Koraat Knives. It has a "near wedge" blade with a very gentle smile. It's grinded on 200 wheels and it's not a true wedge, it's concave, just not very hollow.

So, this comes truly shave-ready, Koraat is known for custom honing each piece for his customers. When I asked the owner (a guy called Urlik) what stone should I use to touch-up the razor, to keep it sharp, he said a 3K/10K Naniwa wet stone.

I wasn't able to find such a stone online and so I'd instead get a 4K/8K combo Norton + 12K Naniwa stones.

Now - a question to you guys - where this balsa thingy and diamond paste comes into play? Is this smth. you guys do after the 12K Naniwa? After each shave? Or before each shave?

Can I use a linen strop with diamond paste INSTEAD of balsa? If so, do I NEED to do all 3 pastes - .5, .25 and .1 or can I just go straight for the finest .1 right after the 12K stone?
 
@Slash McCoy and @rbscebu - guys, this will probably sound dumb, but forgive me, as I really don't know much about this. So, my first ever SR should be arriving in about 2 weeks or so time. It's an artisan piece, from a small Austrian shop, called Koraat Knives. It has a "near wedge" blade with a very gentle smile. It's grinded on 200 wheels and it's not a true wedge, it's concave, just not very hollow.

So, this comes truly shave-ready, Koraat is known for custom honing each piece for his customers. When I asked the owner (a guy called Urlik) what stone should I use to touch-up the razor, to keep it sharp, he said a 3K/10K Naniwa wet stone.

I wasn't able to find such a stone online and so I'd instead get a 4K/8K combo Norton + 12K Naniwa stones.

Now - a question to you guys - where this balsa thingy and diamond paste comes into play? Is this smth. you guys do after the 12K Naniwa? After each shave? Or before each shave?

Can I use a linen strop with diamond paste INSTEAD of balsa? If so, do I NEED to do all 3 pastes - .5, .25 and .1 or can I just go straight for the finest .1 right after the 12K stone?
Here is my take, Mr McCoy may have different advice.

I am not a fan of pasted linen (or leather) stropping. My feeling is that it tends to make the bevel surfaces a little convex where I prefer them to be as flat as possible. This convexity my not be a problem for some with SR's having a more acute bevel angle.

Assuming that the blade's edge is in perfect "shave-ready" condition when you receive it, it will only need 50 laps on a 0.1um diamond pasted hanging balsa strop after every use. You should still also give it 60 or so laps on a hanging clean leather strop before each shave.

If the edge is received in not quite perfectly shave-ready condition, then you will need to progress through the 0.5um, 0.25um and 0.1um diamond pasted balsa strops to get it there.

You should never need to use a whetstone on the razor unless it is received in not shave-ready condition or experiences some physical damage.

I have never received a SR that is shave-ready to my requirements, however I always pay less than USD 100 from my new SR's with most under USD 50. Some have only required balsa stropping while others also required a bit of honing and one required a LOT of honing.
 
Last edited:
@Slash McCoy and @rbscebu - guys, this will probably sound dumb, but forgive me, as I really don't know much about this. So, my first ever SR should be arriving in about 2 weeks or so time. It's an artisan piece, from a small Austrian shop, called Koraat Knives. It has a "near wedge" blade with a very gentle smile. It's grinded on 200 wheels and it's not a true wedge, it's concave, just not very hollow.

So, this comes truly shave-ready, Koraat is known for custom honing each piece for his customers. When I asked the owner (a guy called Urlik) what stone should I use to touch-up the razor, to keep it sharp, he said a 3K/10K Naniwa wet stone.

I wasn't able to find such a stone online and so I'd instead get a 4K/8K combo Norton + 12K Naniwa stones.

Now - a question to you guys - where this balsa thingy and diamond paste comes into play? Is this smth. you guys do after the 12K Naniwa? After each shave? Or before each shave?

Can I use a linen strop with diamond paste INSTEAD of balsa? If so, do I NEED to do all 3 pastes - .5, .25 and .1 or can I just go straight for the finest .1 right after the 12K stone?
If I may jump in, your Koraat won't be needing any type of honing for a VERY LONG time. Herr Ulrik does an impeccable job in honing. I own 3 of his razors (all full/extra hollows) and they shave like a dream. One of them has around 50 shaves under its belt without any touch on a stone.

I don't think you need the 4/8K Norton, only the 10K Naniwa (without the 3K) or a 12K Naniwa, plus the balsa strops. You may postpone the purchase of the Naniwa as you won't need it right now.

Make sure you get a good leather strop to use before every shave, except your very first one. If you are in the US check Tony Miller's Heirloom strop. In Europe I recommend Scrupleworks
 
Last edited:
Ok I got a question!
After each shave and the routine strops on the 0.1 diamond paste, isn't the edge dirty with invisible particles that may end up on the leather strop ?
 
Ok I got a question!
After each shave and the routine strops on the 0.1 diamond paste, isn't the edge dirty with invisible particles that may end up on the leather strop ?
Yes. After the 0.1um hanging balsa strop, I wipe my blade clean to remove any trace of diamond particles. Others may not but I'm getting a bit neurotic in my older age.

I also oil my blades after balsa stropping, not forgetting to wipe the oil off before clean leather stropping.
 
If I may jump in, your Koraat won't be needing any type of honing for a VERY LONG time. Herr Ulrik does an impeccable job in honing. I own 3 of his razors (all full/extra hollows) and they shave like a dream. One of them has around 50 shaves under its belt without any touch on a stone.

I don't think you need the 4/8K Norton, only the 10K Naniwa (without the 3K) or a 12K Naniwa, plus the balsa strops. You may postpone the purchase of the Naniwa as you won't need it right now.

Make sure you get a good leather strop to use before every shave, except your very first one. If you are in the US check Tony Miller's Heirloom strop. In Europe I recommend Scrupleworks
Thanks so much!! :)

I am as a matter of fact in EU, Budapest, Hungary to be precise and I was in touch with Tony Miller - great guy, but paying $60 for just shipping is smth. I refuse to do.

I should say, I'm a newbie to this SR thing and so I am not after an expensive strop. I'd like to get a "training" strop, a work horse that I won't lose sleep over, when I eventually nick it. A few months or maybe a year down the road, I'll be looking into "premium quality" strops, but for now I just want a piece of leather and linen I can practice on. I guess many in the price range of about €20-€30 can be had on Amazon.

BTW - I too have heard only the very best about Koraat, which is the reason I opted for it.

So, basically I should only get a 12K Naniwa and balsa strop(s). And so, I should use balsa strops after EVERY shave or just periodically?
 
@Slash McCoy and @rbscebu - guys, this will probably sound dumb, but forgive me, as I really don't know much about this. So, my first ever SR should be arriving in about 2 weeks or so time. It's an artisan piece, from a small Austrian shop, called Koraat Knives. It has a "near wedge" blade with a very gentle smile. It's grinded on 200 wheels and it's not a true wedge, it's concave, just not very hollow.

So, this comes truly shave-ready, Koraat is known for custom honing each piece for his customers. When I asked the owner (a guy called Urlik) what stone should I use to touch-up the razor, to keep it sharp, he said a 3K/10K Naniwa wet stone.

I wasn't able to find such a stone online and so I'd instead get a 4K/8K combo Norton + 12K Naniwa stones.

Now - a question to you guys - where this balsa thingy and diamond paste comes into play? Is this smth. you guys do after the 12K Naniwa? After each shave? Or before each shave?

Can I use a linen strop with diamond paste INSTEAD of balsa? If so, do I NEED to do all 3 pastes - .5, .25 and .1 or can I just go straight for the finest .1 right after the 12K stone?
Did you read this thread, from beginning to end? Your questions were answered several times. There is always someone asking if THIS or THAT will work just as good. I can only say "no". Because many things suggested or asked about have been tried and found to be wanting. Many others are logically not going to work. Many others are way out in left field. The thing is, The Method is proven to work and nobody has found a better way yet. So if you want the best possible edge, do it this way. If you want less than the best, do it another way. You CAN do it any way you like. Your razor. What kind of edge do you want? Sharp, or crazy insane sharp, or not so sharp? Smooth or harsh? Your choice.

The .1u is used after each shave, as explained in detail, in the thread. After honing, all three grades are used because you can't jump from 12k to 200k in one jump. So the .5u and .25u are there to bridge the gap to the .1u, which seems to fall into a sweet spot where sharpness is very near the greatest possible sharpness of a piece of steel, and yet feels smooth on the face. So all three stages are used after finishing on the 12k or on 1u film. Only the .1u stage is needed for daily post shave maintenance.

I suggest you go back through the thread because you will probably think of other questions, otherwise. Pretty much any you could realistically imagine, have already been asked and answered, and more. If reading the thread is too much effort, then doing it right will be too much effort as well.
 
So am I :facep:.. how do you wipe it , without risk of ruining the edge.
A sponge may be?
I use a piece of moist natural chamois and then let it air dry before oiling. I later wipe the oil off before leather stropping using a single sheet of soft toilet paper being very careful with the edge.

Come to think of it, that must by why there was panick buying. All the SR shaves were worried about running out of toilet paper.
 
Ok I got a question!
After each shave and the routine strops on the 0.1 diamond paste, isn't the edge dirty with invisible particles that may end up on the leather strop ?
Of course. Always wipe the razor good between stages and before stropping on clean leather. I just pull the blade through a folded wad of TP. An old tshirt works well for this, too.
 
Here is my take, Mr McCoy may have different advice.

I am not a fan of pasted linen (or leather) stropping. My feeling is that it tends to make the bevel surfaces a little convex where I prefer them to be as flat as possible. This convexity my not be a problem for some with SR's having a more acute bevel angle.

Assuming that the blade's edge is in perfect "shave-ready" condition when you receive it, it will only need 50 laps on a 0.1um diamond pasted hanging balsa strop after every use. You should still also give it 60 or so laps on a hanging clean leather strop before each shave.

If the edge is received in not quite perfectly shave-ready condition, then you will need to progress through the 0.5um, 0.25um and 0.1um diamond pasted balsa strops to get it there.

You should never need to use a whetstone on the razor unless it is received in not shave-ready condition or experiences some physical damage.

I have never received a SR that is shave-ready to my requirements, however I always pay less than USD 100 from my new SR's with most under USD 50. Some have only required balsa stropping while others also required a bit of honing and one required a LOT of honing.
Well - two things:

I have solicited opinion of several "gurus" on this forum and some other forums and the consensus seem to be that Koraat is the best blade money can buy and that the fellow who crafts them really makes them super sharp.

That said, I wouldn't know what a shave ready is, as I've never ever shaved with a SR in my life. If I'd have 5 SRs to test and decide which does the best job for me, I'm sure I'd be able to pick a favorite, but I don't. This Koraat baby is the very first SR I'll ever have, once it arrives.

So, that's why all these Qs...

I really appreciate your feedback, so let me ask you - I get that hanging strop might produce, as you say, a more convex edge, but is that necessarily a bad thing? Maybe some folks prefer it...? Somehow, I like the idea of stropping on a linen/cotton or leather more than a piece of wood. For starters I don't even know where would I find ready-made balsa strops other than in US and I'm not paying $90 to have them shipped over here. I'm not much of a DIY guy, so I wouldn't want to experiment making one myself...
 
Top