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My Stropping Technique!

I have been straight shaving for just over 2 years and have just done my double century in straight shaves (200). Started out with the usual cheap strops and now have a nice Parker strop which seems to do the job ok.

I have found that over the first 150 odd shaves I needed to do around 120 laps to get the edge working again after each shave. I was always a bit puzzled by this as the general consensus is that 60 laps does the job. I have tried 110, 100 and 90 but wasn't getting a very good shave at all - so I went back to 120. Also I don't seem to be getting much mileage out of the edges as after about 10 shaves, it needed a refresh.

I have since adjusted my technique - after watching a couple of You-Tube videos they seemed to emphasise that you need to generate a bit of friction and speed to help restore the edge. Gave it a go and now getting much better shaves and the edges are noticeably pinging hairs in the tree topping and hanging hairs. However, the biggest thing I have noticed over the last 50 shaves is that I am nicking the hell out of my strop. At both ends where the razor flips over. It's getting pretty bad too and it's time I started thinking about buying another strop. The nicks are a clue that something has changed with my technique.

However, it looks like I still have a way to go. Need to get my edges restored without damaging the strop.

The main trouble with a lot of the Youtube videos is that they go up and down the strop at a million miles per hour and you have no real idea of what they are doing. Like a lot of other areas of wet shaving, you listen to all the conflicting advice then pretty much work it out for yourself.

I agree, we ultimately work it out for ourselves. The forum is full of great tips and info that work for others, then I distill that down to what works for me. My stropping has evolved over time. I’m actually slowing down a bit, as my coordination and timing were deteriorating towards the end of the session of about 60 laps. I do 40-50, close attention to strop tension and razor pressure, steady relaxed pace. The results are good and my concern about damaging the strop are taken care of now.
Everyone differs in how the hold and move things, and ultimately you need to figure out what works for you.

That said, what helped me was to practice stropping while keeping the edge just above the leather (without letting the edge touch), starting off slow and gradually increasing the speed without losing control. Then I worked on gently lowering the edge onto the leather and playing with different levels of pressure.

A fun exercise is to alternate between 5 laps not letting the edge touch and 10 laps lowering the edge onto the leather. This exercise helped with turnarounds and controlling the amount of pressure. I also think that you want to lower the edge onto the leather with even pressure across the edge.
Also pay attention to how you are holding the blade. Body mechanics pays into technique which can increase the odds of nicking the strop at the end of your stroke.
I forgot to mention that for me a light bulb moment was understanding the importance of the spine maintaining constant contact with the material and learning to feel this via the above exercise.
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I feel you may be not moving when starting or ending/ doing the flip. Be sure when flipping to be headed the other dirrection with spine on leather then lower the edge to leather. The same when ending the lap. Pick the edge up before you get to the end by starting the flip. This should keep you from cutting the ends.
Speed/friction is good but no much is needed. Remember your not pushing down hard so friction is very minimal. Speed comes with time but its not important. Accuracy is.
With you stropping over 100 laps everytime you can make mistakes more and cause your edge to deteriate quicker so it dont last as long. This happens to all who are new to it. So work on stropping the best it can be done with much less laps. 20 or 30 is enough in my opinion to clean up an edge.
A refresh after 10 shaves sounds like you may be negatively impacting the edge. Less is more in this case: less pressure, less slack, and especially fewer laps. 120 is a lot. 10 accurate laps would be more effective than 120 inaccurate ones, so slowing down and really observing how the edge is making contact with the leather during the pass would be helpful, as HMS suggests above. How one grips the shank when stropping and how one turns the blade during the flip are also important.
I know 120 laps is a lot - and I seem to be the only one doing this, but I drop it below 100, the razor just doesn't shave very well at all. I have tried to cut back but always end up at 120. Seems to be the go. I would actually love to see someone who knows what they are doing and have a session - trouble is that Sydney is the arse end of the world, literally and there just isn't anyone about.
Thanks for all the advice btw - it's given me a few leads and things to try.


Girls call me Makaluod
I actually emailed Tony Miller - strops are good value but the postage from the US is robbery - it's more than the strop.
I was lucky to have my TM strop shipped to Australia before the USPS decided to play games. Strop was USD 60 and postage was about the same. Not cheap but I thought it was worth it for the quantity.

An interesting side note is that I can post a strop to Tony from Australia for about USD 20. USPS must have a much higher quality postal service as they charge three times as much.
A good SR edge should only need to go to stones every 6-8 months if properly stropped between shaves. I am a daily SR shaver using RA razor, maybe their steel holds an edge better than most? 10 laps post shave, next day 20 laps = 100% shave ready.


Girls call me Makaluod
Usable stropping length also comes into the number of laps you may need. My travel strop only has about 300mm (12") of usable stropping length so I generally increase the number of laps by about 50%.
Hi @Mouette. Take this with a grain of salt as I own my strop for less than 2 weeks now and have straight-razor shaved less than 25 times.

I came at stropping with a mentality to develop correct technique from the start. I don't know if the following is advisable or if any would agree; but here's what I do. I place the razor, blade up, about twice the distance from the "lip" so when the blade falls it's about a width away from the end. I start the razor moving in the direction the spine will lay before the blade touches the leather. I turn my hand as it's traveling. In this way, the blade only makes contact while swiping away from where it's pointing. I rationalized that if I keep this practice it won't be possible to nick my strop.

Of course, this newcomer; after sharpening a knife on a stone, blade leading; I decided it was time to shave with my new Dovo. You see where this is going... I hit the strop running--blade leading! At the very end/beginning of the strop I nicked a hole into the leather about the size of a zero on the date of a US dime (couple of mm). All that mentality about developing good practices and look what I did....

Thankfully the perfect circle I excavated into my leather is about 3/16" (+/- 3 mm) from the very end and I've learned to avoid it.

Out of college for the first time I taught 4th grade for about 10 years. When children learn to read they can develop two bad habits we've all seen. The first is "vocalizing," or moving the mouth silently while reading. The other is touching the page with a finger to track progress. As an educator I was taught to do my best to extinguish both of these habits so they're extinct by the time the youngster can read. If not--either will slow them down once they CAN read.

Not the greatest analogy but perhaps apt. I think if I engage in a practice the way others tell me to do it FROM THE VERY START, then moving forward there are no bad habits to break.

LOL I can hear the forum saying, "How'd that work for ya?" :lol1:

Other than the unrelated mishap (yeah, we'll call it that!) stropping is going pretty well. As I develop speed, I expect that I won't harm my strop. Speed will come, and I don't intentionally try to quicken my pace. After all, shaving is "me time" and stropping is a part of it.

Wish me luck!
Good luck :).

Trying stropping keeping the spine on the leather without letting the edge touch the leather. Then try lowering the edge onto the leather after the razors is moving - like you described above.

This helped me a lot!
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