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New to straights and stropping

So I shaved for the second time today with my straight. It’s a Dovo Bismarck from TSS, honed by Jarrod. I tried stropping for the first time today. Using a double sided 3”strop. It was a bit more of a disaster than I thought it was going to be. To start, the tang of the blade is, at least for me, quite thick which made it difficult to rotate, so even stropping slow proved difficult. I knicked the strop twice and put two small slices in it, more towards the end. I even dropped the blade once while trying to strop again after I shaved... 😣😤. (It appears ok, it hit the scales first 😒) The shave prices to be bitter sweet. It felt less sharp than the first time, like it was gripping and catching on my hair. BUT I do have just as close a shave and with significantly less razor burn than last time. So I guess my question is two fold... is there a different way of holding and stropping instead of rotating on the tang, and how much downward pressure is sufficient? I assume there’s a point where too much is no good. I feel like I heard the strop “sing” as the day when I rotated the tang and then had the tang slightly off the leather, which I think is no good, but then again I may have been mistaken because the tang is beveled. Maybe it was down on the leather. Any info and help is always appreciated!
We’ve probably all been there. You have to roll the tang between your thumb and index finger. It’s awkward at first. You don’t have to be fast, certainly not at first.

Just go real slow at first, concentrating on keeping the spine on the strop at all times. Stop at the end of each stroke and flip the blade over, keeping the spine on the strop. Repeat, repeat, and repeat.

Speed will come. Just concentrate on maintaining the edge at first.

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What about pressure? Do you need to push down on the strop much or just ride it along gently but firmly?
What about pressure? Do you need to push down on the strop much or just ride it along gently but firmly?
I do it basically until I hear an audible. Too hard and you’ll roll the edge and then back to the stones.

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Use very little pressure if any. I use the weight of the blade. Maybe a little more.

Try using a butter knife to practice. The tang will be different but the roll is similar. You can practice with the butter knife on a piece of wood if you do not want to use your strop.
Great, hopefully I didn’t screw it up already. I will try the butter knife ideas first. The back side of my strop is nylon so I can give it a whirl on that. Thanks to both of you.
What about pressure? Do you need to push down on the strop much or just ride it along gently but firmly?
The pressure amount should be as light as you can be but have control. Basically as you lay the blade on the strop the only pressure you should exert on the strop should be the weight of the blade and you move your hand perpendicular to the strop. It takes a little getting used to it, but the lighter you are the strop works some magic on the edge and really polishes the edge. The only thing to remember is not to ride the edge along the strop or else you could wreck the edge and have to rehone it. Speed does nothing here, its all about the pressure.

Your starting with a thumb notched razor can be a little more difficult to get the hang of rolling.


Think of rolling a pencil between your fingers. Do not flip your wrist. In fact stropping a pencil with faceted sides can help develop the motion.

Keep your elbow up parallel or above the strop.

Focus on the stroke first with little pressure and not the flip. Do your first upward stroke, lift the edge off the strop, stop, roll the razor on the spine to the other side, complete your downward stroke, etc. After a while it will become a smooth motion where you don’t have to stop. Speed is not important at all at this point.

Good luck. If the nicks on your strop are interfering just look up nick repair on the forum.

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Welcome to the forum. You've come to the right place for help. I couldn't have gotten anywhere without the information I've found here.

That being said...I think I was more intimidated by stropping than honing. It seemed awkward to me. Didn't know the "tells" of my strop. Within 6 months I could distinguish bad stokes and when it was finished by feel and sound. It came to me a lot faster than I had thought it would. Nothing works better than practice. Whether it's stropping, honing or shaving.
Just takes practice. I find the Dovo Bismarck and similar razors to be a delight to strop, hone, or shave with. Stabilizers irritate my sensibilities and make me want to kick cats or make scary faces at babies. A nice swoopy thumbnotched blade puts a smile on my face, joy in my heart, and love for everyone and everything around me. Seriously, it is a very good design. You will grow accustomed to it.

At the end of the stroke, try just stopping. Flip the edge up and over while keeping the spine on the strop, deliberately and slowly. Then deliberately place the razor in motion and make the return stroke. Separate the motions and concentrate on what you are doing. After a few days start letting it all come together into a fluid process, but keep the speed down. Take your time. You will get it.

If the nicks are at the edge of the strop, a simple remedy is to swap ends, once you stop making new ones, of course. That's why my strops are the same on both ends, a simple D ring, no handles or swivels. But you can also disassemble msot strops, and end for end the leather and reassemble. Thats one of the nice things about a wide strop.
Thanks all, I gave it another whirl, and i think I was definitely putting too much downward pressure. I slowed, eased up, and did the stop-flip and it already feels much better.

Chan Eil Whiskers

Fumbling about.
I'm not claiming to have any expertise beyond my experience but I use sometimes a good bit of pressure. I'm not saying you should, but it works for me.


Here's a post with my thoughts on stropping (which are worth very little to anyone but me). Thankfully the post also contains significant assembled information which should be of value to you.

There's no rush with stropping and no rush to get it right. I'd say the main thing is avoiding haste. In stropping the old adage - haste makes waste - is certainly true. Too many stropping videos are guys going for land speed records.

Happy shaves,

On the subject of rolled edges, how can you tell if you've rolled the edge? Any visible cue or will it just feel dull during a shave?
I don’t know that I’ve experienced it. It sounds like you would need a magnifying glass to see it. It would definitely be dull. I’m thinking it might pull and abraid as well.

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