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Pre-shave Stropping - Always Leather & Linen or Not?

OK, so I will be trying a straight razor soon for the first time. I've used a shavette before. I've watched lots of videos, and they pretty much agree that one should strop prior to shaving. But the how-to videos always show people stropping not only on the leather but also on the linen/canvas with the chromium oxide or paste on it. So is that done every time pre-shave? Or do you just strop on the leather each time, and then strop also on the goobered up cloth strop when the blade starts to tug, or?
 
Don't bother with any pastes to begin with. Leave everything clean.
I use leather mostly every time till the edge is just not getting back to where it should be, then, I will use the linen for 10-15 strokes followed by leather again, repeat till neither works, rehone/touchup.
 
Thank you. I was wondering. I didn't think the chromium oxide/paste would be done every time. That didn't make sense to me, but since I'm new to the straight razor, I wanted to ask to verify.
 
I strop after the shave for the most part as it helps to remove any standing debris on the blade and in the the drying process. I strop on leather from shave to shave, and a few passes on linen when the edge starts falling off, as mentioned above, followed by leather. When the linen no longer does the trick at bringing back the edge, I move to either a pasted strop (red and black Solingen pastes on leather) or a fine finishing stone (Welsh or Vermont slate or Lune stone).

If you are receiving your first straight as "shave ready" from a reputable source, I would forgo stropping it yourself before shaving for the first time, to better know what the edge is like as received. Then begin your own stropping before the second shave.
 
If you are receiving your first straight as "shave ready" from a reputable source, I would forgo stropping it yourself before shaving for the first time, to better know what the edge is like as received. Then begin your own stropping before the second shave.
I bought from Razor Emporium. In their videos, they say their razors go out shave ready. Honestly, I don't know who's reputable and who's not for the "shave ready" claims.
 
I bought from Razor Emporium. In their videos, they say their razors go out shave ready. Honestly, I don't know who's reputable and who's not for the "shave ready" claims.
Frankly, you have nothing to lose in using it without stropping the first time; so I would still suggest that. The problem is that folks in starting out with a straight for the first time risk to diminish or even roll the edge in stropping prior to their first shave. The same holds true with subsequent shaves, but at least that first one should be coming from someone experienced at stropping. Good luck!
 
Consider using pasted balsa strops (diamond or CBN) rather than a pasted fabric or leather strop. I get good results and others report the same. I use 3x2x12" balsa with no backing.

 
I bought from Razor Emporium. In their videos, they say their razors go out shave ready. Honestly, I don't know who's reputable and who's not for the "shave ready" claims.
My very first straight was from Razor Emporium. Advertised as “shave ready”. Even though it was my very first straight razor shave, my immediate reaction was “it must be possible to do better than this!”. And on my first try honing a straight razor (I do have knife honing experience) I was able to improve the edge. Now I can do a lot better than that.

That said, I don’t know that stropping it will help. So suggest you try as is. Even if you’ve only used cartridges before, I’m sure you know what a dull razor feels like. If you are getting resistance/tugging on WTG passes, the edge needs help.
 
I’ll start with linen sometimes pre-shaving but only because it’s there. I’ll always hit up the linen post-shave though to really make sure the edge is dry, but again, only because it’s there. I can live without it.
 
My first shave ready straight was from Razor Emporium, as part of a kit that isn't on their site right now. A Gold Dollar 208 honed in house (scales replaced), a travel size set of Proraso white (IIRC, that's upstairs, but I'm not), and a small travel strop. That razor cut whiskers comfortably right out of the gate.

A couple of months later, I bought a Ralf Aust straight from them, also marketed as "shave ready" as it comes from Ralf, but that one tugged my face like Velcro until I was able to get a hone under it. I bought a BBW straight from Ardennes Coticule, but I will be buying more stones from Griffith Shaving Goods soon. Matt is great to work with, and he has a bunch of interesting project sets of straight razors available.

I even contacted Razor Emporium about my experience with the Ralf Aust, and they told me that they have shaved with razors right out of the box and had no issues with them "unlike with Dovo and TI, which always need some touchup first."

Anyway, I would definitely say that the Razor Emporium Gold Dollar 208 that they tune before sale is definitely shave-ready and will give you good results immediately, even before stropping. As for anything else from them? I reserve judgement. But I also am very comfortable with a sharpening stone and some steel and like to keep my blades sharp myself.
 
Well, I tried my two new razors today. I started on the right side with the restored "vintage" Mappin & Webb. Definitely not a hot knife through butter. Didn't cut well at all. So I pulled out the new Ralf Aust and used it on the other side. Much better, but not the razor sharp I'm used to with safety razors or the shavette (which is really a Weck hair shaper). I used the Weck on the front (for comparison) and then finished up with my safety razor.

The Aust could probably simply need a good stropping. I think the Mappin needs more than that. I didn't strop to begin with to know what they were like "as-is" from the store. Another reason I didn't strop is because the strop I bought has a defect in the linen side, and from what I gather, it's easy to damage the edge of a straight razor. I want to exchange it, but I haven't heard back from them yet about doing so. So my stropping will have to wait for me to send this back and get the replacement.
 

RumpleBearskin

Contributor
My $0.02 ...

I strop fabric and then leather after cleaning the razor after the shave. The fabric is basically to clean the edge since I don't "wipe" the edge itself.

I strop leather only before the shave, no fabric.

No pastes on any of my strops. Though, I have used diamond pasted balsa strops extensively over the past couple of years.
 
No pastes on any of my strops. Though, I have used diamond pasted balsa strops extensively over the past couple of years.
So do you still use the pasted balsa? Why not on the cloth strop? Just curious. Right now all I know is from what I've watched in videos. No straight razor experience.
 

RumpleBearskin

Contributor
So do you still use the pasted balsa?
Not currently. About 6 months ago I decided I wanted to hone more so I stopped the "Daily Maintenance" use of the pasted balsa. Six months later and I'm still waiting for one of my razors to need a touch up... But then I do trustee through about 40 of them so it will take a while.

Why not on the cloth strop?
Two reasons.

First I've never found a need for anything on cloth. As I said previously, I use it to ensure a clean, dry edge before stropping on clean leather.

Second, the Diamond Pasted Balsa is the final component of a honing/maintenance method called "The Method". If the directions are followed *to the letter* it produces a crazy sharp edge and keeps it that was forever. The diamond pastes on balsa allow the diamond particles to be partially embedded in the soft wood to produce higher effective grits than the actual pastes. And, once you paste leather or cloth you can never "unpaste" it. The balsa can be lapped clean if desired.

"The Method" has several threads in the Honing sub-forum. And I assure you, it works.
 
So do you still use the pasted balsa? Why not on the cloth strop? Just curious. Right now all I know is from what I've watched in videos. No straight razor experience.
Just make sure you are pulling on that pasted linen real tight if you decide to go that a way. It'll convexify your bevel in a heart beat depending on how much abrasives you put on it.

Balsa has less problem, but not zero (balsa is still flexible).
Balsa being slightly flexible is actually one of its advantages to stone.
With stone, if a portion of your edge is 0.1 micron off the stone, you aren't doing anything.
Absolutely zilch. You are just moving some water molecules.
But since balsa can flex, it can make contact with the edge and compensate for some edge deformities.
For newbies, it can solve a lot of problems.
 
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