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Section 7 - 9, Abrasive Pasted Strops

Abrasive Pasted Strop
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Abrasive pasted strops are extremely effective means to getting and keeping your straight razor sharp, and most certainly are the easiest. While you can paste a hanging, or paddle strop, the ideal pasted strop is going to be in paddle form, as it is less apt to “give” and will be much flatter than a hanging stop pulled taught. Abrasive pastes come in a various materials/abrasive agents from diamond, to chrome oxide, red paste, green paste, black paste – the list goes on and on, but the common objective is to apply the pastes to a paddle strop to act as a “hone.” Once these abrasive pastes have been applied to the strop – they embed themselves into the strop (either balsawood or leather) and the simple act of stropping will actually remove metal, and polish the edge of your razor. Using a pasted paddle strop takes no special skill (unlike honing) and has very little to no learning curve associated with it. Pasted paddle strops are also one of the more cost effective means of keeping your razor scary sharp – as a 4 sided strop is not terribly expensive, and will give you the ability to have 4 different grits on the strop. The most popular abrasive pastes are diamond paste, and green chrome oxide. Diamond pastes come in various grits – expressed as “Micron” ranging from 9 micron (very coarse) to .25 micron (SUPER fine) – while green chrome oxide comes in one “grit” - .5 micron, and is the most popular finishing option, as many feel it provides the smoothest possible shaving edge. Diamond paste is also incredibly fast cutting, which allows you to VERY quickly make your razor a terror – so in my opinion this is the best option for new straight razor users, as it is so quick/easy.

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Pro’s
1.) The quickest/easiest method of keeping your straight razor sharp – with little to no learning curve.
2.) Very inexpensive, and gives you up to 4 different grit options.
3.) Never needs to be lapped/flattened.

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Con’s
1.) Some feel edges created from pastes (vs hones) do not stay sharp as long and need to be refreshed sooner.
2.) Strops can inadvertently be cut/nicked.
3.) Residue (paste) from the spine/blade must be wiped off each time you switch to a different grit, or plain leather.
4.) You must apply more pastes from time to time, which are not inexpensive.

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I know that straights need to be honed every 3-4 months or so. Would using a pasted strop increase the amount of time between honings?

Basically, does using the pasted strop keep your razor sharp longer, or is it really only for finishing the razor after honing on a 4k/8k?
 
I know that straights need to be honed every 3-4 months or so. Would using a pasted strop increase the amount of time between honings?

Basically, does using the pasted strop keep your razor sharp longer, or is it really only for finishing the razor after honing on a 4k/8k?

With a pasted strop like the one in this example, in 3 micron, 1 micron, .5 micron and .25 micron - assuming you never hit the edge on the faucet, or did damage to the edge at all, you'd never need to touch a hone again to keep your razor perfectly sharp. 3 Micron diamond paste is pretty quick/aggressive - hell - all diamond paste is pretty aggressive (not aggressive as in low grit, but aggressive as in fast cutting) so provided you did you part by not screwing up the razor/edge in a manner other than normal shaving - all you would/should ever need is a diamond pasted paddle strop.

Hope this helps!
 
With a pasted strop like the one in this example, in 3 micron, 1 micron, .5 micron and .25 micron - assuming you never hit the edge on the faucet, or did damage to the edge at all, you'd never need to touch a hone again to keep your razor perfectly sharp. 3 Micron diamond paste is pretty quick/aggressive - hell - all diamond paste is pretty aggressive (not aggressive as in low grit, but aggressive as in fast cutting) so provided you did you part by not screwing up the razor/edge in a manner other than normal shaving - all you would/should ever need is a diamond pasted paddle strop.

Hope this helps!

Oh wow, that's really interesting. I guess I always assumed that you had to use the pasted strop in ADDITION to the hone. Thanks for the info! This is all great stuff, I appreciate it.
 
so provided you did you part by not screwing up the razor/edge in a manner other than normal shaving - all you would/should ever need is a diamond pasted paddle strop.

I disagree with this. Pasted paddles/strops are nice refreshers between honings and can keep a blade going for quite some time under normal use. That length of time will vary by individuals and circumstances. But all razors will need to be honed on a stone eventually to flatten the bevel. The reason being that pasted strops arch the bevel and eventually, over time, blunt the edge. Diamond paste will probably produce this effect sooner than most other pastes due to it's noted aggressive cutting nature. It's just a fact of life - you'll eventually need to have the razor visit the hone. Hope that helps.

Chris
 
I disagree with this. Pasted paddles/strops are nice refreshers between honings and can keep a blade going for quite some time under normal use. That length of time will vary by individuals and circumstances. But all razors will need to be honed on a stone eventually to flatten the bevel. The reason being that pasted strops arch the bevel and eventually, over time, blunt the edge. Diamond paste will probably produce this effect sooner than most other pastes due to it's noted aggressive cutting nature. It's just a fact of life - you'll eventually need to have the razor visit the hone. Hope that helps.

Chris

Chris,
Are you using paddle strops? I've established the bevel and taken flatly blunt razors and honed them up on 9 micron diamond paste (leather mounted to plate glass from hand american) and worked my way down grits, and ended up with superlative shaving razors. I guess YMMV.
 
Chris,
Are you using paddle strops? I've established the bevel and taken flatly blunt razors and honed them up on 9 micron diamond paste (leather mounted to plate glass from hand american) and worked my way down grits, and ended up with superlative shaving razors. I guess YMMV.

Joel,

I have both paddles and hangers. Even the paddles give a little which arch the edge.

Your experience is not out of the realm of reality. In the end though they all will need to see a hone at some time or another.

Chris
 

Tony Miller

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Chris,
My past ex[periences were closer to Joels for the most part. When I used to hone my own razors I did them all starting on 9 micron pastes, the 6, then 3, etc.... I maintained mine that way as well. Now I tend to use thin hard leather on a rigid paddle with very light pressure and that reduces (not eliminates) the rounding. I do still feel though that eventually they can only improve with a visit to a stone once in a while.

That said I am pretty sure you use only stones on the razors you hone for me (Chris hones all the razors for The Well Shaved Gentleman) and mine never approcahed the level of sharpness you achieve consistantly. I chalk that up more to experience than the tools but in theory anyway, a hone should be able to produce a perfectly flat bevel every time.

In the hands of a beginner though I think they are more likely to get good results with a paddle starting out.

Tony
 
I've also come around to the position that pasted strops are fine for long-term maintenance.

A few months ago I was talking about straights with my dad, and he mentioned that his grandfather used the same straight his whole life and never owned a hone - he just used a pasted *hanging* strop (paste on the linen side from his description). My dad lived with his grandparents from the time he was three or four years old, so he was pretty familiar with the details of how his grandfather did it.

They do produce an arched bevel, but it stabilizes and doesn't get duller as long as you keep the strop consistently taut. A paddle strop would work the same way but without so much danger from a lapse in concentration. I think the whole "pastes dull the edge" argument came about because there is an dull intermediate phase between the sharp straight bevel and the sharp arched bevel.

I've been doing a experiments with pasted hanger for several months now. I gave a razor 200 laps on a flexcut gold hanger and 1000 laps on a boron carbide hanger and tested the resulting edge and it was still sharp. Honing it with a stone and a microscope showed that it was definitely arched.

A longer-term experiment involves alternating shaving and pasted stropping. The linen side was pasted with the Dovo 2-part set, red on one side of and black on the other. The red was used in the initial honing then the linen was reversed so the black was on the outside. Every day this razor gets about 20 laps on the pasted linen before going to the leather in order to force accelerated wear. After several months it still shaves just fine.

I figure with a more reasonable and moderate use of the paste this razor should be able to do daily duty for many years before the edge starts developing problems like a narrow toe or heel or maybe a bit of a frown and has to go back to hones. But that's a minor concern compared to the tremendously easy maintenance of the blade. If I were just starting out again knowing what I know now I think I'd just get a barber hone and paste my linen with chrome oxide or boron carbide or dovo black and look forward to a lifetime of great shaves.
 
I've also come around to the position that pasted strops are fine for long-term maintenance.

A few months ago I was talking about straights with my dad, and he mentioned that his grandfather used the same straight his whole life and never owned a hone - he just used a pasted *hanging* strop (paste on the linen side from his description). My dad lived with his grandparents from the time he was three or four years old, so he was pretty familiar with the details of how his grandfather did it.

They do produce an arched bevel, but it stabilizes and doesn't get duller as long as you keep the strop consistently taut. A paddle strop would work the same way but with danger from a lapse in concentration. I think the whole "pastes dull the edge" argument came about because there is an dull intermediate phase between the sharp straight bevel and the sharp arched bevel.

I've been doing a experiments with pasted hanger for several months now. I gave a razor 200 laps on a flexcut gold hanger and 1000 laps on a boron carbide hanger and tested the resulting edge and it was still sharp. Honing it with a stone and a microscope showed that it was definitely arched.

A longer-term experiment involves alternating shaving and pasted stropping. The linen side was pasted with the Dovo 2-part set, red on one side of and black on the other. The red was used in the initial honing then the linen was reversed so the black was on the outside. Every day this razor gets about 20 laps on the pasted linen before going to the leather in order to force accelerated wear. After several months it still shaves just fine.

I figure with a more reasonable and moderate use of the paste this razor should be able to do daily duty for many years before the edge starts developing problems like a narrow toe or heel or maybe a bit of a frown and has to go back to hones. But that's a minor concern compared to the tremendously easy maintenance of the blade. If I were just starting out again knowing what I know now I think I'd just get a barber hone and paste my linen with chrome oxide or boron carbide or dovo black and look forward to a lifetime of great shaves.

Really an interesting post - and a great read. Thanks for sharing!

1,000 strops on boron carb? Man o man do you have patience! :biggrin:
 
Hi Joel,

A couple of weeks ago,whilst begining this staright razor quest I bought a complete set from a reputable dealer.Unfortunately the razor wasnt shave ready and that is being addressed.The set contained a leather strop and a two part red and green paste set.In my desire to sharpen the razor (and lack of knowledge) I smeared the strop with both red and green paste and tried to sharpen the razor. The strop is now a mixed colour of green,red and pale leather,the question is, have I ruined it or can it be cleaned to remove the different grits, or will a basic clean still leave the strop in a servicable condition. The strop costs £60 so I am loathed to throw it away if it can be rescued!

Regards

Lee
 
I've also come around to the position that pasted strops are fine for long-term maintenance.

A few months ago I was talking about straights with my dad, and he mentioned that his grandfather used the same straight his whole life and never owned a hone - he just used a pasted *hanging* strop (paste on the linen side from his description). My dad lived with his grandparents from the time he was three or four years old, so he was pretty familiar with the details of how his grandfather did it.

They do produce an arched bevel, but it stabilizes and doesn't get duller as long as you keep the strop consistently taut. A paddle strop would work the same way but without so much danger from a lapse in concentration. I think the whole "pastes dull the edge" argument came about because there is an dull intermediate phase between the sharp straight bevel and the sharp arched bevel.

I've been doing a experiments with pasted hanger for several months now. I gave a razor 200 laps on a flexcut gold hanger and 1000 laps on a boron carbide hanger and tested the resulting edge and it was still sharp. Honing it with a stone and a microscope showed that it was definitely arched.

A longer-term experiment involves alternating shaving and pasted stropping. The linen side was pasted with the Dovo 2-part set, red on one side of and black on the other. The red was used in the initial honing then the linen was reversed so the black was on the outside. Every day this razor gets about 20 laps on the pasted linen before going to the leather in order to force accelerated wear. After several months it still shaves just fine.

I figure with a more reasonable and moderate use of the paste this razor should be able to do daily duty for many years before the edge starts developing problems like a narrow toe or heel or maybe a bit of a frown and has to go back to hones. But that's a minor concern compared to the tremendously easy maintenance of the blade. If I were just starting out again knowing what I know now I think I'd just get a barber hone and paste my linen with chrome oxide or boron carbide or dovo black and look forward to a lifetime of great shaves.

Great post! That reminds me: I was recently reading some of the PMs you sent me last summer when I first tried straight razors. Man, you know your stuff! Thanks for the knowledge.
 
Hi Joel,

A couple of weeks ago,whilst begining this staright razor quest I bought a complete set from a reputable dealer.Unfortunately the razor wasnt shave ready and that is being addressed.The set contained a leather strop and a two part red and green paste set.In my desire to sharpen the razor (and lack of knowledge) I smeared the strop with both red and green paste and tried to sharpen the razor. The strop is now a mixed colour of green,red and pale leather,the question is, have I ruined it or can it be cleaned to remove the different grits, or will a basic clean still leave the strop in a servicable condition. The strop costs £60 so I am loathed to throw it away if it can be rescued!

Regards

Lee

Why did you mix the pastes? You didn't ruin it... but it's basically a green pasted strop (the green is the courser abrasive) from now on. :wink:
 
Joel, can I establish the edge on a pasted strop? I see you used a Norton to establish an edge but I'm leaning towards getting a paddle strop from Tony. Thanks.
 
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