Stropping Mid Shave

Discussion in 'Strops/Stropping' started by sanookd, Jan 12, 2019.

    I’m curious to know how many straight razor shavers out there find it necessary to strop possibly after the 2nd pass on a 3 pass shave. And if you do give the blade a few passes on the strop do you notice a big improvement during the 3rd pass?
    I’m assuming a well honed blade but very coarse whiskers.
    It seems to me when I strop a few passes before pass 3 it just kicks the blade up a notch. Anyone else notice this?
  1. The old barber's manual recommends the barber strop after the first pass and before the second pass. It works.

    I think it works because it removes any debris from the bevel and thus allows for more slickness on the sides of the bevel. Modern razors do this with a teflon type coating(s). That allows the blade to pass through the hair easier. No buildup on the blade, you see.

    Just a theory of mine and it could be entirely wrong so take it with a grain of salt.

    So my two cents for what it's worth. Whatever the reason it does seem to work.

  2. I have never felt it necessary.
    I think it would take one seriously tough beard to require it and if it was that harsh you'd probably need to re hone from the ground up regularly not just touch up when needed as it would cause damage to the edge
  3. I’ve noticed that, yeah. I do a couple passes before the ATG and it dresses it up nicely.
  4. Yep - I find 15-25 passes on leather after first pass to help in getting the second pass to go well. Though I do wonder if it's more of a chance to step back, take a moment a check I'm doing everything right - I am a relatively new shaver so introducing a chance to get away from the sink and take stock probably helps.
  5. Would palm stropping be as effective in removing debris?
  6. I’ve seen it done but personally never felt the need. YMMV

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  7. Stropping is not to remove debris, it is to realign the edge and smooth out the "teeth" from honing.
  8. Okay, but that disagrees with post #2.
  9. I'll not be trying it. I don't want to get shaving debris all over my strop, neither do I want to do a second clean down of the blade mid shave to avoid it. If the blade can't even make it through one shave, there's something fundamentally wrong - and I'd rather address that instead.
  10. I agree. As a rule, we tend to obsess here.

  11. Barbers did this to keep the edge in absolute peak form. Remember people were paying for their shave.
    Your razor should be clean before stropping otherwise you are gunking up your strop/canvas.
  12. So which one of you is correct?
  13. I have only a little practical experience with razors but have a great deal of experience with cutting edges and surface finish. If you think about it from a strictly mechanical view, in the 1st pass the blade is doing the greatest work with the largest amount of debris = increased chance to affect edge alignment. The 2nd pass is doing removal but not as much "work"; a bit of a cleanup while also taking the hair from a different angle. For your purposes the second pass can benefit from a "cleaning up" of the edge in terms of mechanical straightness.

    However, cleanliness of the blade prior to stropping is critical. Removing debris with your strop is a bad idea since, as Gillette has said "facial hair is as tough as copper wire [of the same size]". I think we can agree that small pieces of copper wire on our strops is bad as they are much coarser than the paste or compound we might otherwise apply. Finally, as AimlessWanderer has implied, you may want to look at the pre-shave edge refinement before adding another process in between. The same comment about cleanliness - between steps in edge refinement - applies there, otherwise you are literally mixing abrasives and will be creating "teeth" of substantially varying depth/alignment.
  14. Which makes the most sense if the purpose of stropping is not debatable.
    If you are debating the purpose of stropping than you only strop to clean your blade?
    Try washing your blade well and don't strop - see how many shaves you get.
    Do the same with stropping.
    If the blade is washed well in both scenarios the strop purpose will be clearly evident.
  15. +1
    Though, technically the edge can benefit from the refinement. Neglecting, of course, the costs of time and wear.
  16. If it's a 3 day beard then I'll keep a soapy sponge nearby and kinda strop on this.
  17. So, in short, I don't know.

    From all that I've read here and elsewhere over the years along with the SEM photographs and analysis presented by some members I've taken away that the old wisdom on stropping is not quite right:

    There are not teeth on a razors edge as formerly postulated. Therefore they are not aligned with stropping.

    The razors edge is not damaged by the hair it cuts. The main cause of damage is corrosion thus necessitating re-honing from time to time.

    Stropping's purpose seems to be to clean the edge and mildly dress it, or keen it a bit. What it's keening it what's left after corrosion which is cumulative after each shave.

    Industrial edges seem to get their ease of cutting from the coatings applied to lessen the friction of the hair against the bevel as it cuts. Straights have no such coating and debris (skin cells, lather, etc) stick to the bevel as the shave progresses. This cuts down (no pun intended) on the slickness on the sides of the bevel which increases the force needed to cut through a hair.

    There was a comment years ago from someone who made the point of using an axe to chop down a tree. If the bevel is slick (polished) it cuts more on each stroke than if it's not. If it gets gunked up (think of a sap tree) then it can take more strokes and more force.

    My conjecture is that if you clean the bevel via stropping after the first pass then it increases the ease of cutting. This seems to align with modern manufacturers applying coatings to their blades.

    The old Dovo instructions warn against stropping before 24 hours or so because it will tear off the teeth of the blade before they have spontaneously re-aligned thus blunting it and needing honing more periodically. This flies in the face of the old barbers manual and practical experience as well as the evidence presented here and on other forums from SEM photographs.

    In the end you've got to experiment and try it for yourself to see if it works for you.

    For myself I confess that I rarely strop between passes but when I feel the need, it works. It may be that it works better closer to the time that a re-honing is needed but I haven't noticed it. I rinse my blade as I make passes and that may be factor.

    So, again, this is my conjecture and it may be completely wrong but I have come to the conclusion through practical experimentation and evidence presented here and elsewhere that much of the old wisdom about blade maintenance is wrong.

    The key is to find what works for you. There are many roads to Rome find the one that works for you. We are all still learning an art that has been lost and which has not been studied as closely in the past as we can do today.

    Places like this are a boon to us who use straight razors because it can help us all achieve better shaves due to increased knowledge and experience.

    After using a straight for 35 years I am still learning about it. Many roads to Rome enjoy the one you're on.

  18. To return to the OP's first post and query, I don't usually do more than two passes while shaving plus a few touch-ups. If I am to strop at some point during this process, it probably means that I have done something wrong beforehand. I strop to realign the edge afterwards, and to a lesser extent to remove standing soap scum, but that's it.

    That said, I tend to shave every 48-72 hrs. So during the first pass, I will wipe the blade off with toilet paper to remove beard grime rather than clog up the hand-washing sink. The toilet paper is disposed in the small trash container.

    Nothing wrong with palm-stropping from time to time IMO, if only to clean the blade's edge from standing lather before introducing the blade to leather. Off a dedicated, small paddle-strop routine, palm-stropping (and by this I mean just the heel of the palm) can make all the difference in the world as a practice FME. But again, this does not pertain to stropping between passes.
  19. So, you are removing debris by stropping since soap scum is mixed with hair and skin cells. Thank you as this answers my question.

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