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What is the easiest, simplest, or cheapest way to maintain a straight razor?

  • Hard pasted strop (balsa or something else)
    • If someone sells a prebuilt balsa strop, I may buy one.
  • Unpasted leather strop + lapping film
  • Unpasted leather strop + sharpening stone + lapping stone
  • Pasted fabric strop?
  • .....
 
Honestly if you wanted great shaves for the cheapest price possible might just want to get use to shaving with DE. Straight can be cheaper in long run but you want a good set up. you will NEED a strop for stropping before a shave (I suggest hanging but paddled works too). A lot of people use CrOx on the secondary part of their strop (usually linen/canvas or something like that) to bring back the edge.

When CrOx doesn't work anymore you could then use film which is probably cheaper but I have no experience with it.

To sharpen the razor yourself you would probably only need a 8k synthetic (Norton 4k/8k great dual stone or you could get a naniwa 8k). You will need a lapping plate. Could also get a 12k naniwa which is prob another 80$ so you are looking at around 200$+ for everything you will need. That is if you already have a shave ready razor, which you will want something that is easy to hone since you will probably be new to it.
 
Lapping film, Amy perfectly flat solid block to put the film on, standard plain leather strop.

Think of lapping film as extremely high quality sandpaper. When you use it to hone things it holds up surprisingly well, and the result is you basically buy a whole box of single use synthetic stones of every grit for a few bucks. They hold up well enough that if you’re only dealing with razors in decent condition, you can re-use sheets on a few razors each sheet.
 
Newspaper strop. I used one from time to time in my student days.

I also made a paddle strop out of some leather glued to an IKEA chopping board.
 
Newspaper strop. I used one from time to time in my student days.

I also made a paddle strop out of some leather glued to an IKEA chopping board.
Recently did that at work when I realized I took an unstropped razor, I’ll never try to travel with leather again!

Also a few layers of newspaper underneath your finest lapping film during finishing makes a slightly more forgiving edge instead of a scalpel.
 
The Method.

There's a lot of reading there. Unfortunately you will need to read the whole thing, including all of the linked threads. Beginning to end. But when you are finished, you will know the cheapest and easiest and quickest way for a newbie to get a BETTER than professional edge, both in sharpness and comfort. Most new guys who actually follow directions will have their first treetopping edge on the first attempt, and max out on the second or third. If you already have a good 12k or 1u edge, you can skip the lapping film part and just set up the balsa strops. To be assured of success, you need to carefully follow all instructions and make no substitutions, omissions, or shortcuts. Stray from the beaten path and you will be disappointed. The idea is to stick 100% with proven techniques in a systematic method, and not deviate in the least, thereby achieving best possible results right out the gate. Experimentation and freestyling are not provided for in The Method. Do that after you achieve proficiency and confidence.

It is seriously big time better to start out with a shave ready razor, one that is actually shave ready and not just claimed to be shave ready. This way you know what a shave ready razor is, and how it looks and feels, so you have a chance at duplicating it and evaluating it after you know how to shave. I have said this a hundred times: it is difficult and frustrating to try to learn to shave with a razor that you are trying to learn to hone. Don't go there. You might think you know what sharp is, but shave ready sharp is a whole nother critter. Imagine if you will, being told as a young aspiring art student, that creating a good copy of the Mona Lisa is a fine ticket to get punched and a great showcase for your talent. But the catch is, you have never seen the Mona Lisa. You figure WTH, its just a smiling Italian chick sitting in a chair, I can do that. You paint a portrait that looks quite a bit like a picture of the Mona Lisa that you saw online. Any art expert would do a face palm or have a laughing fit on viewing your work. Why? What makes your copy so ludicrous? The fact that you have never seen the original or even a very good copy. You have no frame of reference, no basis. No benchmark. Same with a true shave ready edge. How will you make one when you don't know what it is?

If you insist on honing your own razor before you even know how to use it and before you have experienced a great edge, then The Method is really the only way to get in the game in a quick, inexpensive, and meaningful way. Unfortunately, if you didn't listen about learning to shave first, you are probably not the sort who can follow detailed directions and so your chances of success are greatly reduced.

If you start with a shave ready razor, then alles gut. Read the main thread and then the pasted balsa strop thread. Freestyle it and you will fail. You may get fair results eventually, but it will not be a Method edge and you will not have an easy time of it. Do it as described and you will succeed brilliantly, by at least your second attempt, to raise the bar, and improve your edge to a level of sharpness that you cannot imagine. As a benefit, you can use the .1u balsa after every shave to keep your edge crazy horrible sharp indefinitely, and never need to go back to the hones. Total cost for everything you need, from bevel set to maintainer, will be less than what you would pay for one really nice synthetic finisher.

You will also want a decent hanging leather strop. No, don't use a belt. No, don't rely on newspaper, though it will sort of work if you just survived the zombie stropocalypse or you left on a trip but forgot to take a strop with you. If you really want to go cheap, there is a guy selling as The X Bay (thexbay on ebay) on ebay, amazon, and his own site, selling a very modest 2-1/2" wide strop that actually works, for under ten bucks. After you are competent at stropping, then upgrade to a nicer one. Beginner strops catch hell so no sense paying $75 for a nice strop that you will slice and dice to bits. Make your mistakes on a cheap one. At least stay under $50 for your first strop.
 

Polarbeard

Contributor
Ambassador
The only simple and easy way is to never venture into straight razors. They are like heroine either you don't use them or they will steal your wallet and your soul.
 
I do have all tools needed to take a razor from start to finished edge, but for the past year it's been linen & leather with a touch here & there on my finishing stone. You should be prepared for a chip here & there, but one stone & a good strop will get you a lot of good shaves.
 
I would say get a good practice strap it's like 20 bucks. And plan to move up to like a $50 a good strap. A paddle strap with a little bit of m a a s on it what help touch up the edge maybe once a week and then I would just find someone you trust and send it out to be sharpened maybe every three months. Unless you're really interested in sharpening razors, I would let somebody else store and maintain all the equipment
 
The Method.

There's a lot of reading there. Unfortunately you will need to read the whole thing, including all of the linked threads. Beginning to end. But when you are finished, you will know the cheapest and easiest and quickest way for a newbie to get a BETTER than professional edge, both in sharpness and comfort. Most new guys who actually follow directions will have their first treetopping edge on the first attempt, and max out on the second or third. If you already have a good 12k or 1u edge, you can skip the lapping film part and just set up the balsa strops. To be assured of success, you need to carefully follow all instructions and make no substitutions, omissions, or shortcuts. Stray from the beaten path and you will be disappointed. The idea is to stick 100% with proven techniques in a systematic method, and not deviate in the least, thereby achieving best possible results right out the gate. Experimentation and freestyling are not provided for in The Method. Do that after you achieve proficiency and confidence.

It is seriously big time better to start out with a shave ready razor, one that is actually shave ready and not just claimed to be shave ready. This way you know what a shave ready razor is, and how it looks and feels, so you have a chance at duplicating it and evaluating it after you know how to shave. I have said this a hundred times: it is difficult and frustrating to try to learn to shave with a razor that you are trying to learn to hone. Don't go there. You might think you know what sharp is, but shave ready sharp is a whole nother critter. Imagine if you will, being told as a young aspiring art student, that creating a good copy of the Mona Lisa is a fine ticket to get punched and a great showcase for your talent. But the catch is, you have never seen the Mona Lisa. You figure WTH, its just a smiling Italian chick sitting in a chair, I can do that. You paint a portrait that looks quite a bit like a picture of the Mona Lisa that you saw online. Any art expert would do a face palm or have a laughing fit on viewing your work. Why? What makes your copy so ludicrous? The fact that you have never seen the original or even a very good copy. You have no frame of reference, no basis. No benchmark. Same with a true shave ready edge. How will you make one when you don't know what it is?

If you insist on honing your own razor before you even know how to use it and before you have experienced a great edge, then The Method is really the only way to get in the game in a quick, inexpensive, and meaningful way. Unfortunately, if you didn't listen about learning to shave first, you are probably not the sort who can follow detailed directions and so your chances of success are greatly reduced.

If you start with a shave ready razor, then alles gut. Read the main thread and then the pasted balsa strop thread. Freestyle it and you will fail. You may get fair results eventually, but it will not be a Method edge and you will not have an easy time of it. Do it as described and you will succeed brilliantly, by at least your second attempt, to raise the bar, and improve your edge to a level of sharpness that you cannot imagine. As a benefit, you can use the .1u balsa after every shave to keep your edge crazy horrible sharp indefinitely, and never need to go back to the hones. Total cost for everything you need, from bevel set to maintainer, will be less than what you would pay for one really nice synthetic finisher.

You will also want a decent hanging leather strop. No, don't use a belt. No, don't rely on newspaper, though it will sort of work if you just survived the zombie stropocalypse or you left on a trip but forgot to take a strop with you. If you really want to go cheap, there is a guy selling as The X Bay (thexbay on ebay) on ebay, amazon, and his own site, selling a very modest 2-1/2" wide strop that actually works, for under ten bucks. After you are competent at stropping, then upgrade to a nicer one. Beginner strops catch hell so no sense paying $75 for a nice strop that you will slice and dice to bits. Make your mistakes on a cheap one. At least stay under $50 for your first strop.
+100
 
If you already have a good 12k or 1u edge, you can skip the lapping film part and just set up the balsa strops.
I received two shave-ready straight razors from the forum members. I experienced sharp razor blades a few times. I also tried a hanging strop a few times.
Do people sell balsa strops that were made according to your method? If they do, I might buy one. Cutting a piece of wood is doable, but I haven't tried cutting glass or marble.
 
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Three pieces 3/4" x 3" x 12" for $27.52. Better than glass or marble. Strong, light, thick enough to hold and hone in hand safely.

Nobody makes balsa strops to sell. Takes up too much time for such a low ticket item. Just make up a set yourself. Anybody not handy enough to do that, probably isn't handy enough to use them, anyway.
 

Legion

Moderator Emeritus

Three pieces 3/4" x 3" x 12" for $27.52. Better than glass or marble. Strong, light, thick enough to hold and hone in hand safely.

Nobody makes balsa strops to sell. Takes up too much time for such a low ticket item. Just make up a set yourself. Anybody not handy enough to do that, probably isn't handy enough to use them, anyway.
This^ It is not a piece of the space shuttle.

I used to make some which I included as a "value added" if I made a newbie kit. Razor, simple strop and CrOx on balsa bench strop. IMO that is the most minimalist and cheapest kit. The bench strop was just a thin balsa veneer, contact cemented to thicker hardwood, with little rubber feet so it didn't slide around on a table. Half an hours work, and $10 materials, tops. Have a go.

crox1.jpg
 

Legion

Moderator Emeritus
That looks great...I love how evenly the Crox is applied...did you use the cream or the rough crayon?
I made a paste with powder and a little mineral oil, applied it with a finger, then buffed it in/ removed the excess with paper towels. Leaves a thin but even coating. Totally unnecessary, practically speaking, but I am a bit ocd about how this stuff looks if I make it.
 
Pasted strop followed by traditional stropping on linen and leather. I have kept razors going for years that have never seen a stone since their original honing. And yes the edges are smooth, comfortable and keen even after 100’s of shaves.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
^^^ I believe and agree that pastes, diamond sprays and cbn solutions on a suitable medium will keep straight razors shave ready, indefinitely.

The easiest straight razor option IMO still remains a shavette. But straight shaving is not supposed to be an easy journey, it a journey of personal growth and exploration.
 
^^^
The easiest straight razor option IMO still remains a shavette. But straight shaving is not supposed to be an easy journey, it a journey of personal growth and exploration.
Shavette is easiest and cheapest. I am very happy with my 2,50$ Cloud shavette with Cloud long blade snapped in half. It lasted 12 shaves ! A shave cannot be cheaper, can it ?
 
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