When you are working with a straight razor, keeping your blade sharp is the most important rule. Dull blades can cause the shaving experience to be more painful and irritating while making the shave not as successful or clean. When you feel your blade is dull and in need of sharpening, your go to tool with be the strop and strop paste. The combination of the two is used in every country in the world to sharpen razors.
So, how does this help you? With the right tools and technique, you can easily reduce your economic waste on new blades or and the cost of getting your razor honed several times a year. Now, let’s start from the beginning, because, unless you’ve used one before, you never would have heard of strop or strop paste.
A strop by definition is a device, usually a strip of leather, used for sharpening razors. Usually used with a strop paste or a honing compound, strops allow you to polish and restore a razor’s edge. Giving you a sharp and smooth edge. While blade sharpened on stone leave hone lines and remove material, strop sharpening keeps your blade whole.
You can use the strop alone, but if you add a strop paste, your final product will be much better off. Strop paste is a great medium to use, reducing the aggressiveness of stropping alone. Strop pastes serve as lubricants to use between the razor and the strop, to prevent damage to the razor blade and maintain quality of the strop. It is one the greatest tools in your toolbox and saves you a lot of money and time on the long run.
Strop pastes come in two main types, abrasive and non-abrasive. Important to note that pastes are made to be used with leather strops, as they are made for this purpose. Also, never mix two different types of paste on one strop. There are four different main types of strop paste available:
Two of the more important things to perfect when learning to sharpen razors, is the stropping stroke and how to properly paste your strop. Knowing when to paste your strop is key as stropping on a pasted surface does not need to be a part of your daily routine. When your razor edge has begun to dull then your razor is ready for a pasted strop. The paste creates a more abrasive surface than your average strop. 10-20 passes on a pasted strop is more than sufficient to attain a sharp edge.
Whether you want to save time on the Hone master, or you feel a tug during your shave, the combination of strop and strop paste with the proper technique should bring your razor back to its nearly new condition and allow for a clean shave.