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If a more traditional approach to shaving is desired, a straight razor is always the best to use. If a straight razor is dull or dirty, using a shaving strop becomes important and necessary to maintain the razor and protect your skin.
For the more classic, time honored shaver, a shaving strop is just a tool of the trade. It is just another symbol, if you will, of a process beloved by all straight razor users.
Not a strap, but a strop, is a piece of a substantial piece of cloth like canvas or denim, or leather used to polish and straighten a straight razor blade. It is typically the width of a razor blade as well as the length of it.
Strops can not only be a piece of material or leather, but several pieces of folded newspaper. Balsa wood is also a great material. Anything with enough strength and fiber within but soft enough not to damage the blade can be used as a strop.
Strops are generally used by applying strop paste and then dragging the razor blade slowly across the material. Little pressure is applied with the use of the strop and paste to bring about the shine and keenness of the blade.
Some strops come with a hook for you to secure it. This helps to keep it positioned in place while one hand drags the blade and the other holds the strop.
Paste is applied in several different micron formations. If a conditioning effect is the goal, then non-abrasive paste is required. If a small polish is needed, then a smaller micron size paste is good.
When there has been significant damage to the blade, like rust, heavy micron size pastes are really helpful. Chromium oxide, iron oxide, green chromium and even aluminum oxide can be used with the strop to bring about the best result.
A strop can help to keep the blade not only sharp, but polished and clean. A mirror like finish is desired with the straight razor before beginning the next shave. Strops help to not only achieve this, but to remove any impurities and oxidation that may have occurred during the shaving process.
It also helps to straighten the blade, bringing it back into alignment. Depending on the micron size and type of compound used in conjunction with the strop, metal can actually be removed from or repositioned on the blade. A rather scientific process by nature, stropping can alter the metal’s cosmetic appearance in order to aid in a more perfect shave.
Strops can be purchased in barber shops, department stores and big box stores. Depending on the budget and purpose, whether personal or professional, there is a strop for every kind of blade.
Purchasing a strop online is also a great option. There are countless manufacturers with online stores ready to accommodate, with bloggers advice in tow. Just take some time to read about each strop maker and you will find a whole community of people dedicated to the craft of shaving with a straight razor.
Of course you can always dig around in your closet for an old pair of jeans or grab the expired newspaper. Stropping can be as pure or polluted a process as you like. Just pay close attention and keep your focus sharp.