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Thread: Stropping Practice for a Complete Noob. Advice?

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    Member Senomaros's Avatar
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    Question Stropping Practice for a Complete Noob. Advice?

    So, my straight razor and strop beginner set I ordered from classicedge.ca arrived last night. I was so so excited! After I had ordered it, I had swore that my next shave would be with the straight razor, so I have >2 weeks of beard growth right now. (I didn't use it yet because I currently have a cold, and this particular strain seems to make my hands sweat excessively; Sweaty hands + Slippery Grip + Sharp Blade Near Face = Very Bad Idea!)

    Anyway, since it arrived shave-ready, I know I shouldn't actually try stropping it until after my first shave. (The place I ordered it from actually recommended waiting until after 2 or 3 shaves first.) Now, I know that there's a significant learning curve involved in learning to strop, and I've been told to just accept the fact that I'll make mistakes that'll result in nicked strops and dulled edges. This seems like reasonable advice; after all, everyone makes mistakes at whatever they're learning for the first time. What I want to know is, are there any ways I could practice stropping in such a manner as to get over that learning curve with as few mistakes, which can be expensive in this hobby, as possible?

    After lurking through older threads, I found several that mentioned practicing stropping with a strip of newspaper, the idea being that the newspaper will be ripped or cut quite easily and so gives good, quick feedback if poor technique is used. Have any of the more experienced members of this community tried this? Does it actually work and is it something you'd recommend, or have I been misinformed?

    Another thing I've read in older threads was to try practicing with a butter knife or something on the strop I got, since the dull kitchen utensil can't damage the strop. The seems like a decent idea, but the only feedback on my technique that I'll get from this is what I myself can see doing wrong. This would be good for obvious things like lifting the spine or not keeping the full length of the blade pressed to the strop, but more subtle things that take experience to know how to recognize, like applying too much pressure, I won't be able to see.

    Lastly, since the strop that came with my beginner's set has a cloth and a leather side, I was thinking I could practice with my razor on the cloth since, from what I've been able to gather, the cloth side isn't the most important, that it's the leather that's the critical piece for a strop. Any feedback on my technique would come from how badly I nick the cloth strop. Though, this runs the risk of dulling the razor, of course.

    So far, I like the idea of practicing on a strip of newspaper later on after a couple of shaves. Any advice from more experienced members would be immensely appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Senomaros.

  2. #2
    barba crescit caput nescit Phrank's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Senomaros View Post
    So, my straight razor and strop beginner set I ordered from classicedge.ca arrived last night. I was so so excited! After I had ordered it, I had swore that my next shave would be with the straight razor, so I have >2 weeks of beard growth right now. (I didn't use it yet because I currently have a cold, and this particular strain seems to make my hands sweat excessively; Sweaty hands + Slippery Grip + Sharp Blade Near Face = Very Bad Idea!)

    Anyway, since it arrived shave-ready, I know I shouldn't actually try stropping it until after my first shave. (The place I ordered it from actually recommended waiting until after 2 or 3 shaves first.) Now, I know that there's a significant learning curve involved in learning to strop, and I've been told to just accept the fact that I'll make mistakes that'll result in nicked strops and dulled edges. This seems like reasonable advice; after all, everyone makes mistakes at whatever they're learning for the first time. What I want to know is, are there any ways I could practice stropping in such a manner as to get over that learning curve with as few mistakes, which can be expensive in this hobby, as possible?

    After lurking through older threads, I found several that mentioned practicing stropping with a strip of newspaper, the idea being that the newspaper will be ripped or cut quite easily and so gives good, quick feedback if poor technique is used. Have any of the more experienced members of this community tried this? Does it actually work and is it something you'd recommend, or have I been misinformed?

    Another thing I've read in older threads was to try practicing with a butter knife or something on the strop I got, since the dull kitchen utensil can't damage the strop. The seems like a decent idea, but the only feedback on my technique that I'll get from this is what I myself can see doing wrong. This would be good for obvious things like lifting the spine or not keeping the full length of the blade pressed to the strop, but more subtle things that take experience to know how to recognize, like applying too much pressure, I won't be able to see.

    Lastly, since the strop that came with my beginner's set has a cloth and a leather side, I was thinking I could practice with my razor on the cloth since, from what I've been able to gather, the cloth side isn't the most important, that it's the leather that's the critical piece for a strop. Any feedback on my technique would come from how badly I nick the cloth strop. Though, this runs the risk of dulling the razor, of course.

    So far, I like the idea of practicing on a strip of newspaper later on after a couple of shaves. Any advice from more experienced members would be immensely appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Senomaros.
    I got the a starter kit from Classic Edge...it's got a great edge on it then.

    If you want to practice stropping, take a dull kitchen knife with a relatively straight spine on practice using that on your strop. Keep the spine on the strop at all times, go slow, and just get the movement down. After two or three shaves, then use the strop, slowly, spine on the strop, and you should be fine.

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    Member LouG's Avatar
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    Yes, use butter knife on your stop to practice the movement. I would also recommend practicing with razor on newspaper strip before going to the stop with it. It will give you a sense as to how little pressure is required, really none at all except for weight of razor. Too much pressure and the newspaper will rip. Go slow, watch you tube videos on how to roll or flip razor and go slow with very, very light pressure. In normal use, you use cloth side of stop first, followed by the leather. It takes some practice, but not too bad. Once you get the muscle memory set, you'll be fine.

    Lou
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    Hello Senomaros, I'm a beginner on SR, I've bought a beautiful XL strop from Solingen and I was worried about destroy it with my attemps in stropping.
    I've checked for the Lynn's video
    And it was great!
    I didn't damage anything and the razor is super sharp now!

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    Know thyself holli4pirating's Avatar
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    I can understand wanting to be comfortable with something so you don't feel like you're risking ruining your strop and/or razor. But I don't really think there is an alternative to practicing stropping your razor with your strop and razor.

    You want to use a razor, because a razor doesn't handle like anything else. And you want to use a shave ready razor so you will know if something you are doing is damaging a shave ready edge. Let's say you use a cheap, dull, "razor shaped object;" you might become very comfortable with what you are doing, but what you are doing could be ruinous to the edge of an actual razor and you wouldn't know will you ruined your actual shave ready razor. Then you'd have bad habits to break.

    As for the strop, I don't think worrying about cutting or scratching it makes much sense. The things that will cut or scratch a strop are pretty obvious, and if you pay attention and take your time, you won't make a stroke on the strop where you are leading with your edge or putting the edge into the surface of the strop.
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    Thanks for all the advice! And thanks especially for that video, Basetta70. I haven't seen it before, and I'll be sure to check it out once I get home.

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    Going slow enough you should find it hard to damage the strop. You could use a strip of newspaper to start with. If you rip it from pressure then you are using WAY too much. You will be surprised how strong newspaper is. A bulldog clip at the top is often used and it helps to keep light pressure otherwise it will pull from the clip
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    I used the bulldog clip trick as well, take it slow and steady until you get the feeling. You will find that you will start slow and careful and over time you will still be careful but get quicker and quicker. The thing to remember is be precise with the edge it is very delicate, beyond that don't stress too much. You will get the feeling for the razor quickly and it will feel natural after a short while, if you do stuff up a stroke on the strop you will hear it. It will sound different to the other strokes, more of a scraping sound rather than a sliding smooth sound. If this happens slow down a little bit and be as deliberate as you can with your stroke to correct the error as much as possible. If you are light on the razor it should not do too much damage and most probably can be corrected on the strop. Watch how you rinse the shaving foam off your blade, many a post about putting a ding in the razor that way. Make sure that you place the razor down gently between using and putting foam on your face. I use a towel on a flat surface and place the blade spine down first with the scales at a 90 degree angle so that the edge will not get damaged. Best advice, be deliberate about everything you do until it becomes second nature because as soon as you lose concentration something goes and it usually causes damage.
    A good lather is half the shave.

    William Hone

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    The Great & Powerful Oz onimaru55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Senomaros View Post
    So, my straight razor and strop beginner set I ordered from classicedge.ca arrived last night. I was so so excited! After I had ordered it, I had swore that my next shave would be with the straight razor, so I have >2 weeks of beard growth right now. (I didn't use it yet because I currently have a cold, and this particular strain seems to make my hands sweat excessively; Sweaty hands + Slippery Grip + Sharp Blade Near Face = Very Bad Idea!)
    Also a bad idea fora newb to try shaving a 2 week growth. Trim it down first.


    After lurking through older threads, I found several that mentioned practicing stropping with a strip of newspaper, the idea being that the newspaper will be ripped or cut quite easily and so gives good, quick feedback if poor technique is used. Have any of the more experienced members of this community tried this? Yes. Does it actually work and is it something you'd recommend, Yes it does & I do recommend it or have I been misinformed?

    Another thing I've read in older threads was to try practicing with a butter knife or something on the strop I got, since the dull kitchen utensil can't damage the strop. The seems like a decent idea, but the only feedback on my technique that I'll get from this is what I myself can see doing wrong. This would be good for obvious things like lifting the spine or not keeping the full length of the blade pressed to the strop, but more subtle things that take experience to know how to recognize, like applying too much pressure, I won't be able to see. Butter knife, tooth brush, even a pecil are a good way to practice the 180 flip. You will need to use the razor for the full experience

    Lastly, since the strop that came with my beginner's set has a cloth and a leather side, I was thinking I could practice with my razor on the cloth since, from what I've been able to gather, the cloth side isn't the most important, that it's the leather that's the critical piece for a strop. Any feedback on my technique would come from how badly I nick the cloth strop.
    Though, this runs the risk of dulling the razor, of course. Yes it does. Bad idea again.

    So far, I like the idea of practicing on a strip of newspaper later on after a couple of shaves. No, practice immediately with any similar shaped object . You need to train the muscle memory. Any advice from more experienced members would be immensely appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Senomaros.
    With a few hours of proper practice, nicking a strop becomes an old wive's tale.
    Those in the room who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by onimaru55 View Post
    Also a bad idea fora newb to try shaving a 2 week growth. Trim it down first.
    Well then! I probably should have waited until today to try my new straight razor for the first time so I could read this advice and not proceed to do exactly that, haha. Oops...

    Thanks for all your advice though. I really appreciate it.

    Also, a follow-up question I should have asked in the original post: Does practicing on newspaper with my razor run the risk of dulling the edge, or is newspaper too delicate for that?

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