• Jean Jacques Perret, Stropping and shavings methods translation, 1769.

    Jean Jacques Perret was born in Beziers France in 1730, son of a cutler, he started learning the trade at the tender age of 12.

    Mr Perret wrote a few books, his first is "La Pogonotomie, ou L'art d'apprende a se raser soi- meme" ( The art of shaving one-self). I translated 2 chapters one on stropping and one on shaving.
    Please note that the word "Pogonotomie" was created by Mr Perret from the greek work pogos meaning Beard and temno meaning cutting.


    - Leather to strop razors, their composition, how to prepare the leather, and how to use it properly-


    The use of leather for razors is necessary to maintain a good shaving edge, without it use the razors edge degrades and will not shave properly. Without stropping on leather or your hand frequenly, the edge would need refreshing on the stone.It is not necessary to use the stone as it wears the razor, when all is needed is stropping.

    The effects of the leather is to renew the edge by polishing each side of the bevel. Furthermore if your stone doesnt leave a smooth edge, the leather will smooth out the edge, for a pleasant shave.

    It is also noted that the razor after shaving that the edge is weak, especially if you shave with the same hand, since only one side of the razor is used. In this case it is indispensable to use the leather to center the edge on the razor.


    The Pogonotomy (Art of shaving one-self) is the continious action of the razor rubbing the skin, and the teeth of the razors against hairs. Therefore the edge of the razor is succescible to weaken and no one should ask the edge to accomplished a few shaves without stropping frequently.

    The Leather is essential to maintain a razor, it should be of good quality and glued to wood with a handle. The leather should be from calfskin or buffalo, or beaver. Flat on the paddle, once it is dry, it should be dressed with pumice along its entire lenght. The paddle should be at least 6 inches X 2 to 3 inches wide.



    The method to properly strop a razor is simply the opposite to honing one, back (spine) first, held in the same matter as to honing. The razor as being turned should never leave the leather, the fingers turn the razor with the back resting on the leather.






    There are those who strop their razors on shoes and i dont condemned this method as the leather is prepared with oil and wax, but one must be very careful that the shoe is clean and especially free of dirt.

    As a second leather, many uses their hand as a few passes (8) after the regular leather, some only use the hand for stropping the razor. There is of course a danger factor to use this method but that said many believed that a few pass on hand makes the razor ready for shaving after the regular leather, and in between shaving passes.

    Some believed that resting the weak shaving razor for a month to 6 weeks makes the razor come back to life. My take on it is that the razor is always in contact with water, even after a shave and cleaning the razor some microscopic water remainds on the delicate edge. After some time that said water oxidize (rust) therefore when the rested razor is stropped on leather and the hand the oxidation is removed and the now smaller delicate edge is shaveable once again.


    - Beard preparation before shaving.

    The method of preparing the beard before shaving is as old as shaving it. A well prepared beard will make your shaving experienced much more pleasing and painless. Softening of the whiskers before shaving is essential but so many dont really pay attention to it, really just as important then a good edge on your razors.

    Using hot water to moistened the hairs and good lather is essential, working the lather with your fingers by rubbing lighty. Let the whiskers become soft, the skin moist, once that been accomplished, you are now ready to shave.

    To accomplish a good clean shave, the razor should be stropped properly, personally i recommend having 2 razors ready for the task, just in case that one loose its edge.
    it is important to hold the razor properly, the best hold is like the picture below. Holding firmly
    and comfortably to prevent cutting yourself.

    Please note that the razor is a no tail razor.


    The skin of the face must be always streched with every stroke of the razor. Whether on the face or neck streching is key to a good shave. The hand that holds the razor must be relaxed, and the action of shaving come from the wrist.

    The scything motion while shaving will yield the best results, starting on side at a time, cheek to neck leaving the moustache area for last. To do the most difficuly part of shaving (moustache area) one must put 2 fingers at the end of the nose in an upward motion, and shave from underneath the nose to the lips "Le Coup de Maitre".

    There are 3 commonly used shaving passes, with the grain, across the grain, and against the grain, one must learn the growth patern of one self and use the best combination of passes for a great shave.


    Notes: The purpose of the translation was not to change your stropping or shaving method, more like to show that even 240 years ago the method used then are stil very common today.
    The book also contains a chapter on making your own strop paste using many different ingredients, and a big section on honing razors witch i posted about it before: http://straightrazorplace.com/honing...ds-1771-a.html
    Mr Perret also wrote "L'art du Coutelier" (The art of the cutler ) full of illustration about every phase of forging grinding etc making tools, damascus steel etc.