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Thread: Importance of proper stropping

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    50 year str. shaver mrsell63's Avatar
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    Default Importance of proper stropping

    After many years of honing, stropping and shaving with straight razors, I am convinced that proper stropping is the most difficult aspect of straight razors to master. Re-stropping a pesky edge on a different strop has often proven to save a shave for me.

    Whereas honing is a somewhat predictable step by step process, stropping is more of a feel game for me. Unlike a stone where the surface is always relatively flat and hard, the strop surface can be flat or not so flat, firm or soft, smooth or not so smooth and each individual strop may perform differently depending who is using it. Keeping the blade in flat contact to the surface is the main trick.


    I think more discussion is needed regarding the art of stropping. Many posters have reported that they blew the edge off while stropping. Also, nobody has ever reported nicking a hone while honing but there are many reports of nicking a strop.


    Looking forward to more in depth stropping discussions. JMO.
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    JERRY
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    Junior Member Strops's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrsell63 View Post
    After many years of honing, stropping and shaving with straight razors, I am convinced that proper stropping is the most difficult aspect of straight razors to master. Re-stropping a pesky edge on a different strop has often proven to save a shave for me.

    Whereas honing is a somewhat predictable step by step process, stropping is more of a feel game for me. Unlike a stone where the surface is always relatively flat and hard, the strop surface can be flat or not so flat, firm or soft, smooth or not so smooth and each individual strop may perform differently depending who is using it. Keeping the blade in flat contact to the surface is the main trick.


    I think more discussion is needed regarding the art of stropping. Many posters have reported that they blew the edge off while stropping. Also, nobody has ever reported nicking a hone while honing but there are many reports of nicking a strop.


    Looking forward to more in depth stropping discussions. JMO.
    Hello,

    Time for you all to shoot me down in flames but my question is what is so difficult about stropping (and no I've never tried ). And why do people say they nick their strops when the blade is at the back of the movement each time?

    The reason I ask is that I've just watched a video of a guy stropping on a block strop and it looks a piece of cake. Is this down to the skill of the person in the video? (I guess the answer is probably yes). Is it down to the block strop having a constant flat surface? Or is it that stropping isn't actually that difficult if you concentrate and the people who are having problems are the ones that rush and make mistakes?

    I'm sure I'll be in for a barrage and that I'll issue an apology when I've actually tried it for myself but I had to ask

    Thanks,

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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    As jerry says,stropping is paramont,as you say, most people do not concentrate.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    It just really is one of those things that is harder to do right than it looks on any vid. When you do actually try doing it you will see what everyone means.

    Bob
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    Forum mogwai thebigspendur's Avatar
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    Well, you won't nick a hone with a razor because most hones are way harder than the razor so you'll nick the razor though you can scratch up some hones pretty easily with a razor or through improper honing.

    Stropping is not as easy as it looks but honing is harder because in stropping you are performing one operation while in honing you need to know what hone to use and how many strokes to use and what stroke technique and pressure to use to fit the razor and it's condition. That's in addition to being able to keep the razor in proper stance to the hone which changes also.
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    Mental acuity to task, manual dexterity and an abstinence from spastic mis-motions will keep nicks out of strops. Then there is a technique used in the rubbing motion of the edge on material that yields desired results. Couple all this with mussel memory and a quality strop and razor then you are in business. Sure it looks easy enough but sometimes we humans suffer from a release of gasses in the brain where results can cause the edge to lead rather than the desired opposite. Stropping, positively necessary. Try it. You may like it. It is actually addicting.

    Regards

    Chasmo
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    Senior Member rmagnus's Avatar
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    Had to laugh a little at this. I said the same thing about surfing. Come on how hard could it be to stand on a surfboard and ride a wave? Answer: harder than it looks. Its akin to standing on a float in your swimming pool. harder than it looks.

    Stropping is an acquired skill. It's also a great way to kill a perfect edge but of course there are plenty of ways to do that. If you really want to know how difficult it is give it a whirl then report back here. There are many things to learn and master in SR shaving which is part of the appeal. I would agree stropping may in fact be one of the most challenging (along with getting the hollows of my neck BSS).
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    Senior Member deepweeds's Avatar
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    Also, as long as a hone is lapped well, it is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Once you're used to it (at least on a given blade), you're used to it.

    A strop, though: I live in a place that has four distinct seasons. The strop dries, I condition it, it takes in humidity, it cups lightly at the edges, I rub them soft with my fingers, it dries again… and all this time, I'm stropping on it. The draw changes a little like this and a little like that, week in and week out. This sounds fiddly, but remember it's spread out over months and years. Still, you use a hone; you live with a strop.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    I'm w/ Magnus - 'harder than it looks, and best viewed w/ humility and humor. I'm somewhat known for my rocky road while learning to strop. I destroyed 5 strops - all for lack of a single tidbit of info: get the edge off the strop *before* you end your stroke & initiate your flip. I thought I could end a stroke at a dead stop w/ no movement. My strops knew better.

    Afdavis' vid was wonderful - and I pay alot of attention to anything he writes on stropping.

    The honorable MrSell has posts on other forums that go into more detail. PM him about his post 'Please don't nick your strop'.

    For all our writing, it sure seems like we haven't recovered alot of knowledge on stropping. Pressure, no pressure, this vs that material, snots, sprays, drool & dribbles. We teach that the strop is kept 'taught', and the well known vid of Liam Finnigan shows sloppy, curvy absence of tension. As you may have seen - one technique I'm glad to see retired was rubbing a strop w/ either powdered or a solid bar of lead. "Linen" used to mean flax fiber, which has been superior to any cotton fabric I've tried. But real linen is almost impossible to buy now.

    It all makes me feel quite humble about the topic, and glad I get edges as good as they are.

    Have some fun & keep your sense of humor nearby.
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    Senior Member meleii's Avatar
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    My biggest culprit on nicking a strop has been loose scales! You can be going along great then all of a sudden the scales move the tiniest bit, you lose your concentration on stropping because the razor is no longer in your hand the way you like, then like and idiot try to adjust your grip and boom, a nick in your strop. Also in the same category with loose scales is children, pets and significant others, oh and the big cutter of the face for me would be lady bugs, the occasional fly and the cellphone ringing and scaring the hell out of you when you have the blade to your face.

    My apologies for the tangent. They are just a few things not mentioned often.
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