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Thread: Questions on strops

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    Junior Member emacsomancer's Avatar
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    Default Questions on strops

    I finally purchased a quality straight razor, a W&B, from someone in shave-ready condition (the razor I mean). I already have soaps, brushes etc., but I'm wondering about stropping and also what else I should get, now and/or eventually.

    I actually have an Illinois strop from an ill-fated attempt to get a straight razor in the 1990s:

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    It's an Illinois 835, but it looks a bit different from the 835s I see for sale online.

    I also have a piece of wood with leather fixed to to both sides (the leather's about 3" wide) that I have for sharpening knives:
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    I have the Illinois strop currently hanging from a screw in my bathdoor door (set about head-height). That's probably not ideal for stropping, no? What is the best way/place to attach this sort of strop?

    How would using my leather-fixed-to-wood strop compare to the hanging one? is it worth reserving the former for compounds? or is it better just to get balsa wood for those purposes?

    FInally, other than stropping (and occasionally using chrome oxide?) should I be bothering about doing other things to maintain the edge? I think for the first time it needs rehoning, I'll probably send it out. (Though eventually I'd like to learn how to hone). Is it worth picking up a very fine waterstone or film for mild rehoning?

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    Senior Member blabbermouth Leatherstockiings's Avatar
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    I have my strop hanging at about waist high and use a simple cup hook screwed into a window frame. This thread has some really good info and videos on stropping.
    StropTober: Beginning Oct 1st 2012
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    Senior Member blabbermouth Haroldg48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leatherstockiings View Post
    I have my strop hanging at about waist high and use a simple cup hook screwed into a window frame. This thread has some really good info and videos on stropping.
    StropTober: Beginning Oct 1st 2012
    Same here on the cup hook window sill arrangement. That leather on the board looks pretty rough. I don't think I'd use it on a razor.
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    I used to like to watch pro barbers strop when I was a kid, and as I grew older, though you didn't see them too much after the 1970s/80s. Anyway, most all had their strops hanging waist high from their barber chairs. Many of the old Koken chairs had a hook built in to the chair for hanging a strop. I usually attach mine to a zip tie on a door knob. Hangs about waist high and that is how I am used to stropping. That Illinois ought be be a good one IMO.
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    There is no charge for Awesomeness Jimbo's Avatar
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    Yeah, I agree - waist high (or slightly higher) seems a natural height for stropping. Having said that I've seen head height stropping - it happens at a 45 degree incline - and the person seemed quite comfortable with it.

    I suppose it depends on what you have available to hook it to, and what you are most comfortable with.

    The illinois looks fine. To me, the leather on wood looks OK too, but a good strop needs to be smooth, so don't use it if it isn't. And of course be careful of those staples holding the leather to the wood. Some people find when starting out with stropping that a paddle strop (in essence what you have with the leather on wood) is easier as it is rigid with no sag.

    Pasting a strop with abrasive compounds is a one-way street: once you go there you cannot ever go back (i.e., your leather is forever impregnated with abrasive and can never be used as a plain leather strop again). So keep that in mind when deciding what to do with the pastes. The choice is yours of course, but if it were me I wouldn't be pasting Illinois, I'd leave it as my plain leather strop. Perhaps just grab some balsa to start with, see how that goes.

    If you strop well you can maintain the edge for a while. Though when you first start out that's probably not going to happen. You can also maintain (or touch up) an edge with the pastes and CrOx can be used for that, definitely. At this stage I'd concentrate on that, and think about stones down the track. Maybe something like a barber's hone could be useful, but I'd see how I went with CrOx (maybe whip up another leather on wood contraption for the CrOx, or as you say, try balsa).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    Yeah, I agree - waist high (or slightly higher) seems a natural height for stropping. Having said that I've seen head height stropping - it happens at a 45 degree incline - and the person seemed quite comfortable with it.
    James.
    Yeah, I do that.
    My strop hook in the bathroom is mounted at about 6 feet.
    I didn't really plan for it, but it was the most natural place to hang them at the time.
    Works a charm..
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    Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years....


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    There is no charge for Awesomeness Jimbo's Avatar
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    Of course if you mount it at Birn's head height have tissues ready for the altitude-related nose bleed.

    James.
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    I took the middle hinge on the closet door and pushed the hinge pin up a tad and hook the strop to that. A little more than waist height.

    The Illinois you have there looks fine. I'd just use it as intended as a hanging strop.
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    Hanging strop waist high for me, too, gentlemen. I have always been fond of the Illinois strops, especially the barber strop, the one without a handle, whatever the number is.
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    Junior Member emacsomancer's Avatar
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    Many thanks for all of the feedback.

    yes, on second thought my strop-on-wood is probably way too rough for razor - I'll keep it for knives. Balsa wood with CrOx seems like a cheap way to go. Are there any other paste-y things aside from CrOx which are worth considering at this point?

    I'll have to see what I can rig up for the hanging strop - I imagine it might be easier to manage at first at least at waist height. (Do I need to do anything to condition it? It's about 15-20 years old, but hasn't been used.)

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