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Thread: To strop or not to strop. (Howard Schechter) Videos

  1. #21
    Senior Member Longhaultanker's Avatar
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    I speak to Howard regularly. I was up his way only a couple of months ago and spent several hours with him. A kinder, more generous gentleman would be hard to find. Let me suggest picking up the phone and calling him if you have questions about his techniques, like I did.
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    I also think when one develops some expertise in this subject that one's preferences colors one's theories.

    You can decide that you like to hone your razor every week and maybe you only shave every other day. In this case you probably don't need to strop so you can decide that stropping isn't good.

    You might decide otherwise if you stopped honing so often but when people loving honing they aren't going to stop. Once you set the bevel you really never need to hone again (unless you quit stropping)
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    Senior Member blabbermouth tcrideshd's Avatar
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    The way he strops I s probably why he degrades an edge after 10 laps, cause properly stropping a razor on good leather can't be overdone. I usually only do 25/50 linen and leather, but I've done as much as a couple hundred laps just to see. It did not degrade my edge. It's all about technique. If your doing it right then your not hurting your edge. Tc
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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    I think the answer whether to strop or not depends on the person maintaining the edge and their preferences. In the video Howard says he hones up to 30K, and maintains his blades with weekly strokes on a coticule as opposed to stropping. At 30k I imagine it wouldn't take much at all to degrade an edge, so he may not be far off-base in his theory.

    About a year ago I was considering doing much the same - maintaining with just a few strokes on a hone every so often and eliminating stropping. But the conclusion I came to was that, when I did get it right, I much preferred the soft/smooth edge produced by GOOD stropping to the edge right off of any given hone in my collection. My guess is Mr. Schechter doesn't mind that ultra sharp edge and is content to use that - more power to him. Personally I can't imagine going beyond a 12K synthetic because my face is just too sensitive for that nonsense.

    For me, the strop is - and always will be - non-negotiable. YMMV.
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    To me this is roughly equivalent to the guy who says he never dries off his (DE) blade after shaving and it's never been a problem for him. However, this same guy changes blades every two days.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Theoretically the edge should be straight coming off a high grit stone.

    But, I have found much improvement in stropping after a high grit stone. For those of you using hair test, if you find a razor will not cut hair, after a high grit stone, strop it a few laps and often you will find it easily popping hair.

    A lot depends on your technique and is something you must try. I do know that stropping on leather will degrade an edge, after stropping on high grit paste.

    I too find the SG20 edge harsh. I have not shave off Shapton 30K.

    I saw this video some time ago and was puzzled by the comment. I felt as if it were out of context and Howard was not able to fully explain the comment.

    I would be interested in hearing his thought on this, fully.
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    Senior Member rodb's Avatar
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    For me, from bevel set to the shave is a process and stropping is an important part of that. I can't imagine not stropping, it's the ultimate refinement of the edge

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    I am one of the few that thinks that stropping does sharpen the edge albeit very slowly. It's like using a 100k hone. Rub a piece of leather against carbon steel and it will eventually turn black. Robert Williams pointed this out years ago
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  11. #29
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Quote Originally Posted by Euclid440 View Post
    Theoretically the edge should be straight coming off a high grit stone.

    But, I have found much improvement in stropping after a high grit stone. For those of you using hair test, if you find a razor will not cut hair, after a high grit stone, strop it a few laps and often you will find it easily popping hair.

    A lot depends on your technique and is something you must try. I do know that stropping on leather will degrade an edge, after stropping on high grit paste.

    I too find the SG20 edge harsh. I have not shave off Shapton 30K.

    I saw this video some time ago and was puzzled by the comment. I felt as if it were out of context and Howard was not able to fully explain the comment.

    I would be interested in hearing his thought on this, fully.

    Well, he references some 1000x images he saw at Shapton that changed his mind with regard to stropping more than 10 strokes, and what he saw he felt was negative. I think part of the problem at hand is that we can't see those same images to draw our own conclusions from them. And even if we could, it may well be the same end result as looking at the images viewed on the science of sharp page. We see photos of what (Science of Sharp) did to his razor with his equipment, but we question if he has the requisite experience and what those same images would look like had the razors been honed, stropped, etc. by someone with more time on the stones.

    I honestly can't even question his methodology. My coticule isn't the same as his, that's for sure. And the highest Synthetic I have is 8K. Some of my Naturals may go finer, but I doubt to 12K or very far beyond that. So by the time he gets to the fourth stone in his rotation he's already about twice as fine as I could possibly get - maybe more so since the Shaptons are on the Japanese scale IIRC, and over 3x when he reaches his final stone. I don't know how a 30k edge feels much less one honed by his hands, how long the edge will last, or if a weekly touch up on his coticule would be enough for me without stropping.

    I do know when I use 2 of my Welsh slates, my PHIG, and sometimes Translucent Arkie that I don't need to strop for comfort. I still do because I feel the edge only gets better/more comfortable, but again I'm at a much lower level of fineness than he is. And I think he made mention of that, in one of his videos or maybe a response in the comment section, that if he were stopping at an 8, 10, 12K stone like most* of us he would probably still strop too because at that level it IS an improvement. If there's a break point where stropping is no longer refining the edge, but rather walking it back, then you have to make a decision - do I stop stropping? Or do I stop refining the edge to that level since it's wasted effort?

    Right now I view it kind of like when we hit that threshold where we have a 12 or 16K synthetic, and a natural we really like - maybe a coticule or thuringian that feels good but isn't as fine as the synthetic. The question then is do we refine to 12/16K then roll it back down on the natural, bench the higher grit synthetics stop at 8k then move to the natural like we were doing before, or eliminate the natural all together?

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    Senior Member Wayne1963's Avatar
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    I did an experiment with my Robert Williams razor. Over a 2 week period, I stropped it several thousand times. The edge was just dandy after all that nonsense. Was the edge far superior to one that was normally stropped? No. What did I learn from this? My stropping really improved with all the practice, and I need to get out of the house more often.

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