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Thread: Pasted Strops a rough guide

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    Pasted Man Castel33's Avatar
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    Default Pasted Strops a rough guide

    Pasted Strops a rough guide. I have been using pasted strops now for awhile and thought I would share what I have learned about them.

    First I have two main kits that I have made very cheaply for my needs. The first one is a DIY pasted paddle strop that I made out of 1x1 piece of scrap wood that was 16 inches long. That was sanded smooth, stained and polyurethane. I then took an old leather belt, that had a rough untreated back to it, which I cut into roughly 1 inch strips and 12 inches long. Using contact cement I attached the leather to the 4 sides of the wood. To this I applied DOVO Green, Red, Black and a 9 micron diamond paste. This pretty much is the only pasted strop I use now for all my sharpening needs.

    My second kit is made all out of Balsa wood. In this kit I have seven pieces of balsa about 6 inches long and roughly 3 inches wide. On these I have applied 9 micron diamond paste, DOVO Green, Red, Black, White, Crox and Ferox. For this kit I have also made a holder for the balsa wood with a longer handle to make using them easier. This kit I do not really use at all anymore as I found the diamond compound and DOVO paste all work better on leather for me. Though the Crox and Ferox defiantly gave better edges on balsa which is about the only thing I use this kit for anymore.

    I have also tried the DOVO Black, Crox and Ferox on leather hanging strops but do not recommend using any paste with hanging strops as it is very easy to damage an edge that way.

    How to apply the paste can be a bit confusing but is relative simple. Fist you need to know the paste to be a paste. Some like the DOVO paste and Diamond paste I have encountered come in a paste form. Others like Crox and Ferox come in a powder form for these you would put a small amount of the paste in a bowl and add a few drops of mineral oil and mix it into a paste. Now to apply the paste it is best to go down the strop making X's all the way down the strop with one finger coated in paste. Once that is done you will go back and with the palm of your hand spread that paste out over the whole strop. Your goal is to only lightly be able to see that the paste is on the leather or Balsa. You want to be able to see the leather or wood. The wiki has a nice guide to this including pictures.

    Now with these kits you can maintain pretty much any blade pretty much indefinitely unless you seriously damage the bevel of the blade. As of yet I have not found a paste that can set a bevel on a blade. When I get more time I may try purchasing a higher micron diamond compound to try setting a bevel with. For now at the bevel setting level you will need a hone to set the bevel. Pretty much any hone that you can set the bevel on will work for this. I have used a NORTON Stone, Axe/Hatchet sharpening stone for setting a bevel and a Norton 4k stone to set the bevel. The 4k stone made it easier to bring a blade up to shave ready and did not leave as noticeable marks on the blade. Setting bevel on hones is discussed in other areas by much more experienced people then me in that so I won’t go into it at this time.

    This is a progressive system of sharpening. I haven't been able to find anything like the pyramid system for honing for paste. With my current setup I have had some blades come right up to shave readiness with very low lap counts and some that required very high lap counts. Its trial and error and after you have done this a few times you will come to have a feel for when a blade is ready to move to a different level of paste based on the feedback the blade will give you. Patience is key when sharping with paste. The technique is the same as your everyday stropping which will make this easier for some to learn then hones.

    So lets say the bevel is set now and the blade is just dull and needs to be made shave ready. The 9 micron diamond paste is the first paste to use and coming off this paste you are looking for the blade to smoothly shave your arm hair with no tugging or pulling. The idea with 9 micron paste is to smooth out any roughness from the bevel setting stage. Also the 9 micron can help you understand if your bevel is good. I have found that when my bevel is good the 9 micron will remove relatively little metal but if my bevel is not set right it will remove a lot of metal quickly and a black band will develop on the edge of the strop that will run the whole length of the strop. If I see this I always will take the blade back to my bevel setting hone. After the 9 micron you move to the DOVO Green and here you are looking to cut arm hair right above skin level. Next you will go to DOVO Red to pop arm hair about midway up the hair. Then DOVO Black to take just the tips off of the arm hair. Once DOVO Black is taking the tips off your arm hair you are ready for a shave test as at this point your edge will be about the same level as if you came off a 12k stone. You would then strop the blade on leather like normal and shave test the blade.

    As an example of this here is how my first go at fully sharping a blade with nothing but a pasted strop went. It was with a W. Greaves and sons Sheffield Razor that I found at an antique store that had a good bevel on it but was very dull to the point where it would not cut arm hair. At that time I only had the DOVO Green, Red and Black to work with. I started on the DOVO Green since it was the largest of the microns and did 350 Laps on it at which time the blade would pop arm hair right above skin level on my arm. At that time I moved on to DOVO Red and did 500 laps at which time the blade would pop arm hair midway above skin level with no problem. I then moved on to DOVO Black and did 600 laps on it at which time the blade was taking just the tips off my arm hair off. I then stropped on plain leather like normal and shaved. The blade gave a great shave. After which I restroped the blade and attempted the HHT which it passed with no problems.

    First let me say I wouldn't use the lap counts I have given as a guide I only include them at this time cause I have them and to show that it can take time to get the blade shave ready using paste. It really is a progressive type system where you are looking for certain results on shaving the arm hair to tell you when to move on. Since that first time I have added the 9 micron diamond paste and have tried this with different blades and had good results all around.

    Now if you wanted to get a sharper edge, either after DOVO black or off a finishing hone, then you would move on to the .5 micron Crox or similar and even farther to .25 micron Ferox or similar. These paste are really to just refine the edge of the blade and are very quick cutters. You will want to use them sparingly. As your blade should be shave ready coming off the DOVO Black or finishing hone you will only want to do 10-15 laps on the .5 micron and then 15-20 laps on the .25 micron to finish off the edge. If you are only going to use the .5 micron then you may want to double your laps. Other then shaving off these paste there really is no way that I have seen to really test if it is sharper. But you will know it when you shave with it. Edges finished on .5 or .25 in my experience break down quicker then just off of the DOVO Black or a finishing hone.

    This is where maintaining your razor on paste comes into play. Here you will be looking at using a finishing paste like DOVO Black, .5 micron or .25micron.

    Now you have been shaving with your razor for some time and it is not performing like you want it to and you want to refresh your blade. There are some options here if it is the first time you are refreshing your edge and you took it all the way out to .25 microns to start. You would then start with that paste by doing 15-20 laps and then test shaving. If that has not restored the edge go back and do 15-20 more laps and test shave. If that did not work move back to the .5 microns and do 10-15 laps and then 15-20 on .25 microns. You would continue to do this till it no longer works to refresh your blade. At that time I would go back to DOVO Red and move up till your back at .25 microns or if you are using hones to get to shave ready and then .5 micron or .25 I would take the blade back to your finishing hone. If you only took your blade to the .5 micron you would do 10-15 laps on it then test shave and if that did not work do 10-15 more and then test shave. Then if that still doesn't work go back DOVO Red or the Hones. Now with DOVO Black I will typically do 30 laps to refresh a blade and if that doesn't work I will go right back to DOVO Red.

    If when you go back to DOVO Red it doesn't seem to be working I normally go all the way back to the 9 micron and then back up the line. You can also test the blade on your arm hair to see where it is cutting to determine where you need to go back to.

    Another option for paste is to do preventive maintenance. Here you would pick your lowest micron that you took your blade to and do say 10 laps a week on it to prevent your blade from losing it sharpness for a very long time. Some people will even do this daily to a blade that they use everyday. I would say daily is over kill but it will not damage your blade you just got to be careful of over honing a blade on paste and creating a burr on the edge. While this is less likely than with a hone it can happen and something you need to be aware of especially if you use a .5 micron or .25 micron diamond paste.

    Now I have read that if you use paste on a blade eventually you will round your edge out or concave it making it more difficult to hone on a stone when you need it. Personally I have not seen this or believe that this would happen if you are using a paddle strop as the paddle is giving you a nice firm and smooth surface similar to a hone. If you are using a hanging strop I could see this becoming a problem for you as a hanging strop is meant to give some while you are using it. I have seen threads on this forum that different members on this forum have tried to prove or disprove this theory and all that I have seen found that they did not encounter this problem.

    Finally for the paste themselves. In traditional straight razor shaving DOVO Green, Red and Black were the most common commercial paste. From different sources that members have put on this forum there were also many homemade treatments for strops from fire ash to toothpaste. Now a days DOVO Green, Red, and Black are still used as well as Chrome Oxide, Ferrous Oxide, TI strop paste, and Diamond Paste. DOVO Green is 5-6 microns, Red 3-4 microns, Black 1-2 microns, TI strop paste is about 2 microns, Chrome Oxide is typically .5 microns but different grades are available, Ferrous Oxide is typically .25 but different grades of this is also available and Diamond paste runs the full gambit from .25 micron and up well past anything use full for a straight razor. In this guide I use DOVO's paste as that is what I use but you could use diamond paste that are of an equivalent micron. I am including a chart below that has a conversion from American standard grit, which is used for hones and sand paper, to microns.


    American Standard Grit/ Mircons

    100,000/ .25
    60,000/ .50
    14,000/ 1
    13,000/ 1.5
    9,000 / 2.5
    8,000 / 3
    5,000 / 4
    4,500 / 5
    2,800 / 7
    1,800/ 9
    1,400 / 14
    1,200 / 15
    1,050 / 18
    800/ 25
    600/ 30
    500/ 35
    325/ 45
    285/ 55
    240/ 70
    225/ 90
    160/ 110
    100/ 150
    Last edited by Castel33; 02-06-2011 at 09:41 AM.

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    Texas Guy from Missouri LarryAndro's Avatar
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    I believe pastes are much more useful in creating a good edge than indicated by the volume of discussion on SRP. Once I posted that balsa with abrasives could be thought of as a hone of sorts. I was immediately slapped on the wrists for that "foolish" statement... "a hone is a hone and a strop is not a hone."

    I think that pastes on balsa can substitute for more of the upper range of honing than is commonly acknowledged as evidenced by this long post. I think this was a great post, and that we need more discussion about use of pastes and strops in creating an edge.

    Quote Originally Posted by Castel33 View Post
    ... Now I have read that if you use paste on a blade eventually you will round your edge out or concave it making it more difficult to hone on a stone when you need it. Personally I have not seen this or believe that this would happen if you are using a paddle strop as the paddle is giving you a nice firm and smooth surface similar to a hone....
    Even though I agree with the above statement, on a pragmatic level I am not ready to abandon the possibility that a paddle strop can round an edge. Let's try this...

    In experienced hands, the paddle strop is not likely to round an edge. If improper technique is used, the paddle strop or any strop can round an edge.

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    Member AFDavis11's Avatar
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    Larry,

    Excellent point. As an aside I have owned and used a balsa paddle strop, made exclusively for me by Tony Miller, for years.

    I enjoyed this post a lot myself. I prefer stones but can certainly see a need for more conversation about strops with pastes.

    I've always been under the impression that they would be great for beginners.

    I think the main reason that I have found them difficult to use in the past is that they can be so effective at honing. Deceptively so. But, once you learn how to do something correctly it can become a wicked tool in the sharpening arsenal.

    I did a little research too, as I like to apply graphite powder to my strop on occasion. I notice this sits at about .6 micron which as you can see would produce a nice edge. Nothing like a 50K hone for 2-3 cents.
    Last edited by AFDavis11; 02-15-2011 at 01:13 AM.

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    Senior Member Bladerunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AFDavis11 View Post
    Larry,

    Excellent point. As an aside I have owned and used a balsa paddle strop, made exclusively for me by Tony Miller, for years.

    I enjoyed this post a lot myself. I prefer stones but can certainly see a need for more conversation about strops with pastes.

    I've always been under the impression that they would be great for beginners.

    I think the main reason that I have found them difficult to use in the past is that they can be so effective at honing. Deceptively so. But, once you learn how to do something correctly it can become a wicked tool in the sharpening arsenal.

    I did a little research too, as I like to apply graphite powder to my strop on occasion. I notice this sits at about .6 micron which as you can see would produce a nice edge. Nothing like a 50K hone for 2-3 cents.
    I have heard and read a lot lately on the graphite. I urge a lot of new users to re-evaluate your old strops. Guess what that black stuff is that builds up as residue on new leather? Good ole carbon, and it really makes for a great step in your paste/strop progression. A little Dovo black (a little) on that strop will be a great addition to your arsenal. As always YMMV.

    One more tip would be to use Dovo red on the rough side of a leather strop instead of fabric. I find it much more effective. I find that the higher (more course) grits work much better on leather while the finer grits really love wool and fabric.

    As far as rolling the edge, I have found it a matter of technique. The hand rolls the edge, not the strop surface.

    As always, experiment and ENJOY!
    Dachsmith likes this.

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    I Bleed Slurry Disburden's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AFDavis11 View Post
    Larry,

    Excellent point. As an aside I have owned and used a balsa paddle strop, made exclusively for me by Tony Miller, for years.

    I enjoyed this post a lot myself. I prefer stones but can certainly see a need for more conversation about strops with pastes.

    I've always been under the impression that they would be great for beginners.

    I think the main reason that I have found them difficult to use in the past is that they can be so effective at honing. Deceptively so. But, once you learn how to do something correctly it can become a wicked tool in the sharpening arsenal.

    I did a little research too, as I like to apply graphite powder to my strop on occasion. I notice this sits at about .6 micron which as you can see would produce a nice edge. Nothing like a 50K hone for 2-3 cents.
    Are you still using the #2 pencil on a piece of paper through rubbing and then applying the pencil to the strop with the paper? I saw the old thread where you mentioned this and I am very curious.

    I am going to start experimenting more with pastes, sprays, and other strop media off the Norton 8K. Last night I finished on a Swaty and used some .125 Boron Nitride spray and the shave was awesome...

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    I'm still trying to work out if paste is more efective on a strop or a leather 4 sidded paddle or single paddles? i seem to find hannging strop seems to be more efective or though as said above it seems a paddle or bench strop is better for the edge keeping it from convexing.

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    ChrisL (I think) bought one of those bunches of diamond pastes you can get on ebay and used them to hone (they go from 40 to .5 micron). If memory serves, he used balsa strops--and I think a harder wood for the larger diamonds-- and saw no edge rounding. I cant find the thread he kept up while doing this, but I'm sure someone can. It was a while back.

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    HLS
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    move to the DOVO Green and here you are looking to cut arm hair right above skin level. Next you will go to DOVO Red to pop arm hair about midway up the hair. Then DOVO Black to take just the tips off of the arm hair.

    I really don't understand this. You mean the hair should shave off at various points above skin level??? Why would it cut hair at skin level, then midhair, then tips? That sounds odd to me......please help me understand.
    If a razor is cutting hair, doesn't it always cut at skin level??

    Jim
    Last edited by HLS; 03-17-2011 at 10:29 AM.

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    Pasted Man Castel33's Avatar
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    Hey Jim you are right that if a razor will cut arm hair at skin level it always will cut arm hair at skin level. But a razor that has a bevel set correctly can take arm hair off at skin level pretty much all the time at the correct 30 degrees. What I found work best for me to test sharpness was to see how high up the hair I could cut it off cleanly off of different paste or hones for that matter.

    The idea of cutting the arm hair at different levels is similar to the HHT test but the hair is still attached to you giving the hair a different stiffness the farther you go from the skin make it harder to cut unless the razor is very sharp. I am looking for the same basic results as the HHT test. So when I say when I am done on DOVO green I can cut my arm hair just above skin level. I am cutting it a couple millimeters above skin level which will leave just a a little hair behind as if you were just trimming the hair. But if I was moving up the hair a couple more millimeters it would not cut or at least not cut cleanly. Then so on up the line with DOVO Red and DOVO Black.

    There are all different test that you can use that are explained here: Sharpness tests explained - Straight Razor Place Wiki
    I just found arm hair to be the best one for me.
    Last edited by Castel33; 03-17-2011 at 11:43 PM.

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    HLS
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    Thank you so much for clearing that up. Your entire post on this topic has been excellent. I'm definetly going to be using pasted strop paddles because of your useful post.

    Yours, Jim

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