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Thread: Why Strop On Fabric Before Leather?

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    Default Why Strop On Fabric Before Leather?

    We all strop on fabric before leather, but I've never been clear on why this is necessary. Even if the fabric is more abrasive, is it actually removing steel? Whatever the fabric does would the leather eventually do anyway? Have any of you guys done an informal experiment, comparing an edge stropped on fabric and leather with one stropped on leather only? Did the old time barbers with a strop attached to the chair use a fabric component?
    Last edited by TheLegalRazor; 12-20-2012 at 11:56 PM.
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    takes some of the burnished metal from the razor.
    You can skip and strop on leather only, but eventually the strop will load with metal particles.
    Stefan

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    Silky Smooth
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    There are different theories. I believe that the linen does remove a significant amount of metal and therefore acts like a very mild hone. My canvas strop gets grey over time and gets cleaned occasionally. I don't strop on canvas every time, only when my razor loses some of it's ability to instantly grab ands cut my whiskers. That happens about every two or three weeks; I usually shave six days a week. I don't have a moustache or beard. I have never honed my razor on a stone in the almost two and a half years since I bought it new and cracked the Dovo factory seal on it's box.The barbers I went to in the 1960s through 1980s had a linen and leather strop hanging from each of their chairs.
    Last edited by JeffR; 12-20-2012 at 11:51 PM.

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    Senior Member ccase39's Avatar
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    How do you clean a cotton strop? I sometimes go from linen with chromium oxide to my cotton strop and I think over time a little bit of the chromium oxide has come off onto the cotton. I don't think its enough to hurt anything and I can't really see green on it,its just a little bit discolored. May even just be metal particles from the blade itself. I have since started wiping my blade before I move from the chromium oxide strop to the cotton strop.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    The linen fabric strop is to clean the razor of skin, blood, soap and oxidation (rust), so you will not imbed all that junk into you leather strop. Once imbedded into the leather pores it will never all come out, which is why we see random, large deep stria on magnified photos of bevels.

    Look at your razor under magnification, before you strop it. All that “stuff” can affect you final edge if you are stropping on it. Linen stropping may cause some edge re-alignment and polishing, but mostly it is for cleaning.

    Linen and cloth strops can be washed with soap and water and while all contaminants may never be removed, small amounts of contaminates will not grossly affect performance. But if one seeks the best, finest edge quality… it is some to be considered.

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    To clean my canvas strop, I rub a little lather on it then wipe it with a clean, damp rag. Comes out nice and white. It's an Illinois #361 strop and the canvas is heavily coated with sizing or something similar; it doesn't seem to retain much grime after the cleaning.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccase39 View Post
    How do you clean a cotton strop? I sometimes go from linen with chromium oxide to my cotton strop and I think over time a little bit of the chromium oxide has come off onto the cotton. I don't think its enough to hurt anything and I can't really see green on it,its just a little bit discolored. May even just be metal particles from the blade itself. I have since started wiping my blade before I move from the chromium oxide strop to the cotton strop.
    Don't you have to worry that you are adding the paste to your linnen now? Thought you were suppose to wipe the blade then go to linnen and then leather?

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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Yes, you probably have made your linen into a pasted linen strop and possibly your leather as well, to some extent. How much depends on how your pasted strop is pasted (how much Chrome Ox was applied, most use too much) and how much was on the spine & bevel. Probably not enough to worry about now.

    Many linen strops were pasted to begin with though not with Chrome Ox. I would clean your blade in the future to keep contamination to a minimum. The most intrusive contaminate to hanging strops is air borne dust.

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    Senior Moderator JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLegalRazor View Post
    Did the old time barbers with a strop attached to the chair use a fabric component?
    I'm sure many of the old time barbers did. The strops came with the leather and the linen. I remember seeing at least one or two of my barbers, over the years, use both but I am sure it depended on whether it was a quick refresh or serious stropping.

    Interestingly enough , to me anyway, the 1961 barber manual in the SRP Wiki help files here mentions that there is a controversy between those who feel the linen is necessary and those who feel it is not. So this is not a new debate. I have found that stropping on linen before leather seems to make a very positive difference in my edges. We all have to try it both ways to see for ourselves.

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