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Thread: Newbie strop/paste explanation

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    Member toroo's Avatar
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    Question Newbie strop/paste explanation

    Hi! Being new to straight razor shaving something still confuses me. While browsing i usually run into one of these:


    Strops with canvas.
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    Without canvas
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    These type of "sharpening" belts.

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    Paste
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    And bags of chromium and iron oxide.

    There is lots of info out there on how to use a strop but i wanted to know the differences, and when to use what. I know what to strop is for. And i know you need "a" strop.

    Would a leather strop be enough?
    Do you need a canvas strop also?
    What paste goes where, and why are there so many different pastes?
    How often do you need to apply the paste? How to apply the chromium and iron oxide when it comes in bags?
    How well do those "sharpening belts" work?

    Sorry for asking here but i could not really find a place that explained it very well.

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    Scheerlijk Laurens's Avatar
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    Someone else is probably faster than me, but here goes!

    Quote Originally Posted by toroo View Post
    Would a leather strop be enough?
    Yes, but it will blacken in time.

    Do you need a canvas strop also?
    Not necessarily, but it is said that it has some more/coarser stropping power

    What paste goes where, and why are there so many different pastes?
    Paste goes onto something flat and hard, that's what those paddle strops are for. If you put it on a flexible strop, you'll slightly round the edge as the strop cups around the razor.

    How often do you need to apply the paste? How to apply the chromium and iron oxide when it comes in bags?
    Depends on the paste. My green Dovo paste somehow sticks better to razors than the leather strop, whereas my red Puma paste stays on the strop perfectly. Be assured you can go for years and years with one little block of paste.
    Powdered paste should be mixed with oil, such as neatsfoot (or, as I did, mineral oil, works as well) and then lightly applied to your strop. Wipe with kitchen paper until the paper comes away almost clean.


    How well do those "sharpening belts" work?
    They're called paddle strops Someone did a test with pastes only and managed to get a razor shave-ready with 9 micron diamond paste and Dovo green/red/black pastes. They are enough, but I think hones are more fun.

    Sorry for asking here but i could not really find a place that explained it very well.
    You haven't searched well! Almost all questions have been answered on this forum. Doesn't mean you cannot ask, though, we're nice guys
    I want a lather whip

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    barba crescit caput nescit Phrank's Avatar
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    This is a good thread...just posted a similar thread in stropping.

    Now my question is, I have a hanging leather / canvas strop, just got some DOVO white / grey paste.

    I haven't used it yet, but the idea is to apply some to the canvas side and achieve a more refreshed edge.

    How do you apply the paste and how much?

    Once applied, how many laps would you do?

    Thanks!

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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Default Yup - it gets confusing

    Toroo - first off - bravo for taking the plunge into quality shaving. I think you'll thank yourself.

    There's lots of use for a strop - but the focus when learning is how to use linen and leather that is clean and free from pastes or abrasive sprays. The finer points seem to have lots of controversy and strong opinions, but few would argue that learning to strop well with untreated material is the first job w/ a strop.

    Linen - or what the marketing types now pass off as linen, seems to have had two functions. a) clean any residual gunk (soap scum mixed w/ scraped skin cells) from the blade so that it doesn't initiate rust & pitting and b) it sharpens (a little) and straightens out the edge that has become stretched and wavy from shaving.

    Leather - most all kinds - polishes the edge, which imparts additional feeling of sharpness and the smooth, polished surface gives less opportunity for invasion by moisture. An edge that's slightly harsh from honing, can often be smoothed out by some time on leather.

    Controversies abound, but for now - those are a distraction from the job at hand of learning to strop your edges well. Probably the best thread I've seen on it was Glen's a couple yrs back: Beginners Tips: March 2011

    I don't hide the fact that I *SUCKED* at stropping when I started out. I destroyed 5 strops. It did not come easily for me. The leather butchery was mostly from not knowing that it was impossible to come to a dead stop at the end of a stroke. The other culprit was the small razor (4/8) on latigo. Latigo can get 'grabby', suddenly having a large increase in friction that grabs the spine, rotates the blade over on the spine - sending the edge into the surface of your leather. Sigh. You'll undoubtedly do better than I did.

    You'll soon be posting about how much you LOVE your shaves. That will put a big smile on my face. Enjoy!
    cudarunner likes this.

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    Member toroo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinklather View Post
    Toroo - first off - bravo for taking the plunge into quality shaving. I think you'll thank yourself.

    There's lots of use for a strop - but the focus when learning is how to use linen and leather that is clean and free from pastes or abrasive sprays. The finer points seem to have lots of controversy and strong opinions, but few would argue that learning to strop well with untreated material is the first job w/ a strop.

    Linen - or what the marketing types now pass off as linen, seems to have had two functions. a) clean any residual gunk (soap scum mixed w/ scraped skin cells) from the blade so that it doesn't initiate rust & pitting and b) it sharpens (a little) and straightens out the edge that has become stretched and wavy from shaving.

    Leather - most all kinds - polishes the edge, which imparts additional feeling of sharpness and the smooth, polished surface gives less opportunity for invasion by moisture. An edge that's slightly harsh from honing, can often be smoothed out by some time on leather.

    Controversies abound, but for now - those are a distraction from the job at hand of learning to strop your edges well. Probably the best thread I've seen on it was Glen's a couple yrs back: Beginners Tips: March 2011

    I don't hide the fact that I *SUCKED* at stropping when I started out. I destroyed 5 strops. It did not come easily for me. The leather butchery was mostly from not knowing that it was impossible to come to a dead stop at the end of a stroke. The other culprit was the small razor (4/8) on latigo. Latigo can get 'grabby', suddenly having a large increase in friction that grabs the spine, rotates the blade over on the spine - sending the edge into the surface of your leather. Sigh. You'll undoubtedly do better than I did.

    You'll soon be posting about how much you LOVE your shaves. That will put a big smile on my face. Enjoy!
    Thanks. This thread is really helpfull already!

    I bought myself a cheap strop kit from whipped dog so id say that's a great way to start/learn.

    So if i get it right. The balsa strop from whipped dog is like paddle strop replacement. Right?

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    Senior Member sheajohnw's Avatar
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    There are a number of different substrate surfaces used to make bench or paddle strops including, balsa, hard felt, cotton/linen, and rough/smooth finished leather.

    There is almost universal agreement that the unpasted leather strop is needed after every shave to maintain a shave ready edge. Good stropping is critical because a good shave is not possible without a shave ready edge.

    There is widespread, but not universal agreement, that unpasted cotton/linen should be used before unpasted leather. Unpasted strops clean, polish, and straighten the delicate edge. They have a very mild abrasive effect.

    Pasted strops are a more abrasive surface which can be used when unpasted strops alone are no longer effective. A few passes on a pasted strop will usually restore unpasted strop effectiveness.

    Some prefer using very fine grit synthetic ( 8K +) or natural stones for touching up close to shave ready edges rather than use pasted strops. Pastes are available in various grit sizes and degrees of aggresiveness which affects not only sharpness but also perceived harshness of the edge on skin.

    If pasted strops cannot restore and edge to shave readiness, a trip to the stones for rehoning is needed.

    Unless damaged, a shave ready edge usually can be maintained for a long time using only pasted and unpasted strops.

    Hanging strops may be the most popular unpasted razor strop in the US. A hanging strop can act as a bench strop by being laid flat on a counter top edge for greater control while stropping. With good control and taughtness, a hanging strop will flex and twist to maintain an even pressure along the length of the blade. The user must keep the blade evenly positioned on the rigid bench and paddle strops. The loom strop mimics the properly tensioned hanging strop by having some ability to twist and flex under blade pressure (blade weight).
    Last edited by sheajohnw; 09-16-2013 at 09:44 PM.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth eddy79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phrank View Post
    This is a good thread...just posted a similar thread in stropping.

    Now my question is, I have a hanging leather / canvas strop, just got some DOVO white / grey paste.

    I haven't used it yet, but the idea is to apply some to the canvas side and achieve a more refreshed edge.

    How do you apply the paste and how much?

    Once applied, how many laps would you do?

    Thanks!
    The white isn't classed as abrasive. Just a small amount spread all over evenly then strop as normal. Should be info for all questions in the wiki . If easier use the search at the top.
    My wife calls me......... Can you just use Ed

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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    All good information except, pasted stropping does not “round” and edge, poor stropping does. A pasted strop can keep a razor shaving indefinitely.

    Paste are very subjective, grits and abrasives types are abundant and recomended of personal preference. Chromium Oxide and Cerium Oxide in that order are the most common and universally accepted. Once pasted a strop will last a long, long time, many years…depending on how often you strop on it and how cared for.

    You can put paste on almost anything, except your cereal and get good results. It is really more about technique that the substrate. Nylon, Canvas, Linen and Leather will provide best results, experiment.

    All said, improper stropping technique, is the cause of most novice shavers dulling a razor edge, a pasted strop will just dull and edge quicker with poor technique. Inattention and speaking with your bride while stropping are guaranteed to nick your strop.

    Go slow, keep the razor flat, pay attention at the flip and forget all the stropping videos, TV and movie footage you have seen of actors stropping like Zubin Mehta.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Phrank

    Before you paste your strop, make sure the paste is the one you will want on your strop. You will only get one shot, you cannot remove paste completely.

    Cut a piece of cardboard from a Cereal box and experiment with different paste on the unprinted side on the edge of a table or counter. Paint a 2 inch lattice with your finger on the cardboard, let dry and strop. Once you find the one you like apply to your strop.

    When pasting, less is more. You don’t need a lot of paste. A lattice or stripes polish and cut in one stroke.

    For your first paste I highly recommend Chromium Oxide, buy CO2 made for straight razors, it is not expensive and a bottle or stick will last a life time.

    Metal polish, Maas and Mothers also make great paste.

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    barba crescit caput nescit Phrank's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Euclid440 View Post
    Phrank

    Before you paste your strop, make sure the paste is the one you will want on your strop. You will only get one shot, you cannot remove paste completely.

    Cut a piece of cardboard from a Cereal box and experiment with different paste on the unprinted side on the edge of a table or counter. Paint a 2 inch lattice with your finger on the cardboard, let dry and strop. Once you find the one you like apply to your strop.

    When pasting, less is more. You don’t need a lot of paste. A lattice or stripes polish and cut in one stroke.

    For your first paste I highly recommend Chromium Oxide, buy CO2 made for straight razors, it is not expensive and a bottle or stick will last a life time.

    Metal polish, Maas and Mothers also make great paste.
    Thanks - the paste I ordered is just the DOVO white / grey paste for the linen / canvas side. Figure give that a try...

    I have a Chromium Oxide charged balsa board that I just received, haven't used it yet...pretty much have all my razors now professionally honed, so using a good rotation, and the refresher kit I got, I should be good to go for quite awhile before my next honing is required, given that I don't screw anything up!!

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