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Thread: Breaking in English bridle strops?

  1. #1
    Senior Member dshaves's Avatar
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    Default Breaking in English bridle strops?

    Hello all, I have a two PRC strops and one Bison made strop (SAD) which I believe they are all English bridle from Hermann Oak Leather. They are thick and stiff as boards. I have rubbed my palm on them until warm for a couple of months now to no avail they are still stiff as boards and too fast. Then I put a thin layer of boot oil on them which did not change anything, the strops absorbed the oil in seconds and the draw is still the same. The surface feels dry and smooth to the touch. I virtually never use them which is a bummer.

    My normal strop is a Latigo from classic shaving which is soft and flexible.

    What do you fellows suggest I do for breaking them in? Or any other suggestions? Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Previously lost, now "Pasturized" kaptain_zero's Avatar
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    Latigo leather has the most pronounced draw of all the leathers that I have tried, except for maybe my Illionois 827 Russian leather strop (a rough side out strop). Latigo and English Bridle could come from the same animal, it's the tanning process that is different and it would be near impossible to change the leather after it's tanned. This is why adding a bit of oil to your strops had minimal effect.

    I had an awful time getting used to a lighter draw after starting out with a Latigo strop. I eventually started using an old restored shell strop and it was like glass... I had a hard time controlling the razor on it, but I kept at it until I got used to the feel. Even though the razor just seems to fly over the leather, the results are unmistakable... Slick horse shell does work a treat.

    My suggestion is to start USING the strops, but stop trying to get them to behave like Latigo. Pick the one you like the least and stick with it, even if you get a few nicks because you have trouble controlling the blade... nicks can be sanded out so they don't catch and will not have an effect on stropping. My dads barbershop strop has several hundred sanded out nicks, feels like rubber and has a lot of draw, but it was all he needed back in the 50s and 60s to keep his razors going and his customers returning.

    I have an English Bridle strop from SRD and yes, it's much stiffer and has much less draw, but after months of use, the draw increased a small amount and it did soften a bit, but not that much. It is now my daily driver and my Latigo just hangs there, as does my shell and Russian red.

    I hear the Roo strops are very soft and flexible, but again... they are slick and fast.... Stiffness can help avoid rolling the edge from poor stropping technique so it's not a bad thing in and by itself, but many experienced shavers might prefer a more flexible strop, so you might want to give yourself 10 or 20 years of practice first.

    And finally, draw has zero effect on the edge, only the person wielding the razor and strop. A slick strop will work just as well as a high draw strop, and in fact, you may get a few chaps claiming the slick strops work better.... I have never noticed that, but I ain't gonna argue with a guy holding a straight razor!


    Regards

    Christian aka

    Kaptain "I'm not a tanner, so don't shoot me if I got something wrong" Zero
    dinnermint and dshaves like this.
    "Aw nuts, now I can't remember what I forgot!" --- Kaptain "Champion of lost causes" Zero

  3. #3
    Senior Member dshaves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaptain_zero View Post
    Latigo leather has the most pronounced draw of all the leathers that I have tried, except for maybe my Illionois 827 Russian leather strop (a rough side out strop). Latigo and English Bridle could come from the same animal, it's the tanning process that is different and it would be near impossible to change the leather after it's tanned. This is why adding a bit of oil to your strops had minimal effect.

    I had an awful time getting used to a lighter draw after starting out with a Latigo strop. I eventually started using an old restored shell strop and it was like glass... I had a hard time controlling the razor on it, but I kept at it until I got used to the feel. Even though the razor just seems to fly over the leather, the results are unmistakable... Slick horse shell does work a treat.

    My suggestion is to start USING the strops, but stop trying to get them to behave like Latigo. Pick the one you like the least and stick with it, even if you get a few nicks because you have trouble controlling the blade... nicks can be sanded out so they don't catch and will not have an effect on stropping. My dads barbershop strop has several hundred sanded out nicks, feels like rubber and has a lot of draw, but it was all he needed back in the 50s and 60s to keep his razors going and his customers returning.

    I have an English Bridle strop from SRD and yes, it's much stiffer and has much less draw, but after months of use, the draw increased a small amount and it did soften a bit, but not that much. It is now my daily driver and my Latigo just hangs there, as does my shell and Russian red.

    I hear the Roo strops are very soft and flexible, but again... they are slick and fast.... Stiffness can help avoid rolling the edge from poor stropping technique so it's not a bad thing in and by itself, but many experienced shavers might prefer a more flexible strop, so you might want to give yourself 10 or 20 years of practice first.

    And finally, draw has zero effect on the edge, only the person wielding the razor and strop. A slick strop will work just as well as a high draw strop, and in fact, you may get a few chaps claiming the slick strops work better.... I have never noticed that, but I ain't gonna argue with a guy holding a straight razor!


    Regards

    Christian aka

    Kaptain "I'm not a tanner, so don't shoot me if I got something wrong" Zero
    I will do what you suggested there using the least favorite to strop. I have done comparisons after honing same razor type and finished edge and find the Latigo (which started out stiff too) gives better results a more comfortable edge. If I have to just use them and palm rub to break them then I guess that is what am looking for confirmation of. I just wanted to know if there is a faster way or I am being too delicate. I would rather ask first then create a horror story lol. Thank you

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