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Thread: Leather Strops - are they a sham?

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    Default Leather Strops - are they a sham?

    I recently asked this question of the knife community. The consensus seemed to be that leather strops are commonly misused (too much pressure), and that there seems to be as many different "best burr removal/finishing" techniques and materials as there were people that replied to my post. In other words leather didn't seem to be the be all end all I had originally assumed.

    So, I'm curious what the straight razor community thinks?

    Are leather strops a sham?

    What do you find works best for you?

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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    What kind of strop are we talking about here, hanging or paddle?

    Bob

    On re reading your post you mention a "burr" having to be removed. I do not recall raising a burr as part of the straight razor honing process. If you do raise a burr honing a straight razor it is likely unwanted and unintentional. I imagine a couple of back strokes on the hone in use would eliminate a burr before you carry on the honing process.

    From what I have read, raising a burr is a common practice in knife sharpening. I guess that is one of the differences between knife sharpening and straight razor honing. Both endeavors are related but different enough to separate distinct processes.

    Bob
    Last edited by BobH; 06-09-2017 at 11:06 AM.
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    NZ's okayest dad 1997 Grazor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bang0Bang00 View Post
    I recently asked this question of the knife community. The consensus seemed to be that leather strops are commonly misused (too much pressure), and that there seems to be as many different "best burr removal/finishing" techniques and materials as there were people that replied to my post. In other words leather didn't seem to be the be all end all I had originally assumed.

    So, I'm curious what the straight razor community thinks?

    Are leather strops a sham?

    What do you find works best for you?
    Knives and razors have very little in common as far as what we regard as sharp, or "shave ready"
    A knife can be maintained with a steel, and may need a touch up on a hone or stone every now and again.
    A strop can maintain a razor for a long time, once you learn how to use it correctly.
    No sham at all, 300 + years of experience before I was born would have said so...
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    If you shave without stropping for a week or so with the same razor you will notice the deterioration of the edge smoothness on your face. Regular stropping keeps the edge aligned and smooth.

    Sham? Not when it comes to straight razors.
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    Like BobH said, There should be no "Burr" on a SR. Leather is the best final step to a good aligned edge.


    Also, IMO, leather is not the best way to remove the burr on a knife, either. IMO and experience, a slight stroke on clean wood removes a knife burr, followed by a couple passes on a 8K, then to leather. I don't strop on leather no ways near as many laps for a knife as I do a SR.

    Definitely not a sham in the way of SR's.
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    People use all types of materials with success for stropping. Leather is the original and classic material. It was used by barbers for a very long time and they seemed to like it.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    The simplest thing to do for the OP is to forget about knives and how they are sharpened and just ask about how straight razors are honed. If you want to know about straight razors, this is where to ask and not on a knife forum.

    Leather strops are not used to remove burrs when honing straight razors. The last thing you want to have happen is scratching your leather strop up with an edge that has a burr that should not be there at that point.

    Strops, leather and linen/canvas are used to align and smooth/burnish the tinfoil thin edge on a straight razor. So strops are not a shame when used in connection with straight razors.

    Bob
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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    No question that stropping improves a razor edge, but knives and razor edges are different with very different goals.

    Yes, in the last few years, knife guys have discovered high grit finishing stones and stropping bevels, mostly for looks. Very rarely does a knife edge need or work better with a smooth, super straight edge. Most “work” better with a bit of tooth.

    Proper stropping can keep a razor shaving at a very high level, for a very long time, theoretically indefinitely.

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    I ask because I find I get a significantly sharper straight razor edge off of Chromium Oxide on my rough suede paddle strop than I do off of the flawless leather side of the same strop. Sometimes I find if I go to leather after the CrOx on suede, the edge gets duller.

    No one else has experienced this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grazor View Post
    Knives and razors have very little in common as far as what we regard as sharp, or "shave ready"
    A knife can be maintained with a steel, and may need a touch up on a hone or stone every now and again.
    A strop can maintain a razor for a long time, once you learn how to use it correctly.
    No sham at all, 300 + years of experience before I was born would have said so...
    Exactly this.

    A steel is used to re-align the edge of a knife. It does not remove steel, it just brings the edge back into the proper alignment.

    A strop accomplishes the same thing for a razor. The very thin steel at the edge easily can deform away from the perfect "V" shape. Stropping brings the steel at the edge back into the proper alignment. If the razor is not stropped, those deformations increase in size and number and lead to them breaking off to leave micro-chips. Those deformations and micro-chips end up causing an uncomfortable shave. Stropping dramatically increases both the comfort of the shave and the life-span of the edge.

    Alton Brown's video with a giant foam knife does of great job of distinguishing honing and sharpening for knives. Please note that what knife people call honing or steeling is what razor people call stropping and while they use a steel rod, we use a leather strop. Also, what they call sharpening, we call honing! 
    Anyway, despite the term confusion, the video does a nice job of distinguishing between the two tasks.


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