How To Strop a Straight Razor

October 07, 2017

How To Strop a Straight Razor

Naked Armor

Having a great blade though doesn’t mean that one will never have to resharpen it.

Published by Naked Armor

Real gents know how to shave with a straight razor.

Not only does it make one feel more manly, it’s also a really cool skill to have.

There’s also the fact that there are more benefits to using a straight razor than a flimsy disposable cartridge razor.

An essential part of learning straight razor skills is also learning how to strop. Stropping is realigning the edge of a razor blade after its been sharpened. As the last stage in the sharpening process, it is usually done on a leather strap called a strop.

Learning how to strop a razor is an important part of maintaining the sharpness of a straight razor.

Why A Straight Razor

In case you are sitting on the fence about getting a straight razor, let's review a few of the reasons why one should use a straight razor before moving on to the topic of stropping.

For one, it simply provides better, smoother shave. Your skin will feel as soft as a baby’s behind—which your girlfriend will love.

It’s also cheaper and better for the environment; disposable plastic razors are not cost-efficient in the long term and add to the plastic pollution in the environment, what with all the plastic that it uses during manufacture and packaging.

Shaving with a straight razor also requires that you slow down and take your time while you shave. Like meditation, this kind of mindfulness has plenty of benefits for your mental wellness. In short, you’ll basically be an evolved human.

Razor Maintenance

There are some things you need to take into consideration as a straight razor shaver. Your razor is a very important and sacred tool—you need a nice one and you need to keep it sharp.

Dull razors can irritate your skin and cause unsightly nicks and scrapes, and that’s not very gentlemanly at all. Here’s a quick rundown on what you can do to keep your razor in tip-top shape—and things you should never do at all.

"Cheap straight razors will either be dull from the get-go or go dull after a few shaves. That's why you are always better off investing in a great blade."

— Derek, Naked Armor Founder

Stropping vs. Honing

I know, it sounds confusing. We are going to break it down for you, so keep reading.

A sharp well-made blade is the most important aspect of straight razor shaving. As our founder Derek said in a recent interview:

"Cheap straight razors will either be dull from the get-go or go dull after a few shaves. That's why you are always better off investing in a great blade."

Having a great blade though doesn’t mean that one will never have to resharpen it. Just like any tool, a razor requires regular maintenance in the form of honing and stropping.

Honing sharpens a razor by removing steel. Stropping, meanwhile, realigns the small deformations that happen at the blade’s edge during shaving. It’s more of a fine-tuning process that keeps the edge of your blade sharp between uses. This is why stropping is done before every shave. In contrast, honing is only done as needed, especially when the blade becomes dull.

Honing also requires a set of wet stones and lots of practice. If you want to learn about honing you can check out this article or download our Free Honing Guide.

The important thing is, you need to learn how to strop before you learn about honing.

Preparing To Strop

First you need to get a razor strop. It’s basically a flexible strip of leather, denim fabric, canvas, balsa wood or other soft material. Hanging strops are the most common. They consist of a canvas strip and a leather strip.

There are two key things to consider when you are stropping your razor:

1. Always draw the blade away from the cutting edge so that the razor doesn’t dig into the leather.

2. Hold the razor at the same bevel angle consistently throughout the stropping process. If you raise the angle up or lower it down, it will affect the edge of the razor in the wrong way and you will destroy the edge.

If you’re using Naked Armor’s Blue Eel Razor Strop, remember that you strop on the leather surface- not the rough leather bottom, but the very top of the strop. The blue part is for a light cleaning of the edge before you start to strop.

How To Strop A Straight Razor

Hang the strop from a bathroom drawer by one of the hooks on the strip. Hold the handle at the strop’s bottom in your left hand, and pull the strop tight. Hold the razor by its handle, and place it flat on the strop end farthest away from you.

Draw the blade toward you, with the edge pointing away from you, and then rotate the razor to draw it away from you, with the edge pointing toward you. Keep the strokes slow and even.

Always draw the blade away from the cutting edge so that the razor doesn’t dig into the leather.

Use a strop that is about a foot long and a few inches wide. If the strop is too long, it's hard to control it, and if it’s too short, you have to keep repositioning the razor, which can lead to uneven sharpening.

Count the number of strokes you make—start with 15 to 20. If it’s still not sharp, strop on. You can see the effect of stropping by noticing the black marks of metal that have come off the blade onto the leather.

Exercise care while you are stropping so you don’t cut yourself, and try not to overstrope—knives can only get so sharp.

After you get more familiar with the process, stropping should only take you 30 seconds a day, and you’ll find it keeps your razor in great shape so you can enjoy a smooth shave every time!


Read Next

THE BEST BUDGET STRAIGHT RAZOR #1 PICK



Also in News & Blog

Are Plastic Razors A Menace To The Environment?
Are Plastic Razors A Menace To The Environment?

October 22, 2018

We don’t really realize it, but plastic razors are probably the most wasteful accessory on our bathroom sink.
Read More
Should I Use Shaving Cream or Soap?
Should I Use Shaving Cream or Soap?

October 14, 2018

If you are new to wet shaving, deciding whether to use shaving cream or soap would probably be one of those dilemmas that you will be having, right after deciding if you’re going to use a safety or a straight razor.
Read More
OF SHAVING AND PRE-CONQUEST: How Native Americans Shaved Before Columbus Came
OF SHAVING AND PRE-CONQUEST: How Native Americans Shaved Before Columbus Came

October 07, 2018

Was shaving a thing among the Native Americans before Columbus came? As America gears up to commemorate the man who “discovered” the New World, we at Naked Armor were spurred into thinking about how Columbus might have also been responsible for spreading the gospel of shaving here on these shores.
Read More

Subscribe