June 22, 2017 5 min read
Published by Naked Armor
That straight razor blade in your hand is a deadly weapon in all fifty states.
Take it a bit seriously but also understand that keeping it new requires some straight razor maintenance.
A straight razor is a piece of metal.It doesn't require much care, and it will last a long time if you don't ruin it by hitting the edge of the blade or dropping it.
It should be kept around room temperature in a dark, dry place, like a medicine cabinet or a drawer in your bathroom. If you buy a Naked Armor blade, we always sell them with a leather case that you should use to protect them while traveling.
We also recommend keeping them off the bathroom counter where moisture can accumulate. Rack your blade and brush on our straight razor stand, this get's them off any wet surface and also allows them to be exposed to a consistent air flow.
Straight razors aren't too fussy except when it comes to humidity. If you keep yours in a drawer, keep it near the front so you can get at it easily. Bathrooms get humid; it's best to store your razor in the part of the drawer that gets the most air circulation.
Never use a metal polish on your blade. They damage the surface and leave polish residue on the blade. You also don't want to get polish on your face. Not recommended.
Also, don't use waxes, oils, lacquers or polishes on the handle unless they've been suggested by the manual or you know what you're doing. These things often do more harm than good to an instrument that's designed to last forever.
Straight razor maintenance is an important part of caring for your razor.
— D'Rock, Naked Armor Founder
Learning the parts of the straight razor can help you understand what you need to keep an eye on and also helps when you are trying to impress your friends.
For a deep dive into each of the part see this article here.
Cleaning The Blade.
Periodically cleaning the entire surface of the blade with ethyl or rubbing alcohol can keep it top shape longer.
Do this every few weeks and apply a thin coat of mineral oil or silicon oil once the alcohol dries from the blade. After ten minutes, wipe away any excess oil—if you don't use it every day then leave a little oil on the blade to protect it.
Clean the blade with rubbing alcohol after each use to prevent rusting and to keep everything hygienic.
You shouldn't ever have to do anything to the hinge. If it gets tight or squeaky, a little lubrication might do the trick. If it breaks, get it repaired.
Some blades come with an adjustable hinge and in this case, you might need to use a special Allen wrench to make small adjustments. Don't over tighten the hinge, you might strip the threads and render your blade unusable.
Depending on the material it's made of, the handle shouldn't need much maintenance. Clean it once in a while as it gets dirty.
Don't use soap and water to clean a wooden handle. A little oil on the wood is fine—you can spread a little oil from the blade (see above) on to the handle to help lubricate the wood.
Just make sure you wipe it down before using it so that you get a good grip while shaving. Nobody likes a slippery handle.
The Copper Caps.
You'll need to buy some copper cream, I like this one from Wrights. Once you get the cream, you can clean the copper end caps on the blade.
It's ok to get the cream on the wood but try and keep it off the blade.
Follow the video below for a quick tutorial.
This is the most important skill that you will need to learn when you buy a straight razor. Somehow, you will need to maintain your razor's edge and keep it sharp.
You do this with a strop—a leather strap that helps you keep your blade's edge sharp. However, be very careful here because you can also ruin the blade by improperly stropping.
We have an entire article on stropping here with videos and lots of tips. If you bought a straight razor without a strop then it's like having a bike without wheels. You must get a strop to maintain your razor.
Stropping doesn't sharpen the blade so much as bring it all to a point again. During straight-razor shaving, the blade is dulled slightly due to microscopic changes in the shape of the edge.
You should strop the blade before every use, 15 to 25 times with a clean leather strop. You can strop the blade with clean linen afterward to remove any possible leather residue (that's the blue side below).
Now let's talk about honing—once again. We have a deep dive into honing here. Simply put, honing is replacing or improving the edge with wet stones—much like professional knife sharpeners would do.
If you bought a straight razor that hasn't been honed, you should hone the blade when you use it—or have someone professionally hone it. We have a list of honing professionals in our Honing Guide (free download). Blades should be honed every six months of regular use.
Also, beginners should opt for a professional honing until they get a chance to learn how to do it. Honing brings the blade to a fine edge again after it has dulled slightly over the course of several months.
It's an art form even the manliest men rarely perfect, but everyone should know how to sharpen a blade. In addition to honing, like we said above, you should be stropping the blade every time you shave.
For men just getting into the straight razor world, remember it takes practice to use the blade properly. If it doesn't feel sharp the first couple of times, it may be in your technique—not the blade. Straight razor maintenance is an important part of caring for your razor and with these quick and easy techniques, your blade will last for decades.
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