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Stroppery

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Stroppery

Postby drmoss_ca » Sat May 25, 2013 2:42 pm

I'm beginning to suspect this topic is as important as razor choice and honing. Some of you might remember that I had a seven day set of Friodurs:

Image

But when my right shoulder developed an impingement syndrome after much stropping, and I didn't know anyone as good at injecting the subacromial space as me, I had to cut back on stropping. So I had John Crowley find me his best remaining Friodur blank and thus obtained the best single razor I could imagine. Honing and stropping has carried on as normal, but at only 1/7th the rate. On concentrating more on stropping to allow this single razor to go a minimum of 4 weeks before I use the pasted strop, I have discovered that my previous method os stropping was not optimal. I now let the strop sag slightly and press more firmly when stropping. I assume this lets the strop bend the edge more to each side in turn as the stropping progresses. I'm certainly finding the razor sharper, for longer, than before. I'm getting super-close single pass shaves and enjoying it enormously. All this with my favourite Dovo/Jemico Red Russian strop dressed with Jojoba Oil which I bought from Em's Place way back when she stocked such things and shipped to outlandish countries such as Canada.

The problem with all this was that I was always told - oh, so many years ago - that you must keep the strop as taught as you can, and use no pressure on the blade when stropping. Now I find allowing a little slack curve on the strop and fairly firm pressure gives a significantly better edge and shave. Well, it's so for my stainless Friodur, and might be so for your razor too.

Chris
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Postby rsp1202 » Sat May 25, 2013 4:59 pm

If there was ever a single photo that would tempt me to switch over to straight-razor shaving, this is it -- even without seeing the steel. That and the sentence, "I'm getting super-close single pass shaves and enjoying it enormously."
Ron
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Postby EL Alamein » Mon May 27, 2013 6:52 pm

Dr. Moss, I can say that I have had similar experiences with my TI Eagle. Like you I have settled on one of them for my daily blade and have dropped my rotation. I also apply a little pressure when stropping but I don't really let the strop slack all that much if at all.

I have had mixed results from a slightly slackened strop. Sometimes it seems to extend the blade sometimes it seems to cut it short. I have also dropped using the X pattern on the strop, preferring instead to do straight up and back. This seemed to extend the life of an edge more.

Also, I have come to believe that the linen makes a huge difference in longevity when it's impregnated with the Dovo white paste. I use a vintage (1950's or 1960's) Illinois strop with a linen that was definitely impregnated with the Dovo white paste - either at the factory or sometime over the decades by a previous owner. Plain vintage linen vs impregnated vintage linen definitely reveals a clear win for the vintage impregnated linen. I too like the Jemico strops for precisely the fact that they have impregnated linens. I had mine for travel but don't even use it for that anymore because I have procured a vintage Medal of Award strop some years ago that is wider and also has impregnated linen. I like it better for that purpose.

Anyway, we'll probably experiment and improve until they lower us in the ground. It will be good to pass on these thoughts in electronic medium so that the discussion and knowledge will be passed on.

Chris
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Postby drmoss_ca » Wed May 29, 2013 2:26 pm

Chris,
One of these days I shall have to downsize my life. It might mean a bunch of 6/8 Eagles becoming available. You shall have first refusal.

Now to important stuff. White paste - I prefer the Dovo linen to all others I have bought, but I have never successfully re-dressed the linen with extra white paste. I have to resist temptation and simply use the linen as is. The Red Russian leather can be improved with some oil (jojoba or neat's foot) but the linen can not. I'm willing to learn if you have any tips.

In truth I haven't bought any Dovo pastes for years. My bottles of HandAmerican Liquid Chrome are far better and the Flexcut Gold is an evil beast of a paste that serves as a rough and ready coarse sharpener that keeps my blade as sharp as I could want between honings.

Chris
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Postby EL Alamein » Wed May 29, 2013 5:34 pm

Dr. Moss, you are most gracious.

I wish I could offer more solid experience on the Dovo white paste but I can't. I've successfully dressed a vintage linen (that was undressed prior) with it and it works the same as my pre-dressed vintage linen. I applied it from the tube and rubbed it in just like dressing a leather strop with fat. The only caveat I can offer about this is that the dressing, once on the linen, seems to leave a film on the blade which I remove with tissue paper prior to stropping on leather. It's a bit of a PITA in that regards because in it's present incarnation it doesn't seem to completely dry like whatever was produced in the old days. I use the old linen mostly because of this. On the upside it seems that once dressed with the white paste a linen may never need redressing in one's lifetime.

The Dovo white and the pure fat dressings are all I've ever purchased from Dovo's offerings of pastes. They work well for their purposes. I've not really seen the need for any other pastes from them. I have finishing pastes from other manufacturers which I consider superior. I do have the red and black paste blocks that Classic offered so long ago but I don't remember if they are from Dovo or not. In any case I don't use them or at least don't recall ever using them at the moment. If I did I didn't like them enough to continue with them.

On a side note - for fat dressing on a leather I alternate between the very old Morris Flamingo fat dressing and the Dovo fat in the tube. The Morris Flamingo seems to be superior in my estimation producing the greatest pliancy and draw. Alternating seems to extend the effects. I dress about once a year in Winter so every other year is how I rotate them.

I too use a paste between visits to the hone these days. It's just easier. I use the green Chromium Oxide crayon that Classic sold. Works a treat with no chips or distortions at 100X magnification.

So to complicate things a bit I decided to give your slack strop practice another try for the last few days just because you are a learned hand. And well, the results are superb. I just refreshed my blade a week ago and will be keeping an eye on how long the results hold. Hoping things remain as smooth and as sharp for at least a month.

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Re: Stroppery

Postby drmoss_ca » Sat Jun 01, 2013 3:28 pm

I'm quite surprised at how well this is working. Sometimes the things you learn as being sacred just ain't so.

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Re: Stroppery

Postby brothers » Sat Jun 01, 2013 8:53 pm

I don't have the white paste, but maybe I'll experiment and impregnate one of the linen strops. I've been using the Flexcut gold on a bench strop I made by glueing leather onto a board. There's also a Crox impregnated balsa bench strop that follows the Flexcut for smoothness. That and a couple of Illinois strops at the present time are doing a fine job of maintaining the edges of my few razors. Because I don't use a straight razor every day, these razors won't need to see hones until the first of next year, at the earliest. I haven't used the strops hanging for two or three years. I am aware that I am always going to be on this very pleasant learning curve, as long as I'm enjoying the art of the straight razor shave.
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Re: Stroppery

Postby Zot! » Sun Jun 02, 2013 6:16 am

brothers wrote:...Because I don't use a straight razor every day, these razors won't need to see hones until the first of next year, at the earliest.


How sad......

That reminds me of that old college poster of two buzzards talking to each other and one says, "Patience hell, I'm going to kill something!"

:D
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Re: Stroppery

Postby drmoss_ca » Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:02 am

pre_1335836975__patience.jpg
pre_1335836975__patience.jpg (41.75 KiB) Viewed 3906 times


How I loved that cartoon in the seventies! It was one of those that featured on T-shirts sold on the back page of either Melody Maker or New Musical Express, I forget which or both. Along with Makin' Bacon, the one with the GI helmet and the turtle, and R. Crumb's Keep on Truckin'. All very naughty and exciting to a teenager of the day.

Chris
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Re: Stroppery

Postby brothers » Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:32 am

In my case, I do enjoy the variety of using different types of razors. The second razor in the group of 6 is one of 7 straight razors. Time and activity involved in maintaining the 7 is just right, on balance. If I were to stop using the 2 single edge razors and the 3 double edge razors, there would be two issues: first, I have no desire to do so; second, the time and maintenance spent on straight razors would instantly increase by a factor of 7, which is substantial by anyone's calculations. Let's not overlook this: Been There/Done That! I love each of my razors, regardless of type of razor, and they have been selected over a period of years, to the exclusion of scores of also-rans. Like a great many other guys, I'm going for the best, most luxurious and enjoyable shave I can achieve, every day. The anticipation for each upcoming razor is sort of like Christmas morning every day.
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Re: Stroppery

Postby EL Alamein » Sun Jun 02, 2013 2:44 pm

So far so good on the slack strop approach. Every shave has been superb.

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Re: Stroppery

Postby Zot! » Sun Jun 02, 2013 6:19 pm

You're in a good place Gary.

Dr. Moss, thats the one! I am dating myself I guess!

:-)
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Re: Stroppery

Postby pinklather » Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:26 pm

3 yrs of this madness, and I still think stropping is the area we've recovered the least amount of knowledge. I've likely been in the 'strop 'til you drop camp because I followed the same counsel as the good Dr. About 3 wks back, I was able to get some real linen (flax fiber) from the honorable Neil Miller in the UK. My stropping has not been the same since. I'll still do 200 strokes on linen, coming off the stones, but I used to do another 100 on high-draw leather (latigo) and another 100 on low-draw (horse hide). I'm down to 60 strokes linen - before and after the shaves, but now down to 20-40 strokes leather, 'cause any more will make the edge too smooth, subdued - like I used too many strokes on a pasted strop. It gave me another step up in edge quality. I've always suspected that 'linen weave' was a line invented in a marketing dept., and that real (flax) linen was superior. I'm convinced it *is* superior. Reading Doc's experience makes me want to experiment w/ some slack and pressure. Thanks for posting, Doc.
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Re: Stroppery

Postby drmoss_ca » Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:34 pm

I do thirty there-and-back passes on the linen after a shave, and thirty more on the leather before a shave. What I'm finding is that pressure on the strop isn't as important as strop tension. I thought a strop should be tight and taut, but now I'm realising that (for my stainless razor) a slack strop is way more useful. Now how slack is a matter of judgement. But at the end of it, the edge is much better after a slack stropping than a taut one.

Chris
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Re: Stroppery

Postby EL Alamein » Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:55 pm

As for how slack the strop is I've been mimicking Liam Finnegan as closely as possible for an example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2h1GC34yyKE

So I'll say that I'm using the "Finnegan Stropping Method". :)

I'll say this: I am really surprised at the results I'm getting, they are excellent. I'm trying to remember how I did it last time and if it was the same. I know that last time I did do it I was using a Belgian Hone solely to keep up my edge. I've retired the Belgian for now in favor of diamond plates (quicker and no lapping) because I just don't have the time to play as much as I'd like to. Perhaps that change in hone had something to do with it?

I also thought perhaps I wasn't doing it as pronounced as Liam (I am now) last time I tried a slack strop. So maybe that's a key difference? It's all very intriguing.

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Re: Stroppery

Postby drmoss_ca » Fri Jun 07, 2013 3:17 pm

I don't go quite that slack! If the slack strop allows the strop to polish the edge at more of an angle than usual, I suppose you could make a theoretical case for doing the last few strokes with it taut to make even finer adjustments to the edge.

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Re: Stroppery

Postby EL Alamein » Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:04 pm

All I know now is that after stropping like Liam my razor is uber sharp. HHT produces a hair that pretty much falls silently when touched with the edge. This is with the hair root up and the razor angled down.

Can't explain it. From all that I've read and been taught this shouldn't be. Don't know how long it will last but the ride is fun!

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Re: Stroppery

Postby drmoss_ca » Sun Jun 09, 2013 7:32 am

Well my strop isn't as flexible as Liam's, but today I tried to let it go as much as I dared. The razors sounds different to it's usual voice, harder to pick out the hairs being cut - it's very sharp! Combined with the lovely thick stiff lather of my homemade soap I really enjoyed myself!

Chris
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Re: Stroppery

Postby brothers » Sun Jun 09, 2013 8:57 pm

EL Alamein wrote:As for how slack the strop is I've been mimicking Liam Finnegan as closely as possible for an example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2h1GC34yyKE

So I'll say that I'm using the "Finnegan Stropping Method". :)

I'll say this: I am really surprised at the results I'm getting, they are excellent. I'm trying to remember how I did it last time and if it was the same. I know that last time I did do it I was using a Belgian Hone solely to keep up my edge. I've retired the Belgian for now in favor of diamond plates (quicker and no lapping) because I just don't have the time to play as much as I'd like to. Perhaps that change in hone had something to do with it?

I also thought perhaps I wasn't doing it as pronounced as Liam (I am now) last time I tried a slack strop. So maybe that's a key difference? It's all very intriguing.

Chris


Chris, I like the idea of diamond plates. I'm going to give that method a try, just for the fun of it.
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Re: Stroppery

Postby EL Alamein » Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:58 am

Well, the edge died suddenly on Saturday. It started out great but by the time I got to my right cheek I was feeling some tugging. It was able to finish the shave but I had to strop again before the second pass.

All it took to get the blade back in shape was a few licks on the green pasted strop followed by a regular stropping the Finnegan way on plain linen and plain leather. She's been shaving smooth ever since. I plan to continue this approach until it no longer provides satisfactory results.

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