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Stropping

Use a straight. You know it makes sense.

Stropping

Postby Marsom » Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:30 pm

Hello,

I'm new to straight razor shaving and have been practicing my stropping technique a lot. First off, is there any trouble in fully stropping the blade after a shave? I've read that it shouldn't be done until the next day before the next shave. My thinking on this is that when barbers used to shave people regularly with straights, they didn't tell the customer that they just finished a shave and they would have to wait until tomorrow. So, they would have had to have been stropping several times a day correct?

Also, is it okay to practice stropping even if the razor has been fully stropped? In other words, can you overstrop the blade by practicing too much?

Thanks,
Marion
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Re: Stropping

Postby EL Alamein » Fri Jan 30, 2015 7:48 pm

Marion,

Welcome to the club! I hope you find straight razor shaving as delightful as most of us that practice it.

To your questions:

No trouble in stropping a blade after a shave. Have at it.

Dovo put out some information over a decade ago that warned against stropping until something like 24 hours had passed and the blade's micro-serrations had time to "right" themselves through the memory of the steel. Supposedly if stropping was done too soon after a shave it would contribute to degradation of the edge by pulling micro-pieces of steel off which had bent over during the shave. I'm pretty sure this has been shown to be poppycock.

In fact, it goes directly against the Barber's Textbooks of old that instruct the barber to strop the blade during the shave. There seems to be plenty of anecdotal evidence reported on the forums over the years that stropping during or even after a shave does not degrade the edge and only serves the function to improve the edge. I cannot recall a single report that says stropping during or directly after a shave had a negative effect.

There is no such thing as "over stropping" if done on plain linen and leather. I do believe a pasted strop can ruin an edge if used too much. This is because the pasted strop removes steel and thus can cause a wire edge when taken passed the polishing effect on the bevel. So practice away as long as it's not on a pasted strop.

Hope that helps.

Chris
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Re: Stropping

Postby Marsom » Sat Jan 31, 2015 12:57 am

Thanks Chris. Well, I'm hoping I can get the hang of it. I am able to get a decent shave using the straight at this point, but it's still not comfortable. Razor burn is the biggest issue. I usually use a DE and shave pretty closely with the grain which is easy to do using it, but with a straight, I'm finding more difficult. My beard grows sideways along my jaw and on the sides of my neck at the bottom it always grows sideways and trying to shave sideways comfortably and getting it to cut closely is not easy for me.

I'm trying to use the same cutting patterns I use with my DE, but may not be able to do that and after many years of using those patterns, it's kind of throwing me off.

I'll give it a fair try and hopefully my stropping is okay. My biggest issue with stropping at this point is trying to get the blade to make the same sound going both ways. For some reason, when I push the blade forward on the strop, it makes a certain noise and then when I come back, it makes a different hiss or rasp. I'm trying to make sure that use the same pressure going both ways, but it's still doing that often.

Oh well, I figured it would all be a whole new and involved learning curve. So, we'll see how things progress.
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Re: Stropping

Postby Brutus » Sat Jan 31, 2015 5:24 am

I'm trying to use the same cutting patterns I use with my DE, but may not be able to do that and after many years of using those patterns, it's kind of throwing me off.


Not to do with the best way to strop - IMO that comes almost by iteself with practice (and a few scarred strops later :wink: ) - but using the same shaving patterns that I used with the DE did not work for me when I was at your stage.

In particular the yawline was hard to tackle.
By now I use three passes (WTG, XTG, ATG), but on my yawline I need to do the ATG pass with the opposite arm stretched over my head pulling up the skin from the yawline up into the flatter cheek area - contortionist style.
Sometimes I try something new, but this gives me the best results so far.

Due to the way facial hair grows this may not work for everyone, but my point is that the straight razor is less nimble than a DE razor, and during the transition you may need to experiment to find what works best for you.


Regarding stropping; I always found the Dovo "resting" claim questionable and do agree on the barber not waiting for 24 hrs before using a straight again, but in the golden days of straight shaving - when barbers performed many shaves in a day - it was hard to tell whether the stropping was done after, or before a shave and I'd be surprised if the barber did not strop before the first shave of the morning.

Out of custom, I strop before the shave and reasoned that (so my theory goes) stropping before would remove any minuscule traces of corrosion that may have formed on the edge since the last shave and might affect the smoothness of the shave.
Not exactly scientific reasoning, but it works for me.

After the shave I only apply a thin coat of oil, put the razor aside and strop the razor later during the week when I find the time. Having prepped the razor this way, I reduce stropping immediately before my 5 am shave to a minimum.
With several razors in rotation and days before I use this razor again, you might thus as well argue that I strop more after then before the shave.

In the end, we all agree on stropping between shaves, don't we? :)



B.
Last edited by Brutus on Sat Jan 31, 2015 6:11 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Stropping

Postby brothers » Sat Jan 31, 2015 5:34 am

I have formed a habit of stropping before every shave for the same reason. Not so much after. It's really only a matter of terminology and timing, isn't it? I see myself stropping once between shaves. Immediately before and immediately after is actually stropping twice between shaves. Obviously those who do it twice have good reasons for it. I've tried it both ways and ended up going just the one time.
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Re: Stropping

Postby EL Alamein » Sat Jan 31, 2015 7:20 pm

Marion, keep at it. It's whole new ballgame with strokes and mapping. The reason being that with a straight you have to master command strokes. Meaning you have to learn to keep the blade at a consistent, correct angle while maintaining light/little pressure during the pass. It takes a while. Use a steep angle (spine almost flat to your skin) for comfort. Use multiple passes with a light touch for BBS.

As a side note here an obtuse angle technique can be used (and usually is) for under the nose and under the bottom lip. Use light pressure, taught skin, and well hydrated, thick lather for these areas (but, really, use this type of lather for the whole shave).

Also, try to resist getting it all in one pass. This temptation never passes even after decades of practice (it creeps up every now and then, especially if you're pressed for time). There's always subsequent passes also done with a light touch to come. A light touch cuts down on irritation as well which contributes to a smoother shave - less inflammation of the skin therefore a closer cut because the skin isn't swollen up around the follicle.

Take your time as a newb. It's the best way for you right now. You deserve to enjoy it.

Hope that helps.

Chris
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Re: Stropping

Postby Squire » Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:19 pm

Marion my practice was to strop before and sometimes during the shave, just the way I was taught. I wouldn't hesitate to strop afterward if I thought that would be useful but it seems redundant since I'm going to touch it up anyway before use.
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Re: Stropping

Postby tave » Tue Feb 10, 2015 9:28 pm

What suggestions would you have for those who want to hone and strop the single edge wedge blades that come with razors like the Henkels "Rapide" and the like. What equipment would work best?
Don't talk to me while I'm shaving!!
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Re: Stropping

Postby Squire » Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:34 pm

Having never dealt with wedges that question is too technical for me.
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Re: Stropping

Postby brothers » Wed Feb 11, 2015 6:08 pm

Brian (ShadowsDad) recently took us through his encounter with the Rolls blade, and I'm thinking he might stop by and share some of his hard-earned first hand knowledge on this subject.
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Re: Stropping

Postby pundi64 » Thu Oct 29, 2015 3:44 pm

Marsom wrote:Hello,

I'm new to straight razor shaving and have been practicing my stropping technique a lot. First off, is there any trouble in fully stropping the blade after a shave? I've read that it shouldn't be done until the next day before the next shave. My thinking on this is that when barbers used to shave people regularly with straights, they didn't tell the customer that they just finished a shave and they would have to wait until tomorrow. So, they would have had to have been stropping several times a day correct?

Also, is it okay to practice stropping even if the razor has been fully stropped? In other words, can you overstrop the blade by practicing too much?

Thanks,
Marion


I strop after a shave, to be a mental routine, at least for myself, before oiling the blade, also I've heard that stropping after ensures the blade to be dry before putting away for the next use. Anyway it is a satisfying part of my shave routine.
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