Playing with paddle strops again

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drmoss_ca
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Playing with paddle strops again

Post by drmoss_ca » Wed Sep 19, 2018 5:44 pm

I don't know how many strops I have - wait a moment, of course I know - too many! But lately I have been enjoying daily old-fashioned straight shaves (one pass downwards with a soap stick, then going horizontally across the cheeks and chin alone with just water) and it all seems simple enough to take it on the road. That is to say, on my frequent summer/fall roadtrips I could take a straight, a strop and a stick of soap. I had prepped a pair of Dovo SS faux-damascus razors, but then I tried one of the rarely used Livis from the display case, and in a moment my plans changed. So very sharp! So the razor is settled, the soap stick will be Palmolive (unless Home Hardware can sell me a foot or so of 1" ABS pipe to rebatch some of my soap into sticks), but what of the strop? I have a bunch of paddle strops too, and I'll discount for now those that were home made with balsa and pastes. I have two TI narrow paddles in nice soft leather cases. They have smooth leather on one side and rough black suede (I'm calling the inside of the skin 'suede' with it's dermal papillae and all) on the other. I also have two broad 3" paddles - the TI has the same black suede on one side and a slightly rougher brown suede on the other, whilst one from SRD has smooth leather on one side and really ragged rough suede on the other. I've been using both of them, trying to decide two things: which is more reliable as it will be the only strop I have access to on the road, and should I dress the nice black suede on one side of the TI strop? I'm not sure if I take some oil and rub it in whether I will ruin the surface or make it better a a finishing strop.
So, my plan is to take one of the narrower 2" TI strops and dress the black suede on it with oil (jojoba or neat's foot) and see if it gets to be smoother. If it is ruined, I still have the option of using the other 2" paddle unaltered, which would give me black suede for post-shave linen equivalent and smooth leather for pre-shave stropping. There's no good reason for preferring a paddle strop in a pretty leather scabbard, but it does appeal, at least, a bit. Or, I can be true to the plan and leave the 3" paddles un-oiled, and just choose which of them to take.

Decisions, decisions! I'll let you know.
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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by EL Alamein » Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:21 pm

Interesting. Can't you just take the Jemico Red Russian hanging strop? I find this an excellent travel strop.

How long will the trip be? If it was at length I'd take two razors though I'd probably only need the one, but just in case.

Chris

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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by drmoss_ca » Thu Sep 20, 2018 3:40 am

Yes, I could do that, but it seems a shame just to carry on as if at home. The trips tend to be 3-5 days long. Once a month Pippa works in Sydney, Cape Breton for a couple of days, and there's usually some conferences and meetings, so when the weather is nice it's an excuse to take her in the Miata.

My memory seems to be wonky - it turns out I have only one narrow TI paddle, three of the black/brown suede 3" paddles, and the one SRD smooth leather, rough suede 3" paddle. One of the 3" TI's already has one side oiled, and the other side looks like it might have a thin dusting of green chrome on it. It may well be that 'all this has happened before and will happen again'!
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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by drmoss_ca » Thu Sep 20, 2018 10:10 am

My memory did manage to dig out the fact that in the Drawers of Shame I have a couple of empty Taylors soap stick containers, so I warmed and softened a couple of sticks of my homemade soap and now have two shaving sticks of Mk.III soap. I think I'd better go and try one of them out...

(Later)...it works very nicely. A more creamy, thick lather than when worked in a bowl - which is very protective, but as it has less free water, it places more obligation on the user to wet and soften the beard. Do we fail to give enough attention to shaving sticks? If anyone wants to discuss that it should go in the Creams and Soaps forum I suppose. But if the hematologist approves my absence, I am beginning to look forward to my last trip of the season. One must carpe diem whilst one can. I have a hankering for another massive breakfast at the Shining Waters in Mabou, where the breakfast dishes are named after the severity of your hangover (in three stages, which add extra proteins - bacon, sausage, and eventually ham to the eggs, baked beans and toast). There is usually a queue for seats as it is so popular, and the only improvement I could suggest would be a stage four hangover breakfast that requires the addition of black pudding. Plotting two nights in Sydney, one in a cottage in Inverness, then a descent upon Mabou and a bacon-fuelled drive home to Tatamagouche.
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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by EL Alamein » Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:25 pm

OK, understood.

Enjoy the journey.

Chris

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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by brothers » Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:51 pm

Glad to see there will be bacon. Enjoy your tour!
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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by Brutus » Sat Sep 29, 2018 5:26 am

Interesting.

For most of my straight shaving career I have used hanging strops, or the occasional loom strop, but somewhere along my journey I picked up a French Strop-It Supex 77 paddle strop.

First, I did not much care for it and it saw only limited use in the first 1½ years, but then I started warming up to it and use it currently most of the time.

Among others, it is sold by Fendrihan in Canada and by Laguiole Actiforge (better known for their up-market steak knives) in France, and the difference to most paddle strops is that the two 3” wide plattens are magnetically held in place at the end points on each side, but except for the ends the plattens are otherwise free suspended.
That gives the plattens some flex, something that is missing with many paddle strops and that to me makes a big difference.

The plattens are available in napped clear, napped brown, latigo, black paste, grey paste, latigo, premium lather, English bridle, but some of these plattens may not be easy to find.
If you do, there is also a storage box that holds a paddle strop with its two plattens and has space for four more plattens to slide in.

The French have contributed more to straight shaving than most oeple give them credit for... 8)

To get an idea how this all looks like, search for “Strop-it Supex 77” on the US online shopping site that is named after a large river in South America. :wink:


B.

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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by drmoss_ca » Sun Sep 30, 2018 3:41 am

I hadn't seen that one before - looks like the Rolls Royce of paddle strops.

I think there's probably no advantage to paddles or hanging strops, other than the convenience of a paddle when travelling. Both can give exquisite results and those come, as usual, with familiarity with your tools. I am surprised we don't recommend paddles more often to beginners, who find controlling the tautness of a hanging strop another complication to deal with, and we all know how easy it is to ruin a strop and spoil an edge with clumsy stropping on a hanging strop.
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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by drmoss_ca » Sun Sep 30, 2018 4:02 pm

I'm not sure why, but this morning I started thinking about red paste. I've bought two or three of those little tubes sold by Dovo, and one of the sets of foil wrapped red and black paste sticks, but haven't touched them for many years. They were part of my initial scramble to find the magic bullet for sharpness. A visit to the basement and I had some tubes in my hand (also some little Dovo green paste tubes, but it turned out that all that was left in them was uncoloured carrier grease). I also brought up the unopened 3" extra wide TI paddle strop and proceeded to put some freshly stirred HandAmerican Liquid chrome (I don't know if it can still be bought anywhere, but it is absolutely wonderful stuff) on the rougher brown side, and Dovo red paste on the smoother black side. I've taken three stainless damascus Livi razors across them today and finished them on an unpasted strop of the same sort. I think I'm in for some extra good shaves over the next few days if the hair-popping abilities are anything to go by.

Isn't it strange how the older pastes have been ignored during the resurgence of straight razor shaving? It's all diamond sprays these days. Perhaps I should find another surface for some Dovo black paste, or some TI white paste (not the same as Dovo white paste for linen). I even found a bottle of HandAmerican black liquid boron carbide today, along with a few tubs of homemade green chrome paste (just CrO2 and Vaseline) some bars of LeeValley Veritas chrome and several spare bars of Flexcut Gold. Flexcut Gold is a mix of aluminum and titanium oxides and it is wildly aggressive. It eats steel off razor edges, but allows me to get shaving edges on those difficult high-Rockwell blades that just laugh at all my hones.

I suspect we are ignoring some useful tools in these pastes, and I think it wrong to dismiss them as being just 'the best they had in the old days'. Sometimes our forebears knew what they were about - not necessarily wiser or better than today's technology, but nor can old techniques and methods be ignored without the risk of missing something of value. If I can get a magical shave or two out of some red paste I'm all for it.
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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by EL Alamein » Sun Sep 30, 2018 7:22 pm

We must be on the same wavelength at different times. About six months ago I broke out a paddle strop from Dovo that was pasted with red paste on one side and the red Jemico leather on the other. I've never used this strop before for various reasons. I bought it about 15 years ago when I was first married and set it aside for whatever reason. It eventually got stolen by my father-in-law through an inter-familial fight when we were supporting him. He eventually gave it back to me when relations had improved about a year or so ago (as an aside relations are now in the dumpster again as he is a very mentally ill person but at least I got back most everything that he stole).

I have been using the red pasted side to refresh my edges and then follow with a crayon crox (Maestro Livi) pasted hanging strop. The results are superb and have been keeping my edges fresh. I'd like to think I can go on like this indefinitely.

I found the red paste, by itself, to be too harsh but followed by the crox to be excellent.

Let us know how you fair.

Chris

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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by drmoss_ca » Mon Oct 01, 2018 4:40 pm

Isn't red paste to be smaller particles than the green? I can't remember what Dovo used to say about it, and I think they only have the yellow strop treatment in their catalogue these days. But they were re-selling Herold pastes and on this page they are definite that the red is finer than the green, and here that the black is finer still. I have some of those red and black crayons, so maybe I'll try out the black. I seem to recall being underwhelmed before, but I wasn't very experienced then and lots of things that didn't work then somehow have become effective since! I did two more Livis and three of my stack of Zowadas today. I think I'll try one of them tomorrow. The Livi I shaved with today was heavenly.

I have one of those double-sided Dovo paddles - balsa on one side and red leather padded with thick red felt on the other?
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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by EL Alamein » Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:21 pm

Yes, the strop with thick red felt under the leather. It came in a box with a brown wax-like paper that surrounded the whole of it.

As far as red paste goes I remember a lot about it being used before the black crayon (you know, the two that came together in foil). I assume what's on the balsa side of my strop is the same but who knows? I've got those two foil wrapped crayons around somewhere so maybe I can compare if I find them.

There was a post somewhere about a site called der Kordenwinkel (sp?) and how they ran classes regarding how to keen an edge and they recommended the red paste (tube or crayon, I'm not sure, or even sure if the tubes and crayons were the same grit). Anyway, the consensus on the forum(s) was that the red was too harsh. That's all I can remember now with a cocktail and a cigar in me.

I think the best way would be to test them, like I have, and get an opinion. One may prefer the red paste edge. I prefer the red paste edge to be followed by a crox edge.

Chris

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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by drmoss_ca » Tue Oct 02, 2018 3:29 am

It might be that the Dovo/Herold green paste is larger in particle size than some other chrome pastes. Many green pastes say they are 0.5micron size, and TI Cromox red paste is claimed to be sub-micron as well, whilst Herold's red is 2-4 micron, yet finer than their green. All we can do is test them and go by the shave. What else matters?

I will try a reverse order of red then green in the next few days and let you know.

PS. I found another bottle of HandAmerican Liquid Chrome, one that still had the label on - it is 0.5micron, and thus should come after the red paste. You're right in that case.
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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by EL Alamein » Tue Oct 02, 2018 6:23 pm

I'll be looking forward to your results.

Just to be clear on my end of what I've used. I use the green crox crayon from Livi. I don't know how it compares to other crox preparations so take it with a grain of salt. It's on a hanging strop, one of those reverse type of Russian leather strops and the strop is old. I think the felt side of the leather is what's presented, not the smooth skin. The crayon seems to fill it though making it smooth though not continuously so. The X stroke is essential when using that strop.

I also do a few shearing motions, maybe ten, before a full stropping on it. To explain, I mimic what Livi does in one of his videos where seems to draw the blade straight down the edge of the green pasted loom strop he uses. Maybe a slight back-first movement as well. Works wonders for a smooth edge.

Hope that helps.

Chris

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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by drmoss_ca » Wed Oct 03, 2018 1:01 pm

In the last few days I have tuned up ten Livi stainless damascus (all bluetongue pattern since I like it) and eight Zowada damascus razors. I have done this knowing these razors had already been honed, some of them used a few times, so this isn't any kind of guide to honing from scratch. All had the following regime:
1. Norton Arkansa stone lapped at 2k. This is one of those stones that is natively coarse, but if lapped behaves as if much finer. Spyderco ceramic hones do it as well. It works like an aggressive 8k waterstone. Ten back and forth strokes on one side of the blade, ten on the other side, then ten on the first and ten on the other.
2. Suehiro Gokumyo 20k with water, and use of the included nagura stone between razors to remove debris. Same honing pattern as above, two lots of ten back and forth strokes on each side of the blade.

The rest of this takes place on the fine, soft, velvety black suede side of TI 3" paddle strops.

3. Dovo red paste, said to be 2-4microns in size. 40 laps or 20 round trips.
4. HandAmericam Liquid Chrome paste, said to be 0.5microns in size. Same regime.
5. Plain black suede side of a 3" TI paddle, 20 round trips.
6. Brown suede side of a 3" TI paddle, 20 round trips.

All the razors exhibit the fine, high frequency vibration on stroking the edge with the pulp of a thumb or finger, especially the Zowadas. Very fine, like stroking the edge of the thinnest paper you can imagine, if it was clamped very close to the edge you are stroking. All 'ping' their way through forearm hair with no palpable resistance (obviously the ping indicates there was some, only audible, resistance).

Shaving: this is where it gets interesting. All these razors shave and do so very, very well. They are a little too sharp in that they leave the skin free from stubble but just a bit raw. This will settle after a couple of uses and plain stropping before and after the shaves. The Zowada damascus razors get a good deal sharper than the Livis, just as one might expect from carbon steel compared to stainless (even if there is a mixture of two types in each case). The Zowadas are harder, sharper and require great care to prevent rust on the edges. I oil each after use. The Livis are less hard, achieve less sharpness, but have no issues with rusting. However, 'less sharpness' isn't necessarily a drawback - they are sharp enough for a superior shave and even when freshly honed less likely to leave any facial rawness. If you were to be in the market for a high-end custom razor, either of these would serve you well. Pick the Zowada if you like ultimate sharpness and are prepared to care and protect it as it deserves, or pick the Livi if you have a moist climate or can't be bothered to oil a blade. Both will make you happy when you have them sharp!
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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by EL Alamein » Wed Oct 03, 2018 6:08 pm

A most excellent review!

Chris

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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by Bill_K » Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:16 am

drmoss_ca wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 3:41 am
... I am surprised we don't recommend paddles more often to beginners, who find controlling the tautness of a hanging strop another complication to deal with, and we all know how easy it is to ruin a strop and spoil an edge with clumsy stropping on a hanging strop.
I'm happy to hear you say that; I bought a Thiers Issard extra-wide double-sided strop from Fendrihan.ca for my first foray into straight razor shaving. Good thing I bought it last month; looks like the price jumped by $12 to $105 CDN.

It's easy to handle and seems to do the trick, although with my current level of (in)experience I may get the same result with a chunk of 1x4.

Bill

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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by drmoss_ca » Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:23 am

The black velvety suede side ('Cote Pate' is now marked on the handle) is magic, both for plain stropping or for holding just the right amount of paste (which is very little). They have recently changed the leather on the other side from a brown suede to a more coarse surface which isn't as useful as a final strop until you have abused it with a pumice stone, cleaned every bit of grit off, and treated it with oil.

The price is certainly an incentive to look after it!
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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by Bill_K » Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:29 am

That's good to know, thank you! I have some more questions about paddle stropping, but I'll save that for another thread if I don't find what I need by searching the SMF archives.

Bill

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Re: Playing with paddle strops again

Post by drmoss_ca » Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:46 am

Ask away - we love to share! :D
"Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse."
Pierre-Simon de Laplace

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