Read time: 4 minutes
So you bought a straight razor and you’re ready to use it. You’ve made a great choice, but like other razors on the market, they eventually get blunt.
Cue in the strop - a flexible belt/strip that usually consists of leather on one side and canvas on the other. These strips also have hanging hardware which you’ll use to straighten the strop so you can sharpen the blade.
In this quick practical guide, we’re going to teach you how to sharpen and hone a straight razor with a strop. You'll need your straight razor, a strop and a strop balm (optional).
- Strop only before shaving, do not do it after a shave
- Always keep the strop straight, never let it bend
- Keep the blade in contact with the strop at all times
- Remember the blade should be flat on the strop, and should only be standing approximately 30-40 degrees to the strop as you move it.
- After stropping and before shaving, clean the straight razor with some water and dry with a cloth without touching the edge
How to strop a straight razor:
1. Set up your strop
Hang your strop on a secure hook, then use the other end to pull the strop towards you until it is completely straight. Start with the leather side facing up. If the strop is feeling dry and rough, apply a bit of strop balm first then gently wipe off any excess with a soft cloth. It’s important that the strop remains flat and straight to ensure a smooth sharpening.
2. Place the straight razor blade flat against the strop
Open the straight razor and place the blade flat against the strop. Be sure to be holding the blade at the tang, which is the small part between the blade and the handle. Doing this allows you to turn the blade easily when stropping. To reduce hand movement, tuck in the elbow.
3. Start stropping by moving the blade towards you
Begin stropping by pulling the blade gently toward you with light pressure - the blade should be standing approximately 30-40 degrees to the strop. As you move it, ensure the blade stays in contact with the strop at all times throughout the whole process.
4. Flip the blade
When you’ve reached the end of the belt, twist your wrist slightly to seamlessly flip the blade by its spine onto the other side while still keeping in contact with the strop. Now push it towards the hook end - remember it’s key for the blade to be flat on the strop. Take your time and be slow. Don’t go too fast or else the blade won’t be sharpened properly!
5. Repeat steps 2-4 a few more times
Generally, we recommend around 40-50 round trips. While this may sound like a lot at first, it’ll become a quicker process the more you familiarise yourself with stropping a straight razor. If you’d like to polish the blade a little afterwards, flip the strop on the canvas side and repeat this exact same process.
Which one should I use?
If you’re unsure of which strops to get, here are some suggestions to get you started. Alternatively, if you’re looking to invest in a straight razor, take a look at our online store.