Learn how to strop a straight razor with our easy step-by-step guide.
The cutting edge of a razor is made up of microscopic teeth, which get bent every time you shave. A strop is designed to realign and straighten these teeth, as well as remove oxidisation and metal debris. Strop your razor before each shave to keep it in prime condition for years to come.
1. Attach the metal ring to a fixed point and pull the strop towards you with the leather side facing up. It’s important that your strop remains taut and flat while you’re using it - if there’s any slack you could end up doing more harm than good.
Apply a leather balm to the leather surface of the strop whenever it starts to feel dry. A little goes a long way, so start by rubbing in a small amount and add more later if required.
It’s normal for the leather to darken in colour as it ages, but it’s essential that it remains free from nicks or cuts. Any cuts could harden and cause damage to the cutting edge of your razor.
2. Hold the razor by the tang at a 180 degree opening, resting your thumb on top and two fingers on the other side. Tuck your elbow in to reduce hand movement, and find a grip that is both comfortable and allows you to roll the razor freely from side to side.
3. Lay the blade flat on the strop with the cutting edge pointing towards you. Using a light pressure, draw the razor away from you leading with the spine. Ensure the blade stays in contact with the strop at both the spine and the cutting edge - if the spine lifts off the strop then the edge will become rounded.
4. As you reach the top of the strop, turn the razor over on its spine by rolling the tang between your thumb and fingers so that the cutting edge is now pointing away from you. Remember to take your time throughout the whole process - if you’ve ever watched a movie where a barber strops a razor, they’re usually going far too quickly.
5. Draw the razor back towards you leading with the spine. Repeat steps 3-5. With proper technique you won’t cause any harm by ‘over-stropping’ a razor, but aim for around 40-60 round trips. You’ll soon get a feel for the razor, and will be able to tell when it’s been stropped incorrectly or not enough.
If your strop has a canvas side, you can start with 15-20 round trips before moving to the leather. The canvas has mild abrasive properties that help to clean off debris from the razor before you move to the leather side.