How To Use Strop Sharpening Paste
A dull razor, no matter how expensive it was, will never give you an excellent shave. Hence, the importance of blade maintenance and learning how to use a strop sharpening paste.
You can always avail professional services, like our Master Hone Services, to get your straight razor's edge in tip-top shape—but this is best for major repairs.
Chromium Oxide (CrOx) holds the best-kept secret that restores your razor’s edge and keeps it polished. When used with heat and friction from stropping, the jeweler’s rouge-like paste gets the bevel exceptionally smooth and reduces honing. And the results? A sleek and smoother razor with incredibly sharp edges.
If you want to prolong the use and life of your razors, Chromium Oxide paste is an inevitable tool that will reduce honing. It is simply that ingenious way of saving time and money.
To get the best of Chromium Oxide, you have to understand it. Just before you get pasty, here is a step-by-step guide to using a strop sharpening paste.
- How To Get A Good Stropping Stroke
- What Is A Strop Sharpening Paste?
- Where Can You Buy A Strop Sharpening Paste?
- How Do You Use Chromium Oxide?
- When To Paste Your Strop?
- Where To Paste?
- How Much To Paste?
- Stropping With Paste
- How Do You Clean Off A Stropping Paste?
- Why Use A Strop Sharpening Paste?
To begin with, how do you achieve that perfect stroke?
How to get a good stropping stroke
How to Strop A Straight Razor
Stropping is an art form in itself that only professional barbers and veterans have mastered. But it is not an impossible skill to learn. Here’s how to sharpen a straight razor with a strop:
- Hold the strop flatly and firmly, but not very tight.
- Lay both the edge and spine flat on a firmly held strop.
- With minimal to no pressure, push in a direction that moves outwards from you, with both the spine and edge remaining flat on the strop paste.
- Just before your razor reaches the end of the strop material, flip your razor over, always ensuring that the spine is in contact with the strop.
- Pull your razors towards you and subsequently flip over the spine.
Simply follow these steps. You will advance from being a novice who has clumsy techniques to a pro who rarely makes a mistake in no time.
Stropping Precautions You Need To Know
Many beginners tend to rush the process of stropping, hoping to see better results. They do not know that sharpening your straight razor requires a delicate process, not only to keep you from harming yourself but also to ensure that you do not damage the edges of your blade.
That said, you should know what to avoid when stropping:
- Rolling your razor on in the middle of stroking
- Pulling the edge away from you or towards you
- Applying uneven pressure
- Insufficient tension resulting in slack within the strop
- Excess tension in the strop
- Letting the blade hit the hardware on the end of the strop
Now that you have the correct technique and know what you need to avoid, it is time to understand the materials you need. Let us delve more into what is a stropping paste.
What Is A Strop Sharpening Paste?
Strop sharpening pastes are abrasive compounds that you use in the final stages of sharpening. Its purpose is to achieve that polished and well-honed edge for your straight razor. The most common type and effective stropping paste are Chromium Oxide.
Where Can You Buy A Strop Sharpening Paste?
You can buy Chromium Oxide from many places. You can easily find this paste from knife-making, straight razors, and honing sites. If you need to cut the budget, you can find an equally effective generic version of CrOx, mostly from hardware stores.
Chromium Oxide is pocket-friendly, and the best part is that you can always buy just enough for your razor as it is available in varying amounts.
How Do You Use Chromium Oxide?
How to Use Strop Sharpening Paste
Using strop sharpening paste is not complicated, but you need to do it right. If you had a great childhood with crayons, then you are better off. But before you get there, you will need to clean the strop first.
Strop is a piece of leather, or sometimes balsa wood. People use it to sharpen their blades. The best way to clean a strop is to use isopropyl alcohol and pass sandpaper over the strop.
After ensuring that your leather strop is clean, you can now apply the strop sharpening paste. If you use the crayon-like paste, apply it on the strop by passing it back and forth. For a better spread, rub the paste in with your fingers.
However, do note that if you already have a strop of good quality, it would be best to avoid applying a strop sharpening paste. Doing so can permanently damage the strop.
Heat the back of the leather to melt the paste using low heat. Then use a paper towel to rub back and forth to blend in the paste. You can use your fingertip to know that the paste is well spread and is properly applied on the strop. Your finger should glide over the strop and not stick on the surface.
When To Paste Your Strop?
Once you create your regular shaving routine, you will be able to schedule when you should use your stropping paste.
Knowing when to paste your strop may be a bit tricky. But if you are an avid user of your blade, you will get clues that will help you know when to paste. For instance, you might notice some roughness or see that you are not getting a fine shave like you used to have.
When that underperformance of your blade strikes in, then you know it is time to paste. If you applied the paste effectively on the strop, then that would be enough. Most people put paste to their strops once.
Where To Paste?
Stropping is not a daily activity. The essence of stropping is to create a surface that is more abrasive than a non-pasted strop. It is therefore recommended to apply the paste on the leather side. Doing so holds the stropping paste better and has it spread well over time.
It is better to apply the stropping paste at the center of the strop, but it is also best to consider the following:
- Ideally, when you have one strop, place the paste on the reverse of the prep side.
- Modify the strop if you have a one-piece hanging strop for a better spread of the paste.
- Two pieces of hanging strop may be effective as it gives you multiple stropping surfaces.
How Much Paste?
If you are using CrOx, then a quarter-sized portion will just be enough. Rub it at the center and spread it gradually as you increase the circle. Regular stroking will spread the paste with time.
If you prefer a pastier surface, you can add some drops of neatsfoot or mineral oil and spread it. Wipe off excess oil using a cloth.
Even better, you can purchase a CrOx spray that allows you to spray directly on the strop, let it dry well, and begin stropping.
Stropping With Paste
If you need a quick touch-up, then 10 to 20 passes are good to go. To know if the blade is well stropped, then visually check on the bevel for even distribution by keenly looking for fogginess like in areas where the paste is working.
For a standard strop, 30-40 passes are sufficient to smooth it out, and for that extra 10% well, smoothen out the blade.
How Do You Clean Off A Stropping Paste?
Cleaning the stropping paste wound requires a piece of cloth to wipe off the excess paste on the surface. Take a piece of cloth or a paper towel and wipe it.
Why Use A Strop Sharpening Paste
Using a stropping paste will help you save money and time on honing. Besides, it will help to keep your plate smooth and razor-sharp for a longer time. It is the best way to keep your blade to last as long as possible.
And your stropping techniques? Ensure that they equal that of a competent shaver and a trusty Razor Sharpening Paste.
More Naked Armor Reads:
How to Sharpen Your Straight Razor
How to Shave Safely With a Straight Razor
How to Hone a Straight Razor for Beginners
Hi Terry. The paste goes on the leather side—it’s used to soften the leather and provide more friction in the regular sharpening area of the strop. Let us know if we can help you with anything else. :)
I have some questions about applying and using strop paste. After cleaning and then using sandpaper is this on the linen stop, or the leather one, and fine,medium, or coarse. Do you apply the paste to the leather or linen side of the strop? Most of my strops are old barbershop strops with both linen and Russian leather.
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