Metal is the primary component of a straight razor. Hence, it does not require much care, and it is a durable tool that can last a long time, given that you do not hit or drop its edge. But aside from that, you should also make an effort in a straight razor’s upkeep.
You do not wield a straight razor and leave it as it is after use. To ensure that your blades will not give up on you, you need to take care of them the right way. But, there is no need to worry. Caring for a straight razor is easy to learn.
- Straight Razor Parts Overview And Care Tips
- Straight Razor Blade Maintenance
- How To Sharpen A Straight Razor
Straight Razor Parts Overview and Care Tips
Learning the parts of a straight razor can help you understand what you need to keep an eye on. After all, a straight razor does not only work on blades. It is a joint effort of all its parts, including the handle. And once it starts to decay, it will affect your shaving experience.
You can read our guide on straight razor parts to get a refresher.
If there is one part of your razor that you should leave alone, it would be its hinges. Once it gets tight or squeaky, you can put a lubricant to loosen it up. However, once it breaks, the best thing to do is go to a shop for repairs.
Some blades come with an adjustable hinge. In this case, you might need to use a special Allen wrench to make minor adjustments. Do not over-tighten it because over-tightening might strip the threads and render your blade unusable.
Maintaining a straight razor’s handle depends on its material. The primary or most essential thing to do is clean it once in a while as it tends to get dirty.
Do not use soap and water when cleaning your straight razor’s handle, especially a wooden handle. Applying a little oil on the wood is fine. You can spread a little oil from the blade (see above) onto the handle to help lubricate the wood. Just make sure that you wipe it down before using it to get a good grip still while shaving. After all, nobody likes a slippery handle.
To maintain your razor’s copper caps properly, you will need to buy some copper cream, like the one from Wrights. Once you get the cream, you can clean the copper end caps on the blade.
If you accidentally applied the cream to the wood, there is no need to worry. It will be fine. What will not be okay is to get on the surface of your blade.
Follow the video below for a quick tutorial.
Straight Razor Blade Maintenance
Now, onto the main star: your straight razor’s blade.
Contrary to what most lads believe, cleaning a razor does not end as soon as you rinse it off with water. Just letting it be after washing can damage your blades for good. Hence, here are some tips on how to clean straight razors properly:
Clean the blade with rubbing alcohol after each use to prevent rusting and to keep everything hygienic.
Periodically cleaning the entire surface of the blade with ethyl or rubbing alcohol can keep its top shape longer. Do this every few weeks and apply a thin coat of mineral or silicone oil when the alcohol dries from the blade. After ten minutes, wipe away any excess oil. If you are not using your straight razor every day, leave a little oil on the blade to protect it.
We have a more extensive article teaching you about the dos and don’ts of cleaning a straight razor that you should check out.
Keep your straight razors away from your counters or any humid environment that can trigger rusting.
Leaving razors on the sink or hovering it on top of your shaving bowl, mug, or scuttle is a common mistake that most shavers make. You may think that the blades will dry on their own, but unless you put them in the correct position, the excess water will cause them to rust, especially if it’s not a stainless steel blade.
That is why you need to invest in a razor stand, like Naked Armor’s Silverback Straight Razor Stand. Aside from making your counters clutter-free, this straight razor stand wears high-quality aerospace aluminum and zinc alloy, making it durable and rust-proof, perfect for your straight razor care needs. Plus, this gets them off any wet surface and allows them to get exposed to a consistent airflow.
Let your straight razors rest in the dark, avoiding harmful UV light.
A study found that ultraviolet light can trigger corrosion on metal surfaces faster than when the metal does not get exposed to sunlight. Hence, it would be wise to keep your straight razors around room temperature in a dark, dry place, like a medicine cabinet or a drawer in your bathroom.
You will not have to look around for the perfect place to hide your straight razor and protect it from external factors that cause rusting. How? If you buy a Naked Armor Straight Razor Kit, we always sell them with a leather case—a handy way to store your straight razor conveniently, especially during travels.
Here are some other do's and don'ts in cleaning your straight razor:
The takeaway to straight razor blade maintenance is: straight razors are not too fussy except when it comes to humidity. If you keep yours in a drawer, keep it near the front, so you see it quickly. Bathrooms get humid; it is best to store your razor in the part of the drawer that gets the most air circulation.
Also, never use metal polish on your blade. They damage the blade’s surface and leave residue, which you do not want to get on your face. We highly discourage it since it can cause damage to your blade and skin.
And, remember not to use waxes, oils, lacquers, or polishes on the handle unless an official manual tells you otherwise. These things often do more harm than good to an instrument that could last forever.
What you can use instead to clean your blade is our organic Beard To Blade Balm. Unlike metal polish, oils, waxes, and lacquers, this natural balm that can cater to your beard and blade is from the love of the bees. It has organic extra virgin coconut oil, beeswax, honey, propolis, bee pollen, and royal jelly, which all are soothing, healing, and hydrating to the skin, facial hair, and your steel blade.
How to Sharpen a Straight Razor
The cardinal rule of straight razor care is keeping your blades sharp and ready for use all the time. That is why knowing how to sharpen straight razor blades is the most important skill you need to learn when you plan to buy a straight razor. You simply will not survive owning a straight razor if you do not know this.
Even if you own a high-quality straight razor, dullness and chips on the blade are inevitable. Somehow, you will eventually need to sharpen its edges. You can do so using two techniques— stropping and honing.
You do this with a strop—a leather strop that helps you keep your blade's edge sharp. However, be very careful here because you can also ruin the blade by improperly stropping.
We have an entire article on stropping here with videos and lots of tips. If you bought a straight razor without a strop, it is like having a bike without wheels. You must get a strop to maintain your razor.
You should strop the blade before every use, 15 to 25 times with a clean leather strop. You can then use clean linen to strop the blade afterward and remove any possible leather residue. We recommend getting a leather strop, like Naked Armor’s Blue Eel Strop, that has built-in linen resting on the opposite side of the leather for an all-in-one quality stropping partner.
What about honing? We already have a deep dive into honing. Either way, honing is technically replacing or improving the edge of your straight razor with whetstones—much like professional knife sharpeners would do.
Some straight razors have not been honed. In such cases, you will have to hone the blade before using it. If you do not know how or are still practicing your honing skills, you can let the professionals handle it—with care—through our Master Hone Services.
Note that blades should be honed every six months of regular use. You can check out our list of honing professionals in our Honing Guide (free download).
Also, beginners should opt for a professional honing until they can learn how to do it. Honing brings the blade to a fine edge again after it has dulled slightly over several months.
It is an art form even the manliest men rarely perfect, but everyone should know how to sharpen a blade. In addition to honing, as we said above, you should be stropping the blade every time you shave.
For men just getting into the straight razor world, remember it takes practice to use the blade properly. If it does not feel sharp the first couple of times, it may be in your technique—not the blade. Straight razor maintenance is an integral part of caring for your razor, and with these quick and easy techniques, your blade will last for decades.
So, to guarantee that your razor will get the best care you can give, click Add To Cart below.
More Naked Armor Reads: