Discussion in 'Straight Razors' started by bscarpenter, Dec 20, 2016.

  1. bscarpenter

    bscarpenter Well-Known Member

    Let me begin with... I know almost nothing about shaving with straight razors, but am about to learn. Through an alignment in the force, I simultaneously won one in a PIF and chose one from the TSD raffle right before leaving my house to watch Rouge One. So, I now need a strop. I've contacted @Drygulch who gave me some options. I am now looking for some advise from you experienced straight shavers.

    I can purchase a quality 2.5" or 3" strop. There is a price jump between the two. I originally read that 3" was good as that is how wide most razors are. I am also told that 2.5 works fine, I would probably need to use a crisscross pattern. Being a newbie, does it matter? Is there anything else about a strop purchase that I should know? What do you recommend?
    Keithmax, Karl G, Spyder and 2 others like this.
  2. Straight razor dandy

    Straight razor dandy Stuck cleaning the house himself PERMANENTLY

    If possible, I would suggest a 3"
    Your research is accurate, in that they are a bit more, but that's because there is more material being used (obviously) and they are more desired.

    Most straights are 3", so getting that size makes your life easier. You can do an x pattern and use the smaller width strop if you have to, however.
    Keithmax, Karl G, Spyder and 2 others like this.
  3. david of central florida

    david of central florida Rhubarb Rubber

    The 3in. Should be eazier. While its true the smaller one woukd work.
    The object being yo make sure the edge is evenly addressed. An x, allows this, heel to toe. But making the lap, ensuring the x, holding proper strop tension, making the flip, keeping yhe razor flat, can be a lot to think abouuut at once. More so being new at it. One less thing to think about seems simpler to me.
    Keithmax, Karl G, Spyder and 2 others like this.
  4. Billyfergie

    Billyfergie The Scottish Ninja

    For Me the Most Important thing is to Get a Strop that is FIT for Purpose..There are a Tons of Crappy Strops being Sold..Personally Speaking I Found a 2 1/2 Strop Easier to Learn On..I got a 3 Inch Strop in the Early Days & I Wasn't Aware that's it was Quite Easy to Ride the Shoulder on the Edge of the 3 Inch Strop with Some SR Designs..Not an Issue these Days Mind Now that I Know..;)

    On that Subject..I have Always Found it Interesting that Most of the Old Barber or Vintage Strops are 2 to 2 1/2 Inch..Bearing in Mind Some Barber Chains Back in the Day were Big Business & they Sure Weren't Scrimping on the Cost of a Bit of Leather..They Must have Done that for a Good Reason..:D

    Karl G, Spyder and Kizurra like this.
  5. stingraysrock

    stingraysrock PIF'd away his custom title

    The only strop I have experience with is the Illinois 827 that I got several years ago from TSD Secret Santa. It is a 2.5" strop and has seen me from a complete novice to a cut free shaver. I have had no problems with my X pattern on the 827.
    Karl G, Spyder and Billyfergie like this.
  6. stingraysrock

    stingraysrock PIF'd away his custom title

    Then there is the whole strop dressing vs. lather dressing debate. I have done both and have no preference.
    Karl G and Spyder like this.
  7. Spyder

    Spyder Well-Known Member

    As a noob, I acquired a vintage 2 1/2" strop, and had no issues learning how to strop. I would recommend the strop that suits your personal preference. Personally, I like the traditional look and the idea if grandad made it work; that'll do for me:)
    dangermouse, Keithmax, Karl G and 2 others like this.
  8. Karl G

    Karl G Well-Known Member

    Some standard advice I ran across when starting was to expect to nick up your first strop so don't invest heavily until you have some practice and know what you are doing. To that end I got a Poor Man's strop from Larry at Whipped Dog before settling on a paddle strop from Straight Razor Designs. I find the paddle strop easier to use than a hanging strop at this point and it does a nice job. I especially like the interchangeable felt that takes a .5 diamond spray to provide touch ups to the blade's edge now and then. :happy088:
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  9. stingraysrock

    stingraysrock PIF'd away his custom title

    Yeah, deffo don't buy a roo as your first strop!
    Spyder, Billyfergie and Karl G like this.
  10. DaltonGang

    DaltonGang Ol' Itchy Whiskers

    @gssixgun advised me getting an Illinois 827, or 127. I chose the 827, its a 3 inch rougher draw than the 3 inch 127 smooth draw.
    It was around $30. It's still my everyday stroll, for over 4 months.
  11. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    2.5 vs 3.0" wide?
    Not a BIG difference as one becomes more comfortable with the stropping stroke, but beginners often find the wider real estate somewhat easier to navigate the blade width evenly up & down the strop.
    X-strokes on a narrower strop can be for some a bit more difficult at first but you'll be surprised how quickly you'll get used to the motion.

    Do I get a top-o-the-line lifetime strop or an entry level to abuse?
    Again, a personal choice. If you're diligent and conscientious on your strokes, you can invest in a top-notch, well-made strop of quality materials. Stropping on these is a real joy!
    Typically, it is recommended that beginners get a more reasonably price strop as one is more likely to mar or cut the strop during the learning process. The illinois strops mentioned above are very durable and come at a lost cost of entry.

    Hanging or Paddle?
    I see the wisdom of using a paddle strop when learning. One can focus on good deliberate strokes without a moving, swaying or flexing strop. If you strop regularly, you'll develop muscle-memory fairly quickly.
    If you go with a hanging strop, one important factor for me was hanging it at a comfortable height. Some users like the strop hanging at waist level (creating a downward stroke), I like it approximately at the height where my arms bend so my stroke is nearly horizontal.
    ARGH, bscarpenter, Spyder and 4 others like this.
  12. Redfisher

    Redfisher Doesn't celebrate National Donut Day

    I have a 3" hanging strop nicked a few times and touched up. I like it better for the blades with a smile as it is more conforming to the edge profile. I also have a paddle strop that works great on blades with less of a curve. To avoid nicking the leather I had to work on starting the stroke before the edge is actually in contact with the leather. If that makes sense. I had a tendency to roll the blade over and in the moment before starting the stroke small movements would make little cuts. I'm getting much better at it.
  13. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    Started with, still have and use my one and only strop, a Vintage Blade 2-1/2 inch linen/latigo. No nicks.
    Go slow, pay attention to what yer doin', no nicks.

    I asked the question a while back and don't recall getting an answer. If you did answer and I forgot, my apologies:
    Why isn't it ever advised to practice using a butter knife?
    dangermouse, Spyder, Keithmax and 2 others like this.
  14. Jim99

    Jim99 Gold Water Shaver

    I've been using a 3 inch wide strop since I started SR shaving back in January of this year. I bought a cheap one and it now shows battle scars, but still functional.

    It sounds more like a personal preference, but I like the 3 inch strop as it takes away the X stroke variable.

    Btw, I'm hoping Santa brings me a new strop for Christmas!
  15. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    I suppose one could use a dull knife to 'get the feel' of the back & forth (up & own?) motion and develop a stroke. Alternatively, get a dull SR and do the same.
    45auto, swarden43, Spyder and 2 others like this.
  16. Keithmax

    Keithmax Breeds Pet Rocks

    I prefer 3" so I do not have to make X strokes.

    For you first strop go inexpensive and paddle strop is a good choice because you are less likely to roll the edge in the beginning.

    Go slow at first, it is not a race. Keep the spine on the strop. Light to no pressure, just like when shaving. Do not worry it is easier than you think.
    Spyder, Billyfergie and Karl G like this.
  17. bscarpenter

    bscarpenter Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for the wealth of information.
    What is dressing?
    How much would a "reasonably priced" 3in strop be?
    Billyfergie, Karl G and Spyder like this.
  18. DaltonGang

    DaltonGang Ol' Itchy Whiskers

    As for "Strop Dressings", it's an oil used to preserve and soften the leather. Neatsfoot Oil is what I use, and many others use.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2016
  19. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    True. But strange it's never suggested as a way to develop some muscle memory prior to hacking up a strop.
    Billyfergie, Karl G and Spyder like this.
  20. gssixgun

    gssixgun At this point in time...

    Supporting Vendor
    I am just going to give some advice take it if you want

    Strops range from a small 1.75 inch to a wide 3.25 inches that I have handled myself :)

    Here are some misnomers that I have noted at the meets and looking at strop people bring :(

    There is no such thing as a "Low" price 3 inch Hanging strop, there is a low price 3 inch piece of leather with wavy edges :( I would advise if you are going to get a 3 inch hanger buy the best you can afford...

    The idea that you can go straight up and down the strop if it is 3 inches wide, has the same error built in as the idea that you can go straight up and down a 3 inch wide hone...
    The best edge is developed by using a stroke that moves evenly and equally across the surface of both the Hone and the Strop.. Some type of stroke that moves laterally as well as up and down the surface achieves that the best ..

    The material component of the strop is as important as the leather, choose wisely,,

    Learning "The Flip" and how the fingers are placed to achieve that while maintaining control of the razor is the key to proper stropping..
    Again like honing the corners of the tang are used to get it correct..
    SRNewb, 45auto, Karl G and 5 others like this.

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