If you have the habit of using a straight razor, you may probably know about leather strops too. It is a strip of leather that is used for sharpening razor blades. It is also used for sharpening knives, but are more preferred for straight razors. It is a common fact that razor blades in straight razors need to be sharpened at regular intervals. While honing is recommended twice or thrice a year, stropping of razor blades can be done more often. Regular stropping and occasional honing are good for maintaining the sharpness of razor blades. Nowadays, people are either unaware of stropping, or are more inclined to honing. According to experts, honing creates a sharp edge, whereas stropping is effective for maintaining the sharpness.
Leather Strop for Sharpening
Regular stropping is good for retaining the sharpness of razor blades. Even a new razor blade has to be honed and stropped before use. You can get it honed from any of the professional honing services or a local barber. You may also use a honing stone to get the blade honed. After honing, the edge of the blade has to be smoothened, using a leather strop. Hang the leather stropping belt, and hold the other end with your left hand (or the non dominant hand). Hold it taut for stropping. Hold the razor in between the thumb and forefinger of the other hand. Place the razor flat on the strop, so that both the spine and the blade touch the strop completely. The blade edge must face towards you.
The next step is to slide the razor across the strop in a diagonal manner. The entire edge of the blade must get stropped in this single motion. Once the razor reaches the other end, flip it over and repeat the stropping in the opposite direction. This time, the razor spine will be facing towards your side. You have to repeat these sliding motions, till you are satisfied with the stropping. Usually, 20 to 30 sliding movements are said to be enough to make your razor blade perfect for a shave. There is no need to exert extra pressure while stropping, but make sure that your fingers do not come in between.
How to Make a Leather Strop
A leather strop can be purchased or made by yourselves. If you want to make one, then get a 2x4-inch board or piece of wood, handsaw, honing leather, sharpening compound, and rubber cement. You have to cut a strip of leather that has a dimension that is similar to the top surface of the wooden piece/board. The size of the wooden piece or board can be altered as per your requirement. Honing leather can be purchased from the market, but you may also use old leather, if available. Now stick the leather strip to the board using rubber cement, and allow it to dry. You must make sure that there are no bubbles stuck between the leather strip and the board. Once it is dry, apply a coating of sharpening compound, and your leather strop is ready to use.
However, due care must be taken to keep this tool in a good condition. Leather strop care is very simple and easy. Mix one tablespoon each of household vinegar and olive oil in a bowl. Damp a cleaning cloth with this solution, and rub the cloth over the leather strip, wooden base, and other parts of the strop. Keep it overnight, so that the oil penetrates the deeper layers of the leather as well as the wood. The next day, you can use it after buffing and cleaning the surfaces with a clean cloth.