History of the Strop

So, what the hell is a Razor Strop?

Well, we're glad you asked.

First of all, it has absolutely no relation to Pedro Strop the relief pitcher for the Chicago Cubs (although, we would love to get him as our spokesman! Call me, Pedro ;). It also has no relation to the British term of throwing a “strop” aka a fit or tantrum. Apparently this is somewhat frequently used, because I often find that the google alerts I receive for “strop” involve celebrities throwing a “strop.” Celebrities throwing tantrums...who would have thought?

Pedro Strop

Pedro Strop

Ronaldo throwing a strop

Ronaldo throwing a strop

As far as we can tell, the Strop was created by George Packwood in the late 18th century. At the very least, he was the first to start heavily advertising the concept.

George Packwood

George Packwood

Traditional Strop - A device, typically a strip of leather, for sharpening razors.

Traditional Strop - A device, typically a strip of leather, for sharpening razors.

The Purpose of Stropping a Traditional Razor

The object of stropping is not to make the blades thinner, but to smooth the edges by stripping the rough surface of the blades (caused by the wear and tear from daily usage) and set the blades in perfect alignment. This gives the razor it’s exceeding keenness.

For a great explanation of how stropping can help your razor, please check out this blog post from the brilliant scientists behind Science of Sharp. They use SEM imaging to show the effects of stropping a straight razor.

If you are looking for a traditional strop used for straight razors, there are quite a few out there. Ezra Arthur makes a beautiful, relatively expensive option. If you want something more moderately priced, check out the Portland Razor Co.

 

The New Modern Strop

If you are looking to make your disposable razor blades last much longer, check out our Strop. It’s specifically engineered to make blades from Gillette, Schick, Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s, and any blade you find at your local pharmacy worth the cost.

 

The Strop - A tool invented by ShaveFace to hone and clean disposable and cartridge razor blades to give you the feeling of a fresh blade for every shave… translation: we save you money while giving you a better shave every time.

 

Last year, we enlisted the help of Science of Sharp to get our Strop tested in a lab to show the before and after effects.

Check out this image (left) to see what one edge of a Gillette razor looks like after a few uses, and then after stropping.

 

How does the Strop work?

1. Razors are finely tuned and complexly engineered to provide an effective shave with as little irritation as possible. Barbers are taught to hold their blades at a specific angle against the face, roughly 30°. The blades inside your cartridge were taught the same thing. As you continue to shave with the same cartridge, the hairs on your face pull the blades out of alignment and away from their factory settings. Running a razor against the Strop presses the blades back into proper alignment.

2. The edge of these blades are so thin that the process of shaving creates micro-burs and indentations. The friction built between the denim and the blades will actually smooth the surface of the blades for a sharper, more comfortable shave.

3. After a few uses, your razor will have built up a ton of bacteria and dead epithelial tissue. See the photo above...it is pretty nasty. Stropping your razor will get rid of this and give you a more sanitary and effective shave.

 

How to Strop a Traditional Razor - taken from Shaving Made Easy by the 20th Century Correspondence School

how to strop.png

Place a hook in a door or a window casing about four or five feet from the floor. Put the ring of the strop over the hook, and hold the handle firmly in the left hand. The strop should be pulled tight—not allowed to hang loosely—otherwise the edge of the razor will become rounded and require frequent honing.

Open the razor, so that the handle is in line with the blade. Grasp it firmly with the right hand, the first two fingers and thumb holding the razor just back of the heel, so that perfect control is had of both the blade and handle. With the razor held in this manner it is an easy matter to turn the razor back and forth from one side to the other.

Lay the blade flat on the further end of the strop, with the edge away from you. Draw the blade toward you, always keeping the heel of the razor in advance of the point. When at the end of the strop, rotate the razor on its back until the unstropped side of the blade comes in contact with the strop. Then, with the heel in advance, push the razor away from you until it reaches the further end of the strop. Again, rotate and continue the stropping until the razor is sharp.

Always hold the blade at the same angle and perfectly flat on the strop. During the operation the back of the razor should never be taken from the strop. By observing this and always turning the blade on its back instead of on the edge, you will avoid cutting the strop.

Beginners should not attempt to make a quick stroke. Let the stroke be slow and even, developing speed gradually until a complete mastery of the movement is acquired.

If the razor is in good condition and not in need of honing, fifteen or twenty strokes in each direction will be sufficient. If, however, the razor should require honing, no amount of stropping will put a keen edge on it. It will usually be necessary to strop the razor each time you shave, and with stiff beards more than once may be required.

 

Happy Stropping!