La Pogonotomia III

The strop

Even the best razor should be stropped every two or three shaves, especially when only one edge is used - both are used in the ambidexter. The purpose of stropping is to restore the edge of which the teeth are malaligned due to shaving, and to polish the edge. Also, long coarse teeth formed by a too soft hone with large pores are made shorter by stropping. Thus, a strop can compensate somehow but not completely for wrong honing techniques or materials. The continuous rubbing of the edge on the skin causes rounding of the edge when of good quality, and bending when of poor quality.

Good leather is calf, buffalo, or beaver. After gluing it on the wood, it is dressed with pumace (dry). Any substance put on the leather should be absolutely free of grains which might damage the edge. Many substances are used in powder form: stone, pencil, red chalk, hone, pumace, terracotta, pottery. Pumace and pottery cut so fast that there is a risk of destroying the edge. Good substances are: amaril, le rouge d'Angleterre, vermillion or cinnabre. Rouge d'Angleterre is nothing more than cast iron. The powder is mixed with olive oil or fat. The mixture should be hard and cold before applying it to the strop, then let it dry for two days.

The blade is put flat on the strop, with the tang between index finger and thumb. The blade is pulled over the strop diagonally, back into the direction of movement, so that the complete edge has touched the strop, then the tang is rotated in such a way that the blade flips over the back, then the process repeats 7 times. The edge is good when it bites the skin of the thumb; if not repeat 7 times (1 time = back and forth). The strop should be kept clean and free of dust that can damage the edge. The blade should be clean before stropping. A reccommended natural leather is the palm of the hand, especially when covered with some pommade or oil, with the fingers stretched as far as possible backwards in order not to cause injuries.

Some people have a strange experience: they shave until the razor refuses. They then let it rest 6 to eight weeks, strop 4 or five strokes, and are then able to shave again. The reason is seen under the microsope: rust forms in pores on the edge when it is wet; after a few weeks the rust particles drop off while stropping, reducing edge thickness; some more strokes create a new edge, and the razor is restored