Thread: Stropping - before you shave or after you shave or both

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    Stropping - before you shave or after you shave or both
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Anna Bay NSW Australia
    Gentlemen I have seen on the stropping forum mention of razors being stopped immediately post your shave. I have always post shave, just dried the razor and spray it with a lubricant. This has served me well, but I am interested to find out why you would strop up a razor right after you shave, and I presume you would strop it again immediately before your shave. I use a Kanayama #70000, and my process is 20 laps on the canvas, 30 laps on suede. And 100 on the Cordovan. I only differ from this when I do a stropping following the finishing hone togain an idea of just how keen my edge feels on the thumb pad. So if you strop after a shave I'd be interested to know exactly why. I looked in the stropping archive but saw nothing to clarify my query.

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    Moderator MODINE's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Lee's Summit, Missouri - Kansas City
    Hi Bob;
    We know that the actual shave process will dull the fine fragile edge of a razor. Some schools of thought recommend stropping after shaving to remove any residual water or soap. Aggressive stropping at this point can further damage the fine edge. Care must be exercised after the shave if you feel the need to repair, refresh or restore the razors edge. Like you I rinse off soap, wipe down and then spray blade w/ Andis Coolcare (protecting the scales from over spray) let dry, wipe down and store.

    I get mine at the feed mill it’s cheaper when you buy it for pets or horse clipper care.
    Last edited by MODINE; February 2nd, 2017 at 10:28 AM.
    "Focus on where the razors spine is during the shave." This will allow you to make pitch adjustments to the blade angle reducing the chance of cuts.
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    Senior Member Mr. Wilson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Northeastern France
    When I started straight-razor shaving, I followed the various recommendations on the forums, leading me to strop something like 40 laps linen/60 laps leather prior to shaving, and something like 20 laps linen/30 laps after. Whatever, I had no clue what I was seeking, just doing things by rote. Later, I spent some time with a guy who restored razors for a living. What I realized from his direct example was that I was stropping far more than he was. Elsewhere, in an old barber's manual, I read that the linen side should not be used on a daily basis, but only when the edge seems to be falling off.

    At some point I also began experimenting with slow and fast draw leather combinations. This, if anything, taught me to feel and listen to things. With a slow-draw piece (e.g., oil-tanned, latigo), there was resistance at the start, and the trick was to be attuned to the moment where the feel of resistance started to lessen. With a fast-draw piece (e.g., horse-hide, shell), resistance wasn't really a factor; rather it was to listen for a moment where a rustle-like sound altered towards more of a whistle or ring. In both cases, this gave an indication that the edge was being aligned. Both are fairly subtle changes though and can be missed if one is more concerned with achieving a theoretical lap-count.

    I don't really have a theory as to why I mostly strop after the shave, rather than before a shave. It mostly has to do with convenience for me and the observation that residual soap scum is still left on the blade after rinsing and wiping the blade after shaving. Everyone's approach is what works best for them, and based on what they are using, so there's plenty of room for variation as to approach. So for what it's worth, I've found the following approach to work for me, not that it isn't subject to change. After shaving, I rinse the blade off, and wipe it gently with a bar towel, using the towel draped over a fingertip to clean the edge with a stropping motion. The razor is then placed edge-up on its spine while everything else is put away and cleaned up (this takes maybe five minutes tops). This being done, I then palm rub the leather piece (lately, this has been the old, beat-up hardware store Llama shell strop) and strop until feels and sounds good to me, and then a little bit more, maybe around 40 laps total. Then I check the blade for glint, possibly stropping a little more on the leather or my palm until things seem right visually. Any question beyond this involves an HHT by way of further confirmation. Then the blade is left out, edge-up on its spine to dry completely, anywhere from an hour to the entire night (evening shaver here) depending on what I'm doing or where I need to be. In any case, before being put away, the blade is dipped into a solution of four parts alcohol to one part mineral oil to protect it. Prior to shaving, the oil on the blade is wiped off, spritzed with alcohol, wiped off again, rinsed off with hot water and the shaving session can begin.

    As for linen and pasted strops, this goes with the feel when shaving. If the edge feels like it's dropping off, I will hit it with around 15-30 laps on white-pasted linen followed by around 40 laps leather to see if that helps. If it does, then it's back to the leather-only routine. If the white paste is not enough, then I'll hit the edge with around 5-10 laps on the red paste on linen, followed by the leather. This usually does the trick, and it's back to the leather-only routine, etc.

    When I recall that barbers repeatedly strop their razors over the course of the day, and that some folks will strop their razors between passes, the idea that the razor's steel should somehow be left to rest 24 hours before reusing strikes me as somewhat superstitious. The same holds true for the notion that one should always strop just before shaving when I recall that genuinely "shave-ready" razors as sold or acquired from reputable sources can yield wonderful shaves the first time being used as received, without stropping, after a delivery process involving several days. By way of analogy, does one normally say that a DE or a shavette blade "needs to rest for 24 hrs." or should be stropped just before use? No, one normally removes the wrapper, loads the prepared blade as received into the razor handle, and proceeds to shave.
    Last edited by Mr. Wilson; February 2nd, 2017 at 06:24 PM.
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    Senior Member paulblo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Ontario Canada
    I usually shave at night and strop the next morning.
    I think it was a Dovo website that suggested to wait a minimum of 24 hours for edge realignment. I will always wait at least 2 hours.
    I have never seen it written in a Barbering manual to wait any amount of time OR advocate for right after.
    I have found the edge will last a little longer waiting a bit, perhaps it is mind play but I do not mind waiting as I don't consider it part of the shaving act pre or post but rather part of preparing of the instruments - like honing.
    That's how I roll.


    I have misspoke. My Barbering textbook talks of stropping between passes during a shave.
    Last edited by paulblo; February 12th, 2017 at 04:10 PM.
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    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Gothenburg, Sweden
    I agree with Alain.
    Most enthusiasts overdo the stropping big-time.
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