ShavingUniverse.com

Register a free account now!

If you are registered, you get access to the members only section, can participate in the buy & sell second hand forum and last but not least you can reserve your preferred username before someone else takes it.

My Great Stropping Experiment

rayman

Well-Known Member
So back in the beginning of January, before I ended up in the hospital not knowing who I was or where I was, I honed my C-MON Blackie on my No.2 coticule and decided to extend an experiment I had already been doing with it previously but with a different twist.

I simply wanted to take only this freshly honed razors and shave with it exclusively under these pretenses.

1. It could be daily, every other day or every 3 days. No special requirement other than it had to be the same razor.

2. I would do only 3 passes, one WTG, one ATG and one WTG (XTG on the neck) and in that order.

3. Before each shave I would do 30 laps on the linen and 50 on leather.

4. When I did not reach a BBS shave after 3 passes I would touch up the edge on my Hard Balsa Strop board and start over and continue until I needed to re-hone the razor.

Here is the simple results so far.

As of today, I still have not had to touch the razor to my Hard Balsa Strop. After stropping I am still achieving a BBS shave with little effort and getting absolutely no razor burn. HHT is still a solid 4 to 5.

I have never given much thought to the process of stropping other than the basic technique involved. It always seemed that If the razor could shave when I was done, or if it could pass a HHT, it was just fine. This simple longevity test of one edge, however, has been a complete eye opener for me. I am finally convinced that even though I might be considered an advanced beginner in the honing circle, I was nowhere near that until now in the stropping community. Maybe we need to give more emphasis to this stropping process more than we have been.

Give this experiment a try, it’s great fun!

Ray
 

mrmaroon

Well-Known Member
Im a little confused, this is the first day you have shaved with it ray? and when it fails to meet your expectations you are going to give her a few laps on the balsa?
 

rayman

Well-Known Member
mrmaroon said:
Im a little confused, this is the first day you have shaved with it ray? and when it fails to meet your expectations you are going to give her a few laps on the balsa?

I began shaving with this razor, under these conditions, back in the first week of January. So I have roughly 4 total months of continuous shaving on this one razor, except for a patch here and there for a test of a freshly honed razor to be sent to someone.

With that said, we are talking about 100 to 105 days of beard being removed by a razor that has been honed once and maintained only with a strop. This is either a testiment to one hell of a honemeister, which I certainly can't deny...LOL...just kidding, or a decent stropping technique, which I am suddenly realizing can be the only reason to attribute this kind of longevity to.

Ray
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
Superb experiment Ray my friend, and it goes to show the power and longevity of that stropping, I always heard that people that send their razors to someone else to hone (yes there are people who do honest!..lol) need to do so about once a year on average, I would imagine that both yourself and our good Sir Bart have regulars, maybe you have noted how long it is between "Visits"?

And one other thing that is really puzzling me, how do you only use the same razor every time you shave???...Bwhahaha

Nice one Ray
Best regards
Ralfy
 

torbenbp

Well-Known Member
I should think this is a very fine example of "knowing your gear and make the very best of it"

If we all just used one razor, we would surely push it to the limit instead of merely switching to another razor.. I sadly lack the patience to go through with it;)

Well done Sir Ray :thumbup: very interresting indeed!
 

rayman

Well-Known Member
tat2Ralfy said:
And one other thing that is really puzzling me, how do you only use the same razor every time you shave???...Bwhahaha

Nice one Ray
Best regards
Ralfy

Dr Ralfy,

I have about 6 or 8 razors that I really like, but have used just this one for like the last 8 months or so. I might think of changing to another one when this one needs honing, but who knows when that might happen?

Ray
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
Ray,

You are asbsolutely spot on. As you know, I 'm a strong proponent of apt stropping technique myself. And I too believe that the importance of stropping is all too often overlooked. That has a lot to do with the typical audience of the shaving forums. Allow me to elaborate on that. I know several people in Belgium that shave with a straight razor, but not turned it into a full blown hobby. Yes. It is possible! :) It's a bit like me and my woodstove. I couldn't live without it. I can easily talk for an hour with a fellow woodstove owner, but I don't frequent www.chimey.org and I don't own more than one woodstove, nor do I keep my stack of firewood well organized with labels for each different wood species. But I do love that woodstove, and now that the cold evenings are gone, I miss it already.
Anyway, you get the picture about my friends that shave with a straight razor. They typically own 2 to 5 razors. And they're way more occupied with edge longevity than the regular forum mite with his 20 or even 50+ rotation of razors. A lot of us don't even hone because a razor is dull, because, let's admit, we like the honing game too much to wait that long. That's also the reason why it's so hard to get a straight answer on a forum about "touching up". Most seasoned forum residents hardly ever "touch up". They prefer to rehone. And that's my story why there's so much attention for hones and honing and so little awareness of the virtues of stropping.

I don't mean disrespect with that statement. I don't even remember the last time I didn't shave with a razor that came fresh from a hone. It's probably less then 10 shaves in the last year or so. I am sometimes longing of a period of shaving with just one razor and a daily stropping. Maybe I'll take a vacation from adding to the Vault during July and August. Or maybe I just ship the next batch to you. B)

But, to cut to the chase, many staight razor shavers are only uptight about their stropping abilities in the beginning of their straight razor career. But once they've reached a level of competence that allows them to not ruin the edge on the strop, they call it good enough and start focussing on honing. Yet there's so much more to stropping than to merely avoid ruining the edge. If I had a son that was learning how to shave, I would give him one razor. A 4/8. Because if you can wield a 4/8, you can easily handle them all. I would also give him a good strop. One with a linen. I would hone the razor for him, for as long as he couldn't manage to get 30 shaves out of the razor with just the aid of his strop. At that point, I would show him how to hone . Not sooner.

Kind regards,
Bart.
 

rayman

Well-Known Member
Bart said:
many staight razor shavers are only uptight about their stropping abilities in the beginning of their straight razor career. But once they've reached a level of competence that allows them to not ruin the edge on the strop, they call it good enough and start focussing on honing. Yet there's so much more to stropping than to merely avoid ruining the edge. If I had a son that was learning how to shave, I would give him one razor. A 4/8. Because if you can wield a 4/8, you can easily handle them all. I would also give him a good strop. One with a linen. I would hone the razor for him, for as long as he couldn't manage to get 30 shaves out of the razor with just the aid of his strop. At that point, I would show him how to hone . Not sooner.

Bart.

Bart,
The one advantage I have now is that I can take a newly honed razor, of course sent to me by someone requesting a honing, make one pass on my cheek and compare my C-mon to that. What a delight when there is little to no difference. You have the right idea with managing 30 shaves with just a strop.

Perhaps my experiment might seem a little outrageous to some but one thing they can find out about their own stropping really fast is this: If they have their razor honed by a professional and after 30 days it is not as sharp as the day they received it, they might think about improving their stropping skills before their honing skills.

It would be nice to see some others start to post edge longevity numbers. Perhaps this would be some kind of an indicator to not only their stropping skills but also to their honing skills as well. I mean, who cares if someone only gets say 10 days or 5 days out of an edge. This might be a better way to help someone. And maybe not.

Regards,

Ray
 

mrmaroon

Well-Known Member
I'm going to try your experiment ray. My only problem is that in the future my honing will get better and I will touch it up to my new standard of good. Which is a lot less than yours!:lol:
 

garyhaywood

Well-Known Member
i can onestly say i never touched a razor up since i have been into straights. reason being i'm always rehoning.I actualy tried using the same razor. i did 15 shaves with my mint puma. The razor just got better. I swoped to another razor. I'm going to get round to using one razor. It's the only thing i never tryed . I will log it down and post. so ray do you strop in between passes. so three passes you strop 3 times? or just before each shave?
 

matt321

Member
rayman said:
3. Before each shave I would do 30 laps on the linen and 50 on leather.

Thanks Ray. This is interesting. I have a couple of questions:
Is your linen strop pasted with anything (like Dovo white)?
Do you oil the blade after each use?
 

rayman

Well-Known Member
matt321 said:
rayman said:
3. Before each shave I would do 30 laps on the linen and 50 on leather.

Thanks Ray. This is interesting. I have a couple of questions:
Is your linen strop pasted with anything (like Dovo white)?
Do you oil the blade after each use?

I would never put any kind of paste on my Katayama, so no for pasted strop. I also live in Arizona where the normal humidity here is usually between 7% and 12% most of the year, so again, no to oil.
 

maro

Well-Known Member
Excellent experiment Ray! :thumbup:
That would explain the "phenomenon" of house-to-house grinder visiting a town twice a year at the most and honing all the utensils people had at home. Between his visits men had to manage their razors themselves with strops (or go to a barber :) ).
Does it mean that the famous longevity of straights and their ability to serve generations derives from rare honing?
If so, don't we deteriorate (wear) them too fast by substituting touch up and stropping for frequent honing?
 

urmas

Well-Known Member
Thank you Ray, this is most intresting and usefull. I want to do this experiment myself.
I have one question too.
The only strops which I have with untreated linen sides is Heirloom Red Latigo and Kanayama. But these strops have a very coarse linen, which make the ugly noise and vibration when using (I tried once). As a result, I have not used them yet, because I felt that they could damage the delicate edge. Am I wrong in this?

Regards to all,
Urmas
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
maro said:
Excellent experiment Ray! :thumbup:
That would explain the "phenomenon" of house-to-house grinder visiting a town twice a year at the most and honing all the utensils people had at home. Between his visits men had to manage their razors themselves with strops (or go to a barber :) ).
Does it mean that the famous longevity of straights and their ability to serve generations derives from rare honing?
If so, don't we deteriorate (wear) them too fast by substituting touch up and stropping for frequent honing?

I think you are correct, we hone too soon and too often. With a good maintenance plan on Coticule with water, in combination with stropping, you can get a lot of shave out of a good razor. With exception of my test razors, I hardly ever hone my own razors. But of course, I have a fairly constant flow of razors to sharpen for other people.
But I don't think honing too much will immediately wear your razor(s) in a few years time. My test Double Arrows have been through an awful lot of sharpening, and they hardly show it. Even a full re-sharpening doesn't need to remove a lot of steel.

I also don't think that our forefathers were that happy with the edges they were able to put (or maintain) on a razor. From what I understand, the majority of men went to the barber. I've seen special barber's cabinets with a zillion little drawers, one for every customer's razor.

Here's an old add by King Gillette, that showed up at Badger&Blade a couple of days ago. Gillette would be making that kind of math, if he didn't knew most men were paying a barber to get a clean shave.



urmas said:
Thank you Ray, this is most intresting and usefull. I want to do this experiment myself.
I have one question too.
The only strops which I have with untreated linen sides is Heirloom Red Latigo and Kanayama. But these strops have a very coarse linen, which make the ugly noise and vibration when using (I tried once). As a result, I have not used them yet, because I felt that they could damage the delicate edge. Am I wrong in this?
I bought a true linen from Tony Miller a couple of months ago. It sure feels much coarser than the linen I was used to on my Dovo. I recognize your reluctance to use it. But I have, and although the results seem a bit below those I get off V-weaved Dovo, it absolutely does no damage to the edge. It's good to know that the Dovo linen comes pretreated from the factory with Dovo white compound for linen strops, which is not considered a true abrasive, does have its benefits. Tony Miller's linen came untreated, so I'm not making much of an honest comparison. (I'm awaiting an order of Dovo white paste:) ).
The differences between both the Dovo and the TM are not that one of both delivers a nicer edge, once that edge is properly stropped on leather. But it appears to me that the Dovo has a bit more "touch-up" power of its own.

Kind regards,
Bart.
 

rayman

Well-Known Member
I want to give all of you an update to the current condition of the edge on the razor used in this experiment. With just a few days left before the razor finishes its 5th month of usage, and only stropping inbetween shaves, the report on its condition and shave quality is as follows.

After stropping the razor before each shave, I do a quick HHT to confirm I haven't botched up the edge. I am getting a consistent 4 and no longer see a 5. The shave is still quite comfortable and there is no burning afterwards. Three passes is still enough to give me a bbs shave. I have to shave every day but do let the beard go some weekends.

The fact that the HHT has droped from 5 to 4 is an indication that there appears to be some degrading going on, and I expect to see a change in the shave sometime soon.

So now I think there needs to be some decisions made on what I should do about this experiment. There are several possibilities and perhaps some of you might be able to provide some guidence.

Since I have not done my normal maintenance routine on this razor during this stropping test, I don't think starting now would prove anything. I did a test last year using my normal routine, which was to hone the razor - shave with it for a week - on every sunday do 8 laps on my hard balsa strop with crox and then continue doing that until the razor needed honed. I gave that up after 4-1/2 months and decided to see how long a well honed razor would last with just stropping.

I have shaved with this one razor for nearly a year with only the original honing and one inbetween. Perhaps I should do this experiment again, only with a different razor, and perhaps this test is just completed.

One thing I have learned for certain; the only way to evaluate one's honing skill is not by the shave they get after honing, but rather how many shaves they get that feel like that first one, after honing.

Suggestions welcome.

Ray
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
Personally, I'd like to see you run it out until the shaves became sub-standard... But it's your experiment, and I'd likely be tired of it by now, if I were you :)
 

rayman

Well-Known Member
I think you are right Paul, I will run this out until it is substandard and yes, I am using my katayama and linen.

Ray
 
Top