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Stropping.

Bart

Well-Known Member
Gentlemen,

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Please check it out. Comments are - as always - very welcome.

It's way past bedtime, so I'm going to leave it at that. The article is a stiff read enough.:)

Kind regards,
Bart.
 

JimR

Well-Known Member
Bart, you put words to what I always imagined...thank you!

Plastic flow. Now I know!
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
Super Article and Video Sir Bart, Very informative and I for one learnt a little about my own technique, :thumbup:
Thank you for the umpteenth time, for sharing your knowledge, I am constantly learning thanks to you my friend.
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
That was the most comprehensive treatise on stropping I have ever read… As usual, an excellent article Bart.

In addition to Professor Verhoeven's study, here is a link to an article an in Popular Science Magazine October 1931. In the article... microscopic photos comparing the edge of a straight razor after the shave, and then after stropping... makes interesting reading.
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Paul

Well-Known Member
Wow... great article Smythe:thumbup:

FWIW, I feel that stropping does sharpen the razor to some degree. I remember MParker talking of skipping the hones and refreshing a blade on strops only. I've never taken one that far, but I've improved the keenness substantially (judged by HHT and feel on face) on stropping...

Discussions on stropping are fascinating to me because it touches the outer limits of the esoteric side of straight razor shaving... :)
 
G

Guest

Hm. A best-in-class article that's not in my Wiki. Shame on you, Bart! :scared:
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
BeBerlin said:
Hm. A best-in-class article that's not in my Wiki. Shame on you, Bart! :scared:
:D
You can use whatever you like Robin. Some of that article might be too controversial for the consensus based platform of a Wiki. But then again, it's good stuff to fuel a discussion. B) That's what science is all about.

The video is pretty basic knowledge, though.

Best regards,
Bart.
 

rayman

Well-Known Member
Bart,
This article is one that should have a check box that everyone should have to check that they have read and understand, before being allowed to join this or any other forum. The information you have presented is not only beneficial to those just starting out, but even those who have been at it for a while.

Excellent piece of work, and thanks for the included video demonstration.

I have always been of the same opinion, as you, that the shape of the blade didn't make much of a difference to the strop, until today. Today I had something happen that just might make me reconsider a blades shape, at least when it is somewhat exagerated, as being a concern while stropping.

I was working on a Hartford Cutlery and it had a slightly warped edge. It didn't seem to be any more than usual, so I started to hone it on my Coticule as usual. A nice slurry, worked it down to mostly water and checked the edge. It met the normal test to move on to water only, so I did. I finally decided to strop the edge after 100 laps on water.

I did 30 laps on the linen and 50 on leather. Same as I usually do. HHT was next. The HHT revealed that the back half, from heel to center, was a 4. But from center to toe was a 0. So back to the hone. Slurry to water then, well you know the drill. After stropping again, I got the same results.

So I did the same as before except, so I wouldn't be classified as crazy, I included my bbw in the mix. The same results were achieved.

The edge on the razor was feeling as sharp from one end to the other before I went to the strop. What the hell could be happening? I decided to try something that absolutly made no sense, but I had to rule it out.

I stropped the edge exactly the way I honed it, conpensating for the warp. I also did the stropping a 3" x 11" hard horse hide strop. When I was finished, the edge passed the HHT as a 5. Where ever I touched the blade with a hair it just fell imediately.

Is this absolute proof that following a warp, or a smile or whatever, while stropping, will work under allconditions. NO! But it might not be a bad idea to remember that it could save you a lot of time in learning another option.

Ray
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
Awesome Ray thats a wonderful example of just how things can become err a little strange when we work on those lovely old girls, its like they know the "rules" and break them every now again to make us kick the old grey matter coughing and spluttering into life hahaha
 

Mijbil

Member
Hey guys - Bart, thanks for the excellent article. You are right: it is so difficult to get precise, experiment-based scientific explanations of the physics, metallurgy, etc, involved in razors, honing, and storpping. Here's my question: in the videos accompanying your (excellent) new article on stroppng, I notice that the strop “bends” quite a bit as you move the razor along it. I’m not sure if this is from the strop being less taut, or from putting more pressure on the blade – though I suspect the former. My understanding was that you want the strop almost as taut as possible, so that the strop doesnt bend around the edge at all, and thus actually bend the edge. Thanks--
 

PA23-250

Well-Known Member
Great article! The basics bear repeating & then there's the new stuff too. :thumbup:

Makes you think about the strop leather as well. Linen we sort of agree has to do something abrasive, but the leather, I'm thinking also has to be sufficiently supple to follow the curves of a smiler or warped blade. A stiff hide may not have enough give to follow a really smiling blade. And then we get into draw--seems like too much draw could be as bad as not enough if it causes the razor to skip. I agree about the "leather progression" business.

OT, but I'm starting to want an Old Traditional strop now. :D Do you know if their website has an English option?
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
Mijbil said:
Hey guys - Bart, thanks for the excellent article. You are right: it is so difficult to get precise, experiment-based scientific explanations of the physics, metallurgy, etc, involved in razors, honing, and stropping. Here's my question: in the videos accompanying your (excellent) new article on stropping, I notice that the strop “bends” quite a bit as you move the razor along it. I’m not sure if this is from the strop being less taut, or from putting more pressure on the blade – though I suspect the former. My understanding was that you want the strop almost as taut as possible, so that the strop doesn't bend around the edge at all, and thus actually bend the edge. Thanks--

Strop tautness. Every guy that ever paid me a visit to talk about razor sharpening, poses that question at some point. :)

Let's answer with another question. Do you think our ancestors were stupid enough to use a hanging strop while they could just as easily glue a strip of leather onto a wooden base? In fact, that's what they did for pasted strops, but not for clean leather.
I think the answer is straightforward. Pasted stropping still aims at abrading steel. This is done at the bevel faces. Clean stropping aims at aligning the the erratic part of the edge. This is located on top of the bevel. That is literally "around the corner", hence the strop needs to bend around the edge. The amount is critical: too much and the edge is smothered. Too little and you'll end up with a poorly stropped edge.

I my video, the camera angles show the amount of bend in the strop much better than what you see when you look down on the leather while stropping a razor. It's the same principle that's responsible why most women see their own boobs smaller than those of others. :D A matter of viewpoint. Beware that you don't make the same mistake by allowing more slack in your strop than you might think.

I bet none of the above answers the question. In essence the strop is held taut. The pressure on the razor is what bends the strop. Slack is never guided by the hand that holds the strop. I find it very important that the strop bends mainly under the spine, and far less at the edge itself. If you get that part right, the razor will almost automatically find the right contact with the leather.


Stropping is something that's learned by repetition. I could state it is done by feel, but for a newbie such statements are meaningless, because he has no way to experience that "feel". How does a rope artist manages to stay on the rope? By repetition. Repetition is what forces our brain to transfer control from the cerebrum to the cerebellum. The cerebellum is one of evolutionary oldest part of our brain, and it is capable of amazing things, but it's a veeerryyyyy slow learner. Till the cerebellum kicks in, we'll have to do with our rather clumsy, but fast learning cerebrum. Does anyone care for an example of cerebellum capabilities? :)
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My point is that stropping is practice. Once you've reached that level, this tautness question will loose its meaning, because you'll be able to feel the exact ratio of pressure with one hand and pull with the other. It's something not to think about, but to just "do". It's one of the many zen-aspects of straight razor shaving.



PA23-250 said:
Great article! The basics bear repeating & then there's the new stuff too. :thumbup:

Makes you think about the strop leather as well. Linen we sort of agree has to do something abrasive, but the leather, I'm thinking also has to be sufficiently supple to follow the curves of a smiler or warped blade. A stiff hide may not have enough give to follow a really smiling blade. And then we get into draw--seems like too much draw could be as bad as not enough if it causes the razor to skip. I agree about the "leather progression" business.
This, and also Ray's post, is why I have tried to describe properties of a good strop in my article. Obviously it's possible to get great results of strops that don't meet these recommendations. But let's just say a horse is not as easily tamed as a calf. :rolleyes:

PA23-250 said:
OT, but I'm starting to want an Old Traditional strop now. :D Do you know if their website has an English option?
Just write them a message in simple English.
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One of the employees speaks English well.
 

Mijbil

Member
Thanks for the response, Bart. I take your point - the only thing I'd say is that it's not *just* about practice, because as in many things (say, an incorrect baseball or gold swing) one can practice and practice with the wrong fundamentals and get very good at, even refine,a flawed process. Of course, there's always the "trial and error", viz., "does this method of stropping make the razor sharper or duller?" - but if we could rely entirely on that we wouldnt need forums like this, or articles likes yours :)

As for strop tautness: would you say that you pull it fully taught so that it is straight BEFORE you add the pressure of the razor? For there are degrees of tautness. One can also pull it so taut so that it will mostly resist, i.e. not bend from, the pressure of the razor. That's what some advise. I take it that you would advise the former.

What you say about the wisdom of the ancestors makes sense, although there *are* flat strops - bench strops, paddle strops, and loom strops (perhaps designed to replicate the "bending" of the hanging strop, supporting your point, for why else would one design a loom strop?).

I've been using recently a Dovo Russian leather (juchten) strop. I find on such a strop, with pretty heavy friction and draw, that I have to apply quite a bit of pressure - more than the "just the weight of the razor" by far, which works, for example, on the linen side - on the spine, but I also have to apply some solid pressure down on the edge in order to ensure that the edge stays flat against the strop the length of each lap. In a sense, I feel like that amount of pressure is set by the strop surface, and a little bit by the razor; some of my razors slide more easily etc. But what I *can* vary to vary how much the strop bends is the strop tautness - as per what I said above about that.

Thanks again.
 

Mijbil

Member
One other thing: I also find that the angle at which the strop is held (mostly determined by the height of the point from which the strop is hung) has a big effect on how much the strop bends. Easier to get some bend ont he strop with the strop at more of an angle, rather than with the strop more parallel to the ground.
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
Mijbil said:
Thanks for the response, Bart. I take your point - the only thing I'd say is that it's not *just* about practice, because as in many things (say, an incorrect baseball or gold swing) one can practice and practice with the wrong fundamentals and get very good at, even refine,a flawed process. Of course, there's always the "trial and error", viz., "does this method of stropping make the razor sharper or duller?" - but if we could rely entirely on that we wouldnt need forums like this, or articles likes yours :)
Yes, there no need to reinvent the wheel over and over again...;)
Mijbil said:
As for strop tautness: would you say that you pull it fully taught so that it is straight BEFORE you add the pressure of the razor? For there are degrees of tautness. One can also pull it so taut so that it will mostly resist, i.e. not bend from, the pressure of the razor. That's what some advise. I take it that you would advise the former.
Indeed, I advice the former. But what I particularly advice is that you observe your results. A lot of people just strop and think that if it looks good, it must be good. I regularly receive razors with the request to assess the honing. I always ask to strop the razor. You'd be surprised how often I receive blades that I can improve considerably by a decent stropping. I'm talking about guys that shaved over a year with a straight razor.

Mijbil said:
What you say about the wisdom of the ancestors makes sense, although there *are* flat strops - bench strops, paddle strops, and loom strops (perhaps designed to replicate the "bending" of the hanging strop, supporting your point, for why else would one design a loom strop?).
Most of the flat strops are designed for pasted use. Pasted strops aim at sharpening which is done at the faces of the cutting bevel. Clean leather stropping aims at aligning erratic steel on the top of the edge. That is almost literally "around the corner", hence the need for the strop of fold a bit around the edge.
Mijbil said:
I've been using recently a Dovo Russian leather (juchten) strop. I find on such a strop, with pretty heavy friction and draw, that I have to apply quite a bit of pressure - more than the "just the weight of the razor" by far, which works, for example, on the linen side - on the spine, but I also have to apply some solid pressure down on the edge in order to ensure that the edge stays flat against the strop the length of each lap. In a sense, I feel like that amount of pressure is set by the strop surface, and a little bit by the razor; some of my razors slide more easily etc. But what I *can* vary to vary how much the strop bends is the strop tautness - as per what I said above about that.
Did you by any chance "condition" that Dovo with Dovo's yellow leather fat? Or some other greasy substance? None of the Dovo Russian strops I've seen (and used) displayed the kind of draw you describe (unless that one who had a lot of Dovo yellow fat on it).

Mijbil said:
One other thing: I also find that the angle at which the strop is held (mostly determined by the height of the point from which the strop is hung) has a big effect on how much the strop bends. Easier to get some bend ont he strop with the strop at more of an angle, rather than with the strop more parallel to the ground.
I beg to differ about this. The strop is tentioned with one hand, and pushed into bending with the other. Whether you would do that vertically, horizontally, upside down, or in the international space station for that matter, would not make any difference. It just may look different, because of a different viewing perspective.

Best regards,
Bart.
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
I too use a Dovo the very same one, and the draw on both sides is spot on, the leather is just as it came, and although I did use dovo white paste on the linen side for a time, I recently washed the linen and find the draw without the white paste is better in my opinion but I need to give it a little more time tbh.
Either way the draw on the strop is for me spot on, I cant strop with only a light pressure and get a great draw, there are however times when I do apply a little more pressure:
When doing a first strop after honing and if I am stropping a wedge, as well as a little more pressure I also let the strop bow a little more by keeping the strop tension slightly less but only on a wedge grind, the draw for me has always been great on this strop and with a full or extra hollow grind I find I can get the blade "Singing" nicely.
 
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