A straight razor is one of the oldest versions of razors. These razors work great if they are maintained well. A straight razor might get dull easily that’s why it needs to be honed before every shave. A straight razor can be sharpened in two ways mainly: honing and stropping. These two procedures are the most popular and effective ways while sharpening a straight razor. Let’s know how to do these with great excellence.
How to Add Sharpness to a Straight Razor
A straight razor is a razor that has a blade that can be folded into the handle. The blade is open and there is nothing to protect the skin from getting cut. But, it’s popular because it allows us to get a closer and cleaner look. Shaving is a sensitive thing as it deals with the facial skin. Sharpness is a big deal in this regard. That’s why knowing how to sharpen a straight razor is important.
Honing: 4 Steps
Honing refers to the act of sharpening a straight razor using a whetstone. The process is as follows.
- Wash the surface of the whetstone to make it completely clean.
- Then open the straight razor and slide it along the whetstone. make sure you are not applying much pressure on the blades. You can use two hands if that feels convenient to you. But, don’t press the blades down using the fingers.
- Continue the process of sliding the blades gently. It may take five to ten minutes to sharpen the razor depending on the dullness.
- If you think the sharpening is over, put the razor into a test. Try to cut a long strand of hair by the razor. If it cuts smoothly, the razor is ready.
Stropping: 4 Steps
Stripping refers to the act of sharpening a straight razor using leather or linen. Know how to strop a straight razor from the below steps.
- Get your strop leather and hang it from a fixed point, hook it carefully. Then hold it tightly to get a perfectly sharpened edge.
- Hold the straight razor and start from the front with the spine leading. Put the blade nice and flat. Don’t touch the sharp edge, it will cause severe injury.
- Use just enough pressure with the weight of the razor and a little bit weight on your hand. Slowly with some finesse go over to one end to another. Run it forward without lifting the razor off. Stop at the end flip the razor and bring it back to the starting point. This is called one round trip.
- Before you shave you can continue the process for 25-25 round trips. That will provide you with a perfect cutting edge.
Right Angles For Sharpening A Straight Razor
When it comes to sharpening any blades, there are many things to consider. This includes your sharpening tool, the blade that needs work done, and the angle you should be working on.
When you are working on a straight razor, you’d want to keep the angle to roughly 7 to 8 degrees. The reason for the low angle is that this works well with edges that are used to cut through softer materials. In the case of a straight razor, the blade itself is thin and delicate. Sharpening it at high angles could make the blade dull. In worst cases, it could even result in the blade breaking.
How to Sharpen Straight Razor With A Belt
A strop is like a leather belt that is primarily used for sharpening blades. It is one of the tools you should have to keep your edges sharp. Understanding how to use a belt is easy but mastering this sharpening tool takes a lot of work.
- Hook one end of the belt into something sturdy then pull it towards you. For the first step, you want to have the leather side up.
- Hold the straight razor firmly at the hinge between the handle and the blade. Make sure that only your fingers are involved so you can make the sharpening process easier. Keep in mind that you must keep the blade at a low angle, for example, 35 -45 degrees to the strop.
- Now, you sharpen the blade by pulling it back. Do not pull back when the edge is facing you as this could damage your strop. Repeat this process at least 4 times and do not over sharpen.
- Ideally, you’d want to avoid having the blade leave the strop. As such, you simply turn the blade over when you reach one end of the belt.
How to Sharpen A Straight Razor Without A Stone
You don’t always have to really on fancy stones and strops to sharpen your straight razor (but these help a lot though). One of the best alternatives to standard sharpening tools is that strap of leather holding your pants. Leather belts could be used to sharpen an edge but there is a certain step in doing so.
- You must first pick a belt. Ideally, you’d want one that is thick and sturdy. One side should be coarse, while the other side should be smooth.
- If you have one, rub a thick layer of red oxide powder, more commonly known as a rogue compound, into the coarse side of your belt.
- Lay your straight razor on the belt, then pull away from the blade. Remember to keep it at a small angle so as to avoid damaging the edge. You must also utilize the length of the belt so be sure to do long strokes but avoid going through the holes to avoid uneven sharpness. Regularly check if the edge has improved then move on to the other side.
- Repeat the process but this time, use the smoother side of the belt. This will give your straight razor a much-needed polish.
Straight Razor Sharpening Kit
If you want to fully utilize the lifespan of your straight razor, then you will need to buy a sharpening kit. Here are some of the items you should have:
- Strop – one of the easiest and simplest ways to sharpen a straight razor. It is perfect for thin blades. A strop could set you back by at least $35.
- Strop paste – this useful abrasive compound is added when you are almost done sharpening your straight razor. It is primarily used for polishing the blade.
- Stone – a sharpening stone works well with the straight razor but you need to be more gentle with it. The coarse side of the stone could damage thin blades. What’s great about stones is that it can be used for other blades so it is an all-around sharpening tool.
What Are The Best Blades For A Straight Razor
A straight razor is only as good as its blade. As such, you must pick ones that are sharp and durable. Here are some you should consider:
- Feather Double Edge Stainless Steel Blades – it is one of the sharpest blades in the market. Its key selling point though is that it is a perfect fit with most straight razors.
- Gillette 7’O Clock Super Stainless – it comes from a well-established brand in the industry. Aside from being perfectly sharp, it is also more affordable.
- Derby Extra Double Edge Razor Blades – it features a hard coating that makes it more durable than other blades.
- Wilkinson Sword Classic Double Edge Safety Razor Blades – a durable blade that is easy to handle. It is the perfect blade to use for newbie straight razor users.
Straight Razor Care
Here are some tips to keep your straight razor healthy.
- Dry out the edge before closing the razor. This maintains the quality of the blade and it helps avoid corroding.
- Do not over sharpen your blade.
- Do not store your straight razor in a hot or humid area. The perfect spot has to be within your clothes drawer as the temperature is just right.
- Do not clean your razors with bleach, ammonia or other cleaning chemicals. If you want to clean it, gently run a wet tissue through it.
- If possible, take your straight razor to a honemeister once every few months. These professionals can greatly increase the lifespan of your blade.
Sharpening A Straight Razor: Common Questions We Get
How often you should sharpen a straight razor?
Ideally, you’d want to hone the blade once or twice a year. However, you may want it stropped before every use. If you are using disposable blades, then replace the blade after 5-6 uses. If it feels dull after a single use, then it might need to be stropped.
How long does a straight razor last?
A straight razor can last for up to 2 months. This depends on how regularly it is used and how well it is cared for. Poor maintenance and sharpening habits could make the blade last for a shorter period.
One can easily get a perfect fit straight razor that can be used to have a closer and cleaner shave. Sharpen your straight razor well to get an attractive clean-shaved look. Most importantly, be careful while using a straight razor. There is no protection to save the skin from getting cut, that’s why a straight razor is prone to injury.