Amazing Shaving > Sharpen Straight Razor
How to sharpen a straight razor:
Straight Razor Honing
After about six months of use, your straight razor will begin to slightly pull on your skin - an indication that its blade will need honing.
Honing a razor is pretty simple. All you need is a straight razor hone, a razor and a light touch. Hones are usually made of stone or a synthetic material.
Be sure to follow the hone manufacturer’s instructions on how to use the hone properly. Honing a straight razor is done by laying the razor flat on top of the hone and then pushing it down the hone diagonally with the edge leading.
Use very short strokes but the strokes must be long enough to ensure that the whole straight razor edge comes into contact with hone. Then flip the razor over on its spine and push the other side in the same diagonal manner back up the hone.
Basically, you’ll form an “X” pattern on the hone using this technique. Be very light using on the weight of the blade against the hone. Five passes on each side of the blade should be good enough to sharpen your razor’s blade.
After honing the blade, you’ll need to strop it on leather to completely whet the edge. Use 10 to 20 passes on the strop before each shave.
You can test the sharpness of your razor by using the sliced hair technique. Simply obtain a hair, pinch it between your thumb and forefinger so that it hangs down. Slowly push the blade at the hair in a perpendicular fashion. If the blade slices through the hair without a sound, then you have a properly sharpened blade.
Straight Razor Stropping
A strop is a leather belt that has a smooth surface over which the razor is dragged flat with the back leading. The strop smoothes the razor’s edge, making it very keen. There are a variety of strops available, with the Illinois razor strop being one of the most popular.
Stropping a straight blade is perhaps the toughest technique to master. Remember to take your time and use little more pressure than the weight of the blade.
If you take a chunk out of your strop, you can likely smooth it out with very fine sandpaper. Once it’s smoothed out, wipe the strop with a damp cloth and treat it with strop conditioner.
Drag the blade across the leather with its spine leading. The blade should be completely flat on the leather. Like honing, drag the blade in a diagonal fashion so that the entire edge is treated and use an “X” pattern. After stropping you’re now ready to shave.
Once every month treat your leather strop with a strop paste to keep it supple and soft. Like your straight razor, your leather strop can last a lifetime if properly maintained.