The word strop is simply an alternative form of the woord strap. Leather Strops are mainly used in the form of a flexible, long, rectangular piece of leather used for sharpening a cut throat razor, also known as a razor strop, shaving strop and leather strop. Valuable hunting knives, chef's knives are also frequently stropped.
It may be in the form of a hanging belt or a hand-held paddle. Antique razor strops are generally heavier. Use of a special paste or dressing is recommended to condition the material and for the removal of 'burrs' that form on the razors edge after shaving. You must remember that the main purpose of stropping is not to remove material but to straighten and align the microscopic teeth that are at the edge of the blade. Nothing maintains the mirror edged sharpness to your straight razor like a fine quality leather strop.
This is used for daily stropping prior to shaving. Use the canvas side for coarse edge alignment stropping, with or without white paste. Next the leather side for fine edge alignment stropping prior to shaving. The leather side may be used with or without a non-abrasive strop balm or paste. This maintains the quality of the leather and prevents it drying out and cracking.
This is ideal for travel as it does not require securing, just a steady flat surface. The handheld strop has two leather sides; one for daily stropping and the reverse green leather side for use with a green or red-black abrasive paste. Stropping with an abrasive paste when the edge of the razor becomes dull can help extend the time between honing.
This is not used on a daily basis but for honing – see our guide to Hones and Honing. It is also used for stropping with an abrasive green or red-black paste to help extend the time between honing.
We strongly recommend that you use a professional to re-hone your razor. We have seen many cases of cut throat razors being rendered useless by incorrect honing.
With a quality leather strop and the correct stropping technique your blade will not only retain its sharpness but will last for decades.
The following steps are meant as a guide to your daily stropping techniques prior to shaving. We recommend that you develop a method or technique that works best for you.
Step one: Attach your hanging strop securely to a wall. Chest height is advised for ease of use.
Step two: Rotate the strop so that the leather side is uppermost. This would previously of been prepared with a non abrasive strop balm or paste.
Step three: By using the handle of the strop ensure it is fully taunt to gain maximum effectiveness whilst stropping.
Step four: Fully open the razor, grip the shaft with your thumb and forefinger. Place the blade on the strop closest to you with the spine of the blade furthest away.
Step five: Begin to stroke the blade away from you with the spine of the blade leading.
Step six: At the end of each stroke flick the blade over and return with the spine of the blade leading.
In the event of the blade being wider than the strop then a figure of 8 or an X technique should be used much in the same way as honing. This ensures that all of the edge of the blade is stropped evenly.
There are now dozens of very good, informative and entertaining YouTube videos on stropping, we recommend you watch and see how the experts strop their razors.