Straight Razor Stropping 101: Types of Strops

Stropping is the process of maintaining a razor blade, with a threefold objective of cleaning, undoing damage caused by shaving, and realigning the razor’s edge. Every time you shave, the razor blade suffers from microchips and rust. In order to keep the blade sharp and in good working order, you must consistently strop before you set blade to skin.

The material of the strop is just as essential as a solid stropping method. And when it comes to material, preference is the ultimate determinant. As with mattress firmness or the rigidity of a car’s suspension, each person has a different taste for strop material – some like it hard, others like it soft, while there are many who fall somewhere in between.

If you’re stumped about which strop to get, check out our primer on strop materials and their particularities.

Cowhide

Russian:

Cowhide made using Russian tanning methods. It has an agreeable draw that is preferred by many shavers today.

30 Degree Russian Red Leather Strop

30 Degree Russian Red Leather Strop

Latigo:

Cattle hide tanned with alum and gambier. Durable and supple, it has a greater draw than English bridle leather.

30 Degree Thin Latigo Natural Leather Strop

30 Degree Thin Latigo Natural Leather Strop

English Bridle:

Vegetable-tanned leather that is smooth and firm. A large grain pattern gives English bridle strops considerable draw.

Bison English Bridle Razor Strop in Black

Bison English Bridle Razor Strop in Black, available at Bisonmade.com

Horsehide

Natural Horsehide:

Vegetable-tanned leather from the sides of horses that has been used for stropping for over 100 years. Natural horsehide is supple but requires a relatively longer break-in period than cowhide. Horsehide has a smaller grain pattern than latigo leather and provides a medium draw.

30 Degree Horsehide Leather Strop with Handle

30 Degree Horsehide Leather Strop with Handle

Genuine Cordovan Shell:

Leather from the membrane found under the skin of a horse’s rear. Difficult sourcing and an intensive tanning process make genuine cordovan shell very expensive – albeit well worth the investment.

Bison Maroon Shell Cordovan Leather Sharpening Strop

Bison Maroon Shell Cordovan Leather Sharpening Strop, available at Bisonmade.com

Ready to make your pick? Check out RoyalShave’s extensive collection of high-quality leather strops here.

Interview: Captain Fawcett

captain-fawcett

Known as “The Gentleman’s Stiffener” Captain Fawcett is the home to a range of Gentlemen’s grooming products. The products range from Beard oil, mustache wax, shaving soap, shaving brushes, safety razors and so on. This all started back in 1997 when an old trunk was purchased from a house clearance and taken home. Discovering that this belonged to Captain Peabody Fawcett R.N Ret’d, the Edwardian Explorer it was forced open and among the contents inside were oils and ointments and an old journal containing detailed lists of exotic ingredients. Taking on the responsibility of carrying out the legendary “keep a stiffer upper lip regardless” the formulae have been faithfully followed and are now available to Gentleman all over the world.

We have a privilege to interview the man behind the discovery of Captain Fawcett’s. Read more to see what he has to say.

 Where are you located?

The dear Captain is based in Norfolk & Good Blighty.

When did you start this business?

Circa 1905

When did you realize you wanted to be a barber?

I am not currently a barber but a purveyor of First Class Gentlemen’s Grooming Requisites.

Describe a few steps you took to pursuit this.

As an Edwardian explorer of some repute I believe it is imperative to present stiff upper lip regardless of whatever the day may present.

How would you deal with a customer who didn’t know what they wanted?

Refer them to their commanding officer.

What are some of your accomplishments?

AS a manufacturer of the world’s best moustache wax I am proud to have aided in the ennobling of many an upper lip.

Who are some of your favorite barbers?

Sweeny Todd

What do you believe makes a quality hairstyle, cut and groom?

Whatever your chosen image, be it a Scumbag, Young Fogey, Rockabilly or Lounge Lizard be sure to cut a dash.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Plant hunters and Explorers of yesteryear.

What advice do you have for aspiring Mustache growers?

Let it grow, Let it grow, Let it grow!

Where can readers find out more about you and your work?

Captain Fawcett is hugely popular on; (these will all be Links)

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Pinterest

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Buy here: http://bit.ly/1y4XV4W

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Why use badger hair as a shaving brush material?

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The reason to use a badger hair shaving brush is that it offers the ideal balance between water retention, softness and durability when compared to the other options, something that is not found in other materials. Badger hairs are hollow, which is why they hold more water than boar or synthetic hairs. The hair quality of a badger brush is superior because of the inherent characteristic of the hair. The badger hair comes in 4 grades that are based on where on the badger’s body the hair is taken from. The main difference between them is the softness of the hair and the amount of hair available on a given badger.

The badger hair absorbs lots of water and this is beneficial to a good shave because water creates a foamy lather and the lather is essential for a good shave. The badger hair used exfoliates the skin well. The natural hair of a badger hair shaving brush stays firm and warm when shaving. A normal brush does not. e.g. When placing the badger brush into a warm bowl of water it stays firm, the hairs don’t go limp, whereas a normal hair shaving brush when dipped in a warm bowl of water looks heavy and limp with water pouring out of it. This will not give you the foam you need to shave.

The availability or amount of hair a badger has in each grade effects the price

Why choose a badger hair shaving brush? You will get the quality worth paying for.

Interested in a badger hair shaving brush?  http://bit.ly/1vhdKCV

 

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What is Straight Razor Shaving?

A straight razor is a razor with a long blade set in a handle and in traditional and current western versions the blade has the ability to fold into the handle. The straight razor is sometimes called an open razor or cut-throat razor.

During prehistoric times there is documented evidence that men used clam shells, stone or flint knives, and even sharpened blocks of iron to shave and cut their hair with. By the Bronze Age many cultures had developed razors designed specifically for shaving and by the 5th century B.C. razors were in common use throughout the world. These early razors were often constructed by the local blacksmith and the quality of the metal and edge could be extremely variable based on an individual’s given skill. It was not until the late 18th century that the first modern straight razors were introduced in Sheffield, England. In 174o Benjamin Huntsman developed the first hard grade steel suitable for use in the manufacture of blades and while this process was initially rejected b the English it was, albeit reluctantly, adopted by the French. Once the success of the French straight razor manufactures was readily apparent the English and eventually the rest of the western world adopted this process resulting the legendary “Sheffield Silver Steel.”

The straight razor was until the early 20th century the most common form of shaving and due to the skill and costs associated with using and owning them, shaving was usually done by a professional barber. It was not uncommon for men from all levels of society to visit the local barber on a weekly basis for a shave and hair cut. The introduction and mass production of an affordable safety razor, most notably by Gillette, in the early 20th century quickly changed this and by the 1950’s the straight razor shave was a dying art.

In recent years the straight razor has made a significant comeback as the desire for a more personal and ritualized grooming experience has manifested itself in modern society. Today many barbers proudly offer a straight razor shave and this trend shows no real signs of stopping. The retail consumer has also embraced the straight razor as they have become more affordable in comparison to the mass produced alternatives, particularly over a period of several years of ownership.

The straight razor is a time-honed tool, designed to give you an extremely close and accurate shave. There are many straight razors available on the market to choose from based on the steel used, functionality, scale materials, and brand. We will be talking about this more in the weeks to come. If you want to learn the different ways to hold a straight razor go here.

 

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