Friday, July 27, 2012

I needed a razor strop

Having written about my rendezvous shaving kit a while back, two things occurred: I needed to touch up the razor, and for that I needed a strop. So, being cheap and wanting to see how it’d come out, decided to make one.

Basic form, a razor strop is a strip of leather with some form of abrasive worked into it. Before shaving, you work the razor back & forth on it to polish the edge. I started with a piece of leather that allowed me to cut strip about two inches wide and twenty long. You also need a way to hang it and a handle.

Hanging was by making a piece of light leather to fasten to the top, and bending a piece of suitable steel to make a hook
Three screw posts will hold it in place.

The handle is two pieces of reasonably thick leather cut to shape.
I glued them together, leaving an inch or so at the top open. Cut a bit of a taper to that end of the strap so it’d wedge in nicely, then drilled three holes for screw posts to hold it in place.

That’s all pretty straightforward; so is getting the abrasive into the leather, but a lot more messy. What I did used a piece of buffing compound and some kerosene. Laid the strap on a suitable surface*, wet it with kerosene and then rubbed the compound all over it. Repeat, on and on, until you’ve got a fair coat of compound evenly over the leather. The kerosene dissolves the grease or wax the abrasive is suspended in and lets it soak into the leather. Do note that the strap should be left out in the air for a few hours, preferably overnight, for the volatiles to evaporate. And it’ll take a couple of days more for the smell of the kerosene to fade out**.

Once it’s done, slap the back on a smooth surface a few times as there will be some compound on the surface that comes off, probably some on the edges as well; rub the edges on something appropriate to clean them of excess. Then assemble.

No, haven’t shaved with the straight razor again as yet, that’s to come. But it also works well to polish the edge of just about any cutting tool.

I'll throw in, son ran across this before his last deployment, the Razor Emporium: safety and straight razors, strops, soaps and other stuff

*'Suitable' as in 'something you don't mind getting really messy'.
**There's probably something better than kerosene for this. However, the oil left behind after the volatiles are gone helps keep the leather from drying out; if you use something else, you'll likely need to add some neatsfoot or something similar to the strap afterward .


Sailorcurt said...

I haven't gone completely old school, but I use a safety razor as my everyday shaver.

I got tired of paying $15 for a pack of 5 cartridges. I can buy a pack of double edged razor blades for less than $2 and they last me three or four months.

Shave isn't quite as comfortable or close as a modern 87 blade picosharpened, comfort strip, lotion impregnated, 360 degree flexing razor, but it works well enough for me and saves me a LOT of money.

Firehand said...

Close to a year ago son picked up an old Schick safety, and started using it. LIkes it better than the new stuff, partly because of that cost difference; a pack of good blades runs less than $3.

He also discovered good shaving soap and a brush; he's got the rig with him in A'stan now.

Evyl Robot Michael said...

I've been using my grandpa's Gillette safety razor for several years now. The modern, multi-bladed gizmos make me break out and the safety razor shaves closer than an electric. I'd like to use a straight razor, but the old ones are expensive and the new ones are mostly junk.

Firehand said...

Check flea markets if get a chance; sometimes you can find a good old one that just needs cleanup and sharpening