Stropping is an absolutely necessary skill for straight shavers!
You should strop your razor before every shave. If you put your razor under a microscope, you would see that the very edge of the blade has tiny "hairs" that fold over after sitting for a while.
When you are first learning to strop, be patient and don't try to work too quickly! A slow and proper stropping stroke is better for your blade than a quick but poor stroke. Take your time to work up your technique and don't worry if your first stropping seems to take a long time. Once you have the stropping stroke down, this process will only take a matter of minutes. It is too common that first time straight shavers will damage their blades with improper strokes! Follow this guide step-by-step and you will develop a great stropping technique in no time!
If you haven't done so already, refer to our Anatomy of a Straight Razor and Anatomy of a Strop guides to sort out your points and tails and spines and edges!
STEP 1. Find an Anchor Point
Tie your strop to a fixed anchor point to prepare for stropping. A towel bar, hook on the wall or closed and secure door handle will work! Just make sure your anchor point isn't going anywhere! A poorly secured anchor point could be dangerous to you.
STEP 2. Get a Grip!
The key to a good stropping is proper tension on the strop. To achieve this, stand with the lace end of the strop secured to your anchor point and your non-dominant hand securing the handle at the other end of the strop. Stand facing your strop's anchor point and position your body just to the side of the strop. Tuck your elbow in to reduce hand or strop movement. Lastly, pull the strop with enough force to make the strop lie flat in front of you.
STEP 3. Keep it Flat
In your dominant hand, position the blade so that the spine and the edge lay flat on the stropping surface. The spine should never leave the stropping surface. The edge of the razor will be closest to you and the spine will be farthest from you. Do NOT roll the edge toward you or away from you or allow the strop to sag or become slack.
STEP 4. Push Away & Flip
Push the blade away from you, keeping the spine and the edge flat on the stropping surface the entire time. The blade should glide across the stropping surface with little to no downward pressure. As you approach the end of the strop, stop your forward motion and flip the edge over the spine by rolling the tang in between your fingers. Remember, the spine does not leave the stopping surface. Complete the flip by gently laying the edge flat on the stropping surface. Now the spine will be closest to you, and the edge farthest from you.
STEP 5. Pull Towards & Flip
Pull the blade toward your body, stopping at the end of the strop. A good distance to stop at is one that gives you ample room to flip the edge over the spine so that you can push away from yourself again and continue stropping.