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Thread: Starting out with strops and hones

  1. #1
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    Default Starting out with strops and hones

    Hi,

    I'm a complete newcomer to shaving with a straight razor, having made do with the usual Gilette offerings (currently a Mach 3) for a number of years. I did actually start off with a DE, but in the folly of youth fell for the marketing.

    After reading the advice on a number of forums (here, badgerandblade etc) I've decided to take the plunge. I'm getting a present of a shave ready razor (Dovo Astrale, from classicshaving) and am currently bidding on some cheap-ish vintage razors on eBay.

    I'm still somewhat unsure as to what the best combination of strops / hones would be for a beginner. I know that I will need a hanging strop for daily use, and either a pasted strop or paddle, or a hone, or both for sharpening.

    I had been thinking of the following combination:
    • Tony Miller Heirloom #1 Best Wide 3" Latigo Premium Strop
    • Tony Miller Heirloom Wide Vintage Style 2 Sided Paddle Stop, pre-pasted with 0.5 and 1.0 micron diamond paste. FWIW, this seems to be currently unavailable.
    • Norton 4000/8000 hone
    My questions:
    • Would I be better off choosing a narrower strop for daily use? I've read somewhere that some (old) razors don't lie flat on the strop and an X-pattern movement would be required. Would a wider or narrower strop be easier to use or to learn on?
    • Should I purchase one of Tony's "Starter" strops, or would the beginner's strop that comes free with the main strop be sufficient to learn on?
    • Would I be better off getting a 4-sided paddle strop? What actual difference would using the 3.0 micron (and finishing on the 0.25 micron) make, especially considering that I'd be starting off with the Norton hone?
    • If I got a 4-sided strop (3.0 micron - 0.25 micron pastes) would this effectively replace the Norton hone?
    • Is a choice of 0.5 and 1.0 micron pastes reasonable? I'm thinking that I would use the Norton to sharpen a blunt razor, then refine the edge on the pasted strop, and then finish on the hanging strop.
    • Should I skip the pasted strop idea altogether and just learn to hone on the Norton hone?
    Thanks,

    Fred
    tbert33 likes this.

  2. #2
    Loudmouth FiReSTaRT's Avatar
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    Welcome aboard... Here are some of the answers to your questions:
    1) I get along with a 2.5" strop without any issues, but you can also X on a 3"
    2) 1.0 diamond and 0.5 Chromium Oxide would be a better idea. Maybe you should get it in a bench strop if the paddles are unavailable.
    3) A 4-sider would NOT replace the Norton. 2 sider, even a 1-sider with 0.5 is ok for touching up and if yo uneed to hone an e-bay piece you need actual stones to get it done in a reasonable amount of time.
    4) If you want to hone a bunch of e-bay pieces, then getting a Norton makes sense. If you just want to have 1-4 razors and maintain them, you could do that indefinitely with paste abrasives on wood or balsa.
    I hope this helps, but you're always welcome to ask more

  3. #3
    Senior Member Tony Miller's Avatar
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    The chromium oxide is getting pretty popular and I am doing it in combination with diamond on more coarse surfaces a lot now. I even made myself one <g>.

    While the wide paddle is not being made now I do offer a handle for the bench strop making it usable just like a paddle......either flat on a bench or resting on a table and hand held on the end.

    I will likely make the fancier wide paddle again but have concerns over warpage on anything over 2 1/2" wide. Maybe a lighter 3/4" MDF paddle instead and leave the heavy 1" for the bench strops. I just saw the 2 1/2" wide paddle as being redundant now that I make the 3" to 3 1/4" bench/paddle.

    Neither the paddle or bench strop will replace a Norton. The Norton establishes the edge and for some is all they need before jumping right to a hanging strop. Others go from Norton to Belgian (Shapton/Escher/Thuringen/etc..) then hanging strop, some go to a pasted paddle then the hanging strop. Many of us own all of these and use them in different combinations.

    I suggest a hanging strop for daily use, something fine for refreshing (paddle or very fine finishing stone) and a Norton. If you want to go with less get the hanger, a paddle, and substitute an expert, Lynn, EL, Joe Chandler, Randy honing twice a year for the Norton.

    If going the vintage razor route a Norton is a must no matter what you follow it up with.

    Tony
    The Heirloom Razor Strop Company / The Well Shaved Gentleman

    https://heirloomrazorstrop.com/

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    Loudmouth FiReSTaRT's Avatar
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    I'll clarify something else. If you're only getting a couple of razors and don't want to hone them with a Norton, then you need to send them out to a honemeister for honing service and then keep them touched up on the pasted abrasives.

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    Thanks FiReSTaRT and Tony for your responses. This forum has been incredibly helpful to me during my first steps towards straight shaving.

    I bought my first razor yesterday , a 1920s Kropp Sheffield steel razor in good condition. No chips or rust on the blade, handle is OK as well. I think it's a full hollow ground, and according to my ruler the blade is about 13/16.

    It's blunt though. Can hardly scrape hair off my arm with it. So today I've ordered a Norton hone. I think I'll get a pasted paddle as well, to use before the hanging strop. That'll also help extend the life of the shave-ready Dovo razor that I think I might be getting as a present...

    What would you guys recommend as a good choice for a pasted strop - a 2-sided bench strop (e.g. pre pasted with 1.0 and 0.5 pastes) or a 4-sided paddle strop? I'll be ordering one or the other from Tony Miller.

    It probably comes down to personal preference, so that would be the pros and cons of each choice?

    Thanks a lot your your input!

  6. #6
    Hones & Honing randydance062449's Avatar
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    Just a couple of quick comments.

    Keep it simple on the pasted paddle strops. I would just get the two sided with 0.5 micron chrome oxide on one side and leave the other plain. This worked very well for me when used with a Norton 4/8.

    The kropp is a very good razor. You might be ale to restore the dull edge with the 4K but if not then purchase 1 sheet of 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper, cut it to fit over the hone, wet both the hone and sandpaper then lay the sandpaper on top of the hone and hone the razor with that for 25-50 laps. This will remove any old oxidised metal and start to form the bevel.
    From there perform 50 laps on the 4K to form the bevel. Then move to the pyramid starting at either 15/5 or 10/5.
    Finish with 30 laps on the 0.5 pasted strop. Then clean the razor, strop and test shave.


    Just my two cents,
    Randolph Tuttle, a SRP Mentor for residents of Minnesota & western Wisconsin

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    Great to hear that the Kropp is a good razor. I've decided to go with a 4-sided paddle strop from Tony. Somehow the idea of a paddle appeals to me more right now, and I might also be able to use it for travel.

    I haven't got any sandpaper yet, but I've got Global ceramic whetstones I use for my kitchen knives (120, 1000 and 5000 grit) - see e.g. http://www.amazon.com/Global-Ceramic.../dp/B00005OL3Z

    I'm wondering whether these would be OK to establish the bevel?

  8. #8
    Loudmouth FiReSTaRT's Avatar
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    The 1000 would do the trick, but as quite a few people use 1000 grit sandpaper to lap their hones and it cuts faster, you might as well get it.

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