Beginners Strop and Practice Razor
I imagine there are some people out there that you could hand a strop and a straight razor to and they would know exactly how to use them, but I am not one of them. So when I obtained a blunt Practice Straight Razor and a Beginners Strop from the Classic Shaving website I had to resort to YouTube for instructions from a pro. If I hadn't done this, or if I had used a sharp straight razor, I would have damaged my strop, I am sure of it. Thankfully from my brief research online I learned that you keep the spine of the razor (the thick metal part opposite the razors edge) against the strop at all times, and that you don’t bring the razor all the way to the end because you will contact the metal or leather at the end of the strop when you flip the razor.
So, I have a small metal rack on wheels in my bathroom to hold towels and a small Bluetooth speaker that provides music for my daily shower. This metal rack provided the perfect location to clip my Beginners Strop to. Before I attached the strop to the rack I looked it over, I had just removed it from the plastic packaging that it came in, and it had that luxurious new strop smell. This is only listed for $15.99 on the Classic Shaving website and it feels very high quality and well-made when I examined it before use. The side where it attaches to a hook or rack has a large metal piece about 2 inches long which I could tell would be the main thing on this strop I wouldn’t want to hit with my razor. I can't recommend how happy I am that I am learning this skill with a blunt razor and a beginner strop.
So I clip the strop to my metal towel/music rack, and open up my Practice Straight Razor to start my learning experience. I checked the sharpness of the blade with my finger so that I could track my sharpening progress along the way. I then grab the strop handle, pull it tight (important) and place my razor on it. The blade is pointing to me and I am not pushing down on the strop with it very hard, just resting it on the strop. I then push it away from me down the strop and perform the flip that I had seen on YouTube, the spine of the razor stays on the strop and the sharp edge flips around to then face away from me. This is not the motion that my hands naturally wanted to make, I wanted to bring the spine up and slide the edge of the blade against the strop, and if I had a very sharp razor I could this damaging the strop and/or the razor.
I slowly keep stropping, not trying to increase my speed. I will confess to you that play the drums in my spare time, I take lessons, and while I was learning the basics of drumming I learned that going slow is perfectly ok. This is better than trying to go fast, cutting my strop and launching my razor across my bathroom and sending my dog running scared. After about 15 "laps" on my strop I check my razors edge to see my progress and I could start to feel the progress already! If I can do this then anyone can. It will take some time to pick up speed, and it wont be long before I will want to upgrades strops. I need to get the muscle memory down so it's not a conscious decision to keep the spine on the strop and not the razors edge.