Straight razors need to be stopped before each shave, yet razor strops seem to take a back seat in popularity compared to hones. Let’s see if we can find out why.
The straight razor strop falls broadly into two types: the wall-mounted or ‘hanging’ strop and the hand-held or ‘paddle’ strop – which you use is a matter of personal preference. Both are basically strips of leather (though ‘vegetarian’ strops are now available in certain places) that are used to give the edge of the straight razor its final polish before use. Yet the art of stropping seems to be to some degree at least – overlooked, especially by newcomers to straight razor shaving.
This may seem odd but is a very common problem that can result in poor results from the razor. I’ve seen many emails that run along the lines of ‘I recently got a shave-ready straight razor and it was great until I used it a few times – now it seems dull. Does it need honing?’ It’s those last few words that tell the tale!
Why choose a straight razor over other types of razors?
The market is stocked with a lot of different ones, but in all realness, the majorities are generally the same. Only a handful of reputable straight razor manufacturers make the cut and prove worthy of the investment. Construction plays a vital role, along with some other factors. Just a couple of pointers to take into consideration when shopping for an elite model:
You want the most important component of the razor to be built from carbon or stainless steel. Carbon can be hardened to a larger extent, is more flexible, and conforms to the face easier. Stainless is resistant to rust and water damage, with the edges lasting longer.
Three options are afforded to you. Wood/Resin handles bear a hard wooden finish, whereas Celluloid/Bone/Horn models are the most durable for the better handle, and Polymer ones come in an avoidable plastic-type form.
Invest in a blade designed for long-term honing and requiring the least amount of laps (strokes between the blade and strop).
Any blade within the 5/8”-6/8” range is ideal for beginners looking to reduce their chances of cuts. Experienced types can work with a 9/16” or 4/8” razor for better maneuverability and closer shaves.
What are the Different Point Types?
If you search the internet for an image of a straight razor, you may notice that even though they have the same parts, there are different points or tips with each one. There are five different straight razor point types which serve different purposes:
A French point straight razor has a quarter circle shape with a single sharp point that is a little longer. This type of point is great for maneuvering in tight spots or shaving smaller areas that can be harder to reach.
A Spanish point straight razor has a concave or inward-looking tip and can also be used to reach smaller areas.
This type of straight razor point is similar to the Spanish point but has a smaller and more defined notch on top. This promotes better maneuverability in reaching spots like the ears and the nose.
Spike or Square
Just as its name suggests, the Square straight razor has a square tip that has two sharp points. Depending on how you are able to master this type of straight razor, the square tip can be used to shave nose hair.
The most common straight razor point is the round trip. This type of straight razor is best for beginners since the tip of this razor can minimize accidents caused by incorrect handling of a straight.
A typical beginner’s setup for embracing the straight blade is one or two straight razors, a strop, shaving soap or cream, a brush, shaving mug and perhaps an instructional video to help with questions and troubleshooting. This guide will walk buyers through each of these areas and point out a few things to look for, as well as items to avoid when shopping for straight shaving equipment.
Choosing a Razor
Choosing a razor is a combination of personal preference and industry knowledge. There are only three major current manufacturers of new blades: Dovo, Thiers-Issard, and Böker. While there are a number of custom razor makers, these three dominate the industry. However, new blades are not the only option, there are many vintage razors that would often be of equal or even better quality than the current production and they will generally cost significantly less. Most often, the razors are honed and shave-tested by the seller.
Disposable, Replaceable, or Classic
There are three main categories of straight razors: disposable straight razor, replaceable-blade razor, or classic straight-edge razor. Disposable razors can be thrown in the trash when the blade becomes dull, whereas, with a replaceable-blade razor, extra blades are purchased and replaced when necessary. Classic straight-edge razors are honed about twice per year to maintain sharpness; however, they should be stropped before each shave. Stropping requires a stropping belt and oil or paste, which is covered more fully in sections below.
The vintage razors are usually made of carbon steel, and these are easier to hone and sharpen, but may dull quickly and might not cut as well as newer razors. The new straight razors have stainless steel blades. Stainless steel is sharper, and less likely to dull quickly, but is more difficult to sharpen.
Consider the handle when purchasing a straight razor. The handle should be comfortable and eventually change shape to fit the user’s hand. It is important to ensure that the blade and handle of any straight razor are balanced. A balanced razor will deliver a closer and more consistent shave. Handle scales are made of various materials, including mother-of-pearl, Bakelite, celluloid, bone, plastic, wood, horn, acrylic, ivory, and tortoiseshell. Resin impregnated wooden handles are water-resistant, do not deform, and their weight complements the blade’s to provide a good overall balance for the razor.
Blades are, at first, categorized according to point type. There are three main types of point: round, square, or French. The round point is semicircular and lacks any sharp endpoints. As such, it is a more forgiving blade than the other two types and is recommended for relatively new users. A square point is used for precise shaving in small areas but requires some experience in handling. The French (or oblique) point looks like a quarter circle. It has a sharp point, like the square point, but has a bit of a fancier appearance.
There are two main blade shapes: concave or wedge. Generally, barbers use the concave edge so they can feel the resistance of the beard as they shave. Experts say that wedge edged razors are for those who tend to wait until their beard is longer to shave.
The width of the blade can vary in size, depending on the comfort level of the user. A longer blade will cover more area, while a shorter blade will allow for more refinement. A wider blade can carry more lather, which allows the user more shaving time. The disadvantage of the wider blade is that it is not as maneuverable as a narrower blade. A narrow blade can shave tight facial spots, such as under the nose, but it must be rinsed more often.
Mу tор picks оn ѕtrаіght/сutthrоаt rаzоrѕ
Thіѕ іѕ a very аffоrdаblе аnd есоnоmісаl straight rаzоr for all your ѕhаvіng nееdѕ. It brings оut thе rеаl mеаnіng of thе рhrаѕе “оld is gold” оut сlеаrlу because іt іѕ a true рrоvе of thіѕ. Yоu will еnjоу ѕhаvіng wіth іt and hаvе еvеrуоnе аrоund уоu аѕkіng you аbоut уоur ѕhаvіng routine. You dоn’t hаvе tо ѕреnd a fortune оn a ѕhаvіng tооl. Thіѕ іѕ a tіmеlеѕѕ masterpiece іdеаl fоr all mеn whо lоvе ѕhаvіng.
- Thе design provides a fіrm hоld on thе blаdе as well аѕ a simple, еffісіеnt mеаnѕ оf replacement.
- Hаѕ a dіffісult-tо-ԛuаntіfу but unmіѕtаkаblе old wоrld fееl when you hоld іt.
- Vеrу rеаѕоnаblу рrісеd.
- Thе ѕtаіnlеѕѕ steel ѕееmѕ a rаthеr lоw grаdе.
Thе Pаrkеr SR1 Stаіnlеѕѕ Stееl ѕtrаіght rаzоr іѕ a bеаutіful lооkіng ріесе оf grооmіng tech that’s nоt ԛuіtе mоdеrn in its ѕtуlіng and yet not ԛuіtе fullу trаdіtіоnаl either. But while іt may оссuру a grеу area whеn іt соmеѕ tо dеѕіgn there’s nothing іn-bеtwееn about thе shave іt dеlіvеrѕ.
The Pаrkеr SR1 feels grеаt іn your hand and thіѕ extreme comfort аllоwѕ for an outstanding straight rаzоr ѕhаvіng еxреrіеnсе. It’ѕ tоо bаd they dесіdеd tо use plastic for the ѕсаlе. Stіll, blade rерlасеmеnt іѕ еаѕу, nеw blades ѕеаt ѕесurеlу аnd thе оvеrаll еxреrіеnсе іѕ the fіrѕt rаtе.
- Thе blаdе аrm іѕ fаѕhіоnеd from 100% ѕtаіnlеѕѕ steel.
- Thе blаdе holder ѕnарѕ ѕhut tо еnѕurе a secure hоld that so thаt shave ԛuаlіtу is nеvеr compromised.
- 40 уеаrѕ оf Parker еngіnееrіng еxреrtіѕе behind it.
- Whіlе the blade arm is ѕtаіnlеѕѕ steel the scale is chrome рlаtеd рlаѕtіс.
Parker SRW Stainless Stееl Strаіght Edgе Razor comes wіth 5 Shark Suреr Stаіnlеѕѕ blаdеѕ. We’ve chosen thіѕ аѕ оur ѕеvеnth сhоісе duе to іtѕ vеrѕаtіlіtу аnd аffоrdаbіlіtу. Itѕ blade arm is mаdе оf gеnuіnе ѕtаіnlеѕѕ ѕtееl. It іѕ іdеаl fоr home use аnd professional uѕе. In оrdеr tо rеduсе cuts, іt hаѕ a rоundеd еdgе on thе blade соmраrtmеnt. Thе blade іѕ ѕесurеd with a ѕnар-lосk. It саn wоrk wіth ѕіnglе еdgе blаdеѕ оr оnе hаlf dоublе еdgе blаdе. This razor is for those whо are gеttіng tіrеd of ѕhаrреnіng аnd stropping.
- Vеrу аffоrdаblе.
- Uѕеѕ dіѕроѕаblе blаdеѕ.
- Uѕеѕ a snap lосk fоr ѕесurіng thе blаdе.
- Prеfеrrеd bу professional bаrbеrѕ
- Stеер learning curve.
- Thе рlаѕtіс ѕсаlеѕ mаkе іt lооk a bіt сhеар.
Here’s a straight razor that takes the “straight” part of the name seriously. It’s the only non-folding razor on our list but that’s just an aside and not why it’s here. It’s on our list for the quality of the finished product.
The Feather SS Japanese straight razor is serious shaving tech with a comfortable handle, a no-nonsense method for replacing blades and a high-quality stainless steel blade holder that resists corrosion. Once you use it a few times you’ll stop questioning why it doesn’t fold up and just appreciate the great job it does.
- High quality classically shaped stainless steel blade.
- Includes leather strop, natural soap, applicator brush and more.
- Attractive wooden case lets you take the barbershop experience with you wherever you go.
- You’ll need to stop the blade before using it.
- What’s a straight razor kit without a bowl?
Every man needs a straight razor. It makes all the difference when it comes to close and clean shaving. You will be able to take your shaving game a notch higher and have everyone around you wondering how you manage to keep your beard or head so neat all the time. The straight razor revival has caught the imagination of men around the world and breathed new life into a product that had once been left for dead. If you are still undecided about whether to stick to your way of shaving or move to the straight razor, you can see what other people are saying as their experience might help you in making the right decision.
Image Source: Amazon.com