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Old 12-11-2002, 05:44 PM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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How does a Leather Strap sharpen a Razor?

Ok I have been going to the same barber for more than 11 years. I have seen the leather strap in the corner of his shop everytime I have gone to get my hair cut - roughly every 3 to 4 weeks for 11 years - so today I asked him.

"Brad, how the hell does that leather strap sharpen your razor?"

Being the surly barber he is he said, "Kuz it jus duz, I don't know the fisicks behind it, it jus duz..."

So I decided to test his sharpening abilities and have a shave, he's an old school barber and still gets gentlemen in who want a cut n'shave.

Let me telll you it was one of the most chilling experiences I have had in quite some time. But I do trust the man, and he did a better job of shaving with his strait razor than I have with my Gillette Turbo Mach III in all the years I've been shaving. And the Blade he used was warm right after he "strapped it" for lack of a better term.

So how the heck does a leather strap sharpen a razor? Anyone know the dope on that?
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  #2  
Old 12-11-2002, 05:54 PM
Barney111 Barney111 is offline
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It's not the leather, it's a fine powder of diamond or garnet ( IIRC) ,called rouge, that is applied to the leather. The leather helps to straighten out the edge, much like a steel hone does, but the rouge does the sharpening.
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Old 12-11-2002, 06:00 PM
heresiarch heresiarch is offline
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When I did leathercraft I used a scrap of leather to sharpen my swivel knife. But I put jeweler's rouge on the rough side of the leather, which I imagine acts as a very fine abrasive.

I don't know if your barber uses jeweler's rouge on his strop. Maybe the strops come impregnated with rouge and don't need any added.

Another idea is that the leather doesn't actually sharpen the blade by abrading the metal, but works like a sharpening steel. These work by aligning the fine structure of the steel at the edge of the blade - at least according to this site.

I'll admit that my answer is a little speculative. Hopefully someone who knows for sure will post.
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Old 12-11-2002, 06:07 PM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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Rouge huh? well it looks like a normal leather strap to me. I'll ask him if he adds anything to the strap before he uses it. I doubt it for some reason.

Now if memory serves, I have heard the idea that running a straight razor over leather will straighten out the blade, but how, the blade is stainless steel?
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Old 12-11-2002, 06:11 PM
Barney111 Barney111 is offline
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The blade is steel, but the cutting edge is very thin. As you cut w/it, the edge tends to fold over to the side, making for a dull(er) cutting edge. The leather or steel is used to fold the bent edge back up.
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Old 12-11-2002, 06:16 PM
Lobsang Lobsang is offline
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This gets my nomination for question of the week. I have always wondered it myself (but never got as far as finding out)
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  #7  
Old 12-11-2002, 06:19 PM
KidCharlemagne KidCharlemagne is offline
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A leather strop is used to remove the burr AFTER sharpening. It doesn't sharpen itself. If you sharpen an edge correctly a burr will form on the opposite side. Turn it over and sharpen and the burr points directly forward for the most part and stropping will remove it. The point of the leather is that it's strong enough to withstand a sharp edge but soft enough not to dull the new edge.
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Old 12-11-2002, 06:35 PM
Barney111 Barney111 is offline
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Quote:
A leather strop is used to remove the burr AFTER sharpening. It doesn't sharpen itself.
Correct. A razor is sharpened on a stone, just like any knife. A well cut and beveled edge can last an astonishingly long time if the edge is steeled or stropped regularly.

Most strops I've seen have rouge applied to the back (rough) side of the leather, and the smooth (skin) side of the leather is just bare.
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