If you still use an old-fashioned single straight razor for your various cutting and shaving needs, it’s important to keep it sharp with all the blades straight and pointed out as they should be. With normal use, a straight razor can naturally become dull. The blades of razors can naturally bend a fold over as they come into contact with something that is stronger than the blade. Accordingly, you will always need to monitor the blade and keep in mind when it may be time to re-sharpen it. On this page, we will break down how to sharpen a straight razor so that you will feel confident doing this on your own from here on out.
Before we break down the various steps and procedures involved in learning how to sharpen a straight razor, it’s important to start by ensuring that we have all the materials that will be necessary. In order to sharpen a straight razor effectively, there are certain items that you will need. Here are the items that we will be using to sharpen our straight razor.
- A Dull Straight Razor.
- An 8000 Grit Whet Stone.
- Strop Paste.
- Strop for Sharpening.
- Soap, Water & a Towel.
- About 2 Hours to Dedicate.
As we can see, an average person should be able to gather up all the necessary tools without emptying their bank account. Accordingly, you probably won’t decide to go get your blade professionally sharpened when you realize how easy the sharpening process really is. With minimal tools, time, and expertise, an average Joe can quickly (and realistically) learn how to sharpen their straight razor as a professional would.
Before you start preparing a work area to sharpen your straight razor, first make sure that you have a couple hours to dedicate, and all of the necessary materials. This way, you won’t be rushed through the process and will be able to get the job done right. If you have all these variables accounted for, you should now be ready to learn how to sharpen a straight razor. Start by setting up your work area, and then carefully read through the following instructions to ensure that everything goes well.
1. Test How Sharp the Straight Razor is
One thing which you can do to immediately gauge how sharp or dull your razor is to test how sharp or dull it is. Using your eyes, look at the blade and see if you notice any bent corners along the sharp edges. If you do, these will be what you will be able to straighten up momentarily.
An easy test that you can run to test the blade’s sharpness if to take a hair follicle. This can be from your head or anywhere on your body. After all, hair is hair. Firmly grab one end of the follicle and force it to make contact with the sharp edge of your blade. If your straight razor is adequately sharp, the hair follicle should break as soon as it strikes the blade. This is a great way to measure your progress as we continue the sharpening process.
2. Gently Slide Blade-First on the Whet Stone
Go back and forth, being sure to place both sides of the blade on the whetstone as you are sliding back and forth. To do this, slide the top of the blade as you go one way, and the bottom of the blade and you return back to the starting position. Make sure that the sharp portion is in the front as in you go back and forth. This will help you get started on straightening out any bent areas.
As you slide back and forth, it’s important that you don’t put too much force on the blade. If you press down too hard, you can risk harming the blade, and completely ruin the sharpening process altogether. Let the natural weight of the blade be the main force as you take it back and forth for 5 – 10 minutes.
3. Test Your Razor’s Sharpness Again
Sometimes, the initial whet stone treatment will be enough for you. However, it’s important that you keep monitoring your progress as you are sharpening so that you don’t do more work than what is necessary. After 5 – 10 minutes of gently going back and forth blade-first with the whetstone, there are many circumstances where you may not need additional sharpening.
Accordingly, after using the whetstone you should test your blade again to see if it can cut a hair follicle that strikes the blade. If the blade is able to cut the hair follicle after striking it, you may decide not to pursue the more intensive sharpening method we will now describe.
4. Sharpen with Strop and Strop Paste
If you were not able to measure the desired results after the initial sharpening session with the whetstone, it’s time to break out the bigger guns and really start sharpening your blade. If you use a strop with strop paste, you will be using a much finer material for your razor, and accordingly, giving it a much more extensive sharpening treatment. Accordingly, this is the most natural step to take after using the whetstone for the initial sharpening.
Once you have your strop ready with a generous portion of paste on top, repeat the same procedure you did in step two, being sure to press down gently and not shred the strop. Gently go back and forth for 5 – 10 minutes, and then be ready to test the sharpness again. It’s important to note that when you use the strop that the blade should be in the back as you slide back and forth, or the strop will naturally be broken up.
5. Rinse and Dry off the Blade
Finally, once you have a straight razor which is up to your standards of sharpness, the final step is to clean off the blade and have it ready for use. This isn’t a complicated process, simply clean and rinse the blade normally, and then completely wipe it down until it is dry. Make sure that each part of the blade is completely dry to avoid the possibility of rust. You should now have a razor-sharp ready for many different types of use.
Learning how to sharpen a straight razor is actually a really simple and straightforward process with all the right tools and background information. The purpose of this page was to help a beginner to quickly learn how to sharpen a straight razor. In all reality, one can transition from being completely inexperienced into a person who knows how to quickly and effectively sharpen a straight razor within a day. The steps described above should include everything you need to know to start sharpening your own straight razors today.
How to Sharpen a Straight Razor Video