Time for some Razor Maintenance
Unlike modern disposable safety razors, most straight razors need to be honed often. Whetting the blade is done by stropping it on flexible cowhide leather or high-quality Russia leather. This type of leather is a very supple calfskin impregnated with birch bark oil in the post-tanning process.
At some honing sessions, specific abrasive pastes can be used on the strop, like a fine red paste for sharpening or black paste for polishing.
The Herold Solingen Russian Leather razor strop is a versatile honing device that provides two stropping surfaces. One side is of quality cowhide for knocking out any burrs on the edge of the blade and providing a polished sheen.
The other side is Russia leather covered with a red oxide paste to help bring the razor back to its sharpened glory. The comfortably handled paddle allows the user to conveniently flip from one stropping surface to the other, without the need of an old-fashioned barber chair to hang the strops.
Wet-shavers and barbers have all had their personal favorite ways to check the readiness of their straight razor. To test the sharpness of your razor, two simple and widely used assessments can be done quickly.
Though movies always show a person shaving their arm hairs to test a blade, the real straight-razor test is referred to as the “Hanging Hair Test” or “HHT. ”
Pluck one of your own hairs, then simply lay the follicle across the edge, and the hair, without any effort, should pop and snap across the blade. Even after minimal stropping, good quality razors like the Böker and the Timor should pass the HHT with no problem.
The Böker’s slightly longer blade length allowed for a longer cut, but this type of task is not something often asked of a straight razor.
After honing, the pin test is a great finishing litmus test for sharpness. By gently pushing the pin down the face of the blade, from spine to apex, any burrs or a wire edge becomes readily apparent.
If the razor is honed correctly, the pin will slide effortlessly off the edge. If there is a wire edge present, where the apex has folded back slightly in the honing process, the pin will catch and skip off the face of the blade.
Both the Böker and the Timor were honed to perfection out of the box. The Holy Black Barber’s edge was, as expected for a disposable blade, equally sharp.