How To Sharpen A Straight Razor Without A Strop Effectively?

If shaving with a straight razor is an indispensable part of your morning routine, you want to learn effective razor-sharpening tricks. But how to sharpen a straight razor without a strop ready at home?

Having a sharp razor means you could enjoy fine shaving that glides comfortably on your skin. Not to mention how you can customize your cutting angle with this unit to save a lot of time in every shave.

That is why you need to eliminate its dull edge that lacks sharpness in hair removal with essential tools and the correct technique. In this article, we introduce quality alternatives to a strop for sharpening your razor.

What Is A Strop?

Different Types Of Razor Strops
Different Types Of Razor Strops

A strop is a long leather strip that works to sharpen a razor blade. Its material can either be denim, canvas, or balsa wood, but in general, the ultimate goal is to make your straight razor as sharp as possible.

Most people choose the common hanging strop, a leather strip with handles on both ends. Working with this item is easy; attach one end to a fixed object and hold the strop to ensure it is taut without any give.

Use your dominant hand to hold your straight razor. Pull the razor blade down the entire strop length while adding fair pressure to the process. After 10 stories, leave the razor without use for 24 to 48 hours.

The act of running a blade across the strop increases its sharpness since it realigns the edge and imperfections existing throughout the blade. Thanks to that, your razor could deliver smooth shave strokes.

Lee's Razors
Lee's Razors

Do You Really Need A Strop To Sharpen Your Straight Razor?

A Straight Razor
A Straight Razor

The Difference Between Stropping And Honing

First and foremost, it is important to distinguish between razor honing and stropping. They are separate procedures that help you obtain a shave-ready razor by polishing and sharpening it.

Stropping: During the stropping process (either before or after each shave), you polish the blade for microscopic imperfection removal. As it maintains your blade, this skill is a must-have for every use.

In other words, stropping prepares the blade to be ready for its next cut. Although appropriate stropping enables blade preservation for some time, it will eventually fail to cut well and require to be honed.

Honing: Honing a straight razor means applying multiple abrasives to remove metal until your item is “shave ready.” It requires a skill set similar to stropping, but this sharpening method takes more time and detailed attention.

Note that you could only strop and hone your straight razor with the right tools. Cheaply-made or faulty equipment will make it harder, not to say impossible, for you to keep your razor sharp all the time.

So, Do You Really Need A Strop To Sharpen Your Straight Razor?

Undeniably, using a strop is the most effective way for straight razor sharpening. However, if you do not have a strop around the house and cannot buy one, there are handy alternatives to fix the situation.

We suggest using a stone or a knife sharpener to sharpen a straight razor, which will be explained in detail below. They are optimal items that sharpen the blade easily and quickly to best serve your face shaving routine.

If you still wish to strop your straight razor before honing, we can recommend a denim, wide leather belt, and even a newspaper to replace the strop. They work quite well to acquire this goal.

How To Sharpen A Straight Razor Without A Strop?

Sharpen A Straight Razor With A Stone

Japanese Whetstones
Japanese Whetstones

What To Prepare

Instead of using a strop, you can find a stone to sharpen your razor. But do not assume that any ordinary stone you pick outside the house will do the work; it has to be the specific type of stone for this purpose.

We are referring to a stone hone, sharpening stone, or most commonly known as a whetstone. There are many options on the market, so choose the best quality stone to hone the straight razor properly.

Take into account the grit level of this whetstone when you purchase since it varies between different stone varieties. This rate also lets you decide how powerful you desire the sharpening stone to reach.

  • Whetstone (water stone): A specialized tool sharpener that you can use with the help of some fluid. The fluid removes swarfs produced during sharpening and cools down this cutting item.
  • Oil stone: This special stone type is forged from silicon carbide, novaculite, or aluminum oxide. The finest model could provide amazing fracture resistance and tough wear.
  • Diamond stone: Or, in other words, manufacturers electroplate monocrystalline diamonds on it. Its surface material is mainly steel. This stone could vary between the 325 and 1,200 grit size.

Detailed Instructions

  • Step 1: Place your whetstone on a completely flat and even surface.
  • Step 2: Wet the piece with basic substances like oil, water, or some shaving cream. Apply them to the stone for a few minutes to make it completely wet.
  • Step 3: Drag the razor blade across this stone’s surface. Remember to maintain a proper angle for fine sharpening.
  • Step 4: It is ideal for pulling this blade towards your direction while adding some diagonal strokes.
  • Step 5: Continue the process with multiple passes until its sharpness level reaches your expectation.

Tips And Safety Precautions

Make sure there is a small gap between 6 and 8 weeks as you use this whetstone for sharpening the straight razor. If you overuse the item, your razor blade’s longevity is likely to decrease quickly.

Sharpen A Straight Razor With A Knife Sharpener

A Knife Sharpener
A Knife Sharpener

What To Prepare

Another popular strop alternative for razor sharpening is to use a knife sharpener.

This tool allows you to achieve an outstanding sharpness level, but for the reason mentioned below, this method should only be the last resort.

Detailed Instructions

A regular knife has a different edge from your straight razor because the latter product is a little more fragile.

As a result, the sharpening equipment for a knife is likely to be too strong for a straight razor blade.

Tips And Safety Precautions

Consequently, if you lack carefulness during the process, a knife sharpener could make a mess when sharpening a straight razor.

Although exclusive products are available, you need to be highly attentive to them.

How To Check The Sharpness After Honing?

A Quick Blade Sharpness Test
A Quick Blade Sharpness Test

Sharpening a straight razor may need multiple whetstones to obtain the shave-ready edge, depending on the blade condition. Among necessary methods to check its sharpness, the shave test matters the most.

When your razor passes the shave test, it means the tool will let you shave comfortably without causing skin problems. If the razor fails to pass this round, then it would not be sharp enough to reach your expectation.

In other cases, you can give the razor blade a quick check using a piece of paper. Try to slice your razor through a paper corner to see whether it cuts smoothly without interruption, then you are good to go.

Maintenance Tips For A Straight Razor

Proper maintenance plays a crucial role in keeping straight razors last long. Despite the additional effort and time you need to spend on the tools, the result is worth it in the long term. You will not have to waste an amount on repairs or replacement anymore.

  • Clean and Dry your razor

Technique number 1 is always cleaning and drying properly thoroughly with a straight razor after use. It helps prevent the blade from exposing to any rust or discoloration and the edge from prematurely dulling.

That results in fewer sharpening or honing sessions your razor must be subject to, which eventually extends its lifetime.

Therefore, do not forget to wipe down your razor with a dry towel or tissue paper and let it naturally dry in an open space with less humidity. Stay away from hot, damp, and humid areas.

Here, a pro technique is that you can fold the tissue in half and insert it into the scale to clean the interior surface. Make sure that there is no water left on your razor.

  • Apply some oil to the blade

As it is all dry, apply some mineral oil or baby oil to the blade to keep it rust-free from the humidity in the atmosphere.

This kind of oil works well in keeping the straight razor blade free from rusting and oxidation.

This step is particularly essential if you intend to leave your razor untouched for a while. It is also applicable to the folding area because the mechanism is vulnerable to premature rust.

In addition to your care, we advise you to occasionally bring your razor to a honemeister to get advanced care if possible.

These pros can significantly improve your razor’s performance and prolong the blade’s lifespan with the professional technique.


It is essential to strop/hone a straight razor on a regular basis, but the best thing is now you know how to sharpen a straight razor without a strop. The mentioned alternatives could bring you amazingly fine results.

You will need to practice a lot to achieve the desirable straight razor sharpening skills. However, rest assured you can enjoy safe and quick shaving to remove your body hair smoothly from now with optimal sharpening.

Last but not least, remember to take care of the razor after every use so that you could shave with the same cutting tool for a long time. We hope you find the information here useful. Thank you for reading.

Lee Cantor

Provide the best shaving product reviews and shaving advices to the wetshaving community and friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts