View Full Version : Noob question
06-20-2008, 11:40 PM
Could someone explain the difference between "aligning the blade" as opposed to "sharpening" the blade?? I understand that stropping does wonders for the blade between shaves, but it seems to sharpen it??
Thanks in advance!!
06-20-2008, 11:50 PM
From what I understand, the edge is made of tiny teeth and shaving eventually bends them away from being perfectly in line. Stropping re-aligns the edge but eventually over time the edge will slowly dull and become rounded off. At this point, no amount of stropping will make it sharp again and some metal needs to be removed to re-establish the edge.
I believe lots of this "aligning" is speculation. If you read prof. Verhoeven's articles about stropping he can't find it does anything to the edge though we all know a stropped from an unstropped edge.
Every time you rub two surfaces against one another you'll cause some wear to both. Take for instance 500 years old steps going up to a historical church: they are worn in the middle. The wear was caused by all the shoes with leather and more recently rubber soles. Stone is harder than metal!
However, 50 laps on the leather strop will only minimally wear the edge. I am convinced that if you had time & patience to do e.g. 1000 round trips on your leather strop you would never have to hone. If you want to remove some more metal you use either a hone or a pasted strop.
My USD 0.02.
06-21-2008, 07:43 AM
The leather side doesn't seem to be abrasive enough to do any sharpening, but it does align the edge like a knife steel.
There's pretty good evidence that the main factor that dulls the blade is corrosion from the exposure to water and salt (in the blood and sebum). This is why stainless steel razors hold their edge longer than carbon steel razors even though they're softer steel, and why the commercial razor blade manufacturers went to stainless many years ago despite the expense and increased difficulty working with it. For straight razors, getting rid of the corroded steel every morning will expose the sharp steel underneath and return it to shaving form. This is apparently what the linen side does - it knocks away the rust and then slighly abrades the hard steel underneath to improve the edge a bit more. I suspect that the knocking around that the blade recieves from the coarse linen also leaves the edge misaligned which is why people need to use the leather after the linen.
afdavis11 posted an article from the 30's (see post at SRP) (http://www.straightrazorplace.com/forums/strops/22461-interesting-article.html) where they had set up a 3000x optical microscope and photographed an edge after sharpening, the morning after shaving, and after stropping. You could clearly see the rust blooms and eaten-away sections of the edge in the morning-after photos, and in the post-stropping photos you could see where the strop had removed this and gone on to improve the edge a bit further, removing some of the jaggedness of the corroded edge.
Pasted strops do the same thing only faster (possibly wearing your blade quicker) and hones do the same thing only faster, plus they also straighten out the edge.
06-21-2008, 09:39 AM
We try to over analyze things and sometimes the analysis doesn't prove anything or gives a result we didn't expect. I believe in the KISS principle. We all know that stropping improves the shave. I don't need some scientific study to try and figure out why. It happens and thats good enough for me.
Remember the Grand Canyon was formed from running water. Put you razor under running water and maybe in about 10,000 years you'll have a wonderfully honed razor.
06-21-2008, 11:19 AM
Put you razor under running water and maybe in about 10,000 years you'll have a wonderfully honed razor.
... or, a very rusty hunk of barely recognizable metal. :lol:
06-21-2008, 12:05 PM
My two cents? Whatever stropping does, (align, remove corrosion) shaving is misery without a good quality strop, so get out the Tony Miller and have at it before every shave :biggrin:
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