How to Sharpen a Straight Razor for Shaving

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A barber with the talent for a correct hone and strop of the straight razor has mastered a vital skill in his trade. You can master the same skill at home for a close and comfortable shave every time. The skill requires a familiarity with the technique of honing for a quality sharpening and smoothing of the blade each time, but when done properly, the razor can help to provide you with a good shave that rivals or surpasses a shave with a modern disposable blade.

Lay the hone on your work surface or hold it firmly in your support hand. Keep your fingers beneath the hone. Do not let any fingers protrude above or you risk severe injury as you pass the blade across the hone. Hold the razor flat on top.

Slide the razor along the length of the hone. Push the razor diagonally with the edge of the razor leading the way.

Use a continuous, short stroke, just long enough to allow the entire straight razor edge to make contact with the hone.

Flip over the razor. Flip horizontally, not vertically, so the same edge of the razor makes contact with the hone.

Slide the razor along the hone again. Flip over the razor and repeat, using light pressure with each stroke. You do not need to force the razor down against the hone. Continue until you have completed five passes on each side of the razor. This grinds the razor’s edge.

Hold the end of the strop in your support hand. Hold the razor flat against the strop at the top edge. Slide the razor along the strop, using light pressure with your fingers.

Flip over the razor and slide it along the strop again. Repeat about 10 passes along the strop for each side of the razor. This creates a smoothly sharpened edge for the razor.