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  • The 4 Essential Steps for Maintaining Your Straight Razor

    March 11, 2022 4 min read

    The 4 Essential Steps for Maintaining Your Straight Razor

    Congratulations, you have a new straight razor!

    You’ve just invested in the razor of your dreams, and I bet you are super pumped to shave with it. Fantastic, pick up that razor up and go for it. After you’re done having the most thrilling shave of your life, make sure you prioritize proper care of the razor to get the most out of your investment. A good straight razor can last a lifetime, but they are sensitive instruments that need some love. If you follow these instructions, your blade will shave you beautifully for the rest of your days.


    To use the strop, mount it onto a solid hook mounted into a stud. Pull the strop tight, and gently lay the razor flat across the leather. The spine of the razor will naturally set your angle. Draw the razor across the length of the strop with minimal pressure, leading with the spine of the razor. When you reach the end of the strop stop your motion, roll the razor gently over the spine, and start the motion again in the opposite direction. Repeat this motion 30-40 times, slowly and gently.

    Most good strops come with two sides, one smooth and one rough. Like sandpaper, start on the rough side and finish with the smooth side. If you want to get more in-depth knowledge about stropping your razor, check out our How to Strop Your Razor video.

    Care During the Shave

    When I shave with a straight razor, I take my time and I keep my counter as tidy and organized as possible. Frequently I find myself re-applying lather, reaching for the alum block, or shaving soap off of my hands. Anytime I need to set my razor down I always close it. There’s a lot to pay attention to when shaving, and it’s easy enough to knock your blade onto the floor. Closing the blade ensures that if it does fall, you won’t be doing any damage to the edge or yourself.

    Another good shaving habit I have developed is to keep a wet towel draped over the edge of my sink to wipe soap from my blade frequently. I clean my blade to avoid smearing shaving lather on parts of my face that I’ve already shaved. When I first started using a straight, I’d run my blade under the tap to give it a quick rinse. I changed my habits because all too often a proud new owner of a straight razor returns to the shop a month later with a chipped blade in need of repair because of a faucet-related collision. We sharpen and repair for free the first time that happens, but still. Don’t let this be you.

    Taking Care of Carbon Steel Straight Razor
    Taking Care of Carbon Steel

    Most straight razors are made from high-carbon steel. This type of steel is used more often than stainless steel because of its superior edge retention and sharpenability. While modern high-quality stainless steels will perform just as well, carbon steel remains king in the razor world. Perhaps it’s simply tradition that keeps manufacturers from exploring newer steels.

    While carbon steel has many benefits, there is one caveat: it can rust easily. During the shave, there isn’t enough time for this to happen. The danger comes after the shave, while your blade rests. Avoiding rust is as simple as keeping your razor bone-dry after you’ve finished. After every shave rinse your blade well, and dry it obsessively with a towel. If your razor came with a nice case, store it there. If you wish to proudly display your shaving blade pick a choice spot outside of the washroom, or pick up a bottle of blade oil and apply a drop or two after every shave along the surface of your razor to prevent rust. If you live in a humid climate, oiling your blade is a necessity.

    Honing (Sharpening)

    If stropping your razor is like brushing your teeth, then honing your blade is like going to the dentist. The better you brush, the less often your have to see the dentist.

    Honing your razor is the act of using a whetstone to remove steel, forming a new edge. There are two ways to accomplish this; do it yourself, or give us $20 once or twice a year to do it for you (and you can feel good about half that money going to charity, find out more about this program here). If you like the idea of being self-sufficient or you just need another hobby, then honing is super fun and cool. If you love the romance of straight-razors but don’t have the time or interest to hone it yourself, we are always happy to help. We suggest getting the first few honings done by us as you get to know your blade. We can then help you choose some sharpening stones and, if you like, you can take a sharpening class. If you bought your straight razor at Kent of Inglewood, the first honing is free. You can learn about in-store and mail-in honing here.

    Following these steps will ensure that your blade lasts as long as possible. We often have customers come in with their grandfather’s blade for a tune up after being out of service for many decades. The deciding factor on whether it will continue to shave or not is how well its previous owner cared for it. Imagine 50 years from now, your heir could be bringing your well-cared-for-razor back in to us for tuning up.

    Happy Shaving!