How to sharpen a cut throat razor

Cut throat razors are undeniably ingrained in barbering lifestyle. They are the perfect tool for the barber to offer a gentleman a way to treat himself to a luxurious close shave at the barbershop. Of course with such a vital piece of barbering equipment, it is important to keep it well maintained and sharp enough to keep your clients coming back. If the word strop means only to you something a significant other might have when there isn’t enough chocolate in the house, then please, let us help you on the way to becoming an even better barber.

Dark Stag Buffalo leather strop



A strop is a leather belt with two surfaces – one designed for honing and the other for polishing the edge of your cut throat blade. They feature a handle on one end, and a hinged looped hoop on the other that attaches to a hook on your barber chair or similar. Dark Stag have a fantastic one available below.


Okay, I know what a strop is. So how can I use one to keep my cut throat blade ready?

Well the first thing to note is that whilst cut throat razors should come ready to shave, after several shaves the angle of the cutting edge will become more aligned with the head which causes bluntness. The last thing a barber wants to be doing is attempting a cut throat shave with a less than sharp edge – this can cause irritation of the skin, the client, and can actually be very dangerous as well as failing to remove hair properly. Using a strop correctly will help to polish the edge of the blade into the correct angle – meaning it is realigned for sharp and effective shaving. When done properly and the razor itself is looked after, the barber should find that the blade need only be honed once per month or so, with a couple of light passes to polished before each shave takes place.


Dark Stag Cut Throat Razor

Right, so I know what a strop is and why I should use one. But how?

Please read this information carefully in order to avoid any mishaps. 

  1. Attach the loop of your strop on a suitable hook and pull it taut towards you, with the leather side up.
  2. Now lay the fully opened cut throat razor flat and hold the razor in the middle – just between the blade and the handle, using your fingertips. This enables you to easily turn the razor when stropping. The blade should be laid flat on the strop, so that the cutting edge and the back both make contact.
  3. When using the strop always move the razor towards the back of the blade, NOT towards the cutting edge, or else you will risk slashing the strop. Pull the blade gently and carefully towards you, moving at a steady and considered pace. Make sure the blade stands at between 30-40 degrees to the strop. Do not use too much pressure or else the blade will bend, which will alter the sharpening angle.
  4. When you reach the end of the belt area, roll the blade over the back of the razor and push it back towards the hook. Remember to keep the blade flat on the strop. This sharpens the other side of the blade. Repeat this 4-5 times, and your razor should be ready use. It’s important to remember that during the whole sharpening-process the back of the blade should never leave the belt. At the end of the belt, do not take the blade off, but simply roll it over.


Extra hints when using a strop

  • Strop before carrying out a wet shave. If you strop your razor immediately after wet shaving, any loose metal parts can break off and penetrate the leather of the strop, turning it into sandpaper.
  • If you hone your cut throat razor blade just before stropping, clean it with water and soap and dry with a cloth without touching the edge; this too is to prevent small metal parts getting stuck into the strop, which can cause future damage to either the razor and the strop.
  • Always pull the belt taut, never relax and let it bend.
  • The movement of the blade should always direct towards the back, never towards the cutting-edge.
  • Always work slowly and focus on the task, as mistakes can be costly!

If you feel that sharpening (or shaving with) a cut throat razor might not be for you, fear not!

For the cautious, or the home shaver, there are other types of razor available.

Like the sound of a close and luxurious wet shave but feel that the idea of manual sharpening is putting you off? Perhaps consider a straight razor which is a relative of the cut throat that uses replaceable blades giving you all the shaving ability of a cut throat with none of the effort required to maintain it. We offer a wooden handle straight razor here, or a premium steel straight razor here.

Traditional wet shave sound great, but the thought of a blade up against your throat not so much? You aren’t alone. We offer safety razors that shave just as well as a cut throat razor or straight razor. In a choice too – traditionalist? Try the SR1, with a wooden handle for the barbershop feel at home. Like the best stuff or just not a fan of wood? Try the SR+, finished in a handsome and rugged permanent black plasma coating, with a gnurled grip for extra sturdiness.

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