The Kohl & Laibach “Herold” #91J/#57Ri Paddle Strops are an ideal basis for your own pasting/spraying/etc. solutions-finally, nobody’s forcing you to pick something already in place here. The #91J’s got their finest “Russian” type leather, the #57Ri their standard-issue cowhide; in each case this is a ‘split-side’ strop, meaning you’re running the razor on a suede type surface that was facing inside of the animal.
Made in Solingen, Germany.
“Herold” Cowhide Strops
These guys making these strops are in Solingen as a continuous concern some 90+ years (and mostly content to produce “OEM” strops on behalf of other firms that you’ve seen under many brandmarks), and own several patents related to stropmaking.
They favor the “split-side” style strop, meaning you’re not stropping on a refined skin (“grain-side”, as with horsebutt or English Bridle American strops) but rather the ‘underside’ of the skin. There’s no right answer; I generally feel a grain side’s more durable but less delicate to the touch, and delicacy in strops certainly helps tell my brain what’s going on on the razor’s edge. Both styles have their fans, so we try to source each.
Their whole line does best with the Dovo yellow paste, but does not require application initially; they’re good to go when you get ’em.
The ‘first’ slice (furthest from the former outside position of the animal) of split-side tanning’s the regular cowhide (“Rindleder”)…and that’s why you’ll see the “back” of those (the side you would NOT be stropping upon) looks like a dried-out version of their front. It is the most pliant/flexible of the leathers Kohl & Laibach produce, the king of yielding sensory input to the edge condition, but as the thinnest it is also certainly the least durable that they offer, too, and is reputedly less flat and smooth than that which is “below” it (but if that part’s true, which I don’t doubt, I sure can’t detect it in use to any degree).
The ‘second’ slice (below the ‘cowhide’ layer, meaning that which is immediately adjacent to the outer grain of the bovine) is the “Russian” type leather-more durable, supple, and luxurious than the standard-issue cowhide, and supposedly flatter. They offer two versions of the “Russian” surface
- the regular-tanned “Juchtenleder” type has excellent flatness and sensory input to offer, but is a bit of a maintenance hog in that it wants just a wee little bit of leather fat all the damn time. Think of it like the burden of feeding a newborn every ninety minutes; you can’t just give it a whole bunch of conditioning fat all at once, and if it doesn’t get its fill regularly it makes ‘strop dandruff’ upon the concave part of your razor,
- the oil-tanned “Wildjuchtenleder” (that’s the ~red one) a waxier and less giving of sensory input but definitely the most durable and least needing of the yellow paste, too. Much of the benefits of stropping on latigo leather, much of the advantage of using the split side rather than the top side from the animal. Good stuff. Unfortunately can’t imagine a higher % of people finding the “wild” as physically attractive as the “juchten”, though, and thus it was summarily killed off a few years ago.
There’s no ‘catch’ here, these strops’ great value’s simply the byproduct of OEM suppliers selling directly to vendors buying larger chunks of stuff, minimizing per-unit ‘taxes’ of freight/duty-processing as well as eliminating an essentially-worthless layer of mere re-distribution. The Dovo ‘original’ pieces are indeed that little bit softer/supple/yellow, but Herold-branded strops are nothing to sneeze at by any means.
|Inexpensive ways to sufficiently realign a razor’s tiny breaks in its edge that our beards make when we use them abound; the clean deep embers of a old junker car’s passenger seat’s seat belt is a surprisingly effective strop. But the best strops are effective at communicating to your senses what’s going on with the edge, pleasing to the touch, and not an eyesore. In the end, though, the seat belt and the >$100 strips of leather we pimp are getting to the same place; you’ll just enjoy the ride much more here, and isn’t str8rzr life much about process as about pure results?
Don’t venture into str8rzr shaving without a perfect stropping surface. Old razors can always be made functional-nicked strops frequently cannot. Small irregularities in stropping surfaces negatively influence affect edge realigning capacity.
Stropping’s a skill, and to me the hardest of the 3; I don’t feel like I’ll ever ‘master’ it due to the limitations of my motor skills, whereas me and the coticules (at least the one oldest ‘office pig’ rock, as I do like fiddling with new ones, even on razors going out the door…the day you stop looking’s the day you die!) can’t really get much more out of one another than we already have. Pull the strop taut with your ‘off’ hand. Rub up the stropping surface with your palm if it is a top grain or full grain (note that with the vast majority of what we can now source, “split-side” strops, I would not suggest rubbing down…but historically there’s tons of outer-former-animal-surface options, and even modern ones like “latigo” or “English Bridle” leathers). Keeping SPINE in perpetual contact with the strop, gingerly place razor flat to strop, and move the razor away from its edge along the strop. The edge should never touch the strop unless the spine is in simultaneous contact with the stropping plane during movement. It helps to keep stroke speed consistent throughout (but it can be slow). Uniformity achieves predictably-great results. Edges like uniform speed & pressure during passes of stropping and honing alike.
When the razor approaches an end of the stropping area, flip it over while keeping the spine in contact with the strop, and begin moving towards the other end. One CRUCIAL point: as you flip the razor, DON’T move the spine along the strop in the direction which would allow the razor’s edge to cut into the strop once it reached the leather(that’d be the ‘old’ direction). If you simply must have the spine in motion along the strop’s edge during the flip, be sure it is in the opposite direction from the stroke you’ve just completed, which allows blade’s edge to meet strop’s edge while moving away from the edge.
If you mess up and dig razor’s edge into the strop, you’ll likely cut it. Cuts can be sanded or avoided, but if it feels different to pass it in one direction than another direction it is a no-go.
One other risk-absentmindedly flipping the razor over upon its edge while touching the strop will require re-honing.
We sell more 3″ wide strops than <3″, but they both work-with the <3″ strops, however, you must incorporate lateral movement of edge during vertical movement of razor, to allow all parts of edge some ‘leather mileage’. I ain’t gonna tell you this doesn’t ramp up the chance you mess up and nick your strop; to me, it sure as hell does.
Here’s a description of the process for the 90% probability right-handed user using a <3″ width strop;
Most strops have a “prep” side (linen/canvas/cotton/wool/polypropylene/etc) to remove superfluous stuff and ready for better stropping. Strop on that stuff just like you do the leather, and always right before using the leather. Not really needed, perhaps, but surely keeps your strop cleaner over time.