A leather strop.

If one shaves with straight razors, one must use a strop. On sending me one of my early razor purchases, the ebay seller recommended a stropping regime, after every shave, of twenty-five laps on a fabric surface and then twenty-five more on leather. So good was the edge he’d put on that razor that I fully trusted his expertise, and I’ve followed his advice ever since. I bought a canvas strop from the same seller but felt I could do better than the leather one I had at the time, so I went looking for something of higher quality.

What I found was the strop shown above. It would normally be hanging flat from the end with the clip – I only formed it into a loop to allow for a photo with a squarer aspect ratio. It’s a double strop with two usable surfaces: one a soft, pale ‘nubuck’ leather (the inner surface in the picture) the other of smoother and shinier ‘shell cordovan’ (the outer one). I use both sides, always finishing with the cordovan. I bought the strop three years ago from Quercur in Spain, via Etsy. Sadly, they no longer sell to the UK. I paid something in the region of £75 for it, plus shipping.

Shell Cordovan, per wikipedia, “is an equine leather made from the fibrous flat connective tissue (or shell) beneath the hide on the rump of a horse.” Its name relates to the city of Córdoba, where it reputedly originated. Cordovan is difficult and time-consuming to make, hence it’s a costly leather, but one perfectly suited for strops. Drawing a blade along it feels exactly right: smooth and easy. After about five hundred uses, mine is now slightly scuffed and scratched in places, but still, I hope, has years more service left in it.