For even the most frugal enthusiast, an essential accompaniment to straight razor shaving is a strop to keep the blade in service. Contrary to popular belief, a strop doesn’t sharpen or hone a blade by removing material, like a whetstone. Strops are actually designed to re-align microscopic indentations in the blade after each use. Without a strop, a straight razor begins to tug on facial hair, and becomes unusable after a few shaves.
Although paddles are available with a variety of interchangeable surfaces, the fundamental must-have for any wet-shaver is a trusty hanging leather strop. Versatile and accessible, a good quality strop is relatively easy to master and can provide an enriched shaving experience.
However, for newcomers to straight razor shaving, finding a strop that is both affordable and reliable can be perilous. The Internet hosts a chaotic and unregulated plethora of strops, ranging from cheaply manufactured Chinese imports to handcrafted masterpieces for a small fortune. Whilst the former will bring nothing but disappointment, the latter can be equally daunting for beginners.
Introducing SRW Strops
Fortunately, the Internet also provides independent artisans, like Sam Wever, the founder of SRW Strops, an opportunity to publicise their goods across the globe.
An SRW Supreme Strop in English Bridle Leather.
Born and raised on an avocado and mango farm, Project Manager to the sugar cane industry, and wild boar hunter in North Queensland by day, Sam Wever started SRW Strops as a passion project. An adherent of Dovo razors, Sam also dabbles in Thiers steel with a Spartacus 6/8 Thiers Issard with a Dreadnought point. As a straight razor enthusiast himself, the strops that he designs and crafts are tailored to cater to the requirements of his clients.
The Making Of An Artisanal Strop
Handmade from scratch, these exceptional, artisanal strops are cut from double shoulders of leather sourced from tanneries all over the world using a Dixon Plough Gauge. SRW also caters to a diversity of straight razor users, by offering a wide selection of leathers, including South American natural vegetable tanned leather and premium Sedgwick English Bridle leather.
The cutting process using a Dixon Plough Gauge.
For the purpose of this review, SRW Strops provided Bespoke Unit with two products: the affordable Supreme Italian leather 3” strop and the luxury Deluxe English Bridle 3” strop. Easily outperforming its mass-produced peers, the Supreme Italian Strop undercuts the market with competitive pricing. At 95 AU$ directly through SRW, or 65€ through their Swedish-based European distributor Sliqhaq, this strop is a steal. The Deluxe English Bridle offers a more prestigious experience at 140 AU$ or 97.73€ at Sliqhaq.
Constructed with simplicity and effectiveness in mind, the Italian strops are manufactured from premium veg tanned cognac Italian leather and cotton webbing, and bound by brass screws rather than rivets. The Deluxe English Bridle leather strop offers heavier cotton webbing and distinctive steel screws instead of brass. Aside from aesthetics, the screws serve for easy disassembly in order to replace worn parts. The folded leather tips feature SRW’s signature stamp, which incorporates an Outback ranch touch that reinforces the brand’s pioneering image and background.
For easy hanging, the strop comes with a swivelling bolt snap clip. It can be securely fastened to most surfaces, like doorknobs and wall-hooks. The strop is equipped with stainless metal D-ring grips (steel for the Deluxe and brass for the Supreme), rather than leather handles.
The D-rings, combined with the thick leather and cotton webbing, provide a weightiness that grants stability and a taut grip whilst stropping. Although this provides an assured hold, the bulk makes the strop inconvenient for travelling. But it’s ideal for domestic use.
After several days of break-in, the strops yield impressive results. Although the leather has yet to become completely supple on both models, it is surprisingly flexible given its thickness. On the Supreme, the leather allows for a medium initial draw, which grows towards the end of the stropping procedure with a vigorous sweeping sound. The stropping action is enhanced on the Deluxe, with a nice, thick draw and loud, healthy whistling as the razor travels across the leather. Upon reaching its full potential, these robust leathers should deliver longevity comparable to even the most prestigious of brands.
With the Deluxe offering 43 centimetres of stropping length and three inches of width (apologies for the bizarre mélange of units), there is ample space for quick and accurate stropping – without having to perform any zigzagging maneuvers to tend to the entire blade. Similarly, the Supreme offers the same three-inch width but with a slightly shorter length of 39 centimetres.
The product range with the Supreme collection on the left and Deluxe on the right.
The composition of the heavy cotton webbing on the Deluxe provides a deep clean to a razor blade. Moreover, the material’s weight and construction exudes hardiness and durability, enhancing the preparation for stropping. Although the more affordable Supreme offers quality cotton webbing, it’s slightly lighter and isn’t quite as effective as that found on the Deluxe.
By A Straight Razor User, For The Straight Razor User
Manufactured by an artisan who himself is a straight razor user, the SRW Strops have been created to meet the requirements, including comfort, needed for the perfect shave. SRW provides an affordable handcrafted strop manufactured with care and attention that is accessible even to frugal shavers. The premium quality of the English Bridle strop yields enormously gratifying results, with the economical Supreme model offering an admirably comparable performance.
After relishing the shaving experiences provided by the SRW Strop, I sincerely hope to see the brand grow and provide a wide range of products, retaining Sam Wever’s vision in providing both economical and luxury markets with competitive pricing.