One of the best ways to sharpen and smooth a straight razor is by using a sharpening paste. Simply put, a sharpening paste is a compound that varies in abrasiveness. The micron of sharpening paste measures the size of abrasive grain used.
How to Use Sharpening Pastes
To restore a straight razor sharpness, a progression of sharpening pastes is used. Starting with a coarse grit paste makes removing residue easy and is a quick way to prepare the blade for fine-tuning. Once the edge is ready, finer and finer pastes can be applied to the blade, ultimately working towards a perfectly balanced and honed finish to the razor’s edge.
Each step of the sharpening process uses a finer grit to the one previous. A dull or blemished blade is quickly brought near keenness with coarser grits. The blade can then be honed to the edge desired with more finely gritted pastes. For example, applying first a 1.0 micron paste and then a 0.25 micron compound will usually produce a smooth and satisfactory edge. Sometimes an application of Chromox paste is needed to reach this stage.
When to Use Which Sharpening Paste
Knowing when to use the correct sharpening paste can be tricky. Using Thiers Issard sharpening pastes as an example, we’re breaking down pastes. You can substitute your favorite brand, keeping the same grit for reference.
|• Bio-Diam 6 Coarse-Grit 6 micron (Yellow)||• Heavy edge refining|
• Restoring blades
|• As needed|
|• Bio-Diam 3 Regular-Grit 3 micron (Green)||• Refining the edge from honing|
• Ideal for new, not shave-ready razors
|• As needed for new straight razor blades|
|• Bio-Diam 1 Fine-Grit 1 micron (Red)||• Progressive use on new, not shave-ready razors |
• Refine edges for daily use
|• Once every 2-3 weeks for blades in regular use|
|• Bio-Diam 0.25 Extra-fine-Grit 0.25 micron (Silver)||• For super-fine finishing on an edge||• Once every 2-3 weeks for blades in regular use|
|• Chromox Finishing-paste (Green chromium oxide)||• Use after diamond-paste stropping with grits finer than 0.50 microns||• As needed for blades in regular use|
- Dedicate each strop to a particular grade of grit.
- One strop can be changed from finer grits to coarser but changing from coarser to finer is not recommended as some of the coarser grit will remain on the leather.
- Thoroughly wipe the blade when changing grits.
- When stropping, start from the blade’s heel and continue to the point, creating an ‘X’ pattern.
- Once sharpened, the razor can be finished with a Chromox-pasted strop, an unpasted strop or both.
Shop our collection of strops, hones, and sharpening pastes here.