This applies to all straight razors and not just Williams Custom razors.
Caring for your razor(s) falls into two categories
- * post shave maintenance: cleaning and corrosion resistance
- * pre-shave maintenance: honing/stropping.
But let’s cover some basics very quickly. Straight razors have very, very fine edges and all it takes to ruin your edge and possibly even require a full regrinding is to drop it on a hard surface like the sink or the floor, bang it up against the sink or a faucett or otherwise expose the edge of the razor to stresses it is not physically designed to withstand. Don’t use your razor for any purpose except shaving. Use other tools for other cutting jobs.
1. Pre-Shave maintenance:
Your Williams razor will come shave ready and shouldn’t even require stropping. If you don’t have experience stropping, I don’t recommend you strop it before shaving just so you know what the edge should cut like. Stropping incorrectly can damage the edge, but not the razor, itself. IMPORTANT: Any time you hone or strop a razor, the spine of the razor MUST be lying against either hone or strop every time the edge touches the hone or strop. If the spine isn’t touching while you are stropping or honing, you are ruining the bevel angle and could damage your fine edge. So always hone and strop razors with the razor laying flat on it’s side, spine touching hone or strop.
If properly cared for, merely stropping before shaving will keep your razor ultra-keen for a very long time. Months and possibly years. My own daily shaving razor has been giving me superb shaves for over 9 months without any pre-shave care but stropping linen first and then leather for finishing.
If, eventually you do need to touch it up, a very fine razor hone is a good choice for that and/or a pasted strop. If you are new to honing, I’d recommend the pasted strop as your choice for ongoing edge refreshing. Chromium Oxide, toothpaste and very fine .25 micron diamond paste are all common micro abrasives used by straight razor shavers for really taking a razor’s edge to the finest degree of sharpness before stropping on plain leather.
2. Post Shave care:
Carbon steel will stain and rust. It’s the nature of the steel. It is, however, a very worthwhile tradeoff in order to shave with the finest blade steel in the world. Nothing surpasses high quality high carbon steel that has been heat treated and tempered just right. More corrosion resistant “stainless” steels will still rust and stain, but are more resistant to this. And the tradeoff is that alloys are included in the steel that are very good for retarding rust and staining, but don’t help and actually hinder the blade steel structure from being ideal for super sharp zero-radius bevels that are necessary for effortless push-cutting (how razors are designed to cut).
So, razors must be cleaned and dried after shaving. Rinsing with hot running water and wiping clean with bathroom tissue (toilet paper) is the best way to accomplish this. Nothing else will dry and polish a razor as well and as easily as simple bathroom tissue. Merely wiping it after each shave with tissue to remove moisture and then dry tissue to give it a bit of a polish up before putting it away will keep your razor shiny, polished and ready for use next time you use it. In fact, it will only polish more brightly with each iteration of use this way.
If you want more protection, I recommend Renaissance Wax as a coating protectant. Other products commonly used are light coats of camllia oil, olive oil or mineral oil. Renaissance wax or Camellia oil would be my recommendations.
You do not have to strop a razor after shaving with it.