Beards are awesome. Walt Whitman had one. So did Abraham Lincoln. And Charles Darwin. Let’s not forget about John Lennon. They keep you warm. You can store extra food in them. They increase your IQ by 5 points. Bearded men are literally more attractive. You better believe I’ll be growing one when I no longer have to work for a living. Maybe sooner. But in the meantime, I work in the type of job where it’s expected that you shave. Every. Day.
Well, just because I have to shave doesn’t mean I need to spend $4+ per week ($200+ per year!) on a new razor cartridge. (Straight razors remind me of horror movies and murder scenes. No thanks.) And I don’t want to blow hundreds on an electric razor that feels like it’s pulling hairs out of my skin. Also, they just don’t work as well as a typical bladed razor.
Because I’m trying to crush over $200k in debt, I decided there had to be a better way. Surely this ridiculous ritual each morning doesn’t need to cost so much money!? If I could invest an extra $200/year for the next 40 years and average only a 5% return, I’d end up with an extra $25,000 in my pocket at the end of it. These razor cartridges are nothing short of highway robbery. But there’s an answer. An answer that involves extending the life of of your average razor cartridge by 52 times.
Back in the days before our single serving consumerism economy, people had to make stuff last. Cowboys knew how to make stuff last because they rode through the desert with minimal supplies, wrestled rattle snakes, and brewed coffee out of the dust of their vanquished foes. They also shaved. And part of shaving was knowing how to strop a blade using the supplies they had to make sure it stayed sharp. Stropping is a method of sharpening a blade by running it along a coarse material to smooth out very small imperfections. Similar to a whetstone. Traditionally, you strop a blade using leather. But there’s a new fangled invention that is just as good as sharpening small metal blades: denim.
This now-classic fabric is perfect for stropping razor cartridges. And by stropping a razor cartridge, you can make it last for a year. No joke—you can make something marketed to you as lasting only a week last 52 times longer. I didn’t believe it when I first heard it, so I spent the last year using a single cartridge just to see if it was bullshit. Well, I’m happy to report that it’s not.
The basic idea is simple. Once each day, take your razor cartridge (while still attached to the handle) and run it 10x along the grain of some denim fabric, then run it 10x the opposite direction. This will smooth out the little imperfections in the cartridge blades and provide you with a surprisingly smooth shave week after week. You can make those 52 weeks of shaving even better by submersing your cartridge in rubbing alcohol between shaves, which prevents the metal from oxidizing. That’s it: shave, strop, submerse. Rinse and repeat.
Create a Stropping Block. Shave for $4/year.
After a year of stropping, I finally got tired of pulling out a pair of jeans and putting them away all the time, so I decided to make myself a stropping block that could sit on my bathroom counter. Here’s how to take an old pair of jeans and do the same.
Step 1: Use A Saw and Cut Some Wood
Take a 2×4 of any length and cut yourself a good 8–12 inches. I happened to have some of this sitting in my garage for random projects.
Step 2: Cut Out the Right Size Piece of Denim
Once you know how big your block is, you can cut out a piece of denim that will fit on (and a bit around) it. Use an old pair of jeans. I wear mine until they are practically falling apart, and these ones fit the bill.
My plan was to have the denim wrap around the wood and screw it into the back, holding it securely in place. My pants legs were about the perfect width for this purpose.
Step 3: Screw the Denim to the Wood
I tried a few different ways of wrapping the denim around, but the best way was to pretend like the wood was a present and to “wrap it” by folding the ends like so:
I recommend screwing in through a few layers to give extra hold to the slight tugs that come with stropping. Finally, screw in the side flaps so they stay snug as well:
Then flip it over to reveal your magical, wealth building stropping block:
Step 4: Begin Stropping, Pass Go, and Collect $25,000
Place it next to your sink for easy access before or after shaving. Remember: strop 10x in one direction…
And 10x the other way.
Then when you are done shaving, store your cartridge in a small container of rubbing alcohol:
That’s it! Enjoy your savings, if not your shavings. If you found this post helpful, please share it with your friends.