The Library of Spanking Fiction: Wellred Weekly

Wellred Weekly
Volume 1, Number 8 : June 3, 2012
Items of interest regarding all things spanking

In Praise of the Razor Strop
by Tom Hobbes

In the last issue of Wellred Weekly js_anon wrote a piece titled The Iconic Woodshed. In historically set spanking fiction the woodshed is more often coupled with the razor strop or a switch than any other implements. The razor strop, itself, has an iconic status equal to the woodshed, especially in historical spanking fiction set in America. A key-word-in-title search of the LSF, interestingly, turns up one title, The Razor Strop by the same author, js_anon. Today we would rarely find a razor strop handy in any household but historically virtually every household had one close at hand. That ubiquity gave rise to the widespread use of the razor strop for spanking juveniles, especially teenaged males, at least in America.

One of the bedrock commonplaces of being a male on the planet is the need to shave each day. For most of human history men simply grew beards and trimmed them: most did not shave daily. It was not until the sixteenth century that the straight razor came into widespread use. And the safety razor where there is a barrier between blade and skin, did not arrive until the early twentieth century. The first patent for a safety razor went to King C. Gillette in 1904 and over the next forty years the safety razor replaced the straight razor. The success of the safety razor brought the disappearance of the razor strop from the home. The modern plastic and blade safety razor we all use each morning now was not on the market until 1970. From the sixteenth through the early decades of the twentieth centuries, however, the straight razor was the instrument of choice for men in virtually all of western culture. The straight razor, of course, required regular and careful sharpening. It was honed on a finely tanned piece of leather, the razor strop, which hung from a hook in the bathroom. The razor strop was the male spanking counterpart to the hairbrush for females. It would have been found in every home, was quickly available, and was a step up from the over the knee with the hand spanking of children. As children grew into adolescence they graduated to the brush, the paddle, the switch, or the strap. Mothers reached for the brush, fathers for the strop. Thus the razor strop was the first choice for a father when something more than a child's spanking was called for and became one of the rights of passage for many young males.

My grandfather still had a razor strop hanging in his bathroom as I grew up but my father had long since shifted over to the safety razor. My father told me tales of my grandfather using the razor stop for spanking when he was a teen back in the 1940's. Still in the 1950's a razor strop hung on every barber chair and barbers continued to use the straight razor for shaving customers. Then, by the later decades of the twentieth century, the razor strop had disappeared even from the barber shops. Today they are sold online, avidly collected by some as antiques, easily and inexpensively available to those who would like to use them for spanking. A search on e-bay yields over 700 for sale of all kinds, most in the fifteen to twenty dollar price range. There are some used of good quality as low as five dollars.

Since it was essential to shaving the razor strop became a tie between father and son. Once the son was old enough the father taught him to shave. The strop, used every day, was close at hand. Prior to the twentieth century men did not commonly wear belts -- they often wore suspenders -- and in rural areas coveralls were daily wear. It is not hard to see why the razor strop came into common use when fathers disciplined sons; the analogy to the hairbrush used by mothers on daughters is close. Given the more intense nature of a spanking with the razor strop the usual venue in rural areas or small towns was out back to the woodshed or the barn. The shed or barn provided privacy and mitigated the sounds that would, in many cases, disturb the tranquility of the household. The father, razor strop in hand, would be behind the boy who was about to get a good licking as the two made the pilgrimage out back. Some simply kept an old strop hanging on a nail out in the shed or the barn. That is the usual scenario one finds in current spanking fiction since it has a good basis in historical fact.

All that said, it is also true that spanking with a razor strop is not as easy as it would appear. The standard strop is twenty-four inches long, almost three inches wide, and two strips, one of canvas and one of leather. It tends to twist when swung and there is a lot of air resistance. A bit of practice easily overcomes these drawbacks. It is also important to get a strop that has hardware on one end only. Most have a handle on one end and hard-ware to hang it on the other as in the image on the right. This presents obvious problems. But you can find a strop which has hardware on only one end and that is what you want. The strop also needs some care and a good oiling with neat's foot oil will keep it supple and in good condition. Many times the son would be required to give the strop an oiling before it was used for his spanking, a practice that has some value still.

The razor strop imparts both thud and sting when used well. It is certainly heavy enough to make a memorable impression even through blue jeans. On the bared backside the crack of a razor strop on skin sounds like a gun shot. Unless your spankee likes it intense and hard, go easy the first few times. Used properly it is both formidable and memorable for a spanking. The razor strop has powerful historical overtones for those who are older, those who grew up in rural areas, those who value and enjoy historical Americana. For some there is nothing quite like the order to "get the razor strop and go out behind the woodshed." (For the nitpickers among us it can also be correctly call the razor strap in common use.) We have one hanging just inside the door to our woodshed: it is well oiled and well used. And yes it can. Be used on females as well as males, that is.
bendover said...
Good piece, Tom. I imagine a good tanner would be able to take care of hardware on the other end. I would imagine also that they were but down some when it was decided they were to be used for sharping a person's wits. :)

I always wondered how a strop was actually able to sharpen a straight razor. I then found out that a knife steel does the same to a knife that a strop does to a razor, it realigns it. Hm!

Thanks for the educational info, Tom.

3 June 2012 23:32
PinkAngel said...
Very interesting article on a subject that I knew little about. Having read that my comment has to be... ouchie I wouldn't want to have been on the wrong end of one thanks!
4 June 2012 10:57
qwazydog said...
I have an antique razor strop. There is no hardware on the other end. It has razor cuts on it. I like to imagine it having been used to spank someone. It has 2 leather pieces. One is rough for the first sharpening the other smooth for the finish. The hardest part when using it for a good spanking, is to make both pieces of leather stay together as you swing it. It makes lovely welts.
4 June 2012 22:19
tiptopper said...
It is a simple matter to cut the hardware off one end of the strop. If you would like to see one in use visit the website Dallas Spanks Hard. He is partial to the razor strop and the name is accurate, he does spank girls hard.
4 June 2012 23:03
flopsybunny said...
I don't suppose there are many households now with a conveniently placed razor strop within easy reach. Some would no doubt argue that is a good thing! It was an interesting tradition and you paint a vivid picture of how the strop was used as a fundamental part of the rites of passage.
5 June 2012 21:03
graciesue said...
Had the belt on the bare as a child would hate to feel a razor strop !
9 June 2012 20:34
TheEnglishMaster said...
A fascinating and well-researched article - thank you. The parallel of the father-strop/mother-hairbrush is interesting.
10 June 2012 23:42
carsrus said...
Live on a farm that's been in my family 4 generations, have the woodshed and in it is great granddad's strop, perfect condition through the years with the neats foot applied before each strapping, and yes I got it as did my siblings. In Texas, the strap/strop is alive and well!
23 August 2012 16:46
smartfulcodger said...
Wow, this article sits right in my wheelhouse of childhood memories. My dad bought one through mail order from a barber shop supply place and took it a local leather tannery so that the top strip could be embossed with the name "Tailblazer." in Old English letters down its full length. And blaze my tail it did, on many occasions; always applied to my bare bottom. Man it stung and burned and left nasty welts which didn't even begin to fade for days. It was the two layers of thick, sharp edged but supple leather striking the buttocks as one which left me deep down sore into my butt muscles. It was that same heavy thud which made sitting down a tender exercise for a day or two, especially on the hard wooden seats that were joined to the school desks. And yes it was my weekly duty to treat Tailblazer to a good cleaning and oiling with neats foot, after which the strop would be returned to hang down from its hook on the back of my bedroom door, to await its next session of whipping across my bare backside for a standard baker's dozen. Oh, such fond recollections!
2 August 2015 14:48
Spankedjenny said...
I can say that there was a razor strap hanging on a hook in the bathroom of our house growing up and trust me...girls were not immune to its fiery sting!
16 August 2015 07:17
smartfulcodger said...
You are a person after my own heart, Spankedjenny! And I know for a fact that some females have experienced at some point during their lifetimes the unique sting of the razor strop, because on occasion I myself would take Tailblazer down from its hook and administer a few licks to the pretty bare tender bottom of a slightly older, comely neighboring girl. Not only were her tannings completely consensual, but were given as result of her own insistence.
26 August 2015 01:18
harriet said...
I'm going to buy one as soon as I can--sounds fierce. Thanks for the advice!
26 August 2015 04:06
smartfulcodger said...
Harriet, pleas be ever careful what you wish for!
7 September 2015 16:15
Sarah89 said...
As one of the "young un's", I've never known what a razor strop actually was (though it always sounded extremely frightening). Thanks for enlightening me! Off to go do some reading and perhaps writing...
24 September 2015 06:22

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