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Best leather thickness for strop?

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by HeyJeffreyDavis, Jul 15, 2019.

  1. HeyJeffreyDavis

    HeyJeffreyDavis

    2
    Jul 15, 2019
    Hi bladeforums fam! This is my first post here. I'm 36 and a life long blade enthusiast. I've recently begun my journey into the blissful vortex that is blade making, but my question for this post is regarding stropping.

    I'm trying out different combinations of stropping to see what I prefer (flesh side, grain side, compounds, diamond, etc), but don't want to buy $10 3x10 pieces of leather over and over as I test.

    I see lots of folks cutting up 5mm thick pieces of leather to make their strops, but the thickest I can find is 1.5mm.

    Three questions:

    1) where are yall getting your thicker leather sheets to cut for your strops?

    2) is there an ideal leather thickness for stropping (and if so, why)?

    3) Currently I'm planning on vegetable tanned cow hide. Should I consider other materials?

    Thanks so much for the help and for welcoming me to the community.
     
    bucketstove and Ripcord 82 like this.
  2. Ripcord 82

    Ripcord 82

    432
    Feb 15, 2019
    Not sure I can help you to much but I lean towards a harder, thinner leather now because a soft, thick leather will quickly convex the edge. Some may want that result though but with some of my knives I rather not convex the edge.I have a hard horse butt leather that I use mostly even though I have thin Roo leather strops ,cow hide strops both flesh side and grain side. I even use bulsa wood for strops, which I also like because of less chance of convexing. Thick, soft leather has a tendency to roll up over the edge if your hand pressure is to hard and destroying what you are trying to accomplish. What were you planning on loading your strop with? That is another topic that can go on and on with suggestions. I think that is why I have so many strops, because there is an endless amount of stropping abrasives and all have different grit levels. Anyhow, this was wrote to give you more of a food for thought then a recommendation because it all boils down to personal preference, really and there is no bad choices. I'd say technique in using the strop of choice is the most important weather it is thin or thick. Welcome to this great forum. Enjoy!
     
  3. HeyJeffreyDavis

    HeyJeffreyDavis

    2
    Jul 15, 2019
    Thanks for food for thought. When you say "thin" I think of 5-6oz leather. For reference, I think of 10-12oz as "thick".

    What do you consider thick and thin?

    What are the benefits of kangaroo leather?

    To your question regarding compounds, I've been playing around with the white and green compounds, and experimenting with loading them on both the flesh and the grain side.

    Is it me, or is the knap on the flesh side more dramatic on the thicker cuts or leather?
     
    Ripcord 82 likes this.
  4. DrHenley

    DrHenley

    217
    May 31, 2019
    I found a nice 12"x24" piece of 9 oz leather on Amazon at a very reasonable price. It was advertised as 3.2-3.6mm, but I measured it as close to 4mm. I wanted something substantial for a large Bowie I was making.

    The seller was Milton Sokol & Co
     
  5. Ripcord 82

    Ripcord 82

    432
    Feb 15, 2019
    I like my strops about an 1/8th inch or thinner. Never did care for the metric way of thinking. I'm an old coot set in his ways, 72 in fact and was a fabrication fitter for a large part so talking mm this or mm that is like Greek to me. I would have to get the old calculator out to convert and take my shoes and socks off to count. My Roo leather is thin but soft and the grain in Roo leather is like little hair bumps that aid in stropping. I like it but it is expensive. I like to use CBN emulsion on it or diamond spray. For the cow hide, I like the black and green compound from Bark River.It is all a matter of how crazy you want to get but I find anything that offers 8 microns up to 2 microns good enough for good stropping. I have much lower and higher micron abrasives but I have relied on between those two, unless you are into razors and such.
     
  6. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    The old-time barber shop strops were quite thin. The leather glued to my paddle strop is about twice as thick. I'm not sure there are any significant benefits to stropping today's harder steels -- old straight razors were considerably softer, around 40-50 HRC, I believe.
     
  7. sickpuppy1

    sickpuppy1 Basic Member Basic Member

    388
    Sep 27, 2018
    Even with today’s harder steels it makes a difference. Many times it’s the difference between hair shaving and hair splitting. Even if you don’t intend to go that far, it’s the final touch on the apex.
     
  8. sickpuppy1

    sickpuppy1 Basic Member Basic Member

    388
    Sep 27, 2018
    That being said, if you’re in the “ toothy edge” club it can make it glide easier while biting harder.
     
  9. stitchawl

    stitchawl

    Jul 26, 2008
    The 'thickness' of the leather is irrelevant. What IS important is how firm it is!
    Softer surfaces allow the edge to either convex or curl depending on the pressure.
    Firm, dense leather will prevent that. This is why we use vegetable-tanned leather that has been properly prepared for making a strop, rather than just taking any old leather and gluing it to a board.
    Use the search function here to learn how to properly 'case' leather for strop-making.
    For strops that are going to be used with compounds, properly prepared cowhide is just as good as properly prepared horsehide. For strops that will be used WITHOUT compounds, properly prepared horsehide is best. If you want to spend extra money without getting extra benefits, buy exotic leathers such as kangaroo or buffalo. To use either of those two, with compounds, is just throwing money away. The advantage of Kanagroo leather is the extra natural silicates in it. Covering them up with compound negates that. The advantage of buffalo leather is its density, permitting an almost rock-hard surface. You might as well use a wooden board instead. It's cheaper.
    If you REALLY want to get fancy, use Frog leather. It doesn't work worth shit, but nobody will know that and you get all the bragging rights, just like kangaroo leather. :)
     
    bucketstove, mycough and Ripcord 82 like this.
  10. mycough

    mycough

    May 20, 2007
    Thank you!!!! I gave up banging the drum about casing the leather. People selling strops would blow me off when I inquired as to whether the leather had been cased.
    I believe many on our forum base their opinions on strops without using a proper one.
    It makes a difference, believe it...

    Russ
     
  11. Ripcord 82

    Ripcord 82

    432
    Feb 15, 2019
    I think you are right in the fact that many,including me,have based their opinions on strops based on buying and using different leathers and abrasives.Let's face it,I am not the brightest light bulb in the package and haven't been schooled on the methods of preparing strops for use. Like many, I took the suggestions of friends or other forum members from various forums but have settled on what works best for me with the results that I get. I might have been able to save some money had you or Stitchhawl had been around when I was going through the motions. Sometimes I wish I would have just used what my grandpa used for a strop but I better not say, cause it probably wouldn't fit in with what you would suggest anyhow. Now could somebody please explain what" cased" means ? Seriously, I just don't know.
     
  12. mycough

    mycough

    May 20, 2007
    Nutshell version, the leather is wetted with water then a heavy rolling pin utensil rolls over it compressing, conditioning and exposing silicates. That is what i have for you.

    Russ
     
    Ripcord 82 likes this.
  13. Ripcord 82

    Ripcord 82

    432
    Feb 15, 2019
    Gotcha. I appreciate the explanation. I tried to look it up but was unsuccessful.
     
  14. J-RAY1989

    J-RAY1989 Gold Member Gold Member

    169
    Jun 14, 2019
    I just use a knives plus strop block. Seems to work pretty well for me. I am a rookie sharpener though. Only been sharpening for a few months. Still working on getting a nice mirrored polish without being able to see a bunch of tiny grind lines.
     

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