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Make a leather strop

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Jason B., Apr 25, 2009.

  1. Jason B.

    Jason B. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 13, 2007
    You will need to start with a good base and quality leather. For me I like MDF as my base and my leather of choice is Hand American compressed 4/5 Oz. bark tanned cowhide. I have tried a few different types of glue and found that rubber cement seems to work the best.


    Cut the leather just slightly larger than the strop base. Apply rubber cement to strop base and ruff side of leather, all that is needed is a very lite coat just enough to make it look wet.

    When the rubber cement has dried it is ready to be put together. Start at one end making contact with the last 1/2 inch of leather and strop base. Pulling from the other end to ensure the leather does not bunch up and is smooth when finished use your fingers and rub the leather on to the surface.

    Take you time when doing this, you may need to move the leather from side to side to keep it even on the base as you stretch it. Not much movement, just enough to keep the leather stright on the strop.

    After the leather is pressed down go over it again with your fingers or a roller to make sure it has made contact in all places. You can then trim the edges, a thin blade works best.

    After all the blood, sweat, tears and hard work :p the strop is ready.

    I know there are many other ways to do it but with all the recent questions I figured there needed to be some sort of "how to".
  2. fewpop

    fewpop Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 18, 2004
    Nice work, and thanks for sharing the process. :thumbup: :thumbup:
  3. 5370H55V

    5370H55V Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 1, 2008
    Wow, very nice! :thumbup: Wish there was a guide like this before I started making mine.
  4. cj65

    cj65 Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 30, 2008
    Wait! That is way too easy! Can you put the part in there where the glue dries up prior to assembly because the boys were beating the hell out of each other in the back yard and you had to stop what you were doing? Or, you misplaced the leather pieces somewhere in the messy garage, and it would take way too long to find it to start that project today......Sorry, I guess that is my world not yours.....:D Really cool post:thumbup:....I am just envious because I have been meaning to do a couple here right quick, but always put it off to handle something else.....:eek:
  5. Trigcure


    Mar 7, 2009
    I've been doin this for a while, even made a mini-strop (3" X 1") for pocket carry, but you forgot to show us how to wipe the glue off the sides when it oozes all over the place... Thanks for taking the time to show evryone though
  6. Jason B.

    Jason B. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 13, 2007
    Don't put it off, it only takes 3 or 4 minutes. :)
  7. KarlMaldensNose


    Feb 3, 2009
    What knife is that in the pics?
  8. Jason B.

    Jason B. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 13, 2007

    G-10 Endura
  9. FlaMtnBkr


    Oct 20, 2004
    Now if you could just somehow show me how to use one. I made one last week and used wood instead of MDF. I had some tripoli laying around and used it. So far I just make a knife more dull.

    Sharpening is not my thing unless I am using a paper wheel. I wish I could find someone to send a knife to and let them get it super scary sharp so I have a idea what it is like so I have something to work towards.

    On day I will get there. Maybe.
  10. KarlMaldensNose


    Feb 3, 2009

    Great new-looking Endura, but the G10 looks a little off, and that pocket clip seems...:D
  11. Jason B.

    Jason B. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 13, 2007

    LOL :D hey wait a minute......:grumpy: :p
  12. andrewfinnie13

    andrewfinnie13 KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 20, 2009
    Holy cow!!!! It's randy!!! Wheres mr. Lehey??
  13. GWashington1732

    GWashington1732 Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 20, 2009
    This may sound like a really stupid question, but what are the advantages of a leather strop? I've never used one before.
  14. Jason B.

    Jason B. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 13, 2007

    A very sharp knife ;)

  15. cotdt


    Oct 2, 2006
    Very nice. I usually just staple the leather onto the block of wood but I like your way better.
  16. midnight flyer

    midnight flyer

    Jan 12, 2009
    Allright, if you're going to say something like that, a little warning would be good.

    I sprayed my monitor with iced tea.

    Is this in Foxworthy's "you might be a redneck if...." series? It should be!!

    Too funny.

  17. scotchleaf


    Oct 23, 2006
    Can you give us a tutorial on using it please?
  18. panch0


    Jun 16, 2008
    We seem to have the same exciting life.

    Nice play by play. Thanks.
  19. bgentry


    Aug 3, 2009
    For this and the person that asked for a "tutorial" on how to use a strop, I'm going to give you just the basics.

    A leather or cardboard strop micro polishes and micro aligns a blade. Leather or cardboard are a very fine abrasive; much finer than *most* sharpening stones. So they sharpen the blade; really they polish it as they are so fine that they take off very, very little metal.

    Second, strops push the edge around as you use them. All stones do this too; that's why burrs form. The strop pushes the edge around a small amount and can allow you to get your edge really straight up and down: Not pointed off to the left or right slightly. You can think of the edge of a knife as being made of clay. Pressure on one side will push the edge towards the middle, and with more pressure, will push it over to the other side.

    To use a strop you always use an edge trailing stroke. Or you can think of it as leading with the spine. Either way, the key idea is to *NOT* cut into the strop. Go the other direction with the edge trailing. What angle do you strop at? I've read opinions that the angle doesn't matter all that much.

    To get an idea of the correct angle, put the blade flat on the strop and start moving it forward (edge first), slowly and gently. Raise the spine of the blade as you go, so the angle increases. At some point the blade will begin to bite into the strop. Stop right there. That's the angle you want to strop at. But remember: You strop with the edge trailing. This edge forward was *just* to find the angle to strop at. Always strop with edge trailing strokes.

    I usually do 2 or 3 alternating strokes per side for a few rounds and check the blade to see if it is "leaning" one way or the other (a small burr on one side or the other). Then I strop 2 or 3 times, decreasing the pressure, on the side with the burr and check again. I repeat if necessary, or switch sides if necessary. Then I finish off with a dozen or so alternating strokes, trying to use just the weight of the blade for the last half, and at the very end, not even the entire weight of the blade.

    After checking at this stage, I sometimes have a (tiny) burr on one side and will have to touch it up.

    I'm still learning how to use the strop correctly. I can say that I can definitely improve most edges with a strop, but I can't do the miracles that some here can like tree topping and hair whittling.

    Finally, the OP didn't mention loading the strop. If you rub buffing compound into the strop it will make it cut much faster and more effectively. Green chromium oxide compound seems to be the most popular, though others use other kinds, including exotic stuff like diamond paste. For the few dollars it costs for a big stick of green compound, I think it is VERY much worth it and it makes a big difference in the performance of the strop.

    This got longer than I intended, though as I said, I'm no where near an expert on stropping. I hope I got the basics correct and helped out those who are brand new to stropping.

  20. LEGION 12

    LEGION 12 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 8, 2009
    Very well written bgentry i havent tried very much stropping was happy with my edges till i started reading this forum ! But i have been trying to master all ways of sharpening after reading this thread and others ithink making and using a strop should be alot easier. Thanks

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