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Recommendation? What leather for a strop

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Bo-dacious, Aug 11, 2018.

  1. Bo-dacious

    Bo-dacious

    374
    Aug 13, 2016
    Hi guys, I just bought some dowlings to strop wood gouges and the like. Now I need some leather. But what kind do I buy? I just looked at a store online. They have letigo, metallic, oil tanned, vegetable tanned etc. In a separate category they have things like bridle harness and skirting leather, Chap leather, deer tanned leather. I assume I'm getting cow hide, but all those choices come after you pick cow hide. So what should I pick guys?

    Thanks for the help,

    Bo
     
  2. bikerector

    bikerector Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 16, 2016
    I generally think you're looking for rough stuff so I think a standard veg tanned cowhide would be good. I think thickness could be varied depending on how soft you want the surface, like for a little more convexing.

    In reality, strop compound does a lot of the work and the material holds it and has some give. Over simplification as leather does some to remove burs and such but I think the compounds does more in terms of refining the edge.

    I feel like something in the 5-7oz leather is good but I usually just try to find scraps of whatever I can get on ebay or from a leather makers and see if they have something on the long side I can use.

    Tandy leather has a "leather buying guide" that could prove useful. Not sure if I can post the link but you should be able to search it easily enough.
     
  3. Diemaker

    Diemaker KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    157
    Apr 28, 2017
    I am not saying this is right but I just got some vegetable tanned cow hide leather that looks good. What you want depends somewhat on what you are looking for from the strop.
     
  4. Mo2

    Mo2

    Apr 8, 2016
    Thin leather or hard leather that doesn't have any give.
     
  5. Bo-dacious

    Bo-dacious

    374
    Aug 13, 2016
    Bikerector: okay so veg tanned leather. Cool. I'll also check eBay and amazon. I'll try that guide if I can't figure out what to get.

    Okay but what is the name of the hard leather?

    Would an old leather jacket do the trick?

    Thanks guys,

    Bo
     
  6. Bo-dacious

    Bo-dacious

    374
    Aug 13, 2016
    I found some ox hide strips. Are those hard enough or does it depend on the tan and other factors?

    Bo
     
  7. You'd be better off using the bare wood of the dowel, than using leather. Edges will be crisper for it and polishing will be quicker. Just put the compound directly on the wood; it'll take & hold the compound better than leather, and it'll work more aggressively. When it gets dirty, just sand it and start clean again, with some fresh compound.

    Bare PVC pipe also works, used with the compound applied in the same manner. Sounds kind of odd at first thought; but, the PVC is still soft enough to embed the compound easily, yet firm enough to prevent edge-rounding, as might happen with a leather strop.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018
    PeterS84 and Khromo like this.
  8. Bo-dacious

    Bo-dacious

    374
    Aug 13, 2016
    Obsessed: okay so why does everybody talk about leather strops and not wood strops?
    I'll try just the dowel.

    Thanks,

    Bo
     
  9. Alberta Hunter

    Alberta Hunter Gold Member Gold Member

    24
    Apr 29, 2018
    There's a fellow on YouTube who often uses Basswood for his strops. He loads the strips of Basswood
    each with a different compound and he seems to get excellent results.
     
  10. Leather's been used for a very long time. I've found it useful in bare-leather stropping without compound, which can work to strip away loosely-held burrs and other tattered remnants clinging to the edge, after sharpening on stones. I've also found fabrics like denim, linen or canvas can work just as well in the same manner. If you like the edge finish coming off a particular stone and you want to retain it, for example, bare leather can still clean up most of the burrs without altering or overpolishing the edge, or rounding it off, as could happen too easily with abrasive compound on leather.

    Used with abrasive compound, there are other ways and less-compressible media that work better, because there's less tendency to quickly round off an edge with the combined effect of abrasion from the compound and the softness (relatively) of the leather. Anything minimizing or eliminating the compression of the substrate under the compound will improve results.

    If you do want to use something other than bare wood with compound, the thin fabric options (denim, etc) can work pretty well when stretched tightly and firmly glued over wood or some other hard backing. It won't compress as much as leather will. And they'll take and hold a pretty heavy application of compound too, for very aggressive polishing of steel. They work well with the stick/crayon compounds especially.
     
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  11. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    I won't pretend to have as much knowledge or experience as some on the forums but for me ...

    I have started using balsa first now basswood for some knives ... I do like the way it works for blades I dont want convexed ... and I like it for higher carbide steels ...

    but I do still use leather but either horsehide or kangaroo for a firmer leather than cowhide you can still convex a blade if you want to but you can also keep micro bevels fairly easily compared to cowhide which gives more ... at least of the strops I've used ...

    and you can use compounds or the bare leather to just finish and get good results ...

    you mentioned using the dowel ... those work great for recurve blades ...
     
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  12. Bo-dacious

    Bo-dacious

    374
    Aug 13, 2016
    Thanks guys. I appreciate the input.

    Jj: can you remind me What a high carbide steel is again? Is that just steel with a lot of carbides?
    Yes, good for recurves and my main goal wood gouges.

    Thanks guys,

    Bo
     
  13. Bo-dacious

    Bo-dacious

    374
    Aug 13, 2016
    Can someone tell me some other good woods for a dowling for wood stropping? I don't know what kinds of wood the store has but I'm pretty sure it doesn't have balsa or basswood.

    Thanks,

    Bo
     
  14. Just anything that's fairly tight-grained (no large gaps or furrows in the grain) and smooth. Don't necessarily need anything exceptionally hard either, like oak or whatever. Really nothing special, in other words. You just want something with a uniformly smooth surface that embeds compound easily. Most of the generic 'hardwood' (mystery imported wood) dowels found at Home Depot or wherever will meet that criteria pretty easily. Oak is nice, but it's grain is relatively open & coarse, and it also tends to get somewhat 'glassy' on the surface when used for stropping, because it's so hard. By comparison, basswood is still soft enough to avoid that glazing (glassy surface), but firm enough to avoid issues caused by compression in softer materials.

    Basswood works well, simply because it meets the criteria above, AND because it just happens to be available in many craft/hobby stores in pre-cut sizes ideally suited for making strops. Same for balsa, although it's quite a bit softer and prone to more surface damage or deformation (compression, gouging, cutting, etc).
     
    JJ_Colt45 likes this.
  15. Usually, in this context, 'high-carbide steel' refers to those with something more than about 3% vanadium content. The vanadium carbides in such steels are the limiting factor in determining how well some compounds can work. In other words, with such steels, diamond or cbn will be the only compounds hard enough to cleanly cut/shape/polish the vanadium carbides in those steels. Think of steels like S30V/90V/110V (4% - 10% vanadium) for steels with a lot of vanadium or enough to be a problem with lesser abrasives. Some steels will still have some vanadium carbides in smaller percentage (< 3%), but it's usually not enough to be a big problem with other man-made abrasives, like SiC or aluminum oxide.

    I'm betting your woodworking gouges aren't going to present any issues. I don't think many or any of them will be made with such steels as above, UNLESS they're custom-made-to-order with such steels. Otherwise, they'd likely be simpler high-carbon or tool steels that can be handled with mainstream sharpening media, like aluminum oxide or SiC, or natural abrasives for the simpler carbon steels (1095, etc).

    Other steels like D2 or ZDP-189 have 'high carbide' content, but in chromium carbides mainly, which are not as hard and still managable enough to handle with SiC, aluminum oxide at least; though the diamond/cbn options would also work very well on those steels.
     
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  16. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    Hhadn't seen your question but Ibessed With Edges answered your question as well as could be answered ...

    they are just basically harder to sharpen and require different abrasives for good results.

    Hooby Lobby may carry basswood some do if not you can buy a piece on Amazon or Ebay cheap.

    DLT sells a horse hide leather strop I think it runs around $60 if you wanted to look at those for a firmer leather strop.
     
  17. JD Spydo

    JD Spydo Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2004
    It's been over 10 years ago that I got ahold of a Barber's Supply catalog. In the catalog they had a nice selection of strops. They had one made of Russian Boar Hide and I bought one ( $80 + shipping). I already owned 3 different leather strops and one in particular that I got from Garrett Wade Co was a really nice one. But I will say that this one made of Russian Boar Hide was different in a lot of ways and had somewhat different properties to it. I used it just like it came from the warehouse for a long time before I finally put some compound on it. The material is really durable and I can see why a Barber that would use it daily would like it. Maybe it was meant for a Barber's straight razor rather than a knife blade?

    I would be interested to know if any of you guys have had any experience with that type of strop?
     
  18. Bo-dacious

    Bo-dacious

    374
    Aug 13, 2016
    Obsessed: oh okay. I read before that in the category of steels that need diamond/cbn are high vanadium, high hardness and high wear resistant steels. Is that wrong?

    Thanks for the input guys, it's really helping.

    Bo
     
  19. It's mainly the high-vanadium steels that would do better with diamond or cbn. Those vanadium carbides are WAY HARDER than even other, very hard steels not containing vanadium. If the Rockwell C scale actually went that high (it's meaningfulness peaks at mid-high 60s HRC), vanadium carbides would be measured in the 80s on that hardness scale.

    For example, a 1095 blade at low-mid 60s HRC would still grind much easier without the need for diamond/cbn, because 1095 has absolutely no vanadium. And a ZDP-189 blade at similar hardness (mid-60s HRC) would be more wear-resistant, due to chromium carbides in large volume. BUT, it still has little or no vanadium to be an issue, so it doesn't necessitate diamond or CBN to sharpen or polish it.

    So, watch for vanadium content above about ~ 3%, to determine if diamond/cbn is a better choice.
     
  20. Bo-dacious

    Bo-dacious

    374
    Aug 13, 2016
    Obsessed: okay so when I read about a steel like zdp, it says its a nightmare to sharpen. If I don't need to use diamond, how do I sharpen it? What is difficult about sharpening high hardness/wear resistant steels?

    Thanks,

    Bo
     

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