Discussion in 'Straight Razors' started by RobertTaylor, Mar 6, 2020.
Wanting to make my own leather strop
Can i use any leather or is there one I should us
I have used 8-9 oz Vegetable Tanned leather for most every strop I have made with good results
It really depends on how far you want to take this project, Horse Shell or Horse Butt is allegedly the best
Calling our leather expert Adam @Drygulch
Which is the best side to us?
Grain or flesh?
My thinking is flesh side is like canvas
For with or without paste
And grain side is strop side
Ya or na
I use only flesh side, I have a shell strop and only one side is the obvious side, for pastes or diamond spray I use felt strops.
Use the smooth side.
8 to 10oz veg tanned cowhide works fine and is cheap. You can pick up a double shoulder or a side from Tandy for chimp change and have enough skin for about 30 strops no prob. Just want one? Nah, make two. Get a 3" wide strip from McMaster Carr or from Grainger. I use McMaster. Get a 72" long strip and you have enough for two very nice size bodies, and enough extra for the bolster pieces that fold through the D ring and attach front and back to the body. Their strips are nice and flat, nicely surfaced, well compressed. D rings get from a saddle shop. It is really hard to find decent 3" D rings on fleabay or amazon. Some guys use smaller D rings and notch out the sides of the bolster pieces but I don't like to do it that way. So there is your leather and your D rings. Now you need some Chicago screws. I always use three for each end. Why not two? Because if a strop starts to develop cupping you can easily correct it by verrrrry slightly enlarging the two outer holes, putting slack in the sides while taking more tension on the middle screw. That, along with lots of rubbing with your hand cupped strongly over the top surface, will put it to rights. I don't go in for all that fancy pants swivel clippy stuff. I like a plain D ring on each end. If one edge (usually the right hand edge if you are right handed) gets badly nicked you just hang it the other way around. I don't like secondaries anyway. Linen does nothing that more laps on the leather can't do. Needless expense, bother, and complication IMHO. YMMV.
You will maybe want to treat it with a bit of neats foot oil if the leather feels very stiff and dry. If it is really bad, lightly brush it on the flesh side (the rough side) with a paint brush, just one application. Then with a few drops in your hand, hand rub the hair side of the strop (smooth side) vigorously for about 10 minutes and repeat the rubbing every day with just a drop or two of neats foot until it is nice and supple. No more brushing it on the back side, though. If you want a stickier draw you can rub a block of beeswax in your hand and then rub your strop. If the leather is nice and pliable, don't use any oil on it.
When working with sides or shoulders, sometimes there is a lot of curl and the leather won't lay flat very well no matter which way you lay out your cuts. I cut the strop pieces a little oversize and soak in plain water for a week or two, then pull it out and rub with a beer bottle, using a lot of pressure, like my whole upper body weight once I get going. This compresses the leather and also sort of irons out the twisty warpy business. The bottle treatment should be done several times as the leather dries. The leather will often take a curve so the oversize cutting is necessary. Re-cut it straight and to size after it is fully dried. Then proceed as usual. Makes for a very nice surface especially if you prefer a fairly fast draw.
I have used other hides such as buffalo, and I have used deerskin for stropping machines of various type, and it also makes a nice roll-up travel strop. I have never coughed up the coin for a nice piece of horse butt, just occasional pieces of bridle leather, some Cordoban once, but mostly plain old cow or steer hide.
There is a tool for beveling the edges. I forget what it is called. I just sand the edge down right after final cutting and don't bother with the beveling tool.
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