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First Strop

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  • First Strop

    I'm making my first strop. I've decided on using McMaster-Carr Diamond Lapping Paste .5 microns. I'm looking for advice on what strop surface should I use (thin leather, cereal box cardboard, blue jean, rubber, etc). I'm sharpening tools for leatherwork like a skiving knife. Thanks

  • #2
    Welcome TNB. Smooth and flat is the concept. In the olden medieval times, the only thing there was that was smooth and flat was stretched leather.
    Lots of people still use leather for strops to this day. One thing which has been learned is that if you apply too much pressure, the leather is soft enough to compress under the blade. Then it rebounds as the blade passes by, rounding the edge of the otherwise sharp bevel.
    Two solutions:
    1. Go soft and go easy, pull strokes only, diamond cuts well.
    2. Use something else for a strop. Anything hard and flat.

    Chromium Oxide (0.5 micron)/Aluminum Oxide (0.25 micron) honing compound is quite economical
    to scribble on card and if it gets damaged, toss it. You might not want to be that cavalier with the diamond paste.
    I use an assortment of dowels and tubes as mandrels for both carbide sand papers and for office filing cards scribbled with CrOx/AlOx for the final honing step. I confess that for my adzes, I use a tennis ball. It's hard enough.

    Here's another take on this: A sometime member of this parish makes strops with sheets of denim from old blue jeans glued to panels of Baltic birch plywood. Plenty hard enough. Then he butters the denim with straight AlOx ( which he also sells in jars). He never throws one out, he never cleans one. Claims the dirty black AlOx cuts now like it did new. Possibly so. I made up a few of these.
    I have a few straight Pacific Northwest First Nations wood carving knives. Just little flakes of steel. I have to admit that the denim strop is quite convenient.
    Brian T


    • #3
      Cardboard from shirt packaging. It's thin and it takes the compound. I lay it on the edge of my desk/slash carving bench and strop away. I used to use leather but I find I get a sharper edge with the cardboard.



      • #4
        Except for rubber I have seen all those materials used by carvers who will tell that’s the way to go. I’m sticking with the leather wheel on my Burke Tote. I’m not sure that preference would stand up to scientific process evaluation but it’s good enough and it takes like two seconds.

        Ian Norbury used a hard felt wheel with green compound.

        Last edited by Nebraska; 04-06-2021, 08:17 PM.


        • #5
          The point is, you putz around and find something that works well for you.
          It is a fact that all methods aim for exactly the same result.

          I really doubt that you have tool edges where a tennis ball hone works best.
          Brian T


          • #6
            Cardboard Is working very well for me. Cheap to replace too. Just pull it off and reglue a new piece.
            My Website:


            • #7
              JerseyGirl: Masking tape might be quicker, Gravity is your friend.

              Brian T