View Full Version : Leather strop

06-06-2013, 10:35 PM
May I have some advice on how to make a leather strop please?

Which kind? Hard saddlery? I can only find cow hide here not horse.
What thickness?
Do I use the "top" side of the hide on top? Silly question but I really don't know.
Assuming that the hide is already very flat, any preparation required for the leather?
Otherwise, what should I do?

OK glued down on a very flat wooden base?

What's good and practical for 240 gyuto, 300 yanagiba and 150 petty?


06-06-2013, 10:44 PM
No idea what kind of leather or if it matters, I've used old belts before. Thickness should not matter much. Yes, you use the smooth side. Some people put polishing compounds on it, like jewelers rouge. Any kind of abrasive compound should work, I've heard 1 micron is the best, but plain leather works fine too. You can use a base or make it hang on a wall or something so that you can pull it tight. If you are going to glue it to a base I would make it as large as your stones and use the exact same motion (when you are making edge trailing strokes).

Now that being said, some places have strops that are not very expensive, but if you want to make one let us know how it turns out.

Chef Niloc
06-07-2013, 04:19 AM
here are some of the things I have learned both from reading very old leather working text and a lot if trial and error.Start with as thick and even piece as you can.
Give yourself extra inches on all sides so you can trim to the right size when done.
I case/quick 5 min soak in very warm water about 120-140 F Then I slick it to a piece of plate glass, grain side down bathroom shelf I bought at hardware store for $20.
So far I have had the best luck with a random orbital sander, I have been thinking a drum sander may be better but I don't have one.
I start with 80 then , 120,220,400,600, 800, 1000 grit. Then I hot soak it again (note I have not let the leather dry all the way yet since the 1st soak) and slick it grin side up. Sand to 120 to get velvet texture.
Now I have a French top stove that when off states about 140F so I put the leather on the glass grain (velvet Side) up and work 1 micron diamond mixed with Blick #3 considerer. I work it in with a 1" hard wood stick " bottle necking" the rubbing on a hot surface helps work the compound into the cells as well as giving the flush side a glass like look and finish. I then hit grain side ( still a little damp) with a brass brush to lift the cell back up. It should be almost dry by now, let it sit over night then "beam" it over something, back of chair, broom stick. This softens the strap up, then trim to size. I like horse hide the best but Latigo is a close 2nd.

06-08-2013, 08:06 AM
Thanks for the replies!

Wow Chef, it sure sounds more complicated than I had anticipated but I'll try to give it a go.

What's Blick #3 by the way?

And do you stick the leather onto a base of some kind?

Chef Niloc
06-09-2013, 11:35 PM
Thanks for the replies!

Wow Chef, it sure sounds more complicated than I had anticipated but I'll try to give it a go.

What's Blick #3 by the way?

And do you stick the leather onto a base of some kind?

Blick 3 is a brand of leather conditioner. Unlike lexsol and some other brands the Blick does not change the "feel" of the leather, not oily waxy ext. After working the leather so much "wet " it needs to be reconditioned. The blick also works as a means to evenly work any type of compound in (I.E. diamond dust) rather then it just siting on top of the leather. For kitchen knives I use a hard backing and thiner leather, so as to not convex the edge to much. Wood backing looks nice but finding truly flat wood is not as easy as you might think, glass or MDF board I find to work the best. I like the front/ grain/ soft velvety finished side for use when deburing during sharpening and or just straight up stroping with compounds, I like the feel of the draw it offers. The back/skin/hard glassy finished side works best for finishing up a edge (as it convex's less B/C it's harder), this side also "holdes up" better as in it doesn't deteriorate as fast. Both sides have ther uses but if I was to only go with one for a kitchen knife I'd go with the first one.

front/ grain/ soft velvety finished side.

Same side I just brushed it the opposite direction trying to show the velvety texture.


back/skin/hard glassy finished side

06-09-2013, 11:46 PM
Curious if anyone knows the best place (online or other) to get some inexpensive horse leather that is decent for knives? Also, what do you need to look for; is there a grading system or certain part of the animal to request? Sorry for the dumb questions, but think I may like to try a leather strop myself.

06-10-2013, 04:43 AM
I should warn the OP that chefniloc's strop are something to strive for, but in no way a necessity for knives. Colin's work is unbelievably well researched and carried out, and perfect for a razor junkie. However, for touching up a gyuto...I'm pretty sure Salty carried something that fit in a cigarette pack....

Mucho Bocho
06-10-2013, 04:20 PM
There's no doubt that Salty is carrying something small in his cigarette pack. But can you sharpen knives with it too. Just another reason to legalize it!

Salty dog
06-10-2013, 04:32 PM
Viagra is legal.

Mucho Bocho
06-10-2013, 04:40 PM
Oh we'd all like some pic's of that Mr Salt. I can see the caption now "Salty Demonstrates how to sharpen AS Steel with a pill."

I bet we could start a whole new forum with that title.

06-10-2013, 07:29 PM
Um....... NO!! to the demo. I have been wondering what kind of leather strop would work well on a knife for a while. Almost got one of Dave's stropes b4 he discontinued it.

06-10-2013, 07:36 PM
Any wide paddle strop works, but the tip of your knives will eventually nick the leather. That's a guarantee....

06-10-2013, 07:45 PM
Being a cheap guy, I skinned a nice leather sofa my neighbor threw out... Back it with a piece of thick mdf and Put some honing compound.

Works kinda fine :p