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View Full Version : Leather, Balsa, or Scrub Bull?



BertMor
08-05-2011, 08:01 PM
Leather, Balsa, or Scrub Bull? Whats the functional difference? I mean, given that the abrasive is the same, what are the differences in use or in final results between them.

Why can't I just use one substrate for all abrasives and be done with it?

tk59
08-05-2011, 08:07 PM
I use only leather (Dave's) and only with one compound (0.25 micron poly diamond). I've tried every HA leather as well as a few others, CBN, Cr2O3 and plain leathers. I've also tried balsa with all three compounds. They all work but I get to my desired result quicker with leather. I'm thinking of going to a lower grit (larger average particle size) diamond when I sharpen for other people. 0.25 micron diamond is pretty much worthless as far a delivering long-lasting bite to an edge. I'm thinking of going to about 1 micron. CBN would be fine, too. Pretty aggressive edges from that stuff.

Seb
08-05-2011, 08:26 PM
I'm currently favoring 1.0-micron boron carbide on bovine leather strop.

stevenStefano
08-05-2011, 08:47 PM
I have tried 3 micron diamond, 0.5 micron chromium, 0.25 micron diamond and 0.1 micron diamond. I just use 0.5 micron cro on leather mostly, sometimes 0.25 as well. 3 micron basically does nothing and I think 0.1 is a bit too low. Must try 1 micron

Eamon Burke
08-05-2011, 08:48 PM
I use only leather (Dave's) and only with one compound (0.25 micron poly diamond). I've tried every HA leather as well as a few others, CBN, Cr2O3 and plain leathers. I've also tried balsa with all three compounds. They all work but I get to my desired result quicker with leather. I'm thinking of going to a lower grit (larger average particle size) diamond when I sharpen for other people. 0.25 micron diamond is pretty much worthless as far a delivering long-lasting bite to an edge. I'm thinking of going to about 1 micron. CBN would be fine, too. Pretty aggressive edges from that stuff.

Ever tried skipping a few grits? Like going from 2k straight to the strop?

Vertigo
08-05-2011, 09:02 PM
Ever tried skipping a few grits? Like going from 2k straight to the strop?

I go from 1k to 1 paste on balsa, lol. Can't say the edge is all that better, but it sure looks flashy!

Eamon Burke
08-05-2011, 09:17 PM
*edit* I lost this on my last post...hungry baby interruption...


I have 3 micron, 1, .5 in SiC, BC, and CrO, and tried them on smooth and rough leather, as well as balsa. Nothing works as well as .5 CrO on leather, but I have yet to try Dave's spray. If you put a knife through the 3 micron on rough leather, the 1 micron on balsa, and .5 on leather, you will have an edge that pops hair with little to not sensation(though this works like crap for straights), and will run all over the place. I took a kitchen knife through the paces like this and it would fall through paper, and then slip on a tomato and bloody near take off my finger(lost half a nail).

I now skip grits. Cheap knives I'll set it up on a 1k, clean it up on a 2k, and strop on .5 on leather(sometimes the 3micron rough leather), cuts like crazy--just gotta be careful about deburring. My work knife goes up to 5k, strop on the 5k, then .5 on leather.

I rarely use the rough leather(it can round edges pretty fast) and the bare balsa is slippery and easy to screw up on without knowing it. Leather seems the best. Different types of leather, I don't know. Can't wait to see what Dave's got, because I'm happy with the Tandy leather I got, and his required a cross-country search.

tk59
08-05-2011, 11:47 PM
Ever tried skipping a few grits? Like going from 2k straight to the strop?

Yup. My usual these days is 400-1k-5k and then either strop or 8k and strop. If I skip more than that, I'll skip the 1k or the 5k but I always use something 5k+ to do most of the clean-up before I go to my leather. I feel like doing otherwise really eats up the leather unnecessarily when just a couple passes on a finer stone is like 10x as fast.

BertMor
08-06-2011, 09:23 AM
You guys missed the point of the post. Y'all are talking about prefered compounds. I'm asking "What is the functional difference between using different materials to put your abrasives on" Otherwise just pick one medium and put all your different abrasives on one. but why one medium over another? Dave?????

kalaeb
08-06-2011, 09:37 AM
I use balsa because I am cheap and everyone seems to be out of leather.

Eamon Burke
08-06-2011, 04:04 PM
You guys missed the point of the post. Y'all are talking about prefered compounds. I'm asking "What is the functional difference between using different materials to put your abrasives on" Otherwise just pick one medium and put all your different abrasives on one. but why one medium over another? Dave?????

I thought I was being more clear than I guess I was.

Balsa is very slippery, and provides no feedback. It's like having a stone for cheap, but you can screw up on it quickly. I would imagine compounds on a balsa used with a jig would match performance of any stone.

The rough side of leather attacks very quickly, but sloppily and can round an edge, plus it doesn't give consistent feedback, so it's not helpful for detecting burrs.

Smooth leather is the best for stropping, because it lets you feel the burrs and you can even see where bigger burrs are on the right leather, if your compound is clear, because it'll lightly scratch the surface, like your fingernails do. It is soft enough that it forgives(I usually try to err on the side of acute with leather), and provides good "draw" which aids in the speed with which the strop polishes. I've never used the high-end, hand worked, fennel and carrot-scrubbed, Kobe Wagyu calf ballskin that everyone seems to love, so all leather has been about the same for me.

tk59
08-06-2011, 04:17 PM
1. Balsa is very slippery, and provides no feedback. It's like having a stone for cheap, but you can screw up on it quickly. I would imagine compounds on a balsa used with a jig would match performance of any stone.

2. The rough side of leather attacks very quickly, but sloppily and can round an edge, plus it doesn't give consistent feedback, so it's not helpful for detecting burrs.

3. Smooth leather is the best for stropping, because it lets you feel the burrs and you can even see where bigger burrs are on the right leather, if your compound is clear, because it'll lightly scratch the surface, like your fingernails do. It is soft enough that it forgives(I usually try to err on the side of acute with leather), and provides good "draw" which aids in the speed with which the strop polishes.

1. Agreed except that I don't think balsa = cheap stone is a fair comparison. A stone has MUCH better feedback, esp the nicer stones like the Gesshin soakers. Stones are also easily 10x faster, if not more. Furthermore, stones can be used for stropping or edge leading passes. The problem with stones is people tend to spend too much time on the finer grits. If you like to make ten passes on a strop, you need one on a stone.

2. True but you can still use the rough, no prob. It's aggressive also because you can get a lot of compound on it.

3. Again, true but you don't get much compound on it.


...I've never used the high-end, hand worked, fennel and carrot-scrubbed, Kobe Wagyu calf ballskin that everyone seems to love, so all leather has been about the same for me. This stuff (Dave's treated ball-skin) is thin and fairly smooth so burr detection is easy but it is grabby and accepts compounds very readily.

BertMor
08-06-2011, 05:09 PM
:lol2:Dave has ballskin? Does RR know this?

tk59
08-06-2011, 05:22 PM
:lol2:Dave has ballskin? Does RR know this? Hey, I don't ask questions. All I know is he says he deburrs with it, lol.

BertMor
08-06-2011, 09:30 PM
Hey, I don't ask questions. All I know is he says he deburrs with it, lol.

Deburr on ballskin sac....that gotta hurt !!!

Diamond G
08-20-2011, 04:04 PM
Im new to this level of sharpening, but am wondering if diffrent density of leather makes a diffrence?
Sole leather such as used on shoe soles is pressed and compacted. This IMO would give a diffrent effect than say 9/10 oz vegtan tooling leather.
Just curious. I am putting some strops togather and wanted to have an informed opinion.

Thanks and God Bless
Mike

tk59
08-20-2011, 04:37 PM
In my opinion, the most important characteristics of the leather are the amount of give (less is better and this can be controlled by using higher density leather or thinner pieces) and it's ability to accept abrasives (more is better). A third consideration is what has been referred to a "draw" or friction plus a tendency to catch on metal burrs. Usually the last two qualities are related.

Eamon Burke
08-20-2011, 04:46 PM
Sole leather...that sounds like an interesting candidate. It's gotta be grabby to not slip when your feet sweat(or are in nylon socks), hard, and durable.

That is very interesting....

Diamond G
08-20-2011, 09:53 PM
What Im refering to is the leather that actually meets the road. As in Leather soled dress shoes or boots. It is a bit courser (hold compound better) it is preshrunk and pressed (denser) Only problem is it may be harder to find in useable size.

Ill let you know what I find out, Im going to see my shoe repair guy Monday!

God Bless
Mike

PierreRodrigue
08-20-2011, 10:13 PM
Still learning this side of things, but I got a 2 X 72 leather belt for my grinder, loaded it with 1 micron CR2O3, run at less than 20 rpm, light passes on a freshly sharpened edge. It is very nice!

Eamon Burke
08-20-2011, 11:40 PM
What Im refering to is the leather that actually meets the road. As in Leather soled dress shoes or boots. It is a bit courser (hold compound better) it is preshrunk and pressed (denser) Only problem is it may be harder to find in useable size.

Ill let you know what I find out, Im going to see my shoe repair guy Monday!

God Bless
Mike

Well, it'd need to fit the same criteria!

I wasn't aware anyone actually wore shoes with leather *bottoms*. #poorguy

tk59
08-20-2011, 11:56 PM
...I wasn't aware anyone actually wore shoes with leather *bottoms*. #poorguy Huh?

As for leather belts, Pierre... Why did you choose chromium oxide?

Eamon Burke
08-21-2011, 12:08 AM
Huh?

I mean just that. I've never seen shoes that have anything other than rubber or something similar on the bottom. I didn't know shoes ever had leather on the outside where it touches the ground. I imagine those can't be cheap.

RRLOVER
08-21-2011, 12:20 AM
:slaphead::slaphead:Now I am going to be stropping on the bottom of my cowboy boots!

PierreRodrigue
08-21-2011, 12:22 AM
Huh?

As for leather belts, Pierre... Why did you choose chromium oxide?

No reason, it was the first thing I grabbed. For the price of the belts, I will likely grab a couple more. What would your recomendation for compounds be?

tk59
08-21-2011, 12:33 AM
Honestly, I don't know. I've been thinking about trying the grinder-strop option so I was digging for info.

PierreRodrigue
08-21-2011, 12:41 AM
The belt is thin, very smooth. The edge it left is stupit sharp, and a little toothy. Effortlessly shaves hair. If you slide your thumb to test the edge like you would for a hunting knife or pocket knife, it feels sharp, but if you run your finger along the edge, you feel the teeth... as it slips through your skin! I want to do one belt with .5 or .25 micron diamond. To me I have better control with angle, on the grinder, if I strop on a pad, I know I rock a bit, no muscle memory yet! The VFD makes it sweet!

Eamon Burke
08-21-2011, 12:52 AM
The VFD makes it sweet!

As I am sure it does with everything.

mpukas
08-21-2011, 02:19 PM
I mean just that. I've never seen shoes that have anything other than rubber or something similar on the bottom. I didn't know shoes ever had leather on the outside where it touches the ground. I imagine those can't be cheap.

Really? Just go to any better department store that sells men's dress clothes and they'll have plenty of dress shoes w/ all leather outsoles. Plenty of cowboy boot makers out there too. Lucchese (http://www.lucchese.com/legend_video.php) is just one of them. Used to be once upon a time, before the advent of petroleum based and other synthetics, that almost all boots and shoes were made that way. For leather soled dress shoes and dress cowboy boots you have to scuff up the sole quite a bit otherwise it's like walking on greased glass. Of course you can also have any textured rubber outsole product you want glued on by a cobbler to give better traction and protect the leather. There are many, many makers of leather outsoled footwear from all over the world and all manner of footwear.