The stuff I've got is veg tanned, so no worries there. Flat & uniform doesn't seem like a problem either. I'm pretty sure what I've got is a few lengths of top-grain leather designed for upholstering furniture, which means it's been machine thinned & flattened. The smooth side, designed to be the surface I'm sure, is useless to me, but the rougher back feels almost exactly like my old hand american strop. It might not work out, I worry mostly that it's a little thin. Most strops are I believe made from the same surface gotten at from the other (ie. inside) side of the leather, which produces thicker product. But really, this is just a pet project I'm undertaking because the leather was free and it's a little interesting. If it doesn't work out I'll just order a new one online, no biggie.
What's this about compressing and exposing the cells of the leather? Are we talking leaving it under a dictionary for a few hours, or something more complicated?