Best Leather For Strop

When in need of a perfectly polished knife, chisel, or other similar tools with blades that need polishing from time to time, what you need to do is learn how to strop it properly. Besides affecting the knife’s sharpness, the strop also impacts your tool’s finished look, making it a must-have in workshops of those involved in leather crafting, sculptors, woodworkers, and other similar artists.

So, what leather is needed for the best leather strop?

You’ll find vegetable tanned leather is considered ideal for a leather strop. However, we are here to give you more than that tidbit of information. Let’s get acquainted with the best leather for strops so that when you shop for them, you can easily choose quality leather for yourself!

What Is A Strop?

A strop is a tool with a material like leather, canvas, balsa wood, denim fabric, or any other flexible material hanging from either strops or a hand-held paddle (known as a paddle strop).

One can use the leather strop to sharpen a tool, especially knife sharpening, give it a polished look, and re-align any bends on your cutting edge. It also serves the purpose of burnishing, which elongates your blade’s lifespan by increasing its corrosion resistance, wear, and fatigue while refining the metal surface.

The material on leather strops is infused with an abrasive strop compound to get the type of polish you desire your blade to have. Green chromium (iii) oxide, half micron diamonds, aluminum oxide, and iron (iii) oxide are some regularly used abrasive stropping compound types that can help you successfully achieve a mirror-like glaze for your blade’s coating.

One can also make custom leather strops for shaving a special or irregularly shaped blade that requires a unique set of conditions.

How Do I Use A Strop?

Things You Will Need:

  • A strop
  • A blade
  • A hook to attach the strop to

Process:

  1. Hook on the strop and hold it straight.
  2. Put the blade’s edge on the strop and run it down smoothly. Make sure to pull it down instead of pushing the blade up to prevent your blade from cutting through the strop’s material.
  3. Without removing the edge, run it back to its original position. Make straight strokes and do not remove the blade from the strop.
  4. Continue to do this until you are satisfied with how sharpened the blade has become.

Tips:

  • Do not fold the strop.
  • Remember to condition the strop regularly to prevent any cracks on the leather’s surface.
  • Practice on a practice strop before using a high-end one to ensure you are not damaging a good one.

What Is A Compound?

Chemically said, when one or more elements combine, they form a compound; the atom of one or more elements joins together to form a compound molecule.

Abrasive compounds are those formed mostly by adding up metals; these are then mixed with fat or wax to form bars which can then be rubbed onto the material of the strop to make it rougher.

The abrasive compound helps quicken the sharpening process while allowing your knife to have a polished finish that increases its resistance to corrosion and wear, making it more durable.

What Kind Of Leather Do You Need For A Strop?

Good quality vegetable-tanned leathers are most suitable for the best leather strop as they do not require too many extra compounds for performing a good job.

If other types of tanned leather are used, you can use abrasive compounds to allow better polishing. Below we will mention some types of leather that are good materials for leather strops.

Latigo Leather

Latigo leather is a cowhide that has undergone various tanning processes (chrome tanned and vegetable tanned). It is very durable and flexible, making it the best leather for those just starting stropping. The extremely affordable price allows you to easily add it to your tool kit so that you can shave the edge of your blade.

One of the disadvantages of latigo leather is that without putting on an abrasive compound, you might not be able to sharpen the edge of your tools quickly; compounds between two thousand to one hundred grits can be pasted upon to achieve your desired output. The compound can be sucked in by the surface of your latigo leather, which makes it harder to get rid of.

Buffalo Leather

Compared to latigo leather, buffalo leather is a better option as it can be used without layering any abrasive compound upon it. It has a higher proportion of silicate and, thus, is shinier besides being extremely durable, all thanks to the epidermal layer that is way thicker than latigo leather.

Unlike latigo leather, buffalo leather does not absorb the abrasive compounds when applied, making it easier to wipe them off. It will make for the best leather strop for sharpening the edges of blades.

Raw Buffalo Leather

One can say that buffalo leather and raw buffalo leather are the same types of leather if not because it has less of a glossy finish.

However, just like buffalo leather, raw buffalo leather is a suitable material for leather strops. It is more durable due to its incredibly thick density and so is supposed to last longer. It is unstretched, which makes it tensile and resistant to wears and tears.

Equine Non-Shell Cordovan

Equine non-shell cordovan is a highly suitable material for a leather strop.

The surface has a matte feel and is very rough, letting you quickly sharpen your blades without requiring too much effort on your behalf.

Many will compare the texture of equine non-shell cordovan to sandpaper’s which alone shows how it must be perfect for sharpening your tools.

Equine Shell Cordovan

Equine shell cordovan is similar to equine non-shell cordovan except that it has a slightly glossy surface.

Overall, the entire material has a rough, harsh texture due to the large concentration of silicate.

When rubbed on the rough side, it will allow easy sharpening of the edges of your metal blades without requiring any abrasive compounds.

FAQ

How Thick Should Leather Be For Strop?

When making a leather strop, around 8 to 10 oz of leather is the most suitable choice.

However, many tend to use cardboard to increases the thickness of leather that may be considered too thin.

Usually, leathers with thickness are preferred as they tend to be more durable.

Additionally, the leather needs to be tanned; vegetable-tanned leather tends to make the best leather strop as they do not require compounds when in need of sharpening.

Which Side Of The Leather Is Best For A Strop?

Both sides of the leather are usually suitable for leather strops.

Which side the user tends to use more is based more on preference. The flesh side and grain side will both do an equally amazing job at sharpening the edges of your blades as long as you strop properly.

However, when observed, you will notice that those who use knives for carving or sculpting tend to prefer the flesh side while others who regularly work with blades use the grainy side.

Can I Use A Leather Belt As A Strop?

Leather belts or other forms of clothing usually tend to be a suitable replacement for a leather strop as long as your belt is made of genuine leather, has no stitches, and has no imprinted designs or embossing.

It can be guessed that a belt with stitches and designs engraved on it does not have a smooth surface, meaning it will not evenly sharpen your blade as leather strops do.

This can instead make it uncomfortable for you to use the blade after sharpening. A belt that isn’t made of genuine leather is unlikely to sharpen your blade as it will likely have a chemical coating.

Does A Leather Strop Sharpen A Knife?

A good leather strop does an excellent job at sharpening your knives.

Additionally, a leather strop is also capable of re-aligning, honing, and polishing making it the go-to caregiver for metal blades.

When paired with abrasive compounds, the best leather strops will be able to increase your blade’s abilities by making it more resistant to corrosion and wear.

Stropping your knife makes it more durable while giving it a mirror-like scratch-free finish.

How Does A Leather Strop Sharpen A Blade?

When the best leather strops are used, they remove microscopic inconsistencies from the edge of your blade, in turn making it smoother and giving it a razor-sharp edge that later on assists you in making some of the cleanest cuts.

A leather strop needs to have a smooth surface to ensure the blade’s edge is not uneven, and you can pair it with abrasive compounds to obtain better sharpening results.

Final Word

To conclude, a leather strop is a much-needed tool that helps to keep your blades sharp and polished, allowing you to work easily and make some of the cleanest cuts; it increases your blade’s strength and makes it safer for use.

A leather strop usually works better than strops made of other materials, as long as you choose the right type of leather. We named some to help you choose the right type for your knives.

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