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Leather Strop Size

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hello, I have lurked here for quite awhile and learned a lot about knifes and cooking in general that I didn't know previously.  So thank you all!


Now to my question.  I have been learning to sharpen on water stones and have decided I want to make my self a leather strop.  I have searched but haven't found any information on what size it should be.  Could any of you experts tell me the optimal size for a bench strop?  I have a piece of oak 4" wide that I will be mounting the leather on so I need to know the length.  



post #2 of 6

Ideally, I think I'd want leather 14 inches by about 2 inches and the board just enough bigger for good support and handling. The one I have now is the Lee Valley 9 x 1 3/4 for the leather. It will do the job, but more length would be nice on 10" blades.


4 inches is probably a waste of width. Most blades have enough curve to them where that much width won't contribute meaningfully to the stropping.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thank you Phatch.  I should have said 3.5", not 4".  I went out and measured it and wasn't remembering correctly.  I'll make it 14" long and rip it down to 2" if you think 3.5" is too wide.  I've got plenty of leather, so that is not a worry.

post #4 of 6

All my strops are 11" x 3" to fit my... wait for it... 11" x 3" strop holder.  I have several 12" knives and don't think that 11" is too short.  I also have a bunch of short knives and don't think 3"-- which is the standard width for Japanese stones, BTW -- is too wide.


Don't worry too much about size, as long as it's larger than 8" x 2" and fits your work area conveniently.  Too wide is definitely not a problem in use, but can be a waste of stropping compound.  


All of my strops are mounted and rigid.  They're either leather of one sort or another, hard felt or balsa.  You can use bovine or horse leather, textured or smooth.  You can use the leather charged (with stropping compound) or plain (not charged).  


Balsa is an excellent strop, it takes and holds a charge well, but it's easy to gouge if you're not careful.  I used to use MDF and Masonite, but prefer basla. 


I used to true some of my knives on plain manilla file folder paper mounted to a hard backing, but I like leather or felt better and haven't had a paper setup for some time.  FWIW, ordinary newsprint works well for deburring, finishing and truing too.  But felt is more efficient. 


The only charge I'm currently using with my strops is water based CBN, which I get from US Products.  I like it quite a bit, but don't make too much out of the "only" because I fool around a lot and will undoubtedly go back to using boron and diamond charges now and then.  CBN, boron and diamond are all better than the ever-popular green chrome oxide. 


Chrome oxide still has fans, but I think they're moored in the past.  Not only are CBN, boron and diamond faster, but they're make for better edges as well.  Chrome oxide edges lack sufficient bite for kitchen knives; and besides, chrome oxide is VERY messy.  It might still be a good choice for razors, though;  I couldn't say.


Diamond is very fast, but it's expensive and the edges don't hold up as well as CBN or boron.  Boron compound is good, but it's slow compared to CBN and I haven't found a good inexpensive source. 


My current preference is to sharpen on charged balsa and do a final polish on plain leather.  I use the felt to chase the burr and help deburr difficult knives.  More often though, I use plain leather to do any final chasing and polishing, then deburr with a cork, felt block, piece of softwood, or whatever.  The slightest hint of compound or water wrecks a felt strop, so don't keep your station too close to the sink, and dry your knives very thoroughly after rinsing the compound. 


As I said, I enjoy fooling around with strops, but...


Bottom line:  Stones are better for most purposes.  



Edited by boar_d_laze - 1/19/13 at 6:07pm
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thank you BDL.  I hadn't thought far enough ahead to consider charging compounds.  My thoughts were to use veg tanned kangaroo and actually make two strops, one flesh side out and the second one skin side out.  Do you think a different charge for each would be needed or just charge the flesh side and keep the skin side plain?  I decided on the kangaroo after reading that a thick leather could roll the edge with too much pressure.  I made a strop of split veg tanned cowhide mounted on an oak board that I use on my leather splitter that keeps it very sharp, but the leather is probably 2mm thick.  The roo is less than 1mm thick and I would split it to an .8mm consistency.

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

.  I used to use MDF and Masonite, but prefer basla. 



Hmmm, got a lot of MDF laying around too.  Now that you mention it, it would make a good substrate for the leather also since it is totally flat.

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