Hand Tools Archive

Response To:
Alternative strop ()

Derek Cohen (in Perth, Australia)
Ellis, my strop is similar, except I load it with green compound.

I find it interesting what we call a strop these days. In my opinion, a true strop is either a linen or leather strap that is used to polish a razor's edge. It is generally used without any compound or rouge. As soon as one adds compound/grit, it is no longer stropping but honing. Whether leather or wood or cast iron, when used with compound, it becomes a sharpening tool.

I would also also suggest that polishing (as in the razor strop) involves moving steel, while sharpening involves removing steel.

We use the term strop these days to refer to a leather substrate, when we really are just using another sharpening medium. Leather is not a good sharpening medium for plane or bench chisel blades as it flexes and eventually rounds the edge (dubs the front and back of a blade). A non-flexible substrate is better.

Hence my strop is planed Tasmanian Oak (a piece of scrap, and happily the wood is quarter sawn) ..

That's the strop on the right. (The other stones are a Shapton 1000 - in the orange box - with the alternative, a worn-in Ezelap 600 grit. Below that is a Spyderco Medium and Spyderco Ultra Fine). I try not to add fresh green compound too frequently. It is better when it gets blacker ... indicating that the grit is being used and broken down into a finer abrasive. It continues to work for a very long time.

Regards from Perth


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