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Thread: Strop care and maintenance

  1. #1
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    Strop care and maintenance

    In a recently reopened older thread about strops, I saw this question, which was left unanswered:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Larson View Post
    One question I would like to add. How often do you recharge the strop? Every Time? When you see it turn black? When you haven't done it in a while?
    And I started thinking about it and decided that I have no idea, so, I let Google be my guide. One bit of advice that I found said something that I think said "when it turns black, it is full of metal, so clean it and apply more compound". They were also talking about "strop oil".

    Clearly, there is much that I do not know. If I strop using compound...


    1. Do I oil the strop before adding compound?
    2. What oil would I use?
    3. Do I oil after compound?
    4. How do you clean a strop?


    To be clear, I am assuming a leather strop as opposed to say a piece of wood that has been charged with something.

  2. #2
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    1. Do I oil the strop before adding compound?
    The most oil that gets on my strop is what is left on a blade after being wiped clean from the stones.

    2. What oil would I use?
    3. Do I oil after compound?
    See answer to #1.

    4. How do you clean a strop?
    Mine are leather and have never been cleaned. Compound is added when it seems stropping isn't having the desired effect on a blade.

    Note of clarification: my strops are cleaned of dust occasionally.

    There may be some debate whether or not swarf left on a strop is helping or hindering the strop's work.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 04-21-2019 at 2:43 PM. Reason: Note of clarification
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  3. #3
    Well, Now I find out Iíll need to buy $400 a pint strop oil!

    Okay, I donít know how much strop oil actually costs, and I didnít know I needed it.

    I will have to follow this thread.

  4. #4
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    A strop should be wide enough for your widest iron (3" for me) and charged with jeweler's rouge, if anything.

    Most important, it should be easy to locate and reach.

  5. I have 2 kinds of strops; for razors and for tools.

    For razors i use hanging leather and canvas. I don't use that for tools, but some woodworkwrs do, so it's not really off topic. I have the leather very lightly charged with red jeweller's rouge. I charged it about 20 years ago and have cleaned it 3 or 4 times since with shaving soap.

    For tools i use a scrap of wood charged with green chrome oxide. When it gets dirty i throw it away. If it's for convex, straight or straightish edges like chisels or planes i use a flat piece of wood. If it's for something concave like an incannel gouge i'll use a dowell or carve an appropriate shape in a scrap of wood.

  6. #6
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    If it matters, I was reading about "strop oil" in a knife forum. It was the first I had ever heard of it. It was also the first I had ever heard someone say that I should "clean" a strop. I have little experience with it, so, I thought that I would ask.

  7. #7
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    Well, Now I find out I’ll need to buy $400 a pint strop oil!
    Much cheaper to pick up a little elbow grease.

    Better than a barrel of hard knocks!

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  8. #8
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    I do not strop everything-sometimes a few licks on my hard arkansas, sometimes on my strop. Seems my vintage steel likes the strop, seems modern likes the hard arkansas. My strop is a piece of horse butt, bought from Tools for Working Wood, way more than a decade ago. I laminated the leather to a flat piece of cherry (just happened to be laying there when I was looking for something close to the 3" width of the leather). My strop is well worn in, and has been oiled with whatever I use on my stones! Sometime Marvel Mystery Oil ($3.00 for a quart at WallyWorld), or mineral oil or Norton honing oil. No other compound used.
    If the thunder don't get you, the lightning will.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Pitonyak View Post
    In a recently reopened older thread about strops, I saw this question, which was left unanswered:



    And I started thinking about it and decided that I have no idea, so, I let Google be my guide. One bit of advice that I found said something that I think said "when it turns black, it is full of metal, so clean it and apply more compound". They were also talking about "strop oil".

    Clearly, there is much that I do not know. If I strop using compound...


    1. Do I oil the strop before adding compound?
    2. What oil would I use?
    3. Do I oil after compound?
    4. How do you clean a strop?


    To be clear, I am assuming a leather strop as opposed to say a piece of wood that has been charged with something.

    Hey, people DO read my posts.

    Thanks for bringing this back up, Andrew.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Larson View Post
    Hey, people DO read my posts.

    Thanks for bringing this back up, Andrew.
    I was sad that it was not answered and I really wanted to know too!

  11. #11
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    My only strop experience is with the strop on my Tormek, which is a leather coated wheel. I've noticed over time that the strop compound and abraded steel build up and it can get sort of glazed and doesn't seem to cut as well. Additionally, since the leather is under all that, applying more compound just gets smeared around.

    As a result of this, I took a simple card scraper and applied it to the wheel while running. With proper technique, you can scrape all that off in just a few revolutions and get back to the leather again. Then recharge and it's like new. If your leather strop (motorized or not) gets that way, try scraping it off with a card scraper and reapplying the abrasive. Strops work best when there is some roughness to hold the abrasive media.

  12. #12
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    I strop my blades more frequently than to use stones. Actually I stropped all my plane irons (all three of them!!) as well chisels (eleven) today morning.

    I do not add any oil but probably some residual oil incorporate into the strop. I add green compound when it looks necessary. The results in the sharpness of my cut tools are great - I could not be happier.

    For years I thought stropping was something for nerds and I confess I was very wrong: it makes difference for all my blades and is way easier to restore sharpness for a blade than the "full sharpening process" at most of the cases.
    All the best.

    Osvaldo.

  13. #13
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    Strop frequently in between sharpening. No oil just green compound, when black more green compound. When strop worn replace the leather. Must have 5 different size strops at any one time.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  14. #14
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    Here's an article on strops from the place I got my sharpening kit: https://www.sharpeningsupplies.com/U...s-W111C60.aspx

    They don't make any recommendation for using oil on a mounted strop. They sell a "dressing" liquid for unmounted razor strops, but I think that has more to do with keeping the leather supple than cleaning or lubricating for sharpening.

  15. #15
    1,2 and 3- I do not use oil.
    4- I have never attempted to clean the black off a strop. I sharpen a lot and strop after the oil stones. My strops end up with cuts and gouges from mistakes. So I make a new one about every 3-6 months.

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