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Thread: Horse Butt Strop Material

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Horse Butt Strop Material

    I've been doing some experimentation with strops over the last few months. I made a couple using a hard tanned cowhide from a local saddle and tack maker and they've been very effective. They're a bit soft though, and mark easily from the corners of the tools. The good folks at Tools for Working Wood speak highly of using horse butt, or horsehide from the rump of the animal. I'd asked the saddle maker about horsehide and he didn't have any.

    A couple weeks ago I was at a large art fair with the family and happened across a local leather artisan, so I thought I'd reach out on the off chance he knew where some could be had. Turns out he had a decent sized piece he was willing to sell. It's a very hard tanned leather, with one very smooth side, and a little tooth on the other. He uses it himself to sharpen his leather tools. It's much thinner than the cowhide and doesn't compress.

    I cut out a 3 1/2 x 12 piece and mounted it to an oak backer. It charges with compound fairly easily. It's very effective as strop material, much more so than the cowhide. Even with very firm pressure, chisels and plane irons don't even leave a mark beyond a darkening of the honing compound from the swarf. For those that strop, horse butt is worth a try if you can find it.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  2. #2
    The horse butt is considered by most to be the best of all the leathers used for razor stropping. Because of its natural
    quality and high cost it is more often not used with compounds. Just more info ....not trying to get Rob censured !

  3. #3
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    I have used horse butt for many years (and recommend that from TFWW). It is the hardest of leathers. Nevertheless it still compresses, if only slightly. As a result, a few years ago I switched to using green compound on planed hardwood. This is technically not a strop (it is a honing plate), but I use it in place of a leather strop. It works well, is cheap and quick to replace. Possibly not what you want to hear after spending on the horse butt leather. Perhaps keep the leather strop for carving chisels and the like? Or only use the leather without a compound, and do so lightly (to ensure the wire is removed).

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Cohen View Post
    I have used horse butt for many years (and recommend that from TFWW). It is the hardest of leathers. Nevertheless it still compresses, if only slightly. As a result, a few years ago I switched to using green compound on planed hardwood. This is technically not a strop (it is a honing plate), but I use it in place of a leather strop. It works well, is cheap and quick to replace. Possibly not what you want to hear after spending on the horse butt leather. Perhaps keep the leather strop for carving chisels and the like? Or only use the leather without a compound, and do so lightly (to ensure the wire is removed).

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Thanks for the input Derek. In the grand scheme I didn't spend much. About the same as for a couple of pints, which my waistline is thankful I didn't partake in. I'm looking forward to using it for a number of things, including a double sided strop that won't see compound.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  5. #5
    I never understood why people would make their strops out of thick leather because it seems to defy the laws of physics. It also probably explains why so many people complain of their edges rounding over. My shop strop and my camping strop are both made from 3 or 4oz cowhide. Thick enough to last, but thin enough that the edge of the tool doesn't sink in while stropping.

  6. #6
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    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Honing plate

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Cohen View Post
    I have used horse butt for many years (and recommend that from TFWW). It is the hardest of leathers. Nevertheless it still compresses, if only slightly. As a result, a few years ago I switched to using green compound on planed hardwood. This is technically not a strop (it is a honing plate), but I use it in place of a leather strop. It works well, is cheap and quick to replace. Possibly not what you want to hear after spending on the horse butt leather. Perhaps keep the leather strop for carving chisels and the like? Or only use the leather without a compound, and do so lightly (to ensure the wire is removed).

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    I use something similar for my woodturning skew chisels.

    Instead of planed hardwood I use the green compound rubbed on a piece of MDF. I resaw it with the bandsaw to roughen up the surface a bit to take the compound better. The Tormek honing compound works well too but the green stuff is a LOT cheaper!

    I use this a lot to refresh the edge of skews at the lathe. It's easy to see how well it removes metal by how quickly it turns black.

    I do use leather to strop my chip carving knives. But after trying a number of things I've settled on very thin pig skin glued to a flat board.

    JKJ

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Tallahassee, FL
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    The best strops I have ever used were made from kangaroo leather. It's hard to find in the U.S. but works great.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Casey Gooding View Post
    The best strops I have ever used were made from kangaroo leather. It's hard to find in the U.S. but works great.
    I had not thought of kangaroo leathers as a strop. Back in the long distance Motorcycle riding days I used kangaroo skin riding gloves. They were very soft and thin but tough and wore well and unlike other leathers dried soft, flexible and held its shape after getting wet. As thin as the leather is plus how well it holds its shape and wears I can see kangaroo leather making a very good strop.

    ken

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ken hatch View Post
    I had not thought of kangaroo leathers as a strop. Back in the long distance Motorcycle riding days I used kangaroo skin riding gloves. They were very soft and thin but tough and wore well and unlike other leathers dried soft, flexible and held its shape after getting wet. As thin as the leather is plus how well it holds its shape and wears I can see kangaroo leather making a very good strop.

    ken
    I had the same experience. The best gloves I ever had were kangaroo, also for motorcycle touring. They really held up.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  10. #10
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    Old wide belts make a decent strop if you use the back side of the belt.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
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    Borger, Texas
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    Back in the early 60s I had a pair of work boots with kangaroo leather uppers. They were thin, comfortable, flexible, and very strong and long lasting. Great leather.

    Stew

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