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catatonic
09-04-2006, 08:17 PM
Is there any detailed how-to documents floating around on breaking in a new strop? I've been trying to find info on this for a while, and all I ever see are glancing comments about just rubbing lather into it, or something of the sort.

mparker762
09-04-2006, 09:26 PM
I use the Fromm strop conditioner, the old barbers used lather, some guys nowadays use mink oil.

JMT
09-04-2006, 09:36 PM
I have used Neatsfoot Oil to restore older strops. It really works well to soften up dry leather. It does darken the leather considerably. I would suggest checking out www.straightrazorplace.com for more info on how to break in a new strop. If you do not find anything by doing a search ask in the strop forum. I'm sure you will get the answers you are looking for.

In the meanwhile don''t put anything on it until you get your answers.

rtaylor61
09-05-2006, 12:11 AM
If nothing else, you can massage the strop with the palm of your hands. The oil from your hands will also work a bit of magic.

Randy

thestubblefactory
09-05-2006, 09:44 AM
For a brand new strop using a very small yet evenly distributed amount of strop conditioner is recommended unless the manufacturer has already done this from the factory. The act of rubbing it in also includes the oils from your skin. You should also have a good pumice block and brush for occasional restoring and cleaning. If you have just honed your razor it should be rinsed thoroughly with hot water and dried as best you can without touching the business edge.

With The Grain
09-05-2006, 10:52 AM
....

ForestryProf
09-05-2006, 12:00 PM
I've had supple strops and stiff strops; natural leather and treated...so long as they're flat, in my opinion they do not need to be dressed. Occasionally, they do need to be cleaned. For this I use Gojo (but any waterless hand cleaner will do). Cleans and conditions the strop. I use this on mine every 1 to 3 months.

I think that most folks that use strop dressing do so to change the 'draw' of the leather. I think that a better approach is to get a strop made out of the type of leather that gives you the desired draw in the first place. For illustration, I'd suggest reading up on the types of leather offered by Keith at www.handamerican.com he gives a good description of the relative draw of the various leathers. You can also talk to Tony Miller, strop maker par excellance. If you can describe what you want, chances are that Tony can make it.

YMMV,
Ed

Tony Miller
09-05-2006, 07:01 PM
Ed,
I'm on the same page as you. I rarely dress my personal strops, no matter the leather type. Some are smoother, some have more draw but al are used plain for the most part. About a year ago I introduced latigo leather in strops as it has oils already impregnated into it during tanning and will likely never need dressing. It has a superior draw and seems to be the only leather requested on my strops now days. Other makers are starting to follow suit.

While I include strop dressing with my strops I suggest to my customers that they use it as is at first. Most are eager to fiddle around with it and can't wait to goop up a nice strop with some knid of schmutz from a bottle.

I had Dovo and jemico strops and most are fine the way they are. I used to sell Illinois strops and most needed a little work to be at their best.

Tony Miller

catatonic
09-05-2006, 07:56 PM
Yep, Tony guessed it, I have an Illinois strop I am working on. An 827 "Russian" leather. It's outright gorgeous, but it was very stiff, and the surface did not look suitable for use right out of the packaging. The surface had some raised sections that looked like it could harm a razor, so I've been looking to make sure I didn't mess up the strop trying to prepare it.

What I ended up doing was 10 mins with a pumice stone dry, 10 mins pumice stone with lather, 10 mins hand rub with lather and 10 mins bottle rub with lather. Mostly a variant of the instructions I read somewhere else online, which sounded somewhat like that ebay tutorial.

I guess I got confused when I bought a dovo russian leather strop to compare (sadly my klutz self has anready messed it up :( ), and saw what seemed like two totally different textures on a strop.

The Dovo has a suede texture to it, while the Illinois is a smooth leather. That pretty much threw me off.

So is there any advantage to the different leather textures, or is it just a personal preference thing?

Tony Miller
09-05-2006, 08:14 PM
Steve,
The Illinois #827 is an odd beast really. At least a year ago when I sold them there were actually the rough side of the hide, dyed and compressed to appear smooth. The reverse side, against the linen was scored with ridges as part of the comoressing process. Some were very nice and I paired them with an Illinois #127 and a single line as my "Tri-Strop". These were popular sellers but I could not get consistant quality from Illinois and dropped the line.

I liked them for preliminary stropping but much prefered a smoother strop like the #127 for finishing a blade.

Stick with a Dovo or Jemico (or mine <g>) if you want the best.

Tony

gglockner
09-05-2006, 08:24 PM
The fun thing here is that everyone will have a different way of doing things. I took a brand new strop from Tony and rubbed a wet pumice stone on it then rubbed Neatsfoot oil on it. Let it lay flat for 24 hours then it had a good draw. Within a week it was working even better with all the draw on the razor one would need. Draw is the amount of friction that you will feel when stropping. Some leather will have more some less. You can get great results from both if your technique is correct.

Glen

Tony Miller
09-05-2006, 08:31 PM
Glen,
I remember you posting about that. I have never pumiced mine or anyone elses strops. I will have to try this.

Can you elaborate on how much pumicing you do or what kind of surface I am trying to achieve?

Thanks,
Tony

catatonic
09-06-2006, 01:55 PM
Steve,
The Illinois #827 is an odd beast really. At least a year ago when I sold them there were actually the rough side of the hide, dyed and compressed to appear smooth. The reverse side, against the linen was scored with ridges as part of the comoressing process. Some were very nice and I paired them with an Illinois #127 and a single line as my "Tri-Strop". These were popular sellers but I could not get consistant quality from Illinois and dropped the line.


Yep, that's exactly how my 827 was when it arrived to me. Ribbed leather on the backside, rather rough leather on the front. I had this large "ridge" for lack of a better word in the dead center of the leather, which was the reason I even attempted to pumice stone it, etc.

Tony Miller
09-06-2006, 04:43 PM
Yep, that's exactly how my 827 was when it arrived .......I had this large "ridge" for lack of a better word in the dead center of the leather...............

At least 50% of my incoming stock was just like this. Obviously no one at Fromm (Illinois) ever looked at them. I bought one retail once and got pretty much the same thing. This is what prompted me to start making hanging strops to go with my paddles.

Tony

gglockner
09-06-2006, 10:43 PM
Glen,
I remember you posting about that. I have never pumiced mine or anyone elses strops. I will have to try this.

Can you elaborate on how much pumicing you do or what kind of surface I am trying to achieve?

Thanks,
Tony

First I better clear one thing up. When I said wet I should have said Quick n Brite, which is a waterless type cleaner that is very safe to use. So when the pumice stone was used it was less abravise than a dry stone. You also don't get the dust embedded into the leather which could cause damage to a razor. I can not remember exactly how many passes with the pumice, but if you start with about ten then wipe the leather clean, treat with neatsfoot or equivelant and lay flat for a day.
This increased the draw, but your strop gets even better with use. Mine is almost a year old and I haven't done anything but use it since. The linen side seemed very coarse at first compared to old 1920-30's type linen. That to has improved with age and works for nicely.

Glen

Tony Miller
09-07-2006, 08:16 AM
Glen,
I may try pumicing one of my seconds and try it out. I agree that they get even better with age. I do nothing to my personal ones, no dressing, nothing.

The linen does have a hard body and is a bit coarse. It does soften with age, most guys love it, a few hate it. I just got a new weave of 1 1/2" linen that is very fine and tight, hard body, soft finish. Only problem is the thickness, it is single ply weave and just looks thin to me. I made a sample last night and will see if the finer finish feels better and works differently than the coarse.

Of course most places guys are still fighting over just what the linen does <g>. They all want it, but no on sems sure why.

Tony