Workshop: Leather Strop

Leather strop
Kinky spanking paddle? Nope… strop, smooth side.

I still have issues with various tools, such as chisels and planes, not being sharp enough. I’ve been using Paul Seller’s sandpaper on glass technique for sharpening. And it has gotten blades much sharper.

But I’ve never yet been able to achieve the razor-sharp shave your arm hair degree of keenness on any blades that I want and need.

Having mentioned this when commenting on Youtube videos and forum posts about sharpening I’ve been told a leather strop is essential. So over yesterday and today day I made one.

Leather strop
Strop, rough side.

I got two perfectly sized and shaped rectangular scraps of leather from a local craft shop, for £2, and made a wooden paddle out of some suitable looking medium density timber I found lying around the workshop.

I cut the wood to size on my quick’n’dirty tablesaw, shaping the handle on my bandsaw, and finished it off with some sanding and shaping, especially of the handle. I also drilled and shaped a hole for hanging it on my tool wall.

I glued the smooth-side-up piece on, rough side down, using wood glue. Left overnight that worked fine. However, the rough-side-up face, also glued with wood glue, didn’t work so well.

Leather strop
It feels good in my hand.

Firstly it had slipped out of position, and secondly, it was easy to peel off. So I removed it, cleaned up that face of the wooden paddle, and re-applied it, using a two-part epoxy glue. Stopping the smooth side of the leather from sliding out of place was tricky, but I eventually succeeded in weighting it down with sundry stuff and, a few hour later, it seems fine.

I had to trim off some excess glue, and even a few edges of leather that overhung. But shaping the handle, partly with a mini electric hand sander I recently got via Amazon Vine, and sandpaper and files, was – even if the results are rather rustic – lots of fun.

Leather strop
Shaping the handle was fun.

I really wanted to get some polishing compound today. But by the time I’d found someone local who actually stocks/sells it, it was too late. I’ll have to get it tomorrow, or early thursday. I also need to set up some new sandpaper and glass, and do a load more basic sharpening.

I might even bite the bullet and get some sharpening stones. I’d like the diamond plates. But good ones are very dear! Still, I’m pleased, another home-made tool for the workshop. Might stain the wood a bit darker… hmm?

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