thanks to Div.
Dear LJ’s it’s been a while since my last confession on LJ, this one is about stropping.
(It is actually an old set of photos that just never became a blog for a reason at that time).
For those who never heard of stropping, it is simply to hone the edge of your iron on a piece of leather with some compound or paste as the honing material, just as you have probably seen a barber do on his leather strap with the razor knife.
A long time ago I read about the term stopping and woodworking, I was really exited but when I told this to a Danish woodworker he just laughed at me and said that that he never heard of this, no one did this, and all his fellow woodworkers was laughing at this when they heard of it, and so I put this out of my head for a while.
But my friend Div then one day told me that he always stropped, he stropped his chisels regularly while using them and also his plane irons got a fast tour on the stop once in a while, and since I have a big respect for the words of Div and know he normally do nothing without a reason, I decided to make some strops and give it a try, the worst that could happen was that I would waste some leather.
After having used stop for a good time now I can say; ‘I will probably never go back’, I love the fact that you during your work can make a fast stopping and have this razor sharp edge right back, and after i started stropping – paring with a chisel is a new world, I am completely in control and I can leave a perfect surface on the wood.
So any bad sides? No!
Is it magic? No, just a wonderful fast way to hone your chisel back to razor while you work. It cannot sharpen a chisel, just hone it when you slowly wear down the edge, when the edge is worn down you still need to go back to the stone.
In a way it feels like using a Japan knife, you just strop instead of breaking of the blades as you go, and then at some point you have used the full capacity and need to take the full tour.
Is it difficult? No!
So let’s take a look at it:
Any piece of lumber!
Cut it to square.
Then cut it in the width you desire, a good all-round strop can be 206×68 mm (app. 2,7×8,1 inch) this is the size of a standard Japanese water stone.
Cut to length.
Now I think we cut enough!
I choose to give one of the strops a handle, simply because I have seen this on the web and are thinking it could be cool for knifes.
A rounding bit on the router.
Rounding the handle fast, and with noise…
Sanding and final shaping the handle.
So time for what it is really all about; the leather.
Cut some strips to fit your wood blocks.
A good quality leather belt can be used also as you can see.
The small one is a gift for a friend that is doing some linoleum prints and so she can now hone her knifes.
You want a quality that is relatively thick and hard, but not too stiff.
The smooth side up, do not listen to those who say differently.
For glue I use a contact adhesive (two side stick glue).
Papers on the table!
Glue applied both sides and time to wait fifteen minutes.
It can be done with a good pipe of tobacco.
Notice the funny clamping on the right.
Glue up and keep under press.
The Festool table is brilliant for this.
I punch my leather mark into it.
Yes I’m a child!
And here we are four new straps.
I bought a honing compound from Veritas, but you can use many other compounds but this you can go searching about on the web, I will not go deeper than this here, since we are talking religion to some and sience to others.
So what you do is simply to apply the compound to the leather and as you see it will stay on the smooth surface.
On this strop I left the other side with only the leather strop, this because some say you get the best result if you give the iron a tour on this after, personally I see no difference and use therefore only the compound side now.
(And read that in a microscope you could see absolutely no difference also if there were no compound).
And this was my first test, it worked really well, even the steel are quite hard on these Barco’s.
And here you see just weeks ago while I work, I always have the strop around now, a quick fresh up while you use your chisels and you will be amazed how much more smooth the work goes.
I also used the strops with great success when I was using my carving irons, and here again it is priceless.
So what do you do?
NEVER PUSH THE BLADE, then you will cut up the leather.
Hold the chisel down to the strop in the angle of the bevel, and pull it against you.
Repeat this a couple of times.
Then turn the chisel and lay it flat on the back and again pull it against you a couple of times.
Turn and give it on or two more.
Now the chisel is razor sharp again and ready to use, no mess, no time, no trouble.
I love this more and more, with a sharp chisel you will master any kind of detail.
So go make yourself a strop!
Hope this little blog can inspire others to try the stop, and perhaps not always listen to what others tell you as I did in the first hand,
-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.