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Thread: First vintage shell strop!

  1. #1
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    Default First vintage shell strop!

    I think I found a good one! It was dry and dirty- a slightly damp tack sponge to clean it and a little mink oil on my hands- hands rubbed together to warm and then rubbed down the strop. Taking it slow with this one.

    No nicks or cuts just a few scratches.





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    Senior Member blabbermouth nicknbleeding's Avatar
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    Nice find.

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    Nice find.
    I took along time to dry out.
    And it takes a long time to rehydrate...properly.
    A damp rag, with a bit of mink or neats foot oil. Rub in from the back side of the leather, let dry, hand rub the face.
    Repeat every 3-4 days.
    Don't be afraid to bend and flex the leather, just don't fold it.

    Do a little more each time you hand rub it.
    Think about breaking in a new pair of leather dress shoes, and how long it took you to do it.
    A yep...long time.
    My best strop is one I restored.

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    Senior Member ScoutHikerDad's Avatar
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    Careful, my friend-I bought a nice vintage shell from Bouschie aka Leonard early this summer. I then went kinda crazy on ebay for a couple weeks buying more of them (not sure, I may have been in a fugue state like Walter White in Breaking Bad). I hung 'em all from a DIY rosewood display I banged together in the shop, and currently have this collection:
    Name:  86A7550E-21FD-4F2C-A02F-D6AC6DB6005C_zps1oxbcdek.JPG
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    I hope to get some more when funds allow. But when you get a good one (as you did!), I was blown away by the quality and smoothness of the leather for what I paid for mine. For those of us who don't have the scratch for a Kanayama or other spendy new shell strop and just love the vintage stropping vibe on vintage razors, it is a fun rabbit hole to fall down. Enjoy! Aaron

    edit: The four in the middle are the vintage ones. The Wagner (#2 from the left) is just a superb piece of thick and slick shell. The DublDuck at #4 and the Alfred Field at #5 is especially slick and is the final finishing strop in my evolving progression.
    Last edited by ScoutHikerDad; 08-07-2017 at 03:17 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutHikerDad View Post
    Careful, my friend-I bought a nice vintage shell from Bouschie aka Leonard early this summer. I then went kinda crazy on ebay for a couple weeks buying more of them (not sure, I may have been in a fugue state like Walter White in Breaking Bad). I hung 'em all from a DIY rosewood display I banged together in the shop, and currently have this collection:
    Name:  86A7550E-21FD-4F2C-A02F-D6AC6DB6005C_zps1oxbcdek.JPG
Views: 74
Size:  29.3 KBName:  2211D1A5-2AC2-42A8-83B8-6651C419ECA8_zpsteldgiu8.JPG
Views: 71
Size:  22.0 KB
    I hope to get some more when funds allow. But when you get a good one (as you did!), I was blown away by the quality and smoothness of the leather for what I paid for mine. For those of us who don't have the scratch for a Kanayama or other spendy new shell strop and just love the vintage stropping vibe on vintage razors, it is a fun rabbit hole to fall down. Enjoy! Aaron

    edit: The four in the middle are the vintage ones. The Wagner (#2 from the left) is just a superb piece of thick and slick shell. The DublDuck at #4 and the Alfred Field at #5 is especially slick and is the final finishing strop in my evolving progression.
    I know and you mean- I absolutely love the feel of the vintage leather! That is a nice hanger for the strops and beautiful strops on it!

    This one has an irish linen component that is cleaning up nicely.

    I will probably never own a Kanayama though I was tempted mightily by the one Will was selling on the BST!

    I am going to have to be careful here- I already have my eye on another!

    Question: is shell the most desirable? Or are they all equally fun?

    How about Russian? I have a Dovo Russian XL that is pretty sweet...are they like that?


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    Wonderful find outback have sage advice on getting it into shape.
    Nothing is fool proof, to a sufficiently talented fool...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sdm84 View Post
    I know and you mean- I absolutely love the feel of the vintage leather! That is a nice hanger for the strops and beautiful strops on it!

    This one has an irish linen component that is cleaning up nicely.

    I will probably never own a Kanayama though I was tempted mightily by the one Will was selling on the BST!

    I am going to have to be careful here- I already have my eye on another!

    Question: is shell the most desirable? Or are they all equally fun?

    How about Russian? I have a Dovo Russian XL that is pretty sweet...are they like that?


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    As far as I'm concerned, true shell horsehide is absolutely the most desirable stropping surface, and certainly the smoothest and slickest. There's a reason so many of the vintage ones are shell.

    As for Russian tanned leather, I only have the one in the pic, so I'm no expert. But that one has a raised nap, and is kind of hard and rough (though the linen component behind it is by far my best cloth surface). I'd be interested to try some of the other acclaimed Russian strops before passing judgement (like an Illinois).

    I'm not real sure what Russian leather actually is, TBH. Is it a tanning method? I know I read it somewhere years ago, would love to know more. Aaron
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    The strop looks in good condition.
    Shell is indeed one of the best options for stropping. I have both vintage NOS, and restored horshide strops and are by far my favorites.

    I have restored quit a few old Kanoyama cordovan strops and i have tried diffrent restoration recipes.

    All of them require rehidratation and lubrication.

    In time the leather dries out and loses it's natural oils...the oils lubricate the colagen fibers and as you bend and flex the leather they reduce the friction between fibers.
    The absence of the oils leads to increased friction between fibers, fiber brake and eventualy cracks in the leather.
    Also dehidratation promotes cracking of the colagen fibers.

    Restoring one to it's former glory takes time and patience.

    There are a lot of natural and sinthetic oils that can work extremly well...
    - Pure neatsfoot oil - provided it's 100% pure neatsfoot oil and not a rip off.
    - Balistol - it was designed for leather care and gun care...it works a charm and it is easy to find.
    - Any kind of natural oil that does not resinify in time(aka keeps it's liquid form)

    I get great results resoring old strops with this method.(thin leather strops tend to deform when hidrated so take care...@2,5+ mm thick leather strops are usualy safe to restore.)

    1) (Dissasembly)Place the leather strop on a flat surface next to a water source...(aka kitchen on a large wood cutting board
    2) Use a sponge to gently rubb in hot water on the leather on both sides....hot water penetrates the leather better...Wipe the excess water off.
    3) At this point if there are any nicks or cuts you may think of using some 150-400 grit sandpater (usualy higher then 300 grit th leather just clogs it up and it is useless to try)to level them out then wash that area with water to remove any particles that may have come off. Also if the edges of the leather are dried and rough this is a good tme to sand them....just set the strop at the edge of the cutting board and camfer the edges.
    4) Using another sponge add some balistol oil...a spoon fool on the sponge should be enough. Another way is to use balistol spray and spray the front and back of the strop.
    5) Wipe the excess off...dont be affraid first cat of oil will be absorbed more rapidly it may be difficult to figure out how much oil to apply but if you overdoit you can just use a clean sponge with hot water and decreasing detergent to rubb the excess off and clean both faces.
    6) let dry in hanging position for a few hours...dont try to speed up the process by using heat or you can ruin the stropp...colagen coagulates at temperatures of 55-70C! that mins it shrivvles and loses it's flexibility....also dont get the fancy idea of usin the iron on the strop to flaten the leather...t may work in some cases but i dont advice it.
    7) After drying for a few hours put back on a flat surface and use the palm of your hand to rubb it front and back or use a lint free cloth to rubb it.
    8) if there is need you can repeat steps 2 to 7.

    Other tips and tricks
    - Idealy is to apply the minimum amount of oil that gets the leather smooth.
    - Large quantities of oil will increase drag and will get the surface sticky to dust and particulea and will clug the pores of the leather....
    - You can always wash with warm water and degrease the leather if you overdo it with the oil....let dry on flat wooden surface or in haging position.

    - Dont overdoit with sandpaper.
    To be efficient the strop surface must remain relatively flat...when sanding one must take care not to remove to much material.

    The top layer of the leather is where the magic happens...that's where the highest concentration of silicone is(abrasive particules) and this layer is also the finest and strongest due to high concentration of colagen fibers...the deeper layers are less densly packed and usualy have higher concentrations of fatty tissues, glands and folicules...so less colagen.

    - Dont pull that hard on a restored strop...especialy if there are cracks on the sides...it can brake easier. Apply progressive tension ant see if it holds out to your usual routine.

    P.S. Why balistol?...it tends to clog the leather less then 100% pure neatsfoot oil and gives the strop a lower drag then neatsfoot oil.


    This is just the method i use to restore old strops it works for me...I'm not saying it's the best i put it togeter from what i read over the years on forums...what Iwasaki sayd about strops(in "Honing razors and nihon kamisorys") and what i come to experience during restorations of leather strops....there are many other methods, you decide what works for you.
    Hope this helps.
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    That's a great find. It will serve you well I'm sure. Plus you have the fun of restoring it. It's a win win situation if ever I saw one.
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    That looks to be a great strop. Once I tried a shell strop, I sold all my leather ones and bought more shell. You can find them pretty cheap on the bay if you're lucky for less than $60! They may have some scratches or nicks but you can spend 4 times that much and then nick it yourself. I have no desire to buy cow leather again.
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