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07-30-2008, 05:50 PM #1
Getting some free Hand America Horse leather and need to make a strop
Hey guys, I've been reading everything I can for the past couple of days ever since finding out about the site from a friend over at Knifeforums.com, and I'm really digging all the info on this site.
I've never used a straight razor before, but I'd like to get started. A different friend on knife forums is sending me a piece of Keith's (the owner of Hand America) horse leather, and it's approx. 3" x 24", and another piece that's 6" x 14". I'll be using the 6x14 piece to make a bench strop (I guess the term on this forum is paddle strop) to use with my chromium oxide, which will be 3x11. I'll have some left over from that piece.
The 3x24 piece I'll use for making a hanging strop, and I'll be taking some of the left over pieces from the bench strop to make the two "end pieces", which will be riveted to the leather on either end, that hold the D rings and the clip.
With the horse leather, will I have to "break in" the leather with pumice as I've read?
Also, if anyone can point me in the direction of an online vendor where I can buy top quality D rings, the "chicago screws", and other associated hardware, I'd very much appreciate it.
If anyone would like to sell one of their "practice strops", please PM me.
Any and all info to get started is welcome!
Last edited by Ben325e; 07-30-2008 at 06:08 PM. Reason: just couldn't leave well enough alone!
07-30-2008, 06:34 PM #2
- Join Date
- Jan 2008
I buy my D rings and stuff at my local western tack store you might try there first.
07-30-2008, 06:35 PM #3
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
- St. Paul, MN, USA
Or Tandy Leather Co.
07-31-2008, 02:05 AM #4
- Join Date
- May 2005
- New Mexico
- Blog Entries
I don't think you really need to break in a strop. Years ago I used to think you did and used the rolling pin and glass bottle trick but these days I realize it isn't necessary. Unless you get some cheapo strop with leather like cardboard which you will not have with a handamerica Horsehide.Why I'm so good with a pistol I could kill a crow on the wing. Did the crow have a pistol? Was he shooting back? I will be.
07-31-2008, 03:36 AM #5
The blade of your hand rubbed up and down the strop before use will heat it up a little and give you a good, flat, clean surface to strop with.
07-31-2008, 04:32 AM #6
Is the leather still in it's "raw" state? Meaning, has it been finished/sanded yet? If not, then it's probably the same Hand American horsehide that I was able to get from Hand American a few months back. I got 3 of the horse butt strips (what's left over after the "shells" are removed. These strips were approx 5' long and at their thickest point approx 12". The grain side of this leather IMO is not suitable for making a fine leather strop and the "flesh" side as it's called (the side with a high suede nap) is also quite rough.
The grain side on these strips have a fair amount of fat wrinkles, scars, bumps, etc. Don't get me wrong, it's great leather that's as tough as nails. I've cut all strips to 24" by 2.5" and have probably 8-9 strips?
Long lead in, I know, but in answer to your question, IF your leather is in the same natural state as the horsehide I have, you'd be better off hand finishing the surface. I used a flat sanding block and 150-200 grit sandpaper (not wet/dry as it loads too quickly for this, but the regular sandpaper). Sand, sand and sand and sand some more. This gave me additional respect for Tony Miller and Kenrup. Hand finishing a strop to get an utterly silky surface (which I have) is HARD WORK and takes a lot of time. Also, this leather can be a bit wavy; more than I'd like. It needs to be flattened as a final step. The results though are fabulous. I'll try and post a few pics.
07-31-2008, 05:13 AM #7
Ding Ding, We have a winner!
Thanks everyone for your replies! Chris, you're dead on with the leather. The big brown truck visited me today, and the leather is exactly as you describe. I don't have a problem with hand finishing it - in fact that's what's so appealing about it to me. I love to make stuff "mine". When I get a razor, I'll definitely be making my own scales.
I'll pick up some regular sandpaper tomorrow and get started, as all I've got right now is various wet/dry grits. I'm assuming that I sand the smooth grain side, and not the flesh side. Is this right?
Pics of what the final product should look like would be extremely helpful, if you've got the inclination and the time. If not, that's understandable, too.
Last edited by Ben325e; 07-31-2008 at 05:16 AM. Reason: I can't leave well enough alone.
07-31-2008, 05:36 AM #8
Here come the pics:
First pic: The "grain" side of the Hand American horse butt leather. It's hard to tell from the 2 dimensional picture, but the fat wrinkles found on parts of the leather are quite raised and are not up to par as is in my book.
Next pic is the "flesh" side of the leather. Very uneven. Even for using the flesh side as a canvas/linen alternative, I like the flesh side to be more uniform than this. We're talking about fine edges of delicate instruments here!
Now we're getting into the good stuff! This next pic is the the grain side, but hand finished and oh so silky smooth. A very subtle nubuck finish. It gives a subtle but wonderful draw. The squiggle lines are simply the areas where just before the picture was taken I ran two fingers down the strop. Rub the other way, and the squiggles disappear. I did this to show the finish. Sanding to this level and uniformity took almost 2 hours. Granted it was my first attempt, but I could see this easily taking me over an hour on the other strips I'll finish in the same manner.
Remember that ugly "flesh" side? Here it is. Totally uniform. More of a nap than the nubuck grain side, but not by that much. Virtually identical to the finish on a Dovo 3" Extra Wide strop. Which makes sense since those strops actually are the flesh side rather than the grain side. This side can also be used as a finish strop prior to shaving rather than just a prep strop like a canvas or linen. This was also achieved by hand sanding.
Hand American hard felt as an alternative to canvas/linen matched to the horsehide strop. When both are held together during stropping on the leather, the heft is a true pleasure.
My personal favorite for strops......the barber style ends. Definitely.
I hope this helps. Cutting this extremely tough leather is difficult; well, it's difficult to cut straight lines. I did not buy a leather cutting knife. I used a rotary cutter my wife uses for her sewing. Razor sharp hefty circular blades and a straight edge were my cutting tools. I was able to cut straight lines in this leather like butter.
Last edited by ChrisL; 07-31-2008 at 05:39 AM.
07-31-2008, 11:06 AM #9
Now you realize why horsehide strops, or any for that matter cost what they do. I know from my horse butt strips I can typically cut one good strop, if I get lucky two pieces, if unlucky none. I use a template to find a single fairly flawless spot. By flawless I mean flat and smooth. There may be color variations but I avoid raised scars. I think Keith once mentioned a yield of one piece as well on his website.The hand sanding, scrubbing, etc... can add lots of time on top of the material costs.
Even with my Latigo material I often only get a 50% yield from a hide.
Leather is reasonably inexpensive BUT you have to pay for the good along with the bad.
07-31-2008, 05:07 PM #10