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Thread: Strop Info Needed

  1. #11
    Senior Member blabbermouth eddy79's Avatar
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    That is the same as the back of the leather piece of my certifyd strop. My leather is Russian shell and the back is reddish and has the diamond pattern.
    My wife calls me......... Can you just use Ed

  2. #12
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    It is leather. It is the american version of russian leather - original russian leather had birch tree oil in it (to deter insect attack) and this smell was incorporated into the russia leather made in the US. It was nearly always a red colour - so the american tanneries died it red. The original had the flesh side scraped off by means of a draw-wire used in alternating diagonals, giving rise to the 'diamond' shape. The american stuff was rolled, one of the rollers being cross-hatched, although earlier examples were rolled on a grooved roller, tilting the strop one way (say 45 degrees) for the first pass and then the other way, still 45 degrees for the second pass, again giving a 'diamond' effect.

    This both compressed the leather and gave a patterned side for abrasive paste to be added to. Compressing leather makes it very hard - like old style boot sole leather, so these strops were very slick (light on the draw) and neded an extended 'breaking-in' time.

    As a point of interest, dyeing was undertaken after tanning was finished, and the hide laid out stretched on a frame before tooling commenced. In antiquity the hide was wetted with alum water and spread over a barrel, latterly a frame was used, but the hide still had to be softened in order to make it pliable enough to fit on another frame (the frame would have broken as it was made of wood) and once re-stretched it was tooled on the skin side (or grain side - the other side or innermost side - is the flesh side).

    So, a typical russian-style strop has the stropping surface on the flesh side (the rolling or calendering buffs it to a shine) and the side we would normally strop on has the pattern on it.

    Regards,
    Neil
    Last edited by Neil Miller; 06-15-2015 at 12:19 PM.
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  4. #13
    Senior Member dta116's Avatar
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    Thanks Neil, Now I see what's going on. So this strop is "inside out" to strop compared to a standard "skin side" strop.
    (We do normally strop on the "skin side" correct?)

  5. #14
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Quote Originally Posted by dta116 View Post
    Thanks Neil, Now I see what's going on. So this strop is "inside out" to strop compared to a standard "skin side" strop.
    (We do normally strop on the "skin side" correct?)
    Correct - it is also known as the 'grain' side.

    Top quality russian strops were made from shell - aka shell cordovan, from the butt of a horse, while others were made from cowhide aka 'juchten'. Confusingly some german companies make/made a 'juchten' strop, but it was not tanned like a russian strop, being undyed, no birch oil, fair-faced cowhide on which the surface had been 'milled' flat to remove any irregularities then a grain artificially impressed on it.

    The german juchten is vegetable tanned and a kind of creamy-tan colour whereas the original Russia leather was tanned using willow bark and the darker inner bark of birch or logwood to give it a dark colour.

    The Illinois 827 is an example of a cowhide russian strop, I believe.


    Regards,
    Neil
    Last edited by Neil Miller; 06-15-2015 at 01:14 PM.
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  6. #15
    Senior Member dta116's Avatar
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    One last question Neil. How would I increase the draw a bit to keep from throwing my razor across the room while stroping?

    Kidding....but I would like to increase the draw a little bit to get a bit of feedback.

  7. #16
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Quote Originally Posted by dta116 View Post
    One last question Neil. How would I increase the draw a bit to keep from throwing my razor across the room while stroping?

    Kidding....but I would like to increase the draw a little bit to get a bit of feedback.
    Traditionally, lathering with a full-fat soap like Mitchells Wool Fat was used, surface 'ironed' with a bottle, and left overnight, brushing the dried soap off next day.

    Your strop has had the flesh side compressed though, and water may lift the fibres - I have seen this before with russian strops, so I would not advise it.

    Oiling usually makes the draw heavier (on some strops, paradoxically, it makes the draw lighter - I do not know why this is) and if you take precautions it is safer than lathering. Usually it is best to apply to the back of the strop - just a few drops on a bit of rag, after misting the strop with water to allow the oil to flow more equally over it. However, it takes a long while - 3 days or more - to migrate to the other side and it is easy to get impatient and add more oil. Remember, it is easy to add oil, not so easy to remove it. Another factor is the water spray again.

    So it may be wiser to add the oil (a drop or two) to the palms of your hands, rub them together and just hand-rub the strop as normal. The oil will seep into the strop, so it will appear to have less draw after two or three days, so you might want to repeat the procedure with less oil - one drop. Eventually you will have it right and all that will be necessary is hand rubbing without oil.

    If it was my strop I would just hand rub it - with unwashed hands. Takes a long time to get it to a heavier draw, but it is the safest method, particularly with a back-to-front strop!

    Regards,
    Neil
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    Senior Member dta116's Avatar
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    Again, Thanks for sharing your vast strop knowledge with us uninformed.
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  10. #18
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    It's a pleasure, thanks!

    Regards,
    Neil

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